The boy Allies at Liege
Clair W. Hayes
Part 4 out of 4
of which he could discern a dim light.
Chester wiped his brow with his hand, and his hand came away wet. Holding
it close to his eyes as he ran, Chester saw blood. A bullet had struck
him a glancing blow on the side of the head, but in the excitement of the
moment he had not realized that he was wounded.
At the end of the passageway the lad emerged into another room. There was
not a window in the room, and, glancing hurriedly about, Chester espied a
pair of stairs. Quickly he leaped up these, and came into what apparently
at one time had been a kitchen.
The boy's gaze roved hastily about for a means of exit. He tried the
door, but it was locked. Twice he threw his whole weight against it, but
it did not budge. He looked at the windows. For some reason, they were
Chester put the muzzle of his automatic to the keyhole of the door and
fired. The lock was blown entirely away, and the door flew open beneath
the lad's weight.
Not hesitating, the lad leaped through the next room and sped into the
hall beyond. He could clearly see that his way now led to the front door,
and he made for it at a run. He grasped the knob and gave a quick wrench,
but the door would not open.
He sought for the key to turn it, but there was no key. Evidently the
family, upon going away, had barred it from the outside. From behind, the
boy could hear the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps, and he knew
that every moment's delay spelled disaster and almost certain death.
He picked up a chair, and with a single blow shattered the glass front of
the door. He drew the leg of the chair across the ragged pieces of glass
left at the bottom, and then, dropping the chair, drew himself up.
Just as he was about to tumble out on the far side, four men dashed up
the steps with drawn revolvers. Chester took in the situation at a
glance. He was between two fires, and escape was impossible.
"Well," he told himself quietly, "I guess it's all up with me this time."
He dropped back inside and faced his pursuers. Throwing his now useless
revolver to the floor, he raised both hands.
"I surrender," he said quietly.
AT THE POINT OF DEATH.
Two of Chester's pursuers approached him warily with leveled revolvers,
apparently fearing a trick. Coming within striking distance, one of them
dealt the lad a heavy blow with his fist. Chester fell to the floor
without so much as a groan, unconscious.
When the lad again opened his eyes he was once more in the council
chamber of the conspirators. In the dim light he could discern the masked
circle of faces that had gazed at him when he had entered the room for
the first time. The only difference being that there was here and there a
Chester recovered consciousness fully alert to what was going on about
him. He took in the situation at a glance, and a grim smile lighted up
his face as his eyes fell upon the vacant chairs.
"Looks like I had done a fair job, at any rate," he told himself.
His gaze turned toward the chief's platform. The chief was there, but his
head was swathed in bandages.
"Too bad I missed him!" Chester muttered. "He is evidently the
ring-leader, and to have downed him would have been the proper thing."
Any further reflections the lad might have had were interrupted by the
booming voice of the chief, who now rose to his feet.
"Prisoner, stand up!" he commanded.
Chester arose from the chair in which he had been seated. His arms were
bound behind him and his feet had been tied together; still he found that
he could stand.
"Prisoner," continued the chief, "your name!"
"Chester Crawford," was the lad's firm reply.
"And what are you doing in Belgium in these troublous days?"
"I am attached to the staff of the Belgian commander at Liege," was the
boy's prompt response.
"But what are you doing in Louvain?"
"I came here with dispatches."
"So? And yet you are not a Belgian, I take it; nor yet, French. What,
then? An Englishman?"
"No; I am an American," said Chester proudly.
"An American! Then how comes it that you are fighting for the enemies
"I am proud to be fighting for what I consider the right," said
"The right!" exclaimed the chief, in a loud voice. "Well, you shall soon
see that you would have been better off had you stayed on the other side
of the Atlantic."
Chester did not reply.
"Do you know what we are going to do with you?" continued the chief.
"No, and I don't care," was the lad's reply.
"We are going to kill you," said the chief calmly. "But first you will
be given a hearing. We do not put even our enemies to death without a
Chester laughed mockingly.
"A fair trial by such as you?" he exclaimed. "That is a joke. But go
ahead with the farce, and let's have it over with as soon as possible."
The reply was a subdued growl.
"Why are you here, in this room?" he demanded, at length.
"To learn the details of a plot that would deliver Louvain into the hands
of its enemies," replied Chester calmly.
"How did you learn our rendezvous?"
