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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

In this case it was Professor Fernow


"Who is this Fernow?" asked Alison when the Professor was out of hearing.

"I have already told you. Professor in the university here, a shining light of science, a precious example of a German scholar, who with his investigations, and thousand-year-old rubbish and hieroglyphics, devotes himself to the good of humanity, and meantime withers up into a mummy. A very well conducted, blameless specimen besides, who made himself supremely comic in the role of knight and protector which he assumed towards Miss Jane on the day of our arrival."

Alison, who had been gazing after the professor, now turned suddenly around.

"Towards Miss Forest?" he asked hastily. "But personally not her sole protector? It is to be hoped that you were present."

"Not at all! Our carriage broke, out on a suburban road; it rained in torrents, I had to remain behind with injured postilion, and was glad to consign Jane to the protection of the first gentleman who offered; in this case it was Professor Fernow, who was passing our tragic group, and to whom his learning had at last left sense enough to take the lady entrusted to him safely to B."

"Ah!" said Alison sharply. "And this adventure has naturally led to a more intimate acquaintanceship between the two, who, being inmates of the same house, meet and converse daily?"

For a moment, Atkins gazed at him in astonishment, then burst into a loud laugh.

"Henry, I really believe you are jealous! Jealous of this consumptive professor! Do you know what it means to be at thirty years invested with a professorship in a German university, with its horrible scientific thoroughness?--and he is not yet thirty! It takes a prodigy of learning for such a place! A man who devotes himself body and soul to his books, and knows nothing of the clear light of day. Really, you do the poor professor a cruel wrong if you believe that anything not bound in calf, exists for him; and as Miss Jane does not enjoy that enviable distinction, she unfortunately has no claim to his approval."

Alison paid no attention to this irony. "Does Miss Forest often converse with him?" he asked impatiently.

"Not at all! At least when I am present, they both seem to have lost the gift of speech, so dumbly do they pass each other by. I implore you, Henry, not to insult the taste of your betrothed in this way! Where is your self-esteem? Do you really place yourself on a level with this bookworm?"

Alison's brow began to clear. "You are right, it would be ridiculous. At home I had to enter the list with many wooers of Miss Forest, and there were no despicable rivals among them. But I had no fear at sight of this consumptive professor, as you call him. I had a sort of presentiment that he might become dangerous to me."

"A presentiment!" echoed Atkins with a growl. "For Heaven's sake, Henry, don't begin to have presentiments! This is one of the German sensations. They never really reckon, they have all sorts of presentiments. And you, too, are not going to fall into this nonsense?"


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