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The Amazing Interlude

Chapter 1
The stage on which we play our little dramas of life and love has for most of us but one
setting. It is furnished out with approximately the same things. Characters come, move
about and make their final exits through long-familiar doors. And the back drop remains
approximately the same from beginning to end. Palace or hovel, forest or sea, it is the
background for the moving figures of the play.
So Sara Lee Kennedy had a back drop that had every appearance of permanency. The
great Scene Painter apparently intended that there should be no change of set for her. Sara
Lee herself certainly expected none.
But now and then amazing things are done on this great stage of ours: lights go down; the
back drop, which had given the illusion of solidity, reveals itself transparent. A sort of
fairyland transformation takes place. Beyond the once solid wall strange figures move
on--a new mise en scene, with the old blotted out in darkness. The lady, whom we left
knitting by the fire, becomes a fairy--Sara Lee became a fairy, of a sort--and meets the
prince. Adventure, too; and love, of course. And then the lights go out, and it is the same
old back drop again, and the lady is back by the fire--but with a memory.
This is the story of Sara Lee Kennedy's memory--and of something more.
The early days of the great war saw Sara Lee playing her part in the setting of a city in
Pennsylvania. An ugly city, but a wealthy one. It is only fair to Sara Lee to say that she
shared in neither quality. She was far from ugly, and very, very far from rich. She had
started her part with a full stage, to carry on the figure, but one by one they had gone
away into the wings and had not come back. At nineteen she was alone knitting by the
fire, with no idea whatever that the back drop was of painted net, and that beyond it,
waiting for its moment, was the forest of adventure. A strange forest, too--one that Sara
Lee would not have recognised as a forest. And a prince of course--but a prince as
strange and mysterious as the forest.
The end of December, 1914, found Sara Lee quite contented. If it was resignation rather
than content, no one but Sara Lee knew the difference. Knitting, too; but not for soldiers.
She was, to be candid, knitting an afghan against an interesting event which involved a
friend of hers.
Sara Lee rather deplored the event--in her own mind, of course, for in her small circle
young unmarried women accepted the major events of life without question, and certainly
without conversation. She never, for instance, allowed her Uncle James, with whom she
lived, to see her working at the afghan; and even her Aunt Harriet had supposed it to be a
sweater until it assumed uncompromising proportions.
Sara Lee's days, up to the twentieth of December, 1914, had been much alike. In the
mornings she straightened up her room, which she had copied from one in a woman's