Mr. Backus

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Mr. Backus
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Backus, Mr.
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The father of Melisandre Backus Harriss Stevens appears in three fictions. The description of him is remarkably the same in all three; here's the way it's worded in "Knight's Gambit," the first of the three: he's a "widower-owner who stayed at home and farmed his heritage" while sitting "through the long summer afternoons in a home-made chair on the front gallery, reading in Latin the Roman poets" with "a constant tumbler of thin whiskey-and-water at his elbow and the aged setter bitch dozing at his feet" (150). But while in that story he is favorably compared to the nouveau riche outsider who marries his daughter, the judgment of him varies in the other texts. The Town calls him "a good farmer" (52), but in The Mansion, the last of the three, the same behavior means that he lets "what used to be one of our biggest plantations" fall into "decay" (217).