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Galusha the Magnificent

Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  Produced by Don Lainson


  By Joseph C. Lincoln



  Mr. Horatio Pulcifer was on his way home. It was half-past five of afoggy, gray afternoon in early October; it had rained the previous dayand a part of the day before that and it looked extremely likely to rainagain at any moment. The road between Wellmouth Centre, the village inwhich Mr. Pulcifer had been spending the afternoon, and East Wellmouth,the community which he honored with his residence, was wet and sloppy;there were little puddles in the hollows of the macadam and the ruts anddepressions in the sand on either side were miniature lakes. The grovesof pitch pines and the bare, brown fields and knolls dimly seen throughthe fog looked moist and forsaken and dismal. There were no houses insight; along the East Wellmouth road there are few dwellings, for no onebut a misanthrope or a hermit would select that particular section asa place in which to live. Night was coming on and, to accent theloneliness, from somewhere in the dusky dimness a great foghorn groanedat intervals.

  It was a sad and deserted outlook, that from the seat of Mr. Pulcifer's"flivver" as it bounced and squeaked and rattled and splashed its wayalong. But Mr. Pulcifer himself was not sad, at least his appearancecertainly was not. Swinging jauntily, if a trifle ponderously, with theroll of the little car, his clutch upon the steering wheel expressedserene confidence and his manner self-satisfaction quite as serene.His plaid cap was tilted carelessly down toward his right ear, the tiltbeing balanced by the upward cock of his cigar toward his left ear. Thelight-colored topcoat with the soiled collar was open sufficiently atthe throat to show its wearer's chins and a tasty section of tie andcameo scarf-pin below them. And from the corner of Mr. Pulcifer's mouthopposite that occupied by the cigar came the words and some of the tuneof a song which had been the hit of a "Follies" show two seasonsbefore. No, there was nothing dismal or gloomy in Mr. Horatio Pulcifer'sappearance as he piloted his automobile toward home at the close of thatOctober afternoon.

  And his outward seeming did not belie his feelings. He had spenta pleasant day. At South Wellmouth, his first port of call, he hadstrengthened his political fences by dropping in upon and chatting withseveral acquaintances who prided themselves upon being "in the know"concerning local political opinion and drift. Mr. "Raish" Pulcifer--noone in Ostable county ever referred to him as Horatio--had already heldthe positions of town clerk, selectman, constable and postmaster.Now, owing to an unfortunate shift in the party vote, the public was,temporarily, deprived of his services. However, it was rumored that hemight be persuaded to accept the nomination for state representative ifit were offered to him. His acquaintances at South Wellmouth had thatday assured him there was "a good, fair fightin' chance" that it mightbe.

  Then, after leaving South Wellmouth, he had dined at the Rogers' Housein Wellmouth Centre, "matching" a friend for the dinners and "sticking"the said friend for them and for the cigars afterward. Following this hehad joined other friends in a little game in Elmer Rogers' back room andhad emerged from that room three dollars and seventy-two cents ahead.No wonder he sang as he drove homeward. No wonder he looked quite carefree. And, as a matter of fact, care free he was, that is, as care freeas one is permitted to be in this care-ridden world. Down underneath hisbright exterior there were a few cankers which might have gnawed hadhe permitted himself to think of them, but he did not so permit.Mr. Pulcifer's motto had always been: "Let the other feller do theworryin'." And, generally speaking, in a deal with Raish that, sooner orlater, was what the other fellow did.

  The fog and dusk thickened, Mr. Pulcifer sang, and the flivver wheezedand rattled and splashed onward. At a particularly dark spot, where themain road joined a cross country byroad, Raish drew up and climbed outto light the car lamps, which were of the old-fashioned type requiringa gas tank and matches. He had lighted one and was bending forward withthe match ready to light the other when a voice at his elbow said:

  "I beg your pardon, but--but will you kindly tell me where I am?"

  It was not a loud, aggressive voice; on the contrary, it was hesitatingand almost timid, but when one is supposedly alone at twilight on theEast Wellmouth road any sort of voice sounding unexpectedly just aboveone's head is startling. Mr. Pulcifer's match went out, he startedviolently erect, bumping his head against the open door of the lampcompartment, and swung a red and agitated face toward his shoulder.

  "I--beg your pardon," said the voice. "I'm afraid I startled you. I'mextremely sorry. Really I am."

  "What the h-ll?" observed Raish, enthusiastically.

  "I'm very sorry, very--yes, indeed," said the voice once more. Mr.Pulcifer, rubbing his bumped head and puffing from surprise and theexertion of stooping, stared wide-eyed at the speaker.

  The latter was no one he knew, so much was sure, to begin with. Thefirst impression Raish gained was of an overcoat and a derby hat. Thenhe caught the glitter of spectacles beneath the hat brim. Next hisattention centered upon a large and bright yellow suitcase which thestranger was carrying. That suitcase settled it. Mr. Pulcifer's keenmind had diagnosed the situation.

  "No," he said, quickly, "I don't want nothin'--nothin'; d'you get me?"

