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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

All at once Frederic shuddered convulsively


"Forward,

Miss, forward into the bushes!" he cried, and rushed on. Jane tried to follow, but her wounded foot forbade. She sank to the earth.

"Fly!" she moaned breathlessly. "Save yourself! I must remain behind!"

Frederic looked down at her, but he saw not now the white, beautiful face, which, would have plead mightily with any other man for her rescue; he thought only that here was a helpless, wounded woman, whom he must abandon if he sought to save himself. Before his soul, clear as the lightning's flash, gleamed only one remembrance: "Tell him that Miss Forest was the one dearest to me in the whole world! He is to guard her, if he must,--with his life!"

As if she had been a child, the gigantic man lifted her from the ground, and retreated with her in his arms. The conclusion and its execution were the work of a moment. The enemy did not follow these two; to leave that secure retreat would have been madness. But the man who had betrayed them was not to escape unpunished. Shot after shot came from the grotto, and our fugitives on this boundless grassy expanse, in the full glow of this bright moonlight, were a mark for every bullet. Frederic now required threefold time for a path he alone could have trodden in a few moments. Jane had twined her arms around his neck; but even here her resolution did not forsake her; she knew that every movement on her part would retard Frederic's steps,

that perfect immobility would lighten his burden, and she lay quiet as the dead in his arms. Around both hissed the bullets, but the French shot badly to-night; not one hit. All at once Frederic shuddered convulsively, then he halted, and a hollow moan of agony broke from his lips.

"For God's sake, are you hit?" cried Jane, and sought to loose herself from his arms, but with iron strength, he held her fast. Then he went on again, but more slowly, more circumspectly than before, Jane heard the agonized convulsive heaving of his breast, she felt something hot and moist ripple down upon her hand now loosened from his neck; but still he went on. She gazed anxiously into his face, clearly defined in the bright moonbeams, and an involuntary terror came over her; she seemed to gaze into the face of her dead father. Frederic's heavy, unintellectual features at this moment had a truly frightful likeness to her own,--to those others the grave so long had hidden. It was this expression which had all at once ennobled and transfigured Frederic's face, and this similarity also betrayed his origin, more clearly than all other proofs; it was the grim determination, the hard, perverse inflexibility of the Forests, it was their stony defiance even of the impossible.

And he indeed had overcome it, the impossible; he bore her away over that grassy level and a stretch beyond into the alley, into the secure protection of the trees, and then only did he let her glide from his arms. Meantime, all had become excitement in the direction of the castle; voices rang out, words of command were heard; quick as lightning, the alarm signal echoed back from the village, and at the head of the soldiers quartered at the castle, Lieutenant Witte stormed up the avenue.


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