Chapter 4 Summary

As he walks down the train track throughout the night, Scripps becomes confused. He had left home when he learned that his wife, Lucy, had left. He has no idea where she has gone, nor where his daughter, Lousy, is. He no longer cares but keeps walking until he sees a sign: Petoskey. Beside the platform is a pile of dead deer being shipped down from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by hunters. Scripps looks in the window at a man tapping something on a telegraph. He asks the man if he is a telegrapher. The man looks at him strangely, thinking, “What is this man to me?” Scripps asks him if it is hard to be a telegrapher, though he really wants to ask him outright if the town is really Petoskey. The telegrapher asks Scripps if he is a “fairy” because he is overly friendly. Scripps says he does not know what being a fairy means. The man asks him why he is carrying around a bird. Scripps is confused and wonders why someone would go into telegraphy. He begins to tell his story when the telegrapher interrupts him, saying he used to know a girl in Mancelona.

Scripps decides it would be best to shorten his story, though it will probably be useless. He looks at the pile of dead deer, thinking that at one time they too had been lovers, since some were bucks and some were does. He can tell by the “horns” (as he calls antlers), though he admits that with cats it is more difficult to tell their gender. He thinks that in France they geld cats but not horses as they do in America.

Abruptly, Scripps tells the telegrapher that his wife left him. The telegrapher says he is not surprised if he goes around with a bird inside his shirt all the time. Scripps bluntly asks what the name of the town is, though he had not wanted to. He decides that there is no real connection between himself and the telegrapher, though he had tried. The telegrapher confirms his assumption that he is in Petoskey. Scripps thanks him and then turns to walk into the town. He considers himself lucky to have sold a story for four hundred and fifty dollars before he had started on his last drinking binge with Lucy. He now wonders why had done that at all. He looks down the street and sees two Indians coming toward him. They look at him but their faces do not change. They walk into the barbershop.