  "But--but--pardon me, I--"

  "Nothin'. Nothin' at all. I've got all I want."

  The stranger seemed to find this statement puzzling.

  "Excuse me," he faltered, after a moment's hesitation, during whichRaish scratched another match. "I--You see--I fear--I'm sure you don'tunderstand."

  Mr. Pulcifer bent and lighted the second lamp. Then he straightened oncemore and turned toward his questioner.

  "_I_ understand, young feller," he said, "but you don't seem to. I don'twant to buy nothin'. I've got all I want. That's plain enough, ain'tit?"

  "But--but--All you want? Really, I--"

  "All I want of whatever 'tis you've got in that bag. I never buy nothin'of peddlers. So you're just wastin' your time hangin' around. Trot alongnow, I'm on my way."

  He stepped to the side of the car, preparatory to climbing to thedriver's seat, but the person with the suitcase followed him.

  "Pardon me," faltered that person, "but I'm not--ah--a peddler. I'mafraid I--that is, I appear to be lost. I merely wish to ask the wayto--ah--to Mr. Hall's residence--Mr. Hall of Wellmouth."

  Raish turned and looked, not at the suitcase this time, but at theface under the hat brim. It was a mild, distinctly inoffensive face--anintellectual face, although that is not the term Mr. Pulcifer would haveused in describing it. It was not the face of a peddler, the ordinarykind of peddler, certainly--and the mild brown eyes, eyes a triflenearsighted, behind the round, gold-rimmed spectacles, were not thoseof a sharp trader seeking a victim. Also Raish saw that he had madea mistake in addressing this individual as "young feller." He was ofmiddle age, and the hair, worn a little longer than usual, above hisears was sprinkled with gray.

  "Mr. Hall, of--ah--of Wellmouth," repeated the stranger, seeminglyembarrassed by the Pulcifer stare. "I--I wish to find his house. Can youtell me how to find it?"

  Raish took the cigar, which even the bump against the lamp door hadfailed to dislodge, from the corner of his mouth, snapped the ash fromits end, and then asked a question of his own.

  "Hall?" he repeated. "Hall? Why, he don't live in Wellmouth. EastWellmouth's where he lives."

  "Dear me! Are you sure?"

  "Sure? Course I'm sure. Know him well."

  "Oh, dear me! Why, the man at the station told me--"

  "What station? The Wellmouth depot, do you mean?"

  "No, the--ah--the South Wellmouth station. You see, I got off the trainat South Wellmouth by mistake. It was the first Wellmouth called, youknow, and I--I suppose I caught
the name and--ah--rushed out of the car.I thought--it seemed to be a--a sort of lonely spot, you know--"

  "Haw, haw! South Wellmouth depot? It's worse'n lonesome, it'sGod-forsaken."

  "Yes--yes, it looked so. I should scarcely conceive of the Almighty'swishing to remain there long."


  "Oh, it's not material. Pardon me. I inquired of the young man in chargeof the--ah--station."

  "Nelse Howard? Yes, sure."

  "You know him, then?"

  Mr. Pulcifer laughed. "Say," he observed, patronizingly, "there's mightyfew folks in this neighborhood I don't know. You bet that's right!"

  "The young man--the station man--was very kind and obliging, very kindindeed. He informed me that there was no direct conveyance from theSouth Wellmouth station to Wellmouth--ah--Centre, but he prevailed uponthe driver of the station--ah--vehicle--"

  "Eh? You mean Lem Lovett's express team?"

  "I believe the driver's name was Lovett--yes. He prevailed upon him totake me in his wagon as far as a crossroads where I was to be left.From there I was to follow another road--ah--on foot, you know--until Ireached a second crossroad which would, he said, bring me directly intoWellmouth Middle--ah--Centre, I should say. He told me that Mr. Halllived there."

  "Well, he told you wrong. Hall lives up to East Wellmouth. But whatI can't get a-hold of is how you come to fetch up way off here. TheCentre's three mile or more astern of us; I've just come from there."

  "Oh, dear me! I must have lost my way. I was quite sure of it. It seemedto me I had been walking a very long time."

  Mr. Pulcifer laughed. "Haw, haw!" he guffawed, "I should say you had!I tell you what you done, Mister; you walked right past that crossroadNelse told you to turn in at. THAT would have fetched you to the Centre.Instead of doin' it you kept on as you was goin' and here you be 'wayout in the fag-end of nothin'. The Centre's three mile astern and EastWellmouth's about two and a ha'f ahead. Haw, haw! that's a good one,ain't it!"

  His companion's laugh was not enthusiastic. It was as near a groan asa laugh could well be. He put the yellow suitcase down in the mud andlooked wearily up and down the fog-draped road. There was little of itto be seen, but that little was not promising.

  "Dear me!" he exclaimed. "Dear me!" And then added, under his breath:"Oh, dear!"

  Mr. Pulcifer regarded him intently. A new idea was beginning to dawnbeneath the plaid cap.

  "Say, Mister," he said, suddenly, "you're in a bad scrape, ain't you?"

