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A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War

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A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War
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Author(s): Louise Mack
Date Published: 2011/06
Page Count: 208
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-578-0
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-577-3

Through the battle lines for the Great War in Belgium

There are many accounts of female adventurers, explorers, travellers and those who braved the perils of wartime, but this is one of the very finest among them. Louise Mack was a brave, resourceful and self possessed woman who elected to navigate her way through Northern Europe during the First World War and face grave personal danger during a time of great upheaval. The author’s account of her experiences as she travelled though the war zone before invasion and behind the lines in enemy territory will make engrossing reading for anyone interested in true stories about women facing the kind of hardship and adversity that would deter many men. Always just one step ahead of the Germans this dauntless woman eventually made her escape back to England where she wrote this remarkable account of the early days of the Great War.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Ten minutes after he had gone Monsieur Claude burst into the room.<br>
His face was black as night and working with rage.<br>
“What is this you have done?” he cried in a hoarse voice. “Il parle avec les allemands dans le restaurant!”<br>
Horrible words!<br>
It seems to me that as long as I live I shall hear them in my ears.<br>
“It is not true.” I cried. “It can’t be true.” “He is talking to the Germans in the Restaurant,” he repeated. His rage was undisguised. He flung on the table a little packet of English papers that I had given him to hide for me. “Take these! I have nothing to do with you. You are my sister’s affair, I have nothing to do with you at all!”<br>
I rushed to him. I seized him by the arm. But he flung me off and left the room. In and out of my brain his words went beating, in and out, in and out. The thing was simple, clear. The Dane had gone down to betray me, and he had all the evidence in his hands. Oh, fool that I had been! I had brought this on myself. It was my own unaccountable folly that had led me into this trap. At any moment now the Germans would come for me. All was over. I was lost. They had my passport in their possession. I could deny nothing. The game was up.<br>
I got up and looked at myself in the glass.<br>
The habit of a lifetime asserted itself, for all women look at themselves in the glass frequently, and at unexpected times. I saw a strange white face gazing at me in the mirror. “It is all up with you now! Are you ready for the end? Prepare yourself, get your nerves in order. You cannot hope to escape, it is either imprisonment or death for you! What do you think of that?” And then, at that point, kindly Mother Nature took possession of the situation and sleep rushed upon me unawares. I fell on the mattress and knew no more, till a soft knocking at my door awoke me, and I saw it was morning. A light was filtering in dimly through the window blind.<br>
I jumped up.<br>
I was fully dressed, having fallen asleep in my clothes.<br>
“Madame!” whispered a voice. “Open the door toute suite n’est-ce-pas.” It was the old woman’s voice.<br>
I pulled away the barricading chair, and let her in.<br>
Over her shoulder I saw a man.<br>
It was no German, this!<br>
It was dear pie-coloured Henri in a grey suit with a white-and-black handkerchief swathed round his neck.<br>
Behind him were the two little girls.<br>
“Quick, quick!” breathes the old woman, “you must go, Madame, you must go at once! My brother is frightened; he refuses to have you here any longer. He is terrified out of his life lest the Germans should discover that he has been allowing an English woman to hide in his house!”<br>
She threw an apron on me, and hurriedly tied it behind me, then she brought out a big black shawl and flung it round my shoulders. Then she picked up the blue-and-white check handkerchief lying on the table, and nodded to me to tie it over my head.<br>
“You must go at once, you must leave everything behind you. You must not take anything. We will see about your things afterwards. You must pass as Henri’s wife. There! Take his arm! And you, Henri, take one of the little girls by the hand! And you, Madame, you take the other. There! Courage, Madame. Oh, my poor child, I am sorry for you!”<br>
She kissed me, and pushed me out at the same time.<br>
Next moment, hanging on to Henri’s arm, I found myself outside in the corridor walking towards the staircase.<br>
“Courage!” whispered Henri in my ear.<br>
Suddenly I ceased to be myself; I became a peasant; I was Henri’s wife. These little girls were mine. I leaned on Henri, I clutched my little girl’s fingers close. I felt utterly unafraid. I thought as a peasant. I absolutely precipitated myself into the woman I was supposed to be. And in that new condition of personality I walked down the wide staircase with my husband and my children, passing dozens of German officers who were running up and down the stairs continually.