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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGalusha The Magnificent - Chapter 20
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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 20 Post by :emailsuccess Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1471

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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 20

CHAPTER XX

In the melodramas, the sort which most people laugh at as "old-fashioned" and enjoy thoroughly, there is usually a scene in which the hero, or the heroine, or both, are about to be drowned in the sinking ship or roasted in the loft of the burning building, or butchered by the attacking savages, or executed by the villain and his agents. The audience enjoys some delightful thrills while watching this situation--whichever it may be--develop, but is spared any acute anxiety, knowing from experience that just at the last moment the rescuing boat, or the heroic firemen, or the troops, or a reprieve from the Governor, will arrive and save the leading man or woman and the play from a premature end and for another act.

It does not happen as often in real life, at least one cannot count upon it with the certainty of the theater. But when Miss Primrose Cash knocked upon the door of the Phipps' sitting room and delivered her call to the seance, she was as opportune and nick-of-timey as was ever a dramatic Governor's messenger. Certainly that summons of hers was to Galusha Bangs a reprieve which saved him from instant destruction.

Cousin Gussie, who had been on the point of repeating his demand to know if his relative was ill, turned instead to look toward the door. Martha, whose gaze had been fixed upon her lodger with an intentness which indicated at least the dawning of a suspicion, turned to look in the same direction. Galusha, left poised upon the very apex of the explosion, awaited the moment when the fragments, of which he was one, should begin to fall.

But they did not fall--then. Primmie gave them no opportunity to do so.

"Miss Martha," she cried, "Miss Martha, do you hear me? Zach--he says--"

Her mistress answered. "Yes, yes, Primmie," she said, "I hear you." Then, turning again toward the banker and his relative, she said, "Mr. Cabot, I--did I understand you to say--?"

"Miss Martha!" The voice outside the door was more insistent than ever. "Miss Martha, Zach he says we've all hands got to come right straight off, 'cause if we don't there'll be hell to pay.... My savin' soul, I never meant to say that, Miss Martha! Zach, he said it, but _I never meant to. I--I--Oh, my Lord of Isrul! I--I--oh, Miss Martha!"

Further wails of the frightened and repentant one were lost in an ecstatic shout of laughter from Mr. Cabot. Martha slowly shook her head.

"Well," she observed, dryly, "I guess likely we'd better go, hadn't we? If it is as bad as all that I should say we had, sure and certain. Primmie Cash, I'm ashamed of you. Mr. Cabot, we'll finish our talk when we come back. What under the sun you can possibly mean I declare I don't understand.... But, there, it will keep. Come, Mr. Bangs."

She led the way from the sitting room. Cabot followed her and, staggering slightly and with a hand still pressed to his forehead, Galusha followed them. He was saved for the time, he realized that, but for such a very short time. For an hour or two he was to hang in the air and then would come the inevitable crash. When they returned home, after the seance was over, Martha would question Cousin Gussie, Cousin Gussie would answer, then he would be questioned and--and the end would come. Martha would know him for what he was. As they emerged from the Phipps' door into the damp chill and blackness of that October evening, Galusha Bangs looked hopelessly up and down and for the first time in months yearned for Egypt, to be in Egypt, in Abyssinia, in the middle of the great Sahara--anywhere except where he was and where he was fated to be.

The windows of the light keeper's cottage were ablaze as they drew near. Overhead the great stream of radiance from the lantern in the tower shot far out. There was almost no wind, and the grumble of the surf at the foot of the bluff was a steady bass monotone.

Zacheus, who had waited to walk over with them, was in a fault-finding state of mind. It developed that he could not attend the meeting in the parlor; his superior had ordered that he "tend light."

"The old man says I hadn't no business comin' to the other sea-ants thing," said Zach. "Says him and me ain't both supposed never to leave the light alone. I cal'late he's right, but that don't make it any better. There's a whole lot of things that's right that hadn't ought to be. I presume likely it's right enough for you to play that mouth organ of yours, Posy. They ain't passed no law against it yet. But--"

"Oh, be still, Zach Bloomer! You're always talkin' about my playin' the mouth organ. I notice you can't play anything, no, nor sing neither."

"You're right, Pansy Blossom. But the difference between you and me is that I know I can't.... Hey? Why, yes, Martha, I shouldn't be a bit surprised if the fog came in any time. If it does that means I've got to tend foghorn as well as light. Godfreys!"

