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SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE

I

HAVE been with the German army on warning that here was Netherland soil. their march to Antwerp, watching them Those great hosts on the plains beneath had

build their pontoon bridges and set fire furnished the picture with a red, luminous to the Belgian villages; and have made my background made of the blazing towns of way through the lines to our American Con- Mouland and Visé, burned to the ground sul at Liège, bringing him the first news from by order of the Germans. The fire was set the outer world he has had for two weeks. as a warning to the inhabitants round about. This is written after traveling some thirty. They were taking the warning and coming seven miles on foot, and five miles bumping by the thousands across tủe border into Limalong in a peasant's cart.

bourg, their only haven of safety. When we Limbourg is the name of the narrow strip drove down from the hill into Eysden, we of Dutch territory that runs down between were in the midst of these peasants fleeing Germany and Belgium. If Germany could before the red wrath rolling up into the sky. swing her troops across this little neck of They came shambling in with a few possesDutch soil directly into Belgium, it would save sions that they had hurriedly laid their hands some thirty or forty miles of weary marching. on, singly or in families, a pitiful procession It was a great temptation to Germany. That of the disinherited. . Some of the men were is the reason the Dutch troops are there by moaning as they marched along, but most of the ten thousands—to prevent Germany from them were taking it with the tragic resignation succumbing to that temptation. I took the of the peasant, not understanding, stupefied matter into my own hands and went unoffi- rather than terrified. The women were crycially. Limbourg is far more prepared for ing out to Mary and all the saints. : Indeed, war than any other place I have seen. In all the little crosses along the waysides or in Venlo paving-stones torn from the streets the walls were decked with flowers in gratiand bags filled with sand form barricades tude for what had been spared to them. In across all the streets. Miles of barbed wire most cases it was little more than their lives, were ready to enmesh any luckless invaders. their_brood of children, and their dogs that Iron rails and ties were laid across bridges followed on. and small cannons mounted at strategic Hundreds of private homes were opened points. Though I was told that even the to them, and thousands found temporary Dutch papers were allowed to send no men lodgings in halls and in schools at the expense across the border, and that to get a pass was, of the Hollanders. My driver finally landed a sheer impossibility, I did get a pass, and me in a house on the outskirts of Eysden made quick time with a carriage across the which paraded. the name of hotel. It had harvest fields.

the worst bed I ever slept in, and the only Soon we were up on the little hill back of window was a hole in the roof, but even then Mesch, just as the sun was sinking, and for I felt like a robber, for a refugee with a child the first time war, in all its terrible spectacu- in her arms came asking " Madame" for a lar splendor, smote me hard. From the hill room. Though there were no tears in her at my feet there stretched a great plain filled eyes, there was tragedy in her voice; but with a dense mass of soldiery. One could “Madame ” only shook her head.

Here a scarce believe that they were soldiers, so well Hollander who had come in his automobile to did their gray-green coats blend with the view the havoc of war intervened and took landscape. One might believe that they were her to the officials. indeed a part of it could he not feel the As darkness deepened we gathered around atmosphere fairly vibrant with the mass- the table on the piazza of our little hotel. personality of the myriad warriors tramping The river Maas, which, the natives say, ran down the crops of the peasants. In the red with the blood of the combatants, and rear the commissariat vans and artillery still from which they drew floating corpses to came lumbering up, while in the very front shore, ran not more than ten rods from our danced the dreaded Uhlans on their horses, hotel. We heard the rumbling of cannon in looking with contempt, I imagine, on the the direction of Tongres. A sentiy shot rang Dutch soldiers as they stood there with the out on the frontier just across the river. A light blazed up in the distance, and soon we Belgians looking for revenge. Dead cows saw that it was a house that had just been and horses and dogs with their sides torn fired by the Germans. In these surroundings with bullets lay along the wayside. The my new friends regaled me with the stories roads were deep printed with the hoofs of that the refugees had been bringing through passing cavalry. The grain-fields were flatthe day.

tened out. Nine little crosses marked the In the morning I climbed to the lookout place where nine soldiers of the Kaiser lay. on the hill. The Germans had all gone.

I I craved companionship of any living creawalked over to where the great Netherlands ture to break the spell of death and silence. flag proclaimed neutral soil.

