Thus Galusha Cabot Bangs became no longer a transitory but a regular boarder and lodger at the Phipps’ place. The fact became known to Miss Primrose Cash that forenoon, to the driver of the grocer’s cart one hour later, and to all of East Wellmouth before bedtime. It was news and, in October in East Wellmouth, one item of local news is a rare and blessed dispensation.
Before another day had passed the news item had been embellished. Mr. Bangs visited the general store of Erastus Beebe to purchase headgear to replace the brown derby. Erastus happened to be busy at the moment—there were two customers in his store at the same time, an event most unusual—so Galusha’s wants were supplied by no less a person than Mr. Horatio Pulcifer.
Raish’s greeting was condescendingly genial.
“Well, well!” he exclaimed, pumping the little man’s arm up and down with one hand and thumping his shrinking shoulder blades with the other. “If it ain’t the perfessor himself! How are you this mornin’, Mr. Bangs? Right up and comin, eh?”
Galusha would have withdrawn his hand from the Pulcifer clutch if withdrawal had been possible. It being quite impossible, he murmured that he was—“ah—quite well” and, conscious that the eyes of Mr. Beebe and his two customers were fixed upon him, fixed his own gaze upon Mr. Pulcifer’s assortment of watch charms and shivered with embarrassment.
“Ain’t it funny, now?” queried Raish, addressing the world in general. “Ain’t it funny how things happen? When I fetched you over in my car t’other night didn’t I say I hoped you and me’d meet again? That’s what I said. And now we’ve met twice since. Once in the old boneyard and now here, eh? And they tell me you like East Wellmouth so much you’re goin’ to stick around for a spell. Good business! Say, I’ll be sellin’ you a piece of Wellmouth property one of these days to settle down on. That’s the kind of talk, eh, Perfessor? Haw, haw, haw!”
He pounded the Bangs’ shoulder blades once more. Mr. Beebe and his two customers echoed the Pulcifer laugh. Galusha smiled painfully— as the man in the operating chair smiles at the dentist’s jokes.
“I—I—excuse me,” he faltered, turning to the grinning Erastus, “can I— That is, have you a—ah—hat or—or cap or something I might buy?”
Before the proprietor of the general store could answer, Mr. Pulcifer answered for him. Again the hand descended upon the Bangs’ shoulder.
“Haw, haw!” roared Raish, joyfully. “I get you, Mr. Bangs. The old lid blew out to sea and we’ve got to get a new one. Say, that was funny, wasn’t it; that hat goin’ that way? I don’t know’s I ever laughed more in my life. One minute she was jumpin’ along amongst them gravestones like a hoptoad with wings, and then— Zing! Fsst! away she went a half mile or so down into the breakers. Haw, haw, haw! And to see your face! Why—”