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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGalusha The Magnificent - Chapter 3
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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 3 Post by :takabull Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1810

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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 3

CHAPTER III

The fainting fit did not last long. When Galusha again became interested in the affairs of this world it was to become aware that a glass containing something not unpleasantly fragrant was held directly beneath his nose and that some one was commanding him to drink.

So he drank, and the fragrant liquid in the tumbler descended to his stomach and thence, apparently, to his fingers and toes; at all events those chilled members began to tingle agreeably. Mr. Bangs attempted to sit up.

"No, no, you stay right where you are," said the voice, the same voice which had urged him to drink.

"But really I--I am quite well now. And your sofa--"

"Never mind the sofa. You aren't the first soakin' wet mortal that has been on it. No, you mind me and stay still.... Primmie!"

"Yes'm. Here I be."

"Did you get the doctor on the 'phone?"

"Yes'm. He said he'd be right down soon's ever he could. He was kind of fussy 'long at fust; said he hadn't had no supper and was wet through, and all such talk's that. But I headed HIM off, my savin' soul, yes! Says I, 'There's a man here that's more'n wet through; he ain't had a thing but rum since I don't know when.'"

"Heavens and earth! WHAT did you tell him that for?"

"Why, it's so, ain't it, Miss Marthy? You said yourself he was starved."

"But what did you tell him about the rum for? Never mind, never mind. Don't stop to argue about it. You go out and make some tea, hot tea, and toast some bread. And hurry, Primmie--HURRY!"

"Yes'm, but--"

"HURRY!... And Primmie Cash, if you scorch that toast-bread I'll scrape off the burned part and make you eat it, I declare I will. Now you lie right still, Mr.--er--Bangs, did you say your name was?"

"Yes, but really, madam--"

"My name is Phipps, Martha Phipps."

"Really. Mrs. Phipps--"

"Miss, not Mrs."

"I beg your pardon. Really, Miss Phipps, I cannot permit you to take so much trouble. I must go on, back to the village--or--or somewhere. I--Dear me?"

"What is it?"

"Nothing, nothing, my head is rather confused--dizzy. I shall be all right again, shortly. I am ashamed of myself."

"You needn't be. Anybody that has walked 'way down here, a night like this, on an empty stomach--" She paused, laughed, and exclaimed, "Of course, I don't mean you walked on your stomach, exactly, Mr. Bangs."

Galusha smiled, feebly. "There were times when I began to think I should be forced to," he said.

"I don't doubt it. There, there! now don't try to talk any more till you've had something to eat. Doctor Powers will be here pretty soon; it isn't very far--in an automobile. I'm afraid he's liable to have a queer notion of what's the matter with you. The idea of that Primmie tellin' him you hadn't had anything but rum for she didn't know how long! My, my! Well, 'twas the truth, but it bears out what my father used to say, that a little truth was like a little learnin', an awfully dangerous thing.... There, there! don't talk. I'll talk for both of us. I have a faculty that way--father used to say THAT, too," she added, with a broad smile.

When Doctor Powers did arrive, which was about fifteen minutes later, he found the patient he had come to see drinking hot tea and eating buttered toast. He was sitting in a big rocker with his steaming shoes propped against the stove. Miss Phipps introduced the pair and explained matters to the extent of her knowledge. Galusha added the lacking details.

The doctor felt the Bangs' pulse and took the Bangs temperature. The owner of the pulse and temperature made feeble protests, declaring himself to be "perfectly all right, really" and that he must be going back to the village. He couldn't think of putting every one to so much trouble.

"And where will you go when you get back to the village?" asked Doctor Powers.

"Why, to the--ah--hotel. I presume there is a hotel."

"No, there isn't. The Inn across the road here is the only hotel in East Wellmouth, and that is closed for the season."

"Dear me, doctor! Dear me! Well, perhaps I may be able to hire a--ah--car or wagon or something to take me to Wellmouth. I have friends in Wellmouth; I intended visiting them. Do you know Professor Hall--ah--George Hall, of New York?"

"Yes, I know him well. He and his family are patients of mine. But the Halls are not in Wellmouth now."

"They are not?"

