In sending this, my fourth venture, out upon the uncertain waters of public opinion, I shall say but few words of preface. In the past I have received considerable well-deserved criticism from the gentlemen of the caustic pen, but so far from having any hard feeling toward them, I have rather wondered that they found so much to say that was favorable. How they will judge this simple October story (if they think it worth while to judge it at all) I leave to the future, and turn to those for whom the book was really written.
In fancy I see them around the glowing hearth in quiet homes, such as I have tried to describe in the following pages, and hope that this new-comer will be welcomed for the sake of those that preceded it. Possibly it may make friends of its own.
From widely separated parts of the country, and from almost every class, I have received many and cordial assurances that my former books were sources not only of pleasure, but also of help and benefit, and I am deeply grateful for the privilege of unobtrusively entering so many households, and saying words on that subject which is inseparable from happiness in both worlds.
I think the purpose of the book will become apparent to the reader. The incidents and characters are mainly imaginary.
Observation has shown me that there are many in the world, like my hero, whose condition can be illustrated by the following lines:
Were some great ship all out of stores,
When half-way o'er the sea,
Fit emblem of too many lives,
Such vessel doomed would be.
Must there not be something fatally wrong in that scheme of life which finds an heir of eternity weary, listless, discouraged, while yet in the dawning of existence? It is not in perishing things, merely, to give back the lost zest. But a glad zest and hopefulness might be inspired even in the most jaded and ennui-cursed, were there in our homes such simple, truthful natures as that of my heroine; and in the sphere of quiet homes--not elsewhere--I believe that woman can best rule and save the world.
Please tolerate the slow start and get past the first two chapters. This is the most enthralling and exquisitely written book I have ever read. Reading it in small snippets while my wife is undergoing radio-therapy it has become a huge exercise in self-control to leave it in the car and I cannot wait for the next 20-minute session. Now in chapter XXXI so nearing the end. I found this site because I am looking to find all the other books by this author and me not much of a reader!--Submitted by Milton
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