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HOME > Short Stories > The Boy Volunteers on the Belgian Front > CHAPTER XI PURSUED BY THE UHLANS
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Still Liège did not surrender. Every day the glorious news would come of the terrible bombardment, and of thrilling deeds of heroism. Brave little Belgium was checking the giant which dared to molest her soil. Ten days of intermittent thunder followed, which could plainly be heard twenty-five miles beyond the outer circle of forts, to the north.
A Dome-Topped Fort of Liège

The twelve great forts were not silenced by the incessant hail poured on them from all sides. The Germans were astounded; the Belgians exultant. The resistance had held back the German advance for two weeks. They had expected to be in France, and well on the way to Paris, before this time.


Each day rumors grew stronger, and more persistent, that the great German army had begun its march to overrun Belgium. Liège had been entirely invested. The Belgian army had stretched like a cordon across the highways between Liège on the one hand, and Tirlemont, St. Trond, Landin and Namur on the other.

Soldiers, camp outfits, guns, ammunition, food supplies, horses, and every sort of equipment for the use of soldiers were arriving by every train. In the meantime the boys were very busy at every sort of work which chanced to fall in their way.

During the first part of their stay at the camp Ralph\'s wound gave him some trouble, and Alfred was always ready to wait on him, but as the wound began to heal, Ralph\'s restless energy made itself manifest.

"We must have something to do," he said, as he was wandering around with Alfred, one morning.

"Let us see Capt. Moreau," said Alfred, as with a sudden inspiration.

The Captain welcomed them warmly.

"So you want something to do?" he asked.

"Yes," said Ralph. "We can do the work, just as well as men, and some things we may be able to do better than some men."

"And what may that be?" he asked.

Alfred laughed as he quickly responded: "Well, we can carry orders, anyway."

The officers standing about, who heard the conversation, heartily applauded.


"I think we can fix you up," he said. "Do you know how to ride motorcycles?"

At this the hearts of Ralph and Alfred bounded and thumped.

"Of course," said Ralph, and his voice had just enough questionable expression in it to show that he felt some doubt of success in getting the wished-for machines.

The doubts were soon dispelled. "Make a requisition for two motorcycles, to be placed in charge of Alfred and Ralph," the Captain said.

They danced about in a delirium of joy. "When can we have the machines?" asked Alfred, as he turned to the orderly.

"We have plenty of them in the warehouse."

The boys looked at the Captain. "Yes, go at once. Get used to them as quickly as possible. The General may want you any time," he ordered.

They saluted the officer, then started out with the orderly.

"I have a new pattern. It is a machine that is light and strong, and it is also made with two seats," he said. "That is the kind you ought to have. They are made so that scouts who use them can bring in a comrade or a wounded soldier."

One of the temporary sheds, erected less than a week before, was the warehouse for the cycle brigade, and here the orderly halted. After selecting two of the crates he had the attendants open them, to the delight of the eager boys.

Within an hour the machines were ready. Alfred was the first to take his lesson, and, with the121 instructor, they were soon away, taking their course toward Tirlemont, to the north.

Ralph was not yet well enough to be able to risk a trip, as his arm was not yet out of the sling, but when Alfred returned he saw Ralph examining his own machine.

He was delighted to see Alfred on the front seat, and at once met him with a volley of questions.

"Yes, we went clear to St. Trond," said Alfred. "Oh, the machine works splendidly. Never had an accident. But you ought to see the soldiers and the guns, and wagons along the way,—thousands and thousands of them."

Just then there was an intense commotion at the southern border of the camp.

"See that man in a motorcycle. They are following him."

The messenger alluded to was waving his hand, as a signal to those in front to clear the way. He proceeded direct to headquarters, and dismounted.

Soldiers, civilians and workmen, rushed forward and crowded around. "What is the news?" everyone asked. An officer appeared at the door of the commandant\'s quarters.

"The Germans have entered Liège," he said. There was a murmur and Alfred and Ralph looked at each other in astonishment.

Soon those about, after recovering from the stunning news, began to make inquiries.

"While they have entered the city, they have not captured the forts," the officer said, and he spoke it proudly, too.


"How could they capture the city and not the forts?" asked Alfred. Roland, who stood by, then explained that the fight was between the forts and the besiegers and that the possession of the city was of no value to the Belgians.

"The best way to protect the city itself, is to permit the Germans to occupy it, otherwise the shells directed against the forts might lay it in waste," he said. "With the Germans in the city they would not be likely to permit their shells to pass beyond the fort."

During the entire day Alfred was practising and later in the afternoon, when the instructor formally turned over the machine to him he invited Ralph to accompany him.

This time he turned the wheel toward the east. About four kilometers away (three miles), they passed through Ottenhoven then, six miles beyond, Kerckham, another village, on the main road, and turning directly to the south, they soon reached another village called Mielen, which was fully fifteen kilometers from Neerwinden, the site of their camp.

Everywhere they found pickets, and frequently were held up by the cavalry patrols. One such an incident will explain how this was done, and what the boys did to free themselves.

As they emerged from the southern edge of the village of Mielen, on the direct road to Waremme, a cavalry patrol halted them. Alfred dismounted, and drew from his pocket the order appointing him a special headquarters messenger, with a safe123 conduct to all places within the Belgian lines.

Noticing Ralph\'s arm in a sling, it was explained to them that he had received the wound in the battle fought below Tongres, the week before. The corporal in charge of the squad touched his hat, by way of salute. They had heard of the brave boys, and as they sped away the troopers cheered them heartily.

A mile east of Waremme they reached the great Roman road, called by the country folk in that neighborhood, Route de Brunhilde, and the people at the wayside readily directed them to follow it to the west. At the border of the city, they were again halted, and then allowed to pass on. Everything was excitement here, with people hurrying to and fro.

Up to this time the excitement of the ride had made them forget their own needs but now they soon recognized they were very hungry.

Ralph was the first to speak of it. "But what shall we do? We have no money," he remarked.

This was the first time in all their wanderings during the past two weeks, that the question of money became a matter of moment to them. They had found plenty to eat along the highways, and even in their wanderings they always had enough to eat.

But here was a new problem to them. They gazed longingly at the many good things all about them, but they did not have even a sou about them. While thus speculating a body of infantry passed, and the boys followed, more from habit than anything124 else. They had no definite object in view, in doing so.

Beyond was an open space where tents had been erected along the northern border of the green. They mounted the motorcycle, and were speeding across the space, when a cordon of guards held them up, and one of the soldiers called for the corporal.

A tall soldier marched up, and answered: "What is it?"

Alfred sprang forward: "Is that you, Pierre?" he cried.

It was, indeed, Pi............
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