About the Phipps’ home hung now the atmosphere of expectancy. It had so hung for several weeks, ever since the first letter to Cousin Gussie had been posted, but now there was in it a different quality, a quality of brightness, of cheer. Martha seemed more like herself, the capable, adequate self which Galusha had met when he staggered into that house out of the rain and wind of his first October night on Cape Cod. She was more talkative, laughed more frequently, and bustled about her work with much, if not all, of her former energy. She, herself, was quite aware of the change and commented upon it rather apologetically in one of her talks with her lodger.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said, “and I know it, but I can’t help it. I’m as excited as a child and almost as sure everything is goin’ to come out right as—well, as Primmie is. I wasn’t so at all in the beginnin’; when we first sent that letter to your cousin I didn’t think there was much more than one chance in a thousand that he would take any interest in Wellmouth Development stock. But since you got back from your Boston cruise, Mr. Bangs, I’ve felt altogether different. What the Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot folks said wasn’t any too definite; when I sit right down and think about it I realize it wasn’t. But it was encouraging, real encouraging. And that bit of real encouragement has made me over, like an old dress. Which reminds me that I’ve got to be makin’ over some of my old dresses pretty soon, or summer’ll be here and I won’t have a thing fit to wear. I declare,” she added, with a laugh, “this is the first time I’ve even thought about clothes since last fall. And when a woman forgets to be interested in dressmakin’ she’s pretty far gone. . . . Why, what makes you look so sorrowful? Is anything wrong?”
Galusha replied that nothing whatever was wrong; there was, he said, no reason in the world why he should appear sorrowful. Yet, this answer was not the exact truth; there were reasons, and speeches such as Miss Martha’s reminded him of them. They awoke his uneasy conscience to the fear that the encouragement she found in his report from Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot was almost entirely due to his interpretation of that report and not to the facts behind it. However, as she must on no account guess this to be the case, he smiled and assumed an air more than ever carefree.
One afternoon, when, on his way home after an unusually lengthy walk, he stopped at the post office, he found that the Phipps’ mail had already been delivered.
“Zach Bloomer stopped along in and took it,” explained Miss Tamson Black, the postmaster’s sister-in-law. “I told him I presumed likely you’d be here after it yourself pretty soon, but it didn’t make no difference. He said—but maybe I better not tell you.”
“Oh, yes—no doubt,” observed Galusha, who was, as usual, paying little attention.