Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGalusha The Magnificent - Chapter 12
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 12 Post by :takabull Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1780

Click below to download : Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 12 (Format : PDF)

Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 12

CHAPTER XII

Miss Phipps had prophesied that the cares attending the possession of wealth might interfere with her sleep that night. Concerning his own slumbers Galusha made no prophecy, but the said slumbers were broken and scanty, nevertheless. Martha's happiness, her relief, and the kind things she had said to him, all these were pleasant to reflect upon and to remember. Not so pleasant was the thought of the deception he had practiced. Of course, he had deceived for a good purpose and certainly with no idea of personal gain, quite the contrary. But he had been deceitful--and to Martha Phipps, of all people. What would she say if she ever found it out? He reflected upon the amazing number of--ah--fibs he had told her, and the question what would she say if she ever learned of these was even more terrifying in its possibilities. She must not learn of them, she must never, never know that it was his own money which he had brought from Boston, that he, and no one else, had bought that stock of hers.

Here he sat up in bed, having suddenly remembered the certificate for two hundred and fifty shares of Wellmouth Development Company stock which she had handed him when he started for Boston. He had folded it lengthwise and crosswise and had put it in his pocket--and had not thought of it since, until that moment. A cold chill ran down his back. What if--

He scrambled out of bed and, the room being distinctly cool, chills immediately ran up and down other portions of his anatomy. He did not mind those, however, but finding the matches, lighted the lamp and began pawing over his garments, those which he had worn upon his Boston pilgrimage.

The certificate was not in the coat pocket. Galusha gasped. Had he dropped it in the train? Or in the office of Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot? Why, if the last were true, it would be found and traced to him, and Minor and Barbour and, eventually, Cousin Gussie would learn that he....

Here he remembered that Martha had urged him not to put it in his coat pocket but in his pocketbook. Oh, joy! He delved for the pocketbook, opened it--and found no certificate therein.

Oh, dear, dear! Oh, dear! Suppose he had not lost it in Boston. Suppose he had that very evening dropped it in the house here at home, in the sitting room, or the dining room. Suppose Primmie should find it, or Miss Phipps herself. Then she would KNOW that he had deceived her--and lied to her--

And then he remembered that, instead of putting the certificate in his pocketbook, he had found the latter too small for the purpose, and had put the document in the inside pocket of his waistcoat. And in that waistcoat pocket he found it.

So that was all right, all right so far; but the fact remained that, instead of the troublesome thing--damning evidence of his guilt and deception--reposing safely in the vaults of a Boston bank, where he had intended putting it, it was here, in the house, in the house of Miss Martha Phipps, who might find it at any time.

He tried various hiding places, the drawers of his bureau, the table drawer, under the straw matting in the corner, but none seemed satisfactorily secure. Under the matting was, at first thought, ideal, but, after secreting it there and getting into bed, he remembered that Martha had declared his room needed new matting and, if ever she could afford that cost, new matting it should have. Having come into possession of five thousand dollars, she might feel that she could now afford it. He climbed, shivering, out of bed again, resurrected the certificate and hid it under his pillow, an orthodox but safe hiding place for that night only. The next morning he wrapped it in a summer undergarment and placed the said garment at the bottom of a pile of similar intimacies in his bureau drawer. And each night of the following week, before retiring, he dug it out to make sure of its safety.

The day after her boarder's return from Boston, Martha went over to Wellmouth Centre. The bank there had charge of her account, such as it was, and she wished to have it take charge of the, to her, huge sum of real money which Mr. Bangs had brought. She told the cashier that she was desirous of speaking with him on a matter of business, and he invited her into his little room at the end of the counter. There she took from her "Boston bag" a brown paper parcel and, unwrapping the brown paper, disclosed the five thousand dollars.

Cashiers of small town banks know the true financial strength and weakness of dwellers in those towns, just as the doctors know their physical ones. Mr. Edgar Thacher, which was the cashier's name in this instance, knew how much of an estate Cap'n Jim Phipps had left his daughter and how that estate was divided as to investments. So he was surprised when Martha revealed the money.

"Good land, Martha!" he exclaimed. "What's happened? Haven't gone into the counterfeiting trade, have you?"

Martha smilingly shook her head. "No, Edgar," she said. "It's too late in life for me to begin learnin' new trades, I guess. Just count that, will you, please? I want to make sure it's all there and that I didn't really have only half of it and dream the rest."

The cashier counted the money. "Five thousand, I make it," he said.

"That's what it ought to be. Now will you put that to my account? I don't know how long it'll stay there--the whole of it not very long, I'm afraid--but it will be earnin' a little interest while it does stay."

"Yes, sure. Well, Martha, it's none of my business, of course, but, as long as you say you haven't been counterfeiting, I wish you would give me your receipt for making money. Anybody that can make five thousand in one lump these hard times is doing well."

