Yonder's Henry

Short Story (1934) from Esquire

Yonder's Henry Part II

After sleeping through numerous miles of Texas scenery while Albert sat alone with his God and his automobile, I found myself gazing miserably into the grim but good looking face of Mrs. Albert across the sparkling reaches of her luncheon table.

"The trouble with you boys," she said, "is that you don't drink enough."

Suiting her action to her words she replenished our glasses with what she was pleased to call real Texas mule, adding that it was something like hair of the dog that had so brutally and recently mutilated us.

"My dear," remarked Albert, accepting the drink, but ignoring the remark that went with it. "I've decided to hold the fox hunt tomorrow - you know, the regular weekly fox hunt."

"Yes," I added. "He wants to show me Henry in action. I can see him now at the head of your splendid pack of hounds."

Mrs. Albert considered the suggestion. She poured out a drink for herself and tossed it off with professional detachment.

"Can you?" she asked in level tones. "You must have a remarkable imagination. Most northerners would not even believe it."

"My wife is a little touchy about Henry," Albert hastened to explain. "I brag so much about him. Might as well hold the hunt tomorrow at the usual time."

"Oh certainly," replied Mrs. Albert. "Why not?" As she rose from the table she added, "Did I hear a door slam?"

"That's difficult to say," said Albert.

"Correct. It's almost impossible to tell whether a door has slammed or not after it's once slammed." Mrs. Albert continued thoughtfully. "It leaves no tracks behind."

"Not like Henry," I said to Albert. "He must fairly scoop up the earth when he once gets started."

I though I saw Albert flinch. "Of course," he agreed quite seriously. "Fairly excavates it, that dog."

"Come, Albert," said his wife. "We must see about that door...and make some arrangements for tomorrow."

"May I stroll out and take a look at the pack?" I inquired.

"I'd hardly advise it," observed Albert. "Not just before the hunt."

"No, don't do that," put in his wife. "Henry does much better after he's been lonely a spell."

Later that afternoon I inadvertently overheard Mrs. Albert at the telephone.

"Certainly," she was saying. "Bring your guests right along. We have an alcoholic with us who doesn't know the first thing about fox-hunting. Doubt if he knows one end of a horse from the other." She must have suspected my presence for she went on in an altered voice, "Oh, yes, he's quite charming, this guest of ours. You must meet him. And tell the others not to dress formally, you know. Cut out the red coats for a change. He hasn't an outfit with him. Neither have your guests, I reckon." When she had hung up she turned to me.

"Did you hear?" she asked.

"No I replied gallantly. "A door slammed. But I gathered I won't be alone in my misery."

"No," said Mrs. Albert. "There will be several other novices."

That night Albert, weak from the lack of liquor, came in to my room and deposited a bundle of clothing on a chair.

"For tomorrow," he explained, eyeing the garments with disfavor. "The hunt, you know."

"Oh, I don't care what I look like," I assured the dispirited man. "What I'm interested in is what Henry looks like. Does he usually juggle the foxes before or after the hunt?"

"It makes no difference to Henry," said Albert brightening. "Whenever he gets a fox. Some call it brutal."

"Nonsense," I replied heartily.

Albert went away.

Chapter III of "Yonder's Henry"