"By listening to the conversation of two of your members who were so
indiscreet as not to remember that the walls of their room might
"So? That shall be looked into. Such indiscretion is not to be tolerated.
But how comes it that you were able to discover the knock of admittance;
how comes it that you have a mask exactly like the rest of us?"
"You are asking a good many questions," said Chester, "but as this
probably is my finish, I don't mind telling you. I followed one of your
members here, and overheard him knock. Then I waylaid the other and took
his mask, clothes, and credentials away from him."
The chief looked at him in surprise.
"And you a mere boy," he exclaimed. "You are a bold lad and 'tis a pity
you have fallen into our hands. But that is enough. You admit, then, that
you entered here to spy upon us?"
"Certainly, with the greatest of pleasure," said Chester. "Why shouldn't
I admit it?"
"Enough!" cried the chief, and turned to his men.
"You have heard the confession of the prisoner," he said. "Number One,
what is your verdict?"
"Guilty!" replied Number One, in a solemn voice.
"Number Two?" called the chief.
"Guilty!" was the reply.
And so on all down the line. Each answer was the same. And when each
plotter had given his verdict, the chief addressed them all in a
"And the penalty?" he questioned. "What shall the penalty be?"
And each man answered as with one voice:
"Good!" said the chief. "So be it."
He turned to Chester.
"Prisoner," he said, "you have heard the verdict. Have you anything
further to say?"
"Nothing," said Chester quietly. "What's the use?"
"Then," said the chief, turning to the rest of the conspirators, "you
shall draw lots to determine the executioner."
He opened a small box that was on the table, rose to his feet, and held
the box out at arm's length.
"You will come forward, one at a time," he told his fellow-plotters, "and
let not one of you look at the ball you have drawn until each man has
taken a ball and returned to his seat. Number One!"
Number One stepped forward, reached in the box and extracted a ball,
which he carefully concealed in his hand, and returned to his seat. Each
man stepped forward in turn, and then returned to his chair, with a ball
in his hand. Then the chief spoke again.
"Who has the red ball?" he demanded.
Each man looked at the ball he had drawn, and then a voice at the
opposite end of the room from Chester rang out:
"I have it!"
"Good!" exclaimed the chief once more. "Then the prisoner's fate shall be
left in your hands. You may dispose of him in whatever manner you desire.
But"--and he raised a warning finger--"see that you make no slip." He
turned to the rest of the conspirators. "The rest of you may go."
Slowly the conspirators, at intervals of perhaps a minute each, filed
from the room, and soon there was no one left save Chester, his
executioner, and the chief.
"Remember," said the chief to the one remaining conspirator, as he
prepared to take his departure, "remember that a failure to carry out the
command of the court-martial means your own death."
"Have no fear," replied the executioner. "He shall not escape."
The chief nodded and left without another word.
A moment the executioner stood, looking after the chief's retreating
figure. Then he drew a revolver from his pocket and approached Chester.
Chester's heart began to thump loudly, and, try as he would, he could not
"This is the finish, all right," he told himself.
He closed his eyes and uttered a short prayer.
A hand fell on his shoulder and shook him, The lad opened his eyes. The
executioner stood over him, revolver in hand.
"You are an enemy of my country," said the executioner, "and I should
kill you. But I can't do it. You spared my life once, and it is
impossible that I kill you now."
Chester's heart beat rapidly. Could it be that he was once again to
escape death when he was sure that his last moment had come? But he
replied in a steady voice:
"I saved your life? Where? When?"
With a quick move the man lifted his mask from his face.
"Do you remember now?" he demanded.
The face was that of the man with whom Hal had fought in the
farmhouse--the home of Edna Johnson--some days before. Chester recognized
him immediately as the German officer who had led his men to the attack
in the farmhouse.
But Chester had not spared the man's life. He had not even fought with
him. It was Hal who had refused to give the German his death-thrust when
the latter was at his mercy. Chester thought quickly.
"He has mistaken me for Hal," he told himself, "and if he knew it he
would probably kill me at once. I must keep up the game."
He replied to the German's question:
"Yes, I do remember you now."
"Then you see why it is I cannot kill you," said the German; "but neither
can I let you go free. For if I did you would consider it your duty to
inform the Belgian commander of what you have learned and thus frustrate
our plans. I don't know what to do with you."