Martha shook her head once more. She and the cashier were old friends. "No receipt to give, Edgar," she said. "I wish there was; I'd be busy usin' it, I tell you. I just sold somethin' I owned, that's all, and got a good deal better price than I ever expected to. In fact, I had about given up hope of ever gettin' a cent. But there, I mustn't talk so much. You'll deposit that to my account, won't you, Edgar? And, if you SHOULD see your way clear to pay seven or eight per cent interest instead of four, or whatever you do pay, don't bother to write and ask me if I'll take it, because you'll only be wastin' your time.... Eh? Why, good gracious, Jethro! What are you doin' over here?"

The captain's big frame blocked the doorway of the cashier's office. He had opened that door without knocking, because it was his habit to open doors that way. Captain Jethro Hallett's position as keeper of the Gould's Bluffs light was not an exalted or highly paid one, but his influence in Wellmouth and its vicinity was considerable, nevertheless. He was accounted a man of means, he had always been--more especially in the years before his wife's death and the break in health which followed it--a person of shrewd business ability and keenness in a trade, and even now, when some of the townsfolk grinned behind his back and told stories of his spiritualistic obsessions, they were polite and deferential to his face. As a matter of fact, it would have been extremely impolitic to be otherwise than deferential to him. Captain Jeth was quite aware of his worth and expected deference.

He was as surprised to see his neighbor as she was to see him.

"Why, hello, Martha!" he grunted. "What fetched you here?"

"I asked you first, Cap'n Jeth, but it doesn't make any difference. My feet brought me as far as the corner and Ras Beebe's grocery cart brought me the rest of the way. I had planned to come in the train, but Ras saved me the trouble--AND the fare. He's goin' back in a few minutes, so I've got to hurry."

"Humph! But what did you come here FOR?"

"Oh, I had a little business with Edgar and the bank. Excuse me, Jethro. Edgar..."

She stooped and whispered to the cashier. He nodded.

"Yes, Martha, of course," he said. "You've got your book? All right. Back in a minute, Cap'n."

He picked up the pile of money from the desk, took from Miss Phipps' hand the pass book she handed him, and together they stepped out into the public room. Captain Jethro, whose eyes had caught sight of the bills, leaned forward and peered through the little grating above Mr. Thacher's desk. He saw the cashier and Martha standing by the teller's window. The former said something and handed the teller the bank book and the roll of bills. A moment later the teller, having counted the money and made an entry in the book, handed the latter back to the lady.

"Five thousand," he said, and his tone was not low. "There you are, Miss Phipps. Thank you."

When, having escorted the lady to the door, Thacher came back to his private office, he found the light keeper sitting in the armchair reserved for customers and pulling thoughtfully at his beard.

"Well, Cap'n," said Mr. Thacher, "what can I do for you?"

Captain Jethro crossed his legs. "I come over to cash a couple of checks I got by mail," he said. "Had plenty of time so I thought I'd drop in and see you a minute."

"Oh, yes, yes. Glad to see you."

"Um-hm. Ain't so glad to see me as you was to see Martha Phipps, I guess likely. _I ain't depositin' any five thousand dollars. 'Twas five thousand she just deposited, wasn't it?"

The cashier was rather annoyed. He did not answer at once. His visitor repeated the question.

"Martha just put five thousand in the bank, didn't she?" he asked.

"Why--yes. Did she tell you she was going to?"

"No. I heard Eldridge say five thousand when he give her back her bank book. Five thousand is a lot of money. Where'd she get it from?"

"I don't know, Cap'n, I'm sure. Little more spring-like out to-day, isn't it?"

"Um-hm. Martha been borrerin' from the bank, has she?"

"No."

"Didn't know but she might have mortgaged the Phipps' place. Ain't done that, you say?"

"No. At least, if she has she didn't tell me of it. How are things over at the lighthouse?"

"All right enough. I don't hardly believe she could raise more'n three thousand on a mortgage, anyhow.... Humph! Five thousand is a sight of money, too.... Didn't she tell you nothin' about how she got it?"

Thacher's annoyance increased. The ordinary caller displaying such persistent curiosity would have been dismissed unceremoniously; but Jethro Hallett was not to be dismissed that way. The captain owned stock in the bank and, before his illness, his name had been seriously considered to fill the first vacancy in its list of directors.

"Must have told you SOMETHIN' about how she got hold of all that money," persisted the light keeper. "What did she say to you, anyway, Ed?"

"She said--she said--Oh, well, she said she had sold something she owned and had got the five thousand for it."

"Humph! I want to know! Sold somethin', eh? What was it she sold?"

"She didn't say, Cap'n. All she said was that she had sold it and got the five thousand. Oh, yes, she did say that it was a bigger price than she ever expected to get and that there was a time when she never expected to get a cent."

