“I—I— Oh, my good land!” she wailed.
“Father—father!” cried Lulie. “Don’t talk so! Don’t act so!”
“Act so! Be still! Let me alone, Martha Phipps! This woman here is a cheat. She’s a liar! How do I know? Don’t ask such fool questions. I know because—because she says my wife—Julia—my wife—tells me to sell my four hundred shares of Wellmouth Development stock—”
“Yes, of course. But, perhaps—”
“There ain’t any perhaps. You, woman,” addressing the cowering medium, “didn’t you say that?”
“Yes—oh, yes, Cap’n Jeth, I said it. Please don’t!”
“And you pretended my dead wife’s spirit said it, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Yes, she did. Oh—oh—”
“She did not! Listen, all of you!” with scornful disgust. “Listen! That four hundred shares of Development stock this—this critter here says Julia knows I’ve got and wants me to sell to Raish Pulcifer I sold two months ago. Yes, by the everlastin’, I sold ’em! And—eh? Yes, there he is. I sold ’em to that Bangs man there. He knows it. He’ll tell you I did. . . . And now this swindler, this cheat, she—she— Who put you up to it? Who did? Was it Pulcifer?”
Marietta began to sob. “Ye-es, yes,” she faltered. “He—he said he—”
“I thought so. And you pretended ’twas my—my Julia, my wife. . . . Oh, my God! And you’ve been pretendin’ all the time. ’Twas all cheatin’ and lies, wasn’t it? She—she never come to you. She never told you nothin’. Ain’t it so?”
Poor, publicity-loving, sensation-loving Marietta’s nerve was completely gone. She sobbed wildly.
“Oh—oh, I guess so. I—I guess likely ’twas,” she wailed. “I—I don’t know. I only—”
Captain Jethro took his hand from her shoulder. He staggered a little.
“Get out of my house!” he ordered. “Out of my house—all of you. You’re all liars and cheats together. . . . Oh, Julia! Oh, my Lord above!”
He collapsed in a chair and put his hands to his head. Lulie, the tears streaming down her face, tried to comfort him. Martha, also weeping, essayed to help. Cabot, walking over to where his cousin was standing, laid a hand on his arm. Galusha, pale and wan, looking as if the world had slipped from under him and he was left hanging in cold space, turned a haggard face in his direction.
“Well, Loosh,” said Cousin Gussie, dryly, “I think you and I had better go home, hadn’t we? This has been an interesting evening, an—ah—illuminating evening. You appear to be the only person who can add to the illumination, and—well, don’t you think it is time you did?”
Galusha did not answer. He regarded his relative vacantly, opened his mouth, closed it, sighed and turned toward the dining room. By this time most of the congregation were already in the yard and, as Cabot and his companion emerged into the dripping blackness of out-of-doors, from various parts of that blackness came the clatter of tongues and the sound of fervent ejaculations and expressions of amazement.