Before they opened the side door of the Hallett home, the buzz of voices in the parlor was distinctly audible. Lulie heard the door open and met them in the dining room. She was looking anxious and disturbed. Martha drew her aside and questioned her concerning her father. Lulie glanced toward the parlor door and then whispered:

"I don't know, Martha. Father seems queer to-night, awfully queer. I can't make him out."

"Queer? In what way? He is always nervous and worked up before these silly affairs, isn't he?"

"Yes, but I don't mean that, exactly. He has been that way for over a week. But for the last two days he has been--well, different. He seems to be troubled and--and suspicious."

"Suspicious? Suspicious of what?"

"I don't know. Of every one."

"Humph! Well, if he would only begin to get suspicious of Marietta and her spirit chasers I should feel like givin' three cheers. But I suppose those are exactly the ones he isn't suspicious of."

Lulie again glanced toward the parlor door.

"I am not so sure," she said. "It seemed to me that he wasn't as cordial to them as usual when they came to-night. He keeps looking at Marietta and pulling his beard and scowling, the way he does when he is puzzled and troubled. I'm not sure, but I think something came in the mail yesterday noon and another something again to-day which may be the cause of his acting so strangely. I don't know what they were, he wouldn't answer when I asked him, but I saw him reading a good deal yesterday afternoon. And then he came into the kitchen where I was, took the lid off the cookstove and put a bundle of printed pages on the fire. I asked him what he was doing and he snapped at me that he was burning the words of Satan or something of that sort."

"And couldn't you save enough of the--er--Old Scratch's words to find out what the old boy was talkin' about?"

"No. There was a hot fire. But to-day, when the second package came, I caught a glimpse of the printing on the wrapper. It was from The Psychical Research Society; I think that was it. There is such a society, isn't there?"

"I believe so. I... Ssh! Careful, here he is."

Captain Jethro strode across the parlor threshold. He glared beneath his heavy eyebrows at the couple.

"Lulie," he growled, "don't you know you're keepin' the meetin' waitin'? You are, whether you know it or not. Martha Phipps, come in and set down. Come on, lively now!"

Martha smiled.

"Cap'n Jeth," she said, "you remind me of father callin' in the cat. You must think you're aboard your old schooner givin' orders. All right, I'll obey 'em. Ay, ay, sir! Come, Lulie."

They entered the parlor, whither Galusha, Mr. Cabot and Primmie had preceded them and were already seated. The group in the room was made up about as on the occasion of the former seance, but it was a trifle larger. The tales of the excitement on the evening when the light keeper threatened to locate and destroy the "small, dark outsider" had spread and had attracted a few additional and hopeful souls. Mr. Obed Taylor, driver of the Trumet bake-cart, and a devout believer, had been drawn from his home village; Miss Tamson Black, her New Hampshire visit over, was seated in the front row; Erastus Beebe accompanied his sister Ophelia. The Hardings, Abel and Sarah B., were present and accounted for, and so, too, was Mrs. Hannah Peters.

Galusha Bangs, seated between Miss Cash and the immensely interested Cousin Gussie, gazed dully about the circle. He saw little except a blur of faces; his thoughts were elsewhere, busy in dreadful anticipation of the scene he knew he must endure when he and his cousin and Miss Phipps returned to the house of the latter. He did not dare look in her direction, fearing to see once more upon her face the expression of suspicion which he had already seen dawning there--suspicion of him, Galusha Bangs. He sighed, and the sigh was so near a groan that his relative was startled.

"What's the matter, Galusha?" he whispered. "Brace up, old man! you look as if you were seeing spooks already. Not sick--faint, or anything like that?"

Galusha blushed. "Eh?" he queried. "Oh--oh, no, no. Quite so, really. Eh? Ah--yes."

Cabot chuckled. "That's a comprehensive answer, at any rate," he observed. "Come now, be my Who's-Who. For example, what is the name of the female under the hat like a--a steamer basket?"

Galusha looked. "That is Miss Hoag, the--ah--medium," he said.

"Oh, I see. Did the spirits build that hat for her?"