Chester made no reply, and the captain continued:
"I can think of but one thing, and that is to keep you with me until the
Germans have taken Louvain, after which, in some manner, I shall see that
you reach the Belgian lines safely. But we shall have to be very careful
as we leave here. The chief may have stationed a guard, and if he should
learn that I have not killed you, my own life would pay the forfeit. But
come, we must act quickly."
So saying, the German stooped over Chester and cut his bonds. The lad
rose to his feet and stretched himself. For a moment he considered the
advisability of leaping upon his captor-friend, wrenching his revolver
from him, and making his escape. But this plan he immediately put aside
as unwise, for his captor still held the weapon ready, and the boy knew
that a single false move and the German would fire. Therefore, he did as
his captor bade him.
The German raised his revolver in the air and fired a single shot.
"If anyone remained to see whether the execution was carried out, that
will probably convince him," he said. "Now I will go out the door, and do
you follow in sixty seconds. I shall be watching, and if you try to
escape I shall kill you."
The German peered out through the door, and a moment later was on the
outside. For a moment Chester debated whether he should make a dash in
the other direction. A little reflection, however, and he decided he had
better not. His limbs were cramped from being tightly bound, and he knew
that should he not make his appearance as commanded by the German within
sixty seconds, the latter would come after him--and the latter was armed
and Chester was not.
Slowly he counted off the sixty seconds, and then stepped through the
"OUT OF THE FRYING PAN--"
"This way," came a low voice, as the lad reached the top of the steps.
It was now after nightfall, and the street was very dark, but Chester
could dimly make out the form of the officer a few yards ahead of him.
"Follow me," came the voice again, "and remember that I have my gun
ready. Just so surely as you make a false move I will kill you."
Chester made no reply, but followed his captor down the street. At the
first corner the officer stopped and allowed Chester to come up with him.
"I guess we can walk along together now," he said, as they turned the
corner. "It is hardly likely that they suspect me."
"I am sure I can never thank you enough," said Chester fervently.
"Never mind that," said the German. "I don't want any thanks. But it is a
poor gentleman who cannot return a favor."
The two continued their way in silence. They came at length to a little
house, setting well back on a dimly lighted street, and here the German
turned in, Chester accompanying him. The officer let himself into the
house with a night key, and the two ascended the stairs, at the top of
which the officer led the lad into a small but comfortable room.
"Just make yourself at home," he told Chester, "It isn't much, but it's
the best I can offer. Here you will have to stay till after to-morrow
night, or at least until we have occupied the city."
From a little cupboard the officer produced some sandwiches and two
bottles of beer.
"Help yourself," he said.
"Thanks," said Chester. "I'll try one of the sandwiches, but I don't
believe I care for any of the beer."
"What's the matter?" demanded his host. "Don't you drink beer?"
"No," said Chester, "and I don't want to start now."
"Suit yourself," said the German, pouring himself a glass. "Have one of
these sandwiches, anyhow."
Chester ate hungrily, for it had been many hours since he had tasted
food. The light meal disposed of, the German lighted a cigarette, and the
two leaned back for a talk. They discussed various topics for several
hours, and then the German said:
"Well, I guess it is time for me to turn in. You will bunk in the
corner there," pointing, "and I'll sleep in the other corner. But first
I must tie you up. It wouldn't do to have you escape, you know, for in
spite of the fact that I am your friend, I am first of all a servant of
He produced some rope, and soon Chester was once more bound securely, but
not uncomfortably. The lad lay down and closed his eyes, and a moment
later the German also turned in.
Chester was in no mood for sleep. He had too much on his mind to think of
slumber. Several moments more and the deep regular breathing of the
officer gave evidence that he was sound asleep.
Chester squirmed and twisted quietly in his bunk, trying to release his
hands. Minute after minute he continued with untiring energy. A clock
somewhere in the house struck the hour of twelve, and still Chester
squirmed and twisted.
As he turned this way and that, straining at his bonds, his left hand
suddenly came free. Chester could hardly believe his own senses. A moment
later and he had released his feet. Cautiously he arose and peered into
the darkness. He could not see an inch before him. The room was
But Chester's sense of direction stood him in good stead now. Slowly and
cautiously he tip-toed toward the spot where he knew the door to be. His
outstretched hand touched the wood, and a moment later his exploring
fingers found the knob. He found the key and turned it, then slowly and
silently turned the knob.
