13 FEBRUARY 1904, Page 21

The Key of Paradise. By Sidney Pickering. (E. Arnold. 6s.)

—" Paradise" seems a long way off, and even impossible of attain- ment, in the early part of Mr. Pickering's story. The "Little Princess," fresh from her convent school, is married to the Prince Decilis. She has a handsome dowry; as to other matters his

interest is already bespoken. Then there comes a stalwart Englishman, Gilbert Charnley, upon the scene. The next thing

is that the "Little Princess" is immured by her husband in his

castle at Cataldo. But any one qui teal y Tense would be wrong. "The world had taught her, in those past days, to hide her real nature under a mask of fantastie wilfulness, but it had power no more to corrupt her heart than a breath has to tarnish a mirror." This is a fine image, and it admirably illustrates the story. We must not reveal more of the plot, but we may say that it is well con- structed, and that the characters are admirably drawn. The militant priest Stefano; the waiting-maid Zona, fierce and faith- ful; the villain of the piece, Don Mario; and above all, the Englishman Charnley, are so good that any novelist might be proud to claim them as his work. But why the sensation on p. 242 of the "little figure" that "threw up its arms, fell, and lay still "? It looks as if it should have been followed by "To be continued."