Page 3443

3443 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

rise, and continued my way, only to be

stopped by a choking cloud of poisonous

gas. It was a mixture of gas from an

explosion and the smoke of a fire in the

troop quarters. We were driven back,

half-suffocated. Looking out of a peephole, I saw to my horror that the fort had

fallen, slopes and counter-slopes being a

chaos of rubbish, while huge tongues of

flame were shooting forth from the throat

of the fortress. My first and last thought

was to try and save the remnant of the

fortress. I rushed out to give orders,

and saw some soldiers, whom I mistook

for Belgian gendarmes. I called them,

then fell again. Poisonous gases seemed

to grip my throat as in a vise."

The soldiers were really Germans, and

when the heroic old officer recovered consciousness, he found himself a prisoner.

On his way to prison in Germany, he wrote

to his sovereign: "My thoughts will be,

as they have ever been, of Belgium and

the King. I would willingly have given

my life the better to serve them, but death

was not granted to me."

Such was the end of Liege. The delay

which its defense had imposed upon Germany was of value to the Allies, though

not so important as some writers have

assumed. Of far greater importance was

the spirit of the resistance. The fame

of General Leman and his men went round

the globe. The French Republic conferred upon him and upon the city of Liege

the Cross of the Legion of Honor. The

heroism of the defenders was a bugle call

to the hearts of the Allied peoples. Outnumbered, without hope of relief, exposed

to a bombardment more deadly than the

world had ever before seen, these Belgian

soldiers, who a few days before had not

even dreamed of war, were not too proud

to fight for the honor and safety of their

country, and they fought on so long as a

cannon could be served or a rifle fired.

The day of the hero had not set!

Long before the last fort had been reduced, German forces had pushed on past

Liege toward the heart of Belgium. The

Belgian troops that had withdrawn from

Liege had fallen back and had been joined