The Amazing Interlude
From Dunkirk to the Front, the road, after the Belgian line was passed, was lightly
guarded. Henri came out of a reverie to explain to Sara Lee.
"We have not many men," he said. "And those that remain are holding the line. It is very
weary, our army."
Now at home Uncle James had thought very highly of the Belgian Army. He had watched
the fight they made, and he had tried to interest Sara Lee in it. But without much result.
She had generally said: "Isn't it wonderful!" or "horrible," as the case might be, and put
out of her mind as soon as possible the ringing words he had been reading. But she had
not forgotten, she found. They came back to her as she rode through that deserted
countryside. Henri, glancing back somewhat later, found her in tears.
He climbed back at once into the rear of the car and sat down beside her.
"You are homesick, I think?"
"Yes. But not for myself. I am just homesick for all the people who have lost their homes.
You--and Jean, and all the rest."
"Some day I shall tell you about my home and what has happened to it," he said gravely.
"Not now. It is not pleasant. But you must remember this: We are going back home, we
Belgians." And after a little pause: "Just as you are."
He lapsed into silence after that, and Sara Lee, stealing a glance at him, saw his face set
and hard. She had a purely maternal impulse to reach over and pat his hand.
Jean did not like Henri's shift to the rear of the car. He drove with a sort of irritable
feverishness, until Henri leaned over and touched him on the shoulder.
"We have mademoiselle with us, Jean," he said in French.
"It is not difficult to believe," growled Jean. But he slackened his pace somewhat.
So far the road had been deserted. Now they had come up to a stream of traffic flowing
slowly toward the Front. Armored cars, looking tall and top-heavy, rumbled and jolted
along. Many lorries, one limousine containing a general, a few Paris buses, all smeared a
dingy gray and filled with French soldiers, numberless and nondescript open machines,
here and there a horse-drawn vehicle--these filled the road. In and out among them Jean
threaded his way, while Sara Lee grew crimson with the effort to see it all, and Henri sat
very stiff and silent.