有一天下午，我们到跑 马场去。弗格逊也去，还有克罗威·罗吉斯，就是那个给炮弹雷管炸伤眼睛的青年。中饭后，姑娘们去打扮换衣服，克罗威和我则坐在他病房的床沿上，翻阅赛马报 纸，研究各匹马过去的成绩和今天的预测。克罗威的头还扎着绷带，他本不关心赛马，只是因为闲来无事，才经常阅读赛马报纸，注意每匹马的进展变化。他说今天 的马都不好，但是我们只有这些马可赌赛。老迈耶斯喜欢他，常常透露给他一些内部消息。迈耶斯每次看赛马，几乎每赌必胜，不过他不愿意把内部消息告诉人家， 因为买那匹马票子的人一多，彩金就往下跌了。这里的赛马非常腐败。各国因跑马犯规而被赛马场开除的骑师，在意大利仍旧在当。迈耶斯的情报相当好，但是我不 喜欢请教他，因为有时候你问他，他常常不回答，你看得出他告诉你时，总显得很为难，但是因为某种原因，他总觉得有义务告诉我们一些，特别是克罗威，他对他 透露消息比较不太难过。克罗威的两只眼睛都受了伤，有一只是重伤，而迈耶斯自己眼睛也有毛病，所以他喜欢克罗威。迈耶斯赌什么马，从来不告诉他妻子。他妻 子有时赢有时输，大多是输，话可唠唠叨叨个没完。
我们四人赶一部敞篷马车到圣西罗去。那天天气很好，我们赶着马车穿过公园，沿着电车轨道出城，一到城外，路上全是尘土。城外有些别墅，围着铁栅，有 花草蔓生的大花园、有流着水的沟渠和青翠的菜园，菜叶上积有尘土。我们越过平原，望得见农民的屋子、丰腴青翠的田地和农场的水沟，还有北边的高山峻岭。往 跑马场赶的马车很多，守大门的人让我们进去，并不查验入场证，因为我们身穿军装。我们下了马车，买了节目表，穿过内场，跨过那铺得又平又厚的跑马道，来到 停马的围场。大看台已经陈旧了，是用木头搭成的，卖马票处就设在看台底下，在马房边排成一长列。有一群士兵靠着内场的围栏边。围场上的人也相当多，在大看 台后边的树木底下，有人拉着马绕着圈子走，让马活动活动。我们见到一些熟人，弄到两把椅子给弗格逊和凯瑟琳坐，观察那些马。
马由马夫牵着走，一匹跟着一匹，马头垂下。有一匹紫黑色的马，克罗威发誓说那是染出来的颜色。我们仔细看了一下，觉得颜色可能是染上去的。这匹马在 上鞍铃摇了以后，才给拉出来。我们看那马夫胳臂上的号数，对照节目表才知道这匹马叫做贾巴拉克，是一匹阉过的黑马。这一次竞赛的马，都是没有赢过一千里拉 或更多的。凯瑟琳也说那匹马的颜色是假的。弗格逊说她没有把握。我则以为那马有点可疑。我们都同意购买这匹马的票子，一共凑了一百里拉。根据赌注打赌表， 这匹马倘若跑赢的话，每里拉要付三十五里拉。克罗威走过去买马票，我们则看着骑师骑着马又绕了一个圈子，然后从树木底下走上跑道，慢慢地跑往起点。我们走 上大看台去看赛马。圣西罗当年还没装上弹性起跑栅，那个主持起跑者先叫马排成一横行——在远远的跑道上这些马看起来很小——然后把长鞭啪的一挥，命令各匹 马起跑。马跑过我们跟前时，那匹黑马竟然一马当先，到了转弯的地方，它撇下了其余的马，跑到远远的前方去了。我用望远镜往远处望去，看见黑马的骑师正在死 命拉住它，但是马控制不住，等到拐弯转入最后决胜的那段跑道时，它抛下其余的马，有十五匹马马身长度的距离。黑马到了终点后还转了一个弯才停下来。“这太 好了，“凯瑟琳说。“我们赢了三千多里拉啦。一定是匹好马。““我只盼望他们付钱以前，马的颜色可别掉了，“克罗威说。“真是一匹可爱的马，“凯瑟琳说。 “不晓得迈耶斯先生买了它的票没有。““你买了那匹赢的马没有？“我大声问迈耶斯。他点点头。“我倒没有，“
One day in the afternoon we went to the races. Ferguson went too and Crowell Rodgers, the boy who had been wounded in the eyes by the explosion of the shell nose-cap. The girls dressed to go after lunch while Crowell and I sat on the bed in his room and read the past performances of the horses and the predictions in the racing paper. Crowell's head was bandaged and he did not care much about these races but read the racing paper constantly and kept track of all the horses for something to do. He said the horses were a terrible lot but they were all the horses we had. Old Meyers liked him and gave him tips. Meyers won on nearly every race but disliked to give tips because it brought down the prices. The racing was very crooked. Men who had been ruled off the turf everywhere else were racing in Italy. Meyers' information was good but I hated to ask him because sometimes he did not answer, and always you could see it hurt him to tell you, but he felt obligated to tell us for some reason and he hated less to tell Crowell. Crowell's eyes had been hurt, one was hurt badly, and Meyers had trouble with his eyes and so he liked Crowell. Meyers never told his wife what horses he was playing and she won or lost, mostly lost, and talked all the time.
