16th December (1918)

Reached Liege towards noon, after interesting run down the Meuse Valley.  First we passed the little town of Huy with its white stone bridge, church, and old castle built into the white cliffs above the river.  An immense volume of water is pouring down the valley, edged in places with stripes of the richest green.

Then we got into an area of huge factories, mines and industries – gigantic jumbles of machinery, retorts, chimneys, with all their attendant gloom and slumminess. What a rich and busy little country this is!  Finally Liege.  How absurd are one’s attempts to picture places one hasn’t seen.  When I used to read of Liege, near which the Hun stumbled, I visioned a kind of Belgium Taihape.  It is a large and beautiful town.  The river winds through it, spanned by many handsome stone bridges, its banks encased in solid stone walls topped with promenades.

Here are numbers of released prisoners of war of every nationality, even Russians.  The streets were gay with bunting.  For the first time saw soldiers in the scarlet breeches of the pre-war French army.  Everything is amazingly expensive – in many cases ten or twelve times the price one is used to in New Zealand.

My iron rations making me thirsty, although broke, I entered a cafe and ordered coffee.  When the waiter asked one franc, I was staggered, but handed him five sous, and told him that it was all I had.  He hurried off and brought up the proprietor.  Instead of ejecting me, he smilingly addressed me (and the whole room-full) thus: – “You fight for me.  You like glass of wine, or verre de Cognac?”  I had the Cognac.

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