The Lighted Match (Chapter 23)

 
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Chapter 23 : Page 1 of 8

Since the anchor had been weighed at Naples, the days had passed
uneventfully for the indolently cruising Isis with no word from
Galavia. But at last the operator caught his call and made ready to
receive. The message consisted of one word, and the word was "Cairo."

Cara, with no suspicion of what was transpiring in Puntal, beguiled by
the spell of smooth seas and dolce-far-niente softness of sky, was
once more the frank and charming companion of the American days.

The single word of the Marconigram had left the American in perplexity.
Evidently either Karyl or Von Ritz was to meet them at Cairo. Probably
Cairo instead of Alexandria had been designated because the King had
taken into consideration the possible danger from the plague at the
seaport. He told Cara only that Karyl would join the vacation party
there and kept to himself the reservation that his coming probably meant
disaster. Yet when they reached Cairo there was no news awaiting them.

It was the night of a confetti fĂȘte at Shephard's Hotel. Among the trees
of the gardens were ropes of lights and the soft color-spots of Chinese
lanterns. Branches glittered with incandescent fruit of brilliant
colors. Flags hung between the fronds of the palms and the plumes of the
acacias, and among the pleasure-seekers from East and West of Suez fell
pelting showers of confetti.

After dinner Cara and the ladies of her party had withdrawn to their
rooms to prepare for the gay warfare of the gardens. Benton, awaiting
them in the rotunda, lounged on one of the low divans which circle the
walls of the octagonal chamber, beneath carved lattices and Moorish
panels; a cigarette between his fingers and a small cup of black coffee
on the low tabouret at his elbow.

 
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