This is Harris’ second collection of stories, and a fine one, too. He was never to better the quality of writing that he achieved here and in Elder Conklin, its predecessor.
The story “Montes the Matador” was first published by Harris in the Fortnightly Review in July 1891. It is a tale of skill in the bullring, love, deceit, jealousy and death.
“First Love – a Confession” is on an altogether different scale, though its central idea, the vulnerability of one in love, is the same. Told in the first person, it depicts a young man’s early amorous adventures with two sisters.
In “Profit and Loss” we have one of Harris’ best stories. This time the theme is not love but hypocrisy and the amorality of the universe.
“The Interpreter: a Mere Episode” is about morality again, but this time the central character is a man of high principle. He has been an interpreter, making his living taking tourists to galleries, trying to show them the wonder of great art, even though they rarely appreciated it.
The final story is “Sonia”, which brings together the two themes of love and principle. A novella rather than a short story, its plot is too long to summarise here, but in essence it is about an Englishman who falls in love with an idealistic young Russian woman.