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His Father’s Son
by [?]

Ronald’s sympathies needed no urging in the same direction. He took naturally, dauntlessly, to all the high and exceptional things about which his father’s imagination had so long sheepishly and ineffectually hovered–from the start he was what Mr. Grew had dreamed of being. And so precise, so detailed, was Mr. Grew’s vision of his own imaginary career, that as Ronald grew up, and began to travel in a widening orbit, his father had an almost uncanny sense of the extent to which that career was enacting itself before him. At Harvard, Ronald had done exactly what the hypothetical Mason Grew would have done, had not his actual self, at the same age, been working his way up in old Slagden’s button factory–the institution which was later to acquire fame, and even notoriety, as the birthplace of Grew’s Secure Suspender Buckle. Afterward, at a period when the actual Grew had passed from the factory to the bookkeeper’s desk, his invisible double had been reading law at Columbia–precisely again what Ronald did! But it was when the young man left the paths laid out for him by the parental hand, and cast himself boldly on the world, that his adventures began to bear the most astonishing resemblance to those of the unrealized Mason Grew. It was in New York that the scene of this hypothetical being’s first exploits had always been laid; and it was in New York that Ronald was to achieve his first triumph. There was nothing small or timid about Mr. Grew’s imagination; it had never stopped at anything between Wingfield and the metropolis. And the real Ronald had the same cosmic vision as his parent. He brushed aside with a contemptuous laugh his mother’s tearful entreaty that he should stay at Wingfield and continue the dynasty of the Grew Suspender Buckle. Mr. Grew knew that in reality Ronald winced at the Buckle, loathed it, blushed for his connection with it. Yet it was the Buckle that had seen him through Groton, Harvard and the Law School, and had permitted him to enter the office of a distinguished corporation lawyer, instead of being enslaved to some sordid business with quick returns. The Buckle had been Ronald’s fairy godmother–yet his father did not blame him for abhorring and disowning it. Mr. Grew himself often bitterly regretted having bestowed his own name on the instrument of his material success, though, at the time, his doing so had been the natural expression of his romanticism. When he invented the Buckle, and took out his patent, he and his wife both felt that to bestow their name on it was like naming a battle-ship or a peak of the Andes.

Mrs. Grew had never learned to know better; but Mr. Grew had discovered his error before Ronald was out of school. He read it first in a black eye of his boy’s. Ronald’s symmetry had been marred by the insolent fist of a fourth former whom he had chastised for alluding to his father as “Old Buckles;” and when Mr. Grew heard the epithet he understood in a flash that the Buckle was a thing to blush for. It was too late then to dissociate his name from it, or to efface from the hoardings of the entire continent the picture of two gentlemen, one contorting himself in the abject effort to repair a broken brace, while the careless ease of the other’s attitude proclaimed his trust in the Secure Suspender Buckle. These records were indelible, but Ronald could at least be spared all direct connection with them; and from that day Mr. Grew resolved that the boy should not return to Wingfield.

“You’ll see,” he had said to Mrs. Grew, “he’ll take right hold in New York. Ronald’s got my knack for taking hold,” he added, throwing out his chest.

“But the way you took hold was in business,” objected Mrs. Grew, who was large and literal.