“Ain’t got no proof. If folks could get proof on Raish Pulcifer he’d have been in jail long ago. Zach Bloomer said that only the other day. But a body can guess, can’t they, even if they ain’t got proof, and that’s what I’m doin’—guessin’. Every once in a while Miss Martha goes up to the village to see this Pulcifer thing, don’t she? Yes, she does. Went up twice inside of a fortni’t that I know of. Does she go ’cause she likes him? I cal’late she don’t. She likes him about the way I do and I ain’t got no more use for him than a hen has for a toothbrush. And t’other day she sent for him and asked him to come here and see her. How do I know she did? ’Cause she telephoned him and I heard her doin’ it, that’s how. And he didn’t want to come and she just begged him to, said she would try not to bother him again if he would come that once. And he came and after he went away she cried, same as I told you she did.”
“But, Primmie, all that may be and yet Mr. Pulcifer’s visit may have no connection with Miss Martha’s monetary trouble.”
“I want to know! Well, if that’s so, why was she and him talkin’ so hard when he was here this afternoon? And why was she askin’ him to please see if he couldn’t get some sort of an offer? I heard her ask that.”
“Offer for what?”
“Search me! For somethin’ she wanted to sell, I presume likely. And he says to her, ‘No, I can’t,’ he says. ’I’ve told you so a dozen times. If I could get anybody to buy I’d sell my own, wouldn’t I? You bet your life I would!’ And she waited a minute and then she says, kind of low and more as if she was talkin’ to herself than to him, ‘What shall I do?’ she says. And he heard her and says he—I’d like to have chopped his head off with the kindlin’ hatchet when I heard him say it—says he, ’I don’t know. How do you s’pose I know what you’ll do? I don’t know what I’ll do, myself, do I?’ And she answered right off, and kind of sharp, ‘You was sure enough what was goin’ to be done when you got father into this thing.’ And he just swore and stomped out of the house. So that sounds as if he had somethin’ to do with it, don’t it?”
Galusha was obliged to admit that it did so sound. And when he remembered Mr. Pulcifer’s remark at the gate, that concerning women and business, the evidence was still more convincing. He did not tell Primmie that he was convinced, however. He swore her to secrecy, made her promise that she would tell no one else what she had told him or even that she had told him, and in return promised to do what he could to bring about her retention in the Phipps’ home.
“Although, as I said, Primmie,” he added, “I’m sure I can’t at present see what I can do.”
Another person might have found little encouragement in this, but Primmie apparently found a good deal.
“You’ll see a way, I’ll bet you you will, Mr. Bangs,” she declared. “Anybody that’s been through the kind of times you have, livin’ along with critters that steal the shirt off your back, ain’t goin’ to let a blowed-up gas balloon like Raish Pulcifer stump you. My savin’ soul, no!”