"Humph! I want to know! Funny she should sell anything without comin' to me first. She generally comes to ask my advice about such things.... Humph!... She didn't sell the house? No, I'd a-known if she had done that. And what else.... Humph!..."

He pulled at his beard in silence for a moment. The teller, a brisk young man, possessed of a profound love of mischief and a corresponding lack of reverence, entered the office.

"Oh, excuse me," he said. "I thought you was alone, Mr. Thacher." Then, with a wink at his superior over the light keeper's tousled gray head, he observed, "Well, Cap'n Jeth, what's this I hear about Marietta Hoag? They tell me she's left the Spiritualists and gone over to Holiness chapel. Is it so?"

Jethro came out of his reverie. His deep-set eyes flashed and his big fist pounded the office table. No, it was not so. It was a lie. Who said it? Who was responsible for starting such sacrilegious, outrageous yarns? Marietta Hoag was a woman called and chosen to receive and give out revelations from on high. The Holiness crowd was a crew of good-for-nothin', hollerin' hard-shells. By the everlastin'--

He blew out of the office and out of the bank, rumbling and spitting fire like a volcano. The teller and the cashier watched him go. Then the former said:

"That's the way to get rid of him, Mr. Thacher. He'll set 'round and talk you to death if you give him half a chance. When you want him to go, tell him somebody at the other end of the town has been running down the Spiritualists. He'll be so anxious to get there and heave 'em overboard that he'll forget to stop and finish what he was saying here."

Which may or may not have been true, but the fact remains that the light keeper did not entirely forget what he and the cashier said concerning Martha Phipps' surprising bank deposit. And the next morning, as Martha was walking up the lane from the village, where she had been on a supply-purchasing excursion, she heard heavy footsteps and, turning, saw her neighbor tramping toward her, his massive figure rolling, as it always did when in motion, from side to side like a ship in a seaway.

"Why, hello, Jethro!" she exclaimed. Captain Jethro merely nodded. His first remark was a question, and very much to the point.

"Look here, Martha," he demanded. "Have you sold that Development stock of yours?"

Martha stared at him. For a moment she was inclined to believe in the truth of the light keeper's "spirit revelations."

"Why--why, Jethro!" she gasped. The captain, gazing at her keenly beneath his shaggy brows, seemed to find his answer in her face.

"Humph!" he observed. "You have sold it, ain't you? Well, by the everlastin'!"

"Why--why, Jethro! What are you talkin' about?"

"About that two hundred and fifty shares of Wellmouth Development of yours. You've sold it, ain't you, Martha? And you must have got par for it, too. Did the Trumet Trust Company folks buy it?"

But Miss Phipps was recovering from her surprise. She waited a moment before replying and, when she did reply, her tone was as crisp, if not as domineering, as her interrogator's.

"See here, Jethro," she said; "you're takin' a good many things for granted, aren't you?"

"No, I don't cal'late I am. I know you've sold somethin' and got five thousand dollars for it. I see you deposit the five thousand, myself, and Ed Thacher told me, after I pumped it out of him, that you said you'd sold somethin' you owned and got a good price when you didn't know as you'd ever get a cent. Now, you ain't sold your place because I'd know if you had, and it ain't worth five thousand, anyway. The other stocks and bonds you've got ain't--"

But Martha interrupted.

"Jethro," she said, sharply, "I just said that you were takin' a good many things for granted. You are. One of 'em is that you can talk to me as if I was Zach Bloomer or a fo'masthand on your old schooner. I'm neither of those and I don't care to be talked to in that way. Another is that what I chose to do with my property is your business. It isn't, it's mine. I may have sold that stock or any other, or the house or the barn or the cat, as far as that goes, but if I have or haven't it is my affair. And I think you'd better understand that before we talk any more."

She turned and walked on again. Captain Jethro's eyes flashed. It had been some time since any one had addressed him in that manner. However, women were women and business was business, and the captain was just then too intent upon the latter to permit the whims of the former to interfere. He swallowed his temper and strode after his neighbor.

"Martha," he said, complainingly, "I don't see as you've got any call to talk to me that way. I've been a pretty good friend to you, seems to me, and I was your father's friend, his chum, as you might say. Seems as if I had--well, a right to be interested in--in what you do."

Martha paused. After all, there was truth in what he said. He had been her father's close friend, and, no doubt, he meant to be hers. And he was Lulie's father, and not well, not quite his old self mentally or physically. Perhaps she should make allowances.

"Well, all right, Cap'n Jeth," she said. "It wasn't what you said so much as it was how you said it. Now will you tell me why you're so dreadfully anxious to know how I got that five thousand dollars I deposited over to the bank yesterday?"