  "I beg your pardon? What? Yes, I am--I fear I am. Is it--is it a VERYlong walk back to Wellmouth?"

  "To the Centre? Three good long Cape Cod miles."

  "And is the-ah--the road good?"

  "'Bout as you see it most of the way. Macadam ain't so bad, but if youstep off it you're liable to go under for the third time."

  "Dear me! Dear me!"

  "Dear me's right, I cal'late. But what do you want to go to the Centrefor? Hall don't live there. He lives on ahead here--at East Wellmouth."

  "Yes--that's true, that's true. So you said. But the South Wellmouthstation man--"

  "Oh, never mind Nelse Howard. He's a smart Aleck and talks too much,anyhow. He made a mistake, that's all. Now I tell you, Mister, I'm goin'to East Wellmouth myself. Course I don't make a business of carryin'passengers and this trip is goin' to be some out of my way. Gasoline andile are pretty expensive these days, too, but--Eh? What say?"

  The pale face beneath the derby hat for the first time showed a ray ofhope. The eyes behind the spectacles were eager.

  "I--I didn't say anything, I believe," was the hurried answer, "but Ishould like to say that--that if you COULD find it possible to take mewith you in your car--if you COULD do me so great a favor, I should beonly too happy to pay for the privilege. Pay--ah--almost anything. Iam--I have not been well and I fatigue easily. If you could--"

  Mr. Pulcifer's hand descended squarely upon the shoulder of the darkovercoat.

  "Don't say nothin' more," he ordered, heartily. "I'm only too glad to doa feller a favor any time, if it's a possible thing. That's me, that is.I shouldn't think of chargin' you a cent, but of course this cruise is alittle mite off my track and it's late and--er--well, suppose we call itthree dollars? That's fair, ain't it?"

  "Oh, yes, quite, quite. It's very reasonable. Very generous of you. I'mextremely grateful, really."

  This prompt and enthusiastic acceptance of his offer was a bitdisconcerting. Raish was rather sorry that he had not said five.However, to do him justice, the transaction was more or less whathe would have called "chicken-feed stuff." Mr. Pulcifer was EastWellmouth's leading broker in real estate, in cranberry bog property,its leading promoter of deals of all kinds, its smartest trader.Ordinarily he did not stoop to the carrying of passengers for profit.But this particular passenger had been delivered into his hand andgasoline WAS expensive.

  "Jump right in, Mister," he said, blithely. "All aboard! Jump right in."

  His fare did not jump in, exactly. He climbed in rather slowly andpainfully. Raish, stowing the suitcase between his feet, noticed thathis shoes and trouser legs above them were spattered and daubed withyellow mud.

  "You HAVE had some rough travelin', ain't you, Mister?" he observed."Oh--er--what did you say your name was? Mine's Pulcifer."

  "Oh, yes--yes. Ah--how do you do, Mr. Pulcifer? My name is Bangs."

  "Bangs, eh? That's a good Cape name, or used to be. You any relation toSylvanus Bangs, over to Harniss?"

  "No--no, not that I am aware. Ours is a Boston branch of the family."

  "Boston, eh? Um-hm. I see. Yes, yes. What's your first name?"

  "Mine? Oh, my name is Galusha."

  "Eh? Ga--WHAT did you say 'twas?"

  "Galusha. It IS an odd name."

  "Yes, I'd say 'twas. Don't cal'late as I ever heard tell of it afore.Ga--Ga--"


  "Galushy, eh? I see. Strange what names folks 'll christen ontochildren, ain't it? There's lots of queer things in the world; did youever stop to think about that, Mister--Mister Bangs?"

  Mr. Bangs, who was leaning back against the upholstered seat as if hefound the position decidedly comforting, smiled faintly.

  "We have all thought that, I'm sure," he said. "'There are more thingsin heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"

  Mr. Pulcifer was not easily startled, but his jerk of surprise sent thecar perilously near the side of the road.

  "How in the devil did you know my name?" he demanded.

  "Your name? Why, you told me. It is Pulcifer, isn't it?"

  "No, no. My first name--Horatio. I never told you that, I'll swear."

  Mr. Bangs smiled and the smile made his face look younger.

  "Now that's rather odd, isn't it?" he observed. "Quite a coincidence."

  "A what?"

  "Oh, nothing, nothing. I didn't know your name, Mr.--ah--Pulcifer. Myusing it was an accident. I was quoting--ah--from Hamlet, you know."

  Mr. Pulcifer did not know, but he thought it not worth while advertisingthe fact. Plainly this passenger of his was a queer bird, as queerwithin as in dress and appearance. He turned his head slightly andlooked him over. It was growing too dark to see plainly, but one or twopoints were obvious. For instance, the yellow leather suitcase was brandnew and the overcoat was old. It was shiny about the cuffs. The derbyhat--and in October, in Wellmouth, derby hats are seldom worn--the derbyhat was new and of a peculiar shade of brown; it was a little too smallfor its wearer's head and, even as Raish looked, a gust of wind liftedit and would have sent it whirling from the car had not Mr. Bangs savedit by a sudden grab. Raish chuckled.

