Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
In “The Beckoning Fair One,” Paul Oleron, a novelist who has not catered to popular taste, becomes fascinated with the spirit that he detects occupying his apartment. He believes that the beckoning fair one is the spirit of a woman, and he tries to court her; the spirit appears, instead, to take possession of him and to drain him of his energy and his will. Under the influence of that spirit, he apparently murders the woman who loves him and nearly starves himself to death.
The process of Oleron’s decline begins when he is attracted to an old, decaying building as an inexpensive way to solve his problem of living and working in different places. To unite living and working, he takes a single larger apartment in the otherwise abandoned building. He makes this move when he is fifteen chapters into what he believes is his greatest novel, Romilly. On completing the move, he discovers that he is unable to continue working on that novel.
The heroine is based on his journalist friend Elsie Bengough. As he attempts to continue writing, he finds himself dissatisfied with the heroine. He wants to begin again with a new heroine quite different from Elsie. Just as Elsie fits less well into his novel and his imagination after he moves, so too does she feel unwelcome in his new dwelling. She cannot be comfortable there. During two visits, she is injured in unaccountable ways, nails appearing where he is sure he had already removed them, and a...
(The entire section is 1014 words.)
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