The light keeper pulled at his beard; the latter was so thick as to make a handful, even for one of his hands. "Well," he said, somewhat apologetically, "you see, Martha, it's like this: IF you sold them Development shares of yours--and I swan I can't think of anything else you own that would sell for just that money--IF you sold 'em, I say, I'd like to know how you done it. I've got four hundred shares of that stock I'd like to sell fust-rate--fust-rate I would."

She had not entirely forgiven him for his intrusion in her affairs and his manner of the moment before. She could not resist giving him a dig.

"Cap'n Jeth," she said, "I don't see why you need to worry. I've heard you say a good many times that you had promises from--well, from the spirits that you were goin' to sell your Development stock and at a profit. All you had to do, you said, was wait. Now, you see, _I couldn't wait."

The captain nodded in satisfaction. "So 'TWAS the Development you sold," he growled. "I figgered out it couldn't be nothin' else."

Martha scarcely knew whether to frown or laugh. Some of her pity concerning the old man's mental state had been, obviously, unnecessary. He was still sharp enough in business matters.

"Well," she said, with both laugh and frown, "suppose it was, what of it?"

"Why, just this, Martha: If there's anything goin' on on the inside of the Development Company I want to know it."

"There isn't anything goin' on so far as I know."

"Then who bought your stock? The Denboro Trust Company folks?"

"No. They don't know a thing about it."

"'Twan't that blasted Pulcifer?"

"No. I should hope not. Now don't ask any more, because I sha'n't tell you. It's a secret, that's all, and it's got to stay that way."

He looked at her. She returned his look and nodded. She meant what she said and he reluctantly recognized the fact.

"Humph! Well, all right, Martha," he growled. "But--but will you do this much for me? Will you ask these folks--whoever 'twas bought your two hundred and fifty--if they don't want my four hundred? If they're really buyin', I shouldn't be surprised if they would want it. If they bought it just as a favor to you, and are goin' to hang on and wait--why--why then, maybe they'd do a favor to a friend of yours and your father's afore you. Maybe they will, you can't tell. And you can tell 'em I've had word from--from over yonder that it's all goin' to turn out right. You ask 'em if they don't want to buy my stock, will you, Martha?"

Martha took time for reflection. Then she said: "Cap'n Jeth, if I do ask 'em that, will you promise not to tell a soul a word about my sellin' my stock, or about the money, or anything of the kind? Will you promise that?"

The light keeper nodded. "Sartin sure," he said. "I'll promise you, Martha."

"All right, I'll ask, but you mustn't count on anything comin' from it."

The captain's brows drew together. "What I count on," he said, solemnly, "is a higher promise than yours or mine, Martha Phipps. What we do down here will only be what them up aloft want us to do. Don't you forget that."

They parted at the Phipps' gate. Captain Jethro walked moodily home. Lulie met him at the door. She was wearing her hat and coat.

"I'm going up to the village, father," she said. "I have some errands to do. I'll be back pretty soon."

Her father watched her as she walked away. The thought crossed his mind that possibly Nelson Howard might be visiting the village that forenoon. He called her name, and she turned and came back.

"What is it, father?" she asked.

Jethro hesitated. He passed a hand across his forehead. His head felt tired. Somehow he didn't want to talk any more. Even as important a topic as Nelson Howard did not arouse his interest.

"Oh, nothin', nothin'," he assured. "Cal'late maybe I'll lay down and turn in a little spell afore dinner. Is Zach on deck?"

"Yes, he is out in the kitchen, or was a minute ago. Primmie was over on an errand and I heard their tongues going. Shall I speak to Zach, father?"

He told her no, and went into the house. There was a couch in the dining room and he stretched himself upon it. The head of the couch was near the door leading to the kitchen. That door was closed, but from behind it sounded voices, voices which were audible and distinct. A dispute seemed to be in progress between Mr. Bloomer and Miss Cash and, although Zacheus continued to grumble on in an even key, Primmie's tone became higher and shriller with each retort.

"I tell you 'tis so, Zach Bloomer.... Well, maybe 'twan't a hundred and fifty thousand, but I bet you 'twas more money than you ever see in YOUR life. So now!"

The assistant light keeper was heard to cough. Primmie seemed to discern a hint of skepticism even in the cough.

"Oh, you can set there and keep on turnin' up your nose and--and coughin'," she declared, "but--"

Zacheus interrupted to say that he hardly ever turned up his nose when he coughed.

"Seems to come handier to turn it down, Posy," he said.

"Oh, be still, foolish! Well, anyhow, it's true, every word of it. I see more money at one time and in one--er--er junk, as you might say, than ever I see afore--yes, or I bet you ever see neither, Zach Bloomer."

"We-ll, course what I ever see never amounted to much, but if it's more than YOU see, Rosebud, then it must have been consider'ble of a lot. Over in them Mashpaug woods, where you hail from, money kind of grows on the bushes, like huckleberries, I presume likely. Martha Phipps been over there berryin', has she?"

