The lawyer was sent to New Mullion to serve summons on Oliver Lutkins, who was needed as a witness in a law case.
He first thinks that the place must be a sweet and a simple country village.
A hack driver at the station, who called himself Bill Magnuson, befriends him. He told the lawyer that he knew Lutkins and would help in finding him. Bill took him to all the places where Lutkins was known to hang out. He took the lawyer to Fritz’s shop, where Lutkins played a lot of poker; to Gustaff’s barber shop and then to Gray’s barber shop; to the poolroom and several other places before finally taking him to Lutkins’ mother’s farm. However, Oliver Lutkins was not found.
Bill told the lawyer that Lutkins was a hard person to find as he was always busy in some activity or the other. He owed money to many people, including Bill, and had never paid back anybody. He also said that Lutkins played a lot of poker and was good at deceiving people.
Bill told the lawyer that he knew mother of Lutkins’. He said that she was a terror. He narrated an incident when he took a trunk to her once and she almost took his skin off because he did not carry it carefully. He also said that she was very tall and bulky. She was very quick and could talk a lot. He said that Lutkins must have heard that somebody was chasing him and consequently would have gone into hiding at his mother’s place.
No, the narrator did not serve the summons that day.
The hack driver himself is Lutkins but pretends to be Bill Magnuson. He tricks the lawyer to avoid the summons to be a witness in a case.
No, ‘Bill’ did not know initially that the lawyer was looking for him.
He must have made his plan for fooling the lawyer when the lawyer told him that he was looking for Lutkins, as he knew that he was required as a witness but did not want to give his testimony.
Lutkins never allows the lawyer to reach the place
where the imaginary Lutkins is supposed to be present at a given time. The way he weaves stories about Lutkins’ vagabond nature and the way he scares the lawyer about Lutkins’ mother are ways of fooling the lawyer devised by the hack driver. Everywhere he does not allow the lawyer to ask about Lutkins but he himself pretends to ask about him, which the villagers are knowing is a pretence. So the villagers also join in the whole drama.
Almost the entire village had enjoyer Lutkins making a fool of the lawyer. Only Lutkins’ neighbours had not seen the lawyer but had come to know what happened. They wanted to see the gullible man who Lutkins had taken for a ride. That is why tin y wanted to meet him.
No, absolutely not. After knowing how Lutkins had made fool of him, he would never return to New Mullion to practice law.
Yes, the lawyer was gullible. He believed every word of what Oliver Lutkins said. He should have asked about Lutkins from other villagers. Instead, he depended completely on the hack driver.
Persons like Lutkins are found in real life as well. They do not just appear in stories. They are very much real. Newspapers are full of reports of such tricksters. There is this famous con man in ‘David Copperfield’ written by Charles Dickens. His name is Uriah Heep. He traps a gullible, rich old man. The old man depends on him entirely. He takes advantage of his trust and takes all his money. He makes the old man an addict to alcohol. Then he forces the old man to marry his daughter to him.
A ‘con man’ or a confidence trickster is a person who makes a fool out of other people. He wins their trust first and then, he gets from them whatever he wants.