“There,” he said, in conclusion, “is a chance I’m offerin’ you, as a friend, to clean up fifty good, hard, round dollars. What do you say, old man?”
The “old man”—Galusha winced slightly at the appellation—did not seem to know what to say. His facial expression might have indicated any or all of a variety of feelings. At last, he stammered a question. Why did Mr. Pulcifer wish to obtain the Development stock? This question Raish would not answer.
“Never mind,” he said. “I do, that’s all. And I’ve got the money to do it with. I’ll pay cash for their stock and I’ll pay you cash when you or they hand it over. That’s business, ain’t it?”
“But—but, dear me, Mr. Pulcifer, why do you ask me to do this? Why—”
“Ain’t I told you? You’re a friend of mine and I’m givin’ you the chance because I think you need the money. That’s a reason, ain’t it?”
“Why—yes. It is—ah—a reason. But why don’t you buy the stock yourself?”
For an instant Raish’s smoothness deserted him. His temper flared.
“Because the cussed fools won’t sell it to me,” he snapped. “That is, they ain’t said they’d sell yet. Perhaps they’re prejudiced against me, I don’t know. Maybe they will sell to you; you and they seem to be thicker’n thieves. Er—that is, of course, you understand I don’t mean— Oh, well, you know what I mean, Perfessor. Now what do you say?”
Galusha rose and picked up his hat from the floor.
“I’m afraid I must say no,” he said, quietly, but with a firmness which even Raish Pulcifer’s calloused understanding could not miss. “I could not think of accepting, really.”
“But, say, Perfessor—”
“No, Mr. Pulcifer. I could not.”
“But why not? If— Well, I tell you, maybe I might make it sixty dollars instead of fifty for you.”
“No. I couldn’t, Mr. Pulcifer. . . . If you will kindly unlock the door?”
Pulcifer swore. “Well, you must be richer’n you look, that’s all I’ve got to say,” he snarled. He kicked the wastebasket across the room and growled: “I’ll get the stuff away from ’em yet, just the same. What the fools are hangin’ on for is more’n I can see. Martha Phipps was down on her knees beggin’ me to buy only a little spell ago. Old Jeth, of course, thinks his ‘spirits’ are backin’ him up. Crazy old loon! Spirits! In this day and time! God sakes! Humph! I wish to thunder I could deal with the spirits direct; might be able to do business with them. Perfessor, now come, think it over. There ain’t anything crooked about it. . . . Why, what is it, Perfessor?” eagerly. “Changed your mind, have you?”
Galusha’s expression had changed, certainly. He looked queerly at Mr. Pulcifer, queerly and for an appreciable interval of time. There was an odd flash in his eye and the suspicion of a smile at the corner of his lips. But he was grave enough when he spoke.