The Lighted Match (Chapter 6, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 6

When Benton had straightened out his car for the run to the city, and
the road had begun to slip away under the tires, he turned to McGuire,
his chauffeur.

"McGuire," he inquired, "where is the runabout?"

"At 'Idle Times,' sir. You loaned it to Mr. Bristow to fill up the

"I remember. Now, listen!" And as Benton talked a slow grin of
contentment spread across the visage of Mr. McGuire, hinting of some
enterprise that appealed to his venturesome soul with a lure beyond the

In the city, Benton was a busy man, though his visit to the costumer's
was brief. Coming out of the place, he fancied he caught a glimpse of
Von Ritz, but the view was fleeting and he decided that his eyes must
have deceived him. He had himself patronized a rather obscure shop,
recommended by Mr. McGuire. Von Ritz would presumably have selected some
more fashionable purveyor of disguises even had his assertion that he
would not masquerade been made only to deceive. Perhaps, thought the
American, Colonel Von Ritz was becoming an obsession with him, merely
because he stood for Galavia and the threat of royalty's mandate. He was
convinced of this later in the day, when he once more fancied that a
disappearing pair of broad shoulders belonged to the European. This time
he laughed at the idea. The surroundings made the supposition ludicrous.
It was among the tawdry shops of ship chandlers in the East Side, where
he himself had gone in search of certain able seamen in the company of
the sailing-master of the Isis. Von Ritz would hardly be consorting
with the fo'castle men who frequent the water front below Brooklyn

The few days of the last week raced by, with all the charm of sky and
field that the magic of Indian summer can lavish, and for Benton and
Cara, they raced also with the sense of fast-slipping hope and
relentlessly marching doom. Outwardly Cara set a pace for vivacious and
care-free enjoyment that left Mrs. Porter-Woodleigh, the
"semi-professional light-hearted lady," as O'Barreton named her, "to
trail along in the ruck." Alone with Benton, there was always the furrow
between the brows and the distressed gaze upon the mystery beyond the
sky-line, but Pagratide and Von Ritz were vigilant, to the end that
their tête-à-têtes were few.

Neither Benton nor Cara had alluded to the man's overbold assertion that
he would find a way. It was a futile thing said in eagerness. The day of
the dance, the last day they could hope for together, came unprefaced by
development. To-morrow she must take up her journey and her duty: her
holiday would be at its end. It was all the greater reason why this
evening should be memorable. He should think of her afterward as he saw
her to-night, and it pleased her that in the irresponsibility of the
maskers she should appear to him in the garb of vagabond liberty, since
in fact freedom was impossible to her.

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