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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about Tales of Men and Ghosts.

II

RONALD obeyed his father’s injunction not to come to luncheon on the day of the Bankshires’ dinner; but in the middle of the following week Mr. Grew was surprised by a telegram from his son.

“Want to see you important matter.  Expect me to-morrow afternoon.”

Mr. Grew received the telegram after breakfast.  To peruse it he had lifted his eye from a paragraph of the morning paper describing a fancy-dress dinner which had taken place the night before at the Hamilton Gliddens’ for the house-warming of their new Fifth Avenue palace.

“Among the couples who afterward danced in the Poets’ Quadrille were Miss Daisy Bankshire, looking more than usually lovely as Laura, and Mr. Ronald Grew as the young Petrarch.”

Petrarch and Laura!  Well—­if anything meant anything, Mr. Grew supposed he knew what that meant.  For weeks past he had noticed how constantly the names of the young people appeared together in the society notes he so insatiably devoured.  Even the soulless reporter was getting into the habit of coupling them in his lists.  And this Laura and Petrarch business was almost an announcement...

Mr. Grew dropped the telegram, wiped his eye-glasses, and re-read the paragraph.  “Miss Daisy Bankshire ... more than usually lovely...”  Yes; she was lovely.  He had often seen her photograph in the papers—­seen her represented in every conceivable attitude of the mundane game:  fondling her prize bull-dog, taking a fence on her thoroughbred, dancing a gavotte, all patches and plumes, or fingering a guitar, all tulle and lilies; and once he had caught a glimpse of her at the theatre.  Hearing that Ronald was going to a fashionable first-night with the Bankshires, Mr. Grew had for once overcome his repugnance to following his son’s movements, and had secured for himself, under the shadow of the balcony, a stall whence he could observe the Bankshire box without fear of detection.  Ronald had never known of his father’s presence at the play; and for three blessed hours Mr. Grew had watched his boy’s handsome dark head bent above the dense fair hair and white averted shoulder that were all he could catch of Miss Bankshire’s beauties.

He recalled the vision now; and with it came, as usual, its ghostly double:  the vision of his young self bending above such a white shoulder and such shining hair.  Needless to say that the real Mason Grew had never found himself in so enviable a situation.  The late Mrs. Grew had no more resembled Miss Daisy Bankshire than he had looked like the happy victorious Ronald.  And the mystery was that from their dull faces, their dull endearments, the miracle of Ronald should have sprung.  It was almost—­fantastically—­as if the boy had been a changeling, child of a Latmian night, whom the divine companion of Mr. Grew’s early reveries had secretly laid in the cradle of the Wingfield bedroom while Mr. And Mrs. Grew slept the deep sleep of conjugal indifference.

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