She was. One pleasant morning Galusha, emerging from the Phipps’ “side door,” saw workmen about the premises of the Restabit Inn. For a week thereafter the neighborhood echoed with hammer blows and reeked with the smell of new paint. The Restabit Inn, shaking off its winter shabbiness, emerged scrubbed, darned, patched and pressed, so to speak, in its last—and several “lasts before that”— summer suit made over, ready to receive callers.
On the twentieth of the month the callers began to arrive. East Wellmouth broke out, as a child breaks out with the measles, in brilliant speckles, the disease in this instance being unmistakably a pronounced case of summer boarders. The “speckles” were everywhere, about the post office, in Ras Beebe’s store, about the lighthouse, on the beaches, and far and wide over the hills and hollows. They picknicked in the pine groves, they giggled in the back seats on prayer meeting nights, they sang noisily on the way back to the hotel after evening mail sorting, they danced jazzily in the hotel parlor and on the porches.
Martha did not mind them; she said they were rather nice, on the whole, because they helped to remind her that all creation wasn’t East Wellmouth. Galusha didn’t object to them, except when they were too noisy at midnight or thereabouts and interfered with his slumbers. Primmie condescended to them and aired her knowledge of local celebrities and traditions. Captain Jethro ignored them utterly and Lulie was popular among them. Only Zacheus, the philosopher, seemed to find them unmitigated nuisances. Somehow or other the summer visitor got under Mr. Bloomer’s hard shell and upon his salt-seasoned nerves.
“Blast ’em!” grumbled Zach, “I don’t know why ’tis, but they rile me like fury. Prob’ly it’s because I ain’t never been much used to ‘em the way I would have been if I’d been keepin’ light ashore all my days. Out on the old Hog’s Back we never had no visitors to speak of and we used to hanker for ’em. Here, by Godfreys, they don’t give us no time to hanker for nothin’. And they ask such foolhead questions! One woman, she says to me yesterday, she says— I was showin’ her the foghorn, and says she: ’Do you have to turn a crank to make it go?’ Think of that! A hand crank to make the fourth highest-power foghorn on the coast blow! I lost my patience. ‘No ma’am,’ says I, ’a crank ain’t necessary. I just put my mouth to the touch-hole,’ I says, ’and breathe natural and she chirrups.’ She believed it, too. I cal’late I’ll catch thunder from Cap’n Jeth if he finds out what I told her, but I can’t help it; there’s limits, by Godfreys domino, limits!”