A Ghost of a Chance (Henry)

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A Ghost of a Chance
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman tried to improve her social standing by inviting influential guests to her home, but one guest spread a malicious ghost story that embarrassed her. Another guest later claimed to see a more respectable ghost, restoring the hostess's reputation.

Mrs. Kinsolving was upset by a story that Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins had spread about seeing a ghost carrying a hod in the Kinsolving's guest room.

Mrs. Kinsolving — socially ambitious woman; sensitive to criticism; devoted to her son Terence.
Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins — influential society woman; malicious, sarcastic, and unkind.

Mrs. Kinsolving was particularly offended by the idea of a Kinsolving carrying a hod, as her husband's father had made his fortune through building contracts and never worked with his own hands.

There never was a Kinsolving that carried a hod. Every one knows that Mr. Kinsolving’s father accumulated his money by large building contracts, but he never worked a day with his own hands.

Mrs. Bellmore, a wealthy and influential woman, came to visit the Kinsolvings and stayed in the same guest room.

Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore — young, wealthy, and beautiful society woman; kind, generous, and interested in Terence.

She sympathized with Mrs. Kinsolving and suggested that the ghost might have been a Revolutionary ancestor instead.

One morning, Mrs. Bellmore announced that she had seen the ghost, describing it as a tall man dressed in Colonial attire. Mrs. Kinsolving was thrilled, as the description matched that of Captain Kinsolving, a family ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.

I really think I must apologize for our ghostly relative, Mrs. Bellmore. I am afraid he must have badly disturbed your rest.

Most of the guests believed that Mrs. Bellmore had made up the story to counteract the one told by Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins, but a few thought that she genuinely believed she had seen the ghost.

Later, Mrs. Bellmore confided in Terence, Mrs. Kinsolving's son, that the ghost had actually kissed her.

Terence Kinsolving — Mrs. Kinsolving's son; devoted to his mother; shy or deep.

Terence was shocked and suggested that it must have been a dream or hallucination. Mrs. Bellmore insisted that it was real, but thanked Terence for his kindness in trying to make his mother happy. She then asked if Captain Kinsolving had been a brave man, to which Terence replied that he had been defeated at Yorktown and had fled with his company.

On her way home, Mrs. Bellmore looked at a silk handkerchief with a mysterious smile, tied it in knots, and threw it over a cliff. Meanwhile, Terence instructed his servant to send a package containing a Colonial costume to a New York costumer and to search for a silk handkerchief with his initials. Later, when Mrs. Bellmore was making a list of names for a coaching trip, she crossed out Terence's name, citing his shyness as the reason.