I showed my

I was destined to have the wish gratified in pass from Maastricht, and with one step I abundance. Fifteen minutes brought me to was over the border into Belgium, now under the outskirts of Visé, and there, coming over German jurisdiction. The helmeted soldiers the hills and wending their way down to the across the way looked neither fierce nor fiery. river, were two long lines of German soldiers In fact, they greeted me with a smile. I escorting wagons of the artillery and the explained that I was to go through to Liège. commissariat. They came slowly jolting on, Was it possible? They shrugged their shoul- but with very little noise ; and I was upon ders. Was it dangerous ? Not in the least. them as they crossed the main road before I The Germans were right. It was not dan- realized it. The men were covered with gerous—that is, for the Germans. By pro- dust, so were the horses. The wagons were claiming the everlasting friendship of Germany in their somber gray paint of war. There and America and passing out some choco- was something ominous and threatening in lates I made good friends on the home base. the long sullen line which wound down over They charged me only not to return after the hill. The soldiers were evidently tired with sundown, giving point to their advice by the long, uneventful march, and the drivers relating how only the previous night they were goaded to irritability by the difficulty of had shot down in the darkness a peasant the descent. Could I have retreated I would woman who sought to come past the sentinels. have done so with joy and would never have They told this with a genuine note of grief stopped until I set my feet on Holland soil. in their voices. So, with a hearty handshake But I dared not do it. As the train came to and wishes for the best of luck, they waved a stop I started across the road. A soldier adieu to me as I went swinging out on the dropped his gun from his shoulder, cried, highroad to Liège. A half-mile, and I came “ Halt!" and to my question, “ Is this the for the first time actually face to face with way to Visé ?” replied, “ Perhaps it is ; but the waste of war. There was what once what do you want in Visé ?" He kept edging was Mouland, the little village I had seen up, pointing with his bayonet directly at me. burning the night before. The whitewashed A bayonet will never look quite the same to stone walls were still standing outside, all me again. At my first word of German his shining in the morning sun. Inside they face relaxed. I told him I was an American, were all charred black, or blazing yet with and he told me that he thought I was some coals from the fire still slowly burning its way Belgian. Then he told me how the civilians through wood and plaster. Here and there had treacherously shot from their houses and a house had escaped the torch. In the hedges and had killed German soldiers, and smashed window of one of these houses a had even poisoned the wells. It was for these bright geranium blossomed. It seemed to acts of treachery, he explained, that reprisals cry for water, but I dared not turn aside. had been taken on the villages. He showed In another a sewing-machine of American a real anxiety to justify the action. I shall make testified to the thrift and progressive- not attempt to judge here the merits of the ness of one household. In the last house as case. On the highroads the officers evidently I left the village a rocking-horse with its hold their men in distinct bounds, and when head stuck through the open door smiled its I got to Liège our Consul told me that Gerwooden smile, as though it at least could man soldiers had actually been shot for pilkeep good cheer though the roofs might fall. laging and plunder. No doubt in the coun

My road now wound into the open country; try districts the soldiers had provoked the and I was heartily glad of it, for the hedges inhabitants ; but these peasant people are not and the houses at Mouland provided fine the meek, inoffensive beings one might imagcoverts for lurking German sentries or for ine. I can imagine now where came the

on

stuff that made the little Belgian force stand I was glad to have the spell which had the shock of the German army at Liège. A been woven me broken by strains of mistake in the road brought this home to me. music from a wayside café, or rather the I turned off in the direction of Verviers. It remains of a café, for the windows had been was along this road that the German army demolished and wreckage was strewn about first came into the district, and the peasants, the door, but the piano within had survived turning to the great royal elms that lined the the ravages. Though it was sadly out of road, had filled the highway with trees, and tune, the officer seated on a beer keg was so had done their part to impede the onward evoking a noise from its battered keys, and march of the foe.

to its accompaniment some soldiers were The town of Visé, which sheltered some bawling lustily, Deutschland, Deutschland three thousand inhabitants, is a

mass of über Alles !" smoking ruins, and the main street, filled Evidently the Belgians from Visé to Liège with the débris of fallen buildings, was hot had not roused the ire of the invaders as and burned beneath my feet.

Not one

strenuously as the natives on the other side building that I saw here was spared. The of Visé, and had as a whole established more huge church upon the hill was unroofed, and or less friendly relations with the alien hosts. the fire had licked it clean of every decora- On the other side of Visé nothing had tion. Some soldiers were looking through availed to stay the wrath of the Germans. the ruins. I asked them if they were seek- Flags of truce made of sheets and pillow-cases ing the corpses of any victims. “No," they and white petticoats were hung out on pol :s said, “we are hunting for something to and broom handles, but many of these houses eat." Below Visé tens of thousands of sol- before which they hung had been burned to diers were marching over the pontoon bridges the ground as had others. already built, while perhaps five hundred One Belgian had sought for his own benemore were engaged in building a great bridge fit to conciliate the Germans, and as the that seemed to be a magnificent piece of Kaiser's troops at the turn of the road came work.

