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Notions About Novels
by [?]

“Yes,” cried the Publisher, “a novel of adventure in Cromwell’s time. That period is up, just now, and has not been worked out.”

“A novel of purpose,” said the Critic; “that is the highest type of fiction.”

“A novel of character,” said the Cynic. “A change in fashion is due. Take the President of a Trust for your hero, and make him repent under the pressure of the Social Boycott. The public loves surprises.”

“Why not write the Great American Novel?” said the Doctor of Divinity. “I have heard several demands for it.”

“A good love story,” said the Man of Business, “or perhaps a detective story, would be the best thing to sell.”

“The one point on which your friends seem agreed,” said the True Story Teller, with a smile, “is that the public gives you an order for a novel.”

“Well, you know, I have written one already,” answered the young Man of Letters, very quietly.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” chorused the others. “Why haven’t you published it?”

He hesitated a moment before answering: “It did not seem to me good enough.”

“My young friend,” said the Publisher, with his most impressive and benevolent air, “we have your welfare at heart. You may write essays and stories and poems as a recreation, or for some future age. But this is the day of the novel, and you are wasting your chance unless you publish one as soon as possible. Touch your novel up, or give it to me as it is. You will certainly make a big thing out of it.”

“Perhaps,” said the young Man of Letters, thoughtfully; “but what if I would rather write the things that please me most, and try to do good work?”

My Uncle Peter looked at him half-quizzically, yet with a smile of benevolent approval, and conferred upon him the honour and reward of escorting the True Story Teller home in his canoe that evening, across the swirling river, where the molten gold of sunset ran slowly to the sea.