Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Lord Claverton’s daughter’s fiancé, Charles, is protesting that, should he stay for tea in the Claverton town house, he will not be able to have any private conversation with Monica because of her father’s presence. Monica worships her father, who was a famous man in the political and financial worlds of England but who is currently, on his doctor’s orders, retired from public life. Lord Claverton is preparing for a rest cure at Badgley Court, a nursing home in the country. Lord Claverton enters. He becomes querulous over the emptiness of his future. Like most men of affairs who are compelled to give up their former activities, he realizes the hollowness of his past eminence, yet he cannot endure the prospect of a life devoid of his former important activities. Life becomes a mere waiting for death for him. He recognizes himself as a ghost and, with dramatic irony, remarks that he smiles when he thinks people are frightened of ghosts.
Hardly is this remark uttered when the first ghost from his own past arrives in the form of one Señor Gomez, from the Latin American Republic of San Marco. Almost immediately Gomez is revealed as Fred Culverwell, a friend of Lord Claverton’s Oxford days. The unbearably suave expatriate is in possession of a damaging secret. Years before, the two university students were driving at night with two young women when Claverton—then plain Dick Ferry—ran over a man and did not stop because he feared the possible...
(The entire section is 810 words.)
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