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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

Alison remarked his embarrassment


A Quarter of an hour might have passed, when he left his superior officers to go to his own room. He had just set foot in the corridor when a dark figure left the wall where it had been standing motionless, and crossed his path.

"Lieutenant Fernow, I have been a long time awaiting you!"

Walter paused; he recognized the American.

"What do you want of me, Mr. Alison?"

"Can I have the honor of a conversation with you?"

Fernow glanced at his watch, he had nearly an hour's time. "I am at your service," he said.

He knew what was coming; a single glance at Alison's face had convinced him that Jane's apprehensions were well founded. And this also! Not a single drop of the bitter cup was to be spared him!

Alison, without a word further, had passed on before him, and opened a door opposite. Walter for a moment hesitated about entering; it was the room in which he had just been speaking with Jane. Alison remarked his embarrassment.

"We shall be undisturbed here. Or, have you perhaps an antipathy to this room?"

Without answering, the young officer hastily passed the threshold, and Alison followed him. The room was again quite solitary. The hanging lamp sent down its subdued light,

the fire in the grate burned low; but red gleams now and then shot forth from the embers, throwing an ill-omened light around these two forms. Walter, as before, leaned against the mantel; opposite him, in the place where Jane had sat, stood Henry; between them the dim reflection of the fire.

Strange as it might seem, the same sentiment glowed in the souls of these two men; fiery, overmastering passion for one being, and both alike hopeless, stood amid the ruins of their happiness; but in the outward appearance of the two, this common sentiment found an infinitely different expression.

Upon the German's face lay a white, motionless calm; his deep, dreamy nature was not one to break loose from a passion which had engraven itself in the profoundest depths of his heart, and had taken root there forever. He could neither conquer nor endure it; but the alternative he had chosen, had nothing in it base or humiliating. "He who falls by a stray bullet, dies also a hero's death," thought he, and there was something like inspiration in the glance he now turned to the park, where rays of light began to pierce the shadows among the trees--the moon had just risen in the East.

In striking contrast to him was the man who stood opposite--Henry's features were distorted by a really demoniac fury; his eyes had a glance of evil omen, and only by an exertion of all his strength could he control the convulsive quivering of his lips. The cool calculation with which the young merchant had stretched forth his hand to grasp a million, had succeeded; but the love he had promised himself with all this was of far more value. Fearfully, passion asserted her right; under her spell, blind, unsympathetic for all else, he was about to sacrifice life and honor for her sake.

Walter waited in silence for some minutes, until Alison could so control his emotion as to speak. His voice had a hoarse, metallic tone, as he at last said:

"I wish an explanation from you, Lieutenant Fernow, which you cannot well deny me. Almost an hour ago you had an interview in this room with Miss Forest."


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