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Title: A Hero of the Pen
Author: Werner, E., 1838-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=IG8PAAAAYAAJ&dq
   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                                   A

                            HERO OF THE PEN.



                                   BY

                               E. WERNER,

              AUTHOR OF "GOOD LUCK," "BROKEN CHAINS," ETC.



                             TRANSLATED BY

                            FRANCES A. SHAW.



                               NEW YORK:
                     R. WORTHINGTON, 750 Broadway.
                                 1880.



                               Copyright
                         WILLIAM F. GILL & CO.
                                 1875.



                                 Trow's
                   Printing and Bookbinding Company,
                        205-213 _East 12th St_.,
                               NEW YORK.



                               CONTENTS.



                               CHAPTER I.

Love and Death


                              CHAPTER II.

A Strange Cavalier


                              CHAPTER III.

Was it Sickness or----?


                              CHAPTER IV.

The Hero of the Pen


                               CHAPTER V.

Face to Face


                              CHAPTER VI.

A Strange Presentment


                              CHAPTER VII.

Lovers, yet Strangers


                             CHAPTER VIII.

The Heiress at Bay


                              CHAPTER IX.

On The Scent


                               CHAPTER X.

For Value Received


                              CHAPTER XI.

The Dawn Of War


                              CHAPTER XII.

A Rocket in the Camp


                             CHAPTER XIII.

The Triumph of Pride


                              CHAPTER XIV.

Farewell


                              CHAPTER XV.

Following the Clue


                              CHAPTER XVI.

An Agonizing Doubt


                             CHAPTER XVII.

The Pen and the Sword


                             CHAPTER XVIII.

The Rival Lovers


                              CHAPTER XIX.

The Lover's Accusation


                              CHAPTER XX.

The Fateful Hour


                              CHAPTER XXI.

A Desperate Resolve


                             CHAPTER XXII.

A Fearful Alternative


                             CHAPTER XXIII.

The Vengeance of Passion


                             CHAPTER XXIV.

The Shadow of Doom


                              CHAPTER XXV.

To the Rescue


                             CHAPTER XXVI.

A Mortal Agony


                             CHAPTER XXVII.

Treason


                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

The Sacrifice of Blood


                             CHAPTER XXIX.

The Murderer and the Attack


                              CHAPTER XXX.

Waiting


                             CHAPTER XXXI.

The Balance Of Power


                             CHAPTER XXXII.

The Brand from the Burning


                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

An Unexpected Meeting


                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

The Riddle Solved



                           A HERO OF THE PEN



                               CHAPTER I.

                            Love And Death.


The scene of our story is a town on the Mississippi, about midway in
its course from Lake Itasca to the Gulf; the time is a cloudless
January day of the year 1871. A score of years ago, this town consisted
of only a dozen or so roughly built wooden houses; but emulating the
marvellous growth of American cities, it has expanded into a populous,
thriving business centre.

The dazzling, midday sunbeams enter the windows of a large, suburban
mansion, situated upon a hill commanding an unequalled prospect. The
elegance of its surroundings, the exquisite taste and richness of its
appointments, its artistic and expensive construction, distinguish this
residence of the millionaire, Forest, from all others far and near.

In the magnificent parlor, giving evidence of that superfluity of
expensive comfort and luxury which to wealthy Americans seems an
absolute necessity of life, sits a young lady, in an elaborate and
costly home dress. She is a girl of some twenty summers, and sitting
near the open fire, whose shifting gleams light up her face and form,
with her head resting thoughtfully in her hand, she listens to the
conversation of the man opposite her. The face a perfect oval, of a
clear, colorless, brunette complexion, with large, brown eyes and
perfectly regular features, is set in a frame of dark, luxuriant hair,
and possesses undeniable claims to beauty. And yet there is something
wanting in this exquisite face. It is that joyous, artless expression
which so seldom fails in youth; that breath of timidity we look for in
young maidenhood, and that look of gentleness a woman's face seldom
entirely lacks, and never to its advantage. There is a chilling gravity
in this young girl's whole appearance, a confident repose, an
undeniable self-consciousness; and yet it does not seem as if heavy
life-storms or premature sorrows can have brought to her the sad
experiences of later years. For this her brow is all too smooth--her
eyes too bright. Either inborn or inbred must be that seriousness
through which her beauty gains so much in expression, although it loses
infinitely in the tender grace and charm of both.

In a low arm chair, on the other side of the fireplace, sits a young
man in faultless society-dress. There is marked similarity between
these two. It lies not alone in hair and eyes of the same color, in the
same clear, pale complexion. It is more in that expression of cold,
dignified repose, and self-conscious pride peculiar to both. In the
young girl this expression assumes the most decided form; in the young
man it is partially hidden by a conventional polish and formality,
which much detract from the manly beauty of his face, and the manly
dignity of his bearing. He has for some time been engaged in an
animated conversation with the young lady, and now continues a recital
already begun:--

"My father thinks this European journey necessary for the completion of
my mercantile education, and I readily yield to his wishes, as it
promises so much of interest to me. I shall first pass a few months in
New York, where the business affairs of our house demand my personal
supervision, and from there I shall sail for Europe in March. A year
will suffice me to gain some acquaintance with England, France and
Germany, and for a short tour through Switzerland and Italy. The next
spring I hope to return home."

The young lady had listened with evident approval to the plan of the
proposed journey; now she raised her head and looked at the speaker.

"A rich, profitable year lies before you, Mr. Alison! My father will
regret that his illness renders it impossible to see you before your
departure."

"I also regret that Mr. Forest is too ill to receive my adieux,
personally. May I beg you, Miss, to present them to him in my name?"

She bowed slightly. "Certainly! And meantime, accept my best wishes for
a prosperous journey and a happy return."

With quiet friendliness she rose and reached him her hand. He took the
cold, beautiful hand, and held it fast; but an unwonted expression
flashed from the young man's eyes.

"Miss Forest, may I ask you a question?"

A momentary flush passed over the young girl's face, as she replied:

"Speak, Mr. Alison!"

He rose hastily, and still holding the hand fast, he stepped closer to
her side.

"Perhaps the time for a declaration is ill-chosen; but I only too well
know that Miss Forest is the object of so many solicitations that
absence might be dangerous to my hopes. Therefore, pardon me, Miss
Jane, if I at this moment venture to speak of an affection which,
perhaps, is no secret to you. May I hope that my wishes may find
fulfilment, and that, upon my return, I may be allowed to clasp this
hand anew, and hold it fast for life?"

He had begun in a calm, almost business sort of way, but his voice grew
warm, as if beneath this outward calm there lay an almost violently
repressed emotion; and now, in consuming anxiety, his eyes hung upon
hers, as if there he would read her answer.

Miss Forest had listened in silence. No flush of surprise, or maidenly
embarrassment, not the slightest change in her features betrayed
whether this proposal was welcome or unwelcome to her; the immobility
of her face offered a striking contrast to his, and the reply came firm
and distinct, without the least hesitation or concealment.

"My answer shall be frank as your question, Mr. Alison. I am aware of
your affection for me; I reciprocate it, and upon your return, with the
fullest confidence I will place my hand in yours for a united future."

A beam of joy broke through the icy repose of Alison's features, but
the usual calmness at once came back, and he seemed almost ashamed of
the momentary emotion.

"Miss Jane, you make me very happy," he said. "Can I not now speak with
your father?"

"No, I would prefer to tell him myself," she replied hastily. "I have
one condition to impose, and you must yield to it, Mr. Alison; I cannot
become your betrothed at my father's death-bed; I cannot and will not
deprive him of one of those hours the new relation might demand.
Therefore let the words you have just spoken to me remain secret, at
least to all but those immediately concerned. Until you return, demand
from me none of the rights my answer gives you; I cannot and will not
now grant them."

There lay little of a betrothed bride's submission in this decided, "_I
will not!_" at the first moment of acceptance. Alison must have felt
this, for a slight cloud shadowed his forehead.

"This is a hard condition, Jane! You will permit me to delay my
departure, and remain by your side, if, as I fear, the inevitable
stroke is close at hand?"

She shook her head. "I thank you, but I need no support. What is before
me"--here for the first time during the interview the young girl's lips
quivered--"I shall know how to bear, and I can bear it best alone. I
would not have you delay your departure one hour, or hasten your return
one week. In a year we shall meet again; until then my promise must
content you, as yours does me."

She had risen, and now stood opposite him, with an air of such full
determination that Alison at once saw the impossibility of opposing her
will; he saw that indeed she needed no support, and he yielded
unresistingly to the necessity imposed upon him.

"I will prove to you, Jane, that I know how to honor your wishes, even
though it is difficult for me to do so. But if I may claim none of the
rights of your betrothed husband, you at least will not deny me the
first, and for the present, the only boon I ask."

Jane did not answer, but she made no resistance as Alison took her in
his arms, and kissed her lips. There was again an impassioned gleam in
his eyes, and for a moment he pressed her close to his heart; but as
more ardently, more warmly, he sought to repeat the caress, she broke
from him with a sudden movement.

"Enough Henry! We make parting unnecessarily difficult. In a year you
will find your bride; until then--silence."

He stepped back somewhat offended at this hasty repulsion, and his
features again assumed the cold, proud expression, which had not left
hers for a moment. Mr. Alison evidently was not the man to beg for
caresses which were not freely granted him.

An approaching step in the anteroom demanded that both should
immediately resume their company manners; the young lady as before, sat
in the arm chair, and Alison opposite her, when the person who had thus
announced his coming, entered the parlor. He was a small, elderly man
with gray hair and sharp, penetrating eyes from which gleamed an
inconcealable irony, as he saw the young couple sitting there so much
like strangers.

"The physician is about to drive away, Miss Jane. You wished to speak
with him," he said.

Jane rose hastily. "Excuse me, Mr. Alison, I must go to my father. I
will tell him of your visit, this evening."

She reached him her hand. A significant pressure, a glance of deep,
calm, mutual understanding, then they parted with a hasty adieu, and
Jane left the room.

As the door of the ante-room closed behind her, the last comer stepped
up to Alison, and laid a hand upon his shoulder,

"I congratulate you!"

The young man turned quickly around. "For what?" he asked sharply.

"For your betrothal."

Alison frowned. "It appears, Mr. Atkins, that you have chosen to play
the spy."

Atkins took this reproach very unconcernedly.

"Possibly! But you ought to know, Henry, that I do not belong to those
disinterested persons from whom the affair is to be kept secret."

The young man's forehead cleared somewhat. "You certainly are an
exception, and so--"

"And so, you accept my congratulations without further hesitation,"
added Atkins. "But you two got through the affair quickly enough. 'Will
you have me? I will have you,'--all right. 'The wedding shall be a year
from now!'--all short, smooth, clear, without much eloquence or
sentimentalism, quite to Miss Jane's taste. But our deceased Mrs.
Forest would have thought quite differently of such a betrothal."

Alison's lips curled in scorn. "If Miss Alison had resembled her
mother, I should scarcely have sought her hand," he said.

"There you are right!" replied Atkins dryly. "She was not to my taste
either, always ill, always inclined to tears and scenes, full of
sentimentality and extravagances,--a real German woman, she died of
homesickness at last. Happily the daughter has inherited none of this
nonsense. She is just like her father."

"I know it! And no one will accuse Mr. Forest of an excess of
sentimentality."

"No!" said Atkins gravely, "and yet it seems to me that he too, once
possessed his proper share of such emotions; but fortunately, he was
sensible enough to leave all sentiment and whatever else could not be
of use to him here, over yonder. When Mr. Forest landed here twenty
years ago, sentimentality would have been sadly out of place, for he
brought with him a very healthy hatred against Germany and all
connected with it. With a sort of morose energy, he flung from him
every remembrance of the fatherland, and even Americanized his name--it
was Forster there, you know--and when our colony grew, and the German
settlers naturally clung together, he kept aloof from them and
fraternized with the Americans. But this his wife could not endure; she
could not accustom herself to the new life; there were endless quarrels
and hard feelings between them, and as the child grew up, matters
became still worse. The father wanted to educate her as an American,
and he carried his point, as Miss Jane very soon most decidedly placed
herself on his side. This quite broke the mother's heart. We had scenes
enough, I tell you; there was no peace until Mrs. Forest died of
homesickness at last. As things now stand, I fear the husband will not
long survive her."

The voice of the speaker, at these last words, had involuntarily
changed from a mocking to a serious tone; Alison, who had listened in
silence, now took his hat from the table.

"You have heard all; I am not to delay my departure; in fact, urgent
business calls me to New York. If the event happens, which we must soon
expect, stand by Miss Forest's side. But if"--here Alison busied
himself with buttoning his gloves--"if there should be difficulties in
relation to the arrangement of the property, my father will stand ready
to aid you to the full influence of his business knowledge and
connections. It would seem especially desirable that the interests of
his future daughter should not remain foreign to him, as my journey
will prevent my becoming acquainted with them."

The old irony again gleamed from Atkins' eyes, as he sarcastically
replied; "I thank you kindly for the proposal, but the property remains
by testament in my hands, and consequently all will be found in perfect
order. You and your father must wait patiently for a year until Miss
Jane herself brings her dowry into your house. Meantime, I can give you
this one satisfaction; Mr. Forest is very rich; richer indeed than
generally supposed, of this the glance you desire into our business
affairs would at once convince you."

Alison made a passionate gesture. "Mr. Atkins, you are sometimes most
horribly inconsiderate," he said.

"Why so?" asked Atkins phlegmatically. "Do you mean this as a reproach?
Or do you suppose I could seriously think you would commit the folly of
marrying a young lady without fortune, now, when the immense
development of your business house and the relations you will establish
in Europe make capital doubly necessary to you? No, Henry, I cherish
too high an opinion of you to think you capable of any such unpractical
romance."

Alison turned and looked searchingly into Atkins face, "I have
certainly, as partner and future chief of our house, been circumspect
even in my choice of a wife, but I give you my word that if Miss
Forest's fortune falls far short of my expectations, I still prefer her
to any richer heiress."

Atkins laughed. "I believe that of you without oath, Henry! You are a
great deal in love, and I wonder whether you will inspire a like
sentiment in our beautiful, cold Miss Forest. Well, that will happen in
time; in any event it is fortunate if the merchant and the lover do not
come in conflict, and here each is quite sufficient to itself. Once
more I congratulate you!"

After leaving these two, Jane had hastily passed through several rooms,
and now entered a half-darkened, but richly and tastefully furnished
sleeping-chamber. Gliding softly over the carpet, she approached the
bed, and flung back its heavy curtains.

Now it was evident whence the young girl derived that strange
expression of face which made her so unlike other girls of her own age,
intense seriousness, cool determination, energetic pride; all these,
unobliterated, unsoftened by the traces of illness, were repeated in
the face of the man who lay here upon the pillow. He slowly turned his
head towards the daughter who bent over him, saying:--

"They have just told me of the physician's visit. He was alone with
you, and I wished to be present. Was this your command, my father?"

"Yes, my child! I wanted to hear an opinion from him which it would
have been difficult to give freely in your presence. I now know that I
have but a few days to live."

Jane had sunk on her knees at the bedside, and pressed her head into
the pillows. She did not answer, but her whole form shook with the
tearless sobs she energetically suppressed. The sick man gazed down
upon her.

"Be calm, Jane, this opinion can surprise you as little as it does me,
although we have both, perhaps, expected a longer respite. It must be,
and you will not make the necessity of the separation more bitter
through your tears."

"No!" She suddenly drew herself up, and gazed down upon her father; her
sorrow was suppressed by the most absolute self-mastery; her lips
scarce quivered. The sick man smiled, but there lay a sort of
bitterness in that smile; perhaps he would rather have seen her not
obey him so readily.

"I have to speak with you, my child, and I do not know how many quiet,
painless hours may be granted me. Come nearer to me, and listen."

Jane took her place by her father's bedside, and waited silently.

"I can calmly leave you, for I know that despite your youth, you need
no stay and no guardian. In outward emergencies, you have Atkins at
your side; his sarcastic, eternally mocking nature has never been
agreeable to me; but in an association of almost twenty years, I have
proved his integrity and devotion. You know that he long since amassed
a fortune of his own, but he preferred to let it remain in our house.
He will be at your side, until you confide yourself to the protection
of a husband, which will perhaps happen soon."

"Father," interrupted Jane, "I have something to tell you. You know
that Mr. Alison has been here; he has asked for my hand."

The sick man drew himself up with an expression of lively interest.

"And you?"

"I have given him my promise."

"Ah?" Forest sank back upon his pillow, and was silent.

Jane bent over him in astonishment. "And are you not willing? I felt
certain of your consent in advance."

"You know Jane, that I will neither restrict nor control you in your
choice of a husband. It is your own future for which you have to
decide, and I am convinced that you have not decided without serious
deliberation."

"No; the proposal did not come unexpectedly to me. I have implicit
confidence in Mr. Alison's character, and in his future; his family is
one of the first in our city, his position is brilliant, and I am
certain that his mercantile genius will in after years secure him an
important place in the business world. Does this not appear sufficient
to you, my father?"

"To _me_? certainly, if it is enough for _you_!"

With an expression of surprise, Jane fixed her dark eyes upon her
father. "What more could be demanded from a marriage?" Forest again
smiled with the same bitterness as before.

"You are right, Jane, quite right! I was only thinking of my own
wooing, and of your mother's promise. But it is just as well. Mr.
Alison indeed possesses all the advantages you have named, and in these
respect you are more than his equal; you will be very content with each
other."

"I hope so!" said Jane, and now began to tell her father the conditions
she had imposed upon her betrothed, and the delay upon which she had
insisted. Forest listened with eager attention.

"I like that! Without knowing it you met my wishes in this decision,
for I, too, have a condition to impose upon you. What would you say if
I demanded that you should pass this year of freedom in Germany with
our relatives?"

With a movement of the most painful surprise, the young girl rose from
her chair.--"In Germany? _I_?"

"Yes, do you not love Germany?"

"No," replied Jane coldly, "as little as you, my father. I do not love
the country that blighted your youth, embittered your life, and at last
thrust you out like a malefactor. I could not forgive my mother, that
with a consciousness of all you had suffered there, she always clung to
the fatherland, and made you and herself inexpressibly unhappy with
that incurable homesickness."

"Be silent, Jane!" interrupted Forest passionately. "There are things
which you do not understand, will never learn to understand! I met no
consideration in your mother, that I confess; she indeed made me
unhappy; and still, she gave me hours of happiness, such as you will
never give your husband--_never_, Jane! But then Mr. Alison will have
no need of them."

Jane was silent. She had become accustomed to find her father very
irritable in his sickness, sometimes quite incomprehensible. With the
consideration one gives the sick, she now bore this passionate
outbreak, and quietly resumed her place at his bedside.

A few minutes after, Forest again turned to her. "Forgive me, child!"
he said mildly, "I was unjust. You have become what I educated you to
be, what I would have you be, and I do not now regret having given you
this direction. You will better endure the life-conflict than your
weak, sensitive mother. Let this rest; it was something different you
were to hear from me. Do you know that you have a brother?"

Jane started up in terror, and in questioning expectation, fixed her
eyes upon her father.

"As a child I sometimes heard a hint of this; but lately no one has
ever spoken of him to me. Is he dead?"

A deep sigh rent Forest's breast. "Perhaps he is dead, perhaps not. We
have never been able to learn with certainty. I at last forbade all
mention of his name, because his remembrance threatened to kill your
mother; but the silence was of little avail; she never forgot him for a
single hour."

With eager intentness Jane bent down yet closer to her father. He took
her hand and held it fast in his.

"You are not unacquainted with the recent history of your native
country, my daughter; you are aware of the glowing enthusiasm which in
the thirtieth year of the present century took possession of all
Germany, and especially of its high schools. I was a student at that
time, and, a youth of eighteen years, I was animated like so many of my
comrades with visions of the freedom and greatness that might come to
my fatherland under a new and more liberal order of things. We sought
to carry out these revolutionary ideas, and for that crime the
government repaid us with imprisonment, in many cases with sentence of
death. I was doomed to die, but by especial favor, my sentence was
commuted to thirty years' imprisonment. Seven of these years I endured;
but as you have often enough heard the story, I will not repeat it now.
Even these bitter years resulted in good to me; they ended for all time
my youthful ideals and youthful illusions. When the amnesty at last
came, under the iron pressure of the prison, in endless humiliations,
in glowing hatred, had been ripened a man, who better than the twenty
years' old dreamer knew how to bravely assume and patiently endure the
struggle with life and misery."

Forest was silent for a moment, but the hard, savage bitterness which
now lay in his features, and which was even more grimly reflected in
Jane's face, showed that these remembrances were not foreign to her,
and that the daughter had always been her father's confidant.

After a short pause the father continued: "Scarce was I free, when I
committed the folly of marrying. It was madness in my position, but
already, while at the university, I had become betrothed to your
mother. She had waited long years for me, for my sake had renounced a
brilliant position in life, and she now stood alone and forsaken, an
orphan, dependent upon the favor and cold charity of _relatives_. This
I could not bear; rather would I venture all. We were married, and a
year after, your brother was born. He was not like you, Jane."--As he
said these words, a lingering, almost painful glance swept the
beautiful face of his daughter. "He was blonde and blue-eyed like his
mother, but his possession was not unalloyed happiness to me. The first
eight years of my marriage were the darkest of my life; more terrible,
even, than those days in prison. There I suffered alone; here it was
with wife and child that I must endure the conflict against misery and
utter destitution which with all its horrors threatened them. My career
was naturally ruined, my connections severed. Whatever I began,
whatever I undertook, to the demagogue every door was closed; every
means of support withdrawn. At that time I put forth my best strength,
and did my utmost in a struggle for daily bread; and still, my most
unremitting efforts did not always suffice to keep my family from want.

"We might perhaps have perished, but the year 1848 came, and showed
that the old dreamer had not yet fully learned to renounce his ideals.
He allowed himself again to be enticed; for the second time, he
listened to the syren's song, only to be dashed anew against the
rocks.--I took my wife and child to a secure place among relatives, and
threw myself headlong into the tide of revolution. You know how it
ended! Our parliament was dissolved, the conflict in Baden broke out. I
was one of the leaders of the revolutionary army; we were beaten,
annihilated. For the first time a propitious destiny protected me from
the worst. Now I was free.

"I would not again, and this time perhaps forever, be shut up in
prison; I would not give up my family to irretrievable ruin; therefore
I decided upon flight to America. My brother-in-law offered me the
necessary passage-money; perhaps from kindness of heart, but more
probably it was to be rid of the accursed demagogue, the disgrace of
the family. Great circumspection was needed, for from one end of
Germany to the other, the minions of the law were already let loose
upon our track.

"In disguise, and under an assumed name, I reached Hamburg, where my
wife and children were awaiting me. You had been born during these last
months. Poor child! It was in an evil hour I first pressed you to my
heart. With the first kiss of your father, tears of glowing hatred, of
bitter despair fell upon your infant face. I fear they have thrown a
shadow over your life; I have never seen you carelessly merry like
other children.

"On our way to the ship we separated so as not to attract attention.
Your mother carried you in her arms, I followed at some distance,
leading my boy by the hand. When half way up the ship's stairs, I
recognized a face of evil omen. It was that of a spy. I knew him, he
knew me; if he saw me, I was lost. Hastily forming my decision, I told
the boy to follow his mother; he was old enough to understand, and she
stood there in sight. I flung myself into the thickest of the throng at
the harbor. An hour later, the spy had vanished, and I reached the ship
unremarked. My wife, who had been prepared for possible delay on my
part, hastened to meet me; her first inquiry was for the child. After a
few words of terrible import, we understood the situation. He had not
joined his mother; he must be on shore. In mortal apprehension, I
rushed back regardless of the imminent danger to myself. I searched the
whole harbor up and down, asking tidings of my boy of all I met. No one
had seen him; none could give me information.

"The signal for departure was given. If I remained on shore I was lost,
and my wife and child would sail, forsaken and friendless, on the wide
ocean to a strange continent. The choice was a fearful one, but I was
forced to make it. When I trod the ship's deck without my child; when I
saw receding from me the shores where he was left alone, a prey to
every danger,--that moment--when I broke loose from home and country
forever, the persecutions and bitternesses of a whole lifetime all came
back; that moment set the seal to our separation, and darkened every
remembrance of the past to me.

"The first hour of our landing in New York, I wrote to my wife's
brother; but weeks passed before he received my letter. Doctor Stephen,
my brother-in-law, pursued the search with the warmest ardor and the
fullest sympathy. He went to Hamburg himself, he did everything in his
power; but it was all in vain. He did not find the slightest trace of
your brother. The boy had vanished utterly; he remains so to this day."

Forest was silent. His breathing became difficult, but Jane bending
forward, eager and intent, had not thought of preventing an excitement
which might prove dangerous, perhaps fatal to him; such regardful
tenderness did not lie in the relations between this father and
daughter. She had a secret to hear, a last legacy to receive, and if he
died in the effort, he must speak the words necessity demanded, and she
must listen. After a short space for rest he began anew:

"With this last sacrifice, the evil fates that had pursued me were
propitiated, our misfortunes ended. Success attended me from the first
step I took on American soil. In New York, I met Atkins, who was there
gaining a precarious livelihood from a secretaryship. He rescued me and
my little all from a band of swindlers who already had me, the
inexperienced foreigner, half in their net. Out of gratitude, I
proposed that he should accompany me to the West. He had nothing to
lose, and came with me to this place, then a vast, unpeopled solitude.
Our plough was first to break up the prairie sod; the board cabin we
reared with our own hands was the first dwelling erected here. Perhaps
you remember when, in your earliest childhood, your father himself went
out to the field with scythe or spade, while your mother did the work
of a maid-servant in the house. But this did not last long.

"Our settlement made rapid strides. The soil, the location, were in the
highest degree favorable; a town arose, a levee was built--lands
which I had bought for a song rose to a hundred-fold their original
value. Undertakings, to which I pledged myself with others, had an
undreamed-of success. Participation in public life, and the position
for which I had once so ardently longed, with social importance and
consideration past my most sanguine hopes, became mine; and now, my
daughter, I leave you in a position and in pecuniary circumstances,
which make even our exclusive Mr. Alison consider it an honor to win
your hand."

"I know it, my father!" The self-importance of Jane's manner at this
moment was more noticeable even than before; but it did not seem like
her usual haughtiness; her pride was evidently rooted in the
consciousness of being her father's daughter.

With an effort so violent as to show that his strength was failing,
Forest hastened to the end of his recital:

"I need not tell you, Jane, that I have never abandoned the search for
your brother; that I have renewed it again and again, and that since
means have been at my command, I have spared no outlay of money or of
effort. The result has been only disappointment. Latterly, I have lost
hope, and have found solace in you; but your mother's anguish at the
loss of her child, was never assuaged. To the hour of her death, she
clung to the hope that he was living, that he would sometime appear.
This hope I had long since relinquished, and yet upon her death-bed she
exacted from me a promise to go myself to Europe and make one last
search in person. I promised this, as the last amnesty had lifted the
bar which had hitherto prevented my visiting my native land; and I was
just making preparations for a long absence, when illness prostrated
me. But the last, ardent wish of your mother ought not to remain
unfulfilled. Not that I have the slightest hope that a trace, which for
twenty long years has eluded the most vigilant search, can now be
found.

"You are simply to fulfil a pious duty in keeping the promise I have no
power to keep; you are to go through a form to assure yourself, before
my entire fortune falls into your hands, that you are in reality the
only heir; and for these reasons solely, I send you to the Rhine. In
the business steps to be taken, your uncle will stand at your side; you
are only to add to your proceedings, that energy of which he is
incapable. It will not appear strange to our social circle if you pass
the year of mourning for your father among his relatives, in his former
home. If Alison wishes, at the end of his European travels, he can
receive your hand there, and return with you; but I leave this matter
to you alone. I place only one duty in your hands, Jane; you will
fulfil it."

Jane arose and stood erect before her father with all her energies
aroused for action.

"If a trace of my brother is to be found, I shall find it, father! I
shall yield only to impossibilities; I give you my hand upon that!"

Forest clasped her hand in his, and now the peculiar gravity of the
relation between this father and daughter was evident, there were no
kisses, no caresses, a pressure of the hand as among men, sealed the
given and the accepted promise. For a few moments deep silence reigned;
then the dying man said suddenly and in a subdued voice:

"And now, draw back the curtains; I can no longer endure the darkness.
Let in the light."

She obeyed. She drew back the heavy, green damask curtain, and through
a large corner window, streamed into the room the full dazzling glow of
the midday sun. The dying man raised himself upright, and gazed
intently out upon the broad prospect offered to his view. There
lay the city, with its streets and squares, its sea of houses, the
river-landing with its boats; there lay the lordly Mississippi dotted
with its fairy isles, among which glided in and out the countless
skiffs and steamers. Scattered near and far, were suburban homes
surrounded by broad cultivated acres, and smiling in peace and plenty,
while away to the horizon's utmost verge stretched the illimitable
prairies, green, billowy seas of verdure, relieved here and there by
groves of oak and stretches of uplands.

Forest fixed his glance upon the magnificent panorama. Perhaps he was
thinking of the time, when no human foot-fall had profaned this
primeval solitude, when poor and friendless, he had come here to wrest
from nature her as yet unappropriated wealth; perhaps he was gazing
with pride upon the city which owed its birth and expansion to him;
perhaps he was sad at the thought of leaving all this beauty and
grandeur and prosperity. Convulsed with emotion, he sank back on his
pillow. Jane bent anxiously over him. But this was no sudden access of
bodily illness, no regretful feeling for the new home and the new-found
riches he was to leave for ever. It was a sudden, overmastering feeling
long repressed, which now compelled utterance.

"When you arrive in Germany, my daughter, greet the old home and the
old home-river for me! Do you hear, Jane? Salute Germany for me! Salute
our Rhine!"

The words came painfully subdued, almost inaudible from his lips. Jane
gazed at him in mingled surprise and terror.

"Have you then loved Germany so much, father? You have almost taught me
to hate it."

Forest was silent for a brief space; his lips quivered, and tears,
seemingly wrung from a terrible inward conflict, rolled down his
cheeks.

"The home-land had only misery for me," he said in a voice trembling
with emotion. "It persecuted, degraded me, cast me out; it denied even
bread to me and mine. America gave me freedom, gave me riches and
honor; and now, Jane, I would renounce them all--all, could I only die
upon the Rhine!"

There lay such harrowing anguish in this final utterance of a long
repressed sorrow, that Jane recoiled in terror before it. This fatal
homesickness! Her mother, the sensitive, delicate woman, after long
years of suffering, had died of it at last; and her father, that proud,
energetic man who had so entirely broken away from home and its
remembrances, who had united heart and soul with the land of his
adoption, and had seemed petrified into hatred against his fatherland,
he too had buried this agonized longing deep in his heart, only to
acknowledge it in his dying hour!

Jane stood dumb and bewildered before this discovery, but she felt that
here, just here, that strange something lay, which, despite all
misunderstanding, had yet made her father and mother one; which must
keep her eternally remote from both. She gazed intently at her father,
he now lay quiet, with closed eyes and compressed lips. She knew that
in such moments as this she must not disturb him. Softly gliding to the
window, she let down the curtain, and the usual subdued twilight again
ruled in the sick chamber.



                              CHAPTER II.

                          A Strange Cavalier.


"Well, Miss Jane, a most promising introduction this much bepraised
Rhine gives us, to that fatherland of yours! In six-and-thirty hours, I
have become mortally weary of the whole country. We landed in such a
fog that we couldn't see the shore until we set foot on it; that day we
passed in Hamburg there was such a rain that I really thought a second
deluge had broken out, and here upon the Rhine, we find a pretty state
of things, don't we? I cannot understand how you remain so calm through
it all!"

It was indeed no enviable situation, this, which so aroused Mr. Atkins'
ire. In a dense fog, in the midst of a drizzling but incessant rain,
the heavy post-chaise lay half upset in the middle of the suburban
road. The horses already loosed from harness stood near with bowed
heads, as if fully comprehending the unfortunate state of affairs, and
in a gully by the road side near the broken hind-wheel, sat the
postilion, his head bound up with a handkerchief, and groaning as he
held his injured foot in both hands. Jane, who with an air of
resignation stood by him, paid no heed to Atkins' complaints. She only
gave a slight shrug of her shoulders, and persisted in an obstinate
silence.

"We cannot possibly remain here longer in the rain!" continued Atkins
in renewed vexation; "You certainly cannot. So far as I can determine,
our postilion's injuries are not dangerous, and he declares that B. is
only an hour's distance at the furthest. Our best course is to hasten
on there and send him the needed help."

"No," interrupted Jane, gently but decidedly. "His wound is still
bleeding, and he is liable to faint at any moment. We could not
possibly leave him helpless and alone; you at least, must remain with
him, while I try to reach the nearest house."

"Alone? In a strange country? In this fog which would be very likely to
lead you right into that accursed Rhine, that we hear raging down
yonder, without seeing a glimpse of it? No, I shall consent to no such
thing."

"I am not at all afraid," declared Jane, with a positiveness which
showed that she did not allow Atkins to have the least influence or
control over her movements, "and if I follow the main road it will be
impossible for me to lose my way. In any event, it is the only thing
that remains for us to do."

"But Miss Jane, consider!--If some human being would only make his
appearance!--Hold! there comes some one!--A word with you, Sir, if you
will allow it."

These last words, although spoken in German, must, through their strong
English accent, have betrayed the foreigner, for a low but musical
voice, asked in the purest English; "What is the matter, Sir?"

"God be praised, it is a gentleman; he speaks English!" said Mr.
Atkins, with a sigh of relief, and quickly approaching the stranger,
who until now had been only half visible through the fog, he continued
excitedly:

"We have had a mishap with our carriage. It is broken, the postilion is
injured, and we are entire strangers here. May I ask if you would,
perhaps, show us the way to B.?"

"Certainly!"

"And I also beg you to send us out the first carriage you can find. And
one thing more! You will, perhaps, have the kindness to take a young
lady to B. under your protection."

The stranger, who had bowed a polite assent to the first request, at
the last stepped back, and there was something like a tone of horror in
his voice as he replied.

"A young lady--am I--"

"You are to conduct her to the city and to the house which she
designates to you. Miss Jane, may I implore you to confide yourself to
this gentleman's care? You cannot possibly stand here longer in the
rain."

Jane, who had taken no part in the conversation, now turned to the
stranger. She glanced at his pale, delicate face, into a pair of blue,
dreamy eyes which at this moment had an expression of mingled terror
and embarrassment.

"I am exceedingly obliged to you," said Mr. Atkins, without waiting in
the least for the gentleman's assent. "And now may I beg you to hasten,
for the young lady's sake as well as my own? Good-by, Miss Jane. Have
no anxiety in regard to the injured man; he remains in my care. I hope
to meet you soon in a dryer atmosphere."

All these arrangements had been made so hastily, with such dictatorial
politeness, and in such an incontrovertible tone of command, that no
evasion seemed possible. The stranger made no effort at resistance; in
dumb consternation, he allowed all this to pass over him, and followed
mechanically the directions given him. With a silent bow, he asked the
young lady to accompany him; the next moment they were already on the
way, and a winding in the road hid them from the eyes of Atkins and the
coachman.

Whether the stranger was more surprised at the free, American manner in
which the lady confided herself to the care of the first man she had
met upon the highway, or frightened at the duty of gallantry imposed
upon him, was difficult to decide. But his embarrassment was evident,
and kept him from all attempts at conversation. Miss Forest did not
understand this strange behavior. She was accustomed every where to be
an object of great attention, and now this man, in appearance and
language a gentleman, showed himself so little susceptible to the honor
of accompanying a lady, that he did not even deem it worth his while to
address a word to her. Jane measured her companion with a glance of
anger, compressed her lips, and decided not to speak a word to him
during the entire way.

For almost ten minutes they had walked on in silence, side by side,
when the gentleman suddenly paused, and in the same low, musical voice
as before, said; "The highway makes a broad winding here. May I conduct
you by the nearer path in which I am wont to go?"

"I have confided myself to your guidance," answered Jane, shortly and
coldly, and with another silent bow, he turned from the public road and
took a path to the left.

The designated path might certainly be nearer, and for a man passable
in a case of necessity; but it was not at all suitable for a lady. It
led over a swampy soil; through wet meadows, through dripping hedges,
through fields and bushes, not only to the injury, but to the ruin of
Jane's elegant mourning clothes, which had been designed for
travelling, but for travelling in an extra post-chaise. The light cloak
was as slight a protection as the thin boots; her dress became wet
through and through, while her companion, enveloped in a thick woollen
plaid, scarce felt any inconvenience from the weather, and did not
think to offer her its protection. But he seemed to take very literally
Mr. Atkins' injunction to hasten, for he hurried on in such strides
that Jane could keep up with him only through the greatest effort.

Any other woman would have declared that such a path and such a pace
were beyond her strength. But Miss Forest had determined to reach the
town as soon as possible so as to send aid to those she had left
behind, and lamentation and delay were not her business. She therefore,
more and more resolutely, drew her shoes from the mud which seemed
inclined to hold them fast, set her feet energetically into the tall,
moist grass, and kept tearing her veil loose from the hedges to which
it caught. But her manner grew more and more morose, and after a
quarter of an hour passed in this way, she halted suddenly.

"I must beg you to wait. I need a moment's rest."

These words, spoken in the sharpest tone, seemed to awaken--in her
companion a sense of his thoughtlessness. He paused, and gazed in
terror upon his protegée, who, exhausted and quite breathless, stood at
the edge of a dense hedge of willows.

"I beg your pardon, Miss; I had quite forgotten--I"--he paused, and
then added apologetically "I really am not accustomed to association
with ladies."

Jane bowed as if she would say: "I have learned that!"

The gentleman now, for the first time, seemed to be aware of the state
of the young lady's toilet. "Good heavens, you are quite wet through!"
he cried anxiously, and then glancing upward, he added in evident
bewilderment: "I believe it rains!"

"I _believe_ so!" said Jane, with an irony which happily escaped the
stranger; for he gazed searchingly around. They were both standing by
the willow-hedge, which rising from a wall of earth, after a rain of
several hours, offered no especially inviting resting place; and yet,
the gentleman seemed to regard it as such. With a hasty movement, he
tore the plaid from his shoulders, spread it carefully on the wet
ground, and with a gesture of the hand, invited his companion to take
her seat upon it.

