The Lighted Match (Chapter 12)

 
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Chapter 12 : Page 1 of 11

On the next afternoon at the base of the flag-staff above Look-out Rock,
Lieutenant Lapas nervously swept the leagues of sea and land, spreading
under him, with strong glasses. Though the air was somewhat rarer and
cooler here than below, beads of sweat stood out on his forehead, and
the cigarettes which he incessantly smoked followed each other with a
furious haste which denoted mental unrest.

At a sound of foliage rustled aside and a displaced rock bumping down
the slope, the watcher took the glasses from his eyes with a nervous
start.

Up the hill from the left climbed an unknown man. His features were
those of a Spaniard. As the officer's eyes challenged him he halted,
panting, to mop his brow with the air of one who takes a breathing space
after violent exertion. The newcomer smiled pleasantly as he leaned
against a bowlder and genially volunteered: "It is a long journey from
the shore." Then after a moment he added in a tone of respectful
inquiry: "You are Lieutenant Lapas?"

The officer had regained his composure. He regarded the other with a
mild scrutiny touched with superciliousness as he nodded acquiescence
and in return demanded: "Who are you?"

"Do you see that speck of white down yonder by the sea?" Blanco drew
close and his outstretched finger pointed a line to the Duke's lodge. "I
come from there," he explained with concise directness.

The officer bit his lip.

"Why did you come?" The Spaniard paused to roll a cigarette before he
answered: "I come from the Duke, of course. Why else should I climb this accursed
ladder of hills?"

 
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