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Dubliners - After the Race

1. The Sisters

2. An Encounter

3. Araby

4. Eveline

5. After the Race

6. Two Gallants

7. The Boarding House

8. A Little Cloud

9. Counterparts

10. Clay

11. A Painful Case

12. Ivy Day in the Committee Room

13. A Mother

14. Grace

15. The Dead

16. The Dead - continue


THE cars came scudding in towards Dublin, running evenly like
pellets in the groove of the Naas Road. At the crest of the hill at
Inchicore sightseers had gathered in clumps to watch the cars
careering homeward and through this channel of poverty and
inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry. Now and again
the clumps of people raised the cheer of the gratefully oppressed.
Their sympathy, however, was for the blue cars--the cars of their
friends, 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 car was reported a Belgian. Each
blue car, therefore, received a double measure of welcome as it
topped the crest of the hill and each cheer of welcome was
acknowledged with smiles and nods by those in the car. In one of
these trimly built cars was a party of four young men whose spirits
seemed to be at present well above the level of successful
Gallicism: in fact, these four young men were almost hilarious.
They were Charles Segouin, the owner of the car; Andre Riviere, a
young electrician of Canadian birth; a huge Hungarian named
Villona and a neatly groomed young man named Doyle. Segouin
was in good humour because he had unexpectedly received some
orders in advance (he was about to start a motor establishment in
Paris) and Riviere was in good humour because he was to be
appointed manager of the establishment; these two young men
(who were cousins) 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 and rather innocent-looking grey eyes. His father, who
had begun life as an advanced Nationalist, had modified his views
early. He had made his money as a butcher in Kingstown and by
opening shops in Dublin and in the suburbs he had made his
money many times over. He had also been fortunate enough to
secure some of the police contracts and in the end he had become
rich enough to be alluded to in the Dublin newspapers as a
merchant prince. He had sent his son to England to be educated in
a big Catholic college and had afterwards sent him to Dublin
University to study law. Jimmy did not study very earnestly and
took to bad courses for a while. He had money and he was popular;
and he divided his time curiously between musical and motoring
circles. Then he had been sent for a term to Cambridge to see a
little life. His father, remonstrative, but covertly proud of the
excess, had paid his bills and brought him home. It was at
Cambridge that he had met Segouin. They were not much more
than acquaintances as yet but Jimmy found great pleasure in the
society of one who had seen so much of the world and was reputed
to own some of the biggest hotels in France. Such a person (as his
father agreed) was well worth knowing, even if he had not been
the charming companion he was. Villona was entertaining also--a
brilliant pianist--but, unfortunately, very poor.

The car ran on merrily with its cargo of hilarious youth. The two
cousins sat on the front seat; Jimmy and his Hungarian friend sat
behind. Decidedly Villona was in excellent spirits; he kept up a
deep bass hum of melody for miles of the road The Frenchmen
flung their laughter and light words over their shoulders and often
Jimmy had to strain forward to catch the quick phrase. This was
not altogether pleasant for him, as he had nearly always to make a
deft guess at the meaning and shout back a suitable answer in the
face of a high wind. Besides Villona's humming would confuse
anybody; the noise of the car, too.

Rapid motion through space elates one; so does notoriety; so does
the possession of money. These were three good reasons for
Jimmy's excitement. He had been seen by many of his friends that
day in the company of these Continentals. At the control Segouin
had presented him to one of the French competitors and, in answer
to his confused murmur of compliment, the swarthy face of the
driver had disclosed a line of shining white teeth. It was pleasant
after that honour to return to the profane world of spectators amid
nudges and significant looks. Then as to money--he really had a
great sum under his 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 instincts knew well with what difficulty
it had been got together. This knowledge had previously kept his
bills within the limits of reasonable recklessness, and if he had
been so conscious of the labour latent in money when there had
been question merely of some freak of the higher intelligence, how
much more so now when he was about to stake the greater part of
his substance! It was a serious thing for him.

Of course, the investment was a good one and Segouin had
managed to give the impression that it was by a favour of
friendship the mite of Irish money was to be included in the capital
of the concern. Jimmy had a respect for his father's shrewdness in
business matters and in this case it had been his father who had
first suggested the investment; money to be made in the motor
business, 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 country roads! The journey laid a
magical finger on the genuine pulse of life and gallantly the
machinery of human nerves strove to answer the bounding courses
of the swift blue animal.

