Dangerous Days HTML version

Chapter 39
Audrey had made a resolution, and with characteristic energy had proceeded to
carry it out. She was no longer needed at the recruiting stations. After a month's
debate the conscription law was about to be passed, made certain by the frank
statement of the British Commission under Balfour as to the urgency of the need
of a vast new army in France.
For the first time the Allies laid their cards face up on the table, and America
realized to what she was committed. Almost overnight a potential army of
hundreds of thousands was changing to one of millions. The situation was
desperate. Germany had more men than the Allies, and had vast eastern
resources to draw on for still more. To the Allies only the untapped resources of
America remained.
In private conference with the President Mr. Balfour had urged haste, and yet
more haste.
Audrey, reading her newspapers faithfully, felt with her exaltation a little stirring of
regret. Her occupation, such as it was, was gone. For the thin stream of men
flowing toward the recruiting stations there was now to be a vast movement of
the young manhood of the nation. And she could have no place in it.
Almost immediately she set to work to find herself a new place. At first there
seemed to be none. She went to a hospital, and offered her strong body and her
two willing hands for training.
"I could learn quickly," she pleaded, "and surely there will not be enough nurses
for such an army as we are to have."
"Our regular course is three years."
"But a special course. Surely I may have that. There are so many things one
won't need in France."
The head of the training school smiled rather wistfully. They came to her so often
now, these intelligent, untrained women, all eagerness to help, to forget and
unlive, if they could, their wasted lives.
"You want to go to France, of course?"
"If I can. I?my husband was killed over there."
But she did not intend to make capital of Chris's death. "Of course, that has
nothing to do with my going. I simply want to work."
"It's hard work. Not romantic."
"I am not looking for romance."
In the end, however, she had to give it up. In some hospitals they were already
training nurses helpers, but they were to relieve trained women for France. She
went home to think it over. She had felt that by leaving the country she would
solve Clayton's problem and her own. To stay on, seeing him now and then, was
torture for them both.
But there was something else. She had begun, that afternoon, to doubt whether
she was fitted for nursing after all. The quiet of the hospital, the all-pervading
odor of drugs, the subdued voice and quiet eyes of the head of the training