This story starts off a bit more exciting than the usual. We're near the finish line of a long-distance automobile race as the story opens.
The spectators, in a poor neighborhood outside of Dublin, are excited to see the home stretch, and are rooting hard for the French cars. It turns out the French are practically guaranteed to win.
The four main characters of the story have just finished the race in a French car, and they are introduced to us briefly along with the individual reasons each is in such a good mood.
Charles Ségouin, the owner of the car "was about to start a motor establishment in Paris" (After the Race.2).
André Rivière, a young electrician of Canadian birth, "was to be appointed manager" of Ségouin's establishment (After the Race.2).
Villona, "a huge Hungarian" "had had a very satisfactory luncheon" just before (After the Race.2).
Doyle, "a neatly groomed man," is "too excited to be genuinely happy." (After the Race.2). He's a 26-year old Irishman, the son of a wealthy "merchant prince" (After the Race.3).
After attending "a big Catholic college" in England, he did poorly in law school in Dublin, and returned to Cambridge, England, where he did a lot more partying than studying, supported by his father's money.
That's where he did some good networking by meeting Ségouin. They aren't good friends yet, but Doyle is proud of himself for knowing a man who, he has heard, owns "some of the biggest hotels in Paris" (After the Race.3).
And that's pretty much how he ended up in the back seat of a car with a humming Hungarian behind two French cousins whose language he can't quite understand. Ah, life.
Three things have made Jimmy Doyle "excited." "Rapid motion through space," "notoriety," and "money." Yeah, that sounds about right.
The first he has had by riding in the car, and the second because his new friends have made him look good in front of his old friends, which is all anyone ever wants in life, right?
As for money, Jimmy actually has "solid instincts" when it comes to finances, and has "kept his bills within the limits of reasonable recklessness" (After the Race.5).
But something big's about to happen with his money. He's about to "stake the greater part of his substance" on Ségouin's "motor establishment" (After the Race.5).
Jimmy and Villona head on over to Jimmy's parents' house, dress up nice for dinner at Ségouin's hotel and impress the heck out of Jimmy's parental units.
Amazing dinner. Ségouin gets everyone talking, first about cars, and then about politics, and manages to pretty smoothly cool everyone down when that topic gets too personal. Nice work, Seggy boy.
After dinner, the group goes walking, runs into friends in a carriage and decides to join in. After a while they end up on the friend's yacht in Dublin harbor. Livin' the high life, much?
Amazing yacht party. They dance, and eat, and drink, and give speeches. (Believe it or not, this was an important part of parties. We'll see another party speech in the last story of Dubliners, "The Dead.")
Well, it's amazing until they play cards.
Jimmy "did not know exactly who was winning but he knew that he was losing," and he starts to regret it.
At the end of the game, he and the yacht owner have lost the most money of all. He's still "excited," but knows that "he would regret in the morning" having lost so much (After the Race.20).
Villona has been up on deck and opens a door to let everybody know that, actually, it's already morning: "Daybreak, gentlemen!" (After the Race.22)