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After The Race
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.