"No, she ain't. Besides, I never said Miss Martha brought the money into the house. All's I said was that 'twas in there and I see it with my own eyes."

"Sho! With your own eyes, eh? Well, well! What do you cal'late 'twould have looked like if you'd borrered somebody else's eyes? Say, Posy, was it you fetched the billion and a half, or whatever 'twas, into the house?"

"Me? ME with all that money? My savin' soul!"

"Well, who did fetch it? Santy Claus?"

"I sha'n't tell you. I promised Miss Martha I wouldn't tell one word about that money and I ain't goin' to."

"Hooray, Posy! That's the way to talk! Well, now, be honest about it: What did you have for supper night afore last? Mince pie, was it? Why didn't you eat another slice? Then you'd have dreamed about a mackerel keg full of di'monds, most likely."

Captain Jethro, trying to fall asleep on the couch in the dining room, turned over in disgust and raised himself upon an elbow preparatory to shouting an order for silence. But Primmie's next speech caught his attention and the order was not given.

"Dreamed!" retorted the indignant young woman. "Are you tryin' to tell me I only dreamed about that money, Zacheus Bloomer? Huh! My Lord of Isrul! If you'd seen that great big piled-up heap of bills layin' right there on the table in our settin' room where Mr. Bangs put 'em, I guess you'd have said 'dreams' and more, too. Ten dollar bills there was and twenties and--and thirties and forties, for all I know."

"That so? Right where Mr. Bangs put 'em, eh? Now I KNOW you was dreamin', Pansy Blossom. That little dried-up Bangs man ain't worth more'n ten cents, if that."

"He ain't? How do you know he ain't?"

"Same as I know when that Lucy Larcom tomcat of Martha's has been in a fight, by the looks of him. Look at the Bangs man's clothes, and--and his hat--and--why, Godfreys mighty, he can't afford to get his hair cut oftener than once in three months! Anyhow, he don't. And you stand there and tell me he come cruisin' in t'other night and commenced sheddin' million dollar bills all over the furniture. Where'd he get 'em to? Dig 'em up over in the Baptist graveyard?"

"No, he never. He got 'em up to Boston. Leastways, I guess he did, 'cause that's where he went. And, besides, what do you know about how much he's worth? He may look kind of--of ratty, but all the same he's got rich relations. Why, one of his relations is head of the biggest broke--I mean, brokin' and bank place there is in Boston. Cabot, Bancroft and--and Thingumbob is the name of it. And Miss Martha told me 'twas--"

There was much more of this and the listener on the dining room couch heard it all. He remained on that couch until Miss Cash, at the back door of the kitchen, delivered her triumphant farewell.

"So there now, Zach Bloomer," she said, "I guess you believe now I didn't dream it. And you needn't ask any more questions because I sha'n't tell you a single word. I promised Miss Martha I wouldn't never tell and I'm goin' to keep my promise."

That evening Martha approached her lodger on the subject of the possibility of selling the light keeper's Development holdings for him. To say the least, she received no encouragement. Galusha was quite emphatic in his expression of disbelief in that possibility.

"Oh, dear me, no, Miss Martha," he stammered. "I--ah--I feel quite sure it would be unwise to--ah--attempt such a thing. You see--ah--you see--my cousin is--is--"

"I know, he's sick, poor man, and shouldn't be disturbed. You're right, of course, Mr. Bangs. It was only that Cap'n Jeth had always been a good friend of father's and mine and I thought if Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot really were buyin' the stock perhaps they might like to buy his. But I can see why you wouldn't want to trouble Mr. Cabot again just now. I'm sorry I mentioned it to you; I'm afraid I have made you nervous."

Galusha was nervous, certainly, and showed it. He protested, however, that he was quite all right really, and, as his landlady did not mention the subject again, he recovered a portion of his equilibrium. And during the following week he gradually gained more and more confidence. The telltale certificate hidden in his bureau drawer was, of course, a drawback to his peace of mind, and the recollection of his recent outbreak of prevarication and deception was always a weight upon his conscience. But, to offset these, there was a changed air about the Phipps' home and its inmates which was so very gratifying that, if it did not deaden that conscience, it, at least, administered to it an effective dose of soothing syrup.

Primmie wept no more into the dishwater nor sighed despairingly when serving breakfast. She sang now and, although an unprejudiced person might not have found the change an unmixed delight, Galusha did. Miss Phipps sang, too, occasionally, not with the camp-meeting exuberance of her maid, but with the cheery hum of the busy bee. She was happy; she said so and looked so, and, in spite of his guilty knowledge of the deceit upon which that happiness was founded, her lodger was happy because she was.

"Do you know," he observed, on Saturday morning of that week, as, coated and capped for his daily walk, he stood by the door of the dining room, "it's quite extraordinary, really. I have been thinking, you know, and it really is quite extraordinary."

