“Did you get the doctor on the ’phone?”
“Yes’m. He said he’d be right down soon’s ever he could. He was kind of fussy ’long at fust; said he hadn’t had no supper and was wet through, and all such talk’s that. But I headed him off, my savin’ soul, yes! Says I, ’There’s a man here that’s more’n wet through; he ain’t had a thing but rum since I don’t know when.’”
“Heavens and earth! What did you tell him that for?”
“Why, it’s so, ain’t it, Miss Marthy? You said yourself he was starved.”
“But what did you tell him about the rum for? Never mind, never mind. Don’t stop to argue about it. You go out and make some tea, hot tea, and toast some bread. And hurry, Primmie—hurry!”
“Hurry! . . . And Primmie Cash, if you scorch that toast-bread I’ll scrape off the burned part and make you eat it, I declare I will. Now you lie right still, Mr.—er—Bangs, did you say your name was?”
“Yes, but really, madam—”
“My name is Phipps, Martha Phipps.”
“Really. Mrs. Phipps—”
“Miss, not Mrs.”
“I beg your pardon. Really, Miss Phipps, I cannot permit you to take so much trouble. I must go on, back to the village—or—or somewhere. I— Dear me?”
“What is it?”
“Nothing, nothing, my head is rather confused—dizzy. I shall be all right again, shortly. I am ashamed of myself.”
“You needn’t be. Anybody that has walked ’way down here, a night like this, on an empty stomach—” She paused, laughed, and exclaimed, “Of course, I don’t mean you walked on your stomach, exactly, Mr. Bangs.”
Galusha smiled, feebly. “There were times when I began to think I should be forced to,” he said.
“I don’t doubt it. There, there! now don’t try to talk any more till you’ve had something to eat. Doctor Powers will be here pretty soon; it isn’t very far—in an automobile. I’m afraid he’s liable to have a queer notion of what’s the matter with you. The idea of that Primmie tellin’ him you hadn’t had anything but rum for she didn’t know how long! My, my! Well, ’twas the truth, but it bears out what my father used to say, that a little truth was like a little learnin’, an awfully dangerous thing. . . . There, there! don’t talk. I’ll talk for both of us. I have a faculty that way—father used to say that, too,” she added, with a broad smile.
When Doctor Powers did arrive, which was about fifteen minutes later, he found the patient he had come to see drinking hot tea and eating buttered toast. He was sitting in a big rocker with his steaming shoes propped against the stove. Miss Phipps introduced the pair and explained matters to the extent of her knowledge. Galusha added the lacking details.
The doctor felt the Bangs’ pulse and took the Bangs temperature. The owner of the pulse and temperature made feeble protests, declaring himself to be “perfectly all right, really” and that he must be going back to the village. He couldn’t think of putting every one to so much trouble.