  "Come pretty nigh losin' somethin' overboard that time, didn't you?" heobserved.

  Mr. Bangs pulled the brown derby as far down upon his head as it wouldgo.

  "I--I'm afraid I made a mistake in buying this hat," he confided. "Itold the man I didn't think it fitted me as it should, but he said thatwas because I wasn't used to it. I doubt if I ever become u
sed to it.And it really doesn't fit any better to-day than it did yesterday."

  "New one, ain't it?" inquired Raish.

  "Yes, quite new. My other blew out of the car window. I bought this oneat a small shop near the station in Boston. I'm afraid it wasn't a verygood shop, but I was in a great hurry."

  "Where was you comin' from when your other one blew away?"

  "From the mountains."

  "White Mountains?"


  Raish said that he wanted to know and waited for his passenger to saysomething more. This the passenger did not do. Mr. Pulcifer whistled abar or two of his "Follies" song and then asked another question.

  "You any relation to Josh?" he asked.

  "I beg your pardon?"

  "Eh? Oh, that's all right. I just asked you if you was a relation ofJosh's--of Hall's, I mean, the folks you're goin' to see."

  "Oh, no, no. We are not related. Merely friends."

  "I see. I thought there wan't any Bangses in that family. His wife was aCahoon, wan't she?"

  "I--I BEG your pardon?"

  "I asked you if she wan't a Cahoon; Cahoon was her name afore shemarried Hall, wan't it?"

  "Oh, I don't know, I'm sure.... Now, really, that's very funny, very."

  "What's funny?"

  "Why, you see, I--" Mr. Bangs had an odd little way of pausing in themiddle of a sentence and then, so to speak, catching the train of histhought with a jerk and hurrying on again. "I understood you to ask ifshe was a--a cocoon. I could scarcely believe my ears. It WAS funny,wasn't it?"

  Raish Pulcifer thought it was and said so between roars. His convictionthat his passenger was a queer bird was strengthening every minute.

  "What's your line of business, Mr. Bangs?" was his next question.

  "I am not a business man. I am connected with the ArchaeologicalDepartment of the National Institute at Washington."

  If he had said he was connected with the interior department of aBrontosaurus the statements would have conveyed an equal amount ofunderstanding to the Pulcifer mind. However, it was a fixed principlewith Raish never to admit a lack of knowledge of any subject whatsoever.So he said:

  "From Washin'ton, eh? I see. Yes, yes. Cal'latin' to stay here on theCape long, Mr. Bangs?"

  "Why, I don't know, I'm sure. I have not been--ah--well of late. Thedoctors advise rest and--ah--outdoor air and all that. I tried severalplaces, but I didn't care for them. The Halls invited me to visit themand so I--well, I came."

  "Never been here to the Cape afore, then?"


  "Well, sir, you've come to the right place when you came to Wellmouth. Iwas born right here in East Wellmouth and I've lived here for fifty-twoyear and if anybody should ask me what I thought of the place I'd tell'em--"

  He proceeded to tell what he would tell 'em. It was a favorite topicwith him, especially in the summer and with visitors from the city.Usually the discourse ended with a suggestion that if the listenershould ever think of investing a little money in real estate "that'llbe wuth gold dollars to you--yes, sir, gold dollars--" he, Horatio G.Pulcifer, would be willing to point out and exhibit just the particularbit of real estate to invest in. He did not reach the climax this time,however. A gentle nasal sound at his shoulder caused Raish to turn hishead. Mr. Bangs had fallen asleep. Awakened by a vigorous nudge, heapologized profusely.

  "Really," he declared, with much embarrassment, "I--I am quite ashamedof myself. I--you see--I have, as I say, been somewhat unwell of late,and the fatigue of walking--I DO hope you will excuse me. I was verymuch interested in what you were saying. What--ah--what was it?"

  Before Raish could have repeated his real estate sermon, even had he sodesired, the car came to the top of a hill, emerged from the clumps ofpines shutting in the road on both sides, and began to descend a longslope. And through the fog and blackness at the foot of the slope thereshone dimly first one and then several lights. Mr. Bangs leaned forwardand peered around the edge of the wet windshield.

  "Is that it?" he asked, in much the same tone that Mrs. Noah may haveused when her husband announced that the lookout had sighted Ararat.

  Raish Pulcifer nodded. "Yes, sir," he declared, proudly. "Yes, sir,that's East Wellmouth."

  The fog in the valley was thicker even than that upon the hill andEast Wellmouth was almost invisible. Mr. Bangs made out a few houses, acrossroads, a small store, and that was about all. From off to the righta tremendous bellow sounded. The fog seemed to quiver with it.

  "WHAT is that?" asked Mr. Bangs, nervously. "I've heard it ever since Ileft the train, I believe. Some sort of a--ah--steam whistle, isn't it?"

  "Foghorn over to the light," replied Raish, briskly. "Well, sir, hereyou be."

  The car rolled up to the side of the road and stopped.

