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His Father’s Son
by [?]


AFTER his wife’s death Mason Grew took the momentous step of selling out his business and moving from Wingfield, Connecticut, to Brooklyn.

For years he had secretly nursed the hope of such a change, but had never dared to suggest it to Mrs. Grew, a woman of immutable habits. Mr. Grew himself was attached to Wingfield, where he had grown up, prospered, and become what the local press described as “prominent.” He was attached to his ugly brick house with sandstone trimmings and a cast-iron area-railing neatly sanded to match; to the similar row of houses across the street, the “trolley” wires forming a kind of aerial pathway between, and the sprawling vista closed by the steeple of the church which he and his wife had always attended, and where their only child had been baptized.

It was hard to snap all these threads of association, visual and sentimental; yet still harder, now that he was alone, to live so far from his boy. Ronald Grew was practising law in New York, and there was no more chance of returning to live at Wingfield than of a river’s flowing inland from the sea. Therefore to be near him his father must move; and it was characteristic of Mr. Grew, and of the situation generally, that the translation, when it took place, was to Brooklyn, and not to New York.

“Why you bury yourself in that hole I can’t think,” had been Ronald’s comment; and Mr. Grew simply replied that rents were lower in Brooklyn, and that he had heard of a house that would suit him. In reality he had said to himself–being the only recipient of his own confidences–that if he went to New York he might be on the boy’s mind; whereas, if he lived in Brooklyn, Ronald would always have a good excuse for not popping over to see him every other day. The sociological isolation of Brooklyn, combined with its geographical nearness, presented in fact the precise conditions for Mr. Grew’s case. He wanted to be near enough to New York to go there often, to feel under his feet the same pavement that Ronald trod, to sit now and then in the same theatres, and find on his breakfast-table the journals which, with increasing frequency, inserted Ronald’s name in the sacred bounds of the society column. It had always been a trial to Mr. Grew to have to wait twenty-four hours to read that “among those present was Mr. Ronald Grew.” Now he had it with his coffee, and left it on the breakfast-table to the perusal of a “hired girl” cosmopolitan enough to do it justice. In such ways Brooklyn attested the advantages of its propinquity to New York, while remaining, as regards Ronald’s duty to his father, as remote and inaccessible as Wingfield.

It was not that Ronald shirked his filial obligations, but rather because of his heavy sense of them, that Mr. Grew so persistently sought to minimize and lighten them. It was he who insisted, to Ronald, on the immense difficulty of getting from New York to Brooklyn.

“Any way you look at it, it makes a big hole in the day; and there’s not much use in the ragged rim left. You say you’re dining out next Sunday? Then I forbid you to come over here for lunch. Do you understand me, sir? You disobey at the risk of your father’s malediction! Where did you say you were dining? With the Waltham Bankshires again? Why, that’s the second time in three weeks, ain’t it? Big blow-out, I suppose? Gold plate and orchids–opera singers in afterward? Well, you’d be in a nice box if there was a fog on the river, and you got hung up half-way over. That’d be a handsome return for the attention Mrs. Bankshire has shown you–singling out a whipper-snapper like you twice in three weeks! (What’s the daughter’s name–Daisy?) No, sir–don’t you come fooling round here next Sunday, or I’ll set the dogs on you. And you wouldn’t find me in anyhow, come to think of it. I’m lunching out myself, as it happens–yes sir, lunching out. Is there anything especially comic in my lunching out? I don’t often do it, you say? Well, that’s no reason why I never should. Who with? Why, with–with old Dr. Bleaker: Dr. Eliphalet Bleaker. No, you wouldn’t know about him–he’s only an old friend of your mother’s and mine.”