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July 23 , 2007

The Girl from Alsace: A Romance of the Great War


Let us have coffee on the terrace, Bloem suggested, and, as his companion nodded, lifted a finger to the waiter and gave the order. Both were a little sad, for this was their last meal together. Though they had known each other less than a fortnight, they had become fast friends. They had been thrown together by chance at the Surgical congress at Vienna, where Bloem, finding the American's German lame and halting, had constituted himself a sort of interpreter, and Stewart had reciprocated by polishing away some of the roughnesses and Teutonic involutions of Bloem's formal English. When the congress ended, they had journeyed back together in leisurely fashion through Germany, spending a day in medieval Nuremberg, another in odorous Würzburg, and a third in mountain-shadowed Heidelberg, where Bloem had sought out some of his old comrades and initiated his American friend into the mysteries of an evening session in the Hirschgasse. Then they had turned northward to Mayence, and so down the terraced Rhine to Cologne. Here they were to part, Bloem to return to his work at Elberfeld, Stewart for a week or two in Brussels and Paris, and then home to America. Bloem's train was to leave in an hour, and it was the consciousness of this that kept them silent until their waiter came to tell them that their coffee was served. As they followed him through the hall, a tall man in the uniform of a captain of infantry entered from the street. His eyes brightened as he caught sight of Bloem.
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