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The Amazing Interlude

Chapter 8
Here were more things to do. Sara Lee's money must be exchanged at a bank for French
gold. She had three hundred dollars, and it had been given her in a tiny brown canvas
bag. And then there was the matter of going from Calais toward the Front. She had
expected to find a train, but there were no trains. All cars were being used for troops. She
stared at Henri in blank dismay.
"No trains!" she said blankly. "Would an automobile be very expensive?"
"They are all under government control, mademoiselle. Even the petrol."
She stopped in the street.
"Then I shall have to go back."
Henri laughed boyishly.
"Mademoiselle," he said, "I have been requested to take you to a place where you may
render us the service we so badly need. For the present that is my duty, and nothing else.
So if you will accept the offer of my car, which is a shameful one but travels well, we can
continue our journey."
Long, long afterward, Sara Lee found a snapshot of Henri's car, taken by a light-hearted
British officer. Found it and sat for a long time with it in her hand, thinking and
remembering that first day she saw it, in the sun at Calais. A long low car it was, once
green, but now roughly painted gray. But it was not the crude painting, significant as it
was, that brought so close the thing she was going to. It was that the car was but a shell of
a car. The mud guards were crumpled up against the side. Body and hood were pitted
with shrapnel. A door had been shot away, and the wind shield was but a frame set round
with broken glass. Even the soldier-chauffeur wore a patch over one eye, and his uniform
was ragged.
"Not a beautiful car, mademoiselle, as I warned you! But a fast one!"
Henri was having a double enjoyment. He was watching Sara Lee's face and his
chauffeur's remaining eye.
"But fast; eh, Jean?" he said to the chauffeur. The man nodded and said something in
French. It was probably the thing Henri had hoped for, and he threw back his head and
laughed.
"Jean is reminding me," he said gayly, "that it is forbidden to officers to take a lady along
the road that we shall travel." But when he saw how Sara Lee flushed he turned to the
man.
 
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