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Frank Swinnerton's Delightful "Shops and Houses" THE ; SUN, SUNDAY, MAECII 23, 1919. By HARRY ESTY DOUNCE. I HIS account of Mr. Frank Swinner- ton's Shops and Houses will em body no vision anent Mr. Swinnerton's earlier 'work, the ripening of his method and such like. With shame and regret your reporter confesses that "although there are four earlier Swinncrtons, and one at least is fairly celebrated, the new one is the only one he has read. Before turning its tenth page, however, he was joyfully determined to get all the others as .soon as might be and never to miss a Swinncrton again. For by the time the author's quiet cer tainty of his material, his resources and hinielf had made that plcasantcst of first impressions whereunder you trust your author not to tell you more than ho knows and not to undertake more than he can manage. And it was seeming as if this particular author knew and could manage virtually anything. Bores are forever advising new writers to prepare by Seeing Life as if it could be done deliberately, like seeing the Aquar ium. In common with every other fictional expositor of human character worth no tice, Mr. Swimmcrton evidently was see ing life at 3 and not only seeing ii, but seeing into it. Indications are not wanting that he is judiciously read in what Bernard Shaw might style the human-natural historians. But his data of natural history arc his own; he got them at first hand and by virtue of a most pen etrating insight. No amount of mere as similation of other men's ideas could ever have prepared him, for instance, to write the remarkable interplay between young Louis Vechantor and the younger Daun ton boy, where the latter confides in the former his love affair vs. apron strings predicament, and Mr. and Mrs. Vechan tor's son, secretly in a like position more or les3, brightens and expands as he" urges Mrs. Daunton's son to cut free. Stops and Houses is a victorious hy brid, meaning thatx without loss of power and grip it goes half its length as ono kind of thing and there becomes another kind, radically different. It begins as a eool and clever exploration, non-sympathetic but by no means clinical, of the in side of a suburb of Loridon, an old, in grown village for the right American counterpart of the special parochialism of which we should probably look among the suburbs of Boston. This village Mr. Swin ncrton demonstrates for you from the Vechantors the Magnificent Vcehantors, Mr. Tarkington, who will like the book, might call them through the Church of England minister and the news and scan dalmongers and the designing mammas with their impalpable joint domination, down to the green grocer and the servants. With a simple stroke that opens no end of attractive possibilities he turns tho grocer out of business' to make place for a second household of Vechantors, rela tives of a long lost low caste branch, who by pure chance and to the mutual dismay of the two families, open shop in Beck with. Tho Magnificent Vechantors have a son at whom all local caps are set. The grocer Vechantors have a daughter. Tho son, Louis, his senstive Individualism res tive as he supposes under the bondage of "Steep Trails" By GEORGE GORDON. MU., JOHN BURliOUOHS once urged Mr. Hamlin Garland to undertake the Life of John Muir. At the time it was impossible; and now . . . John Muir wrote with difficulty, grunt ing and groaning in the travail of labor. Hi3 notes scrawled in the open, upon somo elbow of rock oerlooking tho Yosemite, beside some desert pool, collected with the years and in ago lay thick around him like leaves about some autumn oak; yet he dreaded and everlastingly procrasti nated in the work of revision. When forced to write he tore the meat of thought from out the carcass of past experience with a desperation that, seemingly of ut ter need, was born of the impatience of ono who, used to trying his strength be fore tho blizzard, is set against his will to the performance of some ridiculously clerkly task. And yet John Muir wrote most wonder fully well. Not loudly, as was tho habit with CoL Roosevelt when he told of the West, but clearly as one whose authority needs no emphasis; not fluently as a lec turer addressing the ignorant, but with a gentle charm that bore in every sentence the impress of the man a man who had looked with open eyes upon the miracles of God; not minutely, numbering the days and hours spent in communion with na ture, but carefully, as