In the "Green Bough" Mr. Thurston has struck upon a rich vein, not a new one, in fact it is age-old, but one which is usually adapted to the life and delicacy and beauty which are so large a part of him.
The tale he tells is of a woman who, finding that romance and the fullness of life will never come to knock at her door, ventures out in search of them. Told by a realist, the emphasis would have been laid upon the sordid details, upon the tragedy of starved lives and the futility of effort; told by Mr. Thurston all that is sordid is lost behind the glory of living and the joy that lies therein. Mary Throgmorton, the heroine, is a woman of twenty-seven or eight who has lived all her life a spinster with her spinster sisters, dominated by the memory of the puritanic virtue of her dead mother. Suddenly she comes to the realization that she has failed to live and that she has failed to find the true meaning of life. Virtue and modesty--for these two principles she had passed sternly by all the deeper realities of womanhood and of the world. Then love comes to her, and, in giving all herself, she finds that to her have been given the keys which open up the doors of life. Bravely she walks, through them, bravely faces the world that would condemn her, and bravely with full heart takes up the burden which, though it weigh her down, yet makes her stand the straighter.
No doubt it is a dangerous doctrine, this that Mr. Thurston preaches, but the danger of it seems dwarfed by the beauty and tender understanding with which he interprets it. "All women would be as Mary Througmorton if they dared" he has written. Here the moralists will say: "But what will happen to the family? Our children must by brought up properly. This is an outrageous doctrine." Yet one cannot help feeling that if all women dared as Mary Throgmorton dared, that if all had the courage she had, then the world need not worry as to the future of its children or its morals or its virtuous modesty. Mr. Thurston advocates no universal theor of free love--live, yes, and live fully, but to live one must be big enough, as was Mary Throgmorton, to count the cost and to find joy even in the sorrow and pain that go to make up the fullness of life. Only in risking much can man gain much.