Best American Humorous Short Stories
The Hotel Experience Of Mr. Pink Fluker
BY RICHARD MALCOLM JOHNSTON (1822-1898)
[From The Century Magazine, June, 1886; copyright, 1886, by The Century Co.;
republished in the volume, Mr. Absalom Billingslea, and Other Georgia Folk (1888), by
Richard Malcolm Johnston (Harper & Brothers).]
Mr. Peterson Fluker, generally called Pink, for his fondness for as stylish dressing as he
could afford, was one of that sort of men who habitually seem busy and efficient when
they are not. He had the bustling activity often noticeable in men of his size, and in one
way and another had made up, as he believed, for being so much smaller than most of his
adult acquaintance of the male sex. Prominent among his achievements on that line was
getting married to a woman who, among other excellent gifts, had that of being twice as
big as her husband.
"Fool who?" on the day after his marriage he had asked, with a look at those who had
often said that he was too little to have a wife.
They had a little property to begin with, a couple of hundreds of acres, and two or three
negroes apiece. Yet, except in the natural increase of the latter, the accretions of worldly
estate had been inconsiderable till now, when their oldest child, Marann, was some
fifteen years old. These accretions had been saved and taken care of by Mrs. Fluker, who
was as staid and silent as he was mobile and voluble.
Mr. Fluker often said that it puzzled him how it was that he made smaller crops than most
of his neighbors, when, if not always convincing, he could generally put every one of
them to silence in discussions upon agricultural topics. This puzzle had led him to not
unfrequent ruminations in his mind as to whether or not his vocation might lie in
something higher than the mere tilling of the ground. These ruminations had lately taken
a definite direction, and it was after several conversations which he had held with his
friend Matt Pike.
Mr. Matt Pike was a bachelor of some thirty summers, a foretime clerk consecutively in
each of the two stores of the village, but latterly a trader on a limited scale in horses,
wagons, cows, and similar objects of commerce, and at all times a politician. His hopes
of holding office had been continually disappointed until Mr. John Sanks became sheriff,
and rewarded with a deputyship some important special service rendered by him in the
late very close canvass. Now was a chance to rise, Mr. Pike thought. All he wanted, he
had often said, was a start. Politics, I would remark, however, had been regarded by Mr.
Pike as a means rather than an end. It is doubtful if he hoped to become governor of the
state, at least before an advanced period in his career. His main object now was to get
money, and he believed that official position would promote him in the line of his