2 OCTOBER 1920, Page 19



VERENA, a slightly nebulous spinster with a tendency to a halo, fell down on some ice and injured her spine. Mr. E. V. Lucas has imagined—very ingeniously—all the letters which her old flames and her young nephews wrote to her on this occasion, and ostensibly to cheer her up through the several months during whioh she had to lie flat on her back. Verena had money—a little nebulous like herself—and the most amusing part of the correspondence is that in which Mr. Richard Haven (already familiar to Mr. Lucas's readers) advises her as to how she shall spend it. For unlike Mr. Dooley, Miss Verona Ruby is deter- mined not to make a will. She will " endow a college or a cat " in her lifetime, desiring to witness the working of her benefaction. But what shall be the nature of her bounty 1 National Art Collections Fund ? Propaganda films preaching " England RS the country that ought to set a good example, that always has led, and should lead again " ? Or shall it be, as the Rector suggests, a new peal of bells for the parish church ? Or an endowment for an annual treat in perpetuity for the little girls who carry half-finished suits about Saville Row ? Or shall it be an income during good behaviour for a certain promising young doctor who is ruining his career and breaking his wife's heart by drink 1 Or an orphanage run on new lines ? Or a school ? The schemes are so many that Mr. Haven prepares to write a handbook

"for the benefit of persons who are philanthropically disposed but don't know what to do. It might have some such title as `Philanthropic Hints to Those About to Make their Wills,' or The Inspired Testator,' or The Prudent Lawyer Confounded,' or ' How to be Happy though Dead.' "

Several love stories enliven this very pleasant correspondence, and though one or two of the letter-writers are forced, poor things, into setting themselves down asses to an improbable degree, most of the characterization is very good. To accuse Mr. Lucas of slightness or tenuity would be to invite the retort that that was the idea. It is after all a book with which from many writers we should be content.