The Shadow o/ the Ragged Stone. By CHARLES F. GRINDROD. 6s. London : Elkin Mathews.
WE have here a romance which may be called historical in so far as King Henry II. and St. Thomas of Canterbury figure in it. The hero is a Benedictine monk, a monk who has been made a monk against his will, and the object of his life is to avenge the death of his mother, who was slain by his father on account of a crime of which she had been falsely accused by a wicked knight. The monk achieves his life's object by borrowing some armour, going to a tournament, challenging the wicked knight, and killing him. The Prior of the monk's monastery is not over-pleased when he hears of this performance ; but he takes it much more philosophically than might have been expected under the circumstances. Our excellent monk has other adventures. In the wood near his convent, he sees a beautiful lady flying from a lascivious knight. He smiles the knight, walks off arm-in-arm with the beautiful lady, and conducts her in safety to her house. This is the first of many meetings between the monk and the girl, whom he finally persuades to leave her room high up in the wall of her father's castle by a ladder of ropes. Another monk marries them, and the bride and bridegroom proceed to spend their honeymoon in a small woodland cottage. They have not been there many days when the bride's father discovers their retreat and requests a call from the bridegroom. On the arrival of the married monk, his father-in-law offers him his choice from a pair of swords. The son-in-law refuses to cut or to thrust, but consents to parry. Unfortunately, the father-inaw spits himself upon the sword of the son-in-law and gives up the ghost. As there are no witnesses, nearly everybody, including the bride,
supposes the son-in-law to have wilfully killed the father-in-law. The bride goes into a convent and refuses to have anything further to do with the bridegroom. King Henry II. and St. Thomas of Canterbury have a furious quarrel over the question whether the monk-bridegroom-parricide shall be punished by the ecclesiastical or by the secular arm. We do not think that we need follow the story further. It might be supposed that, with so much incident, this would be a very exciting book ; but, cwing to tedious detail, wearying conversations, and ponderous descriptions, the contrary is the case. As we are expected to express an opinion upon it, we can only truthfully say that we found it a particularly unpleasant story. At the same time we gladly admit that its author seems to have a vivid imagination ; and we are quite willing to believe that his failure to give a very typical picture of monks and monasteries is the result of ignorance and not of