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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGalusha The Magnificent - Chapter 22
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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 22 Post by :emailsuccess Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1472

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Galusha The Magnificent - Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII

There were two people in that house who ate a real breakfast the following morning. One was Primmie and the other was Augustus Cabot. It took much, very much, to counteract Miss Cash's attraction toward food, and as for the Boston banker, the combination of Cape Cod air and Martha Phipps' cooking had sharpened his appetite until, as he told his hostess, he was thoroughly ashamed, but tremendously contented.

Martha smiled a faint recognition of the joke. Galusha, sitting opposite her, did not smile; he was plainly quite unaware that there was humor anywhere. The little archaeologist looked, so Primmie told Zach later on, "like one of them wax string beans, thin and drawed-out and yeller." He kept his gaze fixed on his plate and, beyond wishing her an uncertain good-morning, not once did he look at or venture to address Martha Phipps.

While they were at table Lulie came in. Considering all that she had undergone, the young lady was wonderfully radiant. Her eyes sparkled, there was color in her cheeks, and Mr. Cabot, who, in his time, had accounted himself a judge, immediately rated her as a remarkably pretty girl. Her first move, after greeting the company, was to go straight to Galusha and take his hand.

"Mr. Bangs," she cried, "how can I thank you? How can Nelson and I ever, ever thank you?"

Galusha's embarrassment managed to pump a little color into his wan cheeks. "I--I--ah--dear me, it was nothing," he stammered. "I--I am--ah--yes, quite so. Please don't mention it."

"But I shall mention it. Indeed, I shall. Why, Martha, do you realize who was really responsible for father's being so suspicious of Marietta Hoag last evening? It was Mr. Bangs here, and no one else. Do you remember I told you that father had been receiving printed things, booklets and circulars, in the mails for the past few days, and that he had been reading them and they seemed to agitate him very much? Do you remember that?"

Martha said of course she remembered it.

"Yes. Well, those circulars and books came from the Psychical Research Society--the people who look up real spirit things and expose the other kind, the fraud kind, you know. Those told all about lots of cases of cheats like Marietta, and father read them, and he confessed to me this morning that they disturbed his faith in her a lot and he was suspicious when the seance began. Don't you know he hinted something about it?"

"Yes, yes, Lulie, I remember. But what did Mr. Bangs have to do with those circulars and things?"

"He sent them. Or he had them sent, I am sure. They came from Washington and who else could have done it? Who else would have had them sent--from there--to father--and just at the right time? You did have them sent, didn't you, Mr. Bangs?"

Of course, the others now looked at Galusha and also, of course, this had the effect of increasing his embarrassment.

"Why--why, yes," he admitted, "I suppose I am responsible. You see, I--well--ah--I have friends at the Washington branch of the Society and I dropped a line requesting that some--ah--literature be sent to Captain Hallett. But it was nothing, really. Dear me, no. How is your father this morning, Lulie?"

Lulie's face expressed her happiness. "Oh, he is ever and ever so much better," she declared. "Last night I was so afraid that the shock and the dreadful disappointment and all might have a very had effect upon him, but it hasn't. He is weak this morning and tired, of course, but his brain is perfectly clear and he talks as calmly as you or I. Yes, a good deal more calmly than I am talking just now, for I am very much excited."

She laughed a little. Then, with a blush which caused the Boston connoisseur to re-endorse his own estimate of her looks, added: "I just must tell you this, Martha, you and Mr. Bangs, for I know you will be almost as much delighted as I am--of course, I put in the 'almost.' This morning, a little while ago, I ventured to mention Nelson's name to father and to hint that perhaps now that he knew Marietta's 'medium' nonsense to be all a fraud, he would believe as I did that the things she said about Nelson were frauds, too. I said it in fear and trembling, and for some time he didn't answer. Then he called me to him and said he guessed I was probably right. 'You seem to have been right most of the time, Lulie,' he said, 'and I've been clear off the course.' Then he said something about his getting old and about ready for the scrap heap, but at the end he said: 'You ask that young Howard to cruise around here and see me some one of these days. I want to talk to him.' There!" triumphantly. "Isn't that splendid? Isn't that something for him to say?"

Martha beamed delightedly. "For your father to say it's more than somethin', it's a whole big lot," she declared. "Well, well, well! Cap'n Jeth invitin' Nelson to come and see him and talk with him! Mercy me! 'Wonders 'll never cease, fish fly and birds swim,' as my own father used to say," she added, with a laugh. "Mr. Cabot, excuse me for talkin' about somethin' you don't understand, but, you see, Lulie is--Well, Primmie, what is it?"

Primmie's face expressed great excitement as she pushed it around the edge of the kitchen door. "My savin' soul!" was her salutation. "Who do you suppose is comin' right up our walk this very minute? Raish Pulcifer, that's who! And--and I bet you he's heard about last night's doin's, Miss Martha."

A little of Miss Cash's excitement was communicated to the others by her announcement. To every one except Mr. Bangs, of course. Galusha, after his acknowledgment of Lulie's thanks, had relapsed into his absent-minded apathy. Martha looked at Lulie.

"Humph!" she said, after a moment. "Well, let him come, as far as I'm concerned. I never was afraid of Raish Pulcifer yet and I'm not now. Lulie, if you don't want to meet him, you might go into the sitting room."

Lulie hesitated. "Well, perhaps I will," she said. "Father has told me a little about--Well, I imagine Raish will be disagreeable and I don't feel like going through more disagreeableness just now. I'll wait in here till he goes, Martha."

"Perhaps you'd like to go, too, Mr. Cabot," suggested Martha.

Cabot shrugged. "Not unless you wish me to," he replied. "I've never met this agent of ours and I wouldn't mind seeing what he looks like. Williams hired him, so he doesn't know me from Adam."

For the first time that morning Miss Phipps addressed her boarder directly. "How about you, Mr. Bangs?" she asked.

Galusha did not appear to hear the question, and before it was repeated a knock, loud, portentous, threatening, sounded upon the door.

"Let him in, Primmie," commanded Miss Phipps.

Mr. Pulcifer entered. His bearing was as ominous as his knock. He nodded to Martha, glanced inquiringly at Cabot, and then turned his gaze upon Galusha Bangs.

"Well, Raish," said Martha, cheerfully, "you're an early bird this mornin'. How do you do?"

The great Horatio's only acknowledgment of the greeting was a nod. He did not even remove his cap. He was looking at the little man in the chair at the foot of the table and he seemed quite oblivious of any one else. And Galusha, for that matter, seemed quite as oblivious of him.

The Pulcifer mouth opened and the Pulcifer finger pointed.

"Say," commanded Raish. "Say--you!" And as this seemed to have little or no effect upon the individual toward whom the finger pointed, he added: "Say, you--er--What's-your-name--Bangs."

Galusha, who had been absently playing with his napkin, twisting it into folds and then untwisting it, looked up.

"Eh?" he queried. "Oh, yes--yes, of course. How do you do, Mr. Pulcifer?"

This placidity seemed to shut off Raish's breath for the moment, but it returned in full supply.

"How do I DO!" he repeated. "Well, I ain't what you'd call fust-rate, I'd say. I'm pretty darn sick, if anybody should ask you. I've had enough to make me sick. Say, look here, Bangs! What kind of a game is this you've been puttin' over on me--hey?... Hey?"

"Game?... I--ah--pardon me, I don't know that I quite understand, Mr. Pulcifer."

"Don't you? Well, I don't understand neither. But I cal'late to pretty quick. What did Jeth Hallett mean last night by sayin' that he'd sold his four hundred Development a couple of months ago? What did he mean by it?"

Martha Phipps was about to speak. Cabot, too, leaned forward. But Galusha raised a protesting hand.

"Please," he said. "Mr. Pulcifer has a perfect right to ask. I have--ah--been expecting him to do so. Well, Mr. Pulcifer, I presume Captain Hallet meant that he had--ah--sold the stock."

"He did? I want to know! And what did he mean by sayin' he'd sold it to YOU?"

Again Miss Phipps and Cousin Gussie seemed about to take a hand and again Galusha silenced them.

"If you please," he begged. "It is quite all right, really.... I suppose, Mr. Pulcifer, he meant that he had done just that. He did. I--ah--bought his stock."

"You did! YOU did? Say, what kind of a--Say, am I crazy or are you?"

"Oh, I am. Dear me, yes, Mr. Pulcifer. At all events, I purchased the stock from Captain Hallett. I bought Miss Phipps' shares at the same time."