"No, they went back to New York two weeks or more ago. Their cottage is closed."

"Dear me!... Oh, dear!... Why, but--but there IS a hotel at Wellmouth?"

"Yes, a kind of hotel, but you mustn't think of going there to-night." Then, with a motion of his hand, he indicated to Miss Phipps that he wished to speak with her alone. She led the way to the kitchen and he followed.

"Martha," he said, when the door closed, "to be absolutely honest with you, that man in there shouldn't go out again to-night. He has been half sick for some time, I judge from what he has told me, and he is weak and worn out from his tramp and wetting."

Miss Phipps shook her head impatiently.

"The idea of Raish Pulcifer's cartin' him 'way over here and then leavin' him in the middle of the road," she said. "It's just like Raish, but that doesn't help it any; nothin' that's like Raish helps anything--much," she added.

The doctor laughed.

"I'm beginning to believe you're right, Martha," he agreed.

"I'm pretty sure I am. I think I know Raish Pulcifer by this time; I almost wish I didn't. Father used to say that if ignorance was bliss the home for feeble-minded folks ought to be a paradise. But I don't know; sometimes I wish I wasn't so wise about some things; I might be happier."

Her pleasant, comely face had clouded over. Doctor Powers thought he understood why.

"Haven't heard anything hopeful about the Wellmouth Development Company, have you?" he asked.

"Not a word. I've almost given up expectin' to. How about you?"

"Oh, I've heard nothing new. Well, I've got only ten shares, so the loss, if it is a loss, won't break me. But Cap'n Jethro went in rather heavily, so they say."

"I believe he did."

"Yes. Well, it may be all right, after all. Raish says all we need is time."

"Um-hm. And that's all the Lord needed when He made the world. He made it in six days. Sometimes when I'm out of sorts I wonder if one more week wouldn't have given us a better job.... But there, that's irreverent, isn't it, and off the track besides? Now about this little Bangs man. What ought to be done with him?"

"Well, as I say, he shouldn't go out to-night. Of course he'll have to."

"Why will he have to?"

"Because he needs to go to bed and sleep. I thought perhaps I could get him down to the light and Cap'n Jethro and Lulie could give him a room."

"There's a room here. Two or three of 'em, as far as that goes. He isn't very big; he won't need more than one."

"But, Martha, I didn't know how you would feel about taking a strange man into your house, at night, and--"

Miss Phipps interrupted him.

"Heavens and earth, doctor!" she exclaimed, "what DO you think I am? I'm forty-one years old next August and I weigh--Well, I won't tell you what I weigh, but I blush every time I see the scales. If you think I'm afraid of a little, meek creature like the one in the sittin' room you never made a bigger mistake. And there's Primmie to help me, in case I need help, which I shan't. Besides he doesn't look as if he would run off with the spoons, now does he?"

Doctor Powers laughed heartily. "Why, no, he doesn't," he admitted. "I think you'll find him a quiet little chap."

"Yes. And he isn't able to half look after himself when he's well, to say nothin' of when he's sick. Anybody--any woman, anyhow--could tell that just by lookin' at him. And I've brought up a father, so I've had experience. He'll stay right here in the spare bedroom to-night--yes, and to-morrow night, too, if you think he'd better. Now don't talk any more rubbish, but go in and tell him so."

Her hand was on the latch of the sitting room door when the doctor asked one more question.

"Say, Martha," he asked, "this is not my business, but as a friend of yours I--Tell me: Cap'n Jim--your father, I mean--didn't put more money than he could spare in that Development scheme, did he? I mean you, yourself, aren't--er--likely to be embarrassed in case--in case--"

Miss Phipps interrupted hastily, almost too hastily, so Doctor Powers thought.

"No, no, of course not," she said.

"Truly, Martha? I'm only asking as a friend, you know."

"Why, of course. There now, doctor, don't you worry about me. You know what father and I were to each other; is it likely he would leave me in trouble of any kind? Now come in and see if Primmie has talked this little sick man of ours into another faintin' fit."

