The Amazing Interlude
About the middle of January Mabel Andrews wrote to Sara Lee from France, where she
was already installed in a hospital at Calais.
The evening before the letter came Harvey had brought round the engagement ring. He
had made a little money in war stocks, and into the ring he had put every dollar of his
profits--and a great love, and gentleness, and hopes which he did not formulate even to
It was a solitaire diamond, conventionally set, and larger, far larger, than the modest little
stone on which Harvey had been casting anxious glances for months.
"Do you like it, honey?" he asked anxiously.
Sara Lee looked at it on her finger.
"It is lovely! It--it's terrible!" said poor Sara Lee, and cried on his shoulder.
Harvey was not subtle. He had never even heard of Mabel Andrews, and he had a
tendency to restrict his war reading to the quarter column in the morning paper entitled
"Salient Points of the Day's War News."
What could he know, for instance, of wounded men who were hungry? Which is what
Mabel wrote about.
"You said you could cook," she had written. "Well, we need cooks, and something to
cook. Sometime they'll have it all fixed, no doubt, but just now it's awful, Sara Lee. The
British have money and food, plenty of it. But here--yesterday I cut the clothes off a
wounded Belgian boy. He had been forty-eight hours on a railway siding, without even
soup or coffee."
It was early in the war then, and between Ypres and the sea stretched a long thin line of
Belgian trenches. A frantic Belgian Government, thrust out of its own land, was facing
the problem, with scant funds and with no materiel of any sort, for feeding that desolate
little army. France had her own problems--her army, non-productive industrially, and the
great and constantly growing British forces quartered there, paying for what they got, but
requiring much. The world knows now of the starvation of German-occupied Belgium.
What it does not know and may never know is of the struggle during those early days to
feed the heroic Belgian Army in their wet and almost untenable trenches.
Hospital trains they could improvise out of what rolling stock remained to them. Money
could be borrowed, and was. But food? Clothing? Ammunition? In his little villa on the
seacoast the Belgian King knew that his soldiers were hungry, and paced the floor of his
tiny living-room; and over in an American city whose skyline was as pointed with