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The Boy Allies at Liege   By: (1887-)

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Through Lines of Steel


AUTHOR OF "The Boy Allies On the Firing Line" "The Boy Allies With the Cossacks" "The Boy Allies In the Trenches"




"War has been declared, mother!" shouted Hal, as closely followed by his friend, Chester Crawford, he dashed into the great hotel in Berlin, where the three were stopping, and made his way through the crowd that thronged the lobby to his mother's side.

"Yes, mother, it's true," continued Hal, seeing the look of consternation on Mrs. Paine's face. "The Kaiser has declared war upon France!"

Mrs. Paine, who had risen to her feet at her son's entrance, put her hand upon the back of her chair to steady herself, and her face grew pale.

"Can it be?" she said slowly. "After all these years, can it be possible that millions of men will again fly at each other's throats? Is it possible that Europe will again be turned into a battlefield?"

Overcome by her feelings, Mrs. Paine sank slowly into her chair. Hal and Chester sprang to her side.

"It's all right, mother," cried Hal, dropping to his knees and putting his arm about her. "We are in no danger. No one will harm an American. At this crisis a citizen of the United States will not be molested."

Mrs. Paine smiled faintly.

"It was not of that I was thinking, my son," she said. "Your words brought back to me the days gone by, and I pray that I shall not have to go through them again. Then, too, I was thinking of the mothers and wives whose hearts will be torn by the news you have just told me. But come," and Mrs. Paine shook off her memories, "tell me all about it."

"As you know, Mrs. Paine," spoke up Chester, who up to this time had remained silent, "Hal and I went to the American Embassy immediately after dinner to night to learn, if possible, what difficulties we were likely to encounter in leaving Germany. Since the Kaiser's declaration of war against Russia all Americans have been preparing to get out of the country at the earliest possible moment. But now that war has been declared on France, we are likely to encounter many hardships."

"Is there any likelihood of our being detained?" asked Mrs. Paine in alarm. "What did the ambassador say?"

"While the ambassador anticipates no danger for foreigners, he advises that we leave the country immediately. He suggests that we take the early morning train across the Belgian frontier."

"Why go to Belgium?"

"All railroad lines leading into France have been seized by German soldiers. Passenger traffic has been cut off, mother," explained Hal. "All trains are being used for the movement of troops."

"Yes, Mrs. Paine," continued Chester, "we shall have to go through Belgium. Even now thousands of the Kaiser's best troops are marching upon the French frontier, and fighting is only a question of hours."

"Very well, then," returned Mrs. Paine. "We shall go in the morning. So I guess we would all better go upstairs and pack. Come along, boys."

While the packing is going on, it is a good time to describe the two American lads, who will play the most important parts in our story.

Hal Paine was a lad some seventeen years of age. Following his graduation from high school in a large Illinois city the previous June, his mother had announced her intention of taking him on a tour through Europe. Needless to say, Hal jumped at this chance to see something of the foreign countries in whose histories he had always been deeply interested. It was upon Hal's request that Mrs. Paine had invited his chum, Chester Crawford, to accompany them.

Chester was naturally eager to take the trip across the water, and, after some coaxing, in which Mrs. Paine's influence also was brought to bear, his parents finally agreed to their son's going so far away from home.

Hal's father was dead. A colonel of infantry, he was killed leading a charge at the battle of El Caney, in the Spanish American war... Continue reading book >>

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