  "Here you be, Mr. Bangs," repeated Mr. Pulcifer. "Here's where Halllives, right here."

  Mr. Bangs seemed somewhat astonished. "Right here?" he asked. "Dear me,is it possible!"

  "Possible as anything ever you knew in your life. Why not? Ain't sorry,are you?"

  "Oh, no--no, indeed, I'm very glad. I was--ah--a trifle surprised,that is all. You said--I think you spoke of Mr. Hall's cottage asbeing--ah--off the track and so I--well I scarcely expected to reach hishouse so easily."

  Raish had forgotten his "off the track" statement, which was purely acommercial fiction invented on the spur of the moment to justify thehigh price he was charging for transportation. He was somewhat takenaback, but before he could think of a good excuse his companion spokeagain. He was leaning forward, peering out at the house before which thecar had stopped. It was a small, gray-shingled dwelling, sitting backfrom the road in the shadow of two ancient "silver-leafs," and Mr. Bangsseemed to find its appearance surprising.

  "Are you--are you SURE this is the Hall cottage?" he stammered.

  "Am I sure? Me? Well, I ought to be. I've lived in East Wellmouth all mylife and Josh Hall's lived in this house ever since I can remember."

  This should have been reassuring, but it did not appear to be. Mr.Pulcifer's passenger drew a startled breath.

  "What--WHAT is his Christian name?" he asked. "The--the Mr. Hall wholives here?"

  "His name is--Why? What's the matter?"

  "I'm afraid there has been a mistake. Is this Mr. Hall an entomologist?"

  "Eh? He ain't nothin' in particular. Don't go to meetin' much, Joshdon't. His wife's a Spiritu'list."

  "But--but, I mean--Dear me, dear me!" Mr. Bangs was fumbling in theinside pocket of his coat. "If I--Would you mind holding this for me?"he begged. "I have a photograph here and--Oh, thank you very much."

  He handed Pulcifer a small pocket electric lamp. Raish held it and intoits inch of light Mr. Bangs thrust a handful of cards and papers takenfrom a big and worn pocketbook. One of the handful was a postcard with aphotograph upon its back. It was a photograph of a pretty, old-fashionedcolonial house with a wide porch covered with climbing roses. Beneathwas written: "This is our cottage. Don't you think it attractive?"

  "Mrs. Hall sent me that--ah--last June--I think it was in June,"explained Mr. Bangs, hurriedly. "But you SEE," he added, wavingan agitated hand toward the gray-shingled dwelling beneath thesilver-leafs, "that CAN'T be the house, not if"--with a wave of thephotograph in the other hand--"if THIS is."

  Mr. Pulcifer took the postcard and stared at it. His brows drew togetherin a frown.

  "Say," he said, turning toward his passenger, "is this the house you'vebeen tryin' to find? This is a picture of the old Parker place over toWellmouth Centre. I thought you told me you wanted to be took to JoshuaHall's house in East Wellmouth."

  "Joshua? Oh, no, I'm sure I never could have said Joshua. That isn't hisname."

  "Then when I said 'Josh Hall' why didn't you say so?"

  "Oh, good gracious! Did you say 'Josh?' Oh, dear, that explains it; Ithought you said 'George.' My friend's name is George Hall. He is anentomologist at the New York Museum of Natural History. I--"

  "Say," broke i
n Raish, again, "is he a tall, bald-headed man withwhiskers; red whiskers?"

  "Yes--yes, he is."

  "Humph! Goes gallopin' round the fields chasin' bugs and grasshopperslike a young one?"

  "Why--why, entomology is his profession, so naturally he--"

  "Humph! So THAT'S the feller! Tut, tut, tut! Well, if you'd only saidyou meant him 'twould have been all right. I forgot there was a Halllivin' in the Parker place. If you'd said you meant 'Old Bughouse' I'dhave understood."


  "Oh, that's what the Wellmouth post-office gang call him. Kind of a joke'tis. And say, this is kind of a joke, too, my luggin' you 'way overhere, ain't it, eh? Haw, haw!"

  Mr. Bangs' attempt at a laugh was feeble.

  "But what shall I do now?" he asked, anxiously.

  "Well, that's the question, ain't it? Hum... hum... let's see. Sorry Ican't take you back to the Centre myself. Any other night I'd be gladto, but there's a beans and brown-bread supper and sociable up to themeetin' house this evenin' and I promised the old woman--Mrs. Pulcifer,I mean--that I'd be on hand. I'm a little late as 'tis. Hum... let'ssee... Why, I tell you. See that store over on the corner there? That'sErastus Beebe's store and Ras is a good friend of mine. He's got anextry horse and team and he lets 'em out sometimes. You step into thestore and ask Ras to hitch up and drive you back to the Centre. Tellhim I sent you. Say you're a friend of Raish Pulcifer's and that I saidtreat you right. Don't forget: 'Raish says treat me right.' You say thatto Ras and you'll be TREATED right. Yes, SIR! If Ras ain't in the storehe'll be in his house right back of it. Might as well get out here, Mr.Bangs, because there's a hill just ahead and I kind of like to get arunnin' start for it. Shall I help you with the suitcase? No, well, allright... Sorry you made the mistake, but we're all liable to make 'emsome time or another. Eh? haw, haw!"

