Chapter 38 Summary

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Dolly and a Real Gentleman

Winter comes early and brings plenty of cold and wet. Snow, sleet, or rain comes down nearly every day for weeks, accompanied by biting winds and sharp frosts. A couple of thick rugs will help keep horse and driver warm when the cold is dry; when it is wet, soaked blankets are of no help in getting warm. Some of the cab drivers have waterproof covers for their horses, but many are too poor to afford such a luxury; both horses and men suffer, though the men suffer perhaps even more than the horses.

Streets slippery with sleet or snow are the most taxing, for it takes all a horse’s energy to keep his footing. The fear of falling is also exhausting for the animals. When the weather is the worst, some cab drivers sit in a local tavern and have someone else watch for potential fares; however, these men miss fares and always end up spending money at the tavern. On the worst days, Jerry visits a small coffee shop, but generally he waits out in the cold. Sometimes Dolly will see him and run home to get something hot for her father to eat or drink. Dolly is a special favorite of the men on the cab stand; all of them would have protected her with their lives if her father were not there to do so.

One day as Jerry is enjoying a bowl of something hot which Dolly has brought him, a gentleman approaches and hires him. Jerry prepares to hand the bowl to Dolly so that he can drive, but the man insists he has time for Jerry to finish his meal. Jerry thanks the man and finishes his food while the gentleman sits in the cab. Jerry tells his daughter that such a kindness is the mark of a gentleman. Later, he takes Jerry's cab several more times. The gentleman appears to love dogs and horses. Each time the cab drops him off at his house, several dogs come out to meet him, and he is quick to pat Jack and offer him some kind words. The gentleman is pleasant; his voice exudes trust. He seems determined in anything he does.

One day the gentleman and a friend take Jerry’s cab and stop at a small shop. While his friend goes into the store, the gentleman waits outside. On the other side of the street, a cart pulled by two horses begins to pull away without a driver. Soon the driver appears and starts to thrash the horses furiously for leaving. The gentleman, who has seen everything that has happened, crosses the street quickly, threatening the driver with negligence and brutality to animals. The young driver has obviously been drinking; his language is abusive, and before leaving, he further mistreats the horses. The gentleman takes a notebook from his pocket, looks closely at the name and address painted on the side of the driver’s cart, and writes something down in the book.

When his companion returns, he says the gentleman, whose name is Wright, has enough to worry about without concerning himself with other people’s horses or business. Wright explains that the world is as bad as it is because too many people are worried only about themselves and refuse to stand up for the oppressed and neglected.  He always tries to stop wicked things from happening, and many masters have thanked him for letting them know their horses are being abused. Jerry praises the gentleman for this sentiment. Wright says he believes that anyone who sees a cruelty or a wrong and does nothing to stop it must assume a share of the guilt.

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