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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

Without having seen our landscapes


With

a hasty excited movement, the professor had turned away from her, and Jane too soon found herself gazing upon the landscape now all aglow with the last beams of the setting sun. The roseate halo transfigured earth and sky; the blue mountains in their clear, transparent outlines caught a new lustre from the rosy light which enwrapt all the towns and villages lying at the mountain's base; which flashed and flamed in the green and golden waters of the Rhine as they flowed on calm and majestic, far out into the illuminated plain, where against the western horizon, distant and scarce discernible, like a giant mist-picture, the mighty dome towered upward, the pride and crown of the old Rhenish stream.

The reflection of this same fiery glow lay upon the gray, weather-beaten stones of the old castle, upon the dark ivy which had woven around it its thick green meshes, while the wild, luxuriant vines hanging over the abyss, fluttered to and fro in the evening wind; and it lay also upon the faces of the two up yonder.

Jane was for some minutes so lost in gazing at the wonderful illumination, that she had not remarked the professor standing close by her side, and now, she was almost frightened at the sound of his voice.

"Can our Rhine also win a moment's admiration from you?" he asked in a tone of peculiar satisfaction.

"From me?" The thought suddenly

occurred to Jane that he might have divined something of the weakness of which she had been guilty in this respect. She had certainly always retained a mastery over her features, it could be only supposition; but the supposition vexed her.

"_From me?_" she repeated, in an icy tone. "You may be partly right, Professor Fernow, I find some very charming features in this landscape, although upon the whole, it seems to me rather narrow and poor."

"Narrow! poor!" repeated the professor as if he had not rightly understood, while his glance, incredulous and questioning, rested upon her face.

"Yes, I certainly call it so!" declared Jane with a tone of haughty superiority and a touch of vexation. "To one who, like me, has lived upon the shores of the great Mississippi, who has seen the magnificence of Niagara, who knows the majesty of vast prairies and primeval forests, this German landscape can appear but narrow and poor."

The professor's face flushed--a sign that he was beginning to be angry.

"If you measure a landscape by space, you are right, Miss Forest. We are apt to employ other standards, which might perhaps seem petty to you; but I assure you that your landscapes would appear to us supremely empty and desolate; that we should think them tame or dead."

"Ah! Do you know them so intimately?"

"I do."

"I really wonder, Professor Fernow," said Jane with cutting irony, "that, without having seen our landscapes, you are able to give so positive a verdict in regard to them. You appear to think our Mississippi region a desert, but you should at least know from your books, that the life which rules there is infinitely richer and grander than by your Rhine."


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