With the end of the following week spring came in earnest to Gould’s Bluffs, not yet as a steady boarder—spring in New England is a young lady far too fickle for that—but to make the first of her series of ever-lengthening visits. Galusha found her, indeed, a charming young person. His walks now were no longer between snowdrifts or over frozen fields and hills. Those hills and fields were still bare and brown, of course, but here and there, in sheltered hollows, tiny bits of new green began to show. In April, by disturbing the layers of dead leaves and sodden vegetation through which these hints of greenness peeped, one was likely to come upon fragrant treasures, the pink and white blossoms of the trailing arbutus.
There was a superfluity of mud, of course, and as Miss Phipps often informed him, Galusha’s boots and lower trouser legs were “sights to see” when he came back from those walks. He expressed contrition and always proclaimed that he should be much more careful in future—much more, yes. But he was not, nor did he care greatly. He was feeling quite well again, better than he had felt for years, and spring was in his middle-aged blood and was rejuvenating him, just as it was rejuvenating the world and its creatures about him, including Lucy Larcom, Martha’s ancient and rheumatic Thomas cat. Lucy—an animal as misnamed as Primmie’s “Aunt Lucifer”—instead of slumbering peacefully and respectably in his cushioned box in the kitchen, which had been his custom of winter nights, now refused to come in at bedtime, ignored his mistress’ calls altogether, and came rolling home in the morning with slit ears and scarred hide and an air of unrepentant and dissipated abandon.
Galusha, inspecting the prodigal’s return one morning, observed: “Luce, when I first met you, you reminded me strongly of my Aunt Clarissa. The air of—ah—dignity and respectable disapproval with which you looked me over was much like hers. But now—now, if you wore a hat on one side and an—ah—exuberant waistcoat, you would remind me more of Mr. Pulcifer.”
With April came the fogs, and the great foghorn bellowed and howled night after night. Galusha soon learned to sleep through the racket. It was astonishing, his capacity for sleep and his capability in sleeping up to capacity. His appetite, too, was equally capable. He was, in fact, feeling so very well that his conscience began troubling him concerning his duty to the Institute. He wrote to the directors of that establishment suggesting that, as his health was so greatly improved, perhaps he had better return to his desk. The reply was prompt. The directors were, so the letter said, much pleased to hear of his improved health, but they wished him to insure the permanence of that improvement by remaining away for another six months at least. “We have,” the writer added, “a plan, not yet definite and complete, although approaching that condition, which will call for your knowledge and experienced guidance. Our plan will probably materialize in the fall or winter. I can say no more concerning it now, except to add that we feel sure that it will be acceptable to you and that you should take every precaution to gain strength and health as a preparatory measure.”