The Lighted Match (Chapter 8, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 8

"Mr. Benton had the pleasure of driving you down--" he suggested, "may I
have the same honor, returning?"

The girl met the eyes of the Prince, with defiance in her own.

"I am not a child!" she vehemently declared. "We may as well be honest
with each other. If he had chosen to have it so, you could not have come
aboard. I must obey the decrees of State!" She paused, then impulsively
swept on: "I can force myself to do what I must do, but I cannot compel
my heart--that is his, utterly his." She raised both hands. "Now you
know," she said. "You may decide."

Karyl inclined his head.

"I have questioned nothing," he repeated. "Will you honor me by
returning in my car?"

Cara tilted her chin rebelliously.

"No," she said, "I don't think I shall. My vacation ends to-morrow if
you still wish it, but to-night it has not ended. I return with Mr.
Benton."

Pagratide stiffened painfully, but with supreme self-mastery he forced a
smile as though he had asked nothing more than a dance--and had found it
engaged.

"I must submit," he replied in a steady voice. "I even understand. But
you will agree with me that they"--with a gesture toward the direction
from which they had come--"had best know nothing."

Benton and Von Ritz went to the gangway, where the yachtsman bent
forward to give some direction to the boat crew below.

"Karyl!" The girl moved impulsively toward the man she must marry, and
laid a hand on his arm. "Karyl," she said plaintively, "if you only
wanted to marry me for State reasons--it would be different. It wouldn't
hurt me then to hurt you. You mean so much as a friend, but I can never
be in love with you. You are being unfair with yourself--if you go on. I
must be honest with you."

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