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Mr. Hall Caine
by [?]

“Then the young fellows went racing over the field, vaulting the stooks, stretching a straw rope for the girls to jump over, heightening and tightening it to trip them up, and slackening it and twirling it to make them skip. And the girls were falling with a laugh, and, leaping up again and flying off like the dust, tearing their frocks and dropping their sun-bonnets as if the barley-grains they had been reaping had got into their blood.

“In the midst of this maddening frolic, while Cæsar and the others were kneeling by the barley-stack, Kate snatched Philip’s hat from his head and shot like a gleam into the depths of the glen.

“Philip dragged up his coat by one of its arms and fled after her.”

Here, then, in Sulby Glen, the girl stakes her last throw–the last throw of every woman–and wins. It is the woman–a truly Celtic touch–who wooes the man, and secures her love and, in the end, her shame.

“When a good woman falls from honour, is it merely that she is the victim of a momentary intoxication, of stress of passion, of the fever of instinct? No. It is mainly that she is the slave of the sweetest, tenderest, most spiritual, and pathetic of all human fallacies–the fallacy that by giving herself to the man she loves she attaches him to herself for ever. This is the real betrayer of nearly all good women that are betrayed. It lies at the root of tens of thousands of the cases that make up the merciless story of man’s sin and woman’s weakness. Alas! it is only the woman who clings the closer. The impulse of the man is to draw apart. He must conquer it, or she is lost. Such is the old cruel difference and inequality of man and woman as Nature made them–the old trick, the old tragedy.”

And meanwhile Pete is not dead; but recovered, and coming home.

Here, on p. 125, ends the second act of the drama: and the telling has been quite masterly. The passage quoted above has hitherto been the author’s solitary comment. Everything has been presented in that fine objective manner which is the triumph of story-telling. As I read, I began to say to myself, “This is good”; and in a little while, “Ah, but this is very good”; and at length, “But this is amazing. If he can only keep this up, he will have written one of the finest novels of his time.” The whole story was laid out so easily; with such humor, such apparent carelessness, such an instinct for the right stroke in the right place, and no more than the right stroke; the big scenes–Pete’s love-making in the dawn and Kate’s victory in Sulby Glen–were so poetically conceived (I use the adverb in its strictest sense) and so beautifully written; above all, the story remained so true to the soil on which it was constructed. A sworn admirer of Mr. Brown’s Betsy Lee and The Doctor has no doubt great advantage over other people in approaching The Manxman. Who, that has read his Fo’c’s’le Yarns worthily, can fail to feel kindly towards the little island and its shy, home-loving folk? And–by what means I do not know–Mr. Hall Caine has managed from time to time to catch Mr. Brown’s very humor and set it to shine on his page. The secret, I suppose, is their common possession as Manxmen: and, like all the best art, theirs is true to its country and its material.

Pete comes home, suspecting no harm; still childish of heart and loud of voice–a trifle too loud, by the way; his shouts begin to irritate the reader, and the reader begins to feel how sorely they must have irritated his wife: for the unhappy Kate is forced, after all, into marrying Pete. And so the tragedy begins.