**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Hack Driver
by [?]

At the somewhat gloomy harness shop we descended and went in. The room was odorous with the smell of dressed leather. A scanty sort of a man, presumably Mr. Beinke, was selling a horse collar to a farmer.

“Seen Nolly Lutkins around today? Friend of his looking for him,” said Bill, with treacherous heartliness.

Beinke looked past him at my shrinking alien self; he hesitated and owned: “Yuh, he was in here a little while ago. Guess he’s gone over to the Swede’s to get a shave. ”

“Well, if he comes in, tell him I’m looking for him. Might get up a little game of poker. I’ve heard tell that Lutkins plays these here immoral games of chance. ”

“Yuh, I believe he’s known to sit in on Authors,” Beinke growled.

We sought the barber shop of
“the Swede. ” Bill was again good enough to take the lead, while I lurked at the door. He asked not only the Swede but two customers if they had seen Lutkins. The Swede decidedly had not; he raged: “I ain’t seen him, and I don’t want to, but if you find him you can just collect the dollar thirty-five he owes me. ” One of the customers thought he had seen Lutkins “hiking down Main Street, this side of the hotel. ”

“Well, then,” Bill concluded, as we labored up into the hack, “his credit at the Swede’s being ausgewent, he’s probably getting a scrape at Heinie Gray’s. He’s too darn lazy to shave himself. ”

At Gray’s barber shop we missed Lutkins by only five minutes. He had just left—presumably for the poolroom. At the poolroom it appeared that he had merely bought a pack of cigarettes and gone on. Thus we pursued him, just behind him but never catching him, for an hour, till it was past one and I was hungry. Village born as I was, and in the city often lonely for good coarse country wit, I was so delighted by Bill’s cynical opinions on the barbers and clergymen and doctors and draymen of New Mullion that I scarcely cared whether I found Lutkins or not.

“How about something to eat?” I suggested. “Let’s go to a restaurant and I’ll buy you a lunch. ”

“Well, ought to go home to the old woman. And I don’t care much for these restaurants—ain’t but four of ’em and they’re all rotten. Tell you what we’ll do. Like nice scenery? There’s an elegant view from Wade’s Hill. We’ll get the old woman to put us up a lunch—she won’t charge you but a half dollar, and it’d cost you that for a greasy feed at the caef—and we’ll go up there and have a Sunday-school picnic. ”

I knew that my friend Bill was not free from guile; I knew that his hospitality to the Young Fellow from the City was not altogether a matter of brotherly love. I was paying him for his time; in all I paid him for six hours (including the lunch hour) at what was then a terrific price. But he was no more dishonest than I, who charged the whole thing up to the Firm, and it would have been worth paying him myself to have his presence. His country serenity, his natural wisdom, was a refreshing bath to the city-twitching youngster. As we sat on the hilltop, looking across orchards and a creek which slipped among the willows, he talked of New Mullion, gave a whole gallery of portraits. He was cynical yet tender. Nothing had escaped him, yet there was nothing, no matter how ironically he laughed at it, which was beyond his understanding and forgiveness. In ruddy color he painted the rector’s wife who when she was most in debt most loudly gave the responses at which he called the “Episcopalopian church. ” He commented on the boys who came home from college in “ice-cream pants,” and on the lawyer who, after years of torrential argument with his wife, would put on either a linen collar or a necktie, but never both. He made them live. In that day I came to know New Mullion better than I did the city, and to love it better.