She had held her handkerchief tightly crumpled in her hand during this outburst. Now she dabbed hastily with it at either eye, turned and hastened into the dining room, closing the door behind her.
A minute later Primmie came into the room, bearing a lighted lamp.
“I cal’late now I can dast come in here, can’t I?” she observed, with dignity. “Anyhow, I hope so, ’cause Miss Martha sent me. She said I was to show you where your bedroom was, Mr. Cabot.”
The Boston banker, who had scarcely recovered from the blast launched at his head by his hostess, rose, still blinking in a dazed fashion, and followed the lamp-bearer up the steep and narrow stairs. She opened a door.
“Here you be,” she said, tartly. “And I hope you’ll sleep ’cause I’m precious sure I sha’n’t. All I’ll see from now till mornin’ is Cap’n Jeth gettin’ ready to lam that Marietta Hoag one over the top of the head. My Lord of Isrul! Don’t talk to me!”
Cabot regarded her with interest. “What is your name?” he inquired.
“Um-hm. Name of a flower, ’tis. Some folks don’t like it, but I do.”
“Primrose!” The visitor slowly shook his head. “Well—er— Primrose,” he asked, “is there any other asylum in this vicinity?”
“Hey? Asylum? What—”
“Never mind. I wondered, that’s all. Good-night.”
He took the lamp from her hand and went into his room. The amazed Primmie heard from behind the door of that room a mighty roar of laughter, laughter loud and long continued. Martha, in her room, heard it and stirred indignantly. Galusha, in his room, heard it and moaned.
He wondered how, in all the world, there was any one who, on this night of misery, could laugh.
There were two people in that house who ate a real breakfast the following morning. One was Primmie and the other was Augustus Cabot. It took much, very much, to counteract Miss Cash’s attraction toward food, and as for the Boston banker, the combination of Cape Cod air and Martha Phipps’ cooking had sharpened his appetite until, as he told his hostess, he was thoroughly ashamed, but tremendously contented.
Martha smiled a faint recognition of the joke. Galusha, sitting opposite her, did not smile; he was plainly quite unaware that there was humor anywhere. The little archaeologist looked, so Primmie told Zach later on, “like one of them wax string beans, thin and drawed-out and yeller.” He kept his gaze fixed on his plate and, beyond wishing her an uncertain good-morning, not once did he look at or venture to address Martha Phipps.
While they were at table Lulie came in. Considering all that she had undergone, the young lady was wonderfully radiant. Her eyes sparkled, there was color in her cheeks, and Mr. Cabot, who, in his time, had accounted himself a judge, immediately rated her as a remarkably pretty girl. Her first move, after greeting the company, was to go straight to Galusha and take his hand.