7 JUNE 1913, Page 27

Through the Window. By Mary E. Mann. (Mills and Boon.

6s.)—It is always difficult to say what are the qualities which make for perfection in short stories, but if Mrs. Mann's present collection are not perfect they are at any rate very good indeed. The reader must, however, make up his mind in taking up the book to pass two hours of almost unrelieved gloom. The stories which are collected under the general head " Passing Shows " have only three among them which make the smallest attempt at cheerfulness, and though the country stories, "Glimpses of Dulditch," are most of them rather less poignant, they deal with what may be called very dreary phases of the life of country people. Two unrelieved little tragedies, " Ella's Fortune " and " Blue Beads," are exceptions to the above remark, and are as horrible to read as the ghastly little drama in the first part, " How Marcus Lodare Came Back." This sketch is in dialogue, an 1 Mrs. Mann has contrived to get into it some of the feeling o' doom which is the supreme quality of Greek tragedy. But if the stories are generally melancholy they are most of them not squalid tragedies but psychological studies, though " Three of the Beet " must be excluded from this category. The whole col- lection shows that the author is a master of her material and possesses fine qualities, both of workmanship and of reticence.