Jane remained standing, and looked up to him. It really surpassed all
comprehension. For a whole half hour this man, with the most
indifferent air in the world, had seen her getting soaked through and
through, and now unhesitatingly, just to afford her a resting place for
two minutes, he threw into the mud the shawl which might all this while
have protected her. Anything more laughable or impracticable had never
before met her observation, and still, in this proceeding there lay
such painful anxiety, so timid an apology for former thoughtlessness,
that Jane almost involuntarily accepted the invitation, and
hesitatingly sat down.

For the first time, she now gazed attentively at her companion, who
stood close to her. As if heated by the rapid walk, he had thrown off
his hat, and stroked the rain-soaked hair from his high forehead. He
had noble, delicate features, intellectual in the highest degree, but a
transparent, sickly pallor lay upon them, and the large, blue eyes,
with their strange, dreamy expression, looked as if they had nothing at
all to do with the world and the present; as if they were gazing far
out into the illimitable distance. This young lady, with the cold,
beautiful features, and the proud, energetic glance, with an interest
peculiar and almost indefinable to herself, gazed into the face so
infinitely unlike her own.

Over all brooded the fog, and wove its gray veil around the trees and
shrubs, which, dim and shadowy, gleamed through it; softly pattered
down the rain, the first mild spring rain, which appeared to revive the
whole earth with its warm, aromatic breath; lightly murmured through
the air those strange voices, those whisperings and echoes peculiar to
the rainy landscape, and amid these mist-voices, far away and
mysterious, toned the ebbing and flowing of the still invisible river.

The whole situation had something strange, something oppressive, and
Jane, to whom these emotions were entirely new, suddenly broke loose
from their spell.

"Is that the river, down yonder?" she asked pointing out into the fog.

"The Rhine! We are on its banks."

Again there was a pause. Miss Forest impatiently broke a twig from the
willow-hedge, for a moment gazed absently at the opening buds, from
which the first green was just bursting forth, and then carelessly
threw it on the ground. Her companion bent, and lifted up the twig; she
glanced at him in surprise.

"They are the first spring buds," he said softly. "I would not see them
perish in the mud."

Jane's lips curled mockingly. How sentimental! But, indeed, she was now
in Germany! Annoyed and almost angry at this indirect reproach, the
young lady rose suddenly, and declared herself quite rested.

The gentleman was ready to go at once. Jane threw a hasty glance upon
the plaid still lying in the mud, but as he seemed to have quite
forgotten it, she did not think it worth her while to remind him of it.
They walked on silent as before, but the guide now moderated his steps,
and often looked anxiously around to see if she could follow. Another
quarter of an hour had passed, when the outlines of houses and turrets
loomed up through the fog, and the stranger turned to his companion.

"We are in B. May I ask Miss, where I shall conduct you?"

"To the house of Dr. Stephen."

He paused in surprise. "Doctor Stephen?"

"Yes! do you know him?"

"Certainly. I live in his house, and indeed"--he passed his hand
thoughtfully over his forehead--"I faintly remember having heard that
some one was expected there, a young relative, I believe."

"I was certainly expected," said Jane impatiently, "and you will oblige
me if you would shorten the waiting of my relatives as much as
possible."

"I am at your command, Miss! May I beg you to turn to the right so that
I can conduct you through the garden by the shortest path?"

Jane followed, but she soon found reason enough to execrate this
shortest path; for the hedge-way leading through the garden was worse
than the deep mud and difficulties of the path they had just gone over.
Her companion appeared to realize this himself, for after a while he
paused suddenly, and said in evident embarrassment:--

"I forgot that the path was not suitable for a lady. Shall we turn
around?"

"I think we are already half through it," answered Jane in a somewhat
exasperated tone. "The end cannot be far distant."

"It is there behind the latticed gate."

"Well, then, let us go forward."

They had advanced a hundred steps or more, when a new obstacle loomed
up. The deepest portions of the path were quite overflowed by the rain,
which here formed a real lake, that, enclosing the whole breadth of the
passage, was not to be avoided. The unhappy guide halted in utter
confusion.

"You cannot possibly pass through here," he said anxiously.

"I will try!" answered Jane resignedly, and placed the tip of her foot
in the water; but he excitedly held her back.

"Impossible! The water is a foot deep. If you only--if you would allow
me to carry you over."

The question was very timidly uttered, and with a half sympathetic,
half derisive glance, Jane's eyes swept the tall but very slender and
delicate form with its bowed shoulders.

"I thank you!" she returned with unconcealed irony. "The burden might
be too heavy for you."

The irony had a peculiar effect upon the hitherto timid stranger. A
scarlet flush suddenly shot over the pale face; with a single effort,
he drew himself up, lifted the young lady in his arms, and rushed with
her into the midst of the water. All this passed so suddenly, that
Jane, surprised and confounded, had no time for resistance, but now she
made a hasty movement, resolved to wade through the deep water, rather
than permit a liberty taken without her consent. All at once, she met
his eyes. Was it the dumb, almost plaintive entreaty that lay in them,
or was there something quite other--something strange in this glance?
Jane's eyes fell slowly, the former oppressive feeling returned with
redoubled might, and she remained motionless, while with a strength
none would have dreamed that those arms possessed, he carried her all
the way over.

"I beg your pardon," he said in a low voice, as, timidly and
respectfully, he set down his burden at the garden gate.

"I thank you," replied Jane, curtly and coldly, as she herself thrust
open the gate, and entered.

She had only taken a few steps in the garden, when a tall, almost
gigantic, figure loomed up before her.

"Herr Professor, in Heaven's name, what tempted you to go out in such
weather," he said. "And without an umbrella too! You may have taken a
cold, a fever, your death--and the plaid! Herr Professor, where then
have you left your plaid?"

Vexed and almost offended, the professor turned away from the anxious
servant, who, armed with an immense umbrella, sought to protect him in
such an obtrusive way.

"But Frederic! Do you not see the lady?" He pointed to Jane whom in his
great excitement Frederic had not remarked. This new event, the
appearance of a lady by his master's side, seemed to entirely transcend
the servant's powers of comprehension; he let the umbrella fall, and
stared at both with wide-open mouth, and in such boundless astonishment
that it was very evident such a thing had never happened before.

The professor made a hasty end to his speechless consternation. "It is
the young lady who was expected at Doctor Stephen's," he said. "Go,
now, and tell the doctor--"

He had time to say no more; for scarce had Frederic caught the first
words, when, with an unintelligible exclamation, he turned suddenly,
and shot away in mighty strides. Jane remained motionless, gazing at
the professor; her manner plainly betrayed what she began to think of
her German countrymen, and after this meeting with these two first
specimens, she began to have serious doubts as to their sanity. The
master as well as the servant was ridiculous in her eyes.

Meantime, in the house, Frederic's cry of announcement had caused a
positive uproar. Doors were opened and shut violently, stairs creaked
under light and heavy footfalls; they seemed to be in eager haste to
improvise some new reception ceremonies, or to place in order those
already begun; and when, at last, Jane, accompanied by the professor,
approached the front door, a new surprise awaited her. Rich garlands of
flowers surrounded doors and pillars, a giant "_Welcome_" was displayed
over the former; flowers were strewn upon floors and stairways, and at
the foot of the staircase stood the tall Frederic, with an immense
bouquet in his hand, which, with a proud smile on his broad face, he
held in rather an awkward manner, right before the young girl's nose.

Such a reception was evidently not to Miss Forest's taste. In her
father's house, all such superfluous sentimentality had been suppressed
in the same measure as all undue familiarity with servants had been
avoided. Jane's brows contracted, she scanned the servant from head to
foot, and as he, abashed at this ungracious stare, stepped to one side,
with a haughty wave of the hand in which there lay small thanks, but a
great deal of cold repulsion, she swept past him up the stairs, without
deigning a glance at the festal adornments in her honor, and arrived at
their head, where Doctor Stephen and his wife stood to meet her.

The professor, as if spell-bound, stood below, and gazed at her through
the door, which remained open for a moment. He saw how the young lady
at this very peculiar first meeting with her relatives, before whom she
appeared unexpectedly, drenched with rain, through the garden gate and
in the company of an entire stranger, did not for a moment lose her
self-possession. She stepped up to her uncle, with cool politeness,
reached him her hand, and with exactly the same expression, offered her
cheek to be kissed by her aunt. She then drew herself up, and stood
before them both, resolute, majestic, and self-conscious, as if at that
very first moment of meeting, she would protest against any future
guardianship or dictation from them.

The door closed, and as if awaking from a dream, the professor started
up, and glanced around at Frederic. The poor fellow still stood at the
foot of the stairs; the flowers had fallen from his hands, and he
stared motionless after the proud, beautiful apparition, that had so
rudely repelled him. His master laid a hand upon his shoulder.

"Come up with me, Frederic?"

At these words, some life entered the poor fellow's face, which
gradually assumed an expression of deep mortification. He passed his
hand through his ash-blonde hair, and with his clear blue eyes, in
which stood some tears, he gazed at his master.

"But what have I done so much out of the way?" he asked in a pathetic
tone.

"Never mind, Frederic," said the professor kindly. "The young lady is
evidently not acquainted with our German manners of reception. Come,
now!"

Frederic obeyed. He bent down and picked up his bouquet, but at sight
of it, the former mortification seemed to give place to resentment.
With an expression of rage, he hurled the bouquet far out into the
garden.

"Frederic!" The exclamation and the grave tone of his master brought
the servant at once to reflection.

"I am coming, Herr Professor!" he replied humbly, and wiping away the
tears with his hand, with bowed head, he softly followed his master up
the stairs.

                               *   *   *

More than six weeks had already passed since the arrival of the young
American, and she still remained a stranger in the house of her
relatives. It was not their fault; they had from the first treated her
with the warmest cordiality. Doctor Stephen and his wife belonged to
those good, harmless people, whose highest endeavor it is to live in
peace with all the world, and not to allow themselves to be disturbed
in the even tenor of their way. The deceased Forest had judged his
brother-in-law righteously, when he declared that he had defrayed the
expenses of himself and wife and children to America, partly out of a
good heart, but in a great measure, to be rid of the demagogue, who
threatened to bring his otherwise loyal family into constant annoyance
and suspicion.

The doctor had very much regretted that his sister's destiny was united
to that of this unfortunate man, who in his pride and obstinacy, would
let his family starve rather than accept the slightest assistance from
relatives; and he had been most firm in his conviction, that this
dreamy, eccentric radical would go to ruin in matter-of-fact America.
It had happened otherwise, and here, as elsewhere, success had won its
homage. Although Doctor Stephen and his wife had once anxiously shunned
all mention of their Forest relatives, they had of late years, gladly
and often, spoken of their brother-in-law, the millionaire across the
ocean, and the prospective visit of his daughter had thrown them into
no small excitement. If the orphan niece had come to them poor and
helpless, she would have been greeted with open arms; but the young
heiress was received with the most profound respect, and this was what
Jane especially demanded. From the first, she resisted every attempt at
outside control, and the relatives soon found that they must in no way
interfere with the young lady's independence.

In consideration of her wealth, they could cheerfully have forgiven
every whim and every fault; but they could not forgive this persistent
coldness and reticence, through which no beam of warmth ever
penetrated, and which made confidence impossible as disagreement.
Never, by word or glance, did Jane betray the slightest dissatisfaction
with the house in which she was a guest. But the pitying contempt with
which this young lady, reared in the bosom of American luxury, yielded
to their simple, plebeian way of life, was deeply felt, and wounded
none the less. After a few days' acquaintance with their niece, the
doctor and his wife came to the conclusion that she was the haughtiest,
most heartless creature in the world.

In one respect, Jane did herself wrong; her haughtiness was not founded
on the possession of riches or personal advantages; but upon that
intellectual superiority through which she ruled all around her, and
which she, ere long, began to make evident in a wider circle. Reared in
the freedom of American life, she thought the respect here paid to
leading personages slavish, the exclusiveness of certain circles
ridiculous, and the interminable titles and ceremonies of German
society called forth her bitterest irony. Her relatives, in mortal
terror, frequently heard her intrude these opinions in the presence of
strangers; but they need have given themselves no uneasiness. Miss
Forest was an American and a reputed millionaire, two peculiarities
which gave her entire freedom to do and say what would not have been
allowed to another; and this so much the more as her betrothal remained
a secret. There was scarcely a family of position in the city who did
not cherish some hopes of future relationship with this eligible young
heiress; and so, upon her entrance into society, Jane found herself
courted and nattered, a state of things not at all new to her. All the
world was enraptured with her beauty, which was in such striking
contrast to the serene, blooming freshness of the Rhineland maidens;
they flattered her pride which so often wounded; they admired the
intellect which she hardly thought it worth her while to display in
these stupid circles. The young students who, without exception,
admired and wondered at this foreign meteor which had made so sudden an
appearance among them, left no opportunity unemployed to approach and
give expression to their homage. But none succeeded even for a moment,
in penetrating the icy indifference and chill decorum of this young
lady. True to the traditions of her father, she had, upon her first
arrival in Germany, girt herself about with this icy dignity and
haughtiness, almost as with a coat of mail.

Doctor Stephen owned a pretty house in the handsomest part of B. His
family occupied only its lower story; the upper was rented to Professor
Fernow, who, called to the university almost three years ago, had since
had his lodgings here. A scientific work which had made a profound
sensation in the learned world, had won for the young man this
professorship in B. He had come here, an entire stranger, without
recommendations or acquaintances, and attended only by his servant; but
at his very first lectures, he had enforced marked attention from his
colleagues, and excited the liveliest interest among the students. With
this success he had been content; the professor was not a man to assert
himself, or claim any especial place in society. He anxiously avoided
all intercourse not indispensable to his calling; he made no visits and
received none; he shunned all acquaintanceship, declined every
invitation, and lived in the solitude of his studies. His delicate
health always served him as an excuse. At first the people of B. had
been unwilling to accept this apology, and had sought to ascribe his
strange exclusiveness to Heaven knows what mysterious and dangerous
motives; but now they were convinced that the professor was the
gentlest, most harmless man in the world, whom only his passion for
study, combined with his really impaired health, had led into such a
way of life.

Several of his colleagues, who had approached nearer to him in the way
of official relations, spoke with wondering admiration of his
astonishing knowledge and his astonishing modesty, which really shunned
all recognition, all emerging from retirement; but from their full
hearts they were content with this, for they best knew how dangerous
such a man might become to their authority, if, with this fulness of
knowledge, was united an obtrusive personality and an energetic
character. So, without opposition, they let him go on in his silent
way; his learning was esteemed without envy, his lectures were
numerously attended; but he played as unimportant a role in the
university as in society, and lived like a veritable hermit in the
midst of B.

Doctor Stephen found no occasion of complaint against his quiet tenant,
who brought neither noise nor disturbance into the house; who
punctually paid his rent, and who, when upon rare occasions he became
visible, gave a polite greeting but shunned any longer conversation.
The doctor was almost the only one who, at the professor's frequent
attacks of illness, entered his rooms, or came into any closer
relations with him; but the doctor's wife, who would gladly have taken
the sick man under her motherly wing, had not succeeded in her efforts,
and must content herself with bringing the servant under her domestic
sway instead of his master.

Frederic was not gifted with surpassing intelligence nor with especial
strength of comprehension; his intellectual abilities were small, but
in their stead, Nature had given him a giant body, and replaced his
other defects by a boundless good nature and a really touching devotion
to his master. But quite in contrast to him, he had a most decided
inclination to associate with others, and was delighted to employ for
others, the abundant leisure which the professor allowed him; and so he
helped the doctor's wife in the house, and the doctor in the garden. In
this way he had gradually become a sort of factotum for both, without
whose help nothing could be done, and it had been he who, through hours
of exertion, and an expenditure of all his powers of invention, had
prepared that unsuccessful welcome for the young American. Since that
scene he always avoided her, half-timidly, half-resentfully.



                              CHAPTER III.

                        Was it Sickness or----?


June, with its oppressively hot days, was at an end. In Professor
Fernow's lodgings it was as silent as a church on a week-day; nothing
moved here, not a sound broke the profound stillness that reigned in
these apartments. One room was like another; book-case succeeded
book-case, and upon each stood volumes in endless rows. The curtains
were let down, a dim twilight prevailed. The genius and the science of
centuries were heaped together here, but not a single fresh breath of
air intruded into this solemn seclusion.

In this study, which differed from the other rooms in nothing but
perhaps a still greater mass of books, sat the professor before his
writing table, but he was not at work; pen and paper lay unused before
him; his head thrown back against the upholstery of his easy chair, his
arms crossed, he gazed fixedly at the ceiling. Perhaps it was the green
window curtains that made his face appear so strangely pale and ill,
but his bearing also expressed an infinite weariness, as if both mind
and body were wrought to their utmost tension, and his eyes betrayed
nothing of that intensity of thought--which is perhaps just about to
solve some scientific problem; there lay in them only that melancholy,
purposeless reverie which so often absorbs the poet, so seldom the man
of science.

The door opened, and softly as this had happened, the professor
trembled with that susceptibility peculiar to very nervous persons;
Doctor Stephen appeared on the threshold, and behind him the anxious,
care-worn face of Frederic was visible.

"Good evening," said the doctor entering the room. "I have come to give
you another lecture. You are not so well to-day, are you?"

The professor glanced at him in surprise, "You are mistaken, doctor! I
find myself quite well. There must be a misunderstanding, I did not
send for you?"

"I know that," said the doctor, coolly. "You would not send for me
unless it were a matter of life or death, but this Frederic here has
declared to me that all is not quite right with you."

"And indeed it is not," said Frederic, who, as he saw the displeased
glance of his master, had taken refuge behind the doctor, and placed
himself under that gentleman's valiant protection. "He has not been
well for a long time, and I know now just when it began; it was that
day when the Herr Professor went out in the rain without his umbrella
and came back with that American Miss and without his shawl"--

"Silence, Frederic!" interrupted the professor suddenly, and with such
a vehemence, that Frederic started back affrighted before that unwonted
tone. "You would do better to attend to your own affairs, than to
meddle with things you know nothing about. Go now, and leave us alone!"

Confounded at the unwonted severity of his usually indulgent master,
Frederic obeyed reluctantly, but the doctor, without paying the least
attention to the professor's glance, which plainly enough betrayed a
wish for his withdrawal, drew up a chair and sat down in it.

"You have been at your studies again? Of course! This magnificent
summer's-day, when all the world hastens out into the open air, you sit
here from morning to night, or rather until far into the night, at your
writing desk. Tell me, for God's sake, how long do you think this can
go on, and you bear up under it?"

The professor, although not without evident reluctance, had resumed his
former seat, and appeared not yet to have become master of his
excitement. "I must have taken cold," he said, evasively.

"No, it is not cold," interrupted the doctor, "it all comes from so
much study, which has now become a mania with you, and will bring you
to your grave if you do not allow yourself some recreation. How often I
have preached this to you! But what can one do with a patient who
always listens gently and patiently, always says 'yes,' and always does
just the contrary to what he is ordered to do!"

The professor had indeed listened with great patience. "I have always
followed your directions," he affirmed in a low voice.

"Oh yes, literally! If, for example, I sent you to bed, you lay down
obediently, but had lamp and books brought to the bedside, and studied
until four o'clock in the morning instead of until two. You must
possess a good constitution to enable you to do all this; until now it
was only your nerves that were ruined. If you go on in this way a year
longer, you will have the consumption; I give you my word for that!"

The professor rested his head on his hand, and gazed straight before
him. "So much the better!" he said resignedly.

The doctor sprang up impatiently, and noisily shoved back his chair.
"There we have it! You really long for death! There is nothing healthy
in your learning. Consumption of mind and body; that is the end of it
all."

Fernow had risen at the same time. He smiled sadly. "Give me up,
doctor; I repay your care only with ingratitude! My health is entirely
undermined, I myself am best conscious of this, and with all your good
will and all your medicines you cannot help me."

"With medicines--no," said the doctor gravely. "Only a radical cure can
save you; but I fear it is quite useless to advise you."

"And what would your advice be?" asked the professor abstractedly,
fastening his glance again upon his books.

"For a year--for a whole year long, you ought not to touch a pen, not
even to look into a book, and above all, not to think of a syllable of
science. Instead of this you must take constant physical exercise, and
if you can obtain it in no other way, work with hoe and spade in the
garden and keep at it until you grow hungry and thirsty, and can defy
every change of weather. Don't look at me in such astonishment, as if I
were pointing you out the direct way to the other world; such an
entirely shattered nervous system as yours, only the most powerful
remedies can avail. It is my firm conviction, that such treatment,
energetically begun, and persistently carried through, will save you in
spite of all these premonitions of death."

The professor shook his head incredulously. "Then I certainly must
despair of cure; you must yourself know that to carry on the work of a
day laborer in my position is impossible."

"I know it to my sorrow! And you are the last who yield to such
requirements. Well then, study on in Heaven's name, and prepare
yourself for the consumption. I have preached and warned
enough.--Adieu!"

With these words, spoken in great exasperation, the good natured, but
somewhat choleric Doctor Stephen took his hat and went out at the
door; but in the ante-room, the giant figure of Frederic had posted
itself,--there was a dumb, questioning look upon his anxious
face.--The doctor shook his head.

"Nothing is to be done with your master, Frederic!" he said. "Give him
his usual medicine, it is the old complaint that has again"--

"Oh no, it is not that!" interrupted Frederic with great positiveness,
"it is something entirely new, this time, and since that day when the
American Miss"--

The doctor laughed aloud. "I hope you will not make the arrival of my
niece answerable for your professor's illness," he said, greatly
diverted at this juxtaposition of things.

Frederic lapsed into an embarrassed silence. This certainly had not
been his intention; he only knew that both these incidents occurred
together.

"Well, and how is it really with your master this time?" asked the
doctor.

Frederic, greatly embarrassed, kept twirling his hat in his hands; a
literal description of the circumstances that had so impressed him, was
beyond his power of language. "I do not know--but he is entirely unlike
himself," he persisted, obstinately.

"Nonsense," said the doctor curtly. "I must know that better. You give
him the usual medicines, and then above all see that you get him away
from his writing desk today, and out into the open air; but take care
that for his especial recreation he does not pack a folio along with
him. Do you hear?"

So saying, the physician went down the stairs, and when he had arrived
there, asked for his niece.

"She has gone out," replied Frau Stephen in a very ill humor. "She went
at four, and, as usual, alone. Speak with her, doctor, I implore you,
once again, and represent to her the impropriety and adventuresomeness
of these long, solitary walks."

"I?" said the doctor; "no, my dear, that is your business, you must
expostulate, with her yourself."

"Expostulate!" cried the old lady, angrily; "as if anyone could succeed
in that with Jane; whenever I venture a slight hint as to this or any
other of her independent proceedings, I receive this invariable reply:
'Dear aunt, please leave all such matters to my discretion;' and not
another word am I allowed to say."

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. "And do you really believe I should
succeed any better?" he asked.

"But half the city is already talking about the freedom of this girl"
cried the Frau Doctor, excitedly, "Everybody thinks us accountable for
it all, and everybody is wondering why we allow her to go on as she
does."

"Is that really so?" returned the doctor with stoical calmness. "Well,
then, I only wish that all these people who are criticising us, could
have Jane Forest in their houses a single week just to test their own
authority. They would soon get tired enough of trying to control her.
Jane, with her bluntless, and our professor up there with his
gentleness, are two obstinate mortals, with whom all B. can do nothing.
And so the only thing you and I can do about it, wife, is just let them
both have their own way."



                              CHAPTER IV.

                          The Hero of the Pen.


The doctor was right. Miss Forest troubled herself very little as to
whether the people of B. thought her solitary wandering proper or not.
Not that she had any especial inclination for solitary dreamy roamings,
but she wished to become acquainted with the environs of the town; and
as, after Atkin's departure, she found no one she thought worthy to
accompany her, she went alone.

One day, after a longer walk than usual, which took her some hours'
distance from B., she ascended the Ruènberg, from whose summit there
was a view of an ancient castle. Wearied with the long walk, she sat
down upon a relic of the old wall, and leaning against the rock, gazed
far out into the landscape. The misty veil which, on the day of her
arrival, had so densely enveloped all, had now lifted, and the beauties
then hidden from her view, now bathed in golden sunlight, lay outspread
at her feet.

She leaned farther back into the shadow of the wall. This German
landscape had an unwonted effect upon her; around it hovered a
something which at sight of the grandest natural scenery she had never
experienced, a breath of melancholy, of longing, of home-sickness.
Home-sickness! She had never understood the word, not even when she had
seen her mother die of the malady,--not even when it had so overpowered
her father in his dying hour. Now, when she trod the soil, to which
she, a stranger in all else, still belonged by the sacred right of
birth, there rose within her soul, dimly and mysteriously, as it were a
distant, half sunken remembrance of that early childhood, when her
father had not watched over her education, but had confided it entirely
to her mother, who, with old songs and legends, had awakened in the
child that longing which later the father's influence had so entirely
obliterated or changed into bitterness.

It was a strange, almost uncanny feeling for Jane; and she knew the
very moment when it began. Not at sight of a magnificent prospect like
this, not at the rich landscape-pictures of a tour up the Rhine, which
she had a little while before made with her uncle and Atkins, had this
feeling first awakened. No, it was amid the swaying mists of that
country road, at the edge of that willow hedge, from whose buds the
first green of spring burst forth, when that gray veil enveloped all
around, and only the murmur of the river broke through the silence;
then it had for the first time awakened, and, in an unaccountable
manner, it always attached itself to the form of the man who had at
that time stood near her. Jane thought only seldom, and always with a
sort of aversion, of that meeting. In spite of the ludicrousness
of the hero, there lay in it something of that romance, which the
matter-of-fact daughter of Forest so much despised; and now, just as
she was about to repel the intrusive and ever-recurring remembrance,
this became impossible;--she caught the sound of an advancing footstep,
and Professor Fernow himself came around the angle of the wall.

For a moment, Jane almost lost her presence of mind at the sudden
apparition which so peculiarly responded to her thoughts; but the
professor seemed really frightened at so unexpected a sight of her. He
started back, and made a movement to turn around, but all at once, the
impoliteness of such a step seemed to dawn upon him; after a moment's
hesitation, he bowed silently, and walked to the other side of the
wall, where he took his stand as far as possible from the young lady;
and still, from the narrowness of the space, they were none too far
apart.

It was the first time since their meeting upon the suburban highway,
that they had found themselves alone together. Their casual and
unavoidable meetings in the house and garden had always been signalized
by the professor with a shy bow, which Jane had coolly returned; they
had both shunned all conversation, and it seemed that they would
preserve the usual silence to-day. The professor had arrived,
exhausted, and out of breath; neither the weariness of the long
pathway, nor the exertion of climbing, which he had so conscientiously
undertaken in response to his physician's order for moderate exercise
in the open air, had sufficed to redden his cheeks, upon which lay the
same ashy pallor they had worn that afternoon; and the deep lines on
the young man's forehead, the dark rings around the eyes,--all these
only too well confirmed what Jane had often heard from her uncle, that
the professor was working himself to death, that his days were
numbered.

And still,--her thoughts must keep reverting to that moment when he had
stood with her before the flooded pathway. Those had not been the arms
of a consumptive which had so vigorously lifted her, so easily and
safely carried her; and that quick flush of excitement at her question
of his strength, had been anything but an indication of illness. She
could not resolve the contradiction between that moment and the usually
delicate appearance of the young man, which today was more plainly than
ever revealed to her eyes.

"Do you often climb the Ruènberg, Mr. Fernow?" began the young lady at
last, for the obstinate silence of the professor left her no choice but
to open the conversation, and she had heard enough of this eccentric
man to be aware that nothing offensive lay in his silence.

At the sound of her voice he turned hastily around, and it seemed as if
he made an effort to retain in her presence, his usual dreamy, absent
manner.

"It is the most beautiful place in the environs of B. I visit it as
often as my time permits."

"And that is perhaps very seldom?"

"It is so, and especially this summer, when I must dedicate all my
strength to an arduous work."

"Are you writing another learned work?" asked Jane in a slightly
ironical tone.

"A scientific one," returned the professor with an emphasis that
equalled the irony.

Jane's lips curled in derision.

"You think perhaps, Miss Forest, that this is both a thankless and
fruitless effort," he said, with some bitterness.

She shrugged her shoulders. "I must confess that I have none too great
reverence for book-learning, and that I cannot at all comprehend how
one can lay his whole life, a free-will offering upon the altar of
science, and write books which, like yours, Professor Fernow, are of
interest only to the learned, and which to the rest of mankind, must
always remain dead, fruitless and valueless."

This was another specimen of Jane's horrible frankness, which had so
often thrown her uncle into despair; but the professor seemed neither
surprised nor wounded. He fixed his large melancholy eyes on the young
lady's face. She already half regretted having begun the conversation,
for if she could better hold her ground before these eyes than at that
first interview, they still called forth that torturing, anxious
sensation she could not control.

"And who tells you, Miss Forest, that I do it of my own free will?" he
asked in a peculiarly emphatic tone.

"Well, one does not allow himself to be forced into such a direction,"
replied Jane.

"But supposing a homeless, orphaned child, thrown out upon life alone,
falls into the hands of a learned man who knows and loves nothing in
the wide world but science?--As a boy I was chained to the book-table,
as a youth I was restlessly impelled onward, to exert my capabilities
to the utmost, until at last the goal was reached. Whatever I in youth
possessed of health or poetry, was irretrievably lost in this process,
but he whom this useless book-learning has cost such sacrifices, is
bound to it by indissoluble ties for the rest of his life. For this, I
have sacrificed every other longing, and every hope."

There lay a sort of despairing resignation in these words, and the
melancholy glance into Jane's face which accompanied them, awoke in her
a feeling of resentment against the professor, and against herself. Why
could she not remain calm under this glance? Surely if anything could
have lowered this man in her eyes it was the confession he had just
made. And so, not even from conviction or from inspiration, but from
habit, from a vague sentiment of duty, he was working himself to death!
To Jane's energetic nature, this passive endurance and persistence in a
half-enforced calling, appeared supremely pitiable. The man who did not
possess the strength and courage to rise to his proper place in life,
might just as well sink into nothingness as a bookworm!

With a hasty excited movement, the professor had turned away from her,
and Jane too soon found herself gazing upon the landscape now all aglow
with the last beams of the setting sun. The roseate halo transfigured
earth and sky; the blue mountains in their clear, transparent outlines
caught a new lustre from the rosy light which enwrapt all the towns and
villages lying at the mountain's base; which flashed and flamed in the
green and golden waters of the Rhine as they flowed on calm and
majestic, far out into the illuminated plain, where against the western
horizon, distant and scarce discernible, like a giant mist-picture, the
mighty dome towered upward, the pride and crown of the old Rhenish
stream.

The reflection of this same fiery glow lay upon the gray,
weather-beaten stones of the old castle, upon the dark ivy which had
woven around it its thick green meshes, while the wild, luxuriant vines
hanging over the abyss, fluttered to and fro in the evening wind; and
it lay also upon the faces of the two up yonder.

Jane was for some minutes so lost in gazing at the wonderful
illumination, that she had not remarked the professor standing close by
her side, and now, she was almost frightened at the sound of his voice.

"Can our Rhine also win a moment's admiration from you?" he asked in a
tone of peculiar satisfaction.

"From me?" The thought suddenly occurred to Jane that he might have
divined something of the weakness of which she had been guilty in this
respect. She had certainly always retained a mastery over her features,
it could be only supposition; but the supposition vexed her.

"_From me?_" she repeated, in an icy tone. "You may be partly right,
Professor Fernow, I find some very charming features in this landscape,
although upon the whole, it seems to me rather narrow and poor."

"Narrow! poor!" repeated the professor as if he had not rightly
understood, while his glance, incredulous and questioning, rested upon
her face.

"Yes, I certainly call it so!" declared Jane with a tone of haughty
superiority and a touch of vexation. "To one who, like me, has lived
upon the shores of the great Mississippi, who has seen the magnificence
of Niagara, who knows the majesty of vast prairies and primeval
forests, this German landscape can appear but narrow and poor."

The professor's face flushed--a sign that he was beginning to be angry.

"If you measure a landscape by space, you are right, Miss Forest. We
are apt to employ other standards, which might perhaps seem petty to
you; but I assure you that your landscapes would appear to us supremely
empty and desolate; that we should think them tame or dead."

"Ah! Do you know them so intimately?"

"I do."

"I really wonder, Professor Fernow," said Jane with cutting irony,
"that, without having seen our landscapes, you are able to give so
positive a verdict in regard to them. You appear to think our
Mississippi region a desert, but you should at least know from your
books, that the life which rules there is infinitely richer and grander
than by your Rhine."

"An every-day life!" cried the professor growing still more excited; "a
hive of bees in a restless struggle for success, a life directed but to
the present moment! Your giant river, Miss Forest, with its thousand
steamers, with its thriving populous cities and luxuriant shores, can
never give you what the smallest wave of the Rhine brings in enticing
murmurs to us all; the spell of the past, the history of nations, the
poesy of centuries."

"To us"--here the professor suddenly and unconsciously dropped the
English in which he had been speaking, for his native German--"to us,
this chimes and echoes through a thousand songs and legends, it is
wafted to us in every rustle of the forest, it speaks to us in the
voiceless silence of every rocky cliff. From our mountains, from our
castles, the mighty forms of the past descend; in our cities, the old
races rise again in their pristine might and splendor; our cathedrals,
memorials of imperishable magnificence and power, tower heavenward; the
Loreley entices and beckons us down beneath its green waves, in whose
deepest depths, sparkles and glitters the Niebelungen horde,--all this
lives, and enchants us in and around our Rhine, Miss Forest, and this
certainly, no--stranger can understand."

Jane had listened, first in surprise, then in wonder, but at last in
utter consternation. What had all at once come over this man. He stood
before her erect and tall, his face almost transfigured by an inner
light, his eyes glowing with excitement. She listened to the deep,
fervid tones of his voice, she yielded to the spell of his eloquence,
where word crowded upon word, picture upon picture, and it seemed to
her as if here also a misty veil had been riven, and she caught a
glimpse out into infinite space--gleaming with golden light. The
chrysalis had suddenly fallen from the pale, suffering form, which so
long under a ban, now came forth into its true light, and soared to its
true place.

Jane Forest was not woman enough to remain long under such an
infatuation, without exerting all her strength to break from it. Her
whole inner being rose in arms; the whole pride and obstinacy of her
nature arrayed themselves against this power, which for some moments
had held her in willess control, against this influence that had so
oppressed her. She must break the spell, cost what it would, and with
quick determination, she grasped after the first weapon that stood at
her command--remorseless irony.

"I did not know you were a poet, Professor Fernow!" she said,
mockingly.

The professor shuddered, as if a shrill discord had met his ear; the
flush in his face died out, his eyes fell to the ground.

"_A poet?_--_I?_" he said in a half-stifled voice.

"What you have just been saying did not sound at all like prose."

Fernow sighed deeply, and passed his hand over his forehead.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Forest, for having ennuyed you with poetry.
Ascribe it to my ignorance of the rules of society,--whose first
precept is, that one must not speak to a lady of that which she cannot
comprehend."

Jane bit her lips. This "learned pedant," as she had called him this
very morning, was revealing himself in strange ways. Poetic at one
moment, he could be cruelly sarcastic at the next; but she was better
adapted to this tone; here she could meet him as equal meets equal! The
young lady in her vexation, quite overlooked the deep and painful
excitement which had goaded the professor to a bitterness so unusual
with him; and she did not cease her thrusts. She could not deny herself
the dangerous satisfaction of calling forth those lightning-like gleams
of anger from the calm, dreamy, superficial being of this man;--gleams
which betrayed passionate depths perhaps unknown to him. She felt that
only in moments of the highest inspiration or of the highest
exasperation, was he capable of these, and as it was beyond her power
to inspire him, she resolved to exasperate him.

"I wonder so much the more, Professor Fernow, that you have guarded
this susceptibility in so extraordinary a way; but really, in dreaming
and poetizing, the Germans were always in advance of us."

"In two things which stand infinitely low in your esteem!"

"I, at least, am of the opinion that man was created for deeds and not
for dreams! This poetizing is only listless dreaming."

"And consequently you despise it!"

"_Yes!_" Jane was fully conscious of the cruelty with which she uttered
this rough _yes_, but she had been challenged, she resolved to wound;
and it seemed indeed as if she had succeeded. A deep red flush mounted
to Fernow's forehead. Strange--he had taken it so calmly when she
sought to disparage science, but her attack upon poetry he would not
bear.

"You ought to be less prodigal of your contempt, Miss Forest," he said,
"and there are things which deserve it more than our poetry."

"Of which I have no conception."

"For which you _will_ have none, and which will yet assert its right,
like the home-bud at that very moment when you called it poor and
narrow."

Jane was for a moment speechless with pride and anger. What had taught
this man, who in his revenge and absence of mind often forgot the
simplest, most familiar things, to glance so deeply into her soul,
although her features never betrayed what was passing there? What
induced him, with such exasperating clearness, to bring to light
sentiments which she herself would not confess? For the first time that
indefinable oppression she always experienced in his presence, found a
decided reason; she felt dimly that in some way danger threatened her
from this man; that she must at any price hold herself far from him,
even on account of this one provocation.

Miss Forest drew herself up with her utmost dignity, and measured the
professor from head to foot. "I regret, Mr. Fernow," she said, "that
your penetrating glance has so deceived you. I alone am accountable for
my sympathies and antipathies; besides, I assure you that I thoroughly
detest sentimentality and revery in whatever form and that to me
nothing in the whole world is so antagonistic as--a hero of the pen."

The word was spoken, and, as if he had received a wound, the professor
trembled under this irony. The flame again flashed up in his face, and
from his blue eyes darted a lightning glance that would have made any
other than Jane tremble. For an instant a passionate, indignant reply
seemed to quiver on his lips; then he suddenly averted his face, and
placed his hand over his eyes.

Jane stood immovable. Now she had her will. The storm was invoked. She
had made him angry, angry as he had been that day when he had so
hastily lifted and carried her in his arms to disprove her insinuation
of his want of physical strength.

What now?

