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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

Has that Frederic lost his wits


But

her heroism was, just now, quite superfluous; it happened differently from what she had dreamed. The professor still remained upon the threshold; his glance slowly swept the room, but it did not rest upon her.

"I beg your pardon; I seek Doctor Stephen."

"My uncle is in the garden."

"I thank you."

He closed the door behind him, and, without looking at her, walked through the room to the balcony. Jane's brow flushed deeply; she had made up her mind to meet an attack, and met, instead, the most entire disregard; this was more than she could endure; her hand convulsively grasped the arm of her chair.

Meantime, in the balcony, the professor had run against the doctor, who was just returning from the garden, and at once engrossed him entirely.

"Well, here you are at last! Professor, in God's name, what kind of a freak have you been playing? Frederic has thrown the whole house into an uproar by his ill-starred tidings."

So saying, without further parley, he grasped the professor by the arm, and drew him back into the house. This seemed to be the last thing the professor wished; he followed the doctor with evident reluctance, and, regardless of the invitation to sit down, stood upright by the chair offered him.

Without

a word, Jane rose and left the room. The doctor gazed after her in surprise and displeasure; the discourtesy of his niece, toward this inmate of his house, began to surpass all bounds. Fernow's lips quivered, but no glance betrayed that he had even noticed this movement.

Miss Forest, meantime, had not gone far; in the next room, morose and hostile, she leaned against a window. She would not remain in the same room with the man who allowed himself to ignore her and her resentment, but--she would hear what he wanted of her uncle, and, through the half-open door, she caught every syllable of the conversation, which the doctor opened with an impressive lecture.

"And now, before all things, tell me, has that Frederic lost his wits, or is it true that you have been declared fit for the military service, that you yourself urged this declaration, that you have represented yourself as healthy, while it would only have cost you a word, a mere silence even, to have proved quite the contrary? Have we heard aright?"

The professor cast down his eyes.

"It was a sudden inspiration," he said, softly; "I was sure of rejection, but the rather contemptuous sympathy of the examining physician enraged me beyond measure. To be sent home as a miserable weakling, when all were hastening to the conflict,--that I could not bear! It was an act of folly for which I must atone with my life; but--I would do the same thing again!"

"You seem at times to have very wonderful inspirations," said the doctor with a glance at the morning journal. "Well, we will speak of that another time, our first business now is how we shall atone for this stupidity,--now, don't fly into a passion, I mean the surgeon, not you--how we shall atone for this fellow's stupidity. I will preach him a sermon! I shall drive over to H. with you, and he shall use his influence to have you detailed for duty in some of the bureaus. This is the only thing we can do, as you cannot now wholly withdraw from the service."


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