It took more than a trifle to "stump" Raish Pulcifer. He was accustomed to boast that it did. But he had never been nearer to being stumped than at that moment.

"You--bought--" He puffed the words as a locomotive puffs smoke when leaving a station.

"Yes," said Galusha, calmly, "I bought both his and hers."

"You did!... You did!... Well, by cripes! But--but why?"

"Because, I--ah--For reasons of my own, Mr. Pulcifer. Please pardon me if I do not go into that. I do not wish to appear rude, but the reasons are quite personal, really."

"Personal!... Well, I'll be dummed if this ain't the nerviest piece of brass cheek ever I--Say, look here, Bangs! Why didn't you tell me you'd bought them shares? What did you--Why, you must have had 'em all the time I was offerin' you commissions for buyin' 'em. Hey? DID you have 'em then?"

"Why--ah--yes, I did."

"And you never said nothin', but just let me talk! And--and how about this seance thing? You was the one put me up to making Marietta pretend to get messages from Jeth's wife tellin' him to sell his stock to me. YOU done it. I'd never thought of it if you hadn't put the notion in my head. And--and all the time--Oh, by CRIPES!"

Again his agitation brought on a fit of incoherence. And he was not the only astonished person about that table. Galusha, however, was quite calm. He continued to fold and unfold his napkin.

"It may be," he said, slowly, "that I owe you an apology, Mr. Pulcifer. I did deceive you, or, at least, I did not undeceive you." He paused, sighed, and then added, with a twisted smile, "I seem to have been a--ah--universal deceiver, as one might say. However, that is not material just now. I had what seemed to me good reasons for wishing Captain Hallett to learn that Miss Hoag was not a genuine--ah--psychic. It occurred to me that a mention of his late wife's wish to have him sell something he did not possess might accomplish that result. I misled you, of course, and I apologize, Mr. Pulcifer. I am sorry, but it seemed necessary to do so. Yes, quite."

He ceased speaking. Martha drew a long breath. Mr. Cabot looked very much puzzled. Raish slowly shook his head. "Well!" he began; tried again, but only succeeded in repeating the word. Then he blurted out his next question.

"Who'd you buy them shares for?"

"Eh? For?"

"Yes, for. Who did you buy Cap'n Jeth's and Martha's stock for? Who got you to buy it? 'Twasn't the Trust Company crowd, was it?"

"The Trust Company? I beg pardon? Oh, I see--I see. Dear me, no. I bought the stock myself, quite on my own responsibility, Mr. Pulcifer."

Raish could not believe it. "You bought it yourself!" he repeated. "No, no, you don't get me. I mean whose money paid for it?"

"Why, my own."

Still it was plain that Horatio did not believe. As a matter of fact, the conviction that Galusha Bangs was poverty-stricken was so thoroughly implanted in the Pulcifer mind that not even a succession of earthquakes like the recent disclosures could shake it loose. But Raish did not press the point, for at that moment a new thought came to him. His expression changed and his tone changed with it.

"Say, Bangs," demanded he, eagerly, "do you mean you've still got that six hundred and fifty Development? Mean you ain't turned 'em over yet to anybody else?"

"Eh? Why, no, Mr. Pulcifer, I haven't--ah--turned them over to any one else."

"Good! Fust-rate! Fine and dandy! You and me can trade yet. You're all right, Perfessor, you are. You've kind of put one acrost on me, but don't make the mistake of thinkin' I'm holdin' that against you. No, sir-ee! When a feller's smart enough to keep even with your Uncle Raish in a deal then I know he gets up early--yes, sir, early, and that's when I get up myself. Hey, Perfessor? Haw, haw! Now, I tell you: Let's you and me go down to my office or somewheres where we can talk business. Maybe I might want to buy that stock yet, you can't tell. Hey? Haw, haw!"

He was exuding geniality now. But just here Mr. Augustus Cabot spoke. Judging by his face, he had enjoyed the passage at arms between his cousin and his business agent hugely. Now he entered the lists.

"That's all right, Pulcifer," he said. "You needn't trouble. I'll look out for that stock, myself."

Horatio turned and stared. He had scarcely noticed the visitor before, now he looked him over from head to foot.

"Hey? What's that?" he demanded. Cabot repeated his statement. Raish snorted.

"You'll look after the stock!" he repeated. "YOU will? Who are you?"

