1901, Pemberton, M. , Pro Patria 

Max Pemberton (1901) Pro Patria – Windsor Magazine June-Nov. 1901

The French plan an invasion of England through a channel tunnel they are constructing.


This story is related by Captain Alfred Hilliard, a young Englishman of considerable means and social position, who is spending some time on the Continent with his friend, Fordham. At Pau, Hilliard became acquainted with a Colonel Lepeletier and promptly fell in love with his daughter. When the Lepeletiers returned to their home in Calais, Hilliard followed them ; but though he had every reason to believe that Agnes Lepeletier cared for him, his offer was positively declined by her father, no reason being assigned. At their house he met a man whom he had known when a boy, as Robert Jeffery, but who was known as Sadi Martel to the French household.Jeffery, alias Martel, had deteriorated with years, and was now a man given to drink and thoroughly unscrupulous. He invited Hilliard to go with him and inspect some excavations, purporting to be harbour works and coal borings, which were being carried on by the shore, and which he was superintending. Never for a moment suspecting any treachery, Hilliard him one afternoon to the scene of operations, which proved to be a tunnel in course of construction beneath the Strait of Dover. Martel then accused Hilliard of being a spy and threatened imprisonment. On his calling Hilliard a liar, the Englishman struck him down senseless in the tunnel, and escaped himself with the greatest difficulty, only to find that an alarm had been raised and a search set on foot for him.


PRO PATRIA.    BY MAX PEMBERTON.  –  This is another of the England invasion stories, written with a sense of conviction that is uncommon in such yarns. The attack was to have been made through a secret Channel tunnel, and one of the pictures shows a lonely house . . . and from a great shaft a silent army emerging” But it was only a dream of the narrator’s, “a simple soldier stumbling blindly upon the heart of the nation’s peril.” [The Academy 30 March 1901]

“Pro Patria.” By Max Pemberton. London : Ward, Lock. 1901. 6s. – The subject of this story, the discovery and frustration of a colossal undertaking for the overrunning of our shores by the troops of France, is one which could not fail to be interesting if well told; and well told it certainly is. The excitement of the anxieties and dangers which beset the hero on both sides of the Channel is kept up with scarcely a pause, and heightened artfully by an emotional depiction, after the Stevensonian manner, of the perilous moments. While the note of patriotism sounded in the title is kept well to the fore, there is no tinge of blatancy or jingoism, and the romantic interest is duly introduced in the person of the foeman’s fair daughter. The story—though told per force from the point of view of the day-after-to-morrow —avoids a fatiguingly retrospective attitude, and the characters if not specially engaging are sufficiently well marked to give the narrative variety and vigour. [The Saturday Review 20 April 1901]