The door swung open without even a creak and in a second more the lad was
on the outside and the door was closed behind him. Stealthily he
descended the stairs, opened and went out the front door, closing it
softly behind him. Then he darted down the street as fast as his legs
could carry him.
After rounding several corners, he finally slowed down to a walk. He felt
now that he was safe from pursuit, and he set about finding his way to
the headquarters of General Givet. He continued his walk for several
blocks, and then he was suddenly challenged by a sentry.
The lad explained his mission, received the proper directions, and was
soon making all haste toward the general's quarters. Once more before the
general's hut, the lad informed the soldier standing guard that he must
see the general immediately.
"It is impossible," was the reply. "The general is taking a much-needed
rest. He gave orders that he must not be disturbed on any account. But
here," suddenly, "here comes Captain Bassil. He will see that any
information you may have reaches the general."
Chester turned to greet the newcomer. He saluted as the latter came up to
him. As the officer drew close, he gave one startled look at the boy's
face, and then drew back with an exclamation.
"You here?" he exclaimed.
"Why, yes, sir," replied the lad, "and I have important information." To
himself he added:
"Where have I heard that voice before?"
"What is your information?" demanded the officer harshly.
Briefly and quietly Chester told him what he had learned.
"Impossible!" was the officer's exclamation, when Chester had concluded
his recital. "It is my belief that you have come here to spy." He turned
to the soldier. "Send Lieutenant Armand to me at once," he said.
The man saluted and disappeared. At the last words of the officer it
suddenly came to Chester where he had heard the voice before. He
approached the officer and peered more closely into his face.
"I wasn't sure, until I heard your last words," he told him, "but I know
you now. You are a German spy."
"Hold your tongue," said the officer harshly, "or I will shoot you down
where you stand."
At that moment another officer hurried up and saluted the captain.
"You sent for me, sir?" he asked.
"Yes; this boy is a German spy. I have positive proof. Have him shot
"Very well, sir," replied the lieutenant; then to Chester: "Come!"
"But--" began the lad.
"No words," said the lieutenant. "Forward--march!"
Chester saw it was no use to protest, so he marched ahead of the
lieutenant without another word. He was taken to a small tent, thrust in,
and a trooper ordered to mount guard over him. Wearily the lad threw
himself down, and, in spite of his predicament, was soon asleep.
It was just beginning to grow light when he was rudely awakened by
someone shaking him by the arm. Five minutes later and he was marched
from his tent between a file of soldiers.
As he walked rapidly along between his captors, he suddenly espied an
officer approaching on horseback. Even from where he was, in the dim
light Chester recognized the horseman, and his spirits rose. It was
plainly apparent that the rider would pass within a few feet of him.
A moment more, and he was close enough to the mounted officer to touch
his horse. Suddenly the lad sprang forward and cried:
"General Givet! General Givet!"
The mounted officer pulled up his horse sharply. At the same moment the
officer in charge of the squad sprang forward and grasped Chester roughly
by the arm.
"Get back there!" he commanded sharply, but the boy paid no heed.
"General Givet!" he called again, and laughed happily aloud as the
general turned his horse and came squarely up to him.
"Why, by my soul!" exclaimed the Belgian commander after a sharp look at
the boy, "if it isn't young Crawford! What are you doing here?"
"They are going to shoot me as a spy, general," said Chester.
"What!" exclaimed the commander. "You a spy!"
He turned to the lieutenant in command of the squad.
"By whose order, sir?" he demanded.
"Captain Bassil's order, sir," was the reply.
"Captain Bassil, eh? Well, you will conduct your prisoner to my quarters.
Then you will inform Captain Bassil that I desire his presence
The lieutenant saluted, and the general rode off.
Ten minutes later, in the general's quarters, Chester was face to face
with his accuser.
"Well, sir," said General Givet to Captain Bassil, "what was your reason
for ordering this lad shot? You will please explain yourself at once."
The captain shifted uneasily from one foot to another.
"I was sure he was a spy, sir," he made reply. "Why else should he be
spooking about your tent at such an hour in the morning? But if I have
made a mistake--"
"You have, sir," interrupted the general, "a very serious one--one that
will require a more satisfactory explanation than the one you have just
given. This lad"--and the general laid his hand on Chester's
shoulder--"already has proven himself invaluable to our cause. Had I not
fortunately arrived in time, he would now be dead. And in that event it
would have fared badly with you. But I must investigate this case
farther. Captain Bassil, you will go immediately to your quarters and
consider yourself under arrest."