They drove down Dame Street. The street was busy with unusual
traffic, loud with the horns of motorists and the gongs of impatient
tram-drivers. Near the Bank Segouin drew up and Jimmy and his
friend alighted. A little knot of people collected on the footpath to
pay homage to the snorting motor. The party 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. The
car steered out slowly for Grafton Street while the two young men
pushed their way through the knot of gazers. They walked
northward with a curious feeling of disappointment in the exercise,
while the city hung its pale globes of light above them in a haze of
summer evening.

In Jimmy's house this dinner had been pronounced an occasion. A
certain pride mingled with his parents' trepidation, a certain
eagerness, also, to play fast and 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 hall giving a last
equation to the bows of his dress tie, his father may have felt even
commercially satisfied at having secured for his son qualities often
unpurchaseable. His father, therefore, was unusually friendly with
Villona and his manner expressed a real respect for foreign
accomplishments; but this subtlety of his host was probably lost
upon the Hungarian, who was beginning to have a sharp desire for
his dinner.

The dinner was excellent, exquisite. Segouin, Jimmy decided, had
a very refined taste. The party was increased by a young
Englishman named Routh whom Jimmy had seen with Segouin at
Cambridge. The young men supped in a snug room lit by electric
candle lamps. They talked volubly and with little reserve. Jimmy,
whose imagination was kindling, conceived the lively youth of the
Frenchmen 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 dexterity with which their host directed
the conversation. The five young men had various tastes and their
tongues had been loosened. Villona, with immense respect, began
to discover to the mildly surprised Englishman the beauties of the
English madrigal, deploring the loss of old instruments. Riviere,
not wholly ingenuously, undertook to explain to Jimmy the
triumph of the French mechanicians. The resonant voice of the
Hungarian was about to prevail in ridicule of the spurious lutes of
the romantic painters when Segouin shepherded his party into
politics. Here was congenial ground for all. Jimmy, under generous
influences, felt the buried zeal of his father wake to life within
him: he aroused the torpid Routh at last. The room grew doubly
hot and Segouin's task grew harder each moment: there was even
danger of personal spite. The alert host at an opportunity lifted his
glass to Humanity and, when the toast had been drunk, he threw
open a window significantly.

That night the city wore the mask of a capital. The five young men
strolled along Stephen's Green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke.
They talked loudly and gaily and their cloaks dangled from their
shoulders. The people made way for them. At the corner of
Grafton Street a short fat man was putting two handsome ladies on
a car in charge of another fat man. The car drove off and the short
fat man caught sight of the party.


"It's Farley!"

A torrent of talk followed. Farley was an American. No one knew
very well what the talk was about. Villona and Riviere were the
noisiest, but all the men were excited. They got up on a car,
squeezing themselves together amid much laughter. They drove by
the crowd, blended now into soft colours, to a music of merry
bells. They took the train at Westland Row and in a few seconds,
as it 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 their feet. They proceeded towards it with linked arms,
singing Cadet Roussel in chorus, 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 and Riviere, Farley acting as cavalier and Riviere as lady.
Then an impromptu square dance, the men devising original
figures. What merriment! Jimmy took his part with a will; this was
seeing life, at least. Then Farley got out of breath and cried "Stop!"
A man brought in a light supper, and the young men sat down to it
for form's sake. They drank, however: it was Bohemian. They
drank Ireland, England, France, Hungary, the United States of
America. Jimmy made a speech, a long speech, Villona saying:
"Hear! hear!" whenever there was a pause. There was a great
clapping of hands when he sat down. It must have been a good
speech. Farley clapped him on the back and laughed loudly. What
jovial fellows! What good company they were!

Cards! cards! The table was cleared. Villona returned quietly to his
piano and played voluntaries for them. The other men played game
after game, flinging themselves boldly into the adventure. They
drank the health of the Queen of Hearts and of the Queen of
Diamonds. Jimmy felt obscurely the lack of an audience: 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. But it was his own fault for he frequently mistook his cards
and the other men had to calculate his I.O.U.'s for him. They were
devils of fellows but he wished they would stop: it was getting late.
Someone gave the toast of the yacht The Belle 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 terrible game. They stopped just before the end of it to drink for
luck. Jimmy understood that the game lay between Routh and
Segouin. What excitement! Jimmy was excited too; he would lose,
of course. How much had he written away? The men 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 were
bundled together. They began then to gather in what they had won.
Farley and Jimmy were the heaviest losers.

He knew that he would regret in the morning but at present he was
glad of the rest, glad of the dark stupor that would cover up his
folly. He leaned his elbows on the table and rested his head
between his hands, counting the beats of his temples. The cabin
door opened and he saw the Hungarian standing in a shaft of grey

"Daybreak, gentlemen!"

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