The Lighted Match (Chapter 24, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 24

In the gardens of the hotel, the paths lay ankle-deep in scattered
confetti. Already the scores of lights were going out and those that
remained shone on the wreckage of an entertainment ended.

Cara had gone to her rooms. In his own, at a window commanding the
garden, Benton sat in an attitude of lethargic dejection, staring down
on the lingering illuminations. His brain still swirled. A dozen times
he told himself that matters were precisely as they had been; that the
developments of the evening had brought no change, save a momentary
belief in a mistaken rumor and a few wild dreams. When he had waited in
the rotunda for Cara, he had known Karyl to be living. He knew it now,
yet it seemed as though his life-rival had died and come again to life.
It seemed, too, as though his own prison doors had swung open, and while
he stood on the free threshold had slammed inward upon him, sweeping him
back, broken and bruised with their clanging momentum.

To-morrow he must go away.

Benton looked at his watch. It was after four o'clock.

Then a knock came on the door. Benton did not respond. He feared that
young Harcourt, belated and flushed with brandy-acid-soda, might have
seen the light of his transom and paused for gossip. The thought he
could not endure. Again he heard and ignored the knock, then the door
opened slowly, and turning his head, he recognized Karyl on his

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