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Chapter 5 After the Race

  • The cars came scudding in towards Dublin, running evenly like pellets in th_roove of the Naas Road. At the crest of the hill at Inchicore sightseers ha_athered in clumps to watch the cars careering homeward and through thi_hannel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry.
  • Now and again the clumps of people raised the cheer of the gratefull_ppressed. Their sympathy, however, was for the blue cars—the cars of thei_riends, the French.
  • The French, moreover, were virtual victors. Their team had finished solidly;
  • they had been placed second and third and the driver of the winning German ca_as reported a Belgian. Each blue car, therefore, received a double measure o_elcome as it topped the crest of the hill and each cheer of welcome wa_cknowledged with smiles and nods by those in the car. In one of these triml_uilt cars was a party of four young men whose spirits seemed to be at presen_ell above the level of successful Gallicism: in fact, these four young me_ere almost hilarious. They were Charles Segouin, the owner of the car; Andr_iviere, a young electrician of Canadian birth; a huge Hungarian named Villon_nd a neatly groomed young man named Doyle. Segouin was in good humour becaus_e had unexpectedly received some orders in advance (he was about to start _otor establishment in Paris) and Riviere was in good humour because he was t_e appointed manager of the establishment; these two young men (who wer_ousins) were also in good humour because of the success of the French cars.
  • Villona was in good humour because he had had a very satisfactory luncheon;
  • and besides he was an optimist by nature. The fourth member of the party,
  • however, was too excited to be genuinely happy.
  • He was about twenty-six years of age, with a soft, light brown moustache an_ather innocent-looking grey eyes. His father, who had begun life as a_dvanced Nationalist, had modified his views early. He had made his money as _utcher in Kingstown and by opening shops in Dublin and in the suburbs he ha_ade his money many times over. He had also been fortunate enough to secur_ome of the police contracts and in the end he had become rich enough to b_lluded to in the Dublin newspapers as a merchant prince. He had sent his so_o England to be educated in a big Catholic college and had afterwards sen_im to Dublin University to study law. Jimmy did not study very earnestly an_ook to bad courses for a while. He had money and he was popular; and h_ivided his time curiously between musical and motoring circles. Then he ha_een sent for a term to Cambridge to see a little life. His father,
  • remonstrative, but covertly proud of the excess, had paid his bills an_rought him home. It was at Cambridge that he had met Segouin. They were no_uch more than acquaintances as yet but Jimmy found great pleasure in th_ociety of one who had seen so much of the world and was reputed to own som_f the biggest hotels in France. Such a person (as his father agreed) was wel_orth knowing, even if he had not been the charming companion he was. Villon_as entertaining also—a brilliant pianist—but, unfortunately, very poor.
  • The car ran on merrily with its cargo of hilarious youth. The two cousins sa_n the front seat; Jimmy and his Hungarian friend sat behind. Decidedl_illona was in excellent spirits; he kept up a deep bass hum of melody fo_iles of the road The Frenchmen flung their laughter and light words ove_heir shoulders and often Jimmy had to strain forward to catch the quic_hrase. This was not altogether pleasant for him, as he had nearly always t_ake a deft guess at the meaning and shout back a suitable answer in the fac_f a high wind. Besides Villona's humming would confuse anybody; the noise o_he car, too.
  • Rapid motion through space elates one; so does notoriety; so does th_ossession of money. These were three good reasons for Jimmy's excitement. H_ad been seen by many of his friends that day in the company of thes_ontinentals. At the control Segouin had presented him to one of the Frenc_ompetitors and, in answer to his confused murmur of compliment, the swarth_ace of the driver had disclosed a line of shining white teeth. It wa_leasant after that honour to return to the profane world of spectators ami_udges and significant looks. Then as to money—he really had a great sum unde_is control. Segouin, perhaps, would not think it a great sum but Jimmy who,
  • in spite of temporary errors, was at heart the inheritor of solid instinct_new well with what difficulty it had been got together. This knowledge ha_reviously kept his bills within the limits of reasonable recklessness, and i_e had been so conscious of the labour latent in money when there had bee_uestion merely of some freak of the higher intelligence, how much more so no_hen he was about to stake the greater part of his substance! It was a seriou_hing for him.
  • Of course, the investment was a good one and Segouin had managed to give th_mpression that it was by a favour of friendship the mite of Irish money wa_o be included in the capital of the concern. Jimmy had a respect for hi_ather's shrewdness in business matters and in this case it had been hi_ather who had first suggested the investment; money to be made in the moto_usiness, pots of money. Moreover Segouin had the unmistakable air of wealth.
  • Jimmy set out to translate into days' work that lordly car in which he sat.
  • How smoothly it ran. In what style they had come careering along the countr_oads! The journey laid a magical finger on the genuine pulse of life an_allantly the machinery of human nerves strove to answer the bounding course_f the swift blue animal.
  • They drove down Dame Street. The street was busy with unusual traffic, lou_ith the horns of motorists and the gongs of impatient tram-drivers. Near th_ank Segouin drew up and Jimmy and his friend alighted. A little knot o_eople collected on the footpath to pay homage to the snorting motor. Th_arty was to dine together that evening in Segouin's hotel and, meanwhile,
  • Jimmy and his friend, who was staying with him, were to go home to dress. Th_ar steered out slowly for Grafton Street while the two young men pushed thei_ay through the knot of gazers. They walked northward with a curious feelin_f disappointment in the exercise, while the city hung its pale globes o_ight above them in a haze of summer evening.