As the captain saluted and turned to leave the tent, Chester, who had
been silent thus far, exclaimed:
"One moment, please, Captain Bassil," and then turned to General Givet.
"I will explain, sir," he, added, "if you will have Captain Bassil remain
a moment longer."
The general nodded and Captain Bassil remained. Chester walked up to him
and looked him steadily in the eye for several moments. Then he turned to
General Givet and said calmly:
"I accuse Captain Bassil, sir, of being a German spy!"
"What!" exclaimed the Belgian commander, starting back. "Do you realize
what you are saying?"
"Perfectly, sir, and I am prepared to prove what I say."
Captain Bassil smiled sneeringly.
"I won't believe you will take any stock in such a wild story, sir," he
said to General Givet. "With your permission, I shall go to my own
"One moment," said the general, raising a detaining hand, and then turned
to Chester. "Explain yourself," he added shortly.
In a few well-chosen words Chester recounted his experiences of the
"And I am positive," he concluded, "that if you will have Captain Bassil
searched, you will find in his possession a paper similar to this," and
he handed the commander the document he had taken from one of the
conspirators before he entered their council chamber.
The commander ran his eye over the paper hurriedly, and turned sternly
toward Captain Bassil.
"What have you to say to this charge, sir?" he demanded.
"That it is a lie!" shouted the accused officer. "He is accusing me to
The general looked at him in silence for some moments, apparently
undecided as to how to act.
"Well," he said at length, "it will do no harm to find out."
He stepped to the door of his tent and spoke to the sentinel on duty
"Ask Lieutenant Armand to step this way at once."
As General Givet turned from giving this command, Captain Bassil suddenly
uttered a loud cry and leaped upon the commander.
"At least you shall never live to thwart our plans!" he cried, as
Taken completely off his guard, General Givet was hurled heavily to the
ground by the force of the traitor's spring. The commander's head struck
the ground with a crash, and he lay still. A revolver barrel gleamed in
the sunlight that filtered through the half-closed opening in the tent.
But even as it was brought to bear Chester leaped forward.
With one strong hand he seized the traitor by the wrist, and deflected
the revolver just as the traitor's hand pressed the trigger, and the
bullet whistled harmlessly through the top of the tent.
The captain turned upon Chester with the fury of a madman, and so sudden
and fierce was his attack that the lad was borne to the ground. But in
spite of the fact that he was underneath, one hand still grasped the hand
in which the spy held the revolver; and, try as he would, the latter was
unable to break the boy's grip.
His teeth bared in a snarl, the traitor suddenly released his grip on the
revolver, drew back and drove his fist at the lad's face. But if Captain
Bassil was quick, Chester was quick also. With a rapid movement, he
rolled over, the revolver still in his hand, and thus escaped the
terrific blow aimed at him.
But before he could rise or bring the revolver to bear, the traitor was
upon him again, and two hands seized him by the throat. In vain the lad
tried to shake himself free, and he was slowly being choked into
But with a last desperate effort, he succeeded in bringing the
revolver, which he still held firmly, between him and his enemy, and
pressed the trigger.
There was the sound of an explosion, and for a moment the grip on the
boy's throat seemed to grow even tighter. But for a moment only, and then
the hands relaxed, Chester heard a faint moan, and, drawing in great
gasps of fresh air, the boy fell into unconsciousness, just as the flap
to the tent was jerked hurriedly aside and many men rushed in.
THE END OF THE CONSPIRACY.
When Chester opened his eyes to the world again he was propped up on
General Givet's own bed, and the Belgian commander and a Belgian surgeon
were leaning over him.
"Awake at last, eh?" said General Givet, with a smile, as Chester opened
his lips to speak. "You had a narrow squeak, and no mistake. And to think
that a young lad like you should be the means of saving my life!"
"You have indeed rendered a great service to Belgium," broke in the
surgeon. "But how do you feel?"
"A little weak," replied Chester, with a faint smile. "But Captain
Bassil? Where is the traitor?"
"Dead," was the Belgian commander's laconic response.
Chester shuddered involuntarily.
"Never mind," said the general; "it was his life or yours, and mine too,
for that matter."
