“not only Johnnie, but Eddie Carstairs himself, was trying to help him out”

From: Hangover Square (1941), by Patrick Hamilton:

“He sat there, this enormous, ill, simple-minded man who had suffered so much mentally – he sat there, in the late lights of Brighton chasing through the darkness of the car, looking now at the driver’s steering, now at the street, weak, happy, and at peace, his blue unhappy hunted eyes staring out, harmless, bewildered, hopeful, grateful. All the years and sorrow seemed to slip away from those eyes, and there was the little boy again, the little boy who had been hurt, and was being given a treat.
He was unaware of his pathos, his simplicity, the fact that he had a charm – a charm which made him entirely acceptable to all who valued such things. He was only infinitely grateful to Johnnie, and to this once dreaded and hated man who had come out of a hotel to see him home, and to the friendly accepting men behind.
They were still making a great deal of noise behind, but Eddie Carstairs remained quiet. All at once, however, he broke the silence.
‘Well, George,’ he said, not looking at him, for he was taking a corner with care, ‘I suppose you’ve been having a lot of thick nights lately, haven’t you?’
He was so amazed and flattered to hear himself called ‘George’ in that off hand yet friendly way, that he hardly knew how to answer.
‘Yes, I have,’ he said. ‘I have really.’
‘One has to stop sometimes, doesn’t one?’ said Eddie, or it gets one down.’
‘Yes, one has,’ he said. ‘Though it’s not really late nights so much with me. I just seem to have got into a state…’
‘What sort of a state?’ said Eddie Carstairs after another pause, in his quiet voice..
‘Oh – just a state.’
‘Not a woman, I hope,’ said this remarkable man…And there was another pause …
‘Oh, well… perhaps … sort of ..’
‘Because that’s not worth it. You take my word for it,’ said Eddie Carstairs, and from behind, Johnnie’s voice suddenly said, ‘Yes, he’s right there, George. He’s certainly right there, you know.’
And he saw in a flash of perception and gratitude that Johnnie had somehow told Eddie Carstairs something of the truth, and that not only Johnnie, but Eddie Carstairs himself, was trying to help him out, trying to console him and make him feel better, trying to be kind. And he couldn’t bear it, because it made him want to cry.”

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