  • In Jimmy's house this dinner had been pronounced an occasion. A certain prid_ingled with his parents' trepidation, a certain eagerness, also, to play fas_nd loose for the names of great foreign cities have at least this virtue.
  • Jimmy, too, looked very well when he was dressed and, as he stood in the hal_iving a last equation to the bows of his dress tie, his father may have fel_ven commercially satisfied at having secured for his son qualities ofte_npurchaseable. His father, therefore, was unusually friendly with Villona an_is manner expressed a real respect for foreign accomplishments; but thi_ubtlety of his host was probably lost upon the Hungarian, who was beginnin_o have a sharp desire for his dinner.
  • The dinner was excellent, exquisite. Segouin, Jimmy decided, had a ver_efined taste. The party was increased by a young Englishman named Routh who_immy had seen with Segouin at Cambridge. The young men supped in a snug roo_it by electric candle lamps. They talked volubly and with little reserve.
  • Jimmy, whose imagination was kindling, conceived the lively youth of th_renchmen twined elegantly upon the firm framework of the Englishman's manner.
  • A graceful image of his, he thought, and a just one. He admired the dexterit_ith which their host directed the conversation. The five young men ha_arious tastes and their tongues had been loosened. Villona, with immens_espect, began to discover to the mildly surprised Englishman the beauties o_he English madrigal, deploring the loss of old instruments. Riviere, no_holly ingenuously, undertook to explain to Jimmy the triumph of the Frenc_echanicians. The resonant voice of the Hungarian was about to prevail i_idicule of the spurious lutes of the romantic painters when Segoui_hepherded his party into politics. Here was congenial ground for all. Jimmy,
  • under generous influences, felt the buried zeal of his father wake to lif_ithin him: he aroused the torpid Routh at last. The room grew doubly hot an_egouin's task grew harder each moment: there was even danger of persona_pite. The alert host at an opportunity lifted his glass to Humanity and, whe_he toast had been drunk, he threw open a window significantly.
  • That night the city wore the mask of a capital. The five young men strolle_long Stephen's Green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke. They talked loudl_nd gaily and their cloaks dangled from their shoulders. The people made wa_or them. At the corner of Grafton Street a short fat man was putting tw_andsome ladies on a car in charge of another fat man. The car drove off an_he short fat man caught sight of the party.
  • "Andre."
  • "It's Farley!"
  • A torrent of talk followed. Farley was an American. No one knew very well wha_he talk was about. Villona and Riviere were the noisiest, but all the me_ere excited. They got up on a car, squeezing themselves together amid muc_aughter. They drove by the crowd, blended now into soft colours, to a musi_f merry bells. They took the train at Westland Row and in a few seconds, a_t seemed to Jimmy, they were walking out of Kingstown Station. The ticket-
  • collector saluted Jimmy; he was an old man:
  • "Fine night, sir!"
  • It was a serene summer night; the harbour lay like a darkened mirror at thei_eet. They proceeded towards it with linked arms, singing Cadet Roussel i_horus, stamping their feet at every:
  • "Ho! Ho! Hohe, vraiment!"
  • They got into a rowboat at the slip and made out for the American's yacht.
  • There was to be supper, music, cards. Villona said with conviction:
  • "It is delightful!"
  • There was a yacht piano in the cabin. Villona played a waltz for Farley an_iviere, Farley acting as cavalier and Riviere as lady. Then an imprompt_quare dance, the men devising original figures. What merriment! Jimmy too_is part with a will; this was seeing life, at least. Then Farley got out o_reath and cried "Stop!" A man brought in a light supper, and the young me_at down to it for form's sake. They drank, however: it was Bohemian. The_rank Ireland, England, France, Hungary, the United States of America. Jimm_ade a speech, a long speech, Villona saying: "Hear! hear!" whenever there wa_ pause. There was a great clapping of hands when he sat down. It must hav_een a good speech. Farley clapped him on the back and laughed loudly. Wha_ovial fellows! What good company they were!
  • Cards! cards! The table was cleared. Villona returned quietly to his piano an_layed voluntaries for them. The other men played game after game, flingin_hemselves boldly into the adventure. They drank the health of the Queen o_earts and of the Queen of Diamonds. Jimmy felt obscurely the lack of a_udience: the wit was flashing. Play ran very high and paper began to pass.
  • Jimmy did not know exactly who was winning but he knew that he was losing. Bu_t was his own fault for he frequently mistook his cards and the other men ha_o calculate his I.O.U.'s for him. They were devils of fellows but he wishe_hey would stop: it was getting late. Someone gave the toast of the yacht Th_elle of Newport and then someone proposed one great game for a finish.
  • The piano had stopped; Villona must have gone up on deck. It was a terribl_ame. They stopped just before the end of it to drink for luck. Jimm_nderstood that the game lay between Routh and Segouin. What excitement! Jimm_as excited too; he would lose, of course. How much had he written away? Th_en rose to their feet to play the last tricks. talking and gesticulating.
  • Routh won. The cabin shook with the young men's cheering and the cards wer_undled together. They began then to gather in what they had won. Farley an_immy were the heaviest losers.
  • He knew that he would regret in the morning but at present he was glad of th_est, glad of the dark stupor that would cover up his folly. He leaned hi_lbows on the table and rested his head between his hands, counting the beat_f his temples. The cabin door opened and he saw the Hungarian standing in _haft of grey light:
  • "Daybreak, gentlemen!"