upon his house there was the Kaiser's emFor the next eight miles to Jupilles the blem raised to greet them. The man had country was quite as much alive as the first nailed it high up in an apple tree, that they four miles were dead. It was swarming with might not mistake his attitude of truculent military. Through all the gaps in the hills disloyalty to his own country, hoping so to save above the river Maas the German army came his home. But let it be said to the credit of pouring down like an enormous tidal wave- the Germans that they had shown their cona tidal wave with a purpose, viz., to fling tempt for this treachery by razing this house itself against the Allies arranged in battle to the ground, and the poor fellow had lost line at Namur, and with the overwhelming his soul along with his earthly treasures. mass of numbers to smash that line to bits I saw now a few houses with signs of life, and sweep on resistlessly into Paris. I thought and a little below Argenteau came upon of the blue and red wall of French and Eng- several buckets of water in front of a house, lish down there awaiting this gray-green tide with a rather neat-looking peasant woman of Teutons.

standing by them. I inquired what these By the hundreds of thousands they were were for. She had no time to explain, for a coming : patrols of cavalry clattering along, column of soldiers at that very moment came the hoof-beats of the chargers coming with plodding slowly along. A worried look came regular cadence on the hard roads ; silent to her face, as though she were saying to moving riders mounted on bicycles, their herself, “ I know that we have been spared guns strapped to their backs; armored auto- so far by all the soldiers that have gone by, but mobiles rumbling slowly on, but taking the perhaps here at last is the band that has been occasional spaces which opened in the road appointed to wipe us out." This water, then, with a hollow roaring sound and at a terrific was a peace offering, a plea for mercy. As pace ; individual horsemen galloping up and soon as she saw the soldiers there was a smile down the road with their messages, and their on her face which ill concealed her anxiety. massed regiments of dust-begrimed men She pointed to her pails. At the sight of marching endlessly by.

the water a thirsty soldier here and there

would break from the ranks, rush to the pails, "See in this connection a picture of Visé on another page. -THE EDITORS.

take the proffered cup, and hastily swallow

In an

down the cooling draught, and always with a and I wondered what they were for, but farsmile or with a word of gratitude hand the ther down the line saw hundreds of men cup to the woman and rush back again to his unloading these, making a great noise as place in the ranks. Perhaps a dozen men they flung them down the river bank to the removed their helmets, and, extracting a sponge water's edge. They were destined for a big from the inside, made motions to the woman pontoon bridge which these men were, with to pour water on it, then, replacing the sponge thousands of soldiers, throwing across the in the helmet, went on their way rejoicing. river. A mounted officer, spying the water, drew All the way along now the soldiers were rein, gave the order to halt, and the horse busy with domestic duties. In one place thrust his nose into the pail and greedily they were shifting hundreds of loaves of sucked the water up, while the men flung black bread from wagon to wagon. themselves down along the road, evidently other they were piling a yard high with very wearied by long forced marches.

mountains of grain. A great mill was humI volunteered the information that I was ming away at full speed near by, and I judged an American, and immediately had a score of that the Belgian fields were yielding up their soldiers around me, evidently thinking that golden harvests for the German hordes. my being there was evidence enough of my Hundreds of horses I could see lined up right to be there, taking it for granted that under the trees in orchards about, enjoying the sentries on the road had passed upon my with the soldiers a respite from the long, credentials. So we talked about the war in wearying marches.

Here and there among general. Evidently the officer himself had

the trees or along the wayside was something received no information for a long time, for that looked like a tiny engine—smoke curled when I said that it was probable that Japan out of its chimney and coals blazed brightly would make war on Germany he said, “ Im- away in the grate. A savory smell permeated possible! Why, Japan is almost as good a the atmosphere and soldiers gathered round, friend of ours as is America. Those two looking happy. They were kitchen wagons, nations will fight for us rather than against and each made in itself a complete, compact

I did not know what move to make little cooking apparatus. The native Belnext, when a soldier who said he was from gians moved in and out now rather freely. Wittenberg passed some witticism either at Officers were sitting around tables in the the expense of the officer or myself—which, yards eating, drinking, and chatting with the I could not make out ; but, taking advantage native women who were serving them and of the good spirit they were in, I said adieu, with whom they had set up an entente cordiale. and was off down the road, making a very Indeed, the Belgians seemed to be rather strong resolution to hold my tongue and keep enjoying this interruption of the monotony walking.