After a momentary pause, Fernow turned to her. His face was pale but
perfectly calm, and his voice lacked that peculiar vibration it had
possessed during the whole interview.

"You seem to forget, Miss Forest, that even a lady's privileges have
their limit," he said. "If the social circle in which you move, allows
you so free an expression of your opinions, I beg leave to remind you
that I do not belong to that circle, and will not tolerate direct
insults. I should have answered a man otherwise. As for you, I can only
assure you that it will henceforth be my especial care that our paths
do not again cross."

And with a bow just as cold and distant, just as haughty as Miss Forest
herself had at her command for persons not agreeable to her, he turned
away and vanished behind the wall.

Jane remained standing there motionless, in a sort of bewilderment,
which gradually yielded to the consciousness of what this man had
presumed to say to her. He had mortified, chided, repulsed her! Her,
Jane Forest! This pitiable scholar, upon whom until this hour she had
looked with sympathetic contempt! The contempt indeed was over, but who
could have dreamed that this man, so timid, so helpless in every-day
life, could in a moment, when the conventional barriers fell, become so
unmasked! In the midst of her resentment, Jane experienced something
like a deep satisfaction, that he to her and to her alone, had shown
himself in this light; but that did not lessen her exasperation,
neither did the consciousness that she had driven him to extremities,
and that the rebuke was just, in the least console her.

In one thing at least this German professor had succeeded, a success no
one had before achieved; he had broken through the icy coldness with
which the young lady had thus far met all, and had brought to the
surface an ardent glowing passionateless, which rose in arms against
him. She hated this man, who had forced upon her the first humiliation;
hated him with the whole energy of a proud, spoiled nature, which had
deemed itself unapproachable, and now for the first time had found its
master. The costly lace of her handkerchief had to atone; it lay torn
in pieces on the ground; but she did not care. Neither did she care
that the twilight was falling, that she was two hours' distance from B.
and must go back on foot; for nothing did she care after this quarrel.
With a passionate movement, she lifted her hat from the ground, and
scornfully thrust aside with her foot the ivy twigs that came in her
way.

"'It will henceforth be my especial care not to cross your path again!'
Well, Professor Fernow, you may rely upon it that I shall not cross
yours, and so I hope we have parted forever!"

Jane gave her head a toss that indicated her contempt of the whole
world in general and Walter Fernow in particular, and then with rapid
steps she swept along the path leading down into the valley. There,
dense shadows already lay, while thicker and thicker the twilight wove
its gray veil around the ruins of the old castle, around the place
where two human hearts had come so near, and had parted so far asunder.



                               CHAPTER V.
                             Face to Face.


A few days later, two gentlemen in elegant travelling dress, were
walking from the railway station, up the street leading to Doctor
Stephen's house.

"Don't be in such a hurry, Alison!" said the elder, somewhat pettishly;
"I cannot keep up with you in this heat, and what will Miss Jane think
if she happens to be at the window and sees you coming along at such a
break-neck pace?"

The warning, superfluous as it might seem, was quite in place here;
Alison moderated his pace as if he had been guilty of some unheard-of
crime, and turned the glance with which he had been impatiently
scanning the houses, to his companion.

"Meeting you was a great surprise," continued Atkins. "We believed you
in London; was it not your plan to go directly from there to Paris?"

"Certainly, but as business called me to the Rhine, and as Miss Forest
had been for some weeks in B., I came out of my way so as to pass a few
days with her. I was very much surprised at your decision to accompany
her to Germany."

"You were surprised because I always derided the country," returned
Atkins indifferently. "I came here mostly on Miss Forest's account, she
is the only practical thing in this sentimental land; I am nominally
Miss Jane's guardian, although she is more than independent in all
things; and I did not think it proper for her to cross the ocean alone.
And, besides, as I know so many Germans in America, I would not deny
myself the satisfaction of admiring them in their own much vaunted
fatherland. I hope you thank me for remaining at the side of your
betrothed."

"Certainly!" replied Alison in a somewhat chilly tone, "I am only
astonished that the requirements of Miss Forest demanded so long an
absence on your part."

The old sarcasm again appeared in its full sharpness on Mr. Atkins'
face, as he cuttingly replied. "Give yourself no uneasiness, Henry.
Your future fortune is in safe hands."

"I did not ask in my own interest," said Alison angrily.

"But in those of Miss Jane, which in a year's time will be yours. Well,
do not get angry! It is only natural that you should concern yourself
with this matter, and I perhaps owe you some explanation. You know, I
suppose, that the deceased Mr. Forest, during the last years of his
life, converted most of his property into money. The money is safely
deposited, all the other business was settled in two months after his
death; the landed property is in good hands; a fortune entrusted to my
stewardship would not be placed in jeopardy for the sake of a pleasure
tour, Mr. Alison."

In spite of his displeasure, Henry had listened with marked attention
and satisfaction, he now knew the most important thing, and quickly
changing the subject, he asked:

"And how do you like Germany?"

"I find it tedious enough. It is just what I thought, and the life here
in this learned city of B. is perfectly unendurable! I assure you that
by staying here Miss Jane makes a sacrifice to her father's wishes. I
assure you she is thoroughly disgusted with these formalities and
sentimentalities among which she gets so hopelessly entangled, while I
take an unceremonious flight away from them all."

"And was it on this account you went to Hamburg?"

"No, I had business there."

"Do you employ your European travels in business transactions," asked
Alison gravely.

"Not I; I went in Miss Forest's interests. It was to look after an old
debt we have often tried to settle, but in vain."

The young merchant's attention was now fully aroused.

"Is the debt a large one?" he asked, as if incidentally.

"Yes."

"And you hope to secure it?"

"I hope so."

"Then I wish you success," said Alison with animation. "It is always
pleasant for a merchant to cancel old debts."

"Do you think so?" asked Atkins maliciously. "It may cost us half a
million."

Happily, Alison did not hear these last words, which were spoken only
half aloud; for at this moment, his whole attention was directed to the
windows of the house before which they halted. Atkins rang the bell and
the door was opened by Frederic who was expecting his master. His face
grew noticeably long as he saw Mr. Atkins, who, during his stay in B.,
had not laid claim to the doctor's hospitality, but had lodged at a
hotel, daily calling at the house where his ward was staying.

"Is Miss Forest at home?"

"No."

"And Doctor and Mrs. Stephen?"

"They, too, have gone out."

"Are they expected back soon?"

"Every minute."

"Then we shall do better to wait here in the garden than to go back to
the hotel," said Atkins. "Frederic, announce our arrival to the family
immediately upon their return."

Frederic gazed after the retiring gentleman with open displeasure. "And
here is another! This makes the third who has come. These American
guests will at last drive us out of house and home. I wish"--His
further mutterings were lost in the closing of the door which he had
shut with such violence that the window panes rattled.

"What is the matter with the fellow?" asked Alison, as they entered the
garden, "he gave us a very singular reception."

Atkins laughed. "A German bear, gigantic, snappish, awkward, into whose
wooden head a sort of national antipathy against us seems to have
entered. I cannot boast of having seen anything but this bearish manner
in him, although to others he is harmless and good natured, even to
stupidity."

"Is he a servant out of the house?"

"Not exactly, he is in the employ of a--Ah, Professor Fernow!"
exclaimed Atkins suddenly interrupting himself, "I am delighted to see
you!"

The professor, who was just returning from the university, and had, as
usual, taken the path through the garden, returned the salutation and
drew nearer.

"How do you do, Professor Fernow?" asked Atkins patronizingly. "You
look ill; that comes from your learning! Will you permit me to
introduce you to a countryman of mine? Mr. Alison, Mr. Fernow,
professor in the university, and inmate of Doctor Stephen's house."

Countryman! Inmate of the doctor's house! These were two very
indifferent, commonplace designations, upon which Atkins had not laid
the slightest emphasis, and still they appeared to strike both young
men in the same way. Alison's dark glance, with a suddenly awakened
suspicion, fixed itself sharply and searchingly upon the professor's
face, and Fernow's blue eyes flamed up in painful excitement, as he
returned the glance with unwonted spirit. It was as if both in this,
the first moment of their meeting, had a presentiment of hostile
relations hereafter. Each bowed coldly and haughtily, as if an
invisible barrier already lay between them.



                              CHAPTER VI.

                        A Strange Presentiment.


Atkins, with his wonted vivacity, sought to introduce a conversation,
but he did not succeed. For all that was said to him, Alison had a
cold, polite assent; and the professor, even more reticent than usual,
seized the first opportunity to take refuge in the house. After a few
minutes, in his timid, courteous way, he took leave of the elderly
American, bowed silently and distantly to his young companion, and left
the two alone.

"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?"

Before Alison could reply, they were interrupted; a young servant girl
appeared to announce the arrival of the lady of the house and Miss
Forest, and to invite the gentlemen in.

Jane, with her usual self-importance, had kept her engagement secret
from her relatives, and the betrothed pair met as strangers.



                              CHAPTER VII.

                         Lovers, Yet Strangers.


Five months had passed since Alison had seen Jane for the last time, in
the elegant reception-room of her father's house, in an elegant toilet;
now the tall figure came to meet him in a dark mourning dress, in the
centre of the old-fashioned, simply-furnished apartment, which here
served as the reception-room. Was it the contrast or the long
separation? He had never seen her so beautiful.

"Pardon me, Miss Forest, for coming to visit you on my travels. Mr.
Atkins assured me I should meet a kindly reception."

Jane reached him her hand. "A countryman is always welcome." Her glance
met his; there was a wordless greeting; the only one between them;
otherwise no token, not even the slightest, betrayed that here was a
pair of betrothed lovers, who met after a half year's separation. Both
had too much control over their features, were too much accustomed to
conventional barriers, to betray a relation not yet designed for
publicity.

Jane turned to her aunt, and presented "Mr. Alison, a friend of our
family?" Frau Stephen bowed; she could not understand the confidence
and independence with which her niece received and dismissed strange
gentlemen, this girl of twenty years, who, in her opinion, should still
take refuge under her aunt's maternal wing, and at the most, only now
and then venture a timid remark. Jane, had simply transposed matters,
and assigned her aunt the silent rule. This by no means timid old lady
had begun to be wholly controlled by the influence of her niece; she
now remained passive and overwhelmed by a feeling of her entire
inconsequence.

Alison had seated himself opposite the ladies. They spoke of his
travels, of England and France, of the Rhine; but Henry's
conversational powers were not brilliant. He waited from minute to
minute, and with ever increasing impatience, for Atkins to give him an
opportunity to be alone with Jane, but Atkins appeared to feel a lively
satisfaction in his repressed vexation, and opened out the conversation
to seemingly endless limits. The young American was not the man to be
trifled with in this way; as no one came to his aid, he himself seized
the helm, and simply requested Miss Forest to allow him to give over to
her the letters and tidings from home which were designed for her
alone.

Jane arose, and with a hasty apology to her aunt, conducted the young
gentleman into the sitting-room adjoining the reception-parlor, leaving
Mr. Atkins to console the old lady for this new American freedom.
Scarce had the door closed behind them, when Alison stepped up to her,
and with a powerfully repressed, but still impassioned gesture, took
her hand in his.

"Pardon me Jane, for resorting to this awkward device! I could bear the
suspense no longer."

He held closely the beautiful, cold hand which as before lay
unresisting in his, but did not return its pressure.

"You should have chosen some less transparent device, Henry! Mr. Atkins
would, sooner or later, have found an excuse for leaving us alone. It
would of necessity have occurred to my aunt that we would prefer to
speak of home matters by ourselves."

This cool reply somewhat restrained Alison's ardor. "You seem very
much to fear lest Doctor Stephen may gain some knowledge of our mutual
relations."

"I certainly hope that he will not."

"And still it cannot be avoided."

"I believe that remains alone with us, and so much the more so as your
stay in B. is to be limited to a few days."

"Certainly! It does not appear that I have especial reasons for
lengthening my visit."

Jane felt the thrust, and thought best to waive a subject that
threatened to be dangerous.

"You will go to Paris? They are speaking of a possible war with
France."

Alison shrugged his shoulders. "I do not believe in such a possibility,
but should it come to that, I should naturally return to be at your
side and conduct you home, if the French army overflowed the Rhine
country and Germany."

"Do you really think that would happen?"

"Yes! Have you any other idea?"

Jane threw back her head with a defiant gesture. "And yet, I think we
should know how to defend our Rhine!"

"_We_? _Our_ Rhine?" repeated Alison sharply. "I thought, Miss Forest,
that hitherto it had been your pride and your glory to call yourself a
daughter of that country to which you belong in all things--save the
first brief days of your infancy."

Jane bit her lips so passionately, that a slight drop of blood came
from them. Who bade these unwary lips even here repeat a reminiscence
that would not vanish from her memory? '_We_? _Our_ Rhine?' These were
indeed not her own words, and the remembrance of that moment when she
had heard them so glowing, so inspired, from another's mouth,
involuntarily sent a deep flush to her face. She turned hastily away,
and bent over the flowers standing in the window.

Alison regarded her silently, but, intently and persistently. "It seems
that you have already imbibed German sympathies," he said at last.

"I?" With a half-angry movement, Jane turned to him. "You err, Henry! I
feel myself, even here circumscribed, exasperated. My stay here is a
daily and hourly sacrifice! It is scarcely endurable."

In spite of her self-control, there was a peculiar emotion in her
voice, and this did not escape Alison, who had always seen her so cold;
but he interpreted it falsely; his eyes suddenly lighted up with a
deep, inward satisfaction; he stepped close to her and again took her
hand.

"Well then, Jane, it lies in your power to shorten this sacrificial
period. Give me now the right you were to confer upon me after a year's
delay, and you fulfil my highest wish. In a few weeks the necessary
formalities might be arranged, and we could pursue together our
continental travels; or, if you wished, I would at once take you back
to America."

"No, Henry, no! that is impossible!"

Alison let her hand fall, and morosely stepped back, "Impossible!"
repeated he cuttingly.

"And why so?"

Jane might well feel that her almost violent refusal rendered an
explanation necessary.

"I am still in mourning for my father!" she said gently, "and in this
entire matter I simply follow his arrangements and his wishes."

"It was your wish, Jane, not Mr. Forest's, I understood, that, in the
presence of a dying father, you did not wish to be a bride; and it was
my own journey which so long deferred the time fixed upon for our
union. The one reason exists no longer; and destiny, which after months
of separation, has now united us, has done away with the other. If,
during your year of mourning, you do not wish to marry, so be it. I
will not urge you, but I implore, I demand that you no longer veil our
mutual relations in this profound secrecy; that you publicly
acknowledge yourself my betrothed, and give me the right to visit you
as your accepted suitor in the house of your relatives."



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                          The Heiress at Bay.


There was such energy in his manner, such determination in his just
demand, that evasion seemed impossible, and any other young lady would
scarce have attempted it; but Alison forgot that Jane--was quite a
match for him, that her energy was quite equal to his, and that this
tone was least of all designed to incline her to obedience. This "_I
demand_," sounded very strange and harsh in the ears of the proud girl.
It called forth all her obstinacy.

"You forget, Mr. Alison, that the time has not yet come for you to
'_demand_,'" she said coldly. "I have imposed upon you a condition which
you promised to fulfil; the reason therefor, now as then, rests solely
in my judgment. I do not release you from your promise. I _will_ not!"

The young lady's entire strength of determination lay in this "_I will
not?_" and it sounded just as defiant and provoking as those other
words from her lips a few days before. Perhaps she wished to drive this
man also to extremities; but here the effect was different.

Alison was for an instant silent. Had Jane been merely beautiful and
not rich, the wounded self-esteem of this man would have perhaps called
forth an answer, which, from the bluntness of both characters, must
have led to an irreparable breach. But the young merchant knew how to
count the cost; he would not give up this valuable possession for a
woman's whim, and he well knew that here he could assert no authority.
He yielded; but there was a portentous cloud on his forehead.

"You are as immovable and hard as a stone, Jane! Well, let it be as you
wish, but"--his voice trembled in suppressed resentment--"but do not
forget that I, too, have received a promise, and that at the appointed
time, I will demand its fulfilment, inexorably as you have demanded
mine."

Jane had become ashy pale, but her eyes met his firmly and undoubtedly.
"My word is as good as my oath; I would break one as soon as the
other," she said.

"And you repeat this oath to me now of your own free will?" His eyes
were fixed searchingly upon her face. She seemed to hesitate for one
moment, only one; then she laid her hand hastily in his. "I repeat
it--of my own free will!"

Alison drew a deep breath, and pressed the hand ardently. "I thank you,
Jane," he said. "In the spring I shall come back to demand my wife;
until then, you are free as you have wished to be." A pause, oppressive
for both, followed; Jane was the first to speak.

"I think we ought not to prolong this interview. It must be time to
return to my aunt and Atkins."

Alison made no reply; he silently opened the door, and followed her
into the next room, where Doctor Stephen had meantime appeared. The
doctor's jovial vivacity which quite equalled Atkins' sarcasm, led the
conversation into more agreeable channels.

"Well, how do you find Miss Jane?" asked Atkins, as half an hour later
he withdrew with his young countryman.

"Greatly changed!" was the short morose answer.

Atkins looked vexed. "Foolishness! It is you who are changed, Henry!
You have caught the spleen in England; it is time that merry Paris
should be curing it."

Alison made no reply, he hastily reached Atkins his hand, and went.



                              CHAPTER IX.

                             On the Scent.


Meantime Jane had sought her own room, whither Atkins now followed her.
She advanced to meet him, and hastily, as if she would cut short any
other topic which might be supposed to more nearly concern her, she
asked; "Do you bring me tidings of your journey? I can imagine its
success! It is sheer foolishness, like all else that has thus far been
done!"

"It is not so this time!"

Jane gazed at him as if she did not trust her ears.

"What do you say?"

"We have a trace."

Jane trembled. "Of my brother?"

"Be calm, be calm, Miss Jane," said Atkins, coolly, as he laid a hand
upon her arm. "The matter is in no way decided! A trace which appeared
only to vanish immediately, and which leaves us only a weak prop for
future investigation; that is at present the only result I can impart
to you."

Miss Forest had already regained her self-possession. "Very well! It is
the first sign of life and being. What have you discovered? How did you
discover it?"

Atkins quietly drew her to the sofa, and sat down by her side.

"Moderate your impatience, Miss Jane. I will be brief and clear as
possible; you may learn later the results. You know that as we passed
through Hamburg I took all necessary steps, I notified the police, I
advertised in the public journals; but as usual in such cases, no
answer came. Four weeks after, at your request, I returned to Hamburg
to convince myself personally, of the hopelessness of our efforts. The
first days of my stay, this seemed to be the only result of my journey;
but on the third, a sailor came to see me."

"A sailor?" repeated Jane in astonishment.

"Yes, he had just landed, and had accidentally seen my advertisement.
He came to tell me that twenty years before, some neighbors of his
parents, poor fishermen who lived in a little village on the coast of
the North Sea, coming from Hamburg, where they had been to market, had
brought with them a boy they had found there, had kept him and reared
him with their own son. The man's statement was so positive that it
induced me to pay him the reward offered, and to write at once to the
designated place."

Jane had listened with passionate intentness.

"And you have received an answer?"

"Yes, an answer with the minutest details. You will yourself read the
letter, it has convinced me that this boy was really our young master
Forest. The date, the age, the incidental descriptions, all agree with
my advertisement. The failure of our investigations hitherto is easily
explained. With the usual indiscretion of such people, instead of
notifying the authorities of their discovery of the lost child, these
fishermen calmly waited for some person to claim him sooner or later,
and meantime, adopted him as their own. To that wretched, sandy
fishing-hamlet, shut out from all the world, a newspaper scarce ever
penetrates, this accounts for the failure of Doctor Stephen's efforts
to find the child."

"Well, what about these people?" interrupted Jane, with eager
impatience.

"They are dead! They died a few years after, and as their poor
neighbors could and would not be burdened with the care and support of
the two boys, the fisherman's son was sent to a relative, an artisan in
a small North-German town, and young master Forest was received into
the house of a clergyman in one of the adjoining villages; but years
ago he gave up his parish and left that region. Here ends the letter,
and my investigations for the present."

With a deep sigh, Jane arose. Discouraging as were these last words, it
required only the slightest hint of her brother's possible existence,
to arouse all her energies to action. In one minute she had reviewed
all, had mastered the whole situation with her wonted clear-sightedness
and promptness.

"We must above all things ascertain the abode of this clergyman, and in
order to do this we must make inquiries in his former parish. If he is
not to be found, then we must extend our inquiries to the mechanic who
adopted the other boy; perhaps he still keeps up some sort of
correspondence with his youthful associate. In any event, we must
quickly and decidedly follow the clue we had scarce hoped to find."

"That is my opinion. I only wished to advise with you in regard to the
necessary proceedings. But one thing more! I have at your express wish,
thus far, kept all this from Mr. Alison; he has no suspicion of the
possible existence of a brother-in-law. Is it not time now to confide
it to him?"

"No!" said Jane, almost roughly. "Not until we are sure. We could
expect from him neither assistance nor gratification in efforts which
would possibly deprive him of half the fortune upon which he reckons."



                               CHAPTER X.

                          FOR VALUE RECEIVED.


The strange tone of her voice was remarked by Atkins. "What has
occurred between you and Henry? He, too, was out of humor. Have you had
a quarrel?"

"Yes," said Jane with sullen frankness, "I offended him."

"And he?"

"He?" The young girl's lips curled in scorn. "Well, he bore it."

Atkins frowned. "Have a care, Jane!--Alison is not the man to forgive
an insult, least of all from you. He may have borne it for the moment,
but he will never forget it, and you may have to atone for it at some
future day. I know him!"

"And so do I! Have no anxiety, Mr. Atkins, I do not fear this sort of
revenge, neither do I care for it!"

"Avoid that tone, Miss Jane, at least in speaking of him. You might
drive him to break his troth."

"Hardly! Mr. Alison too well knows my value to him."

Atkins shook his head. He had never before seen his ward thus. "You
know as well as I, that Alison loves you in spite of all, and would
have loved you without your fortune," he said.

"And would have chosen me?"

He was silent.

"Spare your championship!" said Jane bitterly. "I know to what
considerations I shall alone owe the honor of one day being called Mrs.
Alison!"

Atkins fixed his keen glance upon her for a moment. "And is this
anything new to you?" he asked deliberately. "Did you not know this
just as well as now when, five months ago you promised him your hand?
and this promise which the heir and future head of the house of Alison
and Company then received"--he laid a marked emphasis upon the
words--"would it have been given him if he had, for example, held there
the modest position of clerk?"

The thrust took effect, for a moment, as if conscious of guilt, Jane
lowered her head; the words with which she had announced her betrothal
to her father came back to her remembrance. At that time all this had
appeared simple and natural; now, indeed, five months had come and
gone, five months and--three days!

"You see," continued Atkins cuttingly and relentlessly, "that the
dollar also played its role with you, and why not? Mr. Forest educated
you into sensible conceptions of life and its realities. Love is a
luxury,--which the rich only can allow themselves--and Alison allowed
it in his choice. But one must not fall so deeply in love as to forget
one's reckoning, which is still the main thing in life."

"In America--yes!" said Jane in a hollow voice.

Atkins shrugged his shoulders. "In Germany there certainly may be
extravagantly sentimental heads, that would have no regard at all for a
million, and are in a position to unhesitatingly turn their backs to an
heiress, if they happen to be not quite pleased with her. Will you
reproach Mr. Alison, because he knows better how to estimate such
advantages? Those gentlemen in their exalted manly pride may appear
very magnanimous, but--they will never become millionaires."

"You are right," said Jane hastily, and in a voice of icy coldness.
"_To every one his own_."

Atkins gazed at her as if he did not really know what the answer meant.
She had again become thoroughly Miss Forest in her impenetrable repose,
as she now stood before him, and yet, there had been a tone of irony in
her words. But it was a useless endeavor to seek to solve the enigma
to-day; he gave it up.

Rising at the same time, he took a letter-case from his pocket and
reached it to her. "We have arrived at the main thing," he said. "Here
you find the letter I have mentioned, and all the other notices;
examine them critically. This evening I will consult farther with you;
now, I must leave you."

Jane reached him her hand. "I thank you!" she said, "And as for my
ill-humor to-day"--the apology seemed difficult to her, but she must
have felt its necessity--"think nothing more about it. There are moods
we cannot control. I shall see you again."

When Atkins was outside the door, he paused, and once more shook his
head. "There are moods, ahem! This is wonderful. Henry has
presentiments and she moods!--Things they had better let alone, both of
them. But he is right; she is changed; and if I were to begin to
surmise, then I should say"--here Mr. Atkins hurled a very ungracious
glance over to the watery mirror of the river glittering in the sun,
and which was visible between the trees of the garden--"I should say
there lies a sort of premonition here in this German atmosphere, and
that this accursed Rhine, before we think of it, will be letting loose
something of a tempest about our heads!"



                              CHAPTER XI.

                            The Dawn of War.


The American's words proved true, although in another sense than he had
intended. His apprehensions became a political prophecy. There was
indeed something in this German atmosphere, and it was upon the Rhine,
that the first lightnings gleamed, heralding the approaching storm.
France had declared war! The blow came like a thunderbolt from a clear
sky, and as in rolling thunders, from its rocky mountains to the sea,
all Germany echoed the call to arms in thousand-fold reverberations.

Upon the Rhine, every city, village and hamlet was all aglow; here, the
excitement was more fiery, more ardent than elsewhere; for it was the
Rhineland for whose sake the momentous game was to be played, and every
man, down to the poorest peasant, felt himself called upon to defend
his precious inheritance, to avenge his insulted country, and prevent
the intended robbery. In one giant, unbroken procession, Germany threw
its assembled forces upon the imperiled boundaries; mightier and
mightier swelled the advancing tide of armed men, more and more densely
grouped the soldier-masses around the threatened palladium of the
nation. For this, the enemy was not half prepared. Those green waves
already rolled on under secure protection; shoulder to shoulder, stood
the now united Germany, keeping guard on the banks of its Rhine, ready
to protect the sacred, ancient stream or to hurl it, an annihilating
tide, into the enemy's country.

Nowhere did the fires of enthusiasm mount higher than in B. The
students hastened to join the ranks or the sanitary corps; the
professors closed their lectures, and when age and health permitted,
placed themselves at the head of the students; the women exerted all
their powers to send aid and comfort to the soldiers soon to be wounded
in the field. All were impelled onward as by one mighty impulse; all
was feverish activity and excitement; here, in the city, the once
strictly-guarded barriers of class and position were broken down; here,
as throughout the fatherland, the old hostility between North and South
was forgotten; all united in one common sacrifice, one renunciation;
all were borne onward by one common tempest of enthusiasm.



                              CHAPTER XII.

                         A Rocket in the Camp.


In the first days of this excitement, upon a lovely July morning, Jane
sat alone in the balcony chamber, whose doors, leading to the garden,
were wide open. Outside, the glowing sunshine lay upon grass and shrub,
upon the waves of the river gliding past; the roses were in their full
splendor; beetles and butterflies flitted merrily past, and the large,
old-fashioned room, with its vine-wreathed windows, its high backed
chairs and sofas, its monotonously ticking wall-clock, looked as
peaceful and comfortable as if no outside alarm of war could disturb
the rest and peace of this house.

But no rest and peace lay upon the face of this young girl; bending low
over a newspaper, she seemed to be reading something which fettered her
whole attention; for in eager intentness, her glance followed the
lines, and she neither heard the advancing step nor saw the form which
stood close before her upon the balcony.

"Are you so much absorbed, Miss Jane?" said Atkins entering the room.
"You seem to have found something very interesting. But what can be the
matter with you?"

Jane had hastily risen, and turned her face to him; the newspaper was
still in her hand. If she had not been accustomed to such strict
self-control, perhaps her features would still more have betrayed the
stormy emotion which thrilled her whole being; now only the glowing
cheeks, the flaming eyes expressed it; but they said enough to give the
lie to her hasty subterfuge.

"It is nothing, nothing at all; only I am suffering from the
intolerable heat, from which I have vainly sought refuge here."

Atkins gazed at her distrustfully, and a sudden thought seemed to occur
to him; there was only one single topic upon which he had ever seen
Jane excited.

"Have you learned anything further of that affair? Have you found a new
trace?"

Jane had already mastered her emotion. She calmly laid down the paper.
"Nothing of that sort; nothing at all! I was hoping, on the contrary,
that you came to bring me new tidings."

He shook his head. "I have received none; I expected none. The
authorities at this moment have neither time nor inclination for
private researches; these would be difficult to them now, when
everything human and otherwise, is so out of place. A journey on our
part would be of no avail; aside from the impossibility of travelling
now, we do not know where to go. Weeks may pass before we receive an
answer to our last letter; we shall be obliged to wait."

"Wait!" echoed Jane, "yes, wait forever! And meantime we lose the clue
we have just found. How sad it was that this fisherman and his wife
must die!"

"It was a very fortunate thing for you and young Mr. Forest," returned
Atkins dryly; "for this alone rescued him from the circle into which
untoward fates had thrown him. We certainly do not know upon what
footing he entered that clergyman's house; let us hope it was as a
foster-son, and that all former neglect was there repaired. In any
other case the much desired re-union might be very painful; or, would
it be a matter of indifference to you, Miss Jane, to find your nearest
blood relation unfitted to move in your own sphere?"

The young lady was silent. She had often thought that she should find
her brother poor,--but low or ill-bred,--the idea had never for a
moment occurred to her; and it now won scarce a moment's power over
her; her whole pride rose against it.

"My brother has the blood of his father in his veins; that tolerates no
lowness! If he lives, he has risen above a sphere unworthy of him. I
know that!"

"Without having learned either to read or write? Ahem! You forget that
education aided your father in all his undertakings. A student who has
received his education in a German high school, is fitted for any
station in life. A fisherboy--well I hope our excellent clergyman has
saved us from that mortification; but this war, which has so suddenly
broken out, plays us a sorry game; it brings all our researches to an
end."

With a sigh of impatience, Jane resumed her seat, while Atkins stepped
to the table and took up the newspaper in which he had found her so
absorbed.

"Have you read the 'Appeal to the German Nation' that stands at the
head of the first column?" asked he.

"Yes," came hesitatingly, and as it were with inward reluctance, from
Jane's lips.

"A strange composition!" said Atkins, half mockingly, and half with a
gravity not usual to him. "I do not comprehend how a man can mix such a
senseless lot of poetry into the prose of a newspaper article. In any
event, the author of this must be some sort of a poet, and certainly
none of the worst. A mere journalist surely has not written it: it has
altogether too much."

"Inspiration!" added Jane, with that rare uplighting of her dark eyes.

"Yes, but that means it is extravagant! Well, this German inspiration
always is! But the article has genius and fire, we must admit that; and
in the present excitement of B., which is already at the boiling point,
it will be like a spark in a powder-keg. Half the city has already lost
its senses over it, every student in the university is frantic; the
words are setting fire to everything, like congreve rockets. I only
wonder how long this brilliant display of fireworks is going to last."

Jane glanced at him somewhat scornfully. "But all this at least gives
you a change," she said not without irony. "You found Germany so dull,
past all endurance."

"Yes, I did find it so!" growled Atkins, "but I would rather endure the
former dulness than be here among a crazy people, whose only
praiseworthy virtues, humility and modesty, are now entirely discarded.
Do you suppose that they now respect us foreigners, that they concern
themselves at all about us? I am horribly neglected at my hotel; every
care and attention is for the German officers. On the streets, at
re-unions, in conversation, I am every hour made to feel how utterly
superfluous a being I am among these Teutonic gentlemen. Your amiable
Herr Frederic thinks it no longer necessary to place the least rein
upon his bearish nature, and seems every day to develope a greater
appetite for devouring me at breakfast. Even the good Frau Stephen
begins to assert herself! Did she not yesterday say something really
malicious to you when you would not allow yourself to be pressed into
her patriotic committee? Would she have dared this a little while ago?
They are rebelling even against you, Jane; you must see it. Heiress!
American! Englishman! All these are nothing to them, now that they have
become a united people. They need none of us any more; they are
Germans."

At the last words, a deep flush mounted to Jane's forehead, but she did
not look up.

"I have declared to my aunt, that as soon as there are suffering and
danger to relieve, I will be in my place; but that I think these
enthusiastic demonstrations, in which the ladies now so much delight,
unnecessary and superfluous."

"And so they are!" replied Atkins, excitedly. "Hold your ground there,
at least! Do not yield a foot's-breadth. And now just hear that uproar
at the doorbell! I would wager, that here is again some newly aroused
patriot, who, a week ago, rang the bell modestly, and now, as a matter
of course, introduces himself with this deafening clamor!"

The malice of the American had this time been directed against his
host. It was Doctor Stephen who now opened the door, and rather
excitedly entered.

"Well, and even this shall--Ah, I beg your pardon, I did not know that
any one was here. But I had to ring three times before the maid stirred
out of her kitchen. When Frederic is not in the house all goes wrong."

"And I, too, missed our distinguished porter!" said Atkins with that
extraordinary politeness which with him always concealed some malice.
"In any event, we must congratulate the Prussian army upon such an
acquisition."

"Yes, Frederic has received marching orders," said the doctor, with a
suppressed sigh. "He rode over to H. yesterday, but is to return. The
professor went at the same time."

"Professor Fernow? And what has he to do in H.?"

"He must submit to the formality of an examination, which in times like
these none can easily avoid. Of course it will be only a form with him,
but we shall have to lose Frederic. We can get along without him; but
how the professor, who he has so petted and spoiled, can content
himself with another servant, Heaven only knows!"

So saying, the doctor stepped over to his niece, who seeming to pay no
heed to the conversation, had again taken up the newspaper. He looked
over her shoulder at the sheet.

"I think you exaggerate Professor Fernow's interest in unlearned and
practical things," said Atkins mockingly. "Behind his writing-table and
his folios, he will as little remark the change of servants, as he
would have remarked anything of the war, if he had not been obliged to
take that journey to H."

The doctor's small gray eyes gleamed with a peculiar malicious pleasure
as he glanced over to the American, "Ah! Do you really think so? Have
you read the 'Appeal to the German nation' which appears in the journal
today?"

"Yes," replied Jane hastily, while with a sudden intentness, she raised
her eyes to her uncle.

"And you too, Mr. Atkins?"

"The congreve rocket which this morning set afire the good city of B.,
and will probably enflame hundreds of other cities? Yes, Doctor
Stephen, we have read it."

"That delights me. The congreve rocket came out of my house--the
article is by Professor Fernow."

Jane trembled, and let the journal fall as if she had all at once taken
a glowing coal into her hand; but Mr. Atkins started from his chair,
stood erect a moment, and then just as suddenly sat down again.

"It is not possible!" said he dryly.

"Well, I have heard that word at least thirty times to-day?" replied
the doctor triumphantly, without feeling in the slightest degree
offended. "All have cried out to me, 'impossible!' I could not have
believed it myself if the awkwardness of Frederic, who was sent to take
the article to the printing office, had not revealed all. I naturally
awaited its effect, and then I gave my secret to the four winds. It
fell like a bomb into the university; it has kindled a fire everywhere.
The professor must make up his mind to a reception when he returns, and
I to a scene with him, for he will be enraged at my indiscretion. Bah!
He did not take me into his confidence, I had no silence to keep. What
do you say to all this, Jane!"

"I? nothing!" said Jane with the severest tone and emphasis that lay at
her command. Then she turned away, went to the window, and pressed her
forehead against the panes.

"And you, Mr. Atkins!"

The gentleman addressed leaned back resignedly in his chair.

"I shall await further developments, Doctor Stephen. You will perhaps
next inform me that the professor has stormed a battery, and that
Frederic has given an archaeological lecture in his place. Do not seek
to spare me in the least; I am prepared for all; I shall never again be
surprised at anything here in Germany."

The Doctor laughed aloud; but his merriment all at once ceased, and he
gazed anxiously out at the window.

"What has happened now? Here is Frederic coming back already, and in
such haste! What is the matter with the fellow? He seems greatly
agitated."

It was surely Frederic hastening at a full run through the garden. He
now burst into the room in such excitement that even the presence of
the much feared American Miss and her more hated companion, did not
affect him in the least.

"What is the matter?" asked the doctor hastily. "Has anything happened,
Frederic?"

"Yes," whispered Frederic, breathlessly. "Something has happened--the
Herr Professor"--

"An accident? Where? Upon the railway or over in H. Speak out quickly!"
urged the doctor, in serious alarm.

"Over in H.!" burst out Frederic despairingly. "The Herr Professor--he,
too, is going with us to the field--we march to-morrow morning!"

The momentary effect of these words was a deathly silence. Jane had
turned around, and was gazing at the unhappy messenger as if she
seriously doubted his sanity; the doctor stood there as if struck by a
thunderbolt; but Mr. Atkins, after an instant's pause, said, half
aloud:--

"Now, nothing is really wanting, now, but Herr Frederic's lecture upon
archaeology!"

"But are my military colleagues fools?" broke out the doctor, in great
exasperation. "Professor Fernow declared capable of bearing arms! My
patient, who I have attended for three years! How in Heaven's name has
this happened?"

"I do not know how it really came about," said Frederic, to whom
anxiety and excitement had lent a wonderful gift of speech; "but it is
my master's own fault. I was standing very near him when one of the
doctors gave him a side glance, shrugged his shoulders, and said: 'Well
you are not fit for military duty; you could scarce carry a musket!'
God only knows why the Herr Professor took this so ill; his whole face
all of a sudden became red as blood; he gave the doctor an angry
glance, drew back a few steps, and then said in a loud voice: 'I beg at
least for an examination!' 'If that is all, you shall have it,'
answered the surgeon-in-chief, and you can yourself decide"--

"Was it the surgeon-in-chief?" interrupted the doctor. "I should have
supposed so! He takes all! even those who, at the very first march,
will have to be left lying in the hospital. Well, go on!"

"He only asked: 'Have you any illness?' 'No!' answered the Herr
Professor, and set his teeth together, for the men were all staring at
him. Then he drew himself up, his face became fire-red even to the
forehead, and he did not look at all sick. The surgeon gave him a
slight examination, and then said: 'Nonsense, colleagues, we cannot now
be so critical; his chest and lungs are sound; this slight weakness
comes from close confinement and study, and will soon pass away. You
are accepted, never fear!' I thought I had received a paralytic stroke,
and the Herr Professor drew a breath deep enough to rend his breast."



