William Dean Howells is the kindliest of critics, but now and then some popular novelist's conceit will cause him to bristle up a little.

"You know," said one, fishing for compliments, "I get richer and richer, but all the same I think my work is falling off. My new work is not so good as my old."

"Oh, nonsense!" said Mr. Howells. "You write just as well as you ever did. Your taste is improving, that's all."

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