  Poor Mr. Bangs clambered from the automobile almost as wearily andstiffly as he had climbed into it. The engine of the Pulcifer car hadnot stopped running so Raish was not obliged to get out and crank. Hetook a fresh grip on the steering wheel and looked down upon his latepassenger.

  "Well, good-night, Mr. Bangs," he said.

  "Good-night--ah--good-night, Mr. Pulcifer. I'm very much obliged to you,I am indeed. I'm sorry my mistake made you so much trouble."

  "Oh, that's all right, that's all right. Don't say a word...Well--er--good-night."

  "Good-night, sir... good-night."

  But still the little car did not start. It's owner's next remark wasexplanatory of the delay.

  "Course I HOPE you and I'll meet again, Mr. Bangs," said Raish. "Maysee you in Wellmouth, you know. Still, such things are--er--kind ofuncertain and--er--sendin' bills is a nuisance, so perhaps 'twould bebetter--er--easier for both of us--if we settled that little matter ofours right now. Eh?"

  "I beg your pardon. Little matter? I'm afraid I don't quite--"

  "Oh, that little matter of the three dollars for fetchin' you over.Course it don't amount to nothin', but I kind of like to get them littlethings off my mind, don't you? Eh?"

  Mr. Bangs was very much "fussed." He hurriedly dragged forth the bigpocketbook.

  "I beg your pardon--really I BEG your pardon," he stammered over andover again. "I quite forgot. It was inexcusable of me. I'm SO sorry."

  Evidently he felt that he had committed a crime. Mr. Pulcifer took thethree one dollar bills and waved the apologies aside with them.

  "Don't say a word, Mr. Bangs," he called, cheerily, as the car beganto move. "Anybody's liable to forget. Do it myself sometimes. Well, solong. Hope to see you again one of these days. Good-night."

  The flivver moved rapidly away, gaining speed as it rushed for thehill. Galusha Bangs watched its tail-light soar and dwindle until itdisappeared over the crest. Then, with a weary sigh, he picked up theheavy suitcase, plodded across the road and on until he reached the stepand platform of Erastus Beebe's "General and Variety Store." There wasa kerosene lamp burning dimly upon the counter within, but the door waslocked. He pounded on the door and shook it, but no one answered. Then,remembering Mr. Pulcifer's instructions, he entered the yard behind thestore, found the door of Mr. Beebe's house and knocked upon that. Therewas not even a light in the house. The Beebes had gone--as most ofEast Wellmouth had gone--to the baked beans and brown-bread supper andsociable at the church. Galusha Bangs was not aware of this, of course.What he was aware of--painfully, distressingly aware--was the factthat he was alone and supperless, very, very weak and tired, and almostdiscouraged.

  However, there was no use in standing in the wet grass of the Beebe yardand giving way to his discouragement. Galusha Bangs was a plucky littlesoul, although just now a weak and long-suffering one. He waded andslopped back to the store platform, where he put down his suitcase andstarted on a short tour of exploration. Through the fog and darkness hecould dimly perceive a signpost standing at the corner of the crossroadwhere the store was located. He tramped over to look at it.

  There were two signs affixed to the post. By the aid of thepocket flashlight he read them. That at the top read thus: "TO THELIGHTHOUSE--1 1/2 MILES." There was an arrow pointing along thecrossroad and off to the right. Galusha paid little attention to thissign; it was the other nailed beneath it which caught and held hisattention. It was a rather gaudy sign of red, white, and blue, and itread thus: "THE RESTABIT INN AT GOULD'S BLUFFS--1 MILE." And the arrowpointed in the same direction as the other.

  Mr. Bangs uttered his favorite exclamation.

  "Dear me! Why, dear me!"

  He read the sign again. There was no mistake, his first reading had beencorrect.

  He trotted back to the platform of Mr. Beebe's store. Then, oncemore dragging forth the big pocketbook, he fumbled in its variouscompartments. After spilling a good many scraps of paper upon theplatform and stopping to pick them up again, he at length found whathe was looking for. It was an advertisement torn from the Summer Resortadvertising pages of a magazine. Holding it so that the feeble lightfrom Mr. Beebe's lamp fell upon it, Galusha read, as follows:

  THE RESTABIT INN at Beautiful Gould's Bluffs, East Wellmouth, Mass.Rest, sea air, and pleasant people: Good food and plenty of it.Reasonable prices. NO FRILLS.

  He had chanced upon the advertisement in a tattered, back numbermagazine which a fellow passenger had left beside him in a car seata month before. He had not quite understood the "NO FRILLS" portion.Apparently it must be important because the advertiser had put it incapital letters, but Mr. Bangs was uncertain as to just what it meant.But there was no uncertainty about the remainder of the "ad."

  Rest! His weary muscles and aching joints seemed to relax at the verywhisper of the word. Food! Well, he needed food, it would be welcome, ofcourse--but rest! Oh, rest!!

