These two nouvelles mark Howells' plunge into psychological realism. Their themes-a triangle of tragic agonies with psychological insights intriguingly proto-Freudian, and a drama of miscegenation-are anything but the "smiling", lightweight topics to which Howells has been supposed to have been confined. The maturity both of their art and of their moral insight lends them an impact much deeper and more permanent than that of the shriller, more merely commercial shocking fiction of our day. Edwin H. Cady's introduction places the books in the context of the development of Howells' life, work, art, thought, and sensibility. He helps the reader make immediate contact with the artistic methods and intentions of the author.