Mr. Bangs smiled faintly.
“The shirt wasn’t on my back when it was stolen,” he said.
Primmie sniffed. “It didn’t have no chance to be,” she declared. “That camel thing got it onto his back first. But, anyhow, I feel better. I think now we’re goin’ to come out all right, Miss Martha and me. I don’t know why I feel so, but I do.”
Galusha was by no means as confident. He went back to his room and to bed, but it was long before he fell asleep. Just why the thought of Martha Phipps’ trouble should trouble him so greatly he still did not understand, exactly. Of course he was always sorry for any one in trouble, and would have gone far out of his way to help such a person, had the latter appealed to him. But Martha had not appealed to him; as a matter of fact, it was evident that she was trying to keep knowledge of her difficulty from him and every one else. Plainly it was not his business at all. And yet he was filled with an intense desire, even a determination, to make it his business. He could not understand why, but he wasted no time trying to understand. The determination to help was strong when at last he did fall asleep and it was just as strong when he awoke the next morning.
He endeavored, while dressing, to map out a plan of campaign, but the map was but a meaningless whirligig of lines leading nowhere when Primmie called from the foot of the stairs that breakfast was ready. During breakfast he was more absent-minded than usual, which is saying a good deal, and Martha herself was far from communicative. After the meal he was putting on his hat and coat preparatory to going out for his usual walk when Primmie came hurrying through the hall.
“She wants you,” said Primmie, mysteriously, her eyes shining with excitement. “She wants to see you in the settin’ room. Come on, come on, Mr. Bangs! What are you waitin’ for?”
As a general rule Galusha’s thoughts started upon the morning ramble some little time before he did and recalling them was a rather slow and patience-taxing process. In this case, however, they were already in the sitting room with Martha Phipps and so had a shorter road home. But they came slowly enough, for all that.
“Eh?” queried Galusha, peering out between the earlaps of his cap. “Eh? What did you say, Primmie?”
“I say Miss Martha wants to see you a minute. She’s in there a-waitin’. I bet you she’s goin’ to tell you about it. Hurry! hurry!”
“Tell me? . . . About what?”
“Why, about what ‘tis that’s worryin’ her so. About that Raish Pulcifer and all the rest of it. . . . Oh, my Lord of Isrul! Don’t you understand now? Oh, Mr. Bangs, won’t you please wake up?”
But Galusha was beginning to understand.
“Dear me! Dear me!” he exclaimed, nervously. “Do you think that— Did she say she wished to see me, Primmie?”