Animal stories fill page upon page of 1920 magazines. Edison Marshall, represented in the 1919 volume, by “The Elephant Remembers,” has delivered the epic of “Brother Bill the Elk.” In spite of its length, some fifteen thousand words, the Committee were mightily tempted to request it for republication. Its Western author knows the animals in their native lairs. “Break-Neck Hill,” for which a member of the Committee suggests the more poignant “Heart-Break Hill” as title, expresses sympathy for the horse in a way the Committee believe hitherto unexploited. “Aliens” received more votes as the best dog story of the year.
Among a number of sea-tales are those by Richard Matthews Hallet, wherein Big Captain Hat appears. The woman sea-captain is by way of being, for the moment, a novel figure.
Anecdotal stories and very brief tales appear to have received editorial sanction in 1920. “No Flowers” is of the former genre, and whereas certain of the Committee see in the same author’s “The Aristocrat” a larger story, they agree with the majority that the scintillance of this well-polished gem should give it setting here.
Variety of setting and diversity of emotion the reader will find in greater measure, perhaps, than in the first volume of this series. “Butterflies,” for example, spells unrelieved horror; “The Face in the Window” demands sympathetic admiration for its heroine; to read “Contact!” means to suffer the familiar Aristotelian purging of the emotions through tears. And their locales are as widely dissimilar as are their emotional appeals. With these, all of which are reprinted herein, the reader will do well to compare Dorothy Scarborough’s “Drought,” for the pathos of a situation brought about by the elements of nature in Texas.
The Committee could not agree upon the first and second prize stories. The leaders were: “Each in His Generation,” “Contact!” “The Thing They Loved,” “The Last Room of All,” “Slow Poison,” “God’s Mercy” and “Alma Mater.” No story headed more than one list. The point system, to which resort was made, resulted in the first prize falling to “Each in His Generation,” by Maxwell Struthers Burt, and the second to “Contact!”, by Frances Newbold Noyes (now Frances Noyes Hart).
Mr. Burt’s story of Henry McCain and his nephew Adrian compresses within legitimate story limits the antagonism between successive generations. Each representative, bound by traditions and customs of the particular age to which he belongs, is bound also by the chain of inheritance. One interested in the outcome of the struggle between the inexorable thrall of “period” and the inevitable bond of race will find the solution of the problem satisfactory, as will the reader who enjoys the individual situation and wishes most to find out whether Uncle Henry left his money to Adrian or rejected that choice for marriage with the marvellous lady of his own era.