"But it makes a fellow feel awfully queer," said Chester. "In battle it
would have been different. But to shoot--"
He broke off and was silent.
"And the conspiracy?" he asked, after a brief pause. "You have taken
steps to catch the Germans in their own trap?"
"I have," said the general grimly. "They will wish they had attempted to
take Louvain in some other manner. Thinking us unprepared, they will be
too confident. If they fall into our trap--and I am positive they
will--they will be annihilated."
Chester was struck with a sudden idea.
"General," he said, "why can't we round up all the conspirators that are
in the city?"
"In what way?" asked the commander.
Chester's reply was another question:
"Has your attempted assassination been kept a secret, or is it
"It has been kept quiet," was the general's reply. "Were it generally
known our coup might fail."
"Exactly as I thought," said Chester. "Now I am almost positive that the
conspirators will gather for one more session before the German advance,
if only to make sure that nothing has gone amiss. We can surround the
house and capture them red-handed."
"An excellent idea!" exclaimed the general. "It shall be acted upon.
I will give orders to that effect immediately," and he turned to
leave the tent.
But before he should step outside, Chester jumped out of bed and ran
"And how about me, sir?" he demanded. "Am I not to be allowed to take
part in the capture?"
"You!" exclaimed the general. "You are in no condition to move about. You
shall stay here in bed."
"Please, general," pleaded Chester. "This is my discovery; it should be
my capture, too."
The general stood wrapped in thought for some moments.
"So it should," he said at length, "and so it shall be, if you feel equal
to the task."
"I am perfectly strong again," said Chester eagerly.
"So be it, then," replied General Givet. "How many of the conspirators
did you say there are?"
"About twenty-five, I should judge."
"Good! I shall place one hundred men at your disposal, and leave entirely
to you the manner in which you make the capture."
Chester was jubilant. So great was his eagerness to be at his work that
he could hardly wait for his men to be selected. But at last everything
was ready and it was time to start.
A short distance from the rendezvous of the conspirators, Chester divided
his men into four groups of twenty-five each, so that they could approach
from all directions at once.
With his men concealed from view, Chester bethought himself of the best
manner to entice the conspirators out into the open. Finally he hit
upon a plan. Calling three of his men, he walked with them to a spot
directly in front of the conspirators' rendezvous. Here the four
started a heated argument.
Suddenly there was the sound of a door opening, and a moment later the
well-known voice of the chief of the conspirators exclaimed:
"It is the spy! Come, men, we must capture him. Shoot down the soldiers!"
A moment later and the entire number of masked conspirators were in
the street. Then, at a signal from Chester, the Belgian troops sprang
There was the sound of a pistol shot, followed by many more, and a bullet
whistled by Chester's ear. Two of the Belgian troopers fell, and several
others groaned. It was plain that the conspirators, trapped as they were,
would not give up without a fight.
"Fire!" cried Chester, and a death-dealing volley was poured into the
little knot of men huddled together in the street, surrounded by
The fighting became desperate. The conspirators were giving a good
account of themselves, and here and there Belgian soldiers were falling.
Now the conspirators turned and made a dash toward their retreat. But
five Belgian troopers sprang forward and barred the door, firing as they
did so. The ranks of the conspirators were considerably thinner now, and
to continue the fight would mean slaughter. This fact the chief
He hurled his revolver at his foes with a fierce imprecation, and then
raised his hands above his head. His followers did the same.
"I surrender!" said the chief.
Chester went up to him.
"The tables are turned, I see," the chief greeted him. "Well, a man can't
be on top all the time. But I was a fool not to have stayed and seen you
"I am glad you didn't," was Chester's reply, "for I guess you would have
made a good job of it. But enough of this. I am commanded to take you
before General Givet."
Surrounded by Belgian troopers, the conspirators were marched to the
headquarters of the commanding general. There a court-martial was called
to sit at once. Its work was brief. The prisoners were ordered taken out
and shot as spies and traitors to Belgium.
Upon orders issued by General Givet, the Belgian troops soon began to
move in accordance with the plan by which the Belgian leader hoped to
trap the Germans. Their movements were such as to lead the German
outposts to believe that they were retreating.
But instead of weakening his line where the Germans had planned to
attack, General Givet strengthened it heavily. The troops were ordered to
fallback a short distance, so that the German leader might believe the
force in front of him had been sent to another part of the field to repel
an attack that was believed imminent.