Miss Hoag's headgear was intrinsically the same she had worn at the former seance, although the arrangement of the fruit, flowers, sprays and other accessories was a trifle different. The red cherries, for example, no longer bobbed at the peak of the roof; they now hung jauntily from the rear eaves, so to speak. The purple grapes had also moved and peeped coyly from a thicket of moth-eaten rosebuds. The wearer of this revamped millinery triumph seemed a bit nervous, even anxious, so it seemed to Martha Phipps, who, like Cabot and Galusha, was looking at her. Marietta kept hitching in her seat, pulling at her gown, and glancing from time to time at the gloomy countenance of Captain Jethro, who, Miss Phipps also noticed, was regarding her steadily and slowly pulling at his beard. This regard seemed to add to Miss Hoag's uneasiness.

The majority of those present were staring at the senior partner of Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot. The object of the attention could not help becoming aware of it.

"What are they all looking at me for?" he demanded, under his breath.

Galusha did not hear the question, but Primmie did, and answered it.

"They don't know who you be," she whispered.

"What of it? I don't know who they are, either."

Miss Cash sniffed. "Humph!" she declared, "you wouldn't know much worth knowin' if you did--the heft of 'em.... Oh, my savin' soul, it's a-goin' to begin! Where's my mouth organ?"

But, to her huge disappointment, her services as mouth organist were not to be requisitioned this time. Captain Hallett, taking charge of the gathering, made an announcement.

"The melodeon's been fixed," he said, "and Miss Black's kind enough to say she'll play it for us. Take your places, all hands. Come on, now, look alive! Tut, tut, tut! Abe Hardin', for heaven's sakes, can't you pick up your moorin's, or what does ail you? Come to anchor! Set down!"

Mr. Harding was, apparently, having trouble in sitting down. He made several nervous and hurried attempts, but none was successful. His wife begged, in one of her stage whispers, to be informed if he'd been "struck deef." "Don't you hear the cap'n talkin' to you?" she demanded.

"Course I hear him," retorted her husband, testily, and in the same comprehensively audible whisper. "No, I ain't been struck deef--nor dumb neither."

"Humph! You couldn't be struck any dumber than you are. You was born dumb. Set DOWN! Everybody's lookin' at you. I never was so mortified in my life."

The harassed Abel made one more attempt. He battled savagely with his chair.

"I CAN'T set down," he said. "This everlastin' chair won't set even. I snum I believe it ain't got but three laigs. There! Now let's see."

He seated himself heavily and with emphasis. Mr. Jim Fletcher, whose place was next him, uttered an agonized "Ow!"

"No wonder 'twon't set even, Abe," he snorted. "You've got the other laig up onto my foot. Yus, and it's drove half down through it by this time. Get UP! Whew!"

A ripple of merriment ran around the circle. Every one laughed or ventured to smile, every one except the Hardings and Captain Hallett and, of course, Galusha Bangs. The latter's thoughts were not in the light keeper's parlor. Cousin Gussie leaned over and whispered in his ear:

"Loosh," whispered Mr. Cabot, chokingly, "if the rest of this stunt is as good as the beginning I'll forgive you for handing that fourteen thousand to the mummy-hunters. I wouldn't have missed it for more than that."

Captain Jethro, beating the table, drove his guests to order as of old he had driven his crews. Having obtained silence and expressed, in a few stinging words, his opinion of those who laughed, he proceeded with his arrangements.

"Tamson," he commanded, addressing Miss Black, "go and set there by the organ. Come, Marietta, you know where your place is, don't you? Set right where you did last time. And don't let's have any more mockery!" he thundered, addressing the company in general. "If I thought for a minute there was any mockery or make-believe in these meetin's, I--I--" He paused, his chest heaving, and then added, impatiently, but in a milder tone, "Well, go on, go on! What are we waitin' for? Douse those lights, somebody."

Miss Hoag--who had been glancing at the light keeper's face and behaving in the same oddly nervous, almost apprehensive manner which Martha had noticed when she entered the parlor--took her seat in the official chair and closed her eyes. Mr. Beebe turned down the lamps. The ancient melodeon, recently prescribed for and operated upon by the repairer from Hyannis, but still rheumatic and asthmatic, burst forth in an unhealthy rendition of a Moody and Sankey hymn. The seance for which Galusha Bangs had laid plans and to which he had looked forward hopefully if a little fearfully--that seance was under way. And now, such was the stunning effect of the most recent blow dealt him by Fate, he, Galusha, was scarcely aware of the fact.

