"zone." But we do not even admit of such a possibility in speaking to

each other. Isn't it funny how we continue to deceive ourselves and life

is a sham to the last throw?

[Illustration: MAP OF LIEGE WITH THE TWELVE SURROUNDING FORTS]

General Brialmont warned the Government when the forts were under

construction, that if it could not maintain an army sufficiently strong

to defend the open country between them, he was building them for the

Germans. That statement revived suddenly, gives rise to an apprehension

hitherto unfelt by the _Liegeois_, who have absolute faith in the

impregnability of Liege.

Madame X.'s oldest son, Monsieur S., and his wife, arrived tonight from

France by auto. They would never have been able to get here if Monsieur

S. had not the royal seal on some state papers which he was bringing

from the Belgian Embassy in Paris. Was there ever such a wildly exciting

ride, plunging through two battle lines (French and Belgian) into massed

formations everywhere? Nevertheless Madame S. said she used to fall

asleep from sheer fatigue during the long drives in the blackness of the

night or when they were stopped for hours at a time to identify even a

king's messenger.

_August 5th, Wednesday._

I wonder what you are thinking of events, at home? You will marvel that

I can write at such length when the very skies seem to be pressing down

upon us. But it is the greatest relaxation possible and a kind of

safety valve. It makes me think of some lines of Shakespeare where

different conditions "oft make the wise dumb and teach the fool to

speak." So I write on. The news we get may not be altogether authentic,

as we receive nothing now except by word of mouth. By report it seems

that England, France and Russia are prepared to defend the neutrality of

Belgium with their armies. Liege is now in a state of siege with the

Prussians before the forts. Commerce in the city has ceased completely

with the railroad, telegraph, telephone, post, tramcars, newspapers,

shops and factories. Can you understand what that means? At one time or

another in our lives most of us have been the victim of a social

condition called a "strike"--horribly inconvenient circumstances, when

the mail-man did not come, for instance, or train service was laid off

or the electric light went out for a time. But these instances were all

individual, that is, they happened separately, while here the whole

Universe has shut down together. I could not make you comprehend the

criticalness of our position. I feel as if we were suspended by the

finest thread between heaven and earth, for there is nothing very solid

under our feet and only a sea of ether over our heads. This description

is wholly inadequate to interpret the sensation or the uncertainty. Can

you imagine what it would be like? I cannot exactly say I feel "fear";

perhaps I cannot define fear; but a heaven-sent optimism buoys me up. In

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