“I’m sure. But what did they say when they bought it, Mr. Bangs?”
“Say? Ah, say? . . . Why, they said—ah—um—they said there was the money and—and I counted it, you know, and—”
“Yes, yes. But didn’t they say anything about the stock; about why they bought it, and like that?”
“Why, no . . . no, I think nothing was—ah—so to speak—ah—said. They—ah— Won’t you sit down again, Miss Martha? I think you had better.”
“Sit down! Mr. Bangs, I’m too excited to sit down. I could fly, I think, a good deal easier than I could sit; at least, I feel as if I could. And so they just bought that stock and said nothing more than that? Just bought it?”
“Yes—ah—yes, that’s it. They—ah—bought it, you know.”
“It seems strange. What did your cousin say?”
“Ah—my cousin? Cousin Gussie, you mean. Yes, yes, of course. Oh, he said—ah—all sorts of things.”
“Did he? About the stock?”
“Oh, no, not about the stock so much. No, not so much about that, about . . . a sort of general conversation it was, about—about the weather, and—and the like.”
“The weather? Did he write about the weather in his letter?”
He had for the moment forgotten that his relative was an invalid in the Far West and that Miss Phipps knew it. He turned red, coughed, stammered and then broke out in a series of fragmentary and involved explanations to the effect that Cousin Gussie was—ah— naturally much interested in the weather because of his state of health and—and— She paid little heed, for in the midst of his explaining she interrupted.
“Oh, never mind, never mind,” she said. “It doesn’t make one bit of difference and why I asked about it I don’t know. You see, Mr. Bangs, I’m not back on earth yet, as you might say, and I don’t suppose I shall be for a little while, so you’ll have to be patient with me. All I can think of is that now I can live here in this house, for a while longer anyhow, and perhaps always. And I sha’n’t have to turn Primmie away. And—and maybe I won’t have to lie awake night after night, plannin’ how I can do this and do without that—and—and—”
She stopped, her sentence unfinished. Galusha said nothing. A moment later she turned to him.
“Should I write your cousin a letter and thank him, do you think?” she asked.
Galusha’s reply was hurriedly given and most emphatic. “Oh, no, no,” he protested. “It will be quite unnecessary, quite. Indeed, no. He—ah—he would not expect it.”
“No, I presume likely he wouldn’t. And, after all, it was just a matter of business with his firm. But it wasn’t a matter of business with you, Mr. Bangs. And if it hadn’t been for you, I—I— Well, I mustn’t say any more or—or . . . Oh, you understand what I want to say, don’t you?”
“Now—now, Miss Martha, please. I have done nothing, really, nothing but what any friend would have done.”