But the expected fall of Louvain by this piece of treachery was to prove
a bitter disappointment to the German commander. Instead of the weak
Belgian line he believed he was to encounter, he was sending his men
against a force that had been heavily reinforced and that was determined
to wipe out the insult.
As the Belgians gradually drew back, the Germans advanced, not too
swiftly, so as to indicate an attack in force, but gradually and slowly.
But continually larger and still larger bodies of Germans were sent
forward, until suddenly it was apparent to General Givet that the time
for the German surprise had come.
But when it did come the Belgian commander was ready. As the Teutons came
forward in a headlong charge, the Belgians checked their backward
movement and rushed forward.
A terrific volley greeted the charging Germans, and from the ambush, into
which the enemy had been lured, the artillery opened upon them. They
wavered slightly, but still they came on. But even as they sprang forward
once more, the Belgian cavalry swooped down on them, dealing out death on
Stubbornly the Germans held their ground. Reinforcements were rushed to
their aid, and the battle became general all along the line.
It was evident by this time that the German commander realized
something had gone wrong with his plans; but now that the attack had
been made he was not the man to give up without doing all in his power
to go ahead. Now the Germans broke and began to retreat. With a wild
yell, squadron after squadron of Belgian horsemen charged down upon the
Three times the German officers, bravely exposing themselves to the
leaden hail of death, succeeded in checking their straggling troops, and
three times the Germans coolly reformed under a terrific artillery and
But it was no use. For now the Belgians began a concerted advance all
along the line. The German charge had spent itself, and the Teutons
gradually drew off.
But the retreat did not become a rout. The Germans fell back slowly,
contesting every inch of the ground. The aim of the Belgian gunners and
infantrymen was excellent, and the havoc wrought in the German lines was
terrible. The field was strewn with dead, but over these the Belgian
troops pushed on, pressing their advantage to the utmost.
Finally General Givet called a halt. The Germans were still retreating,
but the Belgian commander did not feel that he could afford to pursue
them farther. The danger of a surprise was over, and he did not wish to
risk another battle, particularly as he was unable to see the necessity
of extending his own lines.
Therefore, the Belgian troops fell back upon their line of defense and
the battle was over.
Chester, upon the express command of General Givet, had not been allowed
to take part in the battle. The Belgian commander had kept the lad close
to him, occasionally dispatching him to some near portion of the field
with some order. And now that the fighting was over, General Givet
announced that he would be pleased if Chester would dine with him.
But his work over and all his duties properly attended to, Chester
bethought himself of his wounded chum. He was anxious to see Hal and
relate what had happened and to make sure that his friend was being
properly taken care of.
He reminded the general of the latter's promise to have Hal sent to
Brussels, and received the commander's renewed assurances that he would
not forget. Then he set out for the place where he had left Hal.
He stopped on the way, however, to see Edna Johnson, knowing that she
would be interested in what had occurred since he last saw her and
learning that but for her the Belgian army in Louvain might have suffered
a terrible calamity.
Chester did not linger long with Edna, however, after relating his
experiences and a brief chat on other subjects, made his way to the house
where he had left his wounded chum, to whom he gave a detailed account of
all that he had done, and of the arrangements he had made for their
"I would have been all right here," protested Hal.
"Maybe you would," replied Chester, "but there is likely to be more
fighting at any time, and you are in no condition to move about. You will
be better off in Brussels."
"I guess you are right," said Hal.
"I know I am right. I understand there are no German troops between here
and Brussels, so there will be no danger on the way."
Hal was silent for some moments, musing.
"We have had some fun here, haven't we, Chester?" he asked at length.
"We have," was the reply. "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"Nor I," returned Hal. "And, when I am well, we shall see more fighting.
The war has just begun."
Four days later Chester and Hal arrived in Brussels, where Chester
procured the services of a good physician for his friend, who had stood
the trip remarkably well, and the physician, after an examination,
announced that Hal would be able to get about in a short time.
"Quiet for a few days is all that is necessary," he declared.
And so Hal and Chester, comfortably housed in the Belgian capital, sat
down to await the time when they could again give their services to the
And here properly ends the story of "The Boy Allies at Liege," though not
the story of "The Boy Allies." Their subsequent adventures in the
greatest war of all history will be found in a sequel, "The Boy Allies on
the Firing Line; or Twelve Days' Battle on the Marne."
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