  And food and rest, not to mention reasonable prices and pleasant peopleand no frills, were all but a mile away at the Restabit Inn at Gould'sBluffs--beautiful Gould's Bluffs. No wonder they called them beautiful.

  He returned the pocketbook to his inside pocket and the flashlight to anoutside one, turned up his coat collar, pulled the brown derby downas tightly upon his brow as he could, picked up the heavy suitcase andstarted forth to tramp the mile which separated his tired self from foodand rest--especially rest.

  The first hundred yards of that mile cut him off entirely from theworld. It was dark now, pitch dark, and the fog was so thick as to bealmost a rain. His coat and hat and suitcase dripped with it. The dropsran down his nose. He felt as if there were almost as much water in theair as there was beneath him on the ground--not quite as much, for hisfeet were wetter than his body, but enough.

  And it was so still. No sound of voices, no dogs barking, no murmur ofthe wind in trees. There did not seem to be any trees. Occasionally heswept a circle of his immediate surroundings with the little flashlight,but all its feeble radiance showed was fog and puddles and wet weeds andruts and grass--and more fog.

  Still! Oh, yes, deadly still for a long minute's interval, and thenout of the nowhere ahead, with a suddenness w
hich each time caused hisweakened nerves to vibrate like fiddle strings, would burst the bellowof the great foghorn.

  Silence, the splash and "sugg" of Galusha's sodden shoes moving up anddown, up and down--and then:


  Once a minute the foghorn blew and once a minute Galusha Bangs jumped asif he were hearing it for the first time.

  The signboard had said "1 MILE." One hundred miles, one thousand miles;that was what it should have said to be truthful. Galusha plodded on andon, stopping to put down the suitcase, then lifting it and pounding onagain. He had had no luncheon; he had had no dinner. He was weak fromillness. He was wet and chilled. And--yes, it was beginning to rain.

  He put down the suitcase once more.

  "Oh, my soul!" he exclaimed, and not far away, close at hand, the word"soul" was repeated.

  "Oh, dear!" cried Galusha, startled.

  "Dear!" repeated the echo, for it was an echo.

  Galusha, brandishing the tiny flashlight, moved toward the sound.Something bulky, huge, loomed in the blackness, a building. Theflashlight's circle, growing dimmer now for the battery was almostexhausted, disclosed steps and a broad piazza. Mr. Bangs climbed thesteps, crossed the piazza, the boards of which creaked beneath him.There were doors, but they were shut tight; there were windows, but theywere shuttered. Down the length of the long piazza tramped Galusha, hisheart sinking. Every window was shuttered, every door was boarded up.Evidently this place, whatever it was, was closed. It was uninhabited.

  He came back to the front door again. Over it was a sign, he had notlooked as high before. Now he raised the dimming flashlight and read:

  "THE RESTABIT INN. Open June 15 to September 15."

  September 15!!! Why, September was past and gone. This was the 3rd ofOctober. The Restabit Inn was closed for the season.

  Slowly, Galusha, tugging the suitcase, stumbled to the edge of thepiazza. There he collapsed, rather than sat down, upon the upperstep. Above him, upon the piazza roof, the rain descended heavily. Theflashlight dimmed and went out altogether.

  "OW--ooo---ooo--ooo--OOO!!" whooped the foghorn.

  Later, just how much later he never knew exactly, Mr. Bangs awoke fromhis faint or collapse or doze, whichever it may have been, to hear someone calling his name.

  "Loosh! Loosh! Loosh!"

  This was odd, very odd. "Loosh" was what he had been called at college.That is, some of the fellows had called him that, those he liked best.The others had even more offensive nicknames. He disliked "Loosh" verymuch, but he answered to it--then.

  "Loosh! Loosh! Loosh, where are you?"

  Queer that any one should be calling him "Loosh"--any one down herein... Eh? Where was he? He couldn't remember much except that he wasvery tired--except--

  "Loosh! Looshy! Come Looshy!"

  He staggered to his feet and, leaving the suitcase where it was,stumbled away in the direction of the voice. The rain, pouring down uponhim, served to bring him back a little nearer to reality. Wasn't that alight over there, that bright yellow spot in the fog?

  It was a light, a lighted doorway, with a human figure standing in it.The figure of a woman, a woman in a dark dress and a white apron. Itmust be she who was calling him. Yes, she was calling him again.

  "Loosh! Loosh! Looshy! Oh, my sakes alive! Why don't you come?"

  Mr. Bangs bumped into something. It was a gate in a picket fence andthe gate swung open. He staggered up the path on the other side of thatgate, the path which led to the doorway where the woman was standing.

  "Yes, madam," said Galusha, politely but shakily lifting the brownderby, "here I am."

  The woman started violently, but she did not run nor scream.

  "My heavens and earth!" she exclaimed. Then, peering forward, she staredat the dripping apparition which had appeared to her from the fog andrain.

  "Here I am, madam," repeated Mr. Bangs.

