FICTION OF THE DAY.
Mr. W. E., "Norris's new novel "Sabine and Sabina" (London: Hutchinson) is a novel which will delight a large proportion of women readers. It is a long, discursive story about the sentimental adventures of
a husband and wife who take rather too seriously the first apparent rift in their domestic happiness. The story is told by Sabina's godfather, a soft-hearted gentle- man, who suffers himself to be made use of to the full extent by his friends, pos- sibly because Sabina's mother was the only woman he ever loved. The gentle, senti- mental interest attaching to this relation- ship accounts for his "fussy" attitude to- wards his god-daughter's affairs. Sabina, growing a little tired of her wealthy hus- band's absorption in business, permits her- self to accept the devotion of an artist who is experienced in affairs of the heart. She accompanies her husband on a business visit to Spain, knowing that the artist will be sketching there. The artist succeeds in detaching himself from an amorous Frenchwoman whom he has allowed to claim his attentions, and this little lady immediately devotes her energies to the task of fascinating Sabina's husband. It is a pretty coil, and Mr. Norris does not hesi- tate to employ quite conventional methods in straightening it out. His quiet humour makes it very entertaining to read, and ¡t docs not matter much that poue of the characters have any official distinction. The most interesting of thom all, perhaps, is Nell Champneys, who plays a waiting part throughout with a sphinx-like pas- sivity and dignity, but gets what she wants in the end.
The most picturesque story that Sir Rider Haggard has written for many years is his new novel, '"The Virgin of the Sun" (London: Cassell.) The introduction do scribes the finding, in an old marriage chest bought from a dealer in antiques, of a damaged black letter parchment, which, being deciphered, proves to be the life his- tory of one Hubert of Hastings, a London merchant of great wealth in the days of Richard II., who, driven from England by the jealousy and intrigues of a favourite of the King, sets sail tor the west, accom- panied only by his ' faithful' servant, a Tcruvian of high lineage, wliom curious chance has brought to hngland. Fortune carries them to South America, for they arc beset by great storms, and for Ion? weeks only half-conscious through sickness Resolved, however, to reach Peru, they press on, encountering difficulties and over- coming obstacles, until they are eventually rescued from au island off the coast by a wondeiful princess, a daughter of the Inca«, whom he eventually wins for wife, though not before he has performed doughty deeds with the help of his great sword, 'Wave flame," which has come to him from some Viking hero of his mother's race. A shorter arid less detailed story than most of Sir
Rider Haggard's early romances, this novel will appeal strongly to those who enjoy highly imaginative tales of love and adven-
Something of the difficulty that confronts administrators in Northern India may be gathered from the three realistic sketches presented in "East is East," by Major General T. D. Pilcher, C.B. (London: John Lane). The first is a study in Pathan tem- perament, together with an illustration of the importance of women as factors in native feuds or intrigues, and of the fashion in which native intrigue may hamper British officials in the administration of justice. The second sketch describes the difficulties which beset a British Resident whose task it is to administer a native State during the minority of its native ruler. The third story is again one of a native blood feud, and of the treachery and in- trigue that is an inseparable part of native life. It is by studies of this kind that those who have no personal knowledge of India may learn something of what it means to be a successful administrator there. The
author writes, simply, but forcefully and vividly.
An ingenious story, with plenty of move- ment and a number of thrilling moments, is Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adver- sary" (London: John Lane). All the bother is about a secret document which was being carried by a secret service man who was a passenger on the Lusitania. Just before she sank, he pressed it into the hand of a young woman, asking her, in the event of his not being saved, to deliver it to the American Embassy in London. The girl is saved, and is traced to England. Then she disappears; and the document never comes to hand. But in the international situation which develops after peace is de- clined the document becomes again of much importance, and the authorities bestir themselves to find it. It is. it appeals, of such a nature that it would afford a "handle" to Bolshevik and Labour ex- tremists. By a mere chance, the task of finding the girl and the document is en- trusted to a young demobilised soldier and an ex-army service young woman, both of whom are out of work and eager for adven- ture. They get it, for the gang -- there is always a gang in these cases -- is an un- scrupulous lot, captained by a man whose ability and astuteness, combined with the advantages derived from his social and political standing, making him a formidable adversary. It is an excellent story of its kind, with the suspense well sustained.