“Eh? What impression?”
“That it was, as you say, my—ah—business.”
“Yes. Why . . . Eh? Oh! . . . Humph! . . . Why, yes, surely, certainly. Here,” turning briskly to the clerk, “give Mr. Bangs what he wishes at once.”
He walked away, pulling thoughtfully at his mustache. Galusha, rubbing his chin, looked gravely after him. The clerk began making out the check. This done and the check entrusted to a messenger to be taken to the private office for signing, the next business was the counting of the money.
“Eighty-two hundred, you said?” asked the clerk.
“Eighty-two hundred—ah—yes,” said Galusha.
Eight thousand was, of course, the price at par of Jethro Hallett’s four hundred shares of Wellmouth Development stock. The additional two hundred was a premium paid, so to speak, to the departed spirit of the late Mrs. Jethro Hallett. She, by or through the Chinese control of Miss Marietta Hoag, had notified her husband that he was destined to sell his Development shares at a profit, a small profit perhaps, but a profit, nevertheless.
So, when at that point of their conversation in the lantern room of the Gould’s Bluffs light, Galusha, recognizing his helpless position and the alternative of buying the Hallett holdings or being exposed to Cousin Gussie as a sentimental and idiotic spendthrift and to Martha Phipps as a liar and criminal—when Galusha, facing this alternative, stammered a willingness to go to Boston and see if he could not dispose of Jethro’s stock as he had Martha’s, the captain added an additional clause.
“I won’t sell for par,” he declared stubbornly. “Julia revealed to me that I wouldn’t, and so I sha’n’t. I’ll sell for fifty cents a share extry, but I won’t sell for twenty flat. Rather than do that I’ll go to them Cabot folks myself and see if I can’t find out who’s buyin’ and why. Then I’ll go to the real buyers and make the best trade I can with them. If they really want to get hold of that stock, fifty cents a share won’t stand in their way, I’ll bet you.”
It did not stand in Galusha’s way, either. In his desperate position he would have paid any amount obtainable rather than have the light keeper go to Boston on such an errand.
Leaving the clerk’s window with his pocket bulging with bank notes, Mr. Bangs proceeded sadly, but with determination, to the private office of Mr. Barbour, his cousin’s “second secretary.” There, producing from another pocket a huge envelope, portentously daubed and sealed with red wax, he handed it to Barbour. It contained the two stock certificates, each signed in blank, Martha’s for two hundred and fifty shares, Captain Jethro’s for four hundred. The envelope and the wax he had procured at a stationer’s near the South Station. The obliging salesman had permitted him to do the sealing on the premises.
“Mr. Barbour,” he faltered, “I should like to leave this with you, if—if quite convenient, that is to say.”