The Amazing Interlude
Now up to this point Sara Lee's mind had come to rest at Calais. She must get there; after
that the other things would need to be worried over. Henri had already in their short
acquaintance installed himself as the central figure of this strange and amazing interlude--
not as a good-looking young soldier surprisingly fertile in expedients, but as a sort of
agent of providence, by whom and through whom things were done.
And Henri had said she was to go to the Gare Maritime at Calais and make herself
comfortable--if she got there. After that things would be arranged.
Sara Lee therefore took a hot bath, though hardly a satisfactory one, for there was no soap
and she had brought none. She learned later on to carry soap with her everywhere. So she
soaked the chill out of her slim body and then dressed. The room was cold, but a great
exultation kept her warm. She had run the blockade, she had escaped the War Office--
which, by the way, was looking her up almost violently by that time, via the censor. It
had found the trunk she left at Morley's, and cross-questioned the maid into hysteria--and
here she was, safe in France, the harbor of Calais before her, and here and there strange-
looking war craft taking on coal. Destroyers, she learned later. Her ignorance was rather
appalling at first.
It was all unreal--the room with its cold steam pipes, the heavy window hangings, the
very words on the hot and cold taps in the bathroom. A great vessel moved into the
harbor. As it turned she saw its name printed on its side in huge letters, and the flag, also
painted, of a neutral country--a hoped-for protection against German submarines. It
brought home to her, rather, the thing she had escaped.
After a time she thought of food, but rather hopelessly. Her attempts to get savon from a
stupid boy had produced nothing more useful than a flow of unintelligible French and no
soap whatever. She tried a pantomime of washing her hands, but to the boy she had
appeared to be merely wringing them. And, as a great many females were wringing their
hands in France those days, he had gone away, rather sorry for her.
When hunger drove her to the bell again he came back and found her with her little
phrase book in her hands, feverishly turning the pages. She could find plenty of sentences
such as "Garcon, vous avez renverse du vin sur ma robe," but not an egg lifted its shining
pate above the pages. Not cereal. Not fruit. Not even the word breakfast.
Long, long afterward Sara Lee found a quite delightful breakfast hidden between two
pages that were stuck together. But it was then far too late.
"Donnez-moi," began Sara Lee, and turned the pages rapidly, "this; do you see?" She had
found roast beef.