The melodeon pumped on and on. The rustlings and shiftings in the circle subsided and the expectant and shivery hush which Primmie feared and adored succeeded it. Miss Black wailed away at the Moody and Sankey selection. Miss Hoag's breathing became puffy. She uttered her first preliminary groan. Cousin Gussie, being an unsophisticated stranger, was startled, as Mr. Bangs had been at the former seance, but Primmie's whisper reassured him.

"It's all right," whispered Primmie. "She ain't sick nor nothin'. She's just a-slippin' off."

The banker did not understand.

"Slipping off?" he repeated. "Off what?"

"Off into sperit land. In a minute you'll hear her control talkin' Chinee talk.... There! My savin' soul! hear it?... Ain't it awful!"

"Little Cherry Blossom" had evidently been waiting at the transmitter. The husky croak which had so amazed Galusha was again heard.

"How do? How do, everybodee?" hailed Little Cherry Blossom. "I gladee see-ee you. Yes, indeedee."

Cabot made mental note of the fact that the Blossom spoke her spirit pidgin-English with a marked Down-East accent. Before he had time to notice more, the control announced that she had a message. The circle stirred in anticipation. Primmie wiggled in fearful ecstasy.

"Listen!" commanded Little Cherry Blossom. "Everybodee harkee. Spirit comee heree. He say-ee--"

"Ow-ooo-ooo--ooo--OOO!!"

As prophesied by Mr. Zacheus Bloomer, the fog had come in and Zacheus, faithful to his duties as associate guardian of that section of the coast, had turned loose the great foghorn.

The roar was terrific. The windows rattled and the whole building seemed to shake. The effect upon the group in the parlor, leaning forward in awed expectation to catch the message from beyond, was upsetting, literally and figuratively. Miss Tamson Black, perched upon the slippery cushion of a rickety and unstable music stool, slid to the floor with a most unspiritual thump and a shrill squeal. Primmie clutched her next-door neighbor--it chanced to be Mr. Augustus Cabot--by the middle of the waistcoat, and hers was no light clutch. Mr. Abel Harding shouted several words at the top of his lungs; afterward there was some dispute as to just what the exact words were, but none whatever as to their lack of propriety. Almost every one jumped or screamed or exclaimed. Only Captain Jeth Hallett, who had heard that horn many, many times, was quite unmoved. Even his daughter was startled.

But perhaps the most surprising effect of the mammoth "toot" was that which it produced in the spirit world. It seemed to blow Little Cherry Blossom completely back to her own sphere, for it was a voice neither Chinese nor ethereal which, coming from Miss Hoag's lips, shrieked wildly: "Oh, my good land of love! Wh--what's that?"

It was only after considerable pounding of the table and repeated orders for silence that Captain Jethro succeeded in obtaining it. Then he explained concerning the foghorn.

"It'll blow every minute from now on, I presume likely," he growled, "but I don't see as that need to make any difference about our goin' on with this meetin'. That is, unless Marietta minds. Think 'twill bother you about gettin' back into the trance state, Marietta?"

Erastus Beebe had turned up one of the lamps and it happened to be the one just above Miss Hoag's head. By its light Martha Phipps could see the medium's face, and it seemed to her--although, as she admitted afterward, perhaps because of subsequent happenings she only imagined that it seemed so--it seemed to her that Marietta was torn between an intense desire to give up mediumizing for that evening and a feeling that she must go on.

"She looked to me," said Martha, "as if she was afraid to go on, but more afraid to stop."

However, go on she did. She told the light keeper that she guessed she could get back if Tamson would play a little spell more. Miss Black agreed to do so, provided she might have a chair instead of a music stool.

"I wouldn't risk settin' on that plaguy, slippery haircloth thing again for no mortal soul," declared the irate Tamson, meaning, doubtless, to include immortals. A chair was provided, again the lights were dimmed, and the seance resumed, punctuated now at minute intervals by the shattering bellows of the great foghorn.

In a few minutes the messages began to arrive. They were of similar vague import to those of the previous seance and, couched in Little Cherry Blossom's weird gibberish, were vaguer still. Occasionally a spirit seeking identification went away unrecognized, but not often. For the most part the identifying details supplied were so general that they were almost certain to fit a departed relative or friend of some one present. And, as is usual under such circumstances, the would-be recognizer was so pathetically eager to recognize. Even Galusha, dully inert as he was just then, again felt his indignation stirred by the shabby mockery of it all.

