Galusha rose from his chair. “Oh, really,” he cried, in great agitation, “I can’t do that. I can’t, really, Miss Phipps.”
“Of course I realize you won’t be as comfortable here as you would be in a hotel, in a good hotel—you’d be more comfortable in a pigsty than you would at Elmer’s. But—”
“Miss Phipps—Miss Phipps, please! I am comfortable. You have made me very comfortable. I think I never slept better in my life than I did last night. Or ate a better breakfast than this one. But I cannot permit you to go to this trouble.”
“It isn’t any trouble.”
“Excuse me, I feel that it is. No, doctor, I must go—if not to the Wellmouth hotel, then somewhere else.”
Doctor Powers whistled. Miss Martha looked at Galusha. Galusha, whose knees were trembling, sat down in the chair again. Suddenly the lady spoke.
“If this was a hotel you would be willin’ to stay here, wouldn’t you, Mr. Bangs?” she asked.
“Why, yes, certainly. But, you see, it—ah—isn’t one.”
“No, but we might make it one for three or four days. Doctor, what does Elmer Rogers charge his inmates—his boarders, I mean—a day?”
“Why, from three to five dollars, I believe.”
“Tut, tut, tut! The robber! Well, I presume likely he’d rob Mr. Bangs here as hard as he’d rob anybody. Mr. Bangs, I take it that what troubles you mostly is that you don’t want to visit a person you’ve never met until last night. You’ve never met Elmer Rogers at all, but you would be perfectly willin’ to visit him if you could pay for the privilege.”
“Why—why, yes, of course, Miss Phipps. You have been very kind, so kind that I don’t know how to express my gratitude, but I can’t accept any more of your hospitality. To board at a hotel is quite a different thing.”
“Certainly it is. I appreciate how you feel. I should probably feel just the same way. This house of mine isn’t a hotel and doesn’t pretend to be, but if you think you can be comfortable here for the next few days and it will make you feel happier to pay— say, three dollars a day for the privilege, why—well, I’m satisfied if you are.”
Galusha gazed at her in amazement. The doctor slapped his knee.
“Splendid!” he exclaimed. “Martha, as usual you’ve said and done just the right thing. Now, Mr. Bangs, I’ll see you again to-morrow morning. Take the tablets as directed. You may go out for an hour or so by and by if the weather is good, but don’t walk much or get in the least tired. Good-morning.”
He was at the door before his patient realized what he was about.
“But, doctor,” cried Galusha, “I—I—really I— Oh, dear!”
The door closed. He turned to Miss Phipps in bewildered consternation. She smiled at him reassuringly.
“So that’s all settled,” she said. “Now sit right down again, Mr. Bangs, and finish your breakfast. . . . Primmie, bring Mr. Bangs some hot coffee. Hot coffee I said, remember.”