Martha was sitting in the rocker by the window, the morning sunshine streaming in through the leaves and blossoms of the potted plants on the brackets dappling her hair and cheek with cheery splashes of light and shade. She was consulting the pages of her cookbook, as a preliminary to preparing a special dessert for Sunday's dinner, and was humming as she did so.

She looked up when he spoke.

"What is extraordinary?" she asked. "Your thinkin', do you mean? I don't see anything very extraordinary about that. You're thinkin' most of the time, seems to me."

"Oh, I don't mean that. I meant what I was thinking was extraordinary. Or not precisely that, either. I--ah--I mean--well, you see, when I was in Washington--at the Institute, you know--it used to annoy me--ah--extremely, to have any one sing or whistle in my vicinity. Really, it did. I sometimes spoke very sharply--ah--irritably to any one who did that. And now, as I stood here and heard you singing, Miss Martha, it suddenly came over me that I do not mind it at all. I--ah--actually like to hear you. I do, very much, indeed. Now, isn't that extraordinary!"

Martha laughed aloud. "Why, yes," she declared; "I think it is. Anybody likin' to hear me sing is about as extraordinary as anything that ever was, I guess. Mr. Bangs, you're awfully funny."

Galusha nodded. "Yes," he said, "I am sure I must be. I think if I were any one else I should laugh at myself a great deal. I mean--ah--I mean in that case I should laugh, not at myself, but at me. Good gracious, I haven't made that very clear, have I?"

His smile was so contagious that she laughed again.

"I didn't mean you were funny to laugh at, but to laugh with," she said. "You're goin' to have an especially nice walk this mornin'. It's such a lovely forenoon I almost wish I was goin' with you."

Galusha beamed. "Why--why, so do I!" he exclaimed, in delighted surprise. "Yes, I do, I do, indeed! Ah--ah--why don't you?"

"Mercy me, I couldn't think of it! I must stay here and get to cookin' or we'll have no puddin' to-morrow noon. I'll be with you in spirit, as the books say; how will that do?"

Whether or not she was with him in spirit, she was very much in her lodger's thoughts as he walked down the path to the gate. It was such a beautiful forenoon, with the first promise of spring in the air, that, instead of starting toward the village, as was his usual custom, he turned in the other direction and strolled toward the lighthouse. The sea view from the cliff edge should be magnificent on a morning like this.

But it was not of the view, or the beauty of the morning, that he thought as he wandered slowly on. His mind, for some reason or other, seemed to be filled with the picture of Martha Phipps as she sat in the rocking-chair, with the background of old-fashioned plants and blossoms, and the morning sunshine illumining her pleasant, comely face. He could visualize every feature of that face, which fact was extremely odd, for it had been many years since he had noticed a female face sufficiently for that face to impress itself upon his memory. Years and years before Galusha Bangs had been forced to the conclusion that the interest of attractive feminity was not for him and he had accepted the inevitable and never permitted his own interest to stray in that direction. A few feminine faces he could, of course, recall; the face of his Aunt Clarissa, for instance, and--dear me, yes! that of the pestiferous Mrs. Worth Buckley, his--ah--not his "old man of the sea" exactly, but his equally troublesome, middle-aged woman of the mountains. Mrs. Buckley had not attracted his notice, she had seized it, served a subpoena upon it, and his provokingly contrary memory persisted in recalling her face, probably because he so earnestly desired to forget it.

But he found a real pleasure in visualizing the face of Miss Martha Phipps. Her eyes now--her eyes were--ah--um--they were blue; no, they were gray--or a sort of gray-blue, perhaps, or even a shade of brown. But the precise color made no real difference. It was the way they looked at one, and--ah--smiled, so to speak. Odd, because he had never before realized that one could--ah--smile with one's eyes. Attractive, too, that smile of hers, the eyes and the lips in combination. A sort of cheerful, comfortable smile--yes, and--ah--attractive--ah--inviting, as one might say; a homelike smile; that was the word he wanted--"homelike." It had been a long, long time since he had had a home. As a matter of fact, he had not cared to have one. A tent in Egypt or Syria, furnished with a mummy or two, and with a few neighborly ruins next door--this had been his idea of comfort. It was his idea still, but nevertheless--

And then he became aware that from somewhere, apparently from the heavens above, a voice was shouting--yes, roaring--his name.

"Mr. Bangs!... Hi-i, Mr. Bangs!"

Galusha came out of his walking dream, stared about him, found that he had walked almost to the fence surrounding the light keeper's home and would have collided with that fence in another stride or two, looked around, down, and finally up--to see Captain Jethro leaning over the iron rail surrounding the lantern room at the top of the lighthouse.

"Oh! Why--ah--good gracious!" he exclaimed. "Were you calling me, Captain Hallett?"