Obed Taylor received a message from his brother Daniel who had died in infancy. Daniel declared himself very happy. So, too, did Ophelia Beebe's great-aunt Samona, who had "passed over" some time in the 'fifties. Aunt Samona was joyful--oh, so joyful. Miss Black's name was called.

"Tamson!" croaked Little Cherry Blossom. "Some one heree wantee Tamson."

Miss Black uttered an exclamation of startled surprise. "Good gracious me!" she cried. "Who is it?"

"Namee seem likee--likee Flora--Flora--somethin'," announced the control. The circle rustled in anticipation while Tamson ransacked her memory.

"Flora?" she repeated. "Flora?"

"Yes--yes. Flora--ah--ah--somethin'. Somethin'--soundee likee somethin' you ring."

"Somethin' I RING. Why, all a body rings is a bell. Hey? My heavens above, you don't mean Florabel? That ain't the name, is it--Florabel?"

"Yes--yes--yes--yes." Little Cherry Blossom was eagerly certain that that was the name.

"Mercy on us! Florabel? You don't mean you've got a message from my niece Florabel Tidditt, do you?"

"Yes--yes--yes--oh, yes!" The control was just as certain that niece Florabel was on the wire.

"I don't believe a word of it."

This unusual manner of receiving a message shocked the devout. A murmur of protest arose.

"Now, now, now, Tamson," remonstrated Miss Beebe. "You mustn't talk so. Course you believe it if the control says so."

"I don't neither. Florabel Tidditt ain't dead. She's as well as I be. I had a letter from her yesterday."

There was considerable agitation for a few minutes. Then it developed that the Florabel seeking to communicate was not Miss Tidditt, but another, a relative so long gone that Tamson had forgotten she ever existed. At length she was brought to the point of admitting that it seemed as if she had heard of a cousin of her grandmother's named Florabel or Annabel or something. The message was not very coherent nor particularly interesting, so the incident ended.

A short time later came the sensation which was to make the evening memorable in East Wellmouth's spiritualistic circles. Little Cherry Blossom called the name which many had expected and some, Lulie Hallett and Martha Phipps in particular, dreaded to hear.

"Jethro!" croaked the Blossom. "Jethro!"

Captain Hallett had been very quiet, particularly since the Florabel message was tangled in transit. Martha could see his shaggy head in silhouette against the dim light of the lamp and had noticed that that head scarcely moved. The light keeper seemed to be watching the medium very intently. Now he spoke.

"Yes?" he said, as if awakened from sleep. "Yes, here I am. What is it?"

"Jethro," cried the control once more. "Jethro, somebodee come speakee to you.... Julia! Julia!"

Captain Jethro rose from his chair. The loved name had as always an instant effect. His heavy voice shook as he answered.

"Yes, yes, Julia," he cried. "Here I am, Julia, waitin'--waitin'."

It was pathetic, pitiful. One listener in that circle felt, in spite of his own misery, a pang of remorse and a little dread. After all, perhaps it would have been better to--

"Julia," cried the light keeper. "Speak to me. I'm waitin'."

The foghorn boomed just here, but even after the sound had subdued Little Cherry Blossom seemed to find it difficult to proceed. She--or the medium--choked, swallowed, and then said:

"Julia got message. Yes, indeedee. Important message, she sayee, for Jethro. Jethro must do what she sayee."

The captain's big head nodded vigorously. Martha could see it move, a tousled shadow against the light.

"Yes, yes, Julia, of course," he said. "I always do what you say. You know I do. Go on."

"Father!" It was Lulie's voice, raised in anxious protest. "Father, please."

Her father sharply ordered her to be quiet.

"Go on, Julia," he persisted. "Tell me what you want me to do."

Again Little Cherry Blossom seemed to have difficulty in articulating. There was a quaver in her voice when she did speak.

"Julia say," she faltered; "Julia sayee 'Jethro, you sell R.P.'"

This was unexpected. It was not at all the message the group of listeners, with one exception, had anticipated. There was no hint of Nelson Howard here. They did not know what to make of it. Nor, it was evident, did Jethro Hallett.

"What?" he demanded. "What, Julia? I don't understand."

