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The Hack Driver | English | Class X | CBSE

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Lesson Architecture

  • Theme

  • Lesson-At-A-Glance

  • NCERT Solution

  • Extra Long Question-Answers


  • The story revolves around the Hack driver who was William Magnuson. In the story he was Oliver Lutkins.

  • Oliver Lutkins had been evading summons for which a representative of the law firm-the narrator himself-was sent to New Mullion to serve him summons.

  • The narrator develops a good taste for the hack driver-introduced to him as Bill- for his pleasantries and pictorial description of New Mullion-a small town-where the narrator was sent to send summons to Oliver Lutkins.

  • In the story the narrator is taken for a ride when he discovers that the person he presumes to be Bill and who impressed him by his mannerism is none other than Oliver Lutkins himself.

Lesson At a Glance

  • The narrator of the tory is a junior clerk in a reputed law firm. His job was not to prepare legal briefs but to serve summons.

  • The lawyer was sent by his law firm to the town of New Mullion to serve summons on a man named Oliver Lutkins who was required to be present as a witness in a law case.

  • The narrator was happy to be sent to a small town as he found his work in a law firm very unpleasant and wanted a break from his work.

  • Although the town, being muddy and ugly-looking, does not live up to his expectations, he takes a great liking to the hack driver at the station.

  • The hack driver who claimed himself to be Bill Magnuson, offers to drive the narrator around the town in order to trace Oliver Lutkins.

  • Oliver Lutkins was the person who the narrator came to meet with in order to serve summons to him.

  • The hack driver, being a cheerful and friendly, the narrator did not mind dishing out the hourly fare he was required to pay to find Lutkins.

  • The hack driver, otherwise known in the village by the name of Bill, seemed to know a lot about Lutkins.

  • He informed the narrator that Lutkins never paid anybody any money. So if the narrator approached him in his fancy clothes, he would become suspicious and run away.

  • The hack driver suggested the narrator that he should keep out of sight when the hack driver looked for Lutkins at various places.

  • They went to enquire at Fritz's where Lutkins often went to play poker. They also went to Gustaff's barber shop. Gustaff was angry that Lutkins had not paid him his money, so Bill concluded that Lutkins must have gone to Gray's barber shop where they had missed him by five minutes.

  • Next both went to poolroom where they they heard that Lutkins just left after buying a packet of cigarettes.

  • The narrator offered to buy lunch to Bill who in turn suggested to have the lunch at his residence cooked by his wife. Bill suggested this so that the narrator ended up paying less than the cost at a restaurant.

  • The narrator was very much moved by Bill's narration of New Mullion and its people and he felt reassured in Bill's company even though he knew that Bill was making some money out of him.

  • After the lunch Bill came to know that from a friend of Lutkins that he had gone to his mother's farm which was located three miles north.

  • Bill, the hack driver, told the narrator that Lutkins' mother was a terror and Lutkins must have gone there in order to hide there.

  • The narrator and the hack driver on reaching there confronted an enormous old woman who chased them with a hot iron from the stove. The narrator and Bill had a peek through the windows of the house and also looked for the barn and the stable to arrive at a conclusion that Lutkins was not hiding there.

  • It was time for the narrator to catch the afternoon train to the city and Bill drove him to the station. On his return to the city the narrator was more occupied in his thought for Bill and New Mullion than Oliver Lutkins. He even thought of shifting to New Mullion and practising Law there.

  • At the law firm every one was upset to discover that the narrator was unsuccessful in his effort to trace Lutkins at New Mullion. All were upset as the case was coming up at the court the next morning and Lutkins' presence was inevitable there.

  • The narrator was again sent to New Mullion in the company of a man who had worked with Lutkins before.

  • On reaching New Mullion the narrator was taken aback to see Lutkins' mother talking and laughing with Bill at the station. When he pointed out Bill to the person who accompanied him to trace Lutkins, he was informed that the hack driver who the narrator was introduced to as Bill was none other than Lutkins himself.

  • The narrator was not so surprised at the fact that Bill had fooled him as to find that Lutkins and his mother were laughing at him when Lutkins was served summons.

  • Lutkins and his mother asked the narrator to pay a visit to his neighbour's house for a cup of coffee as their neighbour was the only one who had not seen the narrator the day before and was interested to meet such a simpleton from the city.

NCERT Solution

Read and Find Out ( page 47)

1. Why is the lawyer sent to New Mullion? What does he first think about the place?

Ans: The lawyer is sent to New Mullion to serve summons on a man called Oliver Lutkins who has ignored all previous letters asking him to be physically present to the court.

He initially thinks this place to be a sweet and simple country village. But on arriving there his initial impression goes for a toss. Its streets are rivers of mud with rows of wooden shop, either painted a sour brown or bare of any paint at all.

2. Who befriends him? where does he take him?

Bill Magnuson, the friendly delivery man at the station befriends him. He takes him to Fritz's shop and then to Gustaff's and Gray's barber shop.

3. What does he say about Lutkins?

Ans Bill Magnuson tells the narrator that Lutkins is a hard fellow to catch. He is always up to something or other. He never repays anyone the monney he owes and it is hard to make him part with his money.

