The Children of France

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It was therefore a surprise to them when, at the beginning of the great war, after Germany swept over Belgium, Robert Favor hurried to Europe. It was later learned that he had joined what is known as the "Foreign Legion" of the French Army. Titusville next heard that he had been made a lieutenant for heroic conduct under fire. But Titusville did not believe it; it said no Favor ever did anything but run away in such circumstances. But they believed it when, later on, they read in the newspapers how Lieutenant Favor had sprung out of the trenches and ran to the rescue of a wounded private soldier who had lain in a shell hole in No Man's Land since the night before.

The village swelled with pride and the eyes of the children grew wide with wonder as they listened to the story of the heroism of the Squire's son. But this was as nothing to what occurred later. "Bob" Favor was brought home one day to the house on the hill, pale and weak from wounds received in battle.

Spring was at hand, and as soon as he was able, Captain Favor--you see he had again been promoted--was taken out on the lawn where, in his wheel chair he rested in the warm sunshine. The bright red top of his gray-blue cap, and the flash of the medal on his breast excited the wonder of the children, who pressed their faces against the high iron fence and gazed in awe. It was the first real hero any of them ever had seen.

Finally, chancing to look their way, the Captain smiled and waved a friendly hand. A little girl clapped her hands, others started to cheer and a little man of ten dragged an American flag from his pocket and waved it. The Captain beckoned to the children.

"Come in, folks," he called. "I wish some one to talk to me and make me laugh. Are you coming?"

They were. The children started, at first hesitatingly, then with more confidence, led by the boy with the American flag, which he was waving bravely now.

"What's your name?" demanded the Captain.

"Joe Funk, sir."

The Captain laughed. "No boy so patriotic as you are should have a name like that," he said. "We all are going to be great friends, I am sure, and when I get this leg, that a German shell nearly blew off, in working order again, we shall have some real sport and I'll teach you all how to be soldiers. Just now I cannot do much of anything."

"Yes, you can," interrupted Joe. "You can tell us how you rescued the soldier when the Germans were shooting at you and--"

"Master Joseph," answered the Captain gravely, "a real soldier never brags about himself; but what you say does give me an idea. How would you like to have me tell you about the brave little children of France?"

"Well, I'd rather hear about how you killed the Germans, lots of 'em; I want to hear about battles and dead men and--"

"We shall speak of the children first, and I will begin right now. Let me see. Ah! I have it. Sit down on the grass, all of you, and be comfortable. Be quiet until I finish the story, then ask what questions you wish. Now listen!"

CHAPTER II

REMI THE BRAVE

"He was a little French peasant lad, this boy Remi that I shall tell you about, and had just passed his tenth birthday when the Germans invaded his beloved country," began the Captain.

"Remi continued on at school in spite of the excitement about him, for everyone was talking about the war, but his heart was with the soldiers whom he knew were marching forth in thousands to meet the enemy. One day his father was called to the colors and the child was left in the care of an uncle.

"Now, this uncle belonged to a military organization called the Territorials, something like our National Guard, and a few weeks later they also were called to march forth and join the French Army. Remi was to be left in the care of the neighbors. That was the plan made by the uncle. The little French lad, however, had his own ideas about that, but kept his plans to himself. He now forgot all about going to school, and spent his time watching his uncle's comrades drill--watched until he knew every command, every evolution so well that he himself could have drilled the company of his uncle.

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