Little Cherry Blossom cleared her--or the medium's--throat and falteringly went on.

"Julia sayee 'Jethro, you sell R. P. what you got.' Sellee him what you got, what he want buyee. You know. You sellee R. P. the stock."

But still it was clear that Captain Jeth did not understand.

"Sell R. P.?" he repeated. "R. P. Who's R. P.? And what... Eh? Do you mean--"

He paused. When he next spoke his tone was quite different. There was a deeper note in it, almost a note of menace.

"R. P.?" he said again. "Does 'R. P.' mean--is that supposed to stand for Horatio Pulcifer? Eh? Does 'R. P.' mean Raish Pulcifer?"

The control did not reply instantly. The light keeper pressed his question.

"Does it?" he demanded.

"Yes... yes," stammered the Blossom. "Yes, Julia say sellee Raish what he wantee buy."

"Wantee BUY? What have I got he wants to buy?"

"Julia she sayee you know. She say 'De--De--Develop stock.' That's it. Yes, Develop stock. She sayee you sell Raish Develop stock. She sayee she wantee you to. You do right then."

The foghorn howled once more. Captain Jethro was standing erect beside his chair. When, at last, he did speak, his tone was still more tense and threatening. Even the shallowest mind in that room--and, as Miss Phipps had said, practically every "crank" within ten miles was present--even the shallowest realized that something was impending, something ominous.

"Do you mean to say," demanded Jethro Hallett, speaking very slowly, "that Julia's, my wife's spirit is tellin' me to sell my four hundred shares of Wellmouth Development stock to Raish Pulcifer? Do you mean that SHE says that?"

Little Cherry Blossom croaked twice, but the second croak was a feeble "Yes."

"SHE says that? Julia, my dead wife, tells me to do that?"

"Yes. Yes--yes--yes. She say you sell Raish four hundred Develop stock and you be so gladee. She be gladee, too. She--"

"STOP!"

The light keeper's shout rang through the room. "Stop!" he shouted again. "You--you LIAR!"

The word shot from beneath his teeth and, judging by the effect, might have hit almost every individual in the room. There was absolute silence for just the briefest instant; then a chorus of faint screams, exclamations, startled and indignant protests. Above them all Primmie's call upon her Lord of Isrul sounded plainly. Captain Jethro paid no heed.

"You liar!" he roared again. "Out of my house, you swindler! You damned cheat!"

This blast, delivered with the full force of the old skipper's quarter-deck voice, had the effect of completely upsetting the already tense nerves of the majority in the circle. Two or three of the women began to cry. Chairs were overturned. There was a babel of cries and confusion. The light keeper stilled it.

"Be still, all hands!" he shouted. "Turn up them lamps! Turn 'em up!"

Mr. Cabot, although himself somewhat startled and disturbed by the unexpected turn of events, was at least as cool as any one. He reached over the prostrate heap at his feet--it was Ophelia Beebe hysterically repeating: "He's gone crazy! He's gone loony! OH, my soul! OH, my land! WHAT'LL I do?" and the like--and turned up one of the lamps. Obed Taylor did the same with the other.

The sudden illumination revealed Captain Jethro, his face pale, his eyes flashing fire, holding the dumpy Miss Hoag fast in her chair with one hand and with the other brandished above her head like the hammer of Thor. The audience, for the most part, were in various attitudes, indicating alarm and a desire to escape. Mrs. Harding had a strangle hold on her husband's neck and was slowly but inevitably choking him to death; Mrs. Peters, as well as Miss Beebe, was on the floor; and Primmie Cash was bobbing up and down, flapping her hands and opening her mouth like a mechanical figure in a shop window. Lulie and Martha Phipps, pale and frightened, were trying to force their way to the captain's side. Galusha Bangs alone remained seated.

The light keeper again commanded silence.

"Look at her!" he cried, pointing his free hand at the cowering figure of the medium. "LOOK at her! The lyin' cheat!"

Marietta was, in a way, worth looking at. She had shrunk as far down in the chair as the captain's grip would permit, her usually red face was now as white as the full moon, which it resembled in some other ways, and she was, evidently, as Primmie said afterwards, "scart to death and some left over."

Lulie called.

"Father, father," she pleaded. "Please--oh--please!"

Her father paid no attention. It was to Miss Hoag that he continued his attentions.

