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The Greater Inclination Relié – 1 janvier 1906
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"The Greater Inclination" consists of 8 works, 7 works of short fiction, and one two-act play. It is a somewhat diverse collection with several stories which touch on aspects of human relationships and interactions, a very dark story which delves into the psyche, and a light and humorous story included as well. In all, it is a very strong first effort and well worth reading. The stories included are:
"The Muse's Tragedy" - In this story, the young man Danyers falls for Mrs. Anerton even before he meets her, because he believes that she is the Silvia of which the famous poet Vincent Rendle wrote. He learns what he can of her, and travels to Europe, though far from certain that he will encounter her there. He is fortunate though, and they do meet. For a month they are together at Villa d' Este, and they agree to meet again in Venice after six weeks apart. The story finishes with a letter from Mrs. Anerton written after their meeting in Venice, where she explains to Danvers her feelings and the reasons for not returning to Venice after promising to do so.
"A Journey" - This is a dark, almost Poe-like story of a woman returning from Colorado to New York City with her dying husband. Through her thoughts, we learn how they grew apart when her husband became sick, and how they travelled to Colorado for his health, but now that the doctors have given up and have allowed him to return to New York to die. It is on the morning of the last day of their travels where she discovers that he has passed away, and her fear of being put off the train with his lifeless body causes her to pretend to others that he is merely very sick. As the day slowly passes, she becomes more and more nervous about being found out.
"The Pelican" - The narrator tells the humorous story of Mrs. Amyot, a woman who decides she must give lectures in order to pay for the expense of raising her son and putting him through school after his father has died when he was just six months of age. Unfortunately, Mrs. Amyot's lectures are about what she wants to say, more than they are about the facts of the subject. As the years pass, the narrator encounters Mrs. Amyot again and again, she always tells him how nervous he makes her, and how she is doing these lectures for her son. She even has the narrator help her in preparing lectures when her popularity has waned, and he helps her find new audiences out west. Many years later, he finds she is still lecturing, still supposedly for the benefit of her son. He attends her lecture one more time, this time with an unusual guest.
"Souls Belated" - Lydia is travelling with the man she loves, Gannett, after having left her husband, Tillotson, and receiving notice that he was divorcing her. They are at first unable to discuss the situation, each seeking refuge elsewhere, he in reading, she in observing others and hoping to not be alone while travelling. Eventually they are able to speak, and they try to setup their new life together. However, they are held back by their circumstances. Though able to live a lie initially, due to others being focused on another couple (the Lintons, who are actually Lord Trevenna and Mrs. Cope) who are in similar circumstances, eventually through a confrontation with Mrs. Cope Lydia learns that her secret can easily be found out. Again she and Gannett search for a solution for how they can be together without being forced to live a lie, or is it better to end their relationship?
"A Coward" - Vibart meets Irene Carstyle's mother whose manner tells him a lot about herself. She seems to resent her husband's decisions which have led to her position, but he learns that the main decision Mr. Carstyle made was very honourable and even heroic. He makes himself a frequent guest of the Carstyle's, more to see Mr. Carstyle than Irene. When an unusual event occurs where Mr. Carstyle attempts to stop what he thinks are runaway horses and is then disappointed when they are not, Vibart learns the story of what happened in Mr. Carstyle's past to make him want to be heroic.
"The Twilight of the God" - This is a short play which opens with Isabel reading and Lucius Warland returning from sailing. Lucius has just learned that he needs to go to Washington and is surprised to find Marion Raynor has gone before he can say goodbye. Marion has left the list of people who are coming to dinner, and Lucius is very excited to learn that John Oberville is on it. Oberville is a man of great power and connections who could get Lucius the position that he wants. He also is a man who was in love with, and who was loved by Isabel, Lucius's wife, and Lucius also learns the reason why they didn't marry even though they both loved each other.
"A Cup of Cold Water" - Woburn intends to marry Miss Talcott and her wealth. He borrows money and then steals it when he loses in the market. He is about $50,000 in debt due to what is essentially theft, and he is about to be found out from an audit; so he decides to leave town. He decides to meet Miss Talcott one last time, but is surprised when he arrives at the ball that those who are there appear so unimportant. He observes her from afar, before giving up the falseness of that life. Later, as he stays in a cheap hotel to avoid spending a night on the ship he is taking to escape, he hears the crying of a woman (Ruby Glenn) and the click of a revolver, which causes him to try to help her when she appears on the verge of committing suicide. In his desire to help her, he forgets his own difficulties for a brief period, and ultimately her story helps him to decide what to do in dealing with his own personal crisis.
"The Portrait" - A group is discussing the pictures of Lillo, and his failure with his portrait of Vard, when Lillo himself is introduced. Later, he leaves with the narrator and discusses the circumstances of his failure, and why it was done on purpose.
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