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James Pethel

Sir Max Beerbohm

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .It was to him, though, that I owed, some minutes later, a chance of testing his opinion. At the cry of "Messieurs, la banque est aux encheres," we looked round and saw that the subject of our talk was preparing to rise from his place. "Now one can punt," said Grierson (this was my friend's name), and turned to the bureau at which counters are for sale. "If old Jimmy Pethel punts," he added, "I shall just follow his luck." But this lode-star was not to be. While my friend was buying his counters, and I was wondering whether I, too, could buy some, Pethel himself came up to the bureau. With his lips no longer pursed, he had lost his air of gravity, and looked younger. Behind him was an attendant bearing a big wooden bowl—that plain, but romantic, bowl supplied by the establishment to a banker whose gains are too great to be pocketed. He and Grierson greeted each other. He said he had arrived in Dieppe this afternoon, was here for a day or two. We were introduced. He spoke. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Beautifully written, of course, and very sharply observed - everyone in the casino either too fat or too thin- and a good twist in the tail to account for the behaviour of the title character and his crazy risk-taking.