University of Virginia Library




We do not expect the world to receive our smiles with
the instant sympathy and trust which we expect for our
tears. A smile may pardonably be thought a caprice of
one's own. We write, therefore, with correspondent
carelessness or digressiveness, upon incidents that, in
passing, have merely amused us—quite prepared to find
that they are not so amusing (at second-hand) to others.

It would be startling to the reader, sometimes, to know
how much truth there is in “fiction.” Things that could
never else be told, are hidden in story. And every circumstance
of the narrative may be pure invention,
while the secret is still told—the soul's thirst for revealing
it, fully satisfied. After reading a novel once, for
the story, it is often a charming leisure task to go over
it thoughtfully, again, picking out the hidden thread of
feeling or experience, upon which its pearls are strung.

To value or merit in the sketches which follow, the
author makes no definite pretension. They record, under


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more or less of disguise, turns of event or of character,
which have amused him. In re-compiling his past
writings into volumes, these lighter ones have been laid
aside, and they are now trusted to take their chance by
themselves, appealing to whatever indulgence may be in
store, in the reader's mind, for a working-pen at play.