Chapter 39 Summary

Seedy Sam

Jack is blessed because his driver is his owner, and it benefits Jerry to treat his animals well. Many horses, though, belong to large cab-owners who rent their horses and cabs to the drivers. These cab drivers’ only concern, of course, is how to get the most money out of the horses. Most of the creatures have a “dreadful time of it.”

One day a man nicknamed “Seedy Sam,” a shabby, miserable-looking driver, brings his horse in looking terribly used. Governor says the pair looks more fit for the police station than for the cab station. The man throws a tattered blanket over his horse and says, with desperation, that the only criminals are the horse owners who charge outrageous fees for the use of their animals. The drivers have no choice but to work the horses harder than they should just to eke out a living. Cab owners like Skinner expect their drivers to work outrageously long hours, limiting their time to rest and spend with their families. If a driver has a large family, he is particularly desperate and must often do without some necessity or another because he must pay exorbitant rental fees for his horses and cab.

Other drivers nod their agreement and Seedy Sam continues. There is so little profit to be made that drivers must overuse their horses, but they take no pleasure in the whippings they must give their overworked and tired animals. If customers were not so cheap, more money could be made; the few generous tips a driver receives are helpful but certainly not enough to make a significant change. Men all around him agree and say that their bad behavior (like drinking too much or abusing a horse) is justified because of such forced adversity.

Jerry remains silent during Seedy Sam’s diatribe, but his face reflects extreme sadness. Governor Grant apologizes for his comment about the police, for he knows what the man said is true. He does think drivers should apologize to their horses, at least, for venting their frustrations at other things on them. Kind words are understood even by animals.

A few mornings later, a strange man shows up at the cab stand with Sam’s cab. He explains that Sam got so ill the night before that he could barely crawl home. Sam’s wife sent a message to the man this morning that her husband was ill with a high fever and could not work, so he came with the cab. The same man shows up the next morning, as well. When Governor asks about Sam, the man tells him Sam died early this morning after raving feverishly the day before about Skinner and never resting on Sundays. No one speaks for a time, and then Governor this is a warning for them all.