An hour or so later when Martha Phipps, looking out of her dining room window, saw her boarder enter the front gate, his personal appearance caused her to utter a startled exclamation. Primmie came running from the kitchen.
“What’s the matter, Miss Martha?” she demanded. “Eh! My savin’ soul!”
Mr. Bangs’ head was enveloped in the scarf which his hostess had lent him when he set forth upon his walk. It—the scarf—was tied under his chin and the fringed ends flapped in the wind. His round face, surrounded by the yarn folds, looked like that of the small boy in the pictures advertising somebody-or-other’s toothache cure.
“My savin’ soul!” cried Primmie, again. She was rushing to the door, but her mistress intervened.
“Primmie,” she ordered, briskly, “stay where you are!”
She opened the door herself.
“Come right in, Mr. Bangs,” she said. “No, don’t stop to tell me about it, but come right in and sit down.”
Galusha looked up at her. His face was speckled with greenish brown spots, giving it the appearance of a mammoth bird’s egg. Primmie saw the spots and squealed.
“Lord of Isrul!” she cried, “he’s all broke out with it, whatever ’tis! Shall I—shall I ’phone for the doctor, Miss Martha?”
“Be still, Primmie. Come in, Mr. Bangs.”
“Why, yes, thank you. I—ah—was coming in,” began Galusha, mildly. “I—”
“You mustn’t talk. Sit right down here on the lounge. Primmie, get that rum bottle. Don’t talk, Mr. Bangs.”
“But, really, Miss Phipps, I—”
“Don’t talk. . . . There, drink that.”
Galusha obediently drank the rum. Martha tenderly untied the scarf.
“Tell me if it hurts,” she said. Her patient looked at her in surprise.
“Why, no, it—ah—it is very nice,” he said. “I—ah—quite like the taste, really.”
“Heavens and earth, I don’t mean the rum. I hope that won’t hurt anybody, to say the least. I mean— Why, there isn’t anything the matter with it!”
“Matter with it? I don’t quite—”
“Matter with your head.”
Galusha raised a hand in bewildered fashion and felt of his cranium.
“Why—ah—no, there is nothing the matter with my head, so far as I am aware,” he replied. “Does it look as if it were—ah—softening or something?”
Miss Martha ignored the pleasantry. “What have you got it tied up for?” she demanded.
“Tied up?” Galusha’s smile broadened. “Oh, I see,” he observed. “Well, I lost my hat. It blew off into the—ah—sea. It was rather too cold to be about bareheaded, so I used the scarf you so kindly lent me.”
Martha gazed at him for an instant and then burst into a hearty laugh.
“Mercy on me!” she cried. “What an idiot I am! When I saw you come into the yard with your head bandaged—at least I thought it was bandaged—and your face— But what is the matter with your face?”