Cousin Gussie tossed a card across the table. "Cabot is my name," he said.

Galusha suddenly remembered.

"Oh, dear me!" he exclaimed. "I--I forgot. Please forgive me. Cousin Gussie, this is Mr. Pulcifer. Mr. Pulcifer, this gentleman is my--ah--Cousin Gu--I mean my cousin, Mr. Cabot, from Boston."

But Mr. Pulcifer did not hear. He was staring at the names of the individual and of the firm upon the card and icy fingers were playing tunes up and down his vertebrae. For the second time that morning he could not speak. Cabot laughed.

"It's all right, Pulcifer," he said, reassuringly. "You won't have to worry about the Development matter any longer. I'll handle the rest of it. Oh, you did your best. I'm not blaming you. I'll see that you get a fair return, even if you couldn't quite deliver. But you must keep still about the whole thing, of course."

Raish breathed heavily. Slowly the icy fingers ceased trifling with his spine and that backbone began to develop--quoting Miss Phipps' description--at least one new joint to every foot. He suppled visibly. He expressed himself with feeling. He begged the honor of shaking hands with the great man from Boston. Then he shook hands with Galusha and Miss Phipps. If Primmie had been present doubtless he would have shaken hands with her. When Cabot suggested that the interview had best terminate, he agreed with unction and oozed, rather than walked, through that doorway. Watching from the window, they saw him stop when he reached the road, draw a long breath, take a cigar from his pocket, light it, hitch his cap a trifle to one side, and stride away, a moving picture of still unshaken and serene self-confidence.

Cabot laughed delightedly. "That fellow is a joy forever," he declared. "He's one of the seven wonders of the world."

Martha sniffed. "Then the world better keep a sharp watch on the other six," was her comment. "I wouldn't trust Raish Pulcifer alone with Bunker Hill monument--not if 'twas a dark night and he had a wheelbarrow."

Lulie came rushing from the sitting room. She had heard all the Pulcifer-Bangs' dialogue and her one desire was to thank Galusha. But Galusha was not present. While Martha and Mr. Cabot were at the window watching the departure of Raish, the little man had left the room.

"But I must see him," cried Lulie. "Oh, Martha, just think! He is responsible for EVERYTHING. Not only for sending father the Psychical Society books, but for planning all that happened at the seance. You heard what Raish said. He said that Mr. Bangs put him up to bribing Marietta to pretend getting the message ordering father to sell his stock. Why, if that is true--and, of course, it must be--and if--if Nelson and I should--if it SHOULD end right for us--why, Martha, he will be the one who made it possible. Oh, do you believe he did plan it, as Raish said?"

Martha nodded and turned away. "He seems to have spent most of his time plannin' for other folks," she said.

"He didn't come through the sitting room," said Lulie, "so he must be in the kitchen with Primmie. I'm going to find him."

But she did not find him. Primmie said that Mr. Bangs had come out into the kitchen, taken his hat and coat, and left the house by the back door. Looking from that door, they saw his diminutive figure, already a good distance off, moving across the fields.

"He's on his way to the graveyard," declared Primmie. Cabot was startled.

"On his way to the graveyard!" he repeated. "Why, he looked remarkably well to me. What do you mean?"

Lulie laughingly explained. A few minutes later, declaring that she must leave her father alone no longer, she hurried away. Martha watched her go.

"She scarcely knows there is ground under her feet," she observed. "A light heart makes easy ballast, so my father used to say."

Cabot expressed his intention of starting for the city shortly after noon.

"Now that I know where those missing shares are, I can go with an easy conscience," he said. "I came 'way down here to get them and the faster I came the farther off they were. Ha, ha! It's a great joke. I've had a wonderful time, Miss Phipps. Well, I must see Galusha and get him to sell that stock to me. I don't anticipate much difficulty. The old boy didn't even know nor care where Barbour had put it."

Martha seemed to hesitate a moment. Then she said: "Mr. Cabot, I wonder if you could spare a few minutes. I want to talk with you about the money I owe--the money he GAVE me--for that stock, and a little about--about your cousin himself. Last night when you spoke of him I was--well, I was excited and upset and I didn't treat you very well, I'm afraid. I'm sorry, but perhaps you'll excuse me, considerin' all that had happened. Now I want to ask you one or two questions. There are some things I don't--I can't quite understand."

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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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