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A Hero of Liége by Herbert Strang

In any case I don't want to get Max Finkelstein into a row


"Toujours

l'audace!" the stranger answered. "But my life isn't worth a moment's purchase. I owe you a few minutes; 'for this relief much thanks.' Leave me now, and make for your friends. They will look after you. I have none."

"Not a bit of it," replied Kenneth instantly. "We stick together. I know a quiet place where we can consult. Step out briskly, as if we have important business on hand."

"There's nothing hypothetical about that," murmured the other. "On, then!"

They hurried along the street, which was crowded with persons of all ages, some talking excitedly, others cheering and singing patriotic songs. Now and then there was a cry of "Down with England!" The two fugitives walked quickly, dodging among the crowd to avoid the wearers of military or police uniforms, their own uniforms clearing a way for them. As they passed a beershop, the outside tables of which were thronged, the drinkers cheered them and broke lustily into the song of Deutschland ueber Alles.

As soon as possible they turned into a side street, less populous; and Kenneth, who knew the city well, directed his course towards the river, to a little secluded nook, where he hoped it would be possible to hold a quiet consultation. In the hurry of escape and the anxious transit of the streets he had been unable to devote a moment's thought to their future action. It was

clear that their safety hung by a thread; their only chance was to lay their plans calmly, taking due account of the present circumstances and future contingencies.

They reached their destination. There was nobody about.

"We may have a few minutes to ourselves," said Kenneth. He took out his watch. "It is nearly ten o'clock. My train has gone, so that's out of the question."

"You were leaving?"

"Yes; my friends thought I had better go; that was before war with England was certain. I suppose it is true?"

"The time limit has not expired, certainly; but there can't be any doubt about it. Germany can't afford to yield about Belgium, and we can't afford to let her have a walk over. We may be quite sure that no Englishman of fighting age will get away now without trouble. But your friends will protect you; again I say, don't consider me."

"That's all right. In any case I don't want to get Max Finkelstein into a row."

"Of Amory & Finkelstein?"

"Yes; I'm Kenneth Amory. Do you speak German, by the way?"

"Like a native. I was at school at Heidelberg."

"That's a help. But for the life of me I can't think of a way of getting out. When they discover our escape they'll watch the stations, the piers, and the roads. Our uniforms won't be a bit of use."

"Oh! for the wings of a dove!--or an eagle would be more to the purpose."

"By Jove! that gives me an idea. I've done some flying; I was going to try for a place in our Flying Corps. If we could only bag an aeroplane!"

"A sheer impossibility, I should say."

Kenneth stood silent in the attitude of one deep in thought. Every now and again his right eyelid twitched--a little involuntary mannerism which came into play at such times. His companion watched him curiously. At last a look of resolution chased the doubt from his face.

"It's the only way," he said; "we must have a try. There are plenty in Cologne. They've been using a new aviation ground lately; the regular aerodrome was too small for them. They don't fly at night. All the machines will be in their hangars. Of course they'll be under guard; but we might get hold of one by a trick. Give me another minute or two to think it out: I know the place well."


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