                             CHAPTER XIII.

                         The Triumph of Pride.


The doctor began to pace excitedly up and down the room; but Atkins now
joined in the conversation.

"Do not take it ill Doctor Stephen; your professor is a genius, and
this is only one of those freaks of genius which borders on madness. A
consumptive professor to come down from his chair, and enroll himself
with the army! A lovely accession!"

"Fernow is not consumptive," said the doctor with great positiveness.
"My colleague knows that as well as I, and his nervous disease might
not be discernible in a moment of excitement;--to learn that would
require longer observation. His position does not fully release the
professor from the service; he is young yet, scarcely as old as
Frederic. If I had only had a suspicion of this proceeding, I would
gladly have prevented it by giving the necessary hint about the nervous
trouble, which God knows I could have done with a good conscience. But
who could have foreseen all this? The matter was not arranged here in
B.--and now it is too late."

"But Herr Doctor"--in mortal anguish Frederic gazed at the
physician,--"the Herr Professor cannot march with the soldiers. You
know he can bear no draughts of air, no heat, not even cold; that
everything has to be cooked for him in a peculiar manner, and that he
gets ill if he even goes out with out his umbrella. Good God! he will
die before the first week is over!"

"Well, don't take it so tragically," said the doctor, "We will see what
can be done. Your master's proceeding cannot be recalled, but perhaps
we can arrange it so that he will be allowed some light service in some
of the bureaus or official departments. I will take the necessary steps
in this direction; but above all things I must speak to him myself. He
came back with you?"

"Yes," said Frederic, with a sigh of relief, "I only ran on ahead."

"Well, go now, and arrange your own affairs. Are you, too, going, Mr.
Atkins?"

"Only for a quarter of an hour--to get cooled off! I feel an urgent
necessity of convincing myself that somewhere there exists in B.
something that is not upside down. Miss Forest seems to have a similar
feeling. May I request your company, Jane!"

"I--am weary!"

The young lady sank into an arm chair, rested her head on her hand, and
thus withdrew her face from further observation.

"Jane is evidently out of sorts to-day!" said the doctor to Atkins,
when they reached the balcony outside, whither he had accompanied his
visitor. "Scarce a word can we get from her! She seems to have changed
very much during the last fortnight. Do you know the reason of this
persistent ill-humor?"

"The reason, at this moment, abides in Paris," thought Atkins, but he
replied aloud, and in an indifferent tone: "I suppose that Mr. Alison,
my young countryman, to whom I introduced you a short time ago, brought
Miss Forest letters and tidings from her intimate acquaintances, which
are the cause of the change in her demeanor. At least, I have received
a hint to that effect."

"Well, that is only natural," said the doctor unsuspectingly. "I feared
there was something in my house or in its surroundings, which had
displeased her."

Jane, meanwhile, remained motionless in her place. The door-bell rang
anew, but this time more gently than before; a step echoed in the hall,
but she did not stir until the door of the balcony-room opened. Then
she started up. Professor Fernow stood before her! They had not met
since that evening upon the Ruènberg; he had indeed, not crossed her
path and the persistence with which he avoided a repetition of those
earlier accidental meetings in the house and garden, was only excelled
by the resoluteness with which Jane shunned every possibility of a
re-union. For a fortnight, they had managed to forego the most casual
glance, the coldest greeting; and now, all at once, they stood face to
face, so near, so entirely alone, that the meeting could not be
ignored.

Jane had sprung from her chair; whatever she might have been thinking a
moment before, all vanished at the sight of this man, whom she could
never forgive for his triumph, and her humiliation. The old, hostile
spirit again raged wildly within her. Why did he now appear so suddenly
in her uncle's apartments which he had never before entered,--here,
where he must apprehend a meeting with her? Was this appearance on her
account? The young lady stood there ready for the fray, determined with
her whole strength to defy a might to which this time certainly she
would not yield.

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."

A dark, portentous glow overspread the professor's face; his brow
contracted, and his voice had a singularly angry tone, as he replied:
"I thank you for your good intentions, doctor, but I must decline all
intermeddling on your part in my affairs, I am called to active
service, and shall follow the call in the sense in which it was given."

The doctor gazed at him in speechless astonishment. He had been
accustomed to absolute authority over his patient, who had always
yielded him the most implicit obedience; and now, all at once, he had
risen in open rebellion against his best and most deliberate
conclusions, this was too much for the doctor; he grew angry.

"Are you mad?" he cried excitedly. "You will enter active service?
_You?_ No, that surpasses all conception."

The professor was silent, but he set his teeth together as Frederic had
before described, a deep flush covered his face, and he gazed at the
doctor with a glance which forced that gentleman to assume another
tone.

"Give me only one reason, one single sensible reason, for this insane
proceeding!" he said, almost imploringly. "Could you not serve the
Fatherland just as well with the pen, if you could only bring your mind
to that? Why will you not enter one of the bureaus? only tell me why."

"I will not!"

"You have an obstinate head!" cried the doctor again becoming angry.
"In this you have a remarkable likeness to my niece. '_I will not!_'
and now the whole world might rise against it; but it must be! Exactly
Jane's manner, exactly her tone; just as if you had learned of her. One
is just like the other; you would make a nice, 'married pair!'"

"Doctor, please spare me this foolish jesting!" broke out the professor
with great violence, at the same time stamping furiously.

For a moment Doctor Stephen stood utterly dumb before this passionate
outbreak of his amiable patient, then he said, in a tone of sincere
astonishment.

"I believe that even _you_ can be rough and violent!"

Fernow frowned and turned away.

"Well it was only a jest!" said the doctor apologetically. "I know that
you and Jane stand half upon a war-footing; but you can become very
angry now, professor! I notice that, for the last two months, you have
not been the same person you used to be!"

Fernow did not defend himself against the reproach with a single word;
he preserved an obstinate silence.

"Well, to go back to the main business," began the Doctor anew--but
this time in a low voice--"you will not accept my proposition?"

"No!"

"You will really march to-morrow with the army?"

"In any event."

"Well then--I cannot compel you, and if it cannot be otherwise,"--here
the doctor's patriotism broke through all resentment; he cordially
extended his hand to his patient--"well then, go in God's name! Who knows?
The surgeon-in-chief, may be cleverer than we all; of one thing at least
he has convinced you, one which you would never believe from me: that
you are not consumptive, that you have no decided illness, and as to your
nerves--do you remember what I prescribed to you four weeks ago?"

The professor slowly raised his eyes.

"Some powerful remedy," he said softly.

"Certainly! A radical cure, at which you were horrified at that time.
You would not take upon yourself the life of a day-laborer; but you now
plunge into the military life, without asking me. Well, I should not
certainly have advised so powerful a remedy as this, for we cannot
cease taking it at will; if the dose is too strong, we must either bend
or break! But if you are determined to venture upon it--good luck to
you!"

The professor smiled sadly. "I have little confidence in this blood and
iron cure," he said calmly. "I shall fall, I feel sure of that, either
in face of the enemy, or in consequence of the unwonted exertion. But
it does not matter; in any case it will be better and more speedily
than to die at my writing desk after a consumption, years in duration.
Do not rob me of this conviction, doctor; it is the best I take with
me; I shall at least be of some use in the world!"

"Do not approach me again with your premonitions of death!" cried the
doctor excitedly. "To die--nonsense! We in B. forbid ourselves that
idea. And so you are of no use in the world! You have written no work
over which the whole learned world is beside itself in admiration, eh?"

The professor's lips quivered, as he said bitterly; "and to the rest of
the world, it will remain mere nonsense,--dead, fruitless, valueless."

"Do you really think so? And your article in this morning's paper, was
that, too, mere nonsense? Yes, be horrified as much as you like,
because I know; the whole city knows, the university also. Professor
since you have written that article, I deem all things possible to you,
I doubt you in nothing more!"

Fernow scarce heard these last words; his glance had followed the
motion of the doctor's hand as he pointed to the morning paper, and his
eyes suddenly flamed up as if in deep, glowing satisfaction--the paper
lay in the arm chair where Jane had just been sitting.

"And you ought to be ashamed of yourself," cried Doctor Stephen growing
more and more excited; "you ought really to be ashamed of yourself, for
having so little self-esteem, when with your pen you can rouse
thousands to the most glowing enthusiasm."

The professor's face again grew dark; a hard, bitter expression lay
upon it.

"With the _pen_," he said slowly. "The pen must always fall into
disrepute when the moment demands deeds. With all my knowledge and
abilities, I stand below Frederick, who, with a pair of vigorous arms,
can fight for the Fatherland. At the highest, I can die for it, and for
this, I must still thank your surgeon-in-chief; he, at least, has
lifted from me the curse of being only _a hero of the pen_!"

The doctor shook his head. "If I only knew how all at once you have
become possessed of such terrible bitterness! This sounds as if some
one had given you a deadly insult in these words. I tell you your whole
nature is changed."

With a deep, repressed sigh, as if he would throw off a heavy burden,
Fernow rose to his full height.

"I entirely forget what brings me to you," he said evasively. "They
leave us little time; we must return to H. this evening, for we are
ordered to march early to-morrow morning. I would request you to take
my rooms and my library under your care. In case of my death, you can
dispose of the former as you think best; the latter must go to the
university; it contains many valuable books, a large share of which I
have inherited."

"Yes, and if a formal testament is to be made," interposed the doctor,
"I beg you give me the address of your relatives, so that I may be
prepared for any emergency. Hitherto, I have made no inquiries
concerning them; you have maintained such a strict secrecy in regard to
your family affairs."

"Secrecy! I had nothing to conceal. I have no relatives."

"What! not a single one?"

"Not one; I stand entirely alone in the world."

There lay a quiet, but deep anguish in these words. The doctor
preserved a sympathetic silence; Fernow reached him his hand.

"I must now bid you farewell. I have much to arrange, but I will see
you again this evening."

He went. Doctor Stephen accompanied him to the door, and they parted
with a cordial pressure of the hand. The professor entered the parlor
through which he must pass in order to reach the hall; his features had
won again the gentle, melancholy expression peculiar to them; but
suddenly he started, and drew back--he caught a glimpse of Miss Forest.

She had not left her place at the window, but she had stepped forward
somewhat, so that he could not avoid seeing her, and her glance met
his. Jane's eyes were capable of no soft, dreamy glance, and even their
fire was always like the glow of Northern Lights over an ice field; but
still, a strange power lay in those shadowing depths, the might of a
proud, unyielding will, which knew not how to entice, but to compel;
and she was in the fullest measure conscious of her power. Seldom as
she had recourse to this power, whenever she did enforce it, the
victory remained with her, and it had been a victory over no common
individuals. The obstinate character of her father had bowed to this
will; it had silenced the ever-ready sarcasm of Atkins; it had brought
the cold, equally rigid nature of Alison under her control. And now it
must also enforce something else; the step which, in spite of all that
had happened, must and should cross her path, the farewell word which
she must once again hear from his lips--for this, these eyes now beamed
in the full radiance of their splendor, and deep below, under all this
ice flamed something warmer than the mere glow of boreal fires.

This mysterious power seemed also to subdue Fernow; as if spellbound,
his glance rested upon her face; he saw that she was waiting, waiting
for a farewell. It would cost him only one step, one single word; here
was involved an absence perhaps without return. Over Jane's features
flashed a triumphant glance--then all at once the professor's face grew
dark, every muscle was strained for an energetic resistance. Slowly, as
if step by step, he would withdraw from the influence of a demoniac
power, he tore his eyes from her face; his lips quivered as he set them
firmly together, to shut in any farewell word; his breast rose and fell
convulsively in an agonizing inward conflict; but the wounded pride of
the man held its ground before temptation. He turned to go; a bow,
cold, distant as that parting one upon the Ruènberg, and the door
closed behind him. He had kept his word!

Jane stood there like a statue; this was too much! She had humiliated
herself by waiting; she had waited all this time, and now she stood
there decided to offer her hand in reconciliation, ready to give and to
receive a last parting word; and this incredible self-mastery of hers
had been thus received! What then did this man wish? Did he demand
entreaties from her?

Entreaty? At the mere word, the whole nature of this young girl was
aroused to resistance and exasperation. To entreat was something she
could not do. Miss Forest, who so clearly tested, so calmly considered
all, never had occasion to lament a momentary enthusiasm nor to atone
for an error, because she never allowed herself to yield to impulse;
even in her childhood entreaty was something that had been impossible
to her. She had borne every punishment, but it was with an obstinacy
which chose to endure for long weeks, rather than allow the word
"forgive" to pass her lips; and Forest had discerned in the child too
much of his own nature to force her to anything he would himself regard
as a humiliation. The thought of entreaty flashed through Jane's soul,
only to be repelled with abhorrence. He wished no farewell; well then
he might go without it, into the field, to death, wherever he would.

And what had driven him to this? She knew now; the bitter satisfaction
with which he had heralded his ceasing to be any longer "a hero of the
pen," had betrayed it to her. That phrase had entered deep into this
man's soul; for weeks long it had tortured him; had become the goad
which had impelled him on to undertake something to which his strength
was not equal; and if he now succumbed, if he perished in the
undertaking, whose was the blame?

Jane began to pace excitedly up and down the room; she strove to repel
this thought, but ever and ever again it would return. She heard only
the words he had spoken in gloomy resignation: "I have no one; I stand
alone in the world!" She pressed her hand against her breast, as if
that agony had found an echo there.--Perhaps she ought now to confess
this to him. The old obstinacy again towered up in all its
uncontrollable might, she stamped violently as if beside herself. "No,
and no! and forever no!"



                              CHAPTER XIV.

                               Farewell!


The afternoon passed in hasty preparations for the departure of the two
soldiers; at last all was arranged, and with the early twilight,
Frederic, ready for the journey, betook himself to the doctor and his
wife, to say good-by. The poor fellow looked very melancholy; around
his broad mouth was a quiver of pain: it was with great difficulty he
kept back his tears. Neither the heavy package of money the doctor
handed him nor the promise of the doctor's wife to care for him in the
field, could console him.

"For shame, Frederic!" said Doctor Stephen, chidingly. "Is that the way
to go to war? With such a sorrowful mien, with tearful eyes? I should
have believed you had more courage."

Frederic, deeply wounded, wiped the tears from his eyes, and at length,
comprehending the full meaning of the reproach, he cried excitedly:

"Do you think, Herr Doctor, that I am afraid? It is a real delight to
me to take the musket on my shoulder, and go to war. But my poor
master! This is going to cost him his life, even before he meets the
enemy."

"Well, that is by no means certain," said the doctor, while Frau
Stephen, who was entirely of Frederic's opinion, pressed her
handkerchief to her eyes. "Perhaps he will hold out better than we all
think. I tell you once more, he is not so very ill as you imagine, and
this soldier-life will tear him away from his studies, which, in any
event, is a fortunate thing."

"He will not endure it," persisted Frederic with a mournful shake of
the head; "he certainly will not endure it! At the very first march, he
will lie in the hospital; and if I am not with him to take care of him,
he will surely die. And for all this"--here that fearful, bearish
nature, so deplored by Mr. Atkins, broke forth anew in Frederic,--"and
for all this, those accursed Frenchmen are guilty,--I--I am going to
kill a dozen at least for it!"

"Well, well; wait until you are in France!" cried the doctor,
retreating from the furious pantomime Frederic enacted after these
words. "You certainly will have to wait before you can offer such a
propitiatory sacrifice to the manes of your master. So far as I know,
he has served his year in the volunteer army, and he still remains
alive."

"That was ten years ago," replied Frederic, still more despairingly.
"At that time he was much stronger and more healthy than I, and still
he lay for some time in the hospital. Well, there is no help for it
now! Good-by, Herr Doctor, good-by, Frau Doctorin!" he cordially
stretched out both huge hands, and in spite of his efforts to keep them
back, tears streamed down his cheeks. "You have been very kind to me
during these last three years; when I return I will try to repay you;
if _I_ cannot--may God reward you!"

So saying, he pressed, and shook with a giant's strength, the proffered
hands, accepted another caution and some further words of good advice,
waved his cap, and trotted down the steps after his master, who had
already taken leave of the married pair, and had gone for a few moments
into the garden.

The professor stood at the farther end of the garden, leaning against
the latticed gate, and gazed fixedly and dreamily upon the now dry
portion of the hedge-way which separated it from the river rushing
past. The sun had already set, the last beams of the twilight were
fading away, and the first stars faintly glimmered in the sky. Between
the trees and shrubbery, dusky shadows already lay, and the cool breath
of the night enveloped all. From above came the light rustle and murmur
of the waves, the dear old familiar Rhine voices whispered to him their
parting salutation. Whether it was a parting from home, or from life as
well--it was the last he had to expect.

There was all at once a rustle from another direction, but more
distinct, more violent, as a woman's silk dress crossed the path.
Thrilled by a presentiment, Fernow turned around. Before him stood
Jane, pale as death, her glance fixed upon the ground, her hands firmly
clasped, and with an expression as if, just now, the most terrible
thing in her whole life had happened. Her breast rose and fell
convulsively; her lips quivered; she could not control them, and at
last they opened for these momentous words: "I--I beg your
forgiveness!"

"Miss Forest! Johanna!" cried Fernow, with uncontrollable emotion; but
she had already turned, and like a hunted creature, fled down the path.
He was about to rush after her, when Frederic's loud voice echoed
through the garden.

"Herr Professor, we must go! Herr Professor, where are you? We haven't
a moment to lose."

"Must we go? This very instant!" The new duty was demanding its first
heavy sacrifice; a moment of struggle, and then all was over.

"I am coming!" he replied in a firm voice! He hastened to the house.
Under the vine-wreathed balcony it was growing dark already, but the
outlines of a delicate form were visible, only half concealed by the
foliage. For a moment the professor's feet lingered, only one, and
ardent and deep-toned the parting word at last wrung from him up to
her:

"_Farewell!_"



                              CHAPTER XV.

                          Following the Clue.


Weeks and months had passed, since that first call to arms had echoed
through the land, and still the storm of war raged with undiminished
fury; but the arrow had recoiled upon its sender. Upon the Rhine the
vineyards were ripening, the purple grapes gaining richer hues day by
day; golden harvests moved in the fields; over the cities floated the
nation's victorious banner; but yonder in France, the vineyards were
laid waste, the blooming meadows were trodden under the feet of men and
horses, the flames of burning villages rose to heaven. All the horrors
which had been destined for the Rhineland, now fell upon French soil, a
late but fearful punishment for the once so frivolously devastated
Palatinate. Even the victors could no longer restrain their rage: the
ruin, now unfettered, took its course, alike visiting the guilty and
the guiltless, and the trembling land now at last itself experienced
the full, terrible import of those words with which it had often enough
absolved itself from every responsibility--_C'est la guerre!_

Onward, still onward, marched the victorious columns of the German
army, from the Rhine to the Moselle, from the Moselle to the Meuse,
from the Meuse to the Seine, throwing down all that stood in its way.
City after city opened its gates, citadel after citadel yielded after a
shorter or longer resistance. The fiery August sun blazed down upon
seven battlefields, saluting at the same time, countless trophies of
victory; and the first cool breezes of September swept that soil, where
the wavering enemy, surrounded, hemmed in, pressed on every side, had
at last yielded. A whole French corps, the once formidable head of the
army, now indeed held the vaunted entrance to Germany; but without arms
or resources;--and meantime the conquerors pressed on, with restless,
unyielding persistence, to the heart of France--to Paris!

At N., the capital of one of the departments, in spite of the
war-billows that had long since swept over it, reigned an active,
military life. This town was the principal station on the great
military and travelling highway which led from Germany into the
interior of France. Marching regiments, endless provision and munition
trains, here crossed the path of the returning transports of sick and
wounded soldiers, ambulances, and couriers; all the streets were
crammed with men, carriages and horses; all the quarters were
full to overflowing. In this state of things, two travellers,
apparently English or American, who had arrived yesterday, although
they undoubtedly belonged to the richer class, still deemed it
a lucky accident to obtain, at an extravagant price, a pair of
miserably-furnished attic rooms in a hotel of the second grade.

Upon the morning after their arrival, the stronger gentleman sat upon a
sofa, while his young companion stood at an open window and gazed up
the street, where a confused multitude of pedestrians and vehicles
of all sorts blocked the way, while the tumult and excitement, in
ever-increasing murmurs, fell upon her ear.

"I do not comprehend how you can endure those deafening noises down
there, Miss Jane! Are you not at least weary of this eternal hurrying
and surging to and fro?"

"No!" was the curt, somewhat ill-natured answer of the young lady, who,
bending far out of the window, at this moment was gazing intently into
an ambulance full of wounded men. Her glance fixed itself immovably on
the pale wan faces, and she looked after them until the ambulance
vanished around a corner.

"Well, you have better nerves than I," said Atkins resignedly. "I
confess that during these last eight days I have become really morbid.
We were a whole week on this journey to N. which is usually made in
twenty-four hours; we have had our night quarters in the most wretched
villages, such food I never in my life tasted before. For hours and
days, we have had to lie over in half-ruined places on account of
broken bridges and impassable roads, and always in danger lest a battle
might be fought in our immediate vicinity, and we borne onward with the
wave of victory or flight. I should think all this must at last have
convinced you how impossible it is to trace out family relationships
upon the theatre of war."

During this speech, Jane had closed the window; she now turned around.
"Impossible?" she asked calmly. "I thought that in spite of all, we had
arrived in N., and that, in any event, a decision awaited us here."

"Or a new deception! This clue misleads us in the most exasperating
ways. Scarce do we think we have it, when it suddenly snaps asunder,
and darts away to some other quarter of the heavens. At present, we are
in France, and I should not wonder if the next thing, we had to direct
our course back to America, only to go from there to the Rhine again,
and so on."

"It is all the same!" declared Jane energetically. "I promised my
father to find my brother if still alive, and to yield only to
impossibilities. I shall keep my word!"

"If it were only a direct clue we are following?" began Atkins again;
"but whom do we seek? A man who by some remote possibility may be able
to give us information of the principal character in this drama."

"And perhaps the only one who can give it! The direct clue is lost;
that clergyman is not to be found, neither in his former parish nor
anywhere else; all our efforts in this direction have failed; but we
have found the artisan who adopted the other boy."

"And from him have received the joyful tidings that his nephew went to
France four years ago, and at this moment may be here in N. For the
theatre of his highly respectable efforts at the planing bench, he has
chosen a place right in the midst of all these accursed military
operations."

Jane's eyes flashed half-angrily. "You forget the most important
thing," she said, "the one which alone leads us here; the assertion of
that man that the former playfellow of this young Erdmann is still
living, that the two, after a separation of years, met again during
their term of military service. Certainly, he could tell us nothing
further; his nephew was at that time on duty far away from him in a
large garrison city; but this much he remembered distinctly, having
heard it from Erdmann's own lips. I have learned that my brother still
lives, that there is some one in the world who knows him, who can tell
me his abode. Does this not seem to you a step gained on the path we
seek? It is more than I had hoped!"

"I do not dispute all this," replied Atkins; "I am only of the opinion
that it would be better to defer our investigations until after the end
of the war."

"Until the end of the war," echoed Jane. "When all present associations
are severed, and the soldiers are scattered here and there! These
tidings have not come too late; I hope not, at least, but we ought not
to delay a moment, to make the best possible use of them, and as an
epistolary correspondence was not to be thought of, there was only one
resource; I must enter personally into the investigation, and follow
the clue. If you suffer from the dangers and deprivations of the
journey, Mr. Atkins, it is your own fault--I could have come alone!"

"Yes, God knows you would have done so!" said Atkins, with a sigh.
"Jane, you are sometimes terrible in your restless energy! I certainly
do not belong to the indolent and the irresolute; but this tireless
rushing onward toward one single goal, has at last quite exhausted me."

"But not _me_!" replied Jane, with cool determination. "I am resolved
to go on, I repeat it, to the utmost limits of the possible!"

"Well, we have one certainty at least," began Atkins after a brief
pause; "the German master with whom young Erdmann was at work when the
war broke out, is still here. You know that yesterday, I went from the
mayoralty, where I received this intelligence, directly to the
designated house. But I found it closed, all its inmates fled to the
just arrived Prussian regiments, among whom they hoped to find
countrymen. This information I obtained from a very peculiar
conversation with an exceedingly talkative neighbor; peculiar, I may
well say, for she understood no English and I no French, and we were
forced to call a very expressive pantomime to our aid, by means of
which I made her comprehend that my visit was designed for Monsieur
Erdmann and his master, that I would return to-day, and that I should
be infinitely obliged to her if she would hand my card to the latter.
Thus far our pantomime brought us, and now I am curious to know what
sort of unavoidable confusion Madame has made out of the slang."

Jane glanced at her watch. "It is now half-past nine, and I think we
ought to get ready to go out."



                              CHAPTER XVI.

                          An Agonizing Doubt.


The answer which Atkins was about to give, was interrupted by a
knocking at the door. It was opened, and an old man with white hair,
simply but not poorly clad, and with a modest, friendly manner,
entered, and immediately addressed himself in good French to the two
strangers.

"I beg your pardon, but they showed me up here. I am the master joiner
Vogt, Rue de--. A strange gentleman inquired for me yesterday, and left
a card with his address which I understood as a request for me to call
on him. I trust I have come to the right place?"

Atkins naturally understood nothing of these words. But Jane, who was
perfect mistress of French, translated all he needed to hear, and then
turned to the visitor.

"You are quite right, but the gentleman's visit was not to you, it was
to a young man who, they tell us, works with you. He is in any event, a
German, and a journeyman carpenter, Franz Erdmann. We are in search of
him, and were just about visiting you again on his account."

"Is it Franz you seek?" asked, the old man, now in his mother tongue.
"Good heavens! he has been gone six weeks. Immediately after the
declaration of war he went from us back to Germany. He is now in the
Prussian army."

Jane involuntarily grew pale. Another vain effort! But the
disappointment which, after so confident a hope, would have discouraged
any other, only angered her. She compressed her lips and the toe of her
little boot beat the floor. If this experience lent her no words, it
was evident that in her heart she made a new vow to press forward in
spite of all.

Mr. Atkins did not take the tidings so quietly; his vexation found vent
in loud exclamations.

"In the army; I believe this glorious Prussian host embraces all
mankind! Whatever person we enquire after in the course of our
investigations we always receive the stereotyped answer, _In the army!_
I am convinced that if at last we get upon the direct track of this Mr.
Franz, we shall learn that he too, is in the army. If he is in no other
part of Europe, we shall certainly find him there."

The master-joiner understood none of this English, but he heard the
tone of the words, and saw from the expression of the young lady's
face, what an effect his arrival had produced upon both.

"Yes, and this war comes near enough to us also!" he said sadly. "I
miss Franz everywhere, and my poor girl sits weeping her eyes out the
whole day long; they were to be married in the autumn. But there was no
help for it; he belonged to the first levies, and we would not take
upon ourselves the sin of holding him back."

"_Sin!_" growled Atkins, again in his English, and turned to Jane. "Did
you ever hear of such a thing? This fellow sits safe and concealed here
in France, where no man asks after his military duty. He was to marry
here, settle down here, and the prospect was that he would not during
all his life, return to Germany; and scarce does the war break out when
he runs home, leaves bride, wedding, handicraft, all in the lurch, and
hurries off to let himself be shot dead for the beloved Rhine. The
sentiment of duty with these Germans is really a sort of mania."

Jane scarce heard these words; a ray of hope already flashed before her
eyes here, where Atkins had given up all for lost. She turned hastily
again to the master-joiner. "Young Hartman stood in intimate relations
to your family? He was to be your son-in-law? Well, then, perhaps you
and your daughter know something in regard to his past which may be
very important to us. We hope to gain from him some intelligence as to
a family matter, and shall very cheerfully requite any such service."

"As to his family relations, I know them intimately. He has been more
than two years in my house, and he tell in love with my Marie at the
very first," said Vogt unhesitatingly. "Ask on, Mademoiselle, I think I
can give you information."

Atkins drew back. He saw that Jane wished to take the affair into her
own hands, and he resigned it to her the more readily, as he promised
himself no especial result from the pending examination. Indeed no help
was necessary; Miss Forest propounded her questions so clearly, so
confidently and energetically, that the best criminal lawyer could have
done no better.

"Your future son-in-law was born in the little fishing village of M.,
not far from Hamburg?"

Master Vogt nodded.

"After the death of his parents, he came to relatives in P., who
brought him up, and from thence, after his apprenticeship and military
service were ended, he went over to France to perfect himself in the
joiner's art, and for two years, he has lived at N., in your house?"

"Quite right!" returned the master. "It is really our Franz you
describe. All agrees to a hair!"

"Has he never"--Jane's voice again betrayed the excitement she could
with difficulty restrain--"has he never told you of a brother who grew
up with him in M.!"

"That he has indeed! But he was no real brother, only an adopted child
whom his parents had brought with them from Hamburg, and kept, in their
kindness of heart, as no one claimed him."

Jane sent a triumphant glance over to Atkins. In spite of all, she was
on the track. "And this also is known to you? Later the boys were
separated, but the other also found adoption?"

"Yes, with a learned man."

With an almost convulsive movement, Jane lifted her head. "With--a
learned man!" she repeated slowly; "they told us it was a clergyman,
pastor Hartwigs."

"Yes, you are quite right; he was a very learned old gentleman, with
his head always stuck into books; Franz has told us all about him;
later, he gave up his pastorate--he was not poor--just to live for his
learning."

Jane had all at once become pale as death. A lightning ray had flashed
down and rent the darkness which had so long lain over the destiny of
her brother; for a moment it glowed lurid and threatning, then all was
again night; but its upflowing must have shown something terrible to
the sister, for she shuddered before it.

"Are you ill, Miss Jane?" asked Atkins, anxiously, and made a movement
to approach her.

"No!" Jane summoned all her strength, and motioned him back; her breath
came short and violently, and the hand with which she held for support
to the table, trembled as if in a fever.

"And do you know whether that adopted brother is still alive, whether
he stands in any sort of relationship to your son-in-law?"

"Certainly he is alive," said the master-joiner calmly. "And they have
often written to each other. No longer ago than last Easter, Franz had
a letter from him."

"From what place? Where was it dated?" Fearful excitement pulsed
through Jane's voice; her glance was fixed upon the man as if life or
death for her lay in his answer.

Master Vogt shook his head. "That I cannot tell you. Franz spoke of the
letter, and told us that his brother was doing well, but he always
called him by his given name, Fritz, and neither my daughter nor I saw
the writing. The only thing I know is that he came from the Rhine."

From the Rhine! Jane laid her hand against her moist, icy-cold
forehead. For a moment, it seemed to her as if she must swoon away, and
all else with her; but she kept up, and remained so dumb and
motionless, that both men thought her apathetic.

Atkins glanced over to her in surprise; he waited for her to ask
further questions, waited for a full, minute; but as she was still
silent he began to speak.

"This being the case, we might have spared ourselves a difficult
journey! We have just come from the Rhine, my best Monsieur Vogt. You
can give us neither name nor place? Neither you nor your daughter?"

"Neither."

"Well, then, I must beg you to tell me the exact regiment and company
in which your future son-in-law serves at present. You have received
tidings of him since he left for the war?"

"Only once! We were hoping he would pass through here with the army,
and yesterday, when we learned that the new Prussian regiments were
entering the town, we all ran out and stood before the gates to see if
his was not there."

Atkins still waited for Jane to take part in the conversation; her
entire indifference seemed so strange after the feverish interest she
had shown a few minutes before; but, as she persisted in her
immobility, he drew forth his note book, and jotted down the statement
just given. The master-joiner took his leave of the young lady; she
bowed mechanically, and left it to her companion to dismiss him with
great politeness. The man might perhaps be again needed in this
business, and anyone whom Mr. Atkins thought of making use of always
enjoyed the politest attention from him.

When the man was gone, he turned to Jane. "Did I not tell you so? We
must go to another point of the compass? Now we will direct our steps
back to the Rhine. The only thing which remains to us is to write from
Germany to Herr Erdmann; in any event this is easier than a
correspondence with N., since we have his full address. In case he is
no longer alive, we must repeat our advertisement in the several
Rhenish newspapers. But in any event, I think we should immediately
start upon our return journey."

At these words, Jane started from her stupor.

"And why? We are now in France. Perhaps we may succeed in finding that
regiment!"

"For Heaven's sake, Jane, what are you thinking of? Seek a regiment
upon the march--what an idea!"

"But that matters not, I will now know the truth! And if it was to cost
me my life, and I must rush into the fight, even into the line of
battle,--I must have a certainty!"

Atkins stood almost horrified before this sudden outbreak of a passion
he had never suspected in Jane; and he now for the first time remarked
her deathly pallor.

"Good God, what is the matter with you! Are you ill? I thought you
would have to suffer from the weariness and excitement of this
journey."

He sought to assist her, but she repelled him with a passionate
gesture.

"It will pass over--I need nothing--but I beg you for a glass of
water."

Atkins was in serious anxiety; he knew that Jane was not at all subject
to nervous attacks, and he feared that she was ill. As in the hotel at
present, prompt service was not to be dreamt of, he himself hastened
out to fetch the water.

This was what Jane had expected. She wanted no water, but she needed a
moment of solitude to save her from suffocation. Scarce was he gone,
when she, too, hastened to the door, drew the bolt, and then sinking on
her knees by the sofa, she buried her face in her hands. Jane Forest
would not yield in this way before stranger eyes!

"If one is thrust out into life, without parents and without home, and
then falls into the hands of a learned man who knows and loves nothing
in the wide world but science--" and that letter came from the Rhine!
This had been the lightning stroke which had passed through her; the
presentiment came with all the annihilating power of certainty. That
lightning flash had opened an abyss before her, into which Jane did not
dare to glance; it had brought a secret to light, of which the cold,
proud betrothed of Alison had not before been conscious. But, as now in
mortal anguish she wrung her uplifted hands, it broke forth in one
long-repressed despairing-cry;--

"Almighty God, only not this! My rival, my deadly enemy, if it must be,
I will bear it--only not my brother!"



                             CHAPTER XVII.

                         The Pen and the Sword.


The late afternoon sun of a bright September day shone through the
thick-leaved boughs of the ancient gigantic chestnuts which shaded the
avenues and grass-plats of the broad park stretching behind the castle
of S., one of those magnificently situated country seats in which the
interior of France is so rich. This castle, on the western declivity of
a precipitous range of hills, which at this point unfolded all their
widely-romantic beauty, as well as the village in its immediate
vicinity, had just been seized as quarters for the soldiery. A Rhenish
landwehr regiment, after having taken part in all the August battles
had been ordered back here to protect the mountain region from roving
bands of French fusileers, and to keep the passes free. It was a
dangerous and arduous post for the rather small detachment, which, many
miles distant from its comrades, almost daily undertook excursions to
the mountains, thereby placing itself in constant danger of an attack
for which this region was only too favorable. The soldiery lay in the
village, while the officers had quartered themselves close by in the
castle, whose inmates had naturally fled. These gentlemen, for the
moment at least, seemed to have surrendered themselves to an idleness
of late only rarely offered them; from the terrace echoed loud talking
and laughing, blended with the ringing of glasses.

At the entrance of the park, under one of these giant chestnuts, lay a
landwehr officer stretched upon the tall grass, and gazing up into the
thick leafy roof through which the setting sun threw hither and thither
its palpitating rays. The floral treasures of the garden, arranged with
great art and care, and now resplendent with all the summer's
magnificence and luxuriance, appeared to fetter his attention just as
little as the sound of his comrades' merriment coming down to him from
the castle. He raised his head only when an approaching footstep
startled him from his dream.

A man of about thirty years, his uniform and the bands upon his arm
designating him as a surgeon, came up the path as if in search of some
one, and halted before the reclining officer.

"I thought as much! Here you lie dreaming again, while I, by the sweat
of my brow, am winning popularity for you. You really do not concern
yourself about it in the least!"

The man addressed half rose and supported himself on his elbows. "I
have a duty to perform," he said. "I must go down to the village at
four o'clock."

"And for that reason you must make yourself invisible at three? Do not
deny it, Walter, you ran away from us because you remarked that I had
the horrible intention of reading aloud a poem, a copy of which I
forced from you. But flight does not avail you; on your return, you
will be received with general acclamation. Our major swears that he
never heard anything like it his life; the adjutant was just as
enthusiastic in its praise. You know he is a sort of amateur critic,
well versed in æsthetics, and from the very first you wonderfully
impressed him with your learning. He reminds us how highly favored we
are by destiny in being able to call a poet our companion-in-arms, a
poet Germany will one day salute as it greatest genius. Our lieutenant
swears by all the gods of the upper and lower world, that if the French
had possessed a bard who before the battle had inspired them with such
songs, they would have given us more to do; but your poetry has had the
most stupendous effect upon our fat captain; it has made him forget his
dram!"

"Stop this nonsense!" said the young officer half in anger, as he sank
back to his reclining posture.

"_Nonsense!_ I give you my word that I have only repeated literally to
you, what was said. Did you hear the glasses ring? All the officers
were just then solemnly guaranteeing you immortality. I am sent to
seize the flying singer, and bring him back, living or dead. They
clamorously demand your presence."

"Spare me! You know how much I dislike such ovations."

"And again do you refuse to come? Well, it is just like you! We ought
by this time to have learned that we can have Lieutenant Fernow's
company only when some service is required, or some fight is at hand.
You run away from all recognition of your talents, as any other man
would run from punishment. You must cease this, Walter; it really is
not fitting for the future poet of Germany."

Fernow had meantime risen; he had put on the helmet which lay near him
in the grass, and bound his sword more firmly. One who two months ago
had seen the learned professor of the university of B. would certainly
not have recognized him in this young warrior, whose military coat
fitted the slender form excellently, as if he had all his life worn no
other. The sickly pallor and the deep, shadowy rings about the eyes,
had vanished with the bowed form and the unhealthy appearance. The
forehead and cheeks were deeply sunburned, the blood coursed vigorously
through the veins, the blonde hair, little cared for, waved in
luxuriant profusion under the helmet; the once smooth chin wore a heavy
beard; the upright military bearing seemed to cost the present landwehr
lieutenant not the slightest effort, and the once delicate hands, with
a strong grip, now seized the sword. These six weeks in the field had
wrought wonders; it was evident at the first glance--Doctor Stephen's
radical cure had been affected.

