23 FEBRUARY 1884, Page 24

The Executor. By Mrs. Alexander. 3 vols. (Bentley and Son.)

—We can recommend this novel only to the young, who have pre- sumably a long life before them ; or to the unfortunate few whose time is of no value, either to themselves or to anybody else. For The Executor is intolerably long and, chiefly by reason of its length, un- speakably dell. Not one of its pages is enlivened by a gleam of humour or a flash of . wit, and all the story there is to tell might be told in a single chapter. On the other hand, the characters are well drawn, the morality is irreproachable, and it is conceivable that the abundance of trivial incident and common-place talk may attract some people as much as it repels others. When you are catering for lady readers, it is a grave mistake to make your novel too lively ; and this fault, we are bound to say, Mrs. Alexander carefully avoids. Hence the well-deserved popularity which she enjoys. The Executor is a certain Hormuz Kharapet, a Syrian Christian. This gentleman is the principal character in the story, and, with the exception of his tool, Bhoodoo, a Bengalee servant, the only villain. The heroine is Stasie Venner ; the hero, Dr. Brooke. Stasie, born of an English mother by an English father, is the step-daughter to Christian Kharapet, her mother's second husband, and brother to Hormuz. Christian, a native of Mardin, in Syria, after his wife's death makes a will in Stasie's favour, and then dies himself. The executors under his will are Hormuz, and Mr. Harding, a London merchant. In the event of Steele dying under age, the property goes to Hormuz. Stasie is sent to London for her education, and when she is about eighteen, Hormuz, who is good-looking and not too old, comes to see her and to look after things. He had resolved to marry her for her money, and when he sees her he falls in love with herself. She refuses him, whereupon the Syrian

executor lays a plot to poison his English ward, to which end he introdnoes into her house, as cook and general factotum, Bhoodoo, the Bengalee. Dr. Brooke, who has lived in India, finds out that Stasie is being slowly poisoned with Datura stramonium, a drag said to be used by the Thugs, and so subtle as to defy analysis. As the only means of rescuing her, he persuades the girl—without assigning any other motive than that she is threatened with some danger which he does not define—to marry him. This seems rather far-fetched, for there is no apparent reason why he should not have told her plainly that she was being poisoned ; and a couple of words to Kharapet and Bhoodoo would have been quite enough to frighten both of them out of the country. But love may have temporarily obscured Dr. Brooke's understanding, clever as he was ; and if heroes always acted sensibly and consistently, novelists would have to make bricks with- out straw.