7 DECEMBER 1901, Page 23

The Arbiter. By Mrs. Hugh Bell. (Edward Arnold. 63.)—In The

Arbiter Mrs. Hugh Bell combines an original plot with a very clever study of some of those complicated cross-relations and" duties of family life to which she has given so much critical attention. Her story has also the charm of the unexpected. We, think in the beginning that nothing more stimulating is going, to be given us than the quiet delineation of Rachel's failure to; adjust the claims of husband and father, and /feudal Went-2 worth's most admirable magnanimity in accepting the sewn& place in his own house. But in the actual development of the situation deeper notes are struck. And we recognise, as ai satisfactory symptom of the new trend of fiction, that is! this novel- as in several others that have lately passed through our hands for review—the author has taken courage to show a. highly respectable personage, moving in the best society and professing the most exemplary principles, failing in the. matter of "common honesty." This is an excellent kind : of realistic reaction against the silly pretence, of fin-de-siècle vogue, that the only Commandment ever transgressed in good.' society is the Seventh. Sir William Gore's misdeed is very dis- creditable, but not at all impossible, and his daughter's final,' atonement is entirely satisfactory. There is a very quiet, but

very pleasant, readableness about the whole of this novel. •