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Literrary, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 March 1904
Bt "THE SAGE."
Messrs. Wildman, Lyell and Arey ■forward from the publishers, Messrs. Methuen and Co., three very readable books this month ; " Resurgam," by L. T. Meade ; " Alarums and Excursions/ by H. B. Marsriott Watson ; and " The Rose of Joy,'' by Mary Findlater.
Works from the pen of Mrs. L. T. Meade are always welcomed, and " Kesurgam " will have the tendency to still further enhance the popularity of this prolific authoress. Joan Galbraith, a very emotional little paid companion to the stately and primly religious Lady Elizabeth dv Quesne, is introduced to the reader at the Montenvers Hotel on the Alps. The great ambition of her life was about to be fulfilled. She had a few days holiday and was to spend it in climbing the great peak of the Grand Dru. The friends who were to accompany her failed her at the last moment, but she met at the dining-table Denis Waring, a literary man who was a great ■climber, he pitied her disappointment, and with no thought of the ■ conventionalities, good-naturedly asked her to trust herself to his guidance. Her intense desire "to tread the summit and find herself on the Delectable Mountains " made her also forget what was due to .Mrs. Grundy. They camped the first :night with another party under a
rock to watch the sunrise, then with incredible exertions, which included swinging over a thirty-feet gap by the aid of a rope, they reached the summit. In the descent a dense cloud enveloped them, and nothing could be done but sit on the narrow ledge of rock in the piercing cold until daybreak, when the cloud lifted. There were two results of this adventure. One was that Joan found she had risen to fame as a lady climber ; the other that she had fallen in love with her companion. On taking leave of her, he had asked one kiss as a memento of how they had faced death together, and she had given it. He admired her immensely, but really loved his cousin, Lotie Eraser, a noble-mind-ed young woman. The " villain of the piece," an unscrupulous widow, determined to get Joan completely into her power, foreseeing certain advantages to, herself. Professing great friendship, she horrified the innocent girl by exaggerating the view the world would take of her action, and recommended her on no account to tell Lady Elizabeth. For a time Joan kept her secret. Then Mrs. Penrose threatened to tell Lady Elizabeth herself unless Joan secured her a much-desired invitation from Lady Elizabeth for a long visit. Unable to bear any longer the widow's cruel threats, Joan her-
self told the story, and Lady Elizabeth packed her off without a character. After trying in vain for further employment, she had to write to Denis to ask his aid. He had asked her to come to him in any difficulty. He interviewed Lady Elizabeth, who told him coldly that he was the cause of Joan's trouble, and he was responsible for the rest of her life. He went to his cousin Lotie, and in a spirit of noble selfsacrifice she assured him it was his duty to marry Joan as the only reparation for being the cause of her
being cruelly maligned. They married, and Denis's literary labours took them to Crete. He made her a kind husband, but still corresponded with Lotie. Mrs. Penrose continued her persecutions, and Joan's jealousy was only too easily aroused. She took refuse from it during" her husband's absence by slumming under the name of Catherine of the Slums, and being: entirely fearless, went into places where even the evangelist under whose guidance she worked, durst not enter. She saved Meg Merrilees, the terror of
the -neighbourhood from being burnflalive in a drunken fit, and eventually turned her into a decent servaiit. All difficulties are at last satisfactorily surmounted, and Joan who had strong religious tendencies found she has attained a greater height even than the Grand Dru.
" Alarums and Excursions " is the very appropriate title of H. B. Marriott Watson's new book, a collection of short stories of distinctly stirring adventure. A glance down the contents page at the titles oi the stories gives one a good idea of their nature. They run as follows : "The Mohock/ "The Outlaw," " Captain Sword;" " The Alarum Bell/ " The Tavern on the Moor/ " Tht Squire's Wager," " The Catspaw," and ''' A Sense of Honour." '" The Mohock " is a story of gaming, duelling and intrigue. It describes that wayward intriguer, Lady Merioneth, then in the zenith of her beauty, and her tools, the most impressionable of the roystering young bloods of the age, and the manner in wliich she was outwitted in the object she had in view. " The Outlaw " gives an account of how he was enticed into a shuttered house, and accused of a murder committed there ; his subsequent adventures in a thieves' den ; his undertaking to carry away and dispose of the dead body of a girl's husband, whom she professed to have killed accidentally, and was to pack in a chest herself, and how lie failed to get rid of it, and afterwards discovered, when he opened it, that it . contained instead the girl's dead body ; how he was well paid to assist in trapping a younggirl into marriage with a scoundrel.
