Skip to main content

[Review of The House Behind the Cedars]

"The House Behind the Cedars" (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., $1) is another of Mr. Chestnutt's heart-breaking stories of the coloured race. In many ways it is the best thing he has ever done. The situations are tragic, yet natural, and the story is told with simplicity and pathos. A mulatto woman becomes the mistress of a gentleman of great refinement and culture, who cares for her in every way as if she were his wife. She has two children, who resemble their father in every way, and beyond being rather dark show no trace of their negro blood. The son grows up to be a lawyer and takes his beautiful sister to the town where he has established his practice. They both associate with the best people of the place, who are, of course, entirely unaware of their mother's race, and regard them as pleasing additions to their society. The girl, Rena, becomes engaged to George Lyon, a white man, of good family, who throws her off when an accident reveals the fatal secret. Her heart is practically broken, yet one cannot wholly blame the man who had been so deceived. The study of the "light mulatto" is excellent. Mis' Molly Walden, Rena's mother, is well drawn in every way. She represents one type, while her children belong to an entirely different class. Yet to the white man all, unfortunately, are alike. The sin of the parent is atoned for literally "unto the third and fourth generation" in this case, if not in all.