one who fears through inadvertence to bear false witness against a friend. For it was as a friend that he spoko of every living thing upon the mountains the huge trees of California, the snow flowers, the prospectors, trappers, In dians, the mountain sheep, tho mountain lions. It was as a friend that he en countered life upon the Steep TraUt that wind about Mount Shasta, that skirt the shores of Puget Sound, that fare through the forests of Nevada along the rivers of Oregon, to halt above the Grand Canon of the Colorado. But perhaps the most valuablo con tribution is his vivid testimony concern ing the work of God. He neither scoffed, nor, when ho heard the voice that breathed o'er Eden whispering along the grass, was he afraid with any amazement. He walked humbly, straightly, before God. To travel with him is to come upon n world that everywhere, untouched by time, unhin dered by man, displays the clay fresh from creation's hand. He recognized the Creator in the strength and beauty of na ture, in trailing vine, in rushing torrent, in furrowed valley. And his heart was glad. For him, as for King David, the hills stood up and clapped, the fields re joiced to praise the Lord. TEEP TBATL8. Bt Joror Munv. Hough toa Mifflin Company. $3. "The Untamed" READING The Untamed means get ting to know Whistling Dan Barry, who had a yellowish glare and a peculiar soft whistle that resembled the sound made by the wind playfully blowing the leaves of trees. His companions were Satin, the wild horse of the range, and Black Bart, a wolf-dog who protected and revered his master. The Untamed, it will be seen, is a character study; not only of a man, but of a horse and dog as well. The Untamed is a Western story with somo distinction about it. Whistling Dan's love affairs and his somewhat primi tive and wild habits arc told about with skill. Dan's fights are many, and on his part clean ; he was quick on the draw and had an unusual instinct of danger. Dan had been brought up as a peaceful citizen of the West, taught not to harm 1 any one and to avoid quarrelling. But he came in contact with an outlaw named Jim Silent. There was a fight, and when blood, his own blood, trickling down his forehead, thick, red and salty, had wetted hia lips, then Dan knew he must "get" Jim Silent. You can bet ho did. There is a love story, sure. THE UNTAMED. Br Mai Bkai.-d. G. P. Putnam's Sons. $1.50. "A Little Gray Home in France" HELEN DAVENPORT GIBBONS has- not been outside of France since the declaration of war. She has dur ing these years devoted herself to relief work of various kinds, organizing among other things "Sauvons les Bebes," which provided layettes for nearly 5,000 new bor Parisians. In A Little Gray Home in France she has endeavored to put the American doughboy on paper, to tell what he thinks of France, what he thinks of the war and most of all, it would seem, what he thinks of Helen Davenport Gib bons, her Little Gray Home and her four children. There is no doubt that the soldiers with whom Mrs. Gibbons has come in contact have been treated with most generous hos pitality and consideration (we have her own word for it), and it may be that what she has to say will touch other hearts mon? nearly than it has ours. We have striven in vain to put down the feeling that tills record of her merciful work might have been made more gracefully by other hands than her own. One tiling is remarkable for it absence. There is no record of a single soldiers having uttered the immortal words "Oh, Boy!" Other wise the doughboy's conversation is normal. Beckwith's codified prudery and snobbery and under the designs of the enterprising sisters Hughes, but actually this unob trusive suggestion is very fine under the home subservience that galls him, goes out of his way to be decent to his grocer cousins. The girl cousin resents it as patronage, bnt her resentment, itself only snobbery, is readily allayed. So far, splendid. What a priceless sitr nation I At just this point, however, comes the aforementioned change of the book. With all his knowledge and skill Mr. Swinnerton must, in a way, be young. He falls head over heels in love with the girl, shifts interest to her from tho care fully developed character of Louis and throws his situation out the window. Henceforth Shops and Houses is to rely for the reader's approval on the principle that all the world loves a lover's idealiza tion of his beloved. Dorothy, the girl, has become such an idealization albeit the one