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A Hero of the Pen by E. Werner

Jane Forest had not been one to be bent she must be broken


Frederic interpreted her silence falsely; he misunderstood even the expression of her face.

"It would be so!" he said calmly but without the least bitterness! "You were never friendly to me, and the very first time I saw you,--I had taken such pains with all those flowers and that nosegay; you wouldn't have a single one of them, and nothing in my whole life ever caused me so much sorrow as you gave me then."

He was silent; but these simple words, with touching, pathetic sorrow, accomplished what all these struggles and tortures, what all this agony and despair had not availed to wring from Jane Forest. A hot stream of tears gushed from her eyes, and she buried her face in the pillows. In loud, heart-rending sobs broke at last the rigid pride with which she had hitherto looked down upon all not her equals in intellect and position; broke the icy strong hardness of her nature, and with it, that masculine strength of will her father had awakened and fostered in her. She wept now as a woman weeps in hopeless anguish and despair, when she sees all waver and fall into nothingness around her. Jane Forest had not been one to be bent--she must be broken.

But these tears, the first since her childhood, had wrought mightily upon her brother's heart, and conquered his painful shyness of her. He saw that this sister was not ashamed of him now; that he had deeply wounded her by such a suspicion, and summoning his last remaining strength, he turned again to her.

"Jenny!" he said softly, and the old-love name fell half shyly, half tenderly from his lips. "Do not be angry with me, dear Jenny! It is all right, my sister. I have at least had one happiness. I have died to save you!"

He stretched out his arms to her, and the lips of the brother and sister met in their first kiss--it was also the last!

When the new day with its first pale beams smiled upon the earth, Forest's son was no longer among the living. Slowly Jane released her brother's lifeless form from her arms, and turned her face to the window. A cold, gray twilight reigned in the death-chamber; but outside, the Eastern heaven was all aglow; the morning, in blood-red beams, was breaking over the mountains.

What sacrifice had fallen there?

CHAPTER XXIX.

The Murderer and the Attack.

A clear, balmy autumn night lay over vale and upland. The dark, sharply-defined outlines of the mountains stood in such bold relief against the unclouded sky, that every cleft as well as every jagged peak was visible. Higher up the forests dissolved in a sombre, formless mass, over which rested a fleecy mist like shimmering gauze, but at the mountain's base, every tree and shrub was as clearly defined as in the full light of day.

Upon a low, rocky plateau at the entrance of the defile, close by the foot of a giant fir-tree, stood Henry Alison. He had gained some distance upon his rival, and had found the path clear. Nothing of all the wild excitement that ruled there an hour later, now disturbed the silence. Insuperable obstacles often arise in the way of duty and rescue, while crime unrestrained, goes on its way, as if guarded by demoniac powers.


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