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A Hero of Liége by Herbert Strang

Before he met Remi Pariset in Berlin


Seeking the colonel of the nearest regiment, they told him what they had seen in the fort. He had just heard by telephone that Fort Loncin also had surrendered that morning, and General Leman was a prisoner.

They begged a lift in a farmer's cart, and in the evening reached Brussels, where they found an asylum with a friend of Pariset's. There they remained for a few days, recuperating after the strain which, scarcely noticed while they were in action, had told heavily upon them both. Every day they heard of fresh advances of the Teuton hordes, of gallant deeds by the sorely tried little army of Belgium. Every day they saw pallid, nerve-shaken, wounded refugees flocking in from Tirlemont and other places desolated by German shot and shell.

Pariset was much depressed.

"We shall cease to exist," he said one day. "The brutes will destroy us all. They are ruthless. They are fiends. What have we done that we should suffer so?"

"Cheer up, old man," said Kenneth. "Look here! 'Gallant little Belgium!'" He pointed to the headline of an article in an English newspaper. "You might have chosen the easy course; you didn't, and the whole world admires you."

"But that won't save us."

"No, but you've saved France. You've thrown the German war machine out of gear, and I bet you you've smashed their chances. Lord Kitchener is raising a great army. The Kaiser scoffs at our men; he'll sing a different tune some day. I'm going home, Remi, going to join Kitchener's army. Sorry to leave you, old man, but we'll meet again, never fear, perhaps soon, perhaps not until British, French and Belgians meet the Russians in Berlin. And when the war is over, you may be sure that gallant little Belgium will rise like the phoenix, and grow stronger and more prosperous than ever."

----

Four days later Kenneth was in London. He found awaiting him at home a bulky envelope addressed in a strange hand, the postmark Amsterdam. Opening it, he took out two letters, dated a week back, and posted in Koenigsborn. One was in the handwriting of Max Finkelstein, the other in the large round hand of Frieda.

"I hope this will reach you," the former wrote. "I am sending it through my friend Vandermond. After a few days' detention as a spy, I was released for want of evidence, and as business is absolutely dead, we have come to Koenigsborn, where we shall rusticate and pinch until this dreadful war is over. We hear all sorts of tales, and the credence paid them by otherwise intelligent people makes me think that we as a nation have a good deal to learn. One extraordinary story, by the way, will amuse you. It was rumoured in Cologne that a French airman had run off with one of our Taubes, a feat which you, knowing Cologne, will recognise as impossible. I believe it as little as I believe that the Irish are in revolt.

"I am glad for our sake that recruiting is a failure in England. People here are very bitter against the English, but I explain that you have been hoodwinked by those awful Russians. Your statesmen are so easily taken in. After the war your people will admit it.

"Keep the London business together as well as you can. Next year I dare say I shall settle in London myself, and nothing shall interfere with our plans for a partnership. Write to me if you can."

----

"Poor old Max!" thought Kenneth. "Of course, like all Germans, he thinks they will win: professors and the General Staff have drummed that into their foolish heads. He'll have a shock when I tell him I have joined the army. Now for Frieda."

----

"Was it you?" he read. "I daren't suggest it to Father; he scoffs at the mere idea that any one could do so audacious a thing. But when you didn't come back for your luggage I was anxious and went down to the station, and the stationmaster told me that you had gone away with your ticket and hadn't come for your seat that he had engaged for you, and when I heard the rumour about the French airman I couldn't help thinking it was just the mad sort of thing you would delight in. Do tell me if I am right.

"This is a terrible war, isn't it? What is the good of you English fighting? Father says your army is too small to do anything, and you can't get recruits because all your young men want to play football. I am so sorry for you. Father says you will give it up when we take Paris, and then you will have to give us some of your colonies. You have so many that I am sure you can spare some.

"We shall very likely come to London next year, Father says. We shall always be friends, you and I, shan't we?

"We haven't seen anything of Kurt Hellwig lately. You don't think I grieve?"

----

"It's amazing!" said Kenneth to himself. "I thought Frieda would have known better. She would laugh, I suppose, if I told her that I am likely to be in Berlin before she comes to London."

But Kenneth Amory was to go through many adventures, before he met Remi Pariset in Berlin.

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED, BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S.E., AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.

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