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The Mixture of Blood



CHARLES W. CHESTNUTT, whose "The Wife of his Youth" and other short stories illustrating phases and natures of negro life, have attracted wide attention, has published a new story on the lines of his previous work. The "House Behind the Cedars" is a novel of considerable length, with the taint of negro blood as a theme for a romance. It is a pathetic smart tragedy, worked out with great grace. It is the story of a beautiful girl whose father was a wealthy plantation owner, a white man, and whose mother was a free-born mulatto. The brother had left home years before and, under an assumed name and as a white man, had achieved fame and wealth as a lawyer. One day he appeared at the old home and took his sister away. He gave her a fine education and she became a social favorite. She was wooed and won by a friend of her brother's, a young man of one of the best Southern families. Before the wedding day he learns the secret and although [?] it from the world, he breaks the engagement. Love finally overcomes pride and he tries to find her. She teaches school in the country and his appearance in the neighborhood adds to the grief she has nursed and results in a fever. In her delirium she flees to her old home and her lover reaches there to learn that she is dead.

The book is an interesting study of a problem that has been utilized by many other writers, but who have all failed to solve it. Mr. Chestnutt, who has handled it most skillfully is forced to beg the question at the end and let death cut the knot which he is unable to tie. He makes love assert itself over race prejudice for a time. George Tyron longed for the girl he had cast aside and he believed that he could forget the blood taint in her veins. He might have married her had she lived, but could he have been contented for all the future? That is the question that remains unanswered. Mr. Chestnutt's book is the more artistic for his not attempting to carry the problem further. He reaches a dramatic climax in his sorrowful tragedy and then merely drops the curtain.

The House Behind the Cedars,' by Charles W. Chestnutt. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston.