“No, no, Mr. Cabot. Of course not, of course not.”
“No.” Cabot had been turning over the leaves of the memorandum book while speaking. “And yet,” he went on, “there are one or two names here concerning which you might be able to help us. Pulcifer writes that two of the largest stockholders. . . . Humph! . . . Eh? Why, by Jove, this is remarkable! You are Miss Martha Phipps, aren’t you?”
“Was your father, by any chance, James H. Phipps?”
“Well, I declare! This is remarkable. . . . And—why, you have been speaking of a Captain—er—Jethro Somebody? Is he— He isn’t Jethro Hallett, is he?”
“Why, yes. I told you his name. He is the light keeper here at Gould’s Bluffs and we are all goin’ over to his house in a few minutes, for the seance, you know.”
“Well, well, well! And here I have been sitting and talking with one of the very persons whom I came down here hoping to see.”
“To see? You came down here hopin’ to see me? Mr. Cabot, is this another joke?”
“Not a bit of it. If it is, the joke is on me for not identifying you with the Martha Phipps that Pulcifer writes he can’t do business with. Miss Phipps, you own something we want to buy.”
“I? Somethin’ you want to buy?”
“Yes. Williams wants to buy it and I am interested with him. Miss Phipps, you own two hundred and fifty shares of the stock of the Wellmouth Development Company, don’t you?”
He must have been surprised at the effect of this question. Martha stared at him. Then, without speaking, she turned and looked past him at Galusha Bangs. She looked so long and so steadily that Cabot also turned and looked. What he saw caused him to utter an exclamation.
“For heaven’s sakes, Loosh!” he exclaimed.
His cousin, as white as the proverbial sheet, which means much whiter than some sheets, Elmer Rogers’, for example, was slowly rising from his chair. One hand was pressed against his forehead and he looked as if he were dazed, stunned, suffering from a stroke. As a matter of fact, he was suffering from all three. The spark had at last reached the powder and the barrel was in the very act of disintegrating.
“Galusha,” demanded Cousin Gussie, “are you sick? What is it?”
Galusha did not answer. Before the alarmed banker could repeat his question there came a knock at the door.
“Miss Martha,” called Primmie, in tremulous excitement. “Miss Martha, Zach he’s come and he says the seance is just a-goin’ to begin and Cap’n Jeth says to hurry right straight over. Zach says the old man is as tittered up and nervous as ever he see him and ‘twon’t do to keep him waitin’ a minute. My savin’ soul, no! Zach says for all hands to heave right straight ahead and come.”