Chapter 45 Summary

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Jerry’s New Year

Christmas and the New Year are happy times for most people, but cabmen and their horses do not have time to celebrate. The work is hard and often late, for the weather is cold and the waiting seems longer when there is a merry celebration just inside, where it is warm. Jerry uses Jack for most of the evening work. They stay very busy and Jerry’s cough is bad; however, no matter how late they arrive home, Polly is up and comes to greet her husband with a lantern in her hand and anxiety on her face. On the evening of the New Year, Jack and Jerry take two gentlemen to a gathering at nine o’clock and are told to return for them at eleven o’clock. They may be a few minutes later than eleven, but they want the cab there on time.

Jerry is waiting at eleven; as the clock strikes twelve, he is still waiting. It is windy, the sleet is bone-chilling, and there is no shelter for the cab or the horse. Jerry tries to protect Jack with cloths and walks to stay warm until he begins to cough. At twelve thirty, Jerry rings the bell and asks the servant if the cab will be needed tonight. He is assured the cab will be needed soon, so they wait.

At 1:15 the two gentleman walk out of the house and into the cab without a word to their driver except to tell him their destination. The address is nearly two miles away, and Jack’s legs are so cold he nearly stumbles. The men say nothing until Jerry tells them the fare and they complain about paying for his waiting time. Because Jerry is an honest man, he never charges more than he is due, but he never leaves without collecting his fare. The fare was hard-earned that night. He can barely speak and his cough is dreadful. Polly opens the door and holds the lantern, as always. He tells her she can feed Jack something warm and then boil him some gruel as he rubs down his horse as usual. Once Jack is warm and comfortable, Polly and Jerry lock the stable.

It is late the next morning before Harry comes to the stable. He tends to both horses as if it were Sunday. The boy is quiet; he neither whistles nor sings. At noon Dolly comes with him to give the horses their food and water. She is crying and Jack learns their father is dangerously ill with bronchitis. Two days pass and the children are still caring for the horses. Polly is tirelessly at her husband’s side, for he must remain very quiet. On the third day, Governor Grant comes in to the stable and asks Harry about his father. Harry says it is bad, and the physician believes tonight things will turn one way or the other for Jerry. Governor encourages the boy not to lose hope, though. The doctor believes Jerry has a better chance than most men because he does not drink. If not, his fever was so high that it would have burned up a drinking man. Governor looks puzzled, says Jerry is the best man he knows, and tells Harry he will come again in the morning.

The next morning Harry is happy to tell the visitor that his father is doing better. Governor is glad to hear the news and then talks to the boy about the horses. If Polly agrees, Governor Grant offers to take Hotspur for work and will split the money he earns with her to help with the cost of their feed. For more than a week, this is what happens.

Jerry is improving, but the family is still concerned about money. Polly wrote to Mrs. Fowler, her former mistress, last week to tell her Jerry would like to quit driving a cab. Now they are going to live in a cottage near Mrs. Fowler. It is in a lovely country spot, and the family will find happiness there. Her coachman is leaving in the spring, so Jerry will have time to recover before taking a new position.

The family will leave as soon as Jerry is well enough and the cab and horses can be sold. Jack is sad, for he is older and will likely not make an improvement in the move. Three years of driving a cab, even under the best care, have weakened him. Governor agrees to buy Hotspur; other cab drivers want Jack, but Jerry wants something better for him. The family leaves, but Jerry is still too sick to come tell his horses good-bye. The rest of the family is sad as Jack is led to his new life.

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Chapter 44 Summary


Chapter 46 Summary