The Search (Chapter 7, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 7

He had passed the quarters of the signal corps before the thought of the letter he had just written came to his mind. Then he stopped short, gave one agonizing glance toward his barracks only a few feet away, realized that it was nearly time for bed call and that he could not possibly make it if he went back, then whirled about and started out on a wild run like a madman over the ground he had just traveled. He was not conscious of carrying on a train of thought as he ran, his only idea was to get to the Y.M.C.A. hut before the man had left with the letter. Never should his childhood's enemy have that letter to sneer over!

All the pleasant phrases which had flowed from his pen so easily but a few moments before seemed to flare now in letters of fire before his blood-shot eyes as he bounded over the ground. To think he should have lowered himself and weakened his position so, as to write to the girl who was soon to be the wife of that contemptible puppy!

The bugles began to sound taps here and there in the barracks as he flew past, but they meant nothing to him. Breathless he arrived at the Y.M.C.A. hut just as the last light was being put out. A dark figure stood on the steps as he halted entirely winded, and tried to gasp out: "Where is Mr. Hathaway?" to the assistant who was locking up.

"Oh, he left five minutes after you did," said the man with a yawn. "The rector came by in his car and took him along. Say, you'll be late getting in, Corporal, taps sounded almost five minutes ago."

With a low exclamation of disgust and dismay Cameron turned and started back again in a long swinging stride, his face flushing hotly in the dark over his double predicament. He had gone back for nothing and got himself subject to a calling down, a thing which he had avoided scrupulously since coming to camp, but he was so miserable over the other matter that it seemed a thing of no moment to him now. He was altogether occupied with metaphorically kicking himself for having answered that letter; for having mailed it so soon without ever stopping to read it over or give himself a chance to reconsider. He might have known, he might have remembered that Ruth Macdonald was no comrade for him; that she was a neighbor of the Wainwright's and would in all probability be a friend of the lieutenant's. Not for all that he owned in the world or hoped to own, would he have thus laid himself open to the possibility of having Wainwright know any of his inner thoughts. He would rather have lived and died unknown, unfriended, than that this should come to pass.

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