"You place too much value on my songs," he said evasively. "The verses,
written upon the inspiration of the moment, inspire only for the
moment, and when the excitement which called them forth is ended, they
will fall into forgetfulness."

"Do you think so?" asked the surgeon gravely. "I may be allowed to
doubt it. In your verses resounds more than a mere battle-cry, although
you may, perhaps, in future, thank the war for having roused your
slumbering talent and for showing you the path to future renown."

"Perhaps!" said Fernow gloomily. "And perhaps, also, a bullet may
to-day or to-morrow make an end of all the promised renown?"

"Can you not throw off this eternal melancholy?" asked the doctor
chidingly. "Walter, I really believe you are bearing an unhappy love
around with you."

"Not at all!" cried Fernow passionately, and turned away. The deep
flush which earlier had suffused his pale face at every violent
excitement, again appeared, although less visible in the bronzed
countenance.

This sudden emotion had escaped the surgeon. He had been a younger
colleague of Doctor Stephen, a private tutor in the university of B. He
and Fernow had known each other sufficiently to exchange a passing
salutation as they met. This had lasted for three years, but the army
life had in a few hours made them acquaintances, and in a few weeks,
friends.

The always merry young doctor laughed aloud at his own comic idea. "I
have really been very curious as to the where and when! Since we have
been in the field, I have scarcely stirred from your side, and in B.
you never so much as looked at a woman, for which reason, the fairer
half of the city, with good reason, declared you outlawed and
proscribed." Fernow made no answer; he busied himself with the hilt of
his sword.

"But Doctor Stephen was right with his diagnosis," continued the
surgeon after a momentary pause, "although I would not believe it when
he came over to H. to commend you to my care, he having heard that I
was assigned to your regiment. I could with a good conscience, promise
to do my best, for I was convinced that you would be the first patient,
to fall into my hands. The first week, I would not have given a penny
for your life, but when the marches and hardships began, when our men
fell in scores beneath the fiery August sun, and you still held out;
when amid all the over exertion and deprivation which sometimes lay low
the strongest, you grew only healthier and more robust then I took off
my hat to the superior discernment of my old colleague. Walter, you
have one of the best constitutions, a really magnificent constitution,
which only needed to renounce the study and the writing-desk, to gain
its full development; and you have found the right, although somewhat
unusual remedy for your nerves. The thunder of the cannon has
thoroughly re-established them! This will be a surprise to everyone
when you return to B."

"When I return?"

"Forever and eternally, these presentiments of death!" cried the
surgeon, with an impatient gesture. "You cling to them with a genuine
passion."

"Because I feel them!"

"Nonsense! If there is a man bullet-proof it is you! Do not take it ill
of me, Walter, but your rushing to the front in all these battles,
borders on insanity. Courage need not become reckless; but where
excitement urges you on, you see and hear nothing. Your comrades all
say this."

"And still there is not one among them, who a little while ago, would
have owned that I possessed any courage at all," returned Fernow, with
some bitterness.

"I know that," said the surgeon, frankly. "But to tell the truth you
used to have little enough of the hero in you. You were entirely a man
of the pen, who wholly absorbed in his books had nothing to do with the
outside world. Now that is all a thing of the past, as well as the
error of your comrades. Since the first battle, none doubt your
courage."

Fernow smiled sadly. His eyes alone had not changed. There lay within
them the old dreaminess and the old sadness.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.

                           The Rival Lovers.


At the entrance of the park a heavy tread became audible, and a giant
form loomed up behind the latticed gate. Frederic's huge figure well
became his uniform, and he seemed to be aware of this, for there was an
inconcealable self-esteem in the rigid military bearing, with which he
approached both gentlemen.

"Herr Lieutenant, I come to announce to you that down in the city a
carriage has just arrived with some English people, who wish to pass
through our lines to the mountains."

Fernow turned quickly, revery and melancholy had all at once vanished;
he was now every inch a soldier. "That is impossible!" he said. "No one
must pass."

"So the Englishman has been told; but he will not submit. He has
papers," he says, "and wishes to speak with the Major or the Lieutenant
who is upon duty."

Fernow glanced at his watch. "Very well," he said, "I will come; I
must, in any event, now go to the village. It is a very unpleasant
duty," he added, turning to the surgeon, "I must send back harmless
travellers whom perhaps important business urges forward, but the
orders are strict and cannot be evaded."

"Unpleasant, do you call it?" laughed the surgeon. "It gives me great
satisfaction to show these arrogant sons of Albion who, with their
impudence and blasé manners, spread themselves over our whole Rhine
country, who is lord and master here. In their own land, unfortunately,
we have never ventured it."

"Are you going with me to the village!"

"No, I am going back to the castle. I leave you alone to manage your
Englishmen and your triumph; for the latter that priggish volunteer,
that E., has already cared. He snatched your poem from me to read to
his comrades. And listen, Walter, when you have gone your rounds, come
for half an hour at least, to our quarters. You are falling past rescue
in the esteem of our captain, who alone refuses to recognize in you a
future celebrity,--you do not drink enough for him."

With a laughing adieu, the surgeon returned to the castle, while Fernow
started for the village. Frederic stamped on behind not taking his eyes
for a moment from his master. But these eyes had an entirely changed
expression. Once they had gazed at the professor, only with the anxiety
one shows in guarding a sick, helpless child that may easily come to
harm; now there lay a silent awe, a boundless admiration in the glance
which followed the slightest motion of the "Lieutenant." The devotion
of the faithful servant had withstood more than a fiery trial; it had
become proverbial in the company.

At the entrance of the village, before an inn, halted two carriages
which had arrived, one after the other. The first, which had come a
quarter of an hour soonest, had been first ordered back, but its
occupants would not submit to the necessity imposed upon them.
Unfortunately, he understood no German, the soldiers no English, and
they were obliged to carry on their conversation in the most execrable
French--a very difficult and tedious proceeding. But the stranger, who
resorted to his papers, had at last succeeded in obtaining a promise
that his case should be laid before the proper officer, and still
excited by the conversation, with grim forehead and contracted
eyebrows, he had just entered the door of the inn, when the second
carriage drove up. A gentleman stepped from it and approached the
house. The eyes of the two met, and an expression of surprise broke at
the same moment from the lips of each.

"Mr. Atkins!"

"Henry!"

"How come you here?" asked Alison, who was first to recover from his
astonishment.

"I came from N. And you?"

"Direct from Paris! I dared not remain there longer, the investment
began to grow serious. But I have been detained here; they will not
allow me to continue my journey."

"And they will not allow us to pass."

"_Us!_" repeated Alison slowly. "Are you not alone?!" And as if
startled by a sudden idea, he added hastily: "I cannot hope to find
Miss Forest in your company?"

"Yes, she comes with me."

Alison was about to rush to the carriage, but he forebore. Was he
abashed at the involuntary movement, or was it the remembrance of their
last meeting, that all at once allayed his excitement? Enough, he
controlled his emotion, and with a calmness all too indifferent to be
natural, he turned again to Atkins.

"And how came you, and above all Miss Forest, here at the theatre of
war?"

Atkins had foreseen the question, and was prepared. "How? Well, we
wished for an inside view of the war; but in a week's time we have
become weary enough of it and as you see, are now upon our return home.
Doctor and Mrs. Stephen will be triumphant; they were beside themselves
at what they called Miss Jane's eccentricities and my compliance."

A cold mocking smile played around Alison's lips. "But I am not so
credulous as Doctor and Mrs. Stephen. This excuse may satisfy them, but
I know Miss Jane too well to suppose her guilty of so aimless and
romantic a thirst for adventure. She would be the last to undertake
such a journey, and she would hardly have found in you so obsequious an
escort."

Atkins bit his lips. He might have foreseen the answer.

"Will you have the kindness to explain to me the reason of Miss
Forest's coming here?" asked Alison, even more sharply than before.

"Ask her yourself!" cried Atkins angrily. He thought it best to throw
the entire responsibility upon Jane rather than betray any of her
motives.

"I will do so!" replied Henry morosely, and stepped to the carriage.

His appearance had by this time ceased to be a surprise to Jane; she
had seen him leave the house and enter into conversation with Atkins.
She at once gained complete mastery over herself. Whatever might have
passed through her soul during these last momentous hours. Mr. Alison
saw only a perfectly immovable face, upon which was no trace of anxiety
or passion. She had again enveloped herself in that icy dignity which
had made her so unapproachable in B., and this ice now froze Henry as
he stepped to the carriage to greet her. This manner decided Alison's
whole bearing. He could in a case of necessity, enforce a right; but he
was too proud to betray an affection in the face of such coldness.

With chilling politeness, he lifted her from the carriage, offered her
his arm, and conducted her to a bench before the inn, while in a few
words he informed her and Atkins that the matter in dispute had been
referred to the proper officer, and he hoped that after an examination
of their papers, no further hindrance would be placed in the way of
their journey.

Atkins seemed to be of the same opinion; he went back to the carriage
to give the driver some directions, leaving the two alone.

Jane had thrown herself down upon the bench; she knew that an
explanation of her presence here would be demanded. Was she inclined to
give it? It did not appear that she was.

Henry showed no haste to question her, he only gazed searchingly into
her face; but it was in vain, she remained calm beneath his glance.

"It was a great surprise to me to find you here, Jane!" he began at
last.

"And your coming was one to me. I expected no such meeting."

"Under the circumstances, my return was to be expected, I intended to
go directly to B. where I certainly hoped to find you; but the place
seems to possess small attractions for you."

In spite of the sharp scrutiny of his manner, it still betrayed an
involuntary satisfaction; although Miss Forest gave him no explanation,
he would far rather see her here in the midst of this tumult of war and
exposed to its dangers, than safe at home with her relations in B.

Jane was spared an answer, for at this moment, Atkins returned; Henry
frowned, but did not seem inclined to speak upon this subject in the
presence of a third person. For some minutes there was an uncomfortable
silence in the little group; further questions over the where and when
were in the minds of all, and yet each avoided uttering them. Atkins at
last began to converse on another subject.

"And what say you of the events which have taken place since we parted?
Had you ever dreamed them possible?"

"No!" was the short, morose answer. "I was quite of the contrary
opinion."

"And so was I! We judged wrongly, as it appears! This is the tame,
patient, unpractical nation of thinkers! But I always said that in
every one of these Germans lay hidden something of the bearish nature,
and this seems now to have broken out all at once, among the whole
people. It is no longer a struggle with changing fortunes; they throw
down and crush all that comes in their way. An unblest success!"

"But we are not at the end yet," said Alison coldly. "The Emperor's
mercenary hordes are beaten, but the republic summon the whole land to
arms; nation now stands arrayed against nation. We shall yet see if the
German bear does not at last find his master!"

"I wish he would find him!" growled Atkins surlily. "I wish he could be
driven back over his Rhine, so that the intoxication and pride of
victory might for all time be taken from him, and he again learn to
dance tamely and patiently as when--"

The American got no further in his pious wishes for the future weal of
Germany. Jane had suddenly risen, and stood erect and tall before him;
her eyes flamed down upon the little man as if she would annihilate
him.

"You quite forgot Mr. Atkins, that I too am a German by birth, and the
child of German parents," she said.

Atkins stood there as if thunderstruck. "_You_, Miss Jane?" he asked,
scarce believing his ears.

"Yes, _I!_ and I will not hear my fatherland spoken of in this way.
Keep your revilings and your hopes for Mr. Alison's ears; he shares
your wishes; but do not utter them in my presence; I will bear it no
longer!"

And throwing back her head with a gesture of lofty scorn, she turned
away from the two men, and vanished inside the door of the house.

"What was that?" asked Alison, after a momentary pause.

Atkins seemed just to have recovered from the consternation into which
this scene had thrown him. "That was the father once again! Mr. Forest
just as he lived and moved! That was the very tone, the very glance
with which he so imperiously felled down all that opposed him! I have
never before encountered this in Jane; have you, Henry?"

Alison was silent; his eyes, with a consuming glow, had rested upon
Jane during the whole, time she had stood before Atkins; they now
seemed fixed upon the place where she had vanished, and there was far,
very far more of admiration than of anger in their glance.

"I thought Mr. Forest hated his fatherland," he said at last, slowly,
"and that he educated his daughter in that hatred."

"Oh, yes, he quarrelled with Germany his whole life long, and in his
dying hour, like a despairing man, clung to its remembrance. We never
thoroughly learn to know this people, Henry! I was for twenty years in
Forest's house, I shared sorrow and joy with him, I knew his most
secret affairs; and still, forever and eternally, one thing lay between
us, this one which the most bitter experiences, the most energetic
will, which the associations of twenty years could not banish from the
father's heart, and which now bursts its barriers in the daughter who
has inherited all this, whose education is American through and
through:--this German blood!"

They were interrupted. The officer they had been expecting now appeared
in the village street, accompanied by a soldier. Henry advanced some
steps to meet him, and saluted him politely; then summoning all his bad
French he began to explain his embarrassments; but after the first
hasty words, he spoke more slowly, then stopped, began anew, and
stopped again, and at last was wholly silent; his eyes fixed, staring,
and immovable, upon the face of the officer.

He too was equally surprised; he stepped back a few paces, but in so
doing, he had also approached Mr. Atkins, who now, with an expression
of mingled surprise and terror, cried:

"Professor Fernow!"

Henry trembled; this outcry gave him a certainty as to whose eyes they
were which had beamed upon him from under the helmet. Every drop of
blood vanished from the face of the young American; with one single
glance he took in the whole appearance of the officer standing before
him; a second flew back to the house where Jane still lingered. He
seemed to comprehend something. A wild half suppressed "_Ah!_" broke
from his lips, then he set his teeth firmly, and was silent. Atkins had
meantime saluted Lieutenant Fernow, who with calm politeness now turned
to both gentlemen.

"I regret that it must be I who announce to you unpleasant tidings; but
the desired continuation of your journey is impossible. No one can
pass; the guards have strict orders to make everyone turn back, whoever
he may be."

"But, Professor Fernow, we must go on!" said Atkins in vexation, "and
you know us well enough to assure the authorities that we are not
spies."

"It is impossible to make any exceptions. I am sorry, Mr. Atkins, but
the passes are guarded, and no civilian is allowed to pass from this
side into the mountain region. It is possible the order may be recalled
to-morrow, as we are expecting re-inforcements; but to-day, it stands
in full force."

"Well, then, you will at least have the goodness to inform us where,
according to your august decision, we are to pass the night. We cannot
go back; the several places through which we have passed are thronged
with soldiers, and we are not allowed to go forward; here in the
village we can scarce count upon entertainment. Are we to camp in our
carriages?"

"That will not be necessary. You are--alone?"

There should have been no question in these words; the answer was
self-evident; still there lay in them an unconscious hesitation.

Atkins was about to answer, but Alison cut short his reply. He had made
his conclusion.

"Yes," he said very emphatically.

"Then I think I can offer you the hospitality of my comrades. We have
room enough in the castle, and our acquaintanceship," here a smile
flitted over his face, "guards you from every possible suspicion.
Excuse me just for a moment."

He stepped to the guard standing near, and exchanged a word with him.

"And this is the former professor of B. University!" muttered Atkins
with suppressed anger. "The bookworm has such a military bearing, one
would think he had all his life carried a sword at his side; and there
is not the least trace of the consumption to be seen about him now."

"But for God's sake, Henry, explain to me what you are telling that
falsehood for--"

"Silence!" interrupted Alison in a low, passionate voice. "No word to
him of the presence of Miss Forest, not a syllable! I will be back in a
moment."

He vanished in the house; Atkins gazed after him shaking his head.

Now it was Alison who was becoming incomprehensible.

Fernow had meantime returned. "Has your young countryman left us?" he
asked after a hasty glance around.

"He will return directly," said Atkins, and in fact, Henry now stepped
out of the doorway. Jane was leaning on his arm, and he was talking to
her so excitedly and persistently, that she did not notice the figure
of the young officer who stood with his back to her, until she was
close to him. Then Fernow turned around.

For a moment, the two stood opposite each other, in silent, breathless
astonishment. But then as it were the brightest sunshine overspread
Walter's face; his blue eyes gleamed with a passionate ardor, and
lighted up with an infinite happiness; the whole nature of this man
seemed all aglow with one mighty emotion;--the moment of reunion had
betrayed all.

But other emotions were mirrored in Jane's eyes. She shrank back
affrighted and deathly pale, and would have fallen, if Alison had not
supported her. His arm held hers in an iron grasp, he pressed this arm
against his breast, firmly and convulsively, but she felt it not. His
eyes fastened themselves penetratingly upon both, not even the quiver
of an eyelash escaped him, and a terrible expression, icy and of evil
omen, lay upon his face. He needed no word, no declaration--he knew
enough.

Fernow was first to recover his self-possession. He had looked only at
Jane, not at Alison; he saw her alone.

"Miss Forest, I did not dream that I should also meet _you_ here!" he
said.

At the first tones of his voice, Henry felt from the contact of the
hand resting upon his arm that Jane trembled from head to foot; he let
the hand slowly fall, and this movement restored her equanimity.

"Professor Fernow--indeed--we supposed your regiment was already on the
way to Paris."

The tone was abrupt and cold, and her glance shunned his; Jane knew
that if she now met those eyes, all was lost.

The sunshine vanished from Walter's face; his eyes fell, and the old
melancholy again returned. "We were ordered back to guard the passes,"
he said. His glance still sought hers, but always in vain.

"And so the repulsion we have met came from you? It must be your duty,
Professor Fernow, and we submit." And with the last remnant of strength
that was left her, Jane turned away from him and went back to Mr.
Atkins.

Fernow's lips quivered. This was again the cold, unapproachable Miss
Forest, and that moment of separation, which waking or dreaming, had
never left his soul, which in all these storms and dangers, he had
carried ever with him; even that moment was forgotten, vanished from
her remembrance; she shrank from his glance as from something inimical,
hated. That evening upon the Ruènberg again arose before him, and now
as then, pride conquered bitterness. He turned away.

"Frederic!"

"Herr Lieutenant!"

"You will conduct this lady and these two gentlemen to the castle, to
the Surgeon. Mr. Atkins will explain all to him, and he will
communicate further with the major, Mr. Atkins, you know Doct. Behrend
of B. I must confide you to his care; my duties for the present detain
me in the village; I therefore beg you to excuse me."

Touching his military cap, he bade his adieux with a salutation
designed for all three, and then strode hastily past the house to the
meadow where the first outposts stood.

It was with a feeling of infinite satisfaction that Frederic placed
himself at the head of the American trio, to conduct them to the
castle. Of the conversation, which had been carried on in English, he
had naturally understood nothing, and was therefore firmly convinced
the hated individuals consigned to him by his lieutenant, were spies or
traitors, upon whose secure keeping the salvation of the whole regiment
hung. Proud and triumphant at the mission intrusted to him, with the
most rigid military bearing, with head erect, he strode on, ready at
the least effort at flight, to make use of his musket.

Happily, the Americans undertook nothing of the kind. The young pair
went silently on ahead, without exchanging even a word; but Mr. Atkins,
giving the escort a side glance, said sarcastically:

"See here, Mr. Frederic, for good or ill we are now entirely in your
hands."

Frederic with immense self-importance looked down upon the little man;
now indeed he was lord and master, but his mood became somewhat more
gentle as he saw that the haughty American so perfectly understood his
position.

"My lieutenant has ordered it!" he said emphatically; "and where my
lieutenant is concerned, nothing happens wrong."

"You take a burden from my heart," said Atkins mockingly. "I am
infinitely obliged to you for the gratifying intelligence that we are
neither to be thrown into a dungeon nor bound in chains; but my best
Mr. Frederic, this metamorphose of your lieutenant borders on the
fabulous. The professor has become a military hero from head to foot.
His learned Eminence now understands, as it seems, excellently, how to
command, and already in six weeks, has learned to throw out orders
about posts, and arrangements and comrades, as if he had grown up in
the field, instead of in the study. What has his Highness done then
with his former timidity and absent-mindedness?"

"Left it in B.," returned Frederic dryly, "with his books!"

At this answer, Atkins gazed at Frederic in utter astonishment.-- "Has
the fellow really become intelligent!" he muttered. "Nothing now can
happen after this!"

The vaunted intelligence was soon enough to have a trial. Ten minutes
later, Frederic appeared on the terrace, where, with the exception of
the major, who at this moment was in the castle, the other officers
were sitting together. He marched right up to the surgeon. "I come from
Herr Lieutenant Fernow! He sends you three spies, and wishes you to
consult further with the major."

"Are you mad?" cried the surgeon with a loud laugh. "What am I to do
with the spies? Are they wounded?"

"No, they are all three sound and healthy."

"Frederic, this is only another of your stupid freaks!" said the
captain, thoughtfully draining his glass. "To the major, the lieutenant
must have said."

"He said I must take them to the doctor," persisted Frederic, "because
he comes from B. The niece of Doctor Stephen, the American Miss, is one
of them."

"Miss Forest!" cried the surgeon, starting up. "Heaven and earth! Then
Walter has a supreme happiness. Destiny now brings him the prize of
war, and he cares nothing for it at all; sends the lady up here to us
through an escort,--nobody in the whole world but Walter Fernow is
capable of this!"

"Miss Forest! Who is Miss Forest? Tell us at once, Doctor!" echoed from
all sides.

"Do not detain me, gentlemen!" cried the doctor excitedly. "I must go,
for as it appears, a stupid error has been committed. Would you know
who Miss Forest is? A relative of our first physician in B.; a young
American lady, heiress to a million, twenty years old, beautiful as a
picture, a meteor, which all B. admires and adores, and whose unhappy
devotee I also confess myself to be. God be gracious to you Frederic,
if you have been guilty of an incivility to her!"

He hastened away. But the brief sketches he had thrown off of Miss
Forest, had electrified the whole company. The words, 'millionaire,
twenty years old, beautiful as a picture,' had fallen like so many
firebrands into the ears and hearts of the younger officers, and they
all at once vowed to make the acquaintance of this interesting
personage. But the æsthetic major rose solemnly and followed with long
strides. The affair promised to be immensely romantic.

"Frederic," said the fat captain, who had been sitting at his drinking
bowl in perfect repose of mind. "Frederic, you have again been guilty
of a precious piece of stupidity."

Frederic stood there with open mouth, annihilated, quite cast down from
the height of his self-importance. He threw a bewildered glance towards
the entrance of the park, where his "spies" had been received with the
most respectful politeness, and a second melancholy one upon the
officer sitting near him, and lowering his head, he said with mournful
acquiescence:

"I am at your command, Herr Captain."



                              CHAPTER XIX.

                        The Lover's Accusation.


Fernow had not counted too much on the hospitality of his comrades; the
major more than fulfilled his promise. The journey could under no
circumstances be pursued, but all were ready to receive the strangers
for the night into the castle, where a number of finely-furnished
unoccupied apartments stood at their disposal. Unfortunately, the hopes
of the younger gentlemen as to a nearer acquaintance with the beautiful
millionaire were doomed to disappointment. They only saw enough of her
to verify the doctor's words that she was young and very beautiful; but
Miss Forest did not seem inclined to receive the homage of this warlike
circle. She was weary from excitement and the long journey, and after
the unavoidable greeting and presentations, she withdrew at once to her
chamber.

Doctor Behring looked melancholy, the other gentlemen disconcerted; but
the young lady had really been pale as marble, and the few words she
had spoken had cost her such apparent effort, that they could not seek
to deny her the repose she so much needed. But her two companions could
not decline the invitation of the gentlemen to join their social
circle. Atkins, as usual, shone through his sarcastic humor, which
to-night was more brilliant than ordinarily, since the test was imposed
upon it of atoning for the silence of his companion. Here Alison's
ignorance of German came to his aid, but the doctor, who politely
assumed the office of interpreter, could scarce draw the simplest
answers from the melancholy guest. He laid the fault of this persistent
silence to his own defective English, and consoled the young man with
assurances of the speedy return of his friend Fernow, who was perfect
master of the language. Henry's lips quivered; with icy politeness, he
begged the doctor to give himself no anxiety on his account, and as for
Lieutenant Fernow, his rounds to-night, seemed endless, he did not
come. But the major received an evidently important piece of tidings in
place of the Lieutenant; he beckoned to the adjutant, and withdrew with
him. This was a signal for the breaking up of the party; and the two
American gentlemen were at liberty to withdraw.

The carriages had meantime arrived, and the baggage was brought in. It
was already quite dark when the two Americans entered the apartment
assigned them, and which, like that given to Jane, lay in the second
story of the castle, while the officers were quartered in the first, so
as to be at hand in case of alarm. Atkins, with a sigh of relief, threw
himself upon a sofa, Alison began to pace silently up and down the
room. In vain did his companion wait for a word, a remark; not a
syllable came from his lips; he still paced dumbly to and fro, his arms
crossed, his head bowed. The continuous silence at length became
oppressive to Atkins.

"Things cannot go on in this way, Henry!" he said. "Your betrothal must
be acknowledged. You saw that strange meeting in the village as well as
I. What do you think of it?"

Alison paused, and lifted his head. "Why did you come here with Miss
Forest?" he asked in a cutting tone.

"Henry, I beg you----"

"Why did you come here with Miss Forest?" repeated Alison, but this
time a repressed fury pulsed through his voice.

"To look after a family affair!"

Henry laughed bitterly. "Spare yourself this deception. I now know
all!"

"Then you know more than I!" declared Atkins gravely. "I at least only
half understood that scene. This Fernow--well, his sentiment scarce
needed expression, he betrayed it plainly enough; but why Miss Jane, at
sight of him, shrank back horrified as if she had seen a ghost, is
incomprehensible to me."

"And to me also," said Alison with icy scorn. "One is not usually
frightened at sight of anything reached at last after such a painful
effort."

Atkins frowned. "It is fortunate that Miss Jane does not hear you; she
would never forgive you this suspicion. You ought to know her too well
to suppose she would start out on a mere aimless adventure, and now you
accuse her with a contempt for all the proprieties and moralities, with
having come here in pursuit of a man almost a stranger. Do you believe
this of Miss Forest? Fie, Henry!"

Alison remained immovable at this reproach; but the old, chilling irony
was in his voice, as he replied:

"I know that Miss Forest would die sooner than make the slightest
advance of this kind to me; but, well this is not the first time that a
woman's pride has been annihilated before a pair of dreamy blue eyes
like these."

"You are going too far!" cried Atkins, indignantly. "I promised to be
silent, but in answer to accusations like this, Jane herself ought to
speak, and if she will not speak, I will! Well then, we are seeking
some one here in France; we are in pursuit of a man, but this man is
not named Fernow, and does not offer you the least occasion for
jealousy. He bears Miss Forest's name and is her brother!"

"Her brother?" repeated Alison in bewildered surprise.

"Yes!" And Atkins now began in a brief, lucid way, to tell the young
man all; of Mr. Forest's dying request, of the trace found in Hamburg,
and of the subsequent investigations, up to the time of their departure
from N. Alison listened in silence for a moment, he seemed to breathe
more freely, but his brow remained clouded.

"You are right," he said, "I believe you now; that meeting was not
pre-arranged."

Atkins gazed at him in speechless astonishment. And was this all? He
had expected another reception of his tidings.

"You seem to quite forget, Henry, how nearly this matter concerns you,"
he said impressively. "If, as we have reason to believe, this young Mr.
Forest lives; if we find him, as we hope to do, it will cost you half
the fortune you expect with your bride."

"Ah, is that so?" muttered Alison. "And I would give the other half if
she had never set foot on this German soil!"

Atkins started back. He had not thought this possible. If Henry could
so entirely forget and deny the merchant in his character; if he could
speak in this way of the loss of a fortune, he must be terribly in
earnest. He approached the young man and laid a hand upon his shoulder.

"Jealousy makes you blind," he said in a pacific tone. "Whatever there
may between these two, and it is doubtless some secret, it cannot be
love; Jane's terror at the unexpected meeting, betrayed anything but
that."

Alison glanced at him coldly and derisively. "You are very unfortunate
in your powers of observation, Mr. Atkins. Who was it that in B.
derided my presentiment that I saw danger to my hopes in this
consumptive professor? Does he still seem to you laughable and of
little account, or do you know at least what powers have lain dormant
in this man?"

"I have misjudged him, but I defy anyone to estimate justly the
character of a man who for years long, plays the role of a misanthropic
hermit and learned investigator, then all at once really explodes as a
poet, soars aloft as a hero in war, where to all human foresight it
seemed clear that he would subside at the first roar of the cannon;
and, at an unexpected meeting, flames up like an eighteen-year-old
enthusiast. I tell you it takes a long time to find out these Germans!
Once tear them from their commonplace ruts in which they have been wont
to tread, and they go on in unaccountable ways. It is so with solitary
individuals, it is so with the whole nation. They hurl the pen into a
corner, and draw the sword from its scabbard, as if this had been their
sole business their whole life long. I fear that for the next hundred
years we shall not forget in what hand the pen lay!"

Atkins said all this in a peculiar tone of grumbling admiration; but he
remembered at the right time, that such observations were not designed
to pacify his young companion, and dropping the subject, he said
consolingly:

"But Henry, however things may turn out, Jane remains yours. You have
her promise; you have received it of her own free will, and the Forests
are wont to keep their word to themselves and others. In whatever
manner this Fernow may cross her path, I know her, she will be yours
notwithstanding."

"She will!" replied Alison morosely. "You may rely upon that, Mr.
Atkins! Either with or against her consent; my determination is
irrevocable, even though--" and here the former ill-omened expression
reappeared upon his face--"even though a pair of blue eyes should have
to close forever!"

Atkins recoiled in horror; he made no reply. Darkness had fallen; from
the village, in tones long drawn out, came the evening signal; Henry
started up and took his hat from the table. With a hasty step the old
man stood at his side, and grasped his arm.

"Where are you going?"

"Out into the open air. To the park."

"Now? It is quite dark."

"But I must go out for all that; the air here oppresses me. Perhaps--"
he smiled strangely--"perhaps I shall bring better thoughts in with me.
Good-night."

Freeing his arm by a hasty movement, he left the room. Atkins gazed
uneasily after him.

"Something terrible may happen. If they should chance to meet just
now!--Foolishness!" he cried interrupting himself. "Just as if Henry
were such a lunatic as to stake life, honor, and future for a mad
jealous whim! If he were to meet this Fernow alone in the mean time, I
would answer for nothing; but hero among his comrades, where discovery
would be inevitable, and revenge sure--no, he would not venture it!"

He opened his door to listen if any sound came from Jane's chamber
which lay opposite. "She shut herself in immediately upon our arrival,"
he said to himself, "and called out to me that she had already lain
down--a pretence! I heard her plainly pacing to and fro; but it is of
no use to renew my effort to force a conversation with her; perhaps her
intervention would only make matters worse.--I had better see that we
leave early to-morrow morning, for no matter where; if things come to
the worst we can go back to B. When this Fernow is only out of sight,
it will be an easy matter to keep our betrothed couple together, and
until then--well in any event they can only sleep one single night
under the same roof!"

With this consoling thought, Mr. Atkins closed the door, and returned
to his chamber.



                              CHAPTER XX.

                           The Fateful Hour.


The silence that ruled throughout the castle was in striking contrast
to the merry, animated life of the afternoon. A light already burned in
the major's chamber, the adjutant and another of the officers were
there; the other gentlemen seemed to have withdrawn, for the large
ante-room, which opened upon the terrace and usually served as the
evening rendezvous, was quite solitary, except that for the moment
Frederic was there trying to light a fire in the grate as a protection
against the cool, evening air. He undertook this service very
unwillingly, and with much grumbling against the castellan who had
remained behind, but saw fit to shirk the duties he had been ordered to
perform, and as usual, was nowhere to be found.

Frederic had at last succeeded in kindling the dry wood heaped up in
the grate; the flames leaped forth merrily, and Frederic had just
resigned himself to melancholy reflection over the worthlessness of
French servants in general and the shortcoming of French stewards, in
particular, when a light hand was laid upon his shoulder, and turning
around he saw that Miss Forest stood close behind him.

"Has Lieutenant Fernow yet returned?" she asked.

"Yes," answered Frederic greatly surprised at the question; "ten
minutes ago."

"Tell him that I wish to speak with him."

Frederic was still more surprised. "With my master?"

"Yes, I wish to speak with your master. Tell him that I await him
here.--Hasten!"

An imperious wave of the hand accompanied the command, for command it
was, and Frederic trudged away. Just as he was outside the door, it
occurred to him that it was no longer fitting for him, one of the
heroes of this glorious Prussian army, to be ordered around in this way
by that American Miss; but it was with him as with Mr. Atkins; his will
sank powerless before her imperious tone and glance; so, growling and
muttering, but obedient, he went to his master's room on the required
errand.

Jane had remained back alone in the large gloomy apartment which was
only partially lighted by a chandelier suspended from the ceiling.
Outside profound darkness already reigned; the moon had not yet risen,
the winds sighed through the trees, and through the one open window
floated the cold evening air. She shuddered involuntarily, and
approaching the grate sank down into an arm-chair, whose richly carved
back displayed an French coat of arms.

She was now just on the verge of certainty! All must become clear
between them,--the next fifteen minutes would unveil the long buried
secret! With what emotions Jane looked forward to his unveiling was
known to her alone. The flames as they rose and fell lighted up a face
upon which was now mirrored one only expression, firm, unyielding
decision. "_It must be!_" With these words, Forest had taught his
daughter to endure every conflict and to bear every sorrow; but in his
lifetime she had known little of sorrow or conflict. Now the trial had
come; but dumbly, without lamentation, she bowed to the iron law of
necessity.

For one moment, that unexpected reunion had overpowered her; but it had
been for only a moment, it was not in Jane's nature to recoil from any
decisive step; she was no coward, and she would now have a certainty,
even though that certainty was to prove her destruction. The features
wrought to their fullest energy, the compressed lips, and the
determined icy glance, at this moment, gave her a really frightful
resemblance to her dead father. There was not a breath of weakness, of
submission; all was hard, rigid, icy; these features said--"let come
what will, it shall be borne!"

The door opened from the outside, and Fernow entered. He closed the
door behind him, but remained standing close to the threshold.

"You wished to see me, Miss Forest!"

"I wished an interview with you, Lieutenant Fernow. Shall we be
undisturbed here?"

"I hope so for the next fifteen minutes."

"Ah--I beg you to come nearer."

He approached her slowly, and paused at the fireplace, directly
opposite her. Between them crackled and glistened the flames, their
lurid reflection sharply lighting up both these forms. They alone were
visible in the half-darkened room; visible also to him who was pacing
up and down the terrace just outside.

"I was not prepared for this summons, Miss Forest. After our meeting in
the village it seemed to me as if you wished to avoid every approach on
my side. I followed your command; it is you now who have summoned me."

There lay perhaps some bitterness in these words, but Fernow's
bitterness was seldom cutting or harmful. Jane recognized only a
gentle, deeply painful reproach nothing more.

"My conduct may seem enigmatical to you Lieutenant Fernow," she said; "I
owe you an explanation; but before I make it, I beg you to answer a few
questions."

He nodded in silent assent.

"In the first place, will you tell me your given name?"

Of all questions, Fernow seemed least to have expected this. "My given
name?"

"Yes."

"I am called Walter."

"Walter?" A deep breath of relief came involuntarily from Jane's
breast. "Walter! I do not know that name."

"And why should you know it, Miss Forest?" he asked in evident
surprise. "We were strangers until the moment you trod the soil of
Germany."

"Perhaps so!" Her glance fastened itself gloomily upon the lurid
flame-images which in endless transformations darted forth and fell
back dissolved in nothingness; "and perhaps not! You told me once that
you had been thrust out into life without parents and without a home;
that you had fallen into the hands of a learned man who had led you
also into the paths of science.--Was this learned man a clergyman?"

"Yes; but after a time he left his parish and his vocation to give
himself entirely up to science."

Jane convulsively pressed her left hand against her breast. "And--his
name?"

"Pastor Hartwig!"

A deep, momentous pause! The flames darted yet higher and threw their
quivering light upon a deathly-pale, deathly-cold face; not a syllable
came from her lips; she remained motionless in her place.

"Miss Forest, what does all this mean?" Walter's voice was low and
anxious. "Why these strange questions? Did you know my foster-father?
Were you in any way connected with him?"

At these last words, he had stepped nearer, and now stood close to her;
Jane seemed not to have heard the question; she gave no answer.

"Johanna!"

A light shudder passed over her. This name! Only once before had she
heard it from his lips, in that parting-hour, and it sounded like a
melody out of the sweet, faraway days of her childhood. Her mother had
once called her so, but only for a short space; the German name of his
child had fallen a sacrifice to the rigid will of her father; it had
been changed to the English, "Jane." Never since then, had she heard it
again, and now as it came from his lips, it had such a soft, entreating
tone--all her strength gave way before this one word.

Slowly she lifted her glance to him; it met his eyes, and for a moment,
rested in them. Those blue eyes that with mournful tenderness hung upon
her face--even now they exerted their mysterious power, a power which,
at this moment, when all doubt must be solved, when the inevitable
decision must be made, forced this proud, obstinate woman to forget the
desire which had so long haunted her, to forget the momentous decision,
which wrested her from all the conflict and torture of the few past
hours, and with irresistible might, impelled her on into the dream he
himself was dreaming at this moment.

She sat again by the willow-hedge where the first green buds of spring
were opening, and he stood at her side. All around them brooded the
fog, weaving its gray veil over tree and shrub; the rain-drops fell
lightly upon the thirsty sod, strange whisperings and echoes thrilled
the air, while above all, fell upon their ears the undulating murmurs
of the distant Rhine. The present and the real dissolved in
nothingness; she knew nothing, felt nothing, but that dumb,
inexplicable anguish she had there experienced. She was willessly,
powerlessly under the spell of these eyes.

They both started with a sudden tremor, affrighted at the same moment,
by an unknown something.

The dream-picture dissolved with its swaying mists and its soft, tender
reminiscences of the spring; they were again in that lofty, gloomy
apartment of the gray stone castle; inside the fire blazed and
crackled, outside, the autumn wind murmured through the trees; perhaps
it was the wind that drove a bough against the window, and recalled
them from this dream of remembrance. Jane was first to glance out in
that direction, and Walter's eyes followed hers.

