“Mr. Pulcifer,” he said, “I appreciate your kindness in—ah— considering me in this matter. I—it is impossible for me to accept your offer, of course, but—but—”
“Now, hold on, Perfessor. You think that offer over.”
“No, I cannot accept. But it has occurred to me that perhaps . . . perhaps . . . Mr. Pulcifer, do you know Miss Hoag?”
“Hey? Marietta Hoag? Know her? Yes, I know her; know her too well for my own good. Why?”
“Have you any—ah—influence with her? That is, would she be likely to listen to a suggestion from you?”
“Listen! She? Confound her, I’ve got a note of hers for seventy-five dollars and it’s two months overdue. She’d better listen! Say, what are you drivin’ at, Perfessor?”
Galusha deposited his hat upon the floor again, and sat down in the chair he had just vacated. Now it was he who, regardless of the cigar, leaned forward.
“Mr. Pulcifer,” he said, “an idea occurred to me while you were speaking just now. I don’t know that it will be of any—ah—value to you. But you are quite welcome to it, really. This is the idea—”
If Ras Beebe or Miss Blount or some others of the group of East Wellmouthians who guessed Galusha Bangs to be “a little teched in the head,” had seen that gentleman walking toward home after his interview with Mr. Pulcifer in the latter’s office—if they had seen him on his way to Gould’s Bluffs that day, they would have ceased guessing and professed certain knowledge. Galusha meandered slowly along the lane, head bent, hands clasped behind him, stumbling over tussocks and stepping with unexpected emphasis into ruts and holes. Sometimes his face wore a disturbed expression, almost a frightened one; at other times he smiled and his eyes twinkled like those of a mischievous boy. Once he laughed aloud, and, hearing himself, looked guiltily around to see if any one else had heard him. Then the frightened expression returned once more. If Primmie Cash had been privileged to watch him she might have said, as she had on a former occasion, that he looked “as if he was havin’ a good time all up one side of him and a bad one all down t’other.”
As a matter of fact, this estimate would not have been so far wrong. Galusha was divided between pleasurable anticipation and fear. There was adventure ahead, adventure which promised excitement, a probable benefit to some individuals and a grievous shock to others, and surprise to all. But for him there was involved a certain amount of risk. However, so he decided before he reached the Phipps’ gate, he had started across the desert and it was too late to turn back. Whether he brought his caravan over safely or the Bedouins got him was on the knees of the gods. And the fortunes of little Galusha Bangs had been, ere this, on the knees of many gods, hawk-headed and horned and crescent-crowned, strange gods in strange places. It was quite useless to worry now, he decided, and he would calmly wait and see. At the best, the outcome would be good, delightful. At the worst, except for him— well, except for him it could not be much worse than it now was. For him, of course—he must not think about that.