For he was a master I could trust—and all my brother used cars, whether manufactured or merely born, will understand what comfort that knowledge gives a fellow. I vowed I would do anything for that man! On that very trip, indeed, I carried him the last homeward mile on nothing in my tank but a faint odour.
Mrs. Todd was one of those gentle souls who get their happiness in being unhappy in the presence of their so-called loved ones. She was perpetually displeased with Todd.
His Christian name was James, but she did not speak Christian to him. When she hailed him from the house she called him “Jay-eems”—the “eems” an octave higher than the “Jay.”
He would drop the grease-can or the monkey-wrench to rush to her side.
“Look at your sleeves!” she would say. “Your best shirt!” Words failing her, she would sigh and go into a silence that was worse than words. He was a great burden to her.
Humbly he entreated her one day for an obsolete tooth-brush. “I want to clean spark-plugs with it,” he explained.
“Next,” she replied, icily, “you’ll be taking your little pet to the dentist, I suppose.”
From such encounters Jay-eems would creep back to the barn and seek consolation in tinkering around me.
He liked to take the lid off my transmission-box and gaze at my wondrous works. He was always tightening my axle-burrs, or dosing me with kerosene through my hot-air pipe, or toying with my timer. While he was never so smart as Willie about such things, he was intelligent and quick to learn; and this was not surprising to me after I discovered the nature of his occupation in life.
I had taken him to be a retired silk-worm fancier, a chronic juryman, or something of the sort. But shiver my windshield if he wasn’t a professor in a college!
On the morning when first he dared to drive me to his work, the college must have got wind of our coming, for the students turned out in a body to cheer him as he steered in at the campus gate, and the faculty gathered on the steps to shake his hand.
A bald-headed preceptor asked him if he meant to cyanide me and mount me on a pin for preservation in the college museum. The chancellor inquired if Todd had identified me. Todd said he had. He said I was a perfect specimen of Automobilum cursus gandium, the most beautiful species of the Golikellece family. It was the nearest he ever came to profanity in my hearing. I suppose he got it from associating with Willie.
They demanded a speech, and he made one—about me. He said that my name was Hilaritas, signifying joy. He said, among other flattering things, that I was no common mundane contraption, though such I might seem to the untutored eye. In their studies of the Greek drama they had read of gods from the machine. I was a machine from the gods. In my cylinders I consumed nectar vapour, in my goo-cups ambrosia, in my radiator flowed the crystal waters of the Fount of Bandusia.