Just ten years ago I took my first hesitating and dubious steps toward authorship. My reception on the part of the public has been so much kinder than I expected, and the audience that has listened to my stories with each successive autumn has been so steadfast and loyal, that I can scarcely be blamed for entertaining a warm and growing regard for these unseen, unknown friends. Toward indifferent strangers we maintain a natural reticence, but as acquaintance ripens into friendship there is a mutual impulse toward an exchange of confidences. In the many kind letters received I have gratefully recognized this impulse in my readers, and am tempted by their interest to be a little garrulous concerning my literary life, the causes which led to it, and the methods of my work. Those who are indifferent can easily skip these preliminary pages, and those who are learning to care a little for the personality of him who has come to them so often with the kindling of the autumn fires may find some satisfaction in learning why he comes, and the motive, the spirit with which, in a sense, he ventures to be present at their hearths.
One of the advantages of authorship is criticism; and I have never had reason to complain of its absence. My only regret is that I have not been able to make better use of it. I admit that both the praise and blame have been rather bewildering, but this confusion is undoubtedly due to a lack of the critical faculty. With one acute gentleman, however, who remarked that it "was difficult to account for the popularity of Mr. Roe's books," I am in hearty accord. I fully share in his surprise and perplexity. It may be that we at last have an instance of an effect without a cause.--from the Preface
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