Mr. Swinncrton sets forth is hers of Louis. Her emotions cease to convince you as being the genuine article studied from nature. They impress you as being tho emotions with which the imagination of a nice, shy young man in lore with her would fondly endow her-as directed npon Itimself. And Mr. Swinnerton is that nice young man. Such a cataclysm ought to smash up any novel; therefore let me hastily affirm that it does not and that its failure to do so and the success of tho remaining chap ters in carrying the reader on with en thusiasm unabated arc an astonishing proof of Mr. Swinnerton's native power. For he is a good lover, as potent therein as he was fascinating in analysis. Ho docs no sentimental counterfeiting and if he chooses to throw away all his intriguing preparations and fling himself at Dorothy's feet, he is able to compel you to do likewise. It plays .ducks and drakes a dozen times with the probabilities but do not expeet to stop reading and file objections! The day after finishing Shops and Houses you are likely to chuckle at every one concerned, yourself included. You are equally likely to wait with impatience for the author's next. So long as she remains a real girl the worst point to be made against Dorothy, and one which places her well below Veronica Hughes, although the latter is a deliberate study of a certain disagreeable constitution, is the fact that Dorothy h&3 too manj- advantages. It is all right for the grocer's daughter to triumph over Veronica and score ff Beckwith in gen era, but this grocers daughters victory is too cheap. She could hardly mi-s it. Not only is she the strongest and Jinc3t of the young women and the ablest; she is also the most cultivated might be an Ambassadors daughter. How she came by her cultivation is perfectly accounted for. But why not have left her without it? Then there tcoiild have been some fun in her position. a Ixniis's honest heart's desire among the caste-blinded snobs and the frustrational prudes of Beckwith that is, there would, if Mr. Swinnerton had kept his head and made the most of his original idea. The Hughes girls merit almost unmeas ured praise. The eldest of them, Adela, is of the kind of a woman whose ado lescence was early and eager and whose virgin maturity is hysterical and pseudo sanctified. She is near the Beckwith dead line of hopeless old maidenhood and ihe is feebly competing with the savage Veronica for Louis. The episode in which she wrcckB her pathetic chance by flaring out at him over a most delicate discussion of "a certain class" of plays, which he defends, and then flying to her room to cry, is novel so far as your re porter's reading goes. It could not be better imagined from observation or bet ter managed. As for Veronica, it may be that Mr. Swinnerton is a trifle ovcrinclined to at tribute her Vcronicism to Beckwith, the truth being that she was bom with it and would have been the same in London or Paris. But that is a rather metaphysical and captious issue to raise. However, die is accounted for, the whole of Veron ica is uown in Diacx ana wnitc and is superb a cruel-passional, predatory young primitive, who can't use her lures on the man she wants without scoffing and bickering at him, can't outjockey poor Adela in his presence without repeatedly betraying viciousness, and finally must imply explode her whole game by be rating Louis in the matter of Dorothy without the least ground or any claim npon him, and then later break down into slander and open fury at the girl to whom her own behavior .has done a great deal to consign him. SHOPS AND HOUSES. Bv Funk Swik nebton. George H. Doran Company. $L50. SMBPHBsHBSBBBm JVot only WHO hutC Howr 1 1 MYSTERY the 13FLOOR By LEE THAYER A double twitted myitery story, set in New York Gty, -with a fascinating lore theme that k really a part of the story. The prob lem is, not only who killed Lawyer Stone as he sat in his office within a few feet of clerks and stenographer, but how could he hare been killed at all under the circumstances. The mystery challenges the most ingenious and resourceful reader to scire in advance of the conclusion. 3rd ) Edition "A capital tUrj."PSadtlphia Udtr "Om of t&a best njtlexy oovelj of the year." Batten ft i cord "It thi21 sad thrill agnln." Phladtlphia JVj Pituhiagh CfironUU'TtUgrajth Price $1.S0. Bay it today. And nd a copy to somtbody. At till THE CENTURY CO. 3Fnrt Atmm IbvTarfcCtr A LITTLE GKAY HOME IN FRANCE. Bt Hzixk Davenport Gibbons. The Cen tury Company. $1.59.