We four drove out to San Siro in an open carriage. It was a lovely day and we drove out through the park and out along the tramway and out of town where the road was dusty. There were villas with iron fences and big overgrown gardens and ditches with water flowing and green vegetable gardens with dust on the leaves. We could look across the plain and see farmhouses and the rich green farms with their irrigation ditches and the mountains to the north. There were many carriages going into the race track and the men at the gate let us in without cards because we were in uniform. We left the carriage, bought programmes, and walked across the infield and then across the smooth thick turf of the course to the paddock. The grand-stands were old and made of wood and the betting booths were under the stands and in a row out near the stables. There was a crowd of soldiers along the fence in the infield. The paddock was fairly well filled with people and they were walking the horses around in a ring under the trees behind the grandstand. We saw people we knew and got chairs for Ferguson and Catherine and watched the horses.
They went around, one after the other, their heads down, the grooms leading them. One horse, a purplish black, Crowell swore was dyed that color. We watched him and it seemed possible. He had only come out just before the bell rang to saddle. We looked him up in the programme from the number on the groom's arm and it was listed a black gelding named Japalac. The race was for horses that had never won a race worth one thousand lire or more. Catherine was sure his color had been changed. Ferguson said she could not tell. I thought he looked suspicious. We all agreed we ought to back him and pooled one hundred lire. The odds sheets showed he would pay thirty-five to one. Crowell went over and bought the tickets while we watched the jockeys ride around once more and then go out under the trees to the track and gallop slowly up to the turn where the start was to be.
We went up in the grand-stand to watch the race. They had no elastic barrier at San Siro then and the starter lined up all the horses, they looked very small way up the track, and then sent them off with a crack of his long whip. They came past us with the black horse well in front and on the turn he was running away from the others. I watched them on the far side with the glasses and saw the jockey fighting to hold him in but he could not hold him and when they came around the turn and into the stretch the black horse was fifteen lengths ahead of the others. He went way on up and around the turn after the finish.
"Isn't it wonderful," Catherine said. "We'll have over three thousand lire. He must be a splendid horse."
"I hope his color doesn't run," Crowell said, "before they pay off."
"He was really a lovely horse," Catherine said. "I wonder if Mr. Meyers backed him."
"Did you have the winner?" I called to Meyers. He nodded.
"I didn't," Mrs. Meyers said. "Who did you children bet on?"
"Really? He's thirty-five to one!"
"We liked his color."
"I didn't. I thought he looked seedy. They told me not to back him."
"He won't pay much," Meyers said.
"He's marked thirty-five to one in the quotes," I said.
"He won't pay much. At the last minute," Meyers said, "they put a lot of money on him."
"Kempton and the boys. You'll see. He won't pay two to one."
"Then we won't get three thousand lire," Catherine said. "I don't like this crooked racing!"
"We'll get two hundred lire."
"That's nothing. That doesn't do us any good. I thought we were going to get three thousand."
"It's crooked and disgusting," Ferguson said.
"Of course," said Catherine, "if it hadn't been crooked we'd never have backed him at all. But I would have liked the three thousand lire."
"Let's go down and get a drink and see what they pay," Crowell said. We went out to where they posted the numbers and the bell rang to pay off and they put up 18.50 after Japalac to win. That meant he paid less than even money on a ten-lira bet.
We went to the bar under the grand-stand and had a whiskey and soda apiece. We ran into a couple of Italians we knew and McAdams, the vice-consul, and they came up with us when we joined the girls. The Italians were full of manners and McAdams talked to Catherine while we went down to bet again. Mr. Meyers was standing near the pari-mutuel.
"Ask him what he played," I said to Crowell.
"What are you on, Mr. Meyers?" Crowell asked. Meyers took out his programme and pointed to the number five with his pencil.
"Do you mind if we play him too?" Crowell asked.
"Go ahead. Go ahead. But don't tell my wife I gave it to you."
"Will you have a drink?" I asked.
"No thanks. I never drink."
We put a hundred lire on number five to win and a hundred to place and then had another whiskey and soda apiece. I was feeling very good and we picked up a couple more Italians, who each had a drink with us, and went back to the girls. These Italians were also very mannered and matched manners with the two we had collected before. In a little while no one could sit down. I gave the tickets to Catherine.
"What horse is it?"
"I don't know. Mr. Meyers' choice."
"Don't you even know the name?"
"No. You can find it on the programme. Number five I think."
"You have touching faith," she said. The number five won but did not pay anything. Mr. Meyers was angry.
"You have to put up two hundred lire to make twenty," he said. "Twelve lire for ten. It's not worth it. My wife lost twenty lire."
"I'll go down with you," Catherine said to me. The Italians all stood up. We went downstairs and out to the paddock.
"Do you like this?" Catherine asked.
"Yes. I guess I do."
"It's all right, I suppose," she said. "But, darling, I can't stand to see so many people."
"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.