  The woman nodded. She was middle-aged, with a pleasant face and a figureof the sort which used to be called "comfortable." Her manner of lookingand speaking were quick and businesslike.

  "Yes," she said, promptly, "I can see you are there, so you needn't tellme again. WHY are you there and who are you?"

  Galusha's head was spinning dizzily, but he tried to make matters clear.

  "My name is--is--Dear me, how extraordinary! I seem to have forgottenit. Oh, yes, it is Bangs--that is it, Bangs. I heard you calling me,so--"

  "Heard ME calling YOU?"

  "Yes. I--I came down to the hotel--the rest--Rest--that hotel overthere. It was closed. I sat down upon the porch, for I have been illrecently and I--ah--tire easily. So, as I say--"

  The woman interrupted him. She had been looking keenly at his face as hespoke.

  "Come in. Come into the house," she commanded, briskly.

  Mr. Bangs took a step toward her. Then he hesitated.

  "I--I am very wet, I'm afraid," he said. "Really, I am not sure that--"

  "Rubbish! It's because you are wet--wet as a drowned rat--that I'maskin' you to come in. Come now--quick."

  Her tone was not unkind, but it was arbitrary.

  Galusha made no further protest. She held the door open and he precededher into a room, then into another, this last evidently a sitting room.He was to know it well later; just now he was conscious of little exceptthat it was a room--and light--and warm--and dry.

  "Sit down!" ordered his hostess.

  Galusha found himself standing beside a couch, an old-fashioned sofa. Ittempted him--oh, how it tempted him!--but he remembered the condition ofhis garments.

  "I am very wet indeed," he faltered. "I'm afraid I may spoil your--yourcouch."

  "Sit DOWN!"

  Galusha sat. The room was doing a whirling dervish dance about him, buthe still felt it his duty to explain.

  "I fear you must think this--ah--very queer," he stammered. "I realizethat I must seem--ah--perhaps insane, to you. But I have, as I say, beenill and I have walked several miles, owing to--ah--mistakes in locality,and not having eaten for some time, since breakfast, in fact, I--"

  "Not since BREAKFAST? Didn't you have any dinner, for mercy sakes?"

  "No, madam. Nor luncheon. Oh, it is quite all right, no one's fault butmy own. Then, when I found the--the hotel closed, I--I sat down to restand--and when I heard you call my name--"

  "Wait a minute. What IS your name?"

  "My name is Bangs, Galusha Bangs. It seems ridiculous now, as I tell it,but I certainly thought I heard you or some one call me by the name myrelatives and friends used to use. Of course--"

  "Wait. What was that name?"

  Even now, dizzy and faint as he was, Mr. Bangs squirmed upon the sofa.

  "It was--well, it was Loosh--or--ah--Looshy" he admitted, guiltily.

  His hostess' face broke into smiles. Her "comfortable" shoulders shook.

  "Well, if that doesn't beat everything!" she exclaimed. "I was callin'my cat; his name is Lucy--Lucy Larcom; sometimes we call him 'Luce' forshort.... Eh? Heavens and earth! Don't do THAT!"

  But Galusha had already done it. The dervish dance in his head hadculminated in one grand merry-go-round blotting out consciousnessaltogether, and he had sunk down upon the sofa.

  The woman sprang from her chair, bent over him, felt his pulse, andloosened his collar.

  "Primmie," she called. "Primmie, come here this minute, I want you!"

  There was the sound of scurrying feet, heavy feet, from the adjoiningroom, the door opened and a large, raw-boned female, of an age whichmight have been almost anything within the range of the late teens orearly twenties, clumped in. She had a saucer in one hand and a dishclothin the other.

  "Yes'm," she said, "here I be." Then, seeing the prone figure upon thesofa, she exclaimed fervently, "Oh, my Lord of Isrul! Who's that?"

  "Now don't stand there swearin' and askin' questions, but do as I tellyou. You go to the--"

  "But--but what AILS him? Is he drunk?"

  "Drunk? What put such a notion as that in y
our head? Of course he isn'tdrunk."

  "He ain't--he ain't dead?"

  "Don't be so silly. He's fainted away, that's all. He's tired out andhalf sick and half starved, I guess. Here, where are you goin'?"

  "I'm a-goin' to fetch some water. They always heave water on faintedfolks."

  "Well, this one's had all the water he needs already. The poor thing issoaked through. You go to the pantry and in the blue soup tureen, theone we don't use, you'll find a bottle of that cherry rum Cap'n Halletgave me three years ago. Bring it right here and bring a tumbler andspoon with it. After that you see if you can get Doctor Powers on thetelephone and ask him to come right down here as quick as he can. HURRY!Primmie Cash, if you stop to ask one more question I--I don't know whatI'll do to you. Go ALONG!"

  Miss Cash went along, noisily along. Her mistress bent over the wet,pitiful little figure upon the sofa.

  And thus, working by devious ways, did Fate bring about the meeting ofGalusha Cabot Bangs, of the National Institute, Washington, D. C., andMiss Martha Phipps, of East Wellmouth, which, it may be said in passing,was something of an achievement, even for Fate.