Captain Jethro shook his big head. "Callin'!" he repeated. "I've been bellerin' like the foghorn for five minutes. A little more of it and I'd have run out of steam or bust a b'iler, one or t'other. Ain't been struck deef, have you, Mr. Bangs?"

"No--ah--no, I trust not. I was--ah--thinking, I presume, and I did not hear you. I'm very sorry."

"That's all right. Glad you was only thinkin' and no worse. I didn't know but you'd been struck by walkin' paralysis or somethin'. Say," he leaned further over the rail and lowered his voice. "Say," he said again, "would you mind comin' up here a minute? I want to talk to you."

Mr. Bangs did not mind and, entering the round tower, he climbed the spiral stair to the little room at the top. The great lantern, with its glittering facets and lenses filled that room almost entirely, and the light keeper's great form filled it still more. There was scarcely space for little Galusha to squeeze in.

Jethro explained that he had been cleaning the lantern. "It's Zacheus' job really," he observed, "but I have to do it myself once in a while to keep it shipshape. Say," he added, opening the door which led to the balcony, "look out yonder. Worth lookin' at, ain't it?"

It was. The morning was dry and clear, a brisk wind from the west, and not a cloud. The lighthouse, built as it was upon the knoll at the edge of the bluff, seemed to be vastly higher than it actually was, and to tower far above all else until the view from its top was almost like that from an aeroplane. The horizon swept clear and unbroken for three quarters of a circle, two of those quarters the sharp blue rim of the ocean meeting the sky. The white wave-crests leaped and twinkled and danced for miles and miles. Far below on the yellow sand of the beach, the advancing and retreating breakers embroidered lacy patterns which changed constantly.

"Worth looking at, ain't it?" repeated the captain.

Galusha nodded. "Indeed it is," he said, with emphasis. Yet it surprised him slightly to find the gruff old light keeper enthusiastic concerning a scene which must be so very much a matter of course to him.

"The Almighty done a good job when He built that," observed Captain Jethro, waving his hand toward the Atlantic. "Don't never get tired of lookin' at salt water, I don't, and yet I've been in it or on it or around it pretty much all my life. And now I'm up above it," he added, thoughtfully. "We're pretty high up where we are now, Mr. Bangs. I like to set up here and--er--well, kind of think about things, sometimes.... Humph!... Do you cal'late we're any nigher when we're up aloft here than we are down on the ground yonder; nigher to THEM, I mean?"

His visitor was puzzled. "I--I beg your pardon?" he stammered. "Nigher--ah--nearer to--ah--what?"

"Nigher to them--them that's gone afore. Seems sometimes, when I'm alone up here, particular of a foggy day, as if I was consider'ble nigher to them--to HER, especial--than when I'm on the ground. Think there's anything in it, do you?"

Galusha said he didn't know; we know so little about such things, really. He wondered what the captain had invited him up there to talk about. Some spiritualistic subject, very likely; the conversation seemed to be tending that way. Jethro appeared to have forgotten altogether the seance and his, Galusha's, assumption of the character of the small, dark "evil influence." It looked very much as if that assumption--so far as it entailed the permanent shifting of prejudice from Nelson Howard to himself--had been effort wasted.

Captain Jeth pulled at his beard and seemed to be dreaming. Galusha pitied the old fanatic as he stood there, massive, rugged, brows drawn together, sturdy legs apart as if set to meet the roll of a ship at sea--a strong figure, yet in a way the figure of a wistful, dreaming child, helpless--

"Mr. Bangs," said the light keeper, "don't you cal'late, if you set out to, you could sell my four hundred Wellmouth Development same as you sold Martha's two hundred and fifty?"

Galusha would have sat down, if there had been anything except the floor to sit down on. As a matter of fact, even that consideration might not have prevented his sitting; his knees bent suddenly and he was on his way to the floor, but his shoulders struck the wall behind him and furnished the support he so very much needed. So far as speech was concerned, that was out of the question. His mouth opened and shut, but nothing audible issued therefrom. Mr. Bangs, at that moment, gave a very good imitation of a fish unexpectedly jerked out of deep water to dry, very dry land.

Captain Jethro did not seem to realize the effect of his question upon his visitor. His big fist moved downward from his chin to the tip of his beard, only to rise and take a new hold at the chin again. His gaze was fixed upon the rolling sea outside.

"You see," he went on, "I kind of figger it out this way: If them folks who bought Martha's stock are cal'latin' to buy up Development they'll want more'n two hundred and fifty. I'll sell 'em mine at a reasonable figger; sha'n't ask much over what I paid for it, I sha'n't. If they ain't buyin' for anything 'special, but just 'cause they think it's a good thing to keep--well, then--"

Galusha interrupted. The faculty of framing words and uttering them was returning to him, albeit slowly and jerkily.