and the manner in which he saved the girl, and was hunted afterward;! by his baffled employer. " Captain Sword " gives a graphic account cf the manner in which this gallant captain with his company of English soldiers and Spanish irregulars, led by a dancing girl, captured .the town of Granava, and his adventures
at the seige of Cuidad ftodrigo. " The Alarm Bell " shows how Captain Geoffrey Monk, and his troop of horse were sent to Holten Marshes. to capture a clever band of smugglers, against which the local officers were powerless, and the measure of the success they obtained. A duel with the principal of the band, in which his daughter throws herself between the contestants at a critical moment, complicates matters. " The Squire's Wager " introduces the reader to Brooks' s at the close of a night's play. Lord Marazion had lost some £20,000 to Squire Hilton at a sitting, and had drank unlimited brandy and water. To win it back, in the reckless fashion of the day he offered the absurd wager of the only estate he had left against 20,000 guineas that he would marry the first maid or widow he met on his return home that night. The Squire, who coveted the estate, accepted the wager at once, but for the way in which the young lord won it, we must refer the reader to the book. The other stories are equalty good and the author is to be congratulated. The choice of his subjects and the manner in which he has treated them, leaves nothing to be desired.
in " The Rose of Joy " Mary Findlater deals with English country life. Her first chapter announces the birth of .her heroine in a more interesting manner than is usual when authors take this unnecessarily early period of life for such an introduction. Maurice Hamilton arrives at a country inn, he " had reached an unfortunate period in his romance ; the lady had married another." Three years had passed, and he visited the village in order to see the lady once more. But he had chosen an unfortunate time, the birth of her daughter Susan, the heroine, prevented him from having the desired interview. He does not venture again for nearly twenty years, and finds Susan an
interesting young lady of nineteen, and her mother a most decidedly uninteresting, unintellectual, untidy widow with seven children. He has his nephew Archie with him, and as they have come to the neighbourhood to live they see a good deal of the family. The widow's household is managed in the most shiftless way, though Susan does her best to brighten up things. Susan has an admirer. Dally Stairs, an unprepossessing young man with red hair, whose family boast of their birth, and deplore with him the necessity of his going to work in his uncle's brewery. He has previously been in love with Juliet, the very pretty and fascinating niece of Maurice Hamilton, but she will have nothing to do with him. The uncle takes a great fancy to Susan, and promises his nephew a partnership if he marries her. The girl, though she does not really love him, feels it her duty to marry him, as her mother and relations wish it, and she has no decided objection. They get on very well indeed for a time. Then it is suddenly discovered that Dally in his college days had married his mother's laundry-maid. He had supposed her to be dead when he married Susan, but she unfortunately turned up. In order to keep her quiet, Dally had dipped into the partnership funds to the tune of £1000. His uncle on discovering this, packs him off to America with his first wife. Archie Hamilton then endeavours to persuade Susan to marry him, as he had loved her for a long time, but she refuses. She has always been a keen observer of nature, and, although untaught, has attained to some proficiency as an artist. So after all her troubles, " having looked in the face of Love, she turned away to follow after Art instead, aiming after Perfection
with an undivided purpose." There are many other characters in the book almost as uninteresting, in themselves as Mrs. Crawford, but the author has succeeded in working them into a very readable story.
Dr. Fitchett's new Australian Magazine, " Life," has come to hand, and he is certainly to be congratulated on the groduction, Everyone knows and appreciates his reason for dissolving his connection with Mr. W. T. Stead, and there is little doubt that " Life " will be considerably more popular with Colonial readers than the Australasian edition of the " Review of Reviews." There is a larger proportion of lighter reading in it, and many features which appeal to the Colonial especially. There is, however, one point in which many will find it wanting, especially the young Australian aspirant to literary fame; viz., the limited space given to original matter, and the fact that what is admitted is from the pens of men who have already attained fame.
Many of the readers of the " New Zealand Illustrated Magazine " keep a book wherein they cajole the most talented of their friends to inscribe some sentiment in prose or verse as their tastes incline. Now and then a gem of particular brilliancy shines out amongst a number of very ordinary contributions. It has struck " The Sage " that a collection of these would make entertaining reading, he therefore asks those of his readers who keep such records to forward to the Editor a few of these which they consider show the most brilliancy or humour for publication in later issues.
Vol. IX.— No. 6.— 31.
Literrary, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 March 1904
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