"You miserable, swindlin' make-believe!" he growled, his voice shaking with emotion. "You--you come here and--and pretend--Oh, by The Almighty, if you was a man, if you wasn't the--the poor, pitiful fool that you be, I'd--I'd--"

His daughter had reached his side. "Father," she begged. "Father, for my sake--"

"Be still! Be still, girl!... Marietta Hoag, you answer me. Who put you up to tellin' me to sell that stock to Pulcifer? Who did it? Answer me?"

Marietta tried, but she could do little but gurgle. She gurgled, however, in her natural tones, or a frightened imitation of them. Little Cherry Blossom had, apparently, fluttered to the Chinese spiritland.

"I--I--Oh, my good land!" she wailed.

"Answer!"

"Father--father!" cried Lulie. "Don't talk so! Don't act so!"

"Act so! Be still! Let me alone, Martha Phipps! This woman here is a cheat. She's a liar! How do I KNOW? DON'T ask such fool questions. I know because--because she says my wife--Julia--my wife--tells me to sell my four hundred shares of Wellmouth Development stock--"

"Yes, of course. But, perhaps--"

"There ain't any perhaps. You, woman," addressing the cowering medium, "didn't you say that?"

"Yes--oh, yes, Cap'n Jeth, I said it. PLEASE don't!"

"And you pretended my dead wife's spirit said it, didn't you?"

"Yes. Yes, she did. Oh--oh--"

"She did not! Listen, all of you!" with scornful disgust. "Listen! That four hundred shares of Development stock this--this critter here says Julia knows I've got and wants me to sell to Raish Pulcifer I SOLD two months ago. Yes, by the everlastin', I sold 'em! And--eh? Yes, there he is. I sold 'em to that Bangs man there. He knows it. He'll tell you I did.... And now this swindler, this cheat, she--she--Who put you up to it? Who did? Was it Pulcifer?"

Marietta began to sob. "Ye-es, yes," she faltered. "He--he said he--"

"I thought so. And you pretended 'twas my--my Julia, my wife.... Oh, my God! And you've been pretendin' all the time. 'Twas all cheatin' and lies, wasn't it? She--she never come to you. She never told you nothin'. Ain't it so?"

Poor, publicity-loving, sensation-loving Marietta's nerve was completely gone. She sobbed wildly.

"Oh--oh, I guess so. I--I guess likely 'twas," she wailed. "I--I don't know. I only--"

Captain Jethro took his hand from her shoulder. He staggered a little.

"Get out of my house!" he ordered. "Out of my house--all of you. You're all liars and cheats together.... Oh, Julia! Oh, my Lord above!"

He collapsed in a chair and put his hands to his head. Lulie, the tears streaming down her face, tried to comfort him. Martha, also weeping, essayed to help. Cabot, walking over to where his cousin was standing, laid a hand on his arm. Galusha, pale and wan, looking as if the world had slipped from under him and he was left hanging in cold space, turned a haggard face in his direction.

"Well, Loosh," said Cousin Gussie, dryly, "I think you and I had better go home, hadn't we? This has been an interesting evening, an--ah--illuminating evening. You appear to be the only person who can add to the illumination, and--well, don't you think it is time you did?"

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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 21
CHAPTER XXIGalusha did not answer. He regarded his relative vacantly, opened his mouth, closed it, sighed and turned toward the dining room. By this time most of the congregation were already in the yard and, as Cabot and his companion emerged into the dripping blackness of out-of-doors, from various parts of that blackness came the clatter of tongues and the sound of fervent ejaculations and expressions of amazement. "Well! WELL! Don't talk to ME! If this don't beat all ever _I see!..." "I should say it did! I was just sayin' to Sarah B., s' I, 'My soul and body,' s'
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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 19
CHAPTER XIXFor perhaps thirty seconds after the exchange of greetings, the trio in the Phipps' dining room stood where they were, practically without moving. Mr. Cabot, of course, was smiling broadly, Miss Phipps was gazing in blank astonishment from one to the other of the two men, and Galusha Bangs was staring at his relative as Robinson Crusoe stared at the famous footprint, "like one thunderstruck." It was Cabot who broke up the tableau. His smile became a hearty laugh. "What's the matter, Loosh?" he demanded. "Great Scott, old man, I expected to surprise you, but I didn't expect to give
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