We left that peaceful scene of meadows and woods, and resumed our search of Oliver Lutkins. We could not find him. At last Bill cornered a friend of Lutkins and made him admit what he guessed, “Oliver’s gone out to his mother’s farm, three miles north.”
     We drove out there, laying plans.
     “I know Oliver’s mother. She’s a terror,” Bill sighed. “I took a trunk out there for her once, and she almost took my skin off because I didn’t treat it like a box of eggs. She’s about nine feet tall and four feet thick and quick as a cat, and she sure can talk. I’ll bet Oliver heard that somebody’s chasing him, and he’s gone on there to hide behind his mother’s skirts. Well, we’ll try her. But you’d better let me do it, boy. You may be great at literature and law, but you haven’t had real training in swearing.”
     We drove into a poor farmyard; we were faced by an enormous and cheerful old woman. My guide bravely went up to her and said, “Remember me? I’m Bill Magnuson, the carter and hackman. I want to find your son, Oliver.”
     “I don’t know anything about Oliver, and I don’t want to,” she shouted.
     “Now, look here. We’ve had just about enough nonsense. This young man represents the court in the city, and we have a legal right to search all properties for this Oliver Lutkins.”
     Bill made me sound very important, and the woman was impressed. She retired into the kitchen and we followed. She seized an iron from the old-fashioned stove and marched on us shouting. “You search all you want to — if you don’t mind getting burnt first.” She shouted and laughed at our frightened retreat.
     “Let’s get out of here. She’ll murder us,” Bill whispered. Outside, he said, “Did you see her smile? She was laughing at us.”
     I agreed that it was pretty disrespectful treatment. We did, however, search the house. Since it was only one storey high, Bill went round it, peering in at all the windows. We examined the barn and stable; we were reasonably certain that Lutkins was not there. It was nearly time for me to catch the afternoon train, and Bill drove me to the station.
The narrator and the hack driver then left the beautiful fields and restarted their mission of finding Oliver Lutkins. They failed to find him. Finally, Bill cornered Lutkins's friend and forced him to admit that he had run away to his mother's house, which was three miles from New Mullion. So, they travelled there and made arrangements to find him.
The hack driver then told the narrator that he knew Lutkins's mother. After telling that, he took a deep breath and said his mother was a very stubborn lady. He then narrates an incident which made him feel very frightened about her. One day the hack driver brought a trunk for Lutkins's mother. He didn't take care of the box as if there were eggs. She angrily scolded him for not taking care of it. After narrating the incident, he described her physical appearance. Lutkins's mother was nine feet tall and four feet thick and compared her speed to a cat's. He then says that she definitely can talk.
After that, the hack driver added that Lutkins must have come to know they were searching for him, which is why he had run to his mother's place to hide. He also suggested that the narrator let him deal with the mother as he doubted that the narrator would be able to get to know the truth from the lady's mouth. It means he was living in the village and had already spoken with Lutkins's mother, and it would be good if he spoke to her.
When the narrator and the hack driver arrived at the farm, they saw a large, cheerful older woman. The bold hack driver approached her, confidently introduced himself as Bill Magnuson, and informed her that he was looking for her son Oliver. The woman shouted back that she didn't know anything about him.
The hack driver became stern with the woman and said, "Look here now". They have seen enough of this foolishness and have the legal authority to inspect every property for Oliver Lutkins. Additionally, he claimed they had the legal authority to search her home to discover Oliver Lutkins.
The narrator was happy as he was getting due importance from Bill; even the lady seemed impressed by him. She went into the kitchen, and both of them followed her. To their shock, she took out a hot iron from the old-fashioned stove and came in front of them by shouting. She also threatened by telling them they could search for what they wanted if they did not mind getting burnt. She laughed when they stepped back due to fear. After seeing Lutkins's mother's threatening behaviour, the hack driver told the narrator to let them get out of the house. He also said that if they stayed further, she would murder them. When they came out of the home, the hack driver asked the narrator whether he noticed that lady's smile. She was laughing at them because of her victory.
The narrator acknowledges the hack driver's viewpoint after hearing it. He concurred that the woman was acting unpleasantly. However, they were able to search the whole home, including the stable (where the horses are kept) and the outhouse. As it was a single-storeyed building, they managed to search the whole of it and could not find Lutkins. As the narrator was getting late for the train, the hack driver took him to the station.
Meanings of the difficult words:
MeadowA field with grass and often wildflowers in it
SighTo breathe out slowly and noisily, expressing tiredness, sadness, pleasure
Murder The crime of intentionally killing a person
Disrespectful Lacking respect
WhisperTo speak very quietly, using the breath but not the voice, so that only the person close to you can hear you
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). The Hack Driver- Sinclair Lewis (pp. 47-53). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.