Galusha did not answer. The absolute hopelessness of the situation was beginning to force itself upon his understanding. Whether or not he gave the letter of introduction, the light keeper would go to Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot—oh, how on earth did he ever learn that they had anything to do with it?—and begin talkin’ about Martha Phipps’ stock; and they would deny knowing anything of it; and then the captain would persist, giving details; and Barbour and Minor and the rest would guess the truth and probably write Thomas, who would eventually tell Cousin Gussie; and the light keeper would return home and tell Martha, and she would learn that he had lied to her and deceived her—
“Well, what do you say, Mr. Bangs?” inquired Captain Jethro.
Bangs turned a haggard gaze in the speaker’s direction. The latter was standing in exactly the same attitude, feet apart, hand to beard, sad eyes gazing out to sea; just as he had stood when Galusha’s sympathy had gone out to him as a “helpless, dreaming child.”
“What are you laughin’ at?” asked Captain Jeth, switching his gaze from old ocean to the face of the little archaeologist.
Galusha had not laughed, but there was a smile, a wan sort of smile, upon his face.
“Oh, nothing in particular,” he replied. “I was reflecting that it seemed rather too bad to waste pity in quarters where it was not— ah—needed, when there was such a pressing demand, as one might say, at home.”
The earnest young man behind the counter in the office of Cabot, Bancroft and Cabot—the young man who had so definitely classified Galusha Bangs as a “nut”—was extremely surprised when that individual reappeared before his window and, producing the very check which he had obtained there so short a time before, politely requested to exchange it for eighty-two hundred dollars in cash and another check for the balance.
“Why—why—but—!” exclaimed the young man.
“Thank you. Yes, if—ah—if you will be so good,” said Galusha.
The young man himself asked questions, and then called Mr. Minor into consultation, and Mr. Minor asked more. The answers they received were not illuminating, but in the end the transaction was made as requested.
“But, Bangs,” said Minor, laughing, “what I can’t understand is why you want to bother with the check for eleven hundred and odd— whatever it is. Why not take the whole amount in cash and be done with it?”
Galusha shook his head. “I prefer it the—ah—other way. If you don’t mind,” he added, politely.
“Oh, we don’t mind. But—well, it seems rather funny, that’s all. Ha, ha!”
“Does it? Yes, I—ah—dare say it does.”
“Ha, ha! Yes, rather. Of course, it is your business, you know, but—”
He laughed again. The harassed Galusha waited until the laugh was over. Then he said, gently, “Yes, I was under that impression.”