Primmie had not, but the "little sick man" came, apparently, very near to fainting when told that he was to occupy the Phipps' spare bedroom overnight. Oh, he could not possibly do such a thing, really he couldn't think of it! "Dear me, Miss Phipps, I--"

Miss Phipps paid absolutely no heed to his protests. Neither did the doctor, who was giving her directions concerning some tablets. "One to be taken now and another in the morning. Perhaps he had better stay in bed until I come, Martha. I'll be down after breakfast."

"All right, doctor. Do you think he's had enough to eat?"

"Enough for to-night, yes. Now, Mr. Bangs," turning to the still protesting Galusha, "you and I will go upstairs and see that you get to bed."

"But, really, doctor, I--"

"What's troublin' me, doctor," broke in Miss Phipps, "is what on earth to give him to sleep in. There may be a nightshirt of father's around in one of the trunks somewhere, but I doubt it, for I gave away almost everything of that kind when he died. I suppose he might use one of Primmie's nightgowns, or mine, but either one would swallow him whole, I'm afraid."

Doctor Powers, catching a glimpse of the expression on his patient's face, was obliged to wait an instant before venturing to reply. Galusha himself took advantage of the interval.

"Why--why--" he cried, "I--Dear me, dear me, I must have forgotten it entirely. My suitcase! I--ah--it must be on the veranda of that hotel. I left it there."

"What hotel? The Restabit Inn?"

"Yes. I--"

He got no further. His hostess began issuing orders. A few minutes later, Primmie, adequately if not beautifully attired in a man's oilskin "slicker," sou'wester, and rubber boots, clumped forth in search of the suitcase. She returned dripping but grinning with the missing property. Its owner regarded it with profound thankfulness. He could at least retire for the night robed as a man and a brother.

"Everything in there you need, Mr. Bangs?" asked Doctor Powers, briskly.

"Oh, yes, quite, quite--ah--thank you. But really--"

"Then you and I will go aloft, as old Cap'n Jim would have said. Cap'n Jim Phipps was Miss Martha's father, Mr. Bangs, and there may have been finer men, but I never met any of 'em. All ready? Good! Here, here, don't hurry! Take it easy. Those stairs are steep."

They were steep, and narrow as well. Galusha went first but before he reached the top he was extremely thankful that the sturdy physician was behind to steady him. Miss Martha called to say that she had left a lighted lamp in the bedroom. Beyond the fact that the room itself was of good size Galusha noticed little concerning it, little except the bed, which was large and patchwork-quilted and tremendously inviting.

Doctor Powers briskly helped him to undress. The soaked shoes and stockings made the physician shake his head.

"Your feet are as cold as ice, I suppose, eh?" he inquired.

"Why, a trifle chilled, but nothing--really nothing."

Miss Martha called up the stairs.

"Doctor," she called, "here's a hot-water bag. I thought probably 'twould feel comfortable."

Doctor Powers accepted the bag and returned to the room, shaking his head.

"That woman's got more sense than a--than a barn full of owls," he declared, solemnly. "There, Mr. Bangs, that'll warm up your underpinning. Anything more you want? All right, are you?"

"Oh, yes, quite, quite. But really, doctor, I shouldn't permit this. I feel like a trespasser, like--a--a--"

"You feel like going to sleep, that's what I want you to feel like. Lucky the rain has driven off the fog or the foghorn would keep you awake. It sounds like the crack of doom down here. Perhaps you noticed it?"

"Yes, I did--ah--at least that."

"I shouldn't wonder. Anybody but a graven image would notice the Gould's Bluffs foghorn. Matches right there by the lamp, in case you want 'em. If you feel mean in the night sing out; Martha'll hear you and come in. I'll be on hand in the morning. Good-night, Mr. Bangs."

He blew out the lamp and departed, closing the door behind him. The rain poured upon the roof overhead and splashed against the panes of the two little windows beneath the eaves. Galusha Bangs, warm and dry for the first time in hours, sank comfortably to sleep.

He woke early, at least he felt sure it was early until he looked at his watch. Then he discovered it was almost nine o'clock. He had had a wonderful night's rest and he felt quite himself, quite well again, he--

Whew! That shoulder WAS a trifle stiff. Yes, and there was a little more lameness in his ankles and knees than he could have wished. Perhaps, after all, he would not get up immediately. He would lie there a little longer and perhaps have the hotel people send up his breakfast, and--Then he remembered that he was not at the hotel; he was occupying a room in the house of a total stranger. No doubt they were waiting breakfast for him. Dear me, dear me!

