“We don’t see many.”
“No. But those Meyers and the man from the bank with his wife and daughters–”
“He cashes my sight drafts,” I said.
“Yes but some one else would if he didn’t. Those last four boys were awful.”
“We can stay out here and watch the race from the fence.”
“That will be lovely. And, darling, let’s back a horse we’ve never heard of and that Mr. Meyers won’t be backing.”
We backed a horse named Light For Me that finished fourth in a field of five. We leaned on the fence and watched the horses go by, their hoofs thudding as they went past, and saw the mountains off in the distance and Milan beyond the trees and the fields.
“I feel so much cleaner,” Catherine said. The horses were coming back, through the gate, wet and sweating, the jockeys quieting them and riding up to dismount under the trees.
“Wouldn’t you like a drink? We could have one out here and see the horses.”
“I’ll get them,” I said.
“The boy will bring them,” Catherine said. She put her hand up and the boy came out from the Pagoda bar beside the stables. We sat down at a round iron table.
“Don’t you like it better when we’re alone?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I felt very lonely when they were all there.”
“It’s grand here,” I said.
“Yes. It’s really a pretty course.”
“Don’t let me spoil your fun, darling. I’ll go back whenever you want.”
“No,” I said. “We’ll stay here and have our drink. Then we’ll go down and stand at the water jump for the steeplechase.”
“You’re awfully good to me,” she said.
After we had been alone awhile we were glad to see the others again. We had a good time.
In September the first cool nights came, then the days were cool and the leaves on the trees in the park began to turn color and we knew the summer was gone. The fighting at the front went very badly and they could not take San Gabriele. The fighting on the Bainsizza plateau was over and by the middle of the month the fighting for San Gabriele was about over too. They could not take it. Ettore was gone back to the front. The horses were gone to Rome and there was no more racing. Crowell had gone to Rome too, to be sent back to America. There were riots twice in the town against the war and bad rioting in Turin. A British major at the club told me the Italians had lost one hundred and fifty thousand men on the Bainsizza plateau and on San Gabriele. He said they had lost forty thousand on the Carso besides. We had a drink and he talked. He said the fighting was over for the year down here and that the Italians had bitten off more than they could chew. He said the offensive in Flanders was going to the bad. If they killed men as they did this fall the Allies would be cooked in another year. He said we were all cooked but we were all right as long as we did not know it. We were all cooked. The thing was not to recognize it. The last country to realize they were cooked would win the war. We had another drink. Was I on somebody’s staff? No. He was. It was all balls. We were alone in the club sitting back in one of the big leather sofas. His boots were smoothly polished dull leather. They were beautiful boots. He said it was all balls. They thought only in divisions and man-power. They all squabbled about divisions and only killed them when they got them. They were all cooked. The Germans won the victories. By God they were soldiers. The old Hun was a soldier. But they were cooked too. We were all cooked. I asked about Russia. He said they were cooked already. I’d soon see they were cooked. Then the Austrians were cooked too. If they got some Hun divisions they could do it. Did he think they would attack this fall? Of course they would. The Italians were cooked. Everybody knew they were cooked. The old Hun would come down through the Trentino and cut the railway at Vicenza and then where would the Italians be? They tried that in ‘sixteen, I said. Not with Germans. Yes, I said. But they probably wouldn’t do that, he said. It was too simple. They’d try something complicated and get royally cooked. I had to go, I said. I had to get back to the hospital. “Good-by,” he said. Then cheerily, “Every sort of luck!” There was a great contrast between his world pessimism and personal cheeriness.
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