Bangs saw the figure of a man emerge from the door of the white house by the light and stand upon the platform. There was nothing particularly exciting about the man’s appearance, but Primmie seemed to be excited.
“See him, Mr. Bangs?” she repeated.
“Yes, I see him. Who is he?”
“Don’t you know? No, course you don’t; why should you? He’s Cap’n Jethro Hallett, keeps the lighthouse, he does—him and Lulie and Zach.”
“Oh, he is the light keeper, is he? What has he got his head tied up for?”
“Hey? Head tied up?”
“Why, yes. Isn’t there something gray—a—ah—scarf or something tied about his head? I think I see it flutter in the wind.”
“That? That ain’t no scarf, them’s his whiskers. He wears ’em long and they blow consider’ble. Say, what do you think?” Primmie leaned forward and whispered mysteriously. “He sees his wife.”
Galusha turned to look at her. Her expression was a combination of awe and excitement.
“I—I beg your pardon,” he stammered, “but really I— What did you say he did?”
“I said he sees his wife. Anyhow, he thinks he does. She comes to him nights and stands alongside of his bed and they talk. Ain’t that awful?”
Galusha took off his spectacles and rubbed them.
“Ain’t it awful, Mr. Bangs?” repeated Primmie.
Galusha’s faint smile twitched the corners of his lips. “We-ll,” he observed, “I—really I can’t say. I never met the lady.”
“What difference does that make? If a dead woman come and stood alongside of my bed ’twouldn’t make no difference to me whether I’d met her or not. Meetin’ of her then would be enough. My Lord of Isrul!”
“Oh—oh, I beg your pardon. Do I understand you to say that this— ah—gentleman’s wife is dead?”
“Um-hm. Been dead seven year, so Miss Martha says. That’s what I mean when I say it’s awful. Wouldn’t you think ’twas awful if a woman that had been dead seven year come and stood alongside of you?”
Galusha smiled again. “Yes,” he admitted, “I am inclined to think I—ah—should.”
“You bet you would! So’d anybody but Jethro Hallet. He likes it. Yes, sir! And he goes to every medium place from here to Boston, seems so, so’s to have more talks with them that’s over the river.”
“Eh? Over the— Oh, yes, I comprehend. Dead, you mean. Then this Mr. Hallet is a Spiritualist, I take it.”
“Um-hm. Rankest kind of a one. Course everybody believes in Spiritulism some, can’t help it. Miss Martha says she don’t much and Zach Bloomer he says he cal’lates his doubts keep so close astern of his beliefs that it’s hard to tell which’ll round the stake boat first. But there ain’t no doubt about Cap’n Jethro’s believin’, he’s rank.”
“I see. Well, is he—is he rational in other ways? It seems odd to have a—ah—an insane man in charge of—”