He climbed stiffly out of bed and began to dress. This statement is not quite correct; he prepared to begin to dress. Just as he reached the important point where it was time to put something on he made a startling discovery: His clothes were gone!

It was true, they were gone, every last item of them with the unimportant exceptions of crumpled collar and tie. Galusha looked helplessly about the room and shivered.

"Oh, dear me!" he cried, aloud. "Oh, dear!"

A voice outside his chamber door made answer.

"Be you awake, Mr. Bangs?" asked Primmie. "Here's your things. Doctor Powers he come up and got 'em last night after you'd fell asleep and me and Miss Martha we hung 'em alongside the kitchen stove. They're dried out fine. Miss Martha says you ain't to get up, though, till the doctor comes. I'll leave your things right here on the floor.... Or shall I put 'em inside?"

"Oh, no, no! Don't, don't! I mean put them on the floor--ah--outside. Thank you, thank you."

"Miss Martha said if you was awake to ask you if you felt better."

"Oh, yes--yes, much better, thank you. Thank you--yes."

He waited in some trepidation, until he heard Primmie clump downstairs. Then he opened the door a crack and retrieved his "things." They were not only dry, but clean, and the majority of the wrinkles had been pressed from his trousers and coat. The mud had even been brushed from his shoes. Not that Galusha noticed all this just then. He was busy dressing, having a nervous dread that the unconventional Primmie might find she had forgotten something and come back to bring it.

When he came downstairs there was no one in the sitting room and he had an opportunity to look about. It was a pleasant apartment, that sitting room, especially on a morning like this, with the sunshine streaming in through the eastern windows, windows full of potted plants set upon wire frames, with hanging baskets of trailing vines and a canary in a cage about them. There were more plants in the western windows also, for the sitting room occupied the whole width of the house at that point. The pictures upon the wall were almost all of the sea, paintings of schooners, and one of the "Barkentine Hawkeye, of Boston. Captain James Phipps, leaving Surinam, August 12, 1872." The only variations from the sea pictures were a "crayon-enlarged" portrait of a sturdy man with an abundance of unruly gray hair and a chin beard, and a chromo labeled "Sunset at Niagara Falls." The portrait bore sufficient resemblance to Miss Martha Phipps to warrant Galusha's guess that it was intended to portray her father, the "Cap'n Jim" of whom the doctor had spoken. The chromo of "Sunset at Niagara Falls" was remarkable chiefly for its lack of resemblance either to Niagara or a sunset.

He was inspecting this work of art when Miss Phipps entered the room. She was surprised to see him.

"Mercy on us!" she exclaimed. "WHAT in the world are you doin' downstairs here?"

Galusha blushed guiltily and hastened to explain that he was feeling quite himself, really, and so had, of course, risen and--ah--dressed.

"But I do hope, Miss Phipps," he added, "that I haven't kept you waiting breakfast. I'm afraid I have."

She laughed at the idea. "Indeed you haven't," she declared. "If you don't mind my sayin' so, Mr. Bangs, the angel Gabriel couldn't keep me waitin' breakfast till half past nine on a Saturday mornin'. Primmie and I were up at half-past six sharp. That is, I got up then and Primmie was helped up about five minutes afterward. But what I want to know," she went on, "is why you got up at all. Didn't the doctor say you were to stay abed until he came?"

"Why--why, yes, I believe he did, but you see--you see--"

"Never mind. The main thing is that you ARE up and must be pretty nearly starved. Sit right down, Mr. Bangs. Your breakfast will be ready in two shakes."

"But Miss Phipps, I wish you wouldn't trouble about my breakfast. I feel--"

"I know how you feel; that is, I know how _I should feel if I hadn't eaten a thing but toast-bread since yesterday mornin'. Sit down, Mr. Bangs."

