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The Wife of his Youth

Those who approach dialect stories with fear and trembling need have no alarm in regard to the volume of tales entitled "The Life of His Youth, by Charles W. Chesnutt, which is published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. They are described as "stories of the color line," which is a very different thing from the "black belt." Nearly all the characters are almost white, and speak singularly elegant English. There is an element of real tragedy in the case of those who are practically Anglo-Saxon in blood, and fitted by education and culture for association with white people on equal terms, but who are compelled by the inexorable color line to mingle only with people of an inferior race to which they are remotely akin. Mr. Chesnutt brings this out effectively yet without exaggeration. In "The Life of His Youth," a mulatto who has risen, received an education, meets an ugly black woman who had been his wife in slavery days, and since had been lost to him. He bravely takes up his burden, and foregoes the marriage he had intended. In "The Sheriff's Children," there is a glimpse of the darkest side of slavery, the sale of the master's own children. But most of the stories are lighter in tone, and many of them are very amusing indeed.

Anon. "Review of The Wife of His Youth." In: Fiction of the Day, The Springfield Sunday Republican, (Dec. 17, 1899): 27.