The Lighted Match (Chapter 5)

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Chapter 5 : Page 1 of 5

The first day of quail-shooting found Van Bristow's guests afield.

Separated from the others, Benton and Cara came upon a small grove, like
an oasis in the stretching acres of stubble. Under a scarlet maple that
reared itself skyward all aflame, and shielded by a festooning profusion
of wild-grape, a fallen beech-trunk offered an inviting seat. The girl
halted and grounded arms.

The man seated himself at her feet and looked up. He framed a question,
then hesitated, fearing the answer. Finally he spoke, controlling his
voice with an effort.

"Cara," he questioned, "how long have I?"

Her eyes widened as if with terror. "A very--very little time, dear,"
she said. "It frightens me to think how little. Then--then--nothing but
memory. Do you realize what it all means?" She leaned forward and laid a
hand on each of his shoulders. "Just one week more, and after that I
shall look out to sea when the sun sinks, red and sullen, into leaden
waters and think of--of Arcady--and you."

"Don't, Cara!" He seized her hands and went on talking fast and
vehemently. "Listen! I love you--that is not a unique thing. You love
me--that is the miracle. And because of a distorted idea of duty, our
lives must go to wreck. Don't you see the situation is
ludicrous--intolerable? You are trying to live a medieval life in a day
of wireless telegraph and air ships."

She nodded. "But what are we going to do about it?" she questioned
simply.

"Cara, dear--if I could find a way!" he pleaded eagerly. "Suppose I
could play the magician!"


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