She hastened from the room. Galusha, the guilty feeling even more pronounced, sat down as requested. Five minutes afterward she returned to tell him that breakfast was ready. He followed her to the dining room, another comfortable, sunshiny apartment, where Primmie, grinning broadly, served him with oatmeal and boiled eggs and hot biscuits and coffee. He was eating when Doctor Powers' runabout drove up.

The doctor, after scolding his patient for disobeying orders, gave the said patient a pretty thorough examination.

"You are in better shape than you deserve to be," he said, "but you are not out of the woods yet. What you need is to gain strength, and that means a few days' rest and quiet and good food. If your friends, the Halls, were at their cottage at the Centre I'd take you there, Mr. Bangs, but they're not. I would take you over to my house, but my wife's sister and her children are with us and I haven't any place to put you."

Galusha, who had been fidgeting in his chair, interrupted. "Now, Doctor Powers," he begged, "please don't think of such a thing. I am quite well enough to travel."

"Excuse me, but you are not."

"But you said yourself you would take me to Wellmouth if the Halls were there."

"I did, but they're not there."

"I know, but there is a hotel there, Mr.--ah--Pulcifer said so."

The doctor and Miss Phipps looked at each other.

"He said there was a hotel there," went on Galusha. "Now if you would be so kind as to--ah--take me to that hotel--"

Dr. Powers rubbed his chin.

"I should like to have you under my eye for a day or two," he said.

"Yes--yes, of course. Well, couldn't you motor over and see me occasionally? It is not so very far, is it?... As to the additional expense, of course I should expect to reimburse you for that."

Still the physician looked doubtful.

"It isn't the expense, exactly, Mr. Bangs," he said.

"I promise you I will not attempt to travel until you give your permission. I realize that I am still--ah--a trifle weak--weak in the knees," he added, with his slight smile. "I know you must consider me to have been weak in the head to begin with, otherwise I shouldn't have gotten into this scrape."

The doctor laughed, but he still looked doubtful.

"The fact is, Mr. Bangs," he began--and stopped. "The fact is--the fact--"

Martha Phipps finished the sentence for him.

"The fact is," she said, briskly, "that Doctor Powers knows, just as I or any other sane person in Ostable County knows, that Elmer Rogers' hotel at the Centre isn't fit to furnish board and lodgin' for a healthy pig, to say nothin' of a half sick man. You think he hadn't ought to go there, don't you, doctor?"

"Well, Martha, to be honest with you--yes. Although I shouldn't want Elmer to know I said it."

"Well, you needn't worry; he shan't know as far as I am concerned. Now of course there's just one sensible thing for Mr. Bangs here to do, and you know what that is, doctor, as well as I do. Now don't you?"

Powers smiled. "Perhaps," he admitted, "but I'd rather you said it, Martha."

"All right, I'm goin' to say it. Mr. Bangs," turning to the nervous Galusha, "the thing for you to do is to stay right here in this house, stay right here till you're well enough to go somewhere else."

Galusha rose from his chair. "Oh, really," he cried, in great agitation, "I can't do that. I can't, really, Miss Phipps."

"Of course I realize you won't be as comfortable here as you would be in a hotel, in a GOOD hotel--you'd be more comfortable in a pigsty than you would at Elmer's. But--"

"Miss Phipps--Miss Phipps, please! I AM comfortable. You have made me very comfortable. I think I never slept better in my life than I did last night. Or ate a better breakfast than this one. But I cannot permit you to go to this trouble."

"It isn't any trouble."

"Excuse me, I feel that it is. No, doctor, I must go--if not to the Wellmouth hotel, then somewhere else."

Doctor Powers whistled. Miss Martha looked at Galusha. Galusha, whose knees were trembling, sat down in the chair again. Suddenly the lady spoke.

"If this was a hotel you would be willin' to stay here, wouldn't you, Mr. Bangs?" she asked.

"Why, yes, certainly. But, you see, it--ah--isn't one."

"No, but we might make it one for three or four days. Doctor, what does Elmer Rogers charge his inmates--his boarders, I mean--a day?"

"Why, from three to five dollars, I believe."

"Tut, tut, tut! The robber! Well, I presume likely he'd rob Mr. Bangs here as hard as he'd rob anybody. Mr. Bangs, I take it that what troubles you mostly is that you don't want to visit a person you've never met until last night. You've never met Elmer Rogers at all, but you would be perfectly willin' to visit him if you could pay for the privilege."

