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J; _ . . . . jj Novels {Revievoedl

'Travail of Gold.' By E. P. Benson. London: Hodder and Stoughton.— Vanity Fair, illicit sex-relationships, mean social ambitions and rivalries; above all, the soul-corroding lust for gold— such is the disagreeable atmos- phere in which this story of a man's moral degeneration is worked out. Clever, as Mr. Benson's novels always are, it is not quite convincing as a pic ture of life and character. Christo

pher Merivale, who has written a 'high-brow' tragic drama which no manager will accept, invites Nancy Cornish, a young and promising act ress, to spend a week-end with him at Hindhead. She, understanding, in stantly agrees, and he — for the first time— kisses her. She is, we are to suppose, pure at heart, with noble ideals; she loves Chris tenderly and unselfishly. He is hard, self-centred, cynical, and ambitious, and accepts her sacrifice as a matter of course. But under Nancy's lax code her surrender, body and soul, is to her no sacrifice at all; she regards it as the natural and proper culmination of their affec tion for each other. And, to him, 'Victorian conventions and Christian dogmas' were simply obsolete. Strange

it is that she did not see him for the unspeakable cad he is. She remains an idealist and a sincere artist, who becomes the English Duse. Jealous of his success, and mad for money, Chris writes the kind of stuff that will sell— satirical tales and light come dies appealing to ignoble tastes. In two years he is wealthy, and a com plete moral wreck. He is unfaithful to Nancy during her absence in Ame rica on tour. His affair with Irene Nichols, another young actress, who is of the completely worldly type, is just the indulgence of a coarse sensualist, lacking, as it does, even a spice of rom ance. When with brutal words he ends it, Irene tells him the truth— that he is essentially the meanest man she ever knew, to whom money has be come a corrupting drug like cocaine. He leaves her to gloat over his box office returns. 'Cowboy Courage.' By Frank C Robertson. London: Wild West Club. W. Collins, Sons & Co.— Nina Carr ar rives for a summer holiday at her uncle's ranch, the UT, just as a plot for cattle-rustling on this and the neighboring outfit is about to be put into execution by a gang of killers. Joe Painter, the UT foreman, is brave, and honest as the day, but one of the outlaws, by false swearing, had long ago got him a sentence in the peni tentiary. The bad men compromise him for a time with Nina, who never theless loves him, and cannot forget how. when he went to meet her, he rescued her from two of the despera does. A drama of robbery and murder swiftly develops; the outlaws are in the end outwitted; and the love story of Nina and Joe has a happy conclu sion. Mr. Robertson does this kind of thing very well. Like his other Wild West yarns, this novel is crammed with exciting incidents, and moves breath lessly to the satisfactory finale. 'The Devil Rides High.' By Clar ence Winchester. London: Cassell and Co.— This fine and convincing story of a flight to the North Pole is full of thrilling adventures. The principal characters have striking personalities, especially in the case of Mark Shad- well, the commander of the airship; Father Simon, and Shiela Forrest, a young dancing girl, who stows away. The plot of the story has to do with human jealousy and Is cleverly con ceived. 'Celestalia.' By A. L. Pullar. Aus tralia: Canberra Press. — This is a highly imaginative romance of world development. The author professes to be the historian of the future, and pictures international events of fifty years hence. The story hinges upon a young girl whose parentage is mixed Italian and Chinese. The book is cleverly written and should be popu lar. 'Mary of Marion Isle.' By H. Rider Haggard. Hutchinson & Co., London. —The great writer of adventure stories left this romance at his death. It is in his 'other' manner, not the thrilr ling one which he kept for Africa, but the detailed and matter-of-fact, better suited to a gentleman farmer turned novelist. Halfway through, Andrew is just a brilliant scientist, with an unsympathetic wife who somehow gets him made Governor-General of Oceania.' ('No one at home,' says the author, 'really cares who governs a great Dependency which, as is well known, in fact governs itself.') A few pages later, the G.G. is a cast away on an island. He finds a white girl there. It would be unfair to re veal the rest. 'Moods and Tenses.' By William Fryer Harvey. Basil Blackwell. Oxford. — An ingenious writer is Mr. Harvey. He is aware that some people — heaven alone knows why, but it is a fact — do not care for short stories. So, having 17 of them on hand, of widely differing types, he begins with another, of an author with a double person ality, who has produced them all. Clever, sometimes a little uncanny; utterly different from the love stories of the magazines. Mr. Harvey must rank somewhere between Algernon Blackwood and Barry Pain, and he seems to know New Zealand really welL 'The Turquoise Cup.' By Arthur Cosslett Smith. Angus & Robertson, Sydney. — A pleasant comedy, to book form, but clearly destined for the stage. The English lovers to Venice; her reckless naming the ttieft of a priceless cup as the only means by which he can win her hand; and a delightful old cardinal straight out of Henry Harland— does anyone remem )er Harland nowadays? — to ensure a lappy ending. Short, and easy read ing.