The first visit to Monte Carlo must be a sort of an event in the life of anyone with imagination. I went there yesterday afternoon from Menton by tram. The ride is very diversified, and here and there fine views are obtained.
|The Casino, 1900|
On the whole I was disappointed by the exterior aspects of the town. It lacks spaciousness, and since it is in the absolute control of one autocratic authority, spaciousness is what it ought not to have lacked. Some of the villas, however, with their white paint and general air of being toys, are excessivement chic. The casino is all right in its florid, heavy way - but what a chance for an architect, on that site over the sea! The whole town had an air of being Parisian, but not quite Parisian enough.
Inside the gaming saloons (4 o'clock) I found a large crowd and many tables in full work. The crowd not so distinguished in appearance as I had (foolishly) expected. I saw few signs at the tables of suppressed or expressed excitement, though quite a large proportion of the people seemed to be gambling seriously. I had no intention of betting, but after I had watched several tables and grasped the details of roulette (30 and 40 I didn't attempt to grasp) I remained at one table, as if hypnotised; without knowing it I began to finger a 5-franc piece in my pocket, and then I became aware that I was going to bet. I knew I should bet some seconds before I formally decided to. I staked a 5-franc piece on an even chance and won. Like a provincial up from the country, who has heard tales of metropolitan rascality, I stood close to a croupier and kept a careful eye on my coin, and picked up the winnings without an instant's delay. I kept on playing, carefully, and always on even chances, for some time, and stopped when I had made a little money and went and had some tea. I didn't play again.
I just missed a tram in coming home and had half an hour to wait; all that time I thought of gaming, gaming. I look forward to going again on Friday.