of their lives, and a few were making the In the midst of my reflections I was most of the great adventure. In one case startled by a whistle, and, looking back, saw I could not help believing that a certain in the distance a puff of steam on what I strikingly pretty, self-possessed girl was not supposed was the wholly abandoned railway, altogether averse to a war which could thus but there, sure enough, was a train rattling bring to her side the attentions of such a handalong at a good rate. I could make out some and gallant set of officers as were gathsoldiers with guns sitting upon the tender, ered round her. At any rate, she seemed and presumed that they were with these in- to be equal to the occasion, and over her struments directing the operations of some little court, which rang with laughter, she Belgian engineer and fireman. In a moment presided with a certain rustic dignity and ease. more I saw I was mistaken, for at the The ordinary soldier could make himself throttle was a uniformed soldier, and another understood with only motions and sundry comrade in his gray-green costume was gruntings and murmurings, and consequently shoveling coal into the furnace. One of the had to content himself with smoking in the guards, seeing me plodding on, smilingly sun or sleeping in the shade. Everywhere beckoned to me to jump aboard. When I was the atmosphere of physical relaxation took the cue and made a move in that direc- after their long journey. So far did the tion, he winked his eye and significantly tension wear off that I even forgot the tapped upon the barrel of his gun. The resolution to hold my tongue. Two officers train was loaded with iron rails and timbers, leaning back in their chairs at a table by the

us."

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wayside surveyed me intently as I came I followed the road now leading down along. Rather than wait to be challenged, through the long street of Jupilles, which I thought it best to turn aside and ask them was plastered with notices from the German niy usual question, “ How does one get to authorities guaranteeing observance of the Liège ?" One of them answered rather rights of the citizens of Jupilles, but threatenstiffly, adding, “ And where did you learn your ing to visit any overt acts against the soldiers German ?" "I was in a German university “ with the most terrible reprisals.” So I a few months," I replied. 66 Which one ?" arrived on the outskirts of Liège, and exthe officer asked. “ Marburg," I replied. pected to see a battered city, after all the * Ah!" he said, this time with a smile;

that bombardments it had undergone; but it was mine. I studied philology there.” We seemed to have suffered really but little, contalked together of the fine, rich life there, sidering it had been the center around which and I spoke of the students' duels I had wit- the storm of battle had been raging for over nessed a few miles out. “ Ah !” he said, un- three weeks. The windows had been shatcovering his head and pointing to the scars tered in many buildings, the great bridge by across his scalp; " that's where I got these. the Rue Leopold had been blown up, and Perhaps I will get some deeper ones down hundreds of stores and public buildings were in this country," he added, with a smile. flying the white flag with the Red Cross on With a few words more he said, “ Auf Wie- it, while in the Point Lambert the wounded dersehen," and I was off down the road. were being brought in from the front. A

Only once now all the way into Liège did bookseller who could speak English offered I feel any suspicion on me. I presented my his congratulations on my coming through the paper to the next guard, who was a morose- lines, was glad to hear of the world's praise looking individual, and he looked at it very for his plucky little country, and proudly said puzzledly. He put several questions to me. that a German officer had told him that His last one was, “ Where is your home ?" Belgian was as good as four Germans.” He "I come from Boston, Massachusetts," I commenced a tirade against the cruelty of replied. Encouraged with my success with the invaders, but I told him that as civilians the last officers, I ventured to ask him where his fellow-countrymen had undoubtedly been he came from. Looking me straight in the shooting on the German soldiers. He replied eyes, he replied very pointedly, Ich komme that that was what could be expected when aus Deutschland." The intuition of this a thief or robber entered a house, no matter common soldier was better than the training if he had announced his coming. of his superiors.

I wandered around the city for a while Immediately I made off down the road, and noticed the bills that had been posted by feeling no rest from his searching eyes until order of the German burgomaster Klyper. I turned round a bend in the road and put One was a warning to people not to harbor an intervening obstacle between myself and any pigeons of any kind, because by means him. But this relief was short-lived, for no of them news was carried to the enemy. sooner had I rounded the bend than a cry of Another which was just being posted was the " Halt!" shot fear into me, for I turned to announcement of a levy of 50,000,000 francs, see a man on a wheel waving wildly at me. a war tax imposed upon the city to pay for the I thought it was a summons back to my in- 6 administration of civil affairs." “ Private quisitor, and the end of my journey. Instead, property,” it added, “ will be respected." it was my officer from Marburg, who dis- I made my way now to the American mounted, took two letters from his pocket, Consul, who gave me a cordial welcome, and asked me would I have the kindness said that no one had come through from the to deliver his letters to the Feld Post if I outer world for over two weeks, and begged got through to Liège. He said that seemed for newspapers that he might realize what like a God-given opportunity to lift the load was going on. Unfortunately, I had thrown off the hearts of the people at home. Gladly my lot away, not having realized how comI took them, with his caution not to drop pletely Liège had been cut off from the outthem in an ordinary letter-box in Liège, but side world. Very heartily he invited me to to take them to the Feld Post or give them lunch with his wife and daughter, and with to an officer. I went on my way rejoicing much enthusiasm made me appreciate the that I had these letters to serve as creden- nature of my adventure.

ALBERT R. WILLIAMS.

tials.

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