Galusha reluctantly realized that it was. He tried a new idea.
“I fear,” he stammered, “that my being here may have been a contributory cause to your—ah—difficulties. Dear me, yes! I have realized since the beginning that the amount I pay you is ridiculously small.”
“What? The board you pay small? Rubbish! You pay me altogether too much and what I give you to eat isn’t worth half of it. But there, I didn’t mean to go into all this at all. What I told you all this long rigmarole for was to see if you could think of any way for me to turn those Development Company shares of mine into money. Not what father paid for them, of course, or even half of it. But some money at least. If I thought they weren’t worth anything I shouldn’t think of tryin’ to sell ’em. I don’t want to cheat—or steal. But they tell me they are worth somethin’, maybe will be worth quite a good deal some day and I must wait, that’s all. But, you see, that’s what I can’t do—wait.”
She had been, she said, to every one she could think of, to Pulcifer, who would not give her any encouragement, declaring that he was “stuck” worse than she was and was only hoping some one might make a bid for his holdings; to Captain Jethro, who, relying as usual upon his revelations from the beyond, blandly told her to wait as he was waiting. It had been communicated to him that he was to sell his own shares at a profit; if she waited she might do likewise. The president of the Denboro Trust Company had been very kind, but his counsel was not too encouraging. The Development shares were nonsalable at the present time, he said, but that did not mean that they were valueless. The Skoonic Creek property was good. Shore land on the Cape was becoming more valuable every year. Some time—perhaps ten years from now—she might—
“And where will I be in ten years?” asked Martha, sadly. “Goodness knows, Mr. Bangs, I don’t. I tried to get the Trust Company man to take my shares at almost any price and do the waitin’ for me, but he didn’t see it that way. Said the bank was goin’ to hold on to what it had, but it certainly didn’t want any more. So there I am. . . . And yet, and yet if I could sell—if I could get two thousand dollars, yes, or even fifteen hundred just now, it might tide me over until the cost of livin’ comes down. And everybody says they are comin’ down. Mr. Bangs, can you see any way out for me? Can you think of any one who would know about— Oh, my soul and body! Look out!”
She sprang to her feet with a little scream. Her lodger’s rocking-chair, with its occupant, had suddenly tilted over backward. Fortunately his proximity to the wall had prevented a complete overturn, but there sat Galusha, the back of the chair against the wall and his knees elevated at a very acute angle. The alarming part of it was that he made no effort to regain his equilibrium, but remained in the unusual, not to say undignified, posture.