Col. French, a middle-aged man of large fortune, won in New York's maelstrom, is ordered a less strenuous life by his physician and decides to revisit the little southern town where he was born. He finds old friends impoverished and interlopers flourishing, and before he has been there two days has bought a dog, a house and a man, and has thus committed himself to an interest in the community. Old Peter, the colonel's "boy" in childhood, is arrested on a trivial charge, heavily fined and his "time" is about to be sold to a contractor-the new bondage to which the negroes are subject-when the colonel interferes. The incident rouses him to an investigation of the injustice and wrongs to which the colored race is compelled to submit. Trained in the broader and more business-like life of the north, it becomes the "dream" of the colonel to break down some of the ingrained prejudices of the southerners, especially their racial antipathy to the negroes, teach them the ways of modern industrialism, and help bring regeneration to the country. He finds the task too great, and returns north. Two pairs of lovers, one middle-aged, one young, lend romance to the tale; there is a buried fortune, which strangely, is not resurrected, and there is more than a hint of tragedy in the outcome.
Mr. Chestnutt has made a vivid presentation of the social and racial conditions prevailing in the south, turning the light strongly upon the limitations under which his race suffers. He writes with an avowed purpose, and, he writes well. (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. Detroit: Macauley.)
Review of The Colonel's Dream in Detroit Free Press. (Sept. 23, 1905): 3.