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The Northern Light   By: (1838-1918)

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From the German of E. WERNER

Author of "At a High Price," "His Word of Honor," etc.

Translated by MRS. D. M. LOWREY



The grey mist of an autumn morning lay upon forest and field. Through its shadowy vapors a swarm of birds were sweeping by, on their Southward way, now dipping low over the tops of the tall fir forest, as if giving a last greeting to their summer homes, and then rising high in the air; turning their flight due South, they disappeared slowly through the fog.

At the window of a large manor house, which lay at the edge of the forest, two men stood, watching the course of the birds and conversing earnestly with each other. One was a tall, stalwart figure, whose firm and erect bearing betokened the soldier fully as much as the uniform he wore. He was blonde and blue eyed, not handsome, but with a strong and speaking countenance; a typical German in form and feature. Yet something like a shadow lay upon the man's face, and there were, wrinkles, on his brow which surely were not the result of age, for he was yet in the prime of life.

"The birds have started already on their journey to the south," said he, after watching the flight attentively until they had finally disappeared in the cloud of mist. "The autumn has come to nature and to our lives as well."

"Not to yours yet," objected his companion. "You are just in the hey day of life, in the full strength of your manhood."

"True enough, as to years, but I have a feeling that age will overtake me sooner than others. I often feel as if it were autumn with me now."

The other man, who might have been a few years the speaker's senior, was slender, and of middle height, and clad in civilian's dress. He shook his head impatiently at his companion's last observation. He appeared insignificant when compared with the strong, well built officer near him; but his pale, sharply cut face wore a look of cold, superior repose, and the sarcastic expression around the thin lips, together with his aristocratic air and bearing, suggested a hidden strength behind a feeble exterior.

"You take life too hard, Falkenried," he said reprovingly. "You have changed strangely in the last few years. Who would recognize in you now, the gay young officer of other days? And what's the reason of it all? The shadow which once darkened your life has long since disappeared. You are a soldier, heart and soul, and have repeatedly distinguished yourself in your profession. A high position awaits you in the future, and the thing above all others is you have your son."

Falkenried did not answer; he folded his arms and looked out again into the mist, while the other continued: "The boy has grown handsome as a god in the last few years. I was quite overcome with surprise when I saw him again, and you yourself, told me that he was unusually gifted and in many things showed great talent."

"I would that Hartmut had fewer talents and more character," said Falkenried, in an almost acrid tone. "He can make verses quick enough, and to learn a language is child's play to him, but as soon as he tries some earnest science, he's behind all the others, and in military tactics I can make nothing of him at all. You cannot comprehend, Wallmoden, what iron severity I am constantly compelled to employ."

"I fear you accomplish little by this same severity," interrupted Wallmoden. "You should take my advice and leave your son to his studies. He has not the qualifications for a soldier. You must see that for yourself by this time."

"He shall and must acquire those qualifications. It is the only possible career for such an intractable nature as his, which revolts at every restraint and to which every duty is a burden. The life of a student at the university would give him unrestrained liberty; only the iron dicipline of the service will force him to bend."

"The only question is, how long will you be able to force him to do your will? You should not deceive yourself; there are inherited tendencies which will not allow themselves to be repressed or eradicated... Continue reading book >>

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