“No; no, indeed, I am quite serious. Second, the air about here is—ah—good and—and fresh?”
“Good! Well, considerin’ that most of it is blown over three or four thousand miles of salt water before it gets here it ought to be fairly good, I should say. As to its bein’ fresh—well, if you were here when a February no’theaster was blowin’ I’m afraid you might find it a little too fresh.”
“That is satisfactory, that is very satisfactory indeed. Now what was the third thing the doctor said I must have? Oh, yes, people. And I know there are people here because I have met them. And very nice people, indeed. . . . Oh, this is very satisfactory, Miss Phipps. Now my conscience is quite clear concerning my promise to the doctor and I can go on to my proposal to you.”
“My proposal—the—ah—proposition I want to make you, Miss Phipps. And I do hope you will consider it favorably. You see, I like East Wellmouth very much. My doctor told me I must go where I could find fresh air, rest, and people. They are all here in East Wellmouth. And he said I must have exercise, and behold my daily walks to that most interesting old cemetery of yours. Now, you have been very kind to me already, Miss Phipps; could you be still more kind? Would you—ah—could you let me continue our present arrangement indefinitely—for a few months, let us say? Might I be permitted to board here with you until—well, until spring, perhaps?”
Martha Phipps leaned back in her chair. She regarded him keenly.
“Mr. Bangs,” she said, slowly, “has some one been tellin’ you that I needed money and are you makin’ me this offer out of—well, out of charity?”
Galusha jumped violently. He turned quite pale.
“Oh, dear, dear, dear!” he cried, in a great agitation. “Oh, dear me, dear me! No, indeed, Miss Phipps! I am very sorry you should so misunderstand me. I—I— Of course I know nothing of your money affairs, nor should I presume to—to— Oh, I—I— Oh, dear!”
His distress was so keen that she was obliged to recognize it.
“All right, all right, Mr. Bangs,” she said. “It wasn’t charity, I can see that. But what was it? Do I understand you to say that you like—actually like this lonesome place well enough to want to stay here all winter?”
“Yes—ah—yes. And it doesn’t seem lonesome to me.”
“Doesn’t it? Well, wait a little while. . . . And you really mean you want to keep on boardin’ here—with me, with us?”
“Yes, if—if you will be so very kind as to permit me to do so. If you will be so good.”
“Good! To what? My soul and body!”
“No—ah—good to mine,” said Galusha.
It was not settled that evening. Martha declared she must have at least a few hours in which to think it over and Galusha, of course, agreed.