"We are observed!" she said softly.

"Hardly! But I will find out!"

He walked to the window, opened it wide and bent far out into the
darkness, Jane had risen and leaned heavily against the back of the
easy chair blazoned with its coat of arms. Now the most difficult thing
was to come! He must learn that which to her was no longer a subject of
doubt.

"I will see whether he is able to bear it." Perhaps only the voice of
nature spoke in this tenderness; perhaps--there was a convulsive
shudder at her heart--"he will smile at the discovery. Well, then, if
he can bear it, I will not betray my weakness even though I should die
at my brother's first kiss!"

Walter had closed the window, and now came back to her. "It is
nothing," he said calmly. "Who could have interest enough in our
affairs to watch us?" Jane knew already the way in which she had to go;
she entered upon it with unfaltering step.

"Who? Mr. Alison!"

Walter started back and glanced at her in consternation.

"Mr. Alison? Your travelling companion?"

"Yes."

That deep glow, sudden and fiery, again mounted his face, until it
covered forehead and temples.

"And he is not a stranger to you, this man? I thought it must be so the
first moment I met him--Johanna--" his voice trembled in feverish
excitement--"and what relation does Alison stand to you? What right has
he over you?"

"I am his betrothed."

The flush vanished from his face, quickly as it had come, and a deep
pallor look its place.

"His betrothed!" repeated he in a hollow voice.

"And do you love him?"

"No!"

"And still have you given him your promise--your future?"

There lay a bitter lament in this reproach. Jane's glance fell. "I have
done so," she replied in a low voice.

"Then would to God we had never met!" said Walter despairingly.

Jane was silent for a moment "And why?" she asked at length almost
inaudibly.

He stepped close to her, and his voice also fell to a low, but
impassioned whisper.

"And do you ask? Need I tell you in words what you long since must have
divined, or--is it I alone who will be wretched through your
confession?"

Slowly Jane again turned her face to him; her voice sounded unnaturally
calm, but her eyes were fixed upon his face with an unremitting,
anxious inquiry, as if every fibre of his inner being must answer her.

"We need not make ourselves wretched on this account, we _must_ not.
Destiny has brought us together cruelly, perhaps, but if it denies us
the highest happiness, it has not ordained our separation. Perhaps--"
her glance sank deeper and deeper into his--"perhaps I can persuade my
future husband to a long residence upon the Rhine. I know that a single
word from my lips will make him approach you as a friend. You need not
thrust back this hand! Walter. You will learn to control your emotions,
you will learn to regard me as a friend as a--brother should--"

"Johanna!" interrupted he with a wild, passionate outcry. She was
silent, but her eyes did not leave his face; it had now the same
expression as upon that first meeting in N., as if the next moment
would bring with it a decision for life or death.

"And you say this to _me_!" he broke out in uncontrollable anguish.
"Must I hear it from your lips? Would you deride the enthusiast, the
dreamer, in me, or do you yourself dream of a tie of ideal friendship,
where love becomes sacrilege? Do not deceive yourself! Between spirits
such a tie may be possible, but not between hearts; there it could
spring only from coldness or from crime. Once in the solitude of my
study, shut out from all the world, I too indulged in just such sickly
fancies; then came this love to you, impelling me out into active life,
into earnest, glowing reality. And this life and this reality now
demand their right; I must either possess you or lose you eternally! No
third person can come between us."

It was the deep, ardent tone of passion, a passion that thrilled his
whole being, that palpitated through every word he uttered, and before
this onrushing tide of emotion, fell the last prop to which Jane had
clung. But all at once, she stood erect and without support. Right
through the certainty of her infinite misfortune, broke a feeling that
was mightier even than despair. His words only echoes the sentiment of
her own soul; she was beloved even as she herself loved.

She heaved a sigh, "You are right, Walter!" she said. "In our case love
becomes sacrilege; I see it now! Between us two there can henceforth be
but one command--separation!"

He shuddered at the words. "And can you speak this so calmly! and do
you think I shall yield to it without having sought the utmost?
Johanna, no sacred oath binds you; a promise can be dissolved, a word
can be taken back--are your vows irrevocable?"

"They are!"

"Reflect"--his voice trembled in anguished entreaty--"this concerns the
happiness of my whole life and yours also! You can save us both by one
only decision. Can you not rend the tie which binds you to this
Alison?"

Here with a violent noise the door was burst open, and Frederic's
powerful voice was heard.

"Herr Lieutenant, the major begs you to come to him this instant!"

Walter turned around. "What is it!" he asked bewildered. "Where am I to
go?"

"To the Herr Major; all the officers are gathered there."

"Very well, I will come."

The door closed again, and Frederic's heavy receding step was heard.
Yet once more Walter turned back to Jane; his face was pale as death,
but a wild unrest glowed in his eyes.

"You hear; I must go! We are in the midst of war, the next hour, the
next moment may rend us asunder. Johanna, I ask you for the last time,
can you, will you not be mine?"

"Never, Walter! Even though Alison set me free, and every other barrier
fell--never!"

"Then farewell!" he sobbed despairingly, and stretched out his arms, as
if he would clasp her to his breast; but with a trembling movement Jane
recoiled from him, and raised her hand with a repelling gesture. For a
moment he stood as if petrified before her; then he bowed low and
distantly.

"You are right, Miss Forest--farewell!"

He was gone, and Jane remained alone--alone with this stony burden on
her breast, for the final veil had not been lifted, the final word not
spoken. It had pressed violently to her lips, but a strange might had
held it back, the fear of seeing him suffer still more, than through
her mere _no_. She who usually spared none, because she was always
pitiless against herself, trembled now before a strange sorrow. For the
first time the hard "_it must_ be!" of her father lost its power; for
the first time she felt that she could not yield to an inevitable
necessity. She had firmly faced all conflicts and tortures; but when,
as it now happened, she must also deliver him to this struggle, the
woman in her rose in all its anxiety, all its timidity, she shrank back
trembling and cowardly before the decisive word--for his sake.

To-morrow! Until then, he must school himself to familiarity with the
loss; he would then more easily bear the "_why_." Now it had crushed
him utterly.--And Jane's powers of endurance were also at an end. She
broke out into a low sobbing; but amid the sobs she moaned softly. "I
should have died if he could have borne it!"



                              CHAPTER XXI.

                          A Desperate Resolve.


Things looked very grave in the major's apartment. A council of war was
in progress. The major himself, with a perplexed air, his hands crossed
behind his back, was pacing up and down; the adjutant and a young
lieutenant, with thoughtful, anxious faces, sat at the table around
which were grouped Doctor Behrend and the other officers. Walter Fernow
was the last to enter.

"I have had you summoned, gentlemen," began the major, in evident
perturbation, "to acquaint you with a piece of bad news. You know that
we expect reinforcements. Captain Schwarz, with his batallion from L.,
was to unite with us to-morrow. I sent word to him that the mountain
road was safe, but I now find this an error I cannot recall."

All faces betrayed a restless suspense; all eyes were fixed upon the
major, who continued excitedly as before.

"Lieutenant Witte has just returned with his scouting party. He
captured a French peasant on the way, who would not answer his
question, but who afterward, becoming intoxicated, prated such strange
things and gave such taunting hints, that it was thought best to secure
him. Intimidated by threats, he made some confessions which
unfortunately were verified, word for word in a reconnoissance which at
once followed. The French fusileers, strongly reinforced, hold the
mountains between here and L. They have taken possession of the passes,
and as they know of the intended march of our soldiers, they will no
doubt attack them."

A tremor of alarm passed through the circle of officers. They knew the
mountain region too well not to have a fall conception of the danger
that threatened their comrades.

"I feared as much," said the captain after a momentary pause; "I feared
that some military stratagem lay at the foundation of the sudden
disappearance of the French soldiers. You know that within the last few
days the passes have been entirely free, so that our patrols could
wander unharmed over the mountains, while before, they were fired upon
from every cleft in the rocks. The enemy only withdrew for a little
space to make us feel more secure; but meantime he has been uniting his
forces; now hidden away in their inaccessible fastnesses, they will
rush forth to strike us a mortal blow."

"The all-important question," said the major, "is how we shall send a
warning to L. Our communications are severed, the passes are held by
the enemy, so Lieutenant Witte informs us."

"Wholly so, Herr Major," added the young officer, who at these last
words, had turned to his superior. "The French hold the mountain roads
as well as the pathways which lead along the cliffs on the other side
of the river. It must have happened very recently, for this morning the
way was clear; but they now have entire possession, and every patrol,
every foot-traveller they get a glimpse of, is shot down without
question."

"And if they seize our men in that narrow pass, not a single one will
leave it alive," cried the major excitedly. "They will be attacked both
in front and in the rear, and shot at by men concealed on the heights.
It is a desperate situation!"

"Could not a messenger be sent over to E.?" asked the adjutant. "The
way there is unobstructed."

"But he would have to go half around the mountains. It would take too
long; at early dawn the batallion will be on the march; if the warning
does not arrive by three in the morning, it will be too late!"

"Herr Major!" The voice of young Lieutenant Witte sounded somewhat
timid as he ventured to give counsel, but the most courageous
determination beamed from his eyes. "There is perhaps one resource, the
simplest of all. We might hurl ourselves with all our available
strength upon the enemy, overthrow him, and make the path free to our
comrades."

In spite of the fearful gravity of the situation, the major smiled;
then he shook his head.

"The advice does you all honor, Lieutenant Witte, but it could only
come from a three-and-twenty year old head: it is not practicable. You
have heard that the enemy has a three-fold strength; the situation
makes it tenfold. We should share the fate which threatens our men
without being able to rescue them."

Among the officers the proposal of their comrade had found a lively
assent; they now besieged the major with entreaties to carry it into
execution, but he remained firm.

"And they would seize us in the rear. Are these fellows not hiding in
all the woods, have they not spies everywhere among the inhabitants?
Our march, which would be immediately betrayed, would be the signal for
them to follow us, and we, shut up between two fires, could go neither
forward nor backward. Impossible! We will not leave our posts, but we
must be doubly on our guard, tonight. Who knows how far the plans and
the connections of these bands may extend? Perhaps they design to make
a second attack here, and upon us."

This reasoning was so convincing, that none sought to oppose it. All
were silent.

"But yet we cannot calmly look on and see our men march unsuspecting to
certain destruction," interposed Doctor Behrend.

"No!" said the major decidedly. "The messenger must go. And even were
the mountains tenfold more impassable, some possible way must be
found."

At this moment, Walter Fernow, the only officer who had hitherto taken
no part in the discussion, stepped forward, and said:

"Herr Major, I know a way out of this difficulty."

"And what is it, Lieutenant Fernow?"

"We have often enough reconnoitred the mountains. I know them
perfectly. You are aware that a week ago I, with five men, undertook a
_reconnoissance_ around L. which at that time was occupied by the
enemy. We ventured too far, we were pursued by some twenty, attacked
and at last dispersed."

"Yes.--Well?"

"After a few shots, with Corporal Braun, who already had a ball in his
arm, I threw myself into a side defile where they lost trace of us. The
others escaped in another direction. As we pressed on, we found a
narrow path half concealed in a thicket; this we took, as it seemed to
lead in the direction of S. It rose gradually to the summit of the
mountain, and then ran, for the most part hidden in the forest, along
the crest, and at last sank precipitously, to the entrance of that
narrow, impassable defile, which lies a quarter of an hour's distance
from here to the right of the valley. We had for some minutes wound
through dense shrubbery, and then we stood suddenly upon that
projecting rocky plateau of the mountain-road, where stands a large,
solitary fir-tree. From there we reach L. in a short time."

Fernow said all this lucidly and calmly. His manner had nothing of the
perturbation of a man who, scarce ten minutes before, had come from an
interview which had blighted his whole future. He spoke more gravely
and deliberately than usual, and a gloomy calm lay upon his features;
the calmness of one who has made a fixed decision. This was no time to
lament over a lost love, a lost happiness; he had found a remedy, the
speediest, most infallible of all.

The officers had listened in intense excitement; but the major's brow
remained clouded.

"And do you believe that the French fusileers, who are at home in this
region, do not know the way just as well, even better than you?" he
asked.

"Know it--probably! But the question is, do they watch it; for in the
first place, they cannot presuppose our knowledge of it; and in the
second, they do not dream that their plan is betrayed to us. They will
concentrate principally in the defiles and around the declivities; that
elevated path may possibly remain out of their reckoning, and this
gives it an advantage over the other ways which we know are guarded."

"And do you believe that way is passable at night?"

"On a full-moon night like this--yes! The moonlight removes the
principal difficulty--that of finding the entrance amid the bushes, and
following the first abrupt windings. Once beyond these, no error is
possible; the light shimmers brightly enough through the trees, and
from the opening of the path to L. the mountain-highway may be used;
the enemy would scarce venture on so far toward the village."

The major, in deep reflection, paced up and down. "You are right;" he
said at last. "The attempt must be made, although it must always be an
insane venture to send two, or at the most, three men, through a region
occupied by the enemy, upon the faint possibility that they have left
this path unguarded. It is ten to one you will be discovered, and shot
down; the danger is too great.--Do you, remember the path exactly?"

"Exactly."

"Well, then, only one thing remains to us, to find among our men, some
who are confident and courageous enough to undertake such an
expedition. Corporal Braun--"

"Lies sick of his wound," interrupted Walter calmly. "You see, Herr
Major, that the duty falls upon me."

"Walter! Are you out of your senses?" cried Doctor Behrend, in
consternation.

The major too had started back, and all the officers with a sort of
horrified surprise, gazed upon their comrade. Walter was the general
favorite; the pride of his equals, and the darling of his superiors.
Despite his silence and modesty, he possessed that boundless influence
over those around him, which is peculiar to genial natures. They had
often enough seen him rush first to the conflict, they had shared
danger with him; but to fall in open combat at the side of one's
comrades, with weapons in one's hand, is quite a different thing from
being laid low solitary and defenceless, by a ball from some ambush, or
being reserved perhaps for a yet more mournful destiny. It requires
more than the usual courage to look forward to such a fate, and they
would sooner have sacrificed any other than Walter Fernow.

"You--you, Lieutenant Fernow?" said the major deliberately. "That will
not do! I must sacrifice no officer in such an undertaking; we lost
enough of them in our last battle, and need all we have left for the
next. Such an errand is the business of a common soldier, and I must
let some private perform it."

Walter advanced a step nearer the table; the light of the candles fell
full upon his face; it was white as marble.

"I am at this moment the only one who knows the way," he said, "the
only one who can go in it. The path cannot be described; to confide the
mission to another, would be to imperil its success at the outset."

"But," returned the major, in a voice full of repressed emotion; "I can
now do without you least of all, and I repeat it to you, the
possibility of finding the path open is too small; the probability is
you would all be shot down!"

"Perhaps, and perhaps not! In any event, this possibility shall not
hold me back from a venture, that you would entrust to a common
soldier."

The major stepped hastily to him and reached him his hand. "You are
right!" he said simply. "Well, then, go in God's name! If you succeed,
you rescue some hundreds of my brave boys, if not--well, he who dies
from a stray bullet, meets none the less a hero's death.--How many men
will you take with you?"

"Not any! If we are attacked we must yield to numbers, and where one
falls, the others are not likely to escape. It would be to sacrifice
men uselessly, as a single one will suffice to carry the message.
Besides, a number might greatly enhance the danger; a single person
would be more likely to escape discovery."

The old superior officer, with undisguised admiration, gazed upon the
young poet and dreamer, as Walter was often enough jestingly called,
but who, once aroused from his reverie, had shown such a cool,
energetic, practical good sense, in even the minutest details of the
service. He indeed divined nothing of the storm which had just been
raging in this man's soul, or the source of the calmness with which he
rushed into danger.

"And you will go alone? When do you think of starting?"

"Not for an hour. I must wait until the moon rises, as I need its full
light to show me the way to the heights.--Even though some unforeseen
hindrance should arise, I have plenty of time."

"Well, then, gentlemen," said the major to the other officers, "go now,
and prepare yourselves for any alarm that may be given tonight. Herr
Captain, see that the posts are doubly guarded, that the orders
previously given are exactly carried out. I will meantime advise with
Lieutenant Fernow."

The officers obeyed, but at the door, the captain turned around once
more.

"Good-night, Lieutenant Fernow!" he said.

A smile flitted over Walter's lips; too well he knew the meaning of the
farewell.

"Good-night, captain! Good-night, gentlemen!"

Then turning, he met the eyes of Doctor Behrend resting gravely and
reproachfully upon him.

"Do you then care nothing at all for your life?" he asked beneath his
breath.

"No!" was the melancholy answer given in the same tone.

The doctor sighed. "I shall see you before you leave?"

"Probably! But go now, Robert!"

With another and still heavier sigh, the surgeon followed the others,
and Walter remained alone with the major and the adjutant.



                             CHAPTER XXII.

                         A Fearful Alternative.


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."

"Yes; and were you a witness of it?"

"I was!"

The young officer remained perfectly calm. "Then you must have heard
what was said."

Alison's lips curled in scorn. "You spoke German with her, the beloved
mother-tongue! And so the confessions of your love and tenderness were
debarred from me. But one name, I heard. It sounded very sweet, that
'Johanna,' almost as sweet as the 'Walter' from her lips!"

A slight flush passed over Walter's face; but he quickly repressed his
emotion. "I believe you had a question to ask me, Mr. Alison," he said.
"Let us stick to our subject!"

"Yes, let us stick to our subject!" replied Alison, in a hollow voice.
"You love Miss Forest!"

"Yes!"

"And are loved in return?" Walter was silent, but Alison's eyes flamed
upon him in such consuming hatred, that any evasion here would have
seemed cowardice.

"Yes!" he returned firmly.

A sound came from Henry's lips like the hiss of a wounded serpent.

"I regret that I must disturb this perfect understanding. Perhaps Miss
Forest has already told you that I have prior rights, and am not
inclined to resign them to you."

"She has told me!"

"Well, then, you must understand that if the hand of Miss Forest is
pledged to me, I will tolerate no love in her to any one but her future
husband; at least to no _living_ man!"

Walter recoiled in horror. "Does that mean a challenge?"

"Yes; do not start back, Lieutenant Fernow, I waive all your German
proprieties as to witnesses, seconds and preliminaries, I offer you a
far simpler method. We will draw lots, or throw dice, we two alone, and
fortune shall decide. The losing one shall pledge his word of honor not
to be among the living twenty-four hours after, and the thing is done."

There was an expression of contempt on Walter's face as he coldly
replied; "I regret, Mr. Alison, that this sort of satisfaction does not
accord with my ideas of honor. If we must be arrayed against each
other, let it be in the orthodox way, eye to eye with weapon in hand. I
would fight for my life; not cast lots for it."

Alison's eyes flashed in annihilating scorn. "It certainly may not be
so poetical as your German duel, but it is more--sure!"

"But I will not consent. And besides you seem to forget that such a
thing is not to be thought of while I belong to the army. My life is
not my own, it is my country's. I must not deprive my fatherland of one
even the least of its defenders, and while the war lasts, I must
neither seek nor yield to private revenge. If I fall, your wish will be
gratified; if not, after peace is declared, I am ready to give you the
required satisfaction--not before!"

Alison laughed derisively. "After the peace! Perhaps when you have
returned to your professor's chair, when rector and regent, when in
case of need the whole university covers you with the ægis of science;
when all rise in moral exasperation against a barbarism of the middle
ages, least of all befitting a teacher of youth. Then at last, impelled
by these higher considerations, you will decline! It is a masterly
idea, Lieutenant Fernow! But I am not simple enough to fall into the
snare you set for me!"

Walter's face glowed with suppressed rage. Involuntarily, ha laid his
hand upon his sword.

"How many of the battles in which I have fought, have you gazed at
through a spy-glass?" he asked coolly.

The reproach was effectual, but it only the more enraged Alison. It was
a tiger's glance he gave the man standing before him.

"Let us end this!" he said savagely. "I offer you one more choice. Give
me this night the satisfaction I demand either in my way or in yours. I
am ready for all, or--"

"Or what?"

"The consequences be upon your own head!"

Walter crossed his arms and gazed down at his enemy, as if from an
unapproachable height. "It cannot possibly happen tonight, as I shall
not be here. I must go to the mountains--" A wild, terrible gleam shot
suddenly from Alison's eyes; he bent forward and listened, intent and
breathless, to what followed--"and all that remains to me is to repeat
to you my former words: our quarrel must rest until the end of the war;
it cannot be settled a day sooner, and if you seek to force me through
insults, I shall appeal to my superior officers."

The last threat was quite unnecessary, for Alison had all at once
become calm, strangely calm; he smiled, but it was a smile so icy-cold
as to make one shudder.

"Another irrevocable _no_! Very well! But if we should chance to meet
again, Lieutenant Fernow, remember that it was I who offered you
honorable combat, and that you refused it. _Au revoir!_"

He went. Walter remained motionless in his place and gazed silently
down at the last faint glow of the expiring embers. Dead, like the
bright glowing flames that had lighted his interview with Jane; dead
alike their vivid reflection, and last weary, fitful gleams; but now
and then solitary sparks quivered here and there, danced awhile like
_ignes fatui_ to and fro, and then at last sank away like all else, in
dust and ashes. Through the window, the moon now threw a long silver
stripe over the floor of the room. It would soon be time to go.

The door hastily opened; this time it was Mr. Atkins who excitedly
entered, and approached Fernow.

"I have been seeking you, Lieutenant Fernow!" he said uneasily. "You
are alone; has Mr. Alison not been with you?"

"He has just left me."

"I thought as much!" muttered Atkins. "I met him on the stairs. What
has happened? What is the trouble between you?"

Walter turned to go. "That, Mr. Atkins, is a matter which concerns him
and me alone. Good-night."

Atkins held him back; there was a strange uneasiness in his face.
"Listen to reason, Lieutenant Fernow," he said, "and at least, give me
an answer. Alison will tell me nothing, but his face says enough. I
come to warn you; guard yourself against him!"

Walter shrugged his shoulders. "If you think my life is in danger, you
tell me nothing new," he said. "Mr. Alison himself has declared that
one of us must leave the world."

"Has he challenged you?"

"He has; and I have told him that the quarrel must rest until the end
of the war."

"You little know Henry," said Atkins, "if you think he will submit to
that condition. A man driven to madness by passion, does not wait
months for his revenge. I do not like the look in his eyes, and I fear
it will not be well for you both to sleep to-night under one roof."

"That will not happen," said Walter calmly, "I have to go to the
mountains."

"And why must you go?" asked Atkins.

"My errand is a military secret."

"I hope you go well guarded?"

"I am to go alone."

Atkins started back and scanned him from head to foot. "It is very
inconsiderate in you to tell this so openly," he said half aloud.

"I certainly should not tell it to the castle servants or to the
villagers," said Walter. "I know you well enough, Mr. Atkins, to fear
no treachery on your part."

"And have you told Henry?"

"Yes, as much as I have told you, nothing more!"

"This is German simplicity which I cannot at all understand!" muttered
Atkins; then laying his hand on the young man's arm, he said with
almost frightful earnestness.

"Lieutenant Fernow, follow my advice. Do not go to the mountains
to-night. Your life is threatened; yours alone. Delegate this duty to
one of your comrades."

"I cannot!"

"Then at least take a guard with you."

"It is impossible, Mr. Atkins!"

"Well, then, you rush onto your own destruction," cried Atkins
excitedly. "I have done my duty; now the consequences be upon your own
head!"

"Compose yourself," returned Walter, with a gesture of impatience.
"Your apprehensions are unfounded. I tell you it is impossible for any
one who does not know the password to go from here to the mountains. We
have a triple line of outposts."

These words failed to pacify Atkins. "You do not know Alison!" he said.
"He is an uncontrollable nature whom circumstances and education have
subdued only to outward seeming in making him simply a man of business.
If such a nature once bursts its long accustomed barriers, it passes
all bounds. In his present mood he is capable of anything."

"But not of murder!" said Walter calmly.

"But you have denied him the one legitimate way of revenge, and he will
hardly concern himself with ideal conceptions of right and wrong. Be on
your guard, Lieutenant Fernow; I cannot vouch for him."

"I have a better opinion of Mr. Alison than you have," returned Walter.
"He may hate me to death, but I do not think him capable of the crime
you have hinted at. Tell him"--here a peculiar, almost ghastly smile
passed over the melancholy face of the young officer--"tell him he need
not take my life, his wish may be fulfilled without it. I must go, Mr.
Atkins--give my regards to Miss Forest, and--farewell?"

Hastily leaving the room he went to his own chamber.



                             CHAPTER XXIII.

                       The Vengeance of Passion.


Alison had met Atkins at the foot of the stairs leading to their
apartments, but he had not mounted them. He directed his steps to the
room of the French steward of the castle, which had been pointed out to
him by one of the soldiers.

The steward, an old man, with sharp, intelligent face, and dark,
flashing eyes, sat at a table on which a lamp was burning, and examined
his books. He looked up morosely as the door opened, but the embittered
resentment which his features wore and with which he met everyone
belonging to the hated soldiers quartered in the house, softened
somewhat as he recognized the visitor. He knew that the travellers were
Americans, forced to seek a night's rest in the castle from the
impossibility of finding entertainment in the village. Although guests
of the enemy, they did not belong to the hated nation, and the grim
reserve which Alison had this afternoon shown in the circle of the
officers, and which the Frenchman had found opportunity to observe,
gave him a decided advantage. The steward rose, and approached his
visitor politely, but still with a sort of chilling reserve.

"In what way can I serve you, Monsieur?"

Henry circumspectly closed the door, and hastily scanned the apartment.
"I wish to speak with you on a matter of importance," he said. "Are we
safe from intrusion?"

"Perfectly so!" returned the Frenchman. "The room, as you see, has only
this one door."

Alison drew near the table, and his voice sank to a whisper. "You know,
I suppose, that we are forbidden to pursue our journey. My companions
have consented to remain here for the night, but I must in any event go
on to the mountains."

"That is impossible, Monsieur," said the Frenchman politely but coldly.
"The Prussians hold guard over every avenue; no person can reach the
mountain-road without their permission."

Alison gazed at the Frenchman sharply and searchingly. "And would you
not know how to get there in spite of the guards, if you wished to send
tidings to the French sharpshooters in the mountains!"

"I tell you, Monsieur, that all the avenues are guarded."

"There are always lurking-places in the mountains not known to the
enemy, and which the inhabitants can use all the more safely," said
Alison with great positiveness. "This very afternoon I heard the
officers express their opinion, that in spite of the sharpest watch, a
secret understandings till existed between the village and the
mountains, and in this case there must be such a path."

"Possibly. But I know of none."

Instead of answering, Alison drew forth his letter-case, took from it a
bank-note and silently held it towards the old man. He must have known
the value of this piece of paper, and it must have been very great, for
he gazed in terror at the American.

"The price of the path," said he curtly.

"I do not allow myself to be bribed, Monsieur," said the Frenchman
decidedly.

Alison quietly laid the banknote on the table. "Not by the Germans, I
understand that in advance! They might offer you tenfold this sum, and
it would be in vain. But I do not belong to them,--I am not their
friend. Did my business concern their interests, I should be allowed to
pass their line. The fact that I am compelled to seek your aid, may
prove to you that as a Frenchman you can assume the responsibility of
this treachery. You _must_ tell me the way!"

The argument was just, and the lordly confidence of the American did
not fail of its effect upon the old steward; still he did not yield.

"Would you go alone, Monsieur?"

"Certainly."

"And this very night? You perhaps know what you will meet there."

"I do!" declared Alison, who thought it best to conceal his entire
ignorance of affairs, and pretend to have been initiated. He reached
his goal. He succeeded in goading on the Frenchman in the old steward's
nature; in making serviceable his hatred to the enemy. The steward well
knew what threatened in the mountains to-night, and the circumstance
that the stranger, without the knowledge of the Germans, wished to go
there alone, convinced him that here he had to deal with an ally. And
so his resistance gave way.

"There is such a path," he said, lowering his voice. "It leads over the
mountains to L. The Germans do not know it; even if they have chanced
to discover it, it ends for them in the first defile on the right. They
cannot possibly know that it continues on the other side, and extending
through the forest, connects with our park. The beginning and end are
too much hidden by rifts in the rock and by shrubbery; it is a secret
of ours."

Alison's eyes gleamed with a savage joy. "Very well; and how am I to
find the path?" he asked.

"You go into the park, and pass up the principal avenue, which is
unguarded; to the left you will see a statue of Flora. Go past this
into the grotto close by. It is not so closely shut in by the rocky
walls, as it appears to be; there is a way of egress from it to the
forest. Follow the narrow path through the bushes; there is but one,
you cannot err, and in ten minutes you will have reached the defile; it
leads to the left up the mountain road to the rocky plateau where
stands a solitary fir. There you are already beyond the lines, and far
enough from them not to be remarked."

Alison had listened in breathless attention, as if he would hold fast
every word in his remembrance; now with an expression of sullen triumph
in his eyes, he took the bank-note from the table and handed it to the
Frenchman.

"I thank you!" he said. "Here, take this!"

The old man hesitated. "I did not do this for money, Monsieur," he
said.

"I know it. It was from hatred to the enemy. Give yourself no
uneasiness. I do not need the money, at least not for to-night," he
added, while his lips curled with a cold, bitter irony. "But the
information is worth more to me than this paper; take it; it will not
lay heavy on your conscience!"

The steward threw one more glance at the money. One would hardly
venture such a sum merely to compromise him, and the path certainly was
not of so high value to the Prussians as to this morose stranger. He
took the reward and muttered some words of thanks.

When about to go, Alison turned and gazed steadily and threateningly at
the old man.

"Your complicity ensures your silence. I need not enjoin silence upon
you. The Germans would shoot you if they knew you had helped me through
their lines."

"I know it, Monsieur."

"If I return towards morning, I shall have found entrance to the
mountains impossible, and shall be supposed to have passed the night in
the castle. You are not to know otherwise.--Adieu!"



                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                          The Shadow of Doom.


In Walter's chamber a bright light was also burning, but upon his
entrance, he found no one there but Frederic.

"Doctor Behrend has been here the whole time," he said, "and he waited
a long while for you; but he has been summoned over to the village. I
believe Corporal Braun is in a very bad state."

Walter seemed unpleasantly surprised at these tidings. "Has Doctor
Behrend gone? he asked. I wished very much to speak with him."

"The doctor wished it too. He said I should have ready your cloak and
your pistols, as you were to go away this evening, and would not take
me with you this time as usual when you go out on patrol duty."

"No, Frederic, not this time," said Walter absently. He paced several
times up and down, then he halted suddenly. "It is all the same
now!" he murmured. "Why not tell him what I was going to confide to
Robert?--Frederic!"

"Herr Lieutenant!"

"It is possible an attack may be made to-night. Have you received
orders to be ready for an alarm?"

"Yes, at ten o'clock with two men I am to patrol the park. It is for
the sake of security, the captain says, because it is not guarded."

"Very well! In any event you will see the doctor before this. It was
very necessary that I should speak with him, but I must go, and I have
no time to seek him in the village. You will deliver my errand word for
word, just as I tell you; but to him alone, and no other. Do you hear?"

"To no other!"

The next words were very difficult ones for Walter to speak. He
struggled with himself for some moments.

"If it should come to a conflict, he is the only one who will not have
to take a part in it, and the French sharp-shooters around here are a
barbarous horde to whom nothing is sacred. He must protect Miss Forest
so far as lies in his power."

"The American Miss?" returned Frederic slowly.

"Yes!" Walter again hesitated, but then all at once the words broke
hasty and ardent, from his lips. "Tell him I demand it of him as a last
duty of friendship. Miss Forest has been to me the one dearest in the
wide world! He shall guard her if he must, with his life!"

Frederic stood there dumb with consternation. This then was the
solution of that mysterious hostility between his master and the
American Miss! The poor fellow's head began to swim; he was quite
incapable of understanding the relation of things.

"You must repeat this word for word!"

"I am at your command, Herr Lieutenant!" answered Frederic
mechanically. He stood there as if rooted to his place, and saw his
master examine the pistols and throw on the cloak. When he had arrived
at the door, Frederic rushed after him.

"Herr Professor!"

Walter paused and glanced around. During the whole war, Frederic had
not called him by this name, he had never forgotten the military title
of his master, which it had always been his highest delight to
emphasize as much as possible. How had this souvenir of B. all at once
occurred to him? Surprised at the old familiar name unheard so long,
Fernow gazed in the face of his former servant. It was fearfully pale,
and there lay a strange repose in the usually expressionless features.

"Herr Professor"--there was a tone of anguished entreaty in the
question--"must you really go quite alone? Can you not take me with
you--certainly not?"

"No, I cannot!" said Walter gravely. "What has come over you all at
once, Frederic? You have a duty to perform to-night and so have I; to
such duties we have both become accustomed since the war."

Frederic heaved a sigh. "I do not know why it is, but, during the whole
war I have not felt as I feel to-night. Now, when you are about to go,
an icy shudder passes through me. Herr Professor," he broke out
suddenly and despairingly, "I certainly shall never see you again!"

Walter gazed silently up to him. How strange it was! even this robust,
thoroughly healthy nature, usually so unsusceptible to mental
influences, at this moment seemed over-powered by a presentiment! Was
it love for his master that gave him this instinct? He sought to guard
himself against showing any weakness, he knew that the slightest token
of weakness would quite rob the giant soldier before him of the little
self-possession left him, and transform him into a sobbing child.

"You are out of your senses!" he said half displeased, and with a faint
attempt to laugh. "Is this the first time that I have gone into danger?
You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Frederic! I really believe you are
weeping."

Frederic did not answer, but he kept his clear-blue eyes fixed
immovably on his master's face; at this moment, with a gift of
introspection wonderfully enhanced, he saw that Fernow's glance did not
accord with his words; he saw separation in it, and all subordination,
all the military usage which for months long he had conscientiously
observed, suddenly vanished; he saw before him only his professor whom
he had so often nursed in illness, whom he had watched and guarded as a
mother guards her child, who to him had been the one goal, the one
object of life. He sobbed aloud, and a stream of tears gushed from his
eyes.

"Herr Professor," he cried piteously, "would to God I could be shot
down instead of you! A calamity is to happen to-night; I know it. One
of us will certainly fall."

Walter smiled sadly and gently; he felt who this one would be; but the
touching devotion of his servant in his parting hour, asserted its
right. He now forgot all else, but not those long nights of illness
during which Frederic had sat at his bedside, with a fidelity and
self-renunciation he could never repay and never forget, and--in such a
moment all arbitrary barriers fall, all chasms are bridged over--the
officer threw his arms around his servant's neck and then warmly and
affectionately pressed his hand. "Good-night, Frederic," he said
softly, "Good-by! Whatever may happen to me, your future is provided
for. Doctor Stephen has the requisite papers in his hands. And now--"
he hastily drew himself up "now let me go, it must be!"

Frederic obeyed. He hesitatingly let go the hand which he had held in
both of his, and stepped back. Once again Walter waved him an adieu,
and then hurried from the room. With bowed head, the poor fellow stole
to a window. He saw enveloped in its military cloak the tall figure
which, clearly defined in the moonlight, strode over the terrace; he
heard the step grow fainter and fainter in the distance, until its last
echo died away. Regretful tears gushed anew from his eyes; with
incontestable certainty, he felt that he had seen his master for the
last time.



                              CHAPTER XXV.

                             To the Rescue.


"Rouse up, Jane! Do not again refuse to see me, it is a matter of the
greatest importance, and I must speak with you!"

With these words, Mr. Atkins knocked violently at the door of Jane's
chamber, and compelled an entrance. The bolt was shoved back, and the
door opened. A light also burned here. Jane was fully dressed, and a
glance at the bed showed that it had not yet been disturbed. She
evidently had not thought of sleeping. She advanced to meet him with
mournful questioning in her face; her eyes were weak and inflamed from
inward excitement, but they bore no traces of tears. Jane did not know
that weeping which so often is the woman's only and supremest
consolation; she had forgotten it in her childhood. That sobbing into
which she had once broke out at the death-bed of her father, when for
the moment her strength had utterly given way, had come over her, wild
and passionate, like a convulsion, but tearless. Her rigid, iron nature
knew not even the outward signs of weakness; she bore all sorrow as she
had seen her father bear it; like a man.

Atkins allowed her no time to utter the question that trembled on her
lips. "It is about a danger," he said hastily. "I thought to delay it,
to avert it, but it proves greater than I had believed. My power is at
an end; you must now interpose."

"What danger?" asked Jane, apprehensive and breathless. "Of what do you
speak?"

"Of Alison and Lieutenant Fernow. They have come in conflict; Henry has
challenged the Professor, who denies him satisfaction until the end of
the war. Henry meditates revenge--they must not meet a second time."

Jane was horrified at this tidings, but she soon recovered her
self-possession.

"You are right," she said with intensest bitterness. "They must not
meet a second time; a fight between them and for my sake, would be
worse than murder. Henry is in error; only one single word is needed to
undeceive him; to-morrow I was going to speak that word; now there is
not a moment to lose. Summon him here immediately!"

Atkins shook his head. "But Henry is nowhere to be found, I have
already searched the whole castle for him in vain."

"And Walter? For God's sake where is Walter?"

Atkins elevated his eyebrows. "Lieutenant Fernow has gone to the
mountains," he said gravely, "On some secret service, and alone, Henry
knows that. If he follows--Jane, I need not tell you what calamity I
fear."

For a moment Jane stood there rigid as a statue; then by a powerful
effort, she roused herself from her stupor, and regained the whole
decision of her character.

"I know Henry! He must not go until I have spoken with him; we must
have him back at any price. I believe"--she placed her hand on her
forehead, despite the bewildering anguish, striving to collect her
thoughts,--"I believe there is only a single pass leading from here to
the mountains. Did they not tell us so this morning?"

"Only one, and the Germans hold that; but Henry will hardly seek that
path; he knows that the guards would be sure to repel him."

"So he could only go as far as the path. He must be there; I will seek
him!"

Atkins tried to hold her back. "For God's sake!" he cried, "remember
that we are in a foreign land, amid the storms of war; it is night, you
could not possibly go alone."

Jane did not listen; she had already thrown her travelling cloak around
her shoulders.

"Remain here, Mr. Atkins. If we should all three leave the castle, they
might suspect us. You could have no influence over Henry; I must speak
to him myself."

She was out of the door, and down the steps, before Atkins'
expostulations were at an end. Involuntarily he wrung his hands.

"What an infernal night this is! This blue-eyed German has brought us
all three into mortal danger! But Jane is right, I ought not to go
out--it is better for them to arrange this among themselves. She must
find him in the park. He can be nowhere else."



                             CHAPTER XXVI.

                            A Mortal Agony.


The broad, forest-like park of the castle of S. lay bathed in the
clearest moonlight and enveloped in the deepest silence, interrupted
only now and then by the heavy tread of the patrols, who at the
captain's order were pacing up and down. They had finished their round
through the principal avenue, without encountering any suspicious
person, and had now separated according to the orders given them, to
explore the adjoining thickets and pathways. Frederic took the left,
the other two the right, and they were to meet again on the terrace.

Slowly, his musket in hand, Frederic marched forward on the designated
way. He needed not to hasten; there was plenty of time; nor to step
lightly, a thing always exceedingly difficult for him; he had as before
stated, met nothing suspicious on his round. Frederic was not fitted
for any service demanding great intelligence, but he perfectly
understood and would conscientiously execute the command to keep his
eyes and ears open, to hold the strictest watch possible over all
around, and at the slightest disturbance, hasten back to the castle to
give the alarm. This responsible service had one great advantage for
Frederic; it demanded his strictest attention, and left him no time for
unavailing regrets over his master's absence, or troubled apprehensions
as to his fate.

He had gone over a part of his beat, and was now close by the statue of
Flora, which reared its white, moon-lighted form in the midst of a
broad, grassy expanse. It had been particularly impressed upon him not
to pass the shell-covered grotto near by without throwing a sharp
glance within. Just as he reached the statue, he paused, and placed his
hand on the lock of his musket. But he lowered the weapon even before a
cry of alarm had broken from his lips. A long, white dress, beneath a
dark travelling cloak, had betrayed a woman's form looming up behind
the shrubbery; and as the figure now stepped out into the full
moonlight, he recognized Miss Forest.

Frederic's earlier suspicion began to rise stronger than ever; he still
clung obstinately to the idea that the strangers were spies, and that
the "American Miss" was the most dangerous of the three. Her being a
woman was nothing in her favor; no man could excel her in cleverness,
and this strange, solitary meeting, gave new ground for Frederic's
suspicion.

"What are you doing here in the park, Miss Forest?" he asked
mistrustfully. "You should be more on your guard. Our password must be
unknown to you, and if it had not been for your dress, I should have
shot you."

Jane paid no heed to the warning; she stepped still nearer, and stood
close before him. "Is it you, Frederic? Thank God that I have at least,
found _you_!" she said.

Frederic was little inclined to echo this "thank God!" in the ardor of
his military duty, he might have repelled her roughly, but remembrance
of the words of his master fettered his tongue, and made every harsh
tone impossible.

"Go back, Miss!" he said. "You must not remain here, and I cannot allow
you to wander around in this way."

Jane seemed to regard the command as little as the threat that had
preceded it. "You have looked through the park?" she said excitedly.
"Have you not met Mr. Alison?"

Frederic's suspicion grew. Mr. Alison! What business had he here? Was
this whole American crew roaming around the park? Something serious
must lie at the bottom of all this.

"Mr. Alison is not here!" he said very decidedly. "We have gone our
rounds through the park, and if he had been here, we must have seen
him."

A sudden terror blanched Jane's face. "Almighty God! I came too late.
He must already have found a path!" she cried despairingly. But this
was no time to yield to despair, and meeting Frederic had already
kindled a new ray of hope in her soul.

"Do you know where your master is gone?" she asked resolutely.

"No, I do not know," replied Frederic crabbedly; "but I tell you now in
full earnest, Miss--"

"He is in the mountains," interrupted Jane. "I must go there at once; I
must follow him."

Frederic stared at her in utter consternation. "God help me, Miss," he
said, "but I believe you have lost your reason! Would you go to the
mountains? Among the sharpshooters? You may as well make yourself
content, you certainly cannot pass our lines: they are well guarded."

"I know it!" said Jane, "but yet I must go. They will order me back,
but you, Frederic, know the pass-word, and must help me through the
outposts."

In the excess of his horror, Frederic almost let his musket fall; but
he drew himself bolt upright and with an expression of righteous
indignation and boundless self-importance, he gazed down upon the young
lady.

"Miss Forest," he said very emphatically, "anybody would know you come
from that savage, godless America. Such wickedness would never enter
the mind of a German Christian man or woman. I must help you through
the outposts? Through _our_ outposts? And to crown all, I am to give
you the pass--word! You surely have no idea of war, or of what a
soldier's duty really is!"

Jane stepped nearer to him and her voice sank to a low whisper.

"The life of your master is at stake; listen Frederic,--_your master_!
A danger threatens him which does not come from the enemy, of which he
has no suspicion, and which I alone know. He is lost, if I do not
succeed in warning him. Do you understand now that I must go to him at
any price?"

A quiver of pain passed over the soldier's face. "I thought as much!"
he cried despairingly. "I knew that something dreadful would happen
to-night!"

"There will be no dreadful event," said Jane confidently, "if I can
only reach your master in season; and I can reach him, if you make it
possible for me to follow him. You now know how much is at stake,
Frederic; you will help me, will you not?"

Frederic shook his head. "I must not!" he said in a hollow voice.

In despairing entreaty, Jane grasped both his hands. "But I tell you,
the life of your master is in peril; without my warning, he is lost!
Will you let him die when a single word from you can save him? Good
Heavens! Frederic, you must see that here is no treachery, no
deception; that only a mortal agony for him alone urges me on. By your
love for your master I implore you, help me through the lines!"

Frederic gazed silently down upon her; he saw and felt the truth of her
words; a deathly anguish spoke from her face, entreated from her lips;
and this anguish was for his master, concerned only his rescue. There
were tears in the poor fellow's eyes; they fell slowly down his cheeks;
but he only grasped his musket the more firmly.

"I cannot, Miss Forest! I cannot be false to my duty here; I could not
help you through our lines, even to save my master's life. Don't look
at me in that way; don't entreat me further! By God above, I cannot do
as you wish!"

Jane drew back, and let his arm fall. Her last hope had vanished; the
sentiment of duty had more power over Frederic, than even his
passionate love for his master. Atkins was right; these Germans were
terrible in their iron-sentiment of duty.

"And so Walter is lost!" she moaned faintly.

Frederic shuddered. "Tempt me no further, Miss Forest," he said,
"Frederic Erdmann is no traitor!"

Jane trembled at these words. Her wide-open eyes were full of terror.

"What name is that? What are you called?"

"Erdmann! Did you not know that? But you have always heard them call me
only Frederic."

Jane leaned against the base of the statue, her breast rose and fell in
uncontrollable emotion, her eyes hung upon the man standing before her
with an expression that could not be defined; sorrow, anxiety,
consternation, all flamed up in that glance, and through all, beamed
something like the presage of an infinite happiness.

"Do you know--do you know a young mechanic, Franz Erdmann, of M., who
wandered over to France, lived in B., and is now serving in the
Prussian army?"

"Why should I not know him?" replied Frederic, surprised more at the
strange tone of the question than at the glance which accompanied it.
"He is my brother, that is, my foster-brother, as he is usually
called."

"And so"--Jane's voice was almost stifled in her terrible
excitement--"and so you was that boy whom Erdmann's parents brought
from Hamburg?--who grew up with him in M., and after the death of his
parents, was adopted by pastor Hartwig! Speak, for God's sake--yes or
no!"

"Certainly it was I," replied Frederic. "But where in the world, Miss
Forest, did you learn all this!"

Jane did not answer. She summoned all her strength; upon the next
question, hung life or death for her.

"And Professor Fernow! He too was reared by pastor Hartwig; but how
came he there!"

"Well, it all happened very simply; the pastor took us both into his
house the same year. Me first, out of favor and sympathy, because no
one else would have me, and a few months later, my master, his sister's
son, because his parents had suddenly died, and he had no other
relations. As I was already there, he could not very well send me away,
and so he kept us both. He did not do it willingly, and we had to pay
dear for the bread he gave us; I by hard work around the house, and my
master at the writing-desk; the pastor was determined he should be a
scholar, but at the first, he would far rather have made verses. Well,
all that soon ended; pastor Hartwig kept us well in rein.--God rest his
soul! It did not go well with me until he really was at rest, and my
young master, who became his heir, took me in charge. We have been
almost twenty years together."

Jane had listened breathlessly, her hands pressed against her heart,
which she thought must burst, and yet a stony burden had been lifted
from it. The out-cry of happiness that broke from her inmost soul, was
it for the brother found at last, or for him she had so long regarded
as a brother! She did not know, but even the thought of Walter's
dangers, receded at this moment; she was conscious of only one
thing:--the fearful contradiction in her soul was settled; the terrible
conflict ended. Whatever might come now, love for Walter Fernow was no
longer sin!



                             CHAPTER XXVII.

                                Treason.


"Frederic!" She laid her hand on his arm, but Frederic turned suddenly
away, and gazed intently in the opposite direction.

"What has happened! Let me go, Miss! There is danger in the grotto over
yonder. Who is there? Answer!"

No answer came, but Frederic needed none; he knew enough already. The
moonbeams falling obliquely at the entrance of the grotto, had revealed
all to him; he had seen dark forms and gleaming weapons. In the moment
of danger, Frederic's mental capabilities were not so under par as in
common life. Instinct supplied him what he lacked in intelligence, and
this always guided him aright.

He did not pause to reflect that his two comrades being much nearer the
castle than he, could sooner give the alarm, that the most important
thing was to know the direction whence the danger came; but he acted as
if he had duly considered all this, and summoning the full strength of
his powerful lungs, he cried in a voice that rang through the whole
park:

"Treason! An attack! The enemy are here! They come from the grotto!
Attention, soldiers!"

Then he fired his musket in that direction, and seizing Jane's arm,
bore her along with him. The warning had reached the ear of his
comrades, the cry again plainly echoed through the silent night, and
this time it must have reached the castle. But the enemy remained no
longer idle; further concealment was impossible. Half a dozen shots
fell at the same time; Frederic paid no heed, but with a low cry of
pain, Jane sank upon her knees.

"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.

"Are they at the grotto?" he cried, recognizing Frederic by his
uniform. "Come with us. Forward!"

He rushed on, the others after him; but Frederic did not join them, he
did not go forward. For a moment more he stood upright, then he fell
heavily to the earth.

With a cry of agony Jane sank down at his side; but over the leather
bonds across the soldier's breast, flowed a deep-red tide--the brother
had with his life-blood saved his sister!



                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

                        The Sacrifice of Blood.


An hour had passed, the fight had proved shorter and less serious than
had been apprehended. The enemy, proceeding from the forest and
gathering in small numbers at the grotto, had intended to surprise the
castle in which the German officers were quartered, and by capturing
them to leave the force in the village without leaders, and an easy
prey to the attack of their main body. Frederic's cry of alarm had
broken up their plan of moving on in perfect silence to the castle, and
the hand-to-hand fight in the grotto had been of short duration. A few
French fusileers had fallen, half a dozen had been taken prisoners, and
the others had fled in wild disorder to the forest. By this movement
the secret way of egress had been discovered and guarded. A few of the
Germans were more or less seriously wounded; none mortally but
Frederic, who was to be the only sacrifice.

They had borne him to Jane's chamber and laid him on her bed. She sat
at his side. She had represented her own wound as a very trifling one,
which had certainly made flight impossible to her, but was not at all
dangerous. Doctor Behrend bandaged the foot but avoided any further
treatment, he saw that she was in no mood to heed so slight a wound.

Atkins stood at a window of the apartment and gazed in silence at the
group. Jane had hastily told him all, and every trace of the old,
mocking irony had vanished from his features; the deepest gravity alone
spoke from them now. There lay the man they had so long and anxiously
sought, for whose discovery his parent's wealth had been sacrificed,
whom his sister had followed over the sea, through the whole
Fatherland, even to this place. For weeks long he had been so near to
them, and they had both so haughtily looked down upon him; they had
wounded the poor fellow by their pride and scorn, they had derided his
small abilities and his simple ways. There had fallen to his share none
of those rich treasures of knowledge and culture which had been so
lavished upon his sister; poor and ignorant, in wretched servitude, he
had grown up, and had been thrown upon the cold charities of the world,
this heir of countless thousands; and now, the hour that at last
revealed the truth, that restored to him riches and a future--was to be
but the hour of his death.

Doctor Behrend, to whom Atkins had briefly revealed all this, could
give no hope. The wound was undeniably mortal; perhaps it might not
have been, if Frederic, immediately upon receiving the ball, had taken
refuge in the shrubbery. The terrible effort through which he had
carried Jane that long distance, had proved fatal; an internal
hemorrhage had ensued, and he had only a short time to live.

The wounded man had been lying in a deep swoon; he now moved, and
opening his eyes, fixed them on the surgeon who stood at the foot of
the bed.

"It is about over with me, Herr Doctor, is it not?" he asked languidly.

Doctor Behrend stepped nearer him, and exchanged a glance with Jane,
whose eyes forbade his giving the true answer.

"Oh no, not so bad as that, Frederic; but you are severely wounded."

Frederic was perfectly conscious; he had seen the glance, and
understood it. "You may as well tell me," he said, "I have no fear of
death. My master!"--he turned entreatingly to Jane--"did you not say,
Miss, that my master was in peril--that he would be lost?"

Jane buried her face in her hands. She was suffering a two-fold
torture. The guard doubled, she herself incapable of taking a step
forward; her dying brother before her, and perhaps at this very moment
Walter had fallen. Her courage was at an end; she yielded to the
impossible.

Frederic understood the wordless answer. "Then I do not want to live
any longer!" he said calmly but decidedly. "I knew it when he took
leave of me, and without him I could not endure life!"

Again he closed his eyes, and lay motionless as before. The physician
approached Jane, and bent down to her with a low whisper.

"I can give you one consolation," he said. "The inevitable will happen
calmly, almost painlessly. If you have anything to say to him--hasten!"

He left the room to look after the other wounded men, and, at a low
word from Jane, Atkins withdrew into the adjoining chamber. The brother
and sister were now alone.

She bent over him; his face had regained its wonted expression, only
that it was now half lifeless and ghastly pale. He scarce appeared to
suffer. The look that had glanced forth at the first mortal danger had
vanished, and the family resemblance with it. Jane felt that she must
set circumspectly about her task, lest the frail life-tenure be too
suddenly riven, and she prepare for him a final anguish instead
of a final joy. She had strength for the effort. There was in the
whole world but one being who had power to rob Jane Forest of her
self-control. Even at the death-bed of her brother, this self-mastery
asserted its right. Her decision was made; this brother should not
leave the world without the last kiss of his sister.

"Fritz!"

Again he opened his eyes, surprised at the strange appellation; but it
seemed to be a tender, melancholy remembrance this name awakened in
him, the name Jane had so feared she might hear from Walter's lips. She
bent yet lower down to the dying man, and took gently his hand in hers.

"You have spoken to me of your childhood. Have you no remembrance at
all of your parents--of the real parents, I mean?"

Frederic shook his head. "Only a little! I remember the great ship we
were going to sail on over the water, and how my father let go my hand,
and sent me to my mother; how all at once father and mother were both
gone, and I stood alone in a narrow street among a crowd of people. I
must have screamed loudly and wept bitterly, for I did not become quiet
until Erdmann took me in his arms and carried me to his wife. That is
all I know."

"And have you never since heard from your parents?"

"Never! They must have died over there in America, or they forgot me.
No one has ever cared for me my whole life long--nobody but my master."

Jane clasped his hand more tightly. "Your parents did not forget you,
Fritz; they sought for you, and bitterly enough mourned your loss for
many years--they--would gladly have given all their riches to have
their child once more; but he could not be found."

An anxious, troubled look passed over Frederic's face, he made a vain
attempt to raise himself upright in the bed.

"Did you know my parents, Miss?" he asked; "did you ever meet them in
America?"

"They are dead!" faltered Jane.

Frederic's head sank languidly back on the pillow.

"I thought so!" he murmured.

She bent close down to him, her breath swept his cheeks, and her voice
sank to a whisper,

"When your mother went to the ship, she was not alone, she carried a
little child in her arms. Do you remember that child?"

Around his lips vibrated a faint but happy smile. "Yes, my little
sister, our Jennie! She must have been very little then, only a few
weeks old, but I loved her so dearly!"

"And that sister"--for a moment Jane was silent, voice and strength
failed her--"would it give you joy to see her? Shall I show her to
you?"

Frederic gazed at her with a foreboding, expectant glance; her eyes,
the tone of her voice had already revealed to him the truth.

"Miss Forest--you--?"

"My Fritz! My Brother!" broke out Jane passionately, and fell on her
knees by the bedside. She did not heed the pain of her wound, she did
not feel it at this instant.

But the effect of this revelation was quite other than she had dreamed.
The passionate excitement she had feared, did not come; Frederic lay
there calm as before, and gazed at her, but there was something like
anxiety, like timidity in his glance; he softly withdrew his hand from
hers and turned his head away.

"Fritz--!" cried Jane surprised and shocked. "Will you not look at your
sister? Do you doubt my words?"

A peculiar emotion, half pain, half bitterness, flitted over his face.

"No, I am only thinking how well it is I am about to die. If I lived
you would be so ashamed of me!"

Jane shuddered,--the reproach was just. When she first came to the
Rhine, if she had been obliged to embrace Fernow's servant as her
brother, she would have been terribly ashamed of him. What a series of
conflicts and sorrows, what a fearful sacrifice at the last had been
necessary, to wrest this pride from her heart, and create room there
for this sentiment which now solely ruled her being, this mighty,
irresistible voice of nature! She did not merely know, she felt that
this was her brother who lay before her, the only one of her blood and
name, the only one who belonged to her through the holy ties of family;
and all the sins which in her imperious pride she had committed against
him and others, were punished tenfold at this moment. Her brother
himself, at the instant of their reunion, had retained but one
remembrance of her; he shrank timidly from her embrace.

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.

Atkins' words had proved true. Now that Henry's uncontrollable nature
had burst its barriers, it knew no limits. But it broke forth into no
wild fury; the head of the American remained clear and cool. While
seeking revenge against the hated rival, he must care for his own
safety, and he had assured it. Every one knew that the mountains were
unsafe, and the German officer found dead in the morning would be
supposed to have fallen by the bullet of a French sharpshooter: such
things often happen in war, people would say; why had the foolhardy man
ventured alone, by night, into the mountains? The guards, who held
every avenue would declare that they had let no one pass, and Alison
would not be supposed to have left the circuit of the park.

Discovery was impossible, and consciousness augmented Alison's cool,
determined composure. He was disturbed by no moral barriers by no ideal
scruples of conscience. He had offered his enemy combat on equal terms,
and had stood ready to peril his own life. The rival would not consent;
well then, let him suffer the consequences!

The situation could not have been better chosen; Henry stood in the
shadow of the cliff, at the foot of the fir-tree and quite concealed by
its branches. Right below led the mountain-road and the foot-path. He
commanded both with eye and weapon. No human being coming in the
direction of S. could escape him, and Henry's revolver was one that
never missed its aim; his skill in shooting had always been the
admiration of his associates.

He waited, his eyes fixed upon the opening of the road where Fernow
must appear; all his powers of mind concentrated in this breathless
spying and listening; what happened near him or behind him did not
concern him; he did not hear the low, mysterious mutterings up in the
firs.

Deep solitude in the mountains! Only now and then resounds the cry of a
bird of prey sweeping over the forest in its slow, ponderous flight,
and then vanishing in the darkness. Now and then a gust of wind sweeps
over the rocky wall, swaying the tree-tops to and fro. Now the shrubs
flutter and nod in the moonlight, now the boughs of the fir-tree rustle
softly but uncannily as if wailing or lamenting.

There, at last! At the winding of the road, looms up a dusky form and
approaches slowly but with steady tread. Alison recognizes Fernow's
gait and bearing; now he recognizes his features also. He has already
reached the rocky plateau, and is about to enter the path gradually
winding upward, Alison raises his revolver.

Then, all at once, come shots from another direction. From out the
thicket of firs on the opposite side of the mountain, rush strange
forms, and throw themselves in the German's path. He springs aside,
firing at the same moment, but the enemy, conscious of superior
strength, retreats only for an instant.

Walter is driven against the cliff, and in a moment, he is surrounded
on all sides.

Henry stands motionless, the loaded weapon in his hand, and glances
upon the tragic spectacle at his feet; Walter still stands upright,
leaning against the cliff, but the blood already trickles over his
forehead, and he defends himself only with his sword. It is evident
that the enemy wish to overpower him living; not a single one makes
further use of his musket; as he is protected in the rear they attack
him at the front and side; the next moment all will be over.

Henry sees this; he sees also that the horrible deed will be spared
him; he need not take this life, it is in any event doomed, for Walter
will not yield. Six against one! At this thought a wild, glowing
sensation of shame darts through the American's breast: he would have
committed the murder with a steady hand, but to look on passively and
see it consummated before his eyes, that he cannot do. There is a
fearful momentary struggle, and Henry's noble nature breaks forcibly
through hatred and fury, and bears him irresistibly on to help, to
rescue.

One shot, and the hindmost of the French sharpshooters lies upon the
ground; a second, and the one next him falls also. Confounded, the
others pause; they leave Walter, and in their withdrawal give only a
better mark for Henry. For the third time! The Frenchmen gaze in horror
up the height whence come these solitary, spirit-like balls, every one
of which with deadly certainty fells its victim; and as the man they
have attacked now rouses himself, and makes use of his sword, the other
three take flight. A last shot from the American hisses past them, and
the half-audible oath with which one of them lets fall his weapon and
gripes at his shoulder, while at a still more rapid pace, he dashes on
after his comrades, proves that this last ball has not missed its aim.
They all vanish in the fir-shadows on the other side of the path whence
they came.

While Walter stands there breathless, he all at once feels himself
seized by the arm, and drawn away. "Fly!" whispered a voice in his ear;
"they must not suspect there are only two of us."

He followed mechanically; in a few moments they were in the secure
shadow of the cliff and the fir boughs. The rescued man leaned against
the trunk of the tree, pale, bleeding, half unconscious, and his
rescuer stood near him, grim and silent, but breathing heavily, as if
freed from an oppressive burden.

For the present they were safe; from here they could remark every
approach of the enemy. They had really had to do with only a few
patrols; the Frenchmen did not think of returning; no further trace of
them appeared.

"Mr. Alison--is it you!"

"Are you wounded?" asked Alison curtly.

Walter passed his hand to his forehead. "It is of no account!" he said.
"One of the first balls must have grazed my forehead. It is nothing!"

Instead of answering, Alison drew forth his handkerchief and reached it
to him. He looked on silently while Fernow bound it around his forehead
whence the blood trickled down drop by drop; but he did not make the
slightest effort to help him.

With his own handkerchief, Walter wiped the blood from his face, then
he approached his rescuer, and silently offered him his hand. Alison
drew back.

"Mr. Alison," said Walter in a voice thrilled by the deepest emotion,
"they did you bitter wrong this evening, and it was your own countryman
that calumniated you. I had more confidence in you than he."

Morosely and coldly, Alison repelled the proffered hand. "Be on your
guard with your confidences, Lieutenant Fernow!" he said roughly. "You
came within a hair's-breadth of being deceived."

"You have rescued me, rescued me at the peril of your own life. The
French fusileers might have discovered you, and seized you. From the
manner in which we met two hours ago, I had not expected this. I relied
upon your honor, not upon your help! You must not now repel my thanks;
in spite of all that lies between us, they come from my full heart, and
you will also--"

"Be silent!" interrupted Alison with savage fury, "I wish no thanks;
you owe thanks to me least of all!"

Walter drew back and gazed at him in astonishment. Alison's behavior
was enigmatical to him.

"_Thanks!_" repeated Alison, with annihilating scorn. "Well, I cannot
dissemble, and before you extol me as your magnanimous preserver, you
shall know the truth. I stood there not to protect you, but to kill
you! Do not recoil from me in this way, Lieutenant Fernow! I was in
bloody earnest; my revolver was loaded for you; one step more, and I
should have shot yon down. You must thank that attack; that saved you,
that alone. When I saw six men falling upon one,--then I took your
part."

A deep, momentary silence followed these words. Walter stood there
calm, and gazed steadily and gravely at his rival; then he stepped up
to him, and again offered his hand.

"I thank you, Mr. Alison," he said; "I thank you even for that
confession. Your heart speaks better than your lips, and in spite of
all, we can no longer be enemies."

Alison laughed bitterly. "We cannot? You seem to forget that we are not
of one origin. According to your German sentimentality, we ought now to
fall into each other's arms, and swear eternal friendship. I am
constituted otherwise; if I hate, I hate until my last breath; and I
hate you, Lieutenant Fernow, because you have robbed me of the one
dearest to me in the whole world. Do not believe that I release you
from your promise to meet me at the end of the war, or that I will then
spare you; do not believe that Jane Forest can ever belong to you. I
hold you fast to your word, and to your oath, and if she is to die of
this love for you, she shall still be my wife!"

Walter's eyes fell, and an expression of unendurable agony lay upon his
face.

"I did not think of that," he said softly, "I only wished to thank you;
but you are right, Mr. Alison; we two are differently constituted, we
shall never understand each other.--Farewell,--I must go on!"

"You must go on?" asked Alison in astonishment. "Not further into the
mountain! You must have seen how unsafe it is; the French sharpshooters
are everywhere."

"I know it. Their main body lies an hour's distance from here. But I
must force my way through, if it is possible."

The American stared at him in consternation. "Alone? Wounded? Has this
attack not shown you the impossibility of such a step?"

"This very attack gives me courage. It came from below; the French
patrols avoid the mountain-road; my way is clear."

"Hardly! You rush on to your destruction, Lieutenant Fernow."

"Well, then," replied Walter, while the old melancholy smile flitted
over his face, "another meeting will be spared me, and to you, murder
in a duel; for after what has just happened, I will never draw a weapon
against you.--But one thing more, Mr. Alison. I do not know how you
came past the guard, and I will not ask you; but I demand your word of
honor not to follow me further, and to go back immediately by the path
on which you came. I am forced to demand this. Do not refuse it."

Alison gazed at him morosely. "I have nothing more to seek in the
mountains," he said; "I will go back immediately."

"I thank you, and now--farewell!"

Walter turned away and vanished in the shrubbery.

Alison gazed after him.

"There he goes, right into the midst of the enemy, with that calmness
and those eyes before which mine almost fell. Oh, this German!"--he
clinched his hands in savage fury. "I can force her to be my wife, but
her heart will never forget him; it cannot,--I understand that!"

                               *   *   *

On the evening of the next day, Captain Schwarz with his battalion,
which Lieutenant Fernow had now joined, entered S. It had been almost a
whole day upon the march, as it had taken the by-road through E., but
it brought welcome news. The very next morning, the colonel and his
staff, with the rest of the regiment from L. re-enforced and instructed
to fall on the enemy if he still obstructed the pass, went to join the
other detachments in S. The regiment had been recalled from its post,
and had at the same time received orders to march on to Paris.



                              CHAPTER XXX.

                                Waiting.


The winter had passed. More than six months lay between that eventful
autumn night, and the spring day which now poured its sunny
magnificence over B. Six months, full of snow and ice, full of new
sieges and new triumphs. Now the bloody strife had ended. Overthrown in
his last, despairing struggles, exhausted, driven back into the very
heart of the country, the enemy at last confessed itself beaten. The
last war for the Rhine had been fought; henceforth, new boundaries were
to guard the ancient river and the land through which it flowed.

In the Rhine-country the first thunderbolt of war had fallen; here the
people had most feared and trembled, most fervently prayed; because
here the danger had been most imminent; and it was the Rhineland that
was to be first greeted as saviour and conqueror. The trembling hope
that had a little while ago followed the departing soldiers, was now
changed into shouts of exultation and plans of victory.

The old city of Bonn did not remain behind in the joy of victory, in
the festal-splendors that lighted up every town and hamlet. Here, too,
banners waved from roofs and towers; windows and doors were garlanded,
and a gay, triumphant life ruled over all. The house of Doctor Stephen,
which had usually been the first to celebrate a victory, belonged this
time to the number of those which, bare and garlandless, with closed
doors and drawn blinds, gave token that its inmates were called to
lament the fallen. The death of his nephew, and respect for the
surviving sister, had this restraint upon the doctor and his wife; but
all proper sorrow for Frederic and all fitting respect for Jane, could
not hinder the doctor from preparing a private festal reception for his
Professor on the morning of his return; and although the house showed
no outward adorning, he and his wife had secretly intruded into the
professor's apartments, and passed a whole afternoon in decorating
them.

At this moment the doctor stood at the top of a huge ladder, in a hard
tussle with the obstinate end of a festoon which would not yield to the
windings required to form the initials which were to be displayed over
the door of the professor's study. The Frau Doctorin stood at the foot
of the ladder and indulged in some rather merciless criticisms as to
the artistic capabilities of her wedded lord; now the spray was too
high for her, now too low, now she would shove it to the right, now to
the left; at last she declared that the initials were crooked. The
doctor rearranged, perspired and growled alternately; but at last he
lost all patience.

"You cannot judge rightly down below there, child!" he said angrily
"Just go back to the door and look at it from there. The general
impression is the great thing to be considered, not strict accordance
with mathematical lines!"

The Frau Doctorin, obediently stepped back, but just at that moment
when she stood leaning against the door, the better to enjoy that
all-important general impression, the door was opened from the outside,
and the unexpected visitor, with an outcry of terror and compassion,
grasped the old lady who had almost fallen into his arms.

"Herr Behrend," sounded the doctor's voice, in its deepest bass, down
from the ladder, "be pleased to remain standing there! That is right!
Now tell me if the garland is too high, and if the initials are really
crooked."

With a polite apology Doctor Behrend released the old lady from his
arms, and stood there immovable to take a look at the decorations in
question.

"It is very beautiful, very finely designed, but--"

"I told you so, the general effect is all right!" cried the doctor
triumphantly, while with a last stroke of the hammer he fastened a
festoon to the door; then he laid aside the hammer, and clambered down
the ladder to extend his hand to the younger colleague from whom he had
long been separated.

"I came to see if Walter's apartments were in any sort of order," said
Doctor Behrend, "and to my great surprise I find them festally adorned.
You have attended to this in person--"

"Yes, I am the very man!" said the doctor with great self-satisfaction.
"We are not quite through here, but come with me into the professor's
sanctum; there you can better admire our work."

With these words he seized Doctor Behrend by the arm and drew him into
the study. The professor's "sanctum" differed very much to-day from its
appearance when the professor was at work there. Everywhere were traces
of the ordering hand of the doctor's wife; the green curtains were
thrown back, and through the open window streamed in the full dazzling
sunlight. The writing-table, the walls, even the bookcases were adorned
with flowers and festoons, and the whole had an exceedingly festal
appearance.

It was very strange, but the young surgeon showed little or no delight
over all this; he said something of the very tasteful arrangement, of
the kindly feeling that prompted it, but all these tokens of respect to
his friend seemed to affect him more painfully than otherwise.

Happily, in the joyous excitement Doctor Stephen remarked nothing of
this peculiar constraint. "He will not take it so ill, will he?" he
said rubbing his hands in ecstasy. "So entirely without song or
garland, the professor was not to enter my house, which of all others
has the first right to welcome him. He will meet welcomes enough
outside! All B. has blazoned his name on its shield as her hero and
poet, and the students are wild with enthusiasm. He is the only one of
the professors who has fought with them, and how he has fought! I tell
you, colleague, there was exultation enough here whenever your letters
or other tidings of him arrived. City and university alike went wild
over him, and his poems that you sent us, as your malicious Mr. Atkins
would say, like Congreve rockets, set fire to both old and young. Do
you know that the university designs giving him a reception?"

"I have heard so, but I shall advise the gentlemen to make no
arrangements on his account. It is very doubtful whether Walter
returns."

The doctor in his horror almost let fall the vase of flowers he had
just lifted.

"Doubtful as to his coming? Good heavens! we confidently expect his
regiment this very morning."

"Certainly! But I fear Walter will not be with his comrades. According
to the letter I received from him this morning, he appears to be
tarrying behind in H., and to have no intention of coming home."

The doctor sat the vase so violently down upon the writing-table as to
break it. "I wish our whole military strength might be brought to bear
against this obstinate lieutenant, and force him to come home!" he
cried angrily. "And so he is not to return to us! He went away as a
sick man, whose life we half despaired of; and now, when he might come
back healthy, honored, admired by all the world, he will not come.
Doctor Behrend, there is some hidden reason for all this! He might have
come with you if he had chosen, but he really flies from B. Why did he
always make his military duties an excuse for absence, and now that
they are ended, why will he persist in remaining away! Something has
happened. Tell me what it is."

"I know nothing about it," replied Doctor Behrend evasively. "Perhaps
he dislikes the ovation which awaits him here. You know he could never
endure being placed in the foreground."

"Nonsense!" cried the doctor furiously. "He must now step to the
foreground. We tolerated that anxious timidity in the scholar; but now
when he has launched out under full sail as a poet, we forbid all such
whims!"

Behrend shook his head. "Do not cherish too great hopes as to Walter's
poetic future," he said. "I very much fear that with the sword, he will
also lay aside the poets, then bury himself among his books, shut
himself out from the outside world more vexatiously than ever, and in a
year's time stand just where he did at the opening of the war."

"He will not do that!" cried the horrified doctor.

"He will; it would just suit his fancy. With all his genius, Walter
remains an incorrigible dreamer; his energy is only an impulse of the
moment. In moments of excitement and inspiration such natures do and
dare all; as soon as the incitement is wanting, they sink back again
into their dreaming. Life in its every-day dress is nothing to them,
simply because they do not understand it."

"And a delightful thing it must be to dream away one's life," cried the
doctor excitedly pacing up and down.

"Sensible men like you and me, Doctor Behrend, haven't the least idea
of the nonsensical things that haunt such a learned, poetic head as
Walter Fernow's."

"He needs a spur to effort," replied the doctor, gravely. "He needs an
energetic, ardent force to remain daily and hourly at his side, and
wrest him from that ideal life, to animate him for the conflict
with the world and give him what he does not possess; ambition and
self-confidence. If this were granted him, I believe there is no height
he might not attain in the long future yet before him. But if an
unhappy passion once comes to such a nature--"

Here Doctor Stephen suddenly wheeled around, and with supreme
astonishment gazed into his colleague's face. "An unhappy passion!" he
cried. "For Heaven's sake, our professor has not fallen in love!"

Behrend bit his lips in vexation. "Oh, not at all! It only occurred to
me as a mere supposition."

Doctor Stephen was not so easily satisfied. "You have hinted at the
truth," he said, "now out with it; who is the professor in love with?
How long since it happened? Why is the love unhappy? I hope it is no
French woman. Are the hindrances on the side of family, national
hatred, or what?"

"I know nothing at all about it, my friend."

"You are positively insufferable with your know-nothingness," growled
the old doctor. "You know all about this matter and you might confide
in my discretion!"

"I repeat to you that my idea is founded upon a mere suspicion. You
know Walter's reticence; he has never spoken a word to me on the
subject. In any event, I urgently implore you not to take advantage of
my indiscretion, and tell the Frau Doctorin--"

"My wife?" The doctor threw a glance at the door, which fortunately, he
had closed behind him. "God forbid! That would be to set all the women
of B. in an uproar! The professor has already become a hero to our
ladies; if now, the nimbus of an unhappy love surrounds him, he will be
overwhelmed by their romantic sympathy. Who would have thought this of
our timid professor, when he sat here at his writing-desk, and I gave
him lectures upon his health, which I warned him was going to ruin
physically and mentally! Now he goes to the war, fights, makes verses,
falls in love--it is most atrocious!"

"I must go," said Behrend, evidently anxious to shorten the interview.
"You will excuse me for to-day."

"Well, go then!" growled the old doctor. "I can get nothing out of you;
but let the professor only come home, and I will set his head right."

The young physician smiled incredulously. "Well, try it!" he said. "I
have done my utmost; but that sickly melancholy is beyond my power."

He went, leaving Doctor Stephen very much out of sorts. All his joy in
the festal preparations was over, and he said to himself that if the
professor really came, he would be hardly in the mood to do justice to
the reception prepared for him. All delight in the anticipated surprise
was over. Since Frederic's death, everything had gone wrong.

The death of their nephew had come very near to the doctor and his
wife. It had been a bitter day for them when the young man who bad gone
from them as a servant, was brought home in his coffin, as their
nearest relative. The sting which ceaselessly tormented Jane, and would
allow her no peace, had also its smart for them, when they thought how
the sister's child, so long and so anxiously sought, for whose recovery
thousands had been sacrificed in vain, had lived as a menial in their
own house, without enjoying the slightest share of the wealth and the
affection that should have been his. And yet, the poor fellow had been
so grateful for the little they had given him out of mere kindness! His
honest, sincere parting words rang continually in their ears! "You have
been very good to me during these three years; if I come back, I will
richly repay you; if not--may God reward you!"

In Frederic Erdmann, the servant Professor Fernow had brought with him
to B., who would have recognized the lost Fritz Forster? The name his
foster-parents had given him had prevented the discovery, and a second
change of name had been still more unfortunate for him. If his sister
had come back to her relatives as Johanna Forster, it might have led
her brother, who knew that his family had gone to America, to a
remembrance, to a declaration, which would have thrown light upon all;
the foreign name of Jane Forest had made this impossible, and the
subordinate position of Frederic had done the rest. The servant
naturally had made no inquiries as to her history or her former name;
and Professor Fernow, who knew both, in his hermit-like seclusion, kept
himself too remote from the doctor to be made the confidant of his
family affairs, and of the researches Jane was making. Indeed Jane,
having Atkins at her side, kept these researches as much as possible
from her uncle. The chance solution of the whole mystery, which might
have occurred at any moment, did not come, and the decisive word had
been spoken only in the hour of death. Perhaps all this had been more
than mere chance; it was not to be. Of all this wealth, nothing was to
fall to Forest's heir but the splendid monument over his grave, and it
was of no avail to Frederic when young Erdmann wrote in answer to the
letter addressed to him, removing the last possible doubt, and
confirming word for word all that had been already learned. The dead
received the name justly his due; but it was too late for aught else.