"Why--why, Captain Hallett," he faltered. "How--how--who--who--"

"Martha didn't tell me nothin' except that she had sold her stock," broke in the light keeper. "I guessed that, too, afore she told me. She never mentioned your name, Mr. Bangs, nor where she sold it, nor nothin'. But, of course, when I found out 'twas you who went to Boston and fetched home the five thousand dollars I didn't need to be told--much. Now, Mr. Bangs, I wish you'd see if you can't sell my four hundred shares for me. It'll be consider'ble of a favor if you will. You see, them shares--"

But Galusha did not wait for him to finish. His alarmed protests fairly tumbled over each other.

"Why--why, Captain Hallett," he cried, "really I--I... ah... What you ask is quite impossible. Oh, very much so--ah--very. You see... Well, really, I... Captain Hallett, this entire matter was supposed to be a secret, an absolute secret. I am surprised--and--ah--shocked to learn--"

The captain's big paw was uplifted as a signal. "Sshh! Heave to! Come up into the wind a minute, Mr. Bangs. 'Tis a secret, fur's I'm consarned, and 'twill be just the same after I've sold my stock. I realize that business men don't want business matters talked about, 'tain't likely. All I'd like to have you do is just see if you can't dispose of that four hundred of mine, same as you done with Martha's. Just as a favor I'm askin' it."

Galusha shook his head violently. His agitation was as great as ever. After going through the agony of the frying pan and congratulating himself that that torment was over, then to find he had escaped merely into the fire was perfectly maddening--not to say frightening--and--oh, dear, dear, dear!

"Really, I'm very sorry, very," he reiterated. "But I am QUITE sure I can do nothing with your shares, Captain Hallett. It--it--such a thing would be absolutely impossible. I'm sorry."

Captain Jethro's calm was unshaken. "We-ll," he said, slowly, "I ain't altogether surprised. Course I could see that maybe you wouldn't want to go cruisin' up to them folks again, 'specially they bein' relations. I don't blame you for that, Mr. Bangs. But, in case you did feel that way, I'd made up my mind I'd go up there myself and see 'em."

"Eh? Ah--ah--See? See whom?"

"Why, them relations of yours. Them Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot folks. I know OF 'em; everybody that knows anything about bankin' does, of course. I don't know any of 'em personal, but I cal'lated maybe you'd be willin' to give me a note, a letter introducin' me, you see. Then I could tell 'em why I come, and how I wanted to talk with 'em about sellin' some more of the same stock they sold for you. That would be all right, wouldn't it, Mr. Bangs?"

Galusha did not answer. The absolute hopelessness of the situation was beginning to force itself upon his understanding. Whether or not he gave the letter of introduction, the light keeper would go to Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot--oh, how on earth did he ever learn that THEY had anything to do with it?--and begin talkin' about Martha Phipps' stock; and they would deny knowing anything of it; and then the captain would persist, giving details; and Barbour and Minor and the rest would guess the truth and probably write Thomas, who would eventually tell Cousin Gussie; and the light keeper would return home and tell Martha, and she would learn that he had lied to her and deceived her--

"Well, what do you say, Mr. Bangs?" inquired Captain Jethro.

Bangs turned a haggard gaze in the speaker's direction. The latter was standing in exactly the same attitude, feet apart, hand to beard, sad eyes gazing out to sea; just as he had stood when Galusha's sympathy had gone out to him as a "helpless, dreaming child."

"What are you laughin' at?" asked Captain Jeth, switching his gaze from old ocean to the face of the little archaeologist.

Galusha had not laughed, but there was a smile, a wan sort of smile, upon his face.

"Oh, nothing in particular," he replied. "I was reflecting that it seemed rather too bad to waste pity in quarters where it was not--ah--needed, when there was such a pressing demand, as one might say, at home."

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 13 Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 13

Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 13
CHAPTER XIIIThe earnest young man behind the counter in the office of Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot--the young man who had so definitely classified Galusha Bangs as a "nut"--was extremely surprised when that individual reappeared before his window and, producing the very check which he had obtained there so short a time before, politely requested to exchange it for eighty-two hundred dollars in cash and another check for the balance. "Why--why--but--!" exclaimed the young man. "Thank you. Yes, if--ah--if you will be so good," said Galusha. The young man himself asked questions, and then called Mr. Minor into consultation, and Mr. Minor
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 11 Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 11

Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 11
CHAPTER XIAbout the Phipps' home hung now the atmosphere of expectancy. It had so hung for several weeks, ever since the first letter to Cousin Gussie had been posted, but now there was in it a different quality, a quality of brightness, of cheer. Martha seemed more like herself, the capable, adequate self which Galusha had met when he staggered into that house out of the rain and wind of his first October night on Cape Cod. She was more talkative, laughed more frequently, and bustled about her work with much, if not all, of her former energy. She, herself, was
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT