It was dark by the time Lucas stopped his taxi in the driveway of the Wheeler home and lumbered up the path to the front entrance. He still wore his heavy boots, despite the spring thaw; his mackinaw and knitted cap were reminders of the hard winter that had come and gone.
When Geraldine Wheeler opened the door, wearing her lightweight traveling suit, she shivered at the sight of him. “Come in,” she said crisply. “My trunk is inside.” Lucas went through the foyer to the stairway, knowing his way around the house, accustomed to its rich dark textures and somber furnishings; he was Medvale’s only taxi driver. He found the heavy black trunk at the foot of the stairs, and hoisted it on his back. “That all the luggage, Miss Wheeler?” “That’s all. I’ve sent the rest ahead to the ship. Good heavens, Lucas, aren’t you hot in that outfit?” She opened a drawer and rummaged through it. “I’ve probably forgotten a million things. Gas, electricity, phone . . . Fireplace! Lucas, would you check it for me, please?”
“Yes, miss,” Lucas said. He went into the living room, past the white-shrouded furniture. There were some glowing embers among the blackened stumps, and he snuffed them out with a poker. A moment later the woman entered, pulling on long silken gloves. “All right,” she said breathlessly. “I guess that’s all. We can go now.” “Yes, miss,” Lucas said.