Galusha found, except for the slight annoyance of too many of these sojourners, that summer at Gould’s Bluffs and vicinity was even more delightful than the fall and spring had been. His friends, the Halls, whose invitation to their cottage at Wellmouth had been the cause of his coming to the Cape, were not occupying that cottage this summer; they had rented it for the season and gone abroad. So he had no old friends to call upon. But his new friendships were enjoyable and dependable. His health improved steadily; he gained in strength, and the fear that his guilt in the affair of the Wellmouth Development stock might be discovered grew less and less. Only one thing troubled him, and that was so vague that it was scarcely a trouble. The Institute people had written him of some great plan for his professional services, a plan which was to develop in the fall. Now, by all that was right and proper, he should have been tremendously curious concerning that plan, should have been eagerly guessing what it might be and counting the days until the time came for his return to work and its immediate development. But he was not curious, he did not count the days; for some weird and unnatural reason—or for no reason whatever—he was not eager to return to work. He, Galusha Bangs, whose life had been devoted to his pet science, who had had no thought except for that science, had labored for it and in it every day for twenty years and had dreamed about it at night—he did not seem to care to go back to it. He did not seem to want to go anywhere. Contentment for him was apparently right there at Gould’s Bluffs and nowhere else. Amazing but true. And no less disgraceful than amazing. It was a state of mind, of course, a psychological state due to physiological causes and doubtless was but temporary. Nevertheless, it troubled him a bit.
One morning in July he received a shock. Zacheus, returning from the post office, met him at the Phipps’ gate and handed him a letter.
“Come in last night’s mail,” explained Zach. “I happened to be cruisin’ up to the village so I thought I might as well fetch it down to you, Mr. Bangs.”
Galusha thanked him and put the letter in his pocket. After dinner, having gone to his room, he was searching his pockets for a handkerchief; finding his handkerchief invariably entailed a search, because he was quite as likely to have put it in his waistcoat pocket as in those of his trousers, and just as likely to find it at last in the pocket of his overcoat downstairs on the rack. In this case he did not find it at all, having dropped it on the road, but he did find the letter. Still wondering where he could have put the handkerchief, he absently tore open the envelope and began to read, as follows:
“Professor Galusha C. Bangs,
East Wellmouth, Mass.
“Mr. Augustus Cabot wishes me to inform you that he has returned to this office, having, so he feels, quite regained his health. He sends his regards to you and hopes that you, too, are getting on toward complete recovery.”