The False Faces

Louis Joseph Vance
The False Faces

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The False Faces, by Vance, Louis Joseph Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the header without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****
Title: The False Faces
Author: Vance, Louis Joseph
Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9908] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on October 30, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Josephine Paolucci, Tom Allen, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


I Out of No Man's Land
II From a British Port
III In the Barred Zone
IV In Deep Waters
V On the Banks
VI Under Suspicion
VII In Stateroom 29
VIII Off Nantucket
IX Sub Sea
X At Base
XI Under the Rose
XII Resurrection
XIII Reincarnation
XIV Defamation
XV Recognition
XVI Au Printemps
XVII Finesse
XVIII Danse Macabre
XIX Force Majeure
XX Riposte
XXI Question
XXII Chicane
XXIII Amnesty

On the muddy verge of a shallow little pool the man lay prone and still, as still as those poor dead whose broken bodies rested all about him, where they had fallen, months or days, hours or weeks ago, in those grim contests which the quick were wont insensately to wage for a few charnel yards of that debatable ground.
Alone of all that awful company this man lived and, though he ached with the misery of hunger and cold and rain-drenched garments, was unharmed.
Ever since nightfall and a brisk skirmish had made practicable an undetected escape through the German lines, he had been in the open, alternately creeping toward the British trenches under cover of darkness and resting in deathlike immobility, as he now rested, while pistol-lights and star-shells flamed overhead, flooding the night with ghastly glare and disclosing in pitiless detail that two-hundred-yard ribbon of earth, littered with indescribable abominations, which set apart the combatants. When this happened, the living had no other choice than to ape the dead, lest the least movement, detected by eyes that peered without rest through loopholes in the sandbag parapets, invite a bullet's blow.
Now it was midnight, and lights were flaring less frequently, even as rifle-fire had grown more intermittent ... as if many waters might quench out hate in the heart of man!
For it was raining hard--a dogged, dreary downpour drilling through a heavy atmosphere whose enervation was like the oppression of some malign and inexorable incubus; its incessant crepitation resembling the mutter of a weary, sullen drum, dwarfing to insignificance the stuttering of machine-guns remote in the northward, dominating even a dull thunder of cannonading somewhere down the far horizon; lowering a vast and shimmering curtain of slender lances, steel-bright, close-ranked, between the trenches and over all that weary land. Thus had it rained since noon, and thus--for want of any hint of slackening--it might rain for another twelve hours, or eighteen, or twenty-four....
The star-rocket, whose rays had transfixed him beside the pool, paled and winked out in mid-air, and for several minutes unbroken darkness obtained while, on hands and knees, the man crept on toward that gap in the British barbed-wire entanglements which he had marked down ere daylight waned, shaping a tolerably straight course despite frequent detours to avoid the unspeakable. Only once was his progress interrupted--when straining senses apprised him that a British patrol was taking advantage of the false truce to reconnoitre toward the enemy lines, its approach betrayed by a nearing squash of furtive feet in the boggy earth, the rasp of constrained respiration, a muttered curse when someone slipped and narrowly escaped a fall, the edged hiss of an officer's whisper reprimanding the offender. Incontinently he who crawled dropped flat to the greasy mud and lay moveless.
Almost at the same instant, warned by a trail of sparks rising in a long arc from the German trenches, the soldiers imitated his action, and, as long as those triple stars shone in the murk, made themselves one with him and the heedless dead. Two lay so close beside him that the man could have touched either by moving a hand a mere six
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 97
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.