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The Ghost Of A Chance
by [?]

Soon Mrs. Bellmore’s maid was packing. In two hours the auto would come to convey her to the station. As Terence was strolling upon the east piazza, Mrs. Bellmore came up to him, with a confidential sparkle in her eye.

“I didn’t wish to tell the others all of it,” she said, “but I will tell you. In a way, I think you should be held responsible. Can you guess in what manner that ghost awakened me last night?”

“Rattled chains,” suggested Terence, after some thought, “or groaned? They usually do one or the other.”

“Do you happen to know,” continued Mrs. Bellmore, with sudden irrelevancy, “if I resemble any one of the female relatives of your restless ancestor,’ Captain Kinsolving?”

“Don’t think so,” said Terence, with an extremely puzzled air. “Never heard of any of them being noted beauties.”

“Then, why,” said Mrs. Bellmore, looking the young man gravely in the eye, “should that ghost have kissed me, as I’m sure it did?”

“Heavens!” exclaimed Terence, in wide-eyed amazement; “you don’t mean that, Mrs. Bellmore! Did he actually kiss you?”

“I said it,” corrected Mrs. Bellmore. “I hope the impersonal pronoun is correctly used.”

“But why did you say I was responsible?”

“Because you are the only living male relative of the ghost.”

“I see. ‘Unto the third and fourth generation. ‘But, seriously, did he — did it — how do you –?”

“Know? How does any one know? I was asleep, and that is what awakened me, I’m almost certain.”


“Well, I awoke just as — oh, can’t you understand what I mean? When anything arouses you suddenly, you are not positive whether you dreamed, or — and yet you know that — Dear me, Terence, must I dissect the most elementary sensations in order to accommodate your extremely practical intelligence?”

“But, about kissing ghosts, you know,” said Terence, humbly, “I require the most primary instruction. I never kissed a ghost. Is it — is it?”

“The sensation,” said Mrs. Bellmore, with deliberate, but slightly smiling, emphasis, “since you are seeking instruction, is a mingling of the material and the spiritual.”

“Of course,” said Terence, suddenly growing serious, “it was a dream or some kind of an hallucination. Nobody believes in spirits, these days. If you told the tale out of kindness of heart, Mrs. Bellmore, I can’t express how grateful I am to you. It has made my mother supremely happy. That Revolutionary ancestor was a stunning idea.”

Mrs. Bellmore sighed. “The usual fate of ghost-seers is mine,” she said, resignedly. “My privileged encounter with a spirit is attributed to lobster salad or mendacity. Well, I have, at least, one memory left from the wreck — a kiss from the unseen world. Was Captain Kinsolving a very brave man, do you know, Terence?”

“He was licked at Yorktown, I believe,” said Terence, reflecting. “They say he skedaddled with his company, after the first battle there.”

“I thought he must have been timid,” said Mrs. Bellmore, absently. “He might have had another.”

“Another battle?” asked Terence, dully.

“What else could I mean? I must go and get ready now; the auto will be here in an hour. I’ve enjoyed Clifftop immensely. Such a lovely morning, isn’t it, Terence?”

On her way to the station, Mrs. Bellmore took from her bag a silk handkerchief, and looked at it with a little peculiar smile. Then she tied it in several very hard knots, and threw it, at a convenient moment, over the edge of the cliff along which the road ran.

In his room, Terence was giving some directions to his man, Brooks. “Have this stuff done up in a parcel,” he said, “and ship it to the address on that card.”

The card was that of a New York costumer. The “stuff” was a gentleman’s costume of the days of ’76, made of white satin, with silver buckles, white silk stockings, and white kid shoes. A powdered wig and a sword completed the dress.

“And look about, Brooks,” added Terence, a little anxiously, “for a silk handkerchief with my initials in one corner. I must have dropped it somewhere.”

It was a month later when Mrs. Bellmore and one or two others of the smart crowd were making up a list of names for a coaching trip through the Catskills. Mrs. Bellmore looked over the list for a final censoring. The name of Terence Kinsolving was there. Mrs. Bellmore ran her prohibitive pencil lightly through the name.

“Too shy!” she murmured, sweetly, in explanation.