Read and Find Out ( Page 50)

1. What more does Bill say about Lutkins and his family?

Ans: Bill says that Lutkins' mother has a farm three miles north of New Mullion, and is a terror. She is about nine feet and four feet wide. She is as quick as a cat, and she can talk a lot.

2. Does the narrator serve the summons that day?

No, the narrator does not serve the summons that day.

3. Who is Lutkins?

Oliver Lutkins is none other than Bill Magnuson, the delivery man who drives the narrator around New Mullion, apparently in search for Lutkins.

Think About It

1. When the Lawyer reached New Mullion, did Bill know that he was looking for Lutkins? When do you think Bill came up with his plan for fooling the lawyer?

Bill knew that the lawyer was looking for Lutkins when the lawyer told him so at the station.

Bill came up with his plan for fooling the lawyer as soon as he heard that the narrator was looking for him to deliver a summons. On previous occasions Bill ignored the letters from the court. So when he came to know the purpose of the narrator's visit at New Mullion, he decided to fool him.

2. Lutkins openly takes the lawyer all over the village. How is it that no one lets out the secret? (Hint: Notice that the hack driver asks the lawyer to keep out of sight behind him when they go into Fritz’s.) Can you find other such subtle ways in which Lutkins manipulates the tour?

Ans: The following instances from the text can be cited in favour of the statements above.

  • It is very likely that Bill and the people he visited with the narrator in the town were all involved in trickery.

  • It cannot be true that Fritz does not know who Oliver Lutkins is. When asked by Bill, Fritz hesitates a little and then tells them to find Lutkins at Gustaff's Shop.

  • At Gustaff's shop, bill first enters while the narrator lingers by the door. From there they go to Gray's shop and then to the poolroom.

  • At each place they do not find Lutkins. New Mullion being a small place, it is highly unlikely that people do not know Lutkins.

  • Lutkin's mother too seems to be involved as well. When bill and the author go to his mother's farm, she denies having seen her son and chases them with a hot iron. Thus at every point Bill seems to manipulate the tour.

3. Why do you think Lutkins’ neighbours were anxious to meet the lawyer?

Ans: Lutkins' neighbours were anxious to meet the lawyer because they wanted to see a lawyer from the city who was supposed to be clever and smart and yet turned out to be a fool.

4. After his first day’s experience with the hack driver the lawyer thinks of returning to New Mullion to practise law. Do you think he would have reconsidered this idea after his second visit?

Ans: Yes, certainly the lawyer would have reconsidered his idea of returning to New Mullion to practise Law. He had been fooled by Bill, the hack driver, whom he considered to be such a deep and richly human, ended up fooling him. He must have been highly disappointed at the double standard approach from Bill whose 'philosphy of simplicity and laughter' had made the lawyer consider returning to New Mullion.

5. Do you think the lawyer was gullible? How could he have avoided being taken for a ride?

The lawyer was certainly gullible. He could have discontinued taking the service of Bill when he realized that he was charging him too much. He should have also taken the lead of asking Fritz and Gustaff himself about Lutkins instead of allowing Bill to take the lead.

Long Questions

1. Lutkins justifies the proverb ' All that glitters is not gold'. Describe how he fooled the lawyer/narrator in story. Ans : Lutkins appeared to be very helpful and friendly. When the narrator reached New Mullion, he was befooled by Lutkins with a pseudo name Bill and volunteered to drive him round the small town to trace Lutkins. He even charged the narrator two dollars for every hour.

He pretended to be honest and helpful but he just befooled the lawyer. He instructed the narrator to keep a safe distance when Bill himself went to ask Fritz and Gustaff's barber shop about the whereabouts of Lutkins. Bill has involved them in the trickery. Bill even involved his own mother in fooling the narrator in his pursuit for Lutkins. Thus we can say that Bill has deceived the narrator all throughout the latter's trip to New Mullion.

We learn from this story that we should not take any stranger for granted just by their apparently genuine pleasantries. Some people might appear to help us and impress us with their convincing speaking skills. But we should not trust them and not take any undue service and favour from such tricky people like Oliver Lutkins himself.

2. Towards the end of the story, the lawyer was hurt on knowing the truth of the hack driver. How do you describe Lutkins in the context of the above statement. Ans : The narrator took Lutkins for a charming fellow with a gifted narration skill. He was highly impressed by disguised Lutkins' pleasantries and offer for help. He was so pleased by the disguised Lutkins so much so that he even considered returning to New Mullion to practise Law. He had found the disguised Lutkins deep and richly human.

The lawyer's impression of the place and the people of New Mullion went for a toss on his second trip to the village. He discovered that the person whom he came to know as Bill was no other than Oliver Lutkins himself. Thus the narrator's faith on his trip guide met a watery grave.

From the incidence it is obvious that Lutkins was a cheat. He always wears a camouflage-like appearance in the society. At the end both he and his mother had a heary laugh at the lawyer. The laughter stemmed from their successful effort at making the lawyer the fool. Thus, Lutkins truned out a trickster towards the end of the story.

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