I agree it means "usually" but it if it's in fiction I wouldn't say it was poorly written. It's just that the author is making the narrator speak in the style of a hill-billy.It is poorly written. I'd say it means that sometimes when he returned home it was not 7:00, but most of the times it was.
I'd translate as Чаще всего когда он возвращался домой, на часах было семь.During all of the next week the Larrabees had an early breakfast. Joe was enthusiastic about some morning-effect sketches he was doing in Central Park, and Delia packed him off breakfasted, coddled, praised and kissed at 7 o'clock. Art is an engaging mistress. It was most times 7 o'clock when he returned in the evening.
As your article says, hillbilly refers to the people in the Appalachian district, and O. Henry was born Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862. That doesn't mean he couldn't write in polished English if he wanted to. As I said, I think the narrator is supposed to be speaking colloquially, and "most times" is typical of that region (where I happened to spend some years myself).Well, I have to say O'Henry is one of my favorite authors in the world, but without the context it really looks poorly written.
I'd translate as Чаще всего когда он возвращался домой, на часах было семь.
I don't think it is hillbilly, just connected to the previous two sentences and on its own is not very elegant.
P.S. As for hillbilly, check here:
There's also a big difference between US and UK English ("two peoples separated by a common language" and all that...). It always drives me crazy when the Brits say "the royal family were..." or "3 millions".I find it more and more obvious, after being awhile in this forum, that the famous writers of yore, of both Russian and English literature, wrote in phrases considered "badly written" by us, modern, advanced and, undoubtedly, extremely well-versed people.
And I thought in my naive mind, it was about the "taxation without representation". Now I understand what the fight was all aboutThere's also a big difference between US and UK English ("two peoples separated by a common language" and all that...). It always drives me crazy when the Brits say "the royal family were..." or "3 millions".