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A younger lover brings her to danger.
It was small, a little haphazard and not terribly well-thought of. But they offered me a signing bonus, which I used to help Amelie and her new husband, and a chance to see other parts of the country, which I had previously only read about in books.
After completing my training in Georgia, I was first assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, but not long after that war broke out between the United States and Spain, and I soon found myself fighting in Cuba. Later, after the Spanish war, I was sent to the Philippines to fight the Moros, and a dirty business that was.
It was there that I lost my idealism, lost any notion that we Americans were somehow more noble than any other nation. In fact, I felt we were worse than the British or the Germans or the French, because they made no pretense of their imperial designs, of the greedy acquisitiveness of their policies. But we were supposed to be better than that, yet there we were fighting a native independence movement and committing some truly awful atrocities in the process.
After we subdued the Philippines, I decided to do something else with my life, and returned to Louisiana and went to college at LSU, where I studied history.
There was no GI Bill back then, but my veteran status was rewarded nonetheless with a job as an officer in the school's militia unit, a precursor to the modern ROTC program. When I graduated in 1908, my Army experience, coupled with my degree and my fluency in French and German got me a job with the State Department, and I went into the foreign service.
Actually, my first job with the State Department was as a clerk in Washington, I guess, while they tried to figure out a job that suited my abilities. After a year and a half of office drudgery, I finally got the break I'd been looking for. I was assigned as an attach__ with the American Embassy in Berlin, and in the spring of 1910, I sailed for Europe.
When I got to Berlin, my assignment was fairly nebulous, and a trifle dangerous. My boss, the Undersecretary to the Ambassador, was a fairly visionary gentleman - or perhaps he was just paranoid - but he felt it was in our country's best interests to learn as much as we possibly could about the German Army.
Because I'd been a soldier and spoke fluent German, I was assigned to that task. Whenever foreign dignitaries were invited to watch military reviews - and the Germans had plenty of them - I was there, to size up their numbers, take note of any new weaponry that might be on display and just learn whatever I could.
That was the easy part. The hard part was traveling throughout the country and learning what I could about what the Germans didn't want the general public to know. I quickly found the best way to do that was to prowl the beer halls and attach myself to groups of soldiers, especially reservists who were there for routine training.
German soldiers were notorious braggarts, more so than those of other countries, and I quickly figured out that if I plied these citizen-soldiers with enough beer, they'd tell me anything I wanted to know - in a roundabout way, of course.
I spent three years in Germany, and when I returned to the United States, I wrote a position paper outlining what I believed the Germans would do if they went to war with France.
I argued that based on what I'd learned from careful observation, especially in the northwest part of the country, that they would most likely attack France through Belgium, that they would seek to overwhelm the French Army by marching through the plains of northern France and set their sights directly on Paris.
Part of my analysis included an assessment of the troop strengths available to the Germans both in the northwest and along the frontier with France itself, in the area of Alsace-Lorraine, the "lost" provinces that France had ceded to Germany in the peace settlement that ended the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and which the French burned to regain.
The Secretary of State himself supposedly looked at my work, shrugged his shoulders and went about his business.
However, my imme