Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Alroy Kear, the most popular novelist of the day, arranges to have lunch with his friend Ashenden, another writer. Ashenden is fond of Kear, but he suspects that his invitation was extended for a purpose. He is right. Kear wants to talk about the late Edward Driffield, a famous English author of the past century. Kear has nothing but praise for the old man’s books, but Ashenden says that he never thought Driffield exceptional. Kear enthusiastically tells how well he knew Driffield in his last years and says that he is still a friend of Driffield’s widow, his second wife. Luncheon ends without a request for a favor. Ashenden is puzzled.
Returning to his room, Ashenden falls into a reverie. He recalls his first meeting with Driffield. Ashenden was then a boy, home for the holidays at Blackstable, a Kentish seacoast town, where he lived with his uncle, the local vicar. Ashenden met Driffield in the company of his uncle’s curate, but the boy thought the writer a rather common person. He learned from his uncle that Driffield married a local barmaid after spending a wild youth away from home.
Two or three days after Ashenden lunches with Kear, he receives a note from Driffield’s widow. She wishes him to visit her in Blackstable. Puzzled, Ashenden telephones Kear, who says that he will come to see him and explain the invitation.
Ashenden saw Mrs. Driffield only once. He went to her house with some other literary people several...
(The entire section is 1003 words.)
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