Martha and Galusha agreed that it was. The latter said: “It seems to me that you may consider it all quite encouraging, really. It is only the—ah—spirits which stand in the way now.”
“Yes, but oh, Mr. Bangs, they always will stand in the way, I’m afraid. Other things, real things or real people we might change or persuade, but how can you change a—a make-believe spirit that isn’t and never was, except in Marietta Hoag’s ridiculous imagination? Oh, Martha,” she added, “you and Mr. Bangs don’t think I’m horrid to speak like this, do you? Of course, if I believed, as father does, that it was really my mother’s spirit speaking, I should—well, I should be. . . . But what is the use? I can’t believe such a thing.”
“Of course you can’t, child,” said Martha. “I knew your mother and if she was comin’ back to this earth she wouldn’t do it through Marietta Hoag’s head. She had too much self-respect for that.”
Galusha stroked his chin. “I suppose,” he said, “if there were some way in which we might influence that imagination of Miss—ah— Hoag’s, a change might be brought about. It would be difficult to reach the said imagination, however, wouldn’t it? I once found a way to reach a tomb of the XIIIth Dynasty which had been buried for thousands of years under thirty-three feet of rock and sand. I located it by accident—that is, in a way, it was an accident; of course, we had been searching for some time. I happened to strike the earth at a certain point with my camera tripod and it sounded quite hollow. You see, there was a—ah—sort of shaft, as one might say, which came quite close to the surface at that point. It sounded surprisingly hollow, like a—like something quite empty, you know. Yes.”
Martha nodded. “If you struck Marietta’s head anywhere,” she observed, “it would sound the same way. She’s got about as much brains as a punkin lantern.”
“Yes—ah—yes, but I fear we should gain little by doing that. We shouldn’t get at our ‘spirit’ that way. But perhaps we may find a way. There are obstacles, but there were obstacles above and about that tomb also. Dear me, yes. We must consider, Miss Lulie; we must, so to speak, consider.”
His advice to Nelson was similar.
“I should say the situation was a bit more encouraging, Mr. Howard,” he said. They had been discussing Lulie’s talk with her father. Nelson nodded.
“Perhaps it is, a little bit,” he admitted. “It seems barely possible that the old man is not quite as bitter against me as he was. For instance, I met him yesterday at the post office and said ‘Good-morning, Cap’n Jeth.’ I always speak to him whenever I meet him, make it a point to, but he never speaks to me. He didn’t speak yesterday, but he did bow. It was more of a bob than a bow and he looked savage enough to bite me; but, at least, he went so far as to show he knew I was on earth. That was rather funny, too, his doing that. I wonder why he did.”