Ronald suddenly looked at him with new eyes. “But he must have thought your letters very beautiful—to go on as he did,” he broke out.
“Well—I did my best,” said Mr. Grew modestly.
Ronald pursued his idea. “Where are all your letters, I wonder? Weren’t they returned to you at his death?”
Mr. Grew laughed. “Lord, no. I guess he had trunks and trunks full of better ones. I guess Queens and Empresses wrote to him.”
“I should have liked to see your letters,” the young man insisted.
“Well, they weren’t bad,” said Mr. Grew drily. “But I’ll tell you one thing, Ronny,” he added suddenly. Ronald raised his head with a quick glance, and Mr. Grew continued: “I’ll tell you where the best of those letters is—it’s in you. If it hadn’t been for that one look at life I couldn’t have made you what you are. Oh, I know you’ve done a good deal of your own making—but I’ve been there behind you all the time. And you’ll never know the work I’ve spared you and the time I’ve saved you. Fortune Dolbrowski helped me do that. I never saw things in little again after I’d looked at ’em with him. And I tried to give you the big view from the stars... So that’s what became of my letters.”
Mr. Grew paused, and for a long time Ronald sat motionless, his elbows on the table, his face dropped on his hands.
Suddenly Mr. Grew’s touch fell on his shoulder.
“Look at here, Ronald Grew—do you want me to tell you how you’re feeling at this minute? Just a mite let down, after all, at the idea that you ain’t the romantic figure you’d got to think yourself... Well, that’s natural enough, too; but I’ll tell you what it proves. It proves you’re my son right enough, if any more proof was needed. For it’s just the kind of fool nonsense I used to feel at your age—and if there’s anybody here to laugh at it’s myself, and not you. And you can laugh at me just as much as you like...”
“WHAT’S become of the Daunt Diana? You mean to say you never heard the sequel?”
Ringham Finney threw himself back into his chair with the smile of the collector who has a good thing to show. He knew he had a good listener, at any rate. I don’t think much of Ringham’s snuff-boxes, but his anecdotes are usually worth while. He’s a psychologist astray among bibelots, and the best bits he brings back from his raids on Christie’s and the Hotel Drouot are the fragments of human nature he picks up on those historic battle-fields. If his flair in enamel had been half as good we should have heard of the Finney collection by this time.