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Dream Doesn't Come True

DREAM DOESN'T COME TRUE "The Colonel's Dream," by Charles W. Chesnutt (Doubleday, Page and Company), is disappointing–in literary finish as compared with the author's previous novels, in dramatic interest; and in the cul de sac sort of ending toward which the action of the story progresses, leading the reader up to a dark, blank wall, and there leaving him. The "colonel" of the story is a man who, having made his fortune in the north, goes back with his small son to the southern town in which he was born. Witnessing the backward condition of the town, he has a "dream" of being the means of its regeneration, in which dream are included model mills, new and better schools, public libraries, etc. At the end, however, when the town rises up against the burial in the same cemetery of his boy, who dies, and his faithful old colored servant, the colonel gives up, leaves everything in a half-completed condition, and returns north to take up the work again of "getting rich." Mr. Chesnutt has given a faithful picture of the small, unreconstructed southern town to-day, its poverty and enforced idleness and grass-grown streets, and in a few dramatic pages has described the nefarious system by which negroes arrested for vagrancy are virtually bought and bound for certain terms of labor by having the fines and costs of their trial put up at auction. The colonel, upon his arrival in the town, buys an old family servant upon terms not very different from those under which his father had purchased the same man fifty years before. As a story, however, "The Colonel's Dream" is greatly lacking. Mr. Chesnutt has been more successful when taking for his principal characters the people of his own race.