"Why--why, yes, of course, Miss Phipps. You have been very kind, so kind that I don't know how to express my gratitude, but I can't accept any more of your hospitality. To board at a hotel is quite a different thing."

"Certainly it is. I appreciate how you feel. I should probably feel just the same way. This house of mine isn't a hotel and doesn't pretend to be, but if you think you can be comfortable here for the next few days and it will make you feel happier to pay--say, three dollars a day for the privilege, why--well, I'm satisfied if you are."

Galusha gazed at her in amazement. The doctor slapped his knee.

"Splendid!" he exclaimed. "Martha, as usual you've said and done just the right thing. Now, Mr. Bangs, I'll see you again to-morrow morning. Take the tablets as directed. You may go out for an hour or so by and by if the weather is good, but DON'T walk much or get in the least tired. Good-morning."

He was at the door before his patient realized what he was about.

"But, doctor," cried Galusha, "I--I--really I--Oh, dear!"

The door closed. He turned to Miss Phipps in bewildered consternation. She smiled at him reassuringly.

"So THAT'S all settled," she said. "Now sit right down again, Mr. Bangs, and finish your breakfast.... Primmie, bring Mr. Bangs some hot coffee. HOT coffee I said, remember."

Later, perhaps ten minutes later, Galusha ventured another statement.

"Miss Phipps," he said, "I--I--Well, since you insist upon doing this for me, for a person whom you never met until yesterday, I think the very least I can do is to tell you who--or--ah--what I am. Of course if the Halls were here they would vouch for me, but as they are not, I--Well, in a case of this kind it is--ah--customary, isn't it, to give references?"

"References? As to your bein' able to pay the three dollars a day, do you mean?"

"Why, no, perhaps that sort of reference may not be necessary. I shall be glad to pay each day's board in advance."

"Then what sort of references did you mean, references about your character?"

"Why--why, yes, something of the sort."

Her eyes twinkled.

"Mr. Bangs," she asked, "do you really think I ought to have 'em?"

Galusha smiled. "For all you know to the contrary," he said, "I may be a desperate ruffian."

"You don't look desperate. Do you feel that way?"

"Not now, but I did last--ah--evening."

"When you were camped out on that Inn piazza in a pourin' rain, you mean? I don't blame you for feelin' desperate then.... Well, Mr. Bangs, suppose we don't worry about the references on either side of this bargain of ours. I'll take you on trust for the next two or three days, if you'll take me. And no questions asked, as they say in the advertisements for stolen property. Will that suit you?"

"Perfectly, except that I think you are taking all the risk. I, certainly, am not taking any."

"Hum, don't be too sure. You haven't tried much of Primmie's cookin' yet.... Oh, by the way, what IS your business, Mr. Bangs?"

"I am an archaeologist."

"Yes--oh--yes.... A--a what, did you say?"

"An archaeologist. I specialize principally in Egyptology."

"Oh.... Oh, yes."

"Yes."

"Yes.... Well, I must run out to the kitchen now. Make yourself right at home, Mr. Bangs."

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CHAPTER VIIThe announcement exploded like a bomb in the midst of the little group in the light keeper's sitting room. Lulie turned a trifle pale and looked worried and alarmed. Martha uttered an exclamation, dropped the window shade and turned toward her young friend. Mr. Bangs looked from one to the other and was plainly very anxious to help in some way but not certain how to begin. Of the four Nelson Howard, the one most concerned, appeared least disturbed. It was he who spoke first and his tone was brisk and businesslike. "Well, Lulie," he said, "what do you want
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CHAPTER IIAnd in order to make clear the truth of the statement just made, namely, that Fate had achieved something when it brought Galusha Bangs to the door of Martha Phipps' home that rainy night in October--in order to emphasize the truth of that statement it may be well, without waiting further, to explain just who Galusha Cabot Bangs was, and who and what his family was, and how, although the Bangses were all very well in their way, the Cabots--his mother's family--were "the banking Cabots of Boston," and were, therefore, very great people indeed. "The banking Cabots" must not be
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