The Lighted Match (Chapter 2, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 2

In the large living-room, Van Bristow, the master of "Idle Times," had
expressed his tastes. Here in the almost severe wainscoting, in
inglenook and chimney-corner, one found the index to his fancy. It was
his fancy which had dictated that the broad windows, with sills at the
level of the floor, should not command the formal terraces and lawns of
a landscape-gardener's devising, but should give exit instead upon a
strip of rugged nature, where the murmur of the creek came up through
unaltered foliage and underbrush.

Shortening their entrance through one of the windows, the trio found
their host, already in evening dress. Bristow was idling on the hearth
with no more immediate concern than a cigarette and the enjoyment of the
crackling logs, unspoiled by other light.

As the clatter of boots and spurs announced their coming, Van glanced up
and schooled his face into a very fair counterfeit of severity.

"Lucky we don't make our people ring in on the clock," he observed. "You
three would be docked."

The girl stood in the red glow of the hearth, slowly drawing off her

Pagratide went to the table in search of cigarettes and matches, and as
the light there was dim, the host joined him and laid a hand readily
enough upon the brass case for which the other was fumbling. As he held
a light to his guest's cigarette, he bent over and spoke in a guarded
undertone. Benton noticed in the brief flare that the visitor's face
mirrored sudden surprise.

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