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The Ghost Of A Chance
by [?]

To some pressure at the command of the Kinsolvings, she had yielded so far as to honour their house by her presence, for an evening and night. She had her revenge upon her hostess by relating, with grim enjoyment and sarcastic humour, her story of the vision carrying the hod. To that lady, in raptures at having penetrated thus far toward the coveted inner circle, the result came as a crushing disappointment. Everybody either sympathized or laughed, and there was little to choose between the two modes of expression.

But, later on, Mrs. Kinsolving’s hopes and spirits were revived by the capture of a second and greater prize.

Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore had accepted an invitation to visit at Clifftop, and would remain for three days. Mrs. Bellmore was one of the younger matrons, whose beauty, descent, and wealth gave her a reserved seat in the holy of holies that required no strenuous bolstering. She was generous enough thus to give Mrs. Kinsolving the accolade that was so poignantly desired; and, at the same time, she thought how much it would please Terence. Perhaps it would end by solving him.

Terence was Mrs. Kinsolving’s son, aged twenty-nine, quite good-looking enough, and with two or three attractive and mysterious traits. For one, he was very devoted to his mother, and that was sufficiently odd to deserve notice. For others, he talked so little that it was irritating, and he seemed either very shy or very deep. Terence interested Mrs. Bellmore, because she was not sure which it was. She intended to study him a little longer, unless she forgot the matter. If he was only shy, she would abandon him, for shyness is a bore. If he was deep, she would also abandon him, for depth is precarious.

On the afternoon of the third day of her visit, Terence hunted up Mrs. Bellmore, and found her in a nook actually looking at an album.

“It’s so good of you,” said he, “to come down here and retrieve the day for us. I suppose you have heard that Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins scuttled the ship before she left. She knocked a whole plank out of the bottom with a hod. My mother is grieving herself ill about it. Can’t you manage to see a ghost for us while you are here, Mrs. Bellmore — a bang-up, swell ghost, with a coronet on his head and a cheque book under his arm?”

“That was a naughty old lady, Terence,” said Mrs. Bellmore, “to tell such stories. Perhaps you gave her too much supper. Your mother doesn’t really take it seriously, does she?”

“I think she does,” answered Terence. “One would think every brick in the hod had dropped on her. It’s a good mammy, and I don’t like to see her worried. It’s to be hoped that the ghost belongs to the hod-carriers’ union, and will go out on a strike. If he doesn’t, there will be no peace in this family.”

“I’m sleeping in the ghost-chamber,” said Mrs. Bellmore, pensively. “But it’s so nice I wouldn’t change it, even if I were afraid, which I’m not. It wouldn’t do for me to submit a counter story of a desirable, aristocratic shade, would it? I would do so, with pleasure, but it seems to me it would be too obviously an antidote for the other narrative to be effective.”

“True,” said Terence, running two fingers thoughtfully into his crisp, brown hair; “that would never do. How would it work to see the same ghost again, minus the overalls, and have gold bricks in the hod? That would elevate the spectre from degrading toil to a financial plane. Don’t you think that would be respectable enough?”

“There was an ancestor who fought against the Britishers, wasn’t there? Your mother said something to that effect.”