“It won’t take too long,” she said. “Naturally, you want to know so that you can make your plans.”
Galusha smiled. “Please take as much time as you need, Miss Phipps,” he urged. “If you permit me to remain here while you are— ah—endeavoring to reach a decision I shall be quite satisfied, really. In that case, you know, I should be willing to wait for the decision until spring. Dear me, yes—even until summer.”
Martha laughed and declared she should decide long before that. “I think breakfast time to-morrow will settle it,” she added.
It did. After breakfast she informed him that he might stay if he wished.
“Though why you want to I can’t understand,” she said. “And of course it is part of the agreement that you’ll feel free to give it up and go any time you wish; as soon as you begin to get tired of the place and us, I mean.”
He beamed satisfaction. “I shall not be the one to tire first,” he declared. Then he added, earnestly, “Of course, Miss Phipps, you will be perfectly frank and tell me at once if you change your mind. And if I should become a—ah—well, a sort of nuisance, be irregular at meals, or noisy or— What is it? I beg your pardon?”
She had laughed outright. She was still smiling when she apologized.
“Please excuse me for laughin’, Mr. Bangs,” she said, “but don’t you think yourself that that is funny? The idea of your bein’ noisy, I mean.”
He stroked his chin.
“We-ll,” he admitted, “perhaps it is. But sometimes I am quite boisterous, really I am. I remember once, years ago, I was in an old cemetery in New Hampshire and I suddenly discovered an inscription which pleased me very much. Most quaint and unusual it was—dear me, yes. And quite unconsciously I burst into a shout— a cheer, as one may say. The old sexton was quite scandalized and warned me not to do it again. He said it would disturb people. I don’t know whom he meant, there were no living people to be disturbed.”
The question of terms was the cause of a supplementary discussion. Mr. Bangs insisted upon continuing the three dollars a day rate and Miss Martha declared he should do nothing of the kind.
“That three dollars a day was just a temporary thing,” she said. “I said it just because I was sure you would go over to Elmer Rogers’ if I didn’t. Elmer Rogers is a robber and always was. Father used to say he was the forty-first member of the Forty Thieves and that they didn’t boil him because he wasn’t enough account to waste hot oil on.”
“But—ah—it seems to me that if the Rogers’ House board is worth three dollars a day yours should be worth five at least.”
“Maybe so, but I never heard anybody but Elmer say his board was worth one dollar, let alone three.”
They compromised on a daily rate of two and a half per day, which each declared to be ridiculous.