The Amazing Interlude HTML version
Much has been said of the work of spies--said and written. Here is a woman in Paris
sending forbidden messages on a marked coin. Men are tapped on the shoulder by a civil
gentleman in a sack suit, and walk away with him, never to be seen again.
But of one sort of spy nothing has been written and but little is known. Yet by him are
battles won or lost. On the intelligence he brings attacks are prepared for and counter-
attacks launched. It is not always the airman, in these days of camouflage, who brings
word of ammunition trains or of new batteries.
In the early days of the war the work of the secret service at the Front was of the gravest
importance. There were fewer air machines, and observation from the air was a new
science. Also trench systems were incomplete. Between them, known to a few, were
breaks of solid land, guarded from behind. To one who knew, it was possible, though
dangerous beyond words, to cross the inundated country that lay between the Belgian
Front and the German lines, and even with good luck to go farther.
Henri, for instance, on that night before had left the advanced trench at the railway line,
had crawled through the Belgian barbed wire, and had advanced, standing motionless as
each star shell burst overhead, and then moving on quickly. The inundation was his
greatest difficulty. Shallow in most places, it was full of hidden wire and crisscrossed
with irrigation ditches. Once he stumbled into one, but he got out by swimming. Had he
been laden with a rifle and equipment it might have been difficult.
He swore to himself as his feet touched ground again. For a star shell was hanging
overhead, and his efforts had sent wide and ever increasingly widening circles over the
placid surface of the lagoon. Let them lap to the German outposts and he was lost.
Henri's method was peculiar to himself. Where there was dry terrain he did as did the
others, crouched and crept. But here in the salt marshes, where the sea had been called to
Belgium's aid, he had evolved a system of moving, neck deep in water, stopping under
the white night lights, advancing in the darkness. There was no shelter. The country was
flat as a hearth.
He would crawl out at last in the darkness and lie flat, as the dead lie. And then, inch by
inch, he would work his way forward, by routes that he knew. Sometimes he went
entirely through the German lines, and reconnoitered on the roads behind. They were
shallow lines then, for the inundation made the country almost untenable, and a charge in
force from the Belgians across was unlikely.
Henri knew his country well, as well as he loved it. In a farmhouse behind the German
lines he sometimes doffed his wet gray-green uniform and put on the clothing of a
Belgian peasant. Trust Henri then for being a lout, a simple fellow who spoke only