The relations between Jane and her relatives were, if possible, colder
than ever, and she did not make the slightest effort to increase their
warmth. When, accompanied by Atkins and Alison, she had come with her
brother's corpse to B., she had been most kindly and sympathetically
received by her uncle and aunt; but she gave this kindness no return.
She secluded herself with her sorrow more obstinately than before with
her pride, she bore her grief as she was wont to bear all else, alone
and silently. The doctor and his wife could not comprehend a sorrow
inaccessible to consolation or sympathy, and were more than ever
confirmed in their belief in Jane's heartlessness. In fact, hers was
too self-reliant, energetic a nature, to change in a day, or become
untrue to its proper character. In the moment of her deepest agony, she
had shown her dying brother that she really possessed a heart; but she
showed this to none else, and the words Doctor Behrend had spoken of
Walter, applied also to her. Her future, too, depended upon a power
outside herself; and the few next days would decide whether she would
return to the old hardness and reticence, or gradually become that
being which one only recognized in her; assert that true nature against
which she had fought so long, and which had first asserted itself at
the hour of her brother's death.



                             CHAPTER XXXI.

                         The Balance of Power.


Atkins had taken up his abode in B. for the winter; but Alison had left
a few days after Frederic's burial. He must have felt that his presence
was not comforting to Jane; so he resumed his original plan of travel.
He had passed the autumn and winter in a tour through Switzerland and
Italy, and now, in the spring, when he had visited the larger cities of
Germany, he was about to return to B. The doctor and his wife even now
knew nothing of his relations to their niece. Jane had never alluded to
the subject. They only knew that the year of her stay in Germany having
expired, and its purpose having been accomplished, she was soon to
return to America; that the first of the next month had been fixed upon
as the time of her departure. It was delegated to Atkins to inform the
relatives that Jane would return as Mrs. Alison, and that it was
thought best the marriage ceremony should be performed here in the
house of her uncle. The great respect and deference they had always
shown the young lady's wealth, now found its reward; they were treated
as if really inferiors, not being informed of this most intimate of
family relations, until their aid was needed in arranging the necessary
preliminaries for the marriage decided upon so long ago.

                               *   *   *

Alison had arrived at Atkins' hotel, and would remain there for the
present; but his manner today betrayed nothing of that passionately
concealed impatience, which, upon his former arrival in B., had driven
him at once to Jane, and subjected him to Atkins' ridicule. He now
stood nonchalanty at a window, and gazed indifferently down into the
street, as if in no haste at all for the approaching reunion.

Alison at this moment seemed quite another being than on that night
when unfettered passion had carried him beyond all bounds. In the last
six months he had found ample time to recover his equanimity, and he
had perfectly succeeded in the effort. He was again the calm, formal
man of business with the cold, calculating glance and the conventional
polish. That which lay dormant under all this, and had once so
dangerously come to the surface, had now sunken back into the depths.
His face looked as if it had never known an emotion, only one trait
remained; that expression of inimical hardness and cool determination
which had first appeared at that meeting in S.; it was yet in his face;
it stood firmly engraven there as if during those six months it had not
for an instant left his features.

"You come very late, Henry," said Atkins, who stood near him. "We
expected you sooner."

Alison turned and gazed at him. "We! Do you also speak in Miss Forest's
name?"

Atkins evaded the answer. "You ought to have come sooner," he repeated
gravely. "It was not considerate in you to leave Miss Jane here amid
all these rejoicings over the victory, which must have made her loss
only the more bitter. We might, all three of us, have been on our way
to America long ago."

Henry gave an indifferent shrug of the shoulders. "My travelling plans
admitted of no change," he said, "and besides, I had an idea you would
all be thankful for the delay. Doctor and Mrs. Stephen are not yet
informed, are they?"

"I have just told them."

"Well, after an interview with my betrothed, I wish to be introduced to
them as a future relative. The three weeks from now to the beginning of
next month will suffice for all necessary preparations, and we shall
leave immediately after the ceremony. You are aware of my arrangements
with Miss Forest?"

"She has told me that she leaves all to your decision, and that I have
simply to consult you in regard to the arrangements."

He turned again to the window. Atkins was for a while silent, but all
at once he laid on his hand Alison's arm.

"The regiment is expected back to-morrow, Henry!" he said.

"I know it!" returned Alison, not moving from his place. "And Professor
Fernow is coming in any event," continued Atkins, with marked emphasis.

Henry glanced at him calmly. "Do you know this so certainly?"

"He surely will not remain away from a reception that is especially
designed for him."

"He will not come!" said Alison coolly. "After what has passed between
us, he does not enter this house while my betrothed remains in it, or I
do not understand the German sentiment of honor."

Atkins looked at him doubtfully. "Well, I was not a witness of your
interview," he said. "You must know what is to be expected of him; but
if he really remains away are you just as sure of Miss Forest?"

Henry did not answer; he merely smiled in his ill-omened way.

"Supposing she should refuse to fulfil her promise to you?"

"She will not refuse."

Atkins did not seem to share his decided conviction. "You may find
yourself in error," he said. "Jane is no longer in that hollow stupor
that was upon her at our first arrival in B. She is silent as usual,
but I know that all her strength of mind is now directed towards one
conclusion; and this conclusion will hardly be blind submission to your
will. Look before you!"

Henry smiled again, and it was with almost a sympathetic glance he
looked down upon the man who warned him.

"And do you really believe I would have gone on my travels, and have
calmly remained half a year away, if I had not previously secured
myself on all sides?--I challenged Professor Fernow; he put me off
until the end of the war; his promise now binds him, and as the injured
man, the first shot is due me. Miss Foster knows this; she knows also
that I will shoot him down, if she does not unconditionally submit to
what I think best. The choice was given her at that time when the death
of her brother led her to ask from me a delay of the marriage until the
proper period of morning had expired. I allowed her ample time, for I
knew that I need fear no change of her mind. _His_ life was at stake!
Through that apprehension I hold her more firmly than by a tenfold
cord; she will not venture to resist my will, not even by a word; she
knows the price of his safety."

Atkins gazed at him almost in horror. "And will you really force her
consent in this way? Be on your guard, Henry! Jane is no woman to allow
herself patiently to be sacrificed; she will revenge her blighted
happiness upon you. You purchase that longed-for million with hell in
your house."

Alison's lips curled in scorn. "Give yourself no anxiety as to our
future married happiness, Mr. Atkins! I believe that I am in all
respects a match for my future wife.--But it must be time for us to go
to Doctor Stephen's. May I ask you to get ready?"

Atkins lingered a moment. "Henry," he said entreatingly, "whatever may
happen between you two, spare Jane; she has fearfully suffered in these
last months."

"Has she spared me?" asked Alison with an icy coldness. "The proud Miss
Forest would have cast me aside as a worthless burden, had not
another's life rested in my hands. Now I have the power and I will use
it; the obstinate woman shall yield to me at my price!"

Atkins sighed deeply as he went into the next room for his hat and
gloves. "What a marriage this will be! God pity us when these two are
man and wife!" he said.



                             CHAPTER XXXII.

                      The Brand from the Burning.


The formal part of the visit at Doctor Stephen's house was over. Alison
had saluted the doctor and his wife, and exchanged with them the
inevitable polite phrases, questions and answers; but this time he
betrayed no glowing impatience to shorten the interview; he waited
calmly until Atkins ended it, and conducted him to Jane, who although
she knew of his arrival, had remained in her chamber.

Here, too, there was a cold, polite greeting, a few words in relation
to the journey, the arrival, the different places of interest on the
route; then Atkins withdrew. Henry and Jane were left alone.

She again sat opposite him as at that time when he had sued for her
hand; but she was paler than then; she had become so much paler during
this winter, but in this long space, she had regained complete mastery
over herself. Her head was again upright, her features firm and cold,
and her eyes met his with the old glance of defiance. This was not the
bearing of intimidation or submission: Atkins was right; she would dare
one more last conflict.

"_Why this useless struggle?_ I _will not let you go!_"

Perhaps Jane read this thought in his face, for her brow grew dark, and
her lips compressed. These two beings so soon to be united forever,
stood now as hostilely arrayed, the one against the other, as if this
were to be a struggle for life or death. Both knew it, they were equals
in energy, in strength of will, in inflexibility; not a foot's-breadth
would one yield to the other, and now it remained to be proved whose
will was the stronger.

Henry had already arranged his tactics; he enveloped himself wholly in
that cold politeness she had shown at the first greeting.

"I come, Miss Forest," he said, "to demand the fulfilment of a promise
which I received a year ago, and which was repeated to me in this
place. Your time of mourning for young Mr. Forest must now be at an
end, and I must beg you to name the day for our union. Mr. Atkins
wishes exact information so as to arrange all formalities for the
marriage, and I too have various preparations to make for our
departure. We had decided upon the first of next month; but the day and
the hour, as well as the manner of the ceremony, are of course left to
your decision. I await your commands."

Jane sighed deeply. He had entered upon the subject in a masterly way;
he had made all evasion impossible, but still he was not to win the
victory so easily.

"You have my promise, Mr. Alison, it is true, and I am ready to fulfil
it, if, after what has come to your knowledge, you dare demand such a
thing."

Word and glance, alike ineffectual, glided off from the icy
indifference with which Alison had armed himself. He remained perfectly
calm.

"And why should I not dare to demand a hand which was freely promised
me, and would just as freely have been mine, if it had not been for
that--_episode_, which is of very little import in my eyes? Miss Forest
is too precious a treasure to be sacrificed for a mere romantic
infatuation. I, at least, have no mind to make any such sacrifice."

"You forget one thing!"--Jane's voice involuntarily betrayed
the fearful excitement that had taken possession of her whole
being.--"Hitherto, you have had the power to torture me, but from the
moment of our marriage, that power will fall to me. A woman can become
a curse to her husband, if he has taught her to hate where she ought to
love.--Force me to this marriage, and I become such a curse to you!"

But even this threat, so defiantly hurled at him, glanced powerless
from that smooth, icy calm; Henry smiled at this as he had before
smiled at Atkins' words.

"I hardly think we shall continue upon American soil, this romance,
into which German sentimentality has drawn us against our will; the
atmosphere there is not suited to such extravagances, we had better
leave them behind here. I am convinced that Mrs. Alison will as
brilliantly represent my house, and as unconditionally play the first
role in the social circles of our city, as Miss Forest once did. To
enable her to do this, she will find surroundings worthy of her, and a
husband whose name and position will do her honor. Our marriage could
certainly never have become a shepherd's idyl, and it need not become a
tragedy; if you, Miss, have an intention to play a tragic part here,
you will have to do so alone; for myself, I have not the slightest
capability for such roles."

Jane trembled under this irony; she felt that Henry was not accessible
on this side, and she felt also, that he was now making her atone for
the haughty "_I will not_," she had once flung at him. Not in vain had
Atkins warned her against this man, who never forgot nor forgave an
injury even though he appeared so to do. He was now seeking his
revenge, and Jane knew that she could reckon upon no pity; but this
certainty, all at once, gave back her presence of mind. She rose
resolute and cold, and there was an expression of contempt upon her
lips. She must have foreseen the uselessness of this last effort; she
had other, and in her opinion, more infallible weapons at command.

"Before we dwell upon this point," she said, "I beg you listen to a
proposal I am about to make you."

Henry also had risen; he bowed assent.

"You know that since my brother's death, I have become sole heir to my
father's fortune. His will also gives me full, lawful control of all."

"Certainly!" returned Henry, in astonishment, he had no idea where this
would end.

"Well, then, I am ready to make over to you the whole fortune as the
price of my freedom."

Alison started back, he had all at once become pale, and his glance,
with a mysterious, threatening expression, fixed itself full upon her
face.

Jane stepped hastily to her writing-desk, and drew a paper from a
portfolio lying there.

"I have already drawn up the necessary paper; you will see from it that
I keep back nothing except what is in my hands at this moment. It is a
sum sufficient to afford me a support here in Germany, but scarcely
worth mention in comparison with that which will fall to your share.
The legal execution of this may take place any day, whenever you wish;
the transaction naturally remains a secret to all save those
immediately interested. I offer you all I possess; only leave me free!"

She reached him the paper. Silently Alison took it from her hands,
silently he read it through; the paleness of his face grew yet deeper,
and the paper rustled strangely in his hands. At last he laid it
deliberately upon the table, and crossed his arms.

"Before all else, I request you, Miss Forest, to change the tone in
which you see fit to speak to me. One does not meet a man who holds
one's whole future in his hands, with such--contempt."

A hasty flush passed over Jane's face; her voice had unwittingly
betrayed her sentiments as she made this proposal. "I do not see," she
replied, "why we should seek to deceive each other. You won me for my
fortune and hold fast the hand upon which it depends. I would relieve
you from a troublesome appendage to this fortune, and myself from a
hated tie. You are merchant enough to appreciate the advantages of my
offer; and I have lived long enough in America to take into account the
value it will be to you there."

Jane did not dream what a fearful game she was playing at this moment,
and she did not suffer herself to be warned by the low, hissing sound
that again came from Henry's lips, as upon that evening, when he had
listened to her conversation with Walter. His calmness quite deceived
her.

"I doubt it, Miss Jane; your proposal is too German for that. With us,
at home, one does not throw away a million to escape a marriage!
Besides, I scarce believe that you clearly understand what it means for
one like you, reared in the lap of riches, to be really poor!"

Jane proudly lifted her head. "My father was once poor," she said, "and
he thought nothing of sacrificing position and a future, for the joys
of freedom; I give up his riches for like object. I too would be free!"

"Would you really?" Alison fixed his penetrating glance upon her, and
there was a tone of annihilating irony in his voice. "And besides, do
you think that in case of necessity you could live upon a professor's
salary? May I ask if Herr Fernow has a share in this romantic decision?
If not, I advise you not to assume too much from his ideality. The
heroine of his romance was an heiress, and his sentiments might grow
cold if she were suddenly to appear before him poor."

Jane eyes flashed; she forgot all discretion, forgot how fearfully this
man had once already made her atone for an insult; his irony robbed her
of all self-control.

"Do not measure such a nature by your own standard, Mr. Alison! Walter
Fernow is not _your_ equal!" she said.

This was too much! The deep, deadly contempt in her words tore away the
mask under which, hitherto to his own self and to her, he had feigned
indifference. He gnashed his teeth in rage; still he controlled the
storm of passion; but it was only for a few moments.

"Not my equal! You are very honest, Miss Jane. In your eyes, Professor
Fernow has perhaps no equal in the world, and you would never have
dared approach him with the proposal to sell his bride for money. Keep
your indignation to yourself, I see that your whole nature rises in
arms at the very thought. You dared not propose it to him, but you have
to me!" Here the self-mastery ended, and the old, uncontrollable
passion broke forth fearfully from its depths.--"You have dared make
this proposal to _me_! You suppose that I would take part in such an
infamous transaction! You dare treat Henry Alison as if he were an
extortioner, whose word and honor were to be sold for dollars! Jane
Forest, by Heaven you shall answer to me for this insult!"

Jane drew back, she gazed at him in consternation. She had not been
prepared for such a reception of her proposal.

Henry snatched the paper from the table, and furiously tore it in
pieces. "With this wretched bit of paper you would purchase your
freedom, and hurl the money and your contempt after me. Forever and
eternally you have seen in me only the moneyed man. It may be that it
was calculation that led me to you, but you soon enough taught me to
reckon with another factor than the dollar. I have loved you, Jane
loved you to madness, and I loved you only the more ardently the more
coldly you repelled me, up to the moment when that blue-eyed professor
crossed my path, and I learned to hate you both. You know nothing of my
interview with him, only what I have told you myself; you do not dream
what passed between us that night your brother died. Well, then, I
meant to murder him because he denied me the duel. This money lover had
carried his calculations so far that he forgot all, that he risked
life, honor and future, for the sake of one treasure they sought to
wrest from him. Do you now understand, Jane, what you have been to me,
and why I now hold you fast? I know that I have no happiness to expect
from you, that my house will be to me a hell; but I also know that no
power on earth can tear you two asunder unless it is my arm. And my arm
shall do it; let it cost you your whole inheritance, let it cost me my
last dollar, I fling both from me, but he shall not have you!"

He tore the paper into bits and threw the pieces scornfully away; then
he strode excitedly to the window and stared out with face turned away
from her.

Jane stood motionless, horrified, bewildered, by this wild outbreak of
an emotion she had never suspected in Henry. For the first time he
showed her this aspect, and deep in her heart she felt it was the true
one, and she felt also with burning shame the wrong she had done him;
but through it all, this shame and horror, broke softly and faintly a
ray of hope; she knew that the woman is all-powerful when she is
beloved.

Henry felt a light touch on his shoulder; when he turned around, Jane
stood right before him, but the obstinacy and the contempt had vanished
from her manner; she had lowered her head as if conscious of guilt, and
her glance was fixed upon the floor.

"I did you wrong!" she said softly, and almost an entreaty lay in her
tone as she added, "I did not think that you could love."

Henry drew back; there came over him a suspicion of what was before
him, and his brow grew yet more dark, his features yet more hard, his
whole manner expressed grim, icy repulsion.

"Enough of confession!" he said roughly. "I request you once more, Miss
Forest, to name the day of our nuptials. I expect your answer,--expect
it immediately."

Jane yet stood before him with downcast eyes; now she suddenly laid
both hands on his arm.

"Henry."

He trembled, and turned away.

"You have set a cruel choice before me, and fearful was the threat with
which you forced me to silence, him to inaction. His life and my future
now lie in your hands alone, Henry.--Give him back his unfortunate
promise, and me freedom!"

With a violent movement he flung back her hand. "What do you mean by
that tone, Jane? Do you think to compel me with it? Have you gathered
nothing other from my words than that I would now play a magnanimous
role and lead you to his arms? Not a word further, not a single word
more, or--I forget myself!"

The forbiddal sounded wild and threatening enough, but it remained
without effect; Jane was now conscious of her power; she felt no
further fear.

"I no longer offer you my wealth, and all else I have to give, belongs
to another. I can compel nothing from you, purchase nothing from you;
well, then, I now entreat you; Henry, for your own salvation and for
mine, release me from my promise!"

She had fallen on her knees before him, her voice trembled in anguished
entreaty, in soft, moaning supplication, such as he had never before
heard from these lips; the large dark eyes gazed upon him full and
steadily, they were full of burning tears; her whole manner was so
entirely changed, so different from the Jane Forest he had hitherto
known, that for the first time, at this moment, Henry felt what he was
to lose with her.

"_At my feet!_ I might be proud of the triumph did I not know too well
whom I must thank for it! Miss Forest once would sooner have taken upon
herself a whole life full of torture and wretchedness, would sooner
have died even, than allow a word of entreaty to fall from her lips.
But his happiness is at stake, _his_ future, and here she can take a
thousand humiliations upon herself; and even if her pride bled from a
thousand wounds, she could entreat, kneel even--and this she would
never have done for herself.--Would you, Jane?"

This time, Jane remained proof against his irony; she felt only the
infinite bitterness whence it came, felt that through all his grim
resistance, her triumph was fighting its upward way.

"Yes," she said softly, still keeping her eyes fixed upon him.

He bent down to her, and lifted her gently in his arms. Those arms
clasped the slight, delicate form as if they would hold it fast
forever, and with strong, irresistible might he pressed her to his
heart. His face was again distorted by all the tempestuous passion that
had raged through its lineaments on that autumn night; his breast rose
and fell as if in fearful conflict; but it was something nobler than
fury or revenge that now plowed up the very soul of this man; it was a
dumb, torturing sorrow, pulsing through his whole being, and stirring
it to its inmost depths.

Jane saw the conflict, and had no heart to go on with her entreaties.
She felt that a word from her would decide all, and yet she was silent.
Her head sunk unresisting, upon his shoulder, but two heavy tears
rolled slowly from her eyes down upon his hand.

Then suddenly, she felt Henry's lips, hot and burning, against her
forehead; it was a kiss so unlike that first kiss she had received from
him; it burned like a fiery brand upon her forehead. "Farewell!"
vibrated in a half-stifled, yet ardent tone, through his voice. Then he
let her loose from his arms. With this one word, he had freed her,
renounced her forever!--When she glanced up, he had already left the
room.--She was alone.



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

                         An Unexpected Meeting.


Spring upon the Rhine! How many a heart with fond, irresistible longing
reverts to this thought! The spring comes everywhere. In the storms and
billows of the ocean, in the soft, aromatic breath of leafy forests; in
raging, devastating freshets from the mountains, in the blossoming
splendors and jubilant lark-songs of the plain;--but nowhere does it so
smile as here, by the cradle of German romance, where a breath of poesy
hovers overall. The spring glides through the Rhineland, laying lightly
her hand in blessing upon field and vineyard; and the blessing becomes
a consecration. She floats sun-kissed, over forest and rocky cliff, and
glances smiling down from hoary castles, gray with age. But never had
the German spring been so greeted, so enjoyed as now, when she came
bringing to a united people the festival of resurrection and of
victory;--and peace to the world.

This spring had come to the land prematurely and unannounced, as if in
haste to greet the new empire with its sunshine and its flowers. B.,
that "learned nest," was to-day full of joy and exultation, for it was
to receive its university professor, Fernow, as a military hero; but
the town being the centre of all rejoicings, its environs were silent
as the dead. The day was magnificent, and yet the gentleman and lady
who were climbing the path to the Ruènberg, seemed the only pedestrians
far and near. Was it through accident or intention? Jane Forest had
to-day, for the first time, laid aside her deep mourning; her dress was
still sombre and without ornament, but it was no longer of that sable,
hopeless black, and it almost seemed as if with the gloomy dress had
vanished that stony, melancholy expression which, during the whole
winter, had shadowed her face. There brooded over this face something
like a breath of the spring; a tender, longing hope timidly ventured
forth from beneath the scarce-broken icy covering, but had not as yet
courage to look happiness and the future full in the face. There was a
strange, wholly new expression on these once proud, resolute features,
and it gave the face something which despite its beauty had hitherto
been wanting--gentleness.

Mr. Atkins, who trudged along at the young lady's side, looked very
grim and morose to-day; he seemed to feel this splendor of the spring a
personal affront. Everything he saw annoyed him, and he was still more
annoyed by what he did not see. He could not understand why this tender
green had started forth so soon; it must certainly be destroyed by the
night-frosts. This preposterous shining of the spring sun with a real
June heat, only portended speedy and violent rains, and the Rhine, just
now, was the object of his utter and supreme aversion. As Mr. Atkins
walked along its banks, it had taken the liberty to wet his boots
through and through, and had also shown an ardent longing to draw his
whole person down into its watery depths, things which naturally
excited the American's bitter ire.

"Your blood-thirsty Rhine grasps after every strange nationality that
ventures near it!" he growled, and at that moment, he made up his mind
to remain no longer upon this hated soil. "The sooner we return to
America the better!" muttered he.

Jane paid little heed to Mr. Atkins' outbursts of ill temper, and she
made due allowance for them all. She very well knew that their sole
reason lay in the hollow thunders whose reverberations were heard even
here, and which announced the return of Walter Fernow, the university
professor and hero.--But as Atkins began to groan anew over the
difficulties of the path and the excessive heat, Jane said with a touch
of impatience.

"You should have remained in the town. My mourning excludes me from all
share in the festivities. I did not wish to force my uncle and aunt to
remain at home on my account, and so I undertook this walk. But no such
consideration restrains you, and I need no escort to-day."

Atkins drew down his face. "I cannot say that I feel myself
irresistibly drawn toward the city," he said, "where every little
urchin you meet on the street is babbling of the 'new power,' and every
student demands that I shall make my most humble obeisance to the
genius of united Germany. These people are lost in admiration of
themselves? Their beloved Rhine has become to them the one river of
Germany, and they dream of enlarging its boundaries still more. German
idealism is really beginning to become practical; but for these last
weeks I have been so persistently entertained at all the clubs and
societies with the prospective greatness and glory of the new empire,
that I feel as if I would like, just for a little while, to hear
something else spoken of. I wish--" Happily, just here he recalled the
sharp reprimand he had once received from Jane, so he changed his pious
wish into a sigh--"I wish I was back in America; but after all that has
happened here in the fatherland, our Germans there will be so puffed up
with conceit and vanity, that there'll be no getting on with them!"

Jane smiled at this outbreak of bitterness, and calmly replied:

"You will have to make up your mind to recognize the new power, Mr.
Atkins, difficult as it may be to you. Nothing can now be changed, and
you will at last reconcile yourself to paying some homage to our newly
awakened German genius in your own land."

"_Our_? _Your_ land?" drawled. Atkins. "Ah, yes! I keep forgetting that
you have wholly and entirely gone over to the Germans, and are full of
enthusiasm for your new countrymen. Well, just here we differ. I don't
understand, Miss Jane, how you can enjoy the prospect here, the sun
dazzles one so horribly, that one can see nothing but its beams; the
river glares up at you so as to give you pains in the eyes, and this
old wall glares at me just as if it would afford it an especial
pleasure to fall down and crush us both. Just look before you!"

Jane made no answer; she sat down and left it to her companion to rail
at the sun, the river and the ruin as much as he liked; but as Mr.
Atkins found nothing more in his surroundings, over which he could
growl, he came to her side.

"I only regret," he said, and the expression of his face betrayed how
maliciously he rejoiced over it--"I only regret that B. must to-day be
deprived of its principal hero. Lieutenant Fernow is really not with
his regiment; the garlands with which Doctor and Mrs. Stephen have
taken such a world of pains must wither, the stupendous reception which
the students had planned must, like their enthusiasm, result in
nothing; the learned salutation speeches of his colleagues will become
somewhat antiquated. I am convinced that one of these evenings the
professor will step quietly in at the back door, and the next morning
will be found sitting at his writing-desk, pen in hand, placidly as if
nothing had happened. That would be just like him, I think; he is the
only German who now seems to have the least bit of sense left him."

Atkins, taking advantage of Jane's unusually gentle mood, ventured to
speak a name which, during the whole winter, had not been mentioned
between them, and he had his reasons. They had begun to treat him as
they treated Doctor Stephen, to keep him in entire ignorance of the
course of family affairs, revealing nothing to him until it was
absolutely settled. This vexed him beyond measure; he wanted to know
what had passed between Henry and Jane, wanted to know how matters
really stood, and as he could venture no direct questions he tried this
man[oe]uvre.

But he missed his aim. Jane certainly blushed when Fernow was
mentioned, but she remained calm and did not open her lips. It required
more than the mere mention of a name to rob her of her self-possession.
Atkins saw that no subterfuge would avail him; he must advance openly
to his goal.

"Our travelling arrangements will perhaps require some change!" he
began again in his sharp, searching tone. "Henry's sudden departure has
disarranged all our plans; I have not been told,--I certainly have not
been informed," he added with an irritation that showed his
sensitiveness on this point, "why he last evening stormed so violently
into my lodgings, demanded his travelling effects, and immediately
drove to the station--and in such a humor too that I thought it best to
keep as far away from him as possible; but, for my own interests I
would now like to ask you, Jane, what you think of all this."

Jane's glance fell. "You are the first to inform me of Henry's
departure," she said. "Did he leave no line for me?"

"No! not even a good-by; he declared that he should return to America
on the first steamship that sailed from Hamburg."

Jane made no answer, but a deep sigh escaped her breast which had in it
more of sorrow than relief.

"What had you done to Henry, Jane?" asked Atkins in a low voice, as he
bent down to her. "He looked terribly when he came from you."

She glanced timidly up, but her voice was subdued and unsteady. "You
always declared that he cherished a passion for me," she said. "I had
never believed it. I thought the dollar the only divinity to which he
knelt."

"It will perhaps be so in the future!" replied Atkins dryly. "Such
weakness overpowers a man like Henry but once. He should have held to
his American traditions; then the heir and future chief of the house of
Alison & Co. would have received no refusal. It is not well, this
mixture with German blood; you yourself very well see that now, Miss
Jane, and Henry evidently has had enough of your German romances to
last a lifetime. But his is not a nature to burden itself with an
unhappy, love for any long time, and I do not doubt that within a
year's time we shall hear of his marriage with one of our home
heiresses."

"Would to God it might be so!" sighed Jane from the deepest depths of
her heart, as she rose and stayed her arm against the wall.

For some moments, Atkins stood near her in silence. "Shall we continue
our walk?" he asked at length. "This old castle is doubtless very
interesting, but there is a draught about the romantic, mediæval haunt.
I think we had best return to the sheltered valley."

"I shall remain!" declared Jane with her usual positiveness. "But I
will not allow you to expose yourself longer to this 'romantic
draught.' You will of course direct your walk to M. and we shall meet
upon our return."

The hint was plain enough, and Atkins very readily accepted it. He
thought it inexpressibly dull up here, and gladly availed himself of
any excuse to withdraw.

"I have an idea that I shall have to return to America alone," he
muttered to himself, as he took a by-path leading directly down into
the valley. "And besides, I am to have the extraordinary pleasure of
sending Mr. Forest's whole fortune across the ocean. The fortune Henry
Alison made the object of all his energies and calculations, and which
is now to fall into the lap of this German professor who was stupid
enough to care nothing at all about it, and who would have married
unhesitatingly upon his professor's salary! And he will have a
brilliant career in the world--there is no doubt of that. They are now
lauding him as the future poet, and there must be something in the
uproar his verses cause. If a million stands behind them, and a wife
like Jane sits near him--all this will urge him on more surely and
speedily to the wished for goal. Our deceased Mrs. Forest would have
been triumphant; but I'd like to know what Mr. Forest would say at
seeing his riches exclusively in German hands and subserving German
interests. I believe he would"--here Mr. Atkins bethought himself, and
concluded with this emphatic ejaculation--"I believe he would say amen
to it!"

Jane had remained behind alone. She drew a deep breath as if relieved
of a heavy restraint, and sat down again in the old place. The bright
spring radiance fell around the gray, ancient ruins of the castle,
while above and beneath them, throughout all the landscape, reigned a
thousand-fold life of fragrance and blossoming. The ivy again wove its
green meshes around the dusky stone, and let its wavy tendrils flutter
far out over the abyss. At her feet, lay a grassy expanse bathed in the
sun's golden lustre, while far beyond flashed and shimmered the dear
home river, as if only hours had passed since that day when they two
had sat here; as if autumn and winter, with all their tears and
conflicts, with their melancholy symbols of mourning, had been only an
evil, oppressive dream.

And, as at that time, the gravel now creaked under advancing footsteps.
Could Atkins have come back? Impossible! This was not his calm,
deliberate tread. It came nearer; a shadow fell upon the sunny space
before her; Jane sprang up, brow and cheeks suffused with a treacherous
glow, trembling, incapable even of a cry of surprise. Walter Fernow
stood before her!

In eager haste he had climbed the hill, but this time, he did not
arrive breathless and exhausted, as once from his most quiet walks;
such exertion was now sport to him, and it must have been something
quite other than fatigue, which at this moment stopped his breath and
sent that deep flush to his face. He would fain hasten to Jane's side,
but he paused suddenly and gazed silently on the ground; it seemed as
if with the old student's dress which he had to-day for the first time
resumed, the old timidity had returned.

"Professor Fernow--you here?"

A shadow of painful disappointment passed over Walter's face; perhaps
he had expected a different greeting. The deep flush vanished and the
old melancholy expression again darkened his features. Jane had
meantime in a measure recovered her self-control, although she could
not overcome the agitation that thrilled her frame and gave a
treacherous vibration to her voice. "I--we heard that you were not with
your regiment; my uncle and Doctor Behrend at least declared that you
were not," she said.

"I did not come with my comrades; I arrived an hour ago. Doctor Stephen
and his wife were not at home, and I was not in the mood to enter at
once into the festivities. I undertook this walk; it accidentally led
me here--"

His face betrayed the untruth! He had incidentally heard at the house
that Jane was not at the festival, and it was not without good reasons
that he had undertaken this walk so immediately after his arrival. It
had perhaps been more presentiment than accident which had led him
here. Jane might have felt this, the flush upon her face deepened, and
the dark lashes sank slowly, while her trembling hands sought a point
of support in the wall. Walter hesitatingly approached.

"I have frightened you!" he said in a subdued voice. "It was not my
intention to return so suddenly; I felt that I could not for the
present come to B.; but a meeting I had with Mr. Alison--"

"With Henry!" cried Jane in painful apprehension. "Did you speak with
him?"

"No, I only saw him! He arrived last night at the hotel in K., where I
had taken lodgings; we met upon the stairs, but he passed me silently
and morosely, without greeting, and as if he did not know me. This
morning a note was brought me with tidings that the gentleman who had
left it had already gone; it explains the reason of my being here so
soon."

He handed her the note; it contained only a few lines.


"I release you from your promise to meet me after the close of the war;
there is need of no such meeting. In future, the ocean will lie between
us, that secures to you the fruit of your victory. I do not hinder your
return to B. There you can demand an explanation of what has happened.
In a few days, I leave Europe forever.

                                         "Henry Alison."



                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

                           The Riddle Solved.


Jane held the sheet silently in her hand; her eyes were veiled as if by
starting tears. It is never a matter of unconcern to a woman to see a
heart bleeding for her sake, least of all if she is the first and the
only one who has taught this proud, cold heart to feel.

Walter's glance rested searchingly upon her face; it was sad, and
painfully intent, as if from torturing unrest.

"I must now entreat the explanation, and yet, I do not know whether
Miss Forest will be inclined to give it. When we met for the last time,
on that day of my return from L. with Frederic's corpse, Mr. Alison
stood between us, and held your hand in his, firmly, as if by this one
act he would assert his right to all the world, He need not have
thought it necessary to deprive us in so decided a manner of all
opportunity to be alone; the moment forbade any word but of sorrow for
the dead; we both alike lost much in him."

Gently but excitedly Jane shook her head. "You lost only a servant,
Professor Fernow," she said. "The lot of my brother was one of cruel
servitude from his earliest youth, and destiny would have been still
more cruel to him had he not found in you a good master. I--did not
make things easier for him while it lay in my power, and later, I could
give him nothing--nothing but the cold marble above his grave!"

Walter now stood close to her; gently he took her trembling right hand
in his. "And the last embrace of a sister!" he said softly.

Jane's lips quivered in bitterest sorrow. "He paid dearly enough for
it," she said; "he had to buy it with his life-blood. If I had not been
near him in that hour he might have come back healthy and merry with
the others; my rescue was his destruction. I bring only sorrow to all
that love me; I had to give death to my brother; I had to make Henry
wretched--keep far from me, Professor Fernow, I can give you no
happiness!"

With a convulsive movement she stepped to the edge of the balustrade,
and with averted face gazed out into the distance. Frederic's death
still threw its shadow over her life; the shadow would not lift, she
could not overcome her remorseful sorrow. Something of the old hardness
and bitterness again lay upon her features, and the anguish which
thrilled through them and would scarce yield to control, only too well
betrayed how serious she had been in those gloomy words before which at
this moment, all hope, every dream of the future, sank into
nothingness.

"Johanna!"

It was again that tone which once before in S. had wrought so mightily
upon her heart, lifting it above all sorrow and all conflict; it
compelled her now to turn round, to glance up to him; and when she met
his eyes, hardness and bitterness could no longer hold their ground
before these blue depths which once more spoke to her in that language
of dreamy tenderness now as then holding her spell-bound.

"You have also caused me sorrow, Johanna, fearful sorrow; it was upon
that autumn night when I implored you to make yourself free, and was
ready the dare the utmost to win you. At that time, you flung back at
me, this hard, 'Never! Even if Alison should release me and every other
barrier should fall, NEVER, Walter!' Those words have ever since stood
threateningly between us both; they have intimidated me up to this
moment. Will you now at last, solve for me the riddle?"

Jane bowed her head. For some moments she was silent, then she said in
a hollow voice: "I had found a clue to my brother, I knew that he had
been reared by pastor Hartwig, and I heard the name from your lips as
that of your foster-father."

"For God's sake, you did not believe--?"

"Yes! Do not chide me, Walter, that I deemed it possible. I suffered
fearfully from that possibility, I almost died from that unhappy
error."

Jane Forest's proud lips had at last humbled themselves to this
confession, and there was a moist glimmer in her eyes, their "boreal
glow" had vanished and the ice with it, and from those eyes beamed
forth as it were, a radiant, glowing spring--life. That glance which
Alison yesterday had seen but for a moment, when she had fallen on her
knees before him in agonized entreaty--that glance through which she
had forced him to a renunciation which without it she would never have
attained, now fell, ardent yet tender, upon him who had known how to
awaken it. He felt the whole spell of this nature, a nature which could
irresistibly attract, indissolubly fetter, and infinitely bless. He
knew the worth of the being who now, for the first time, gave herself
fully and unreservedly to him.

There was no wooing, no proposal, not even a declaration, between these
two; but there was much, inconceivably much that had been wanting at
that first betrothal where all had been so formally arranged, glowing
blushes, tears of happiness, and a betrothed bride, tender, joyous
yielding up of life and future into the hands of him she loved. And
here was the deep, glowing, inspired passion of a man over whom cold
calculation and interest could have no sway. In his arms, Jane felt
that this dreamer who had known how to throw aside the pen and wield
the sword, knew also how to love with all the fervor of a deep,
unselfish nature.

There was a rustle in the shrubbery at the foot of the ruin, and Mr.
Atkins, who again had been playing the spy, came to light. But this
time, he neither disturbed the pair of lovers, nor brought them his
congratulations.

His face expressed anything but good wishes as hastily and unremarked,
he took the homeward way.

"A most preposterous, sentimental thing, love is here in Germany!" he
growled. "Jane Forest was lost us to the moment she set foot on this
poetic soil. It is shameful! And that accursed Rhine over yonder, with
its romance, is answerable for all!"

He threw a glance of deepest resentment upon the hated river, and then,
muttering, turned his back upon it. But the Rhine did no seem to take
the discourtesy at all to heart. All through its waves there was a
sparkle and a glitter as if the old Niebelungen horde had mounted up
from those deep recesses, making those waters one tide of liquid gold,
that overflowed even the environing shores. And the old river rolled on
mightily and triumphantly, as if upon it swelling current, it were
bearing the spring and peace far into the land.



                                The End.





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