The Lighted Match (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 4

If the living-room at "Idle Times" bore the impress of Van Bristow's
individuality and taste, his den was the tangible setting of his

His marriage had, only eighteen months before, cut his life sharply with
the boundary of an epoch. The den bore something of the atmosphere of a
museum dedicated to past eras. It was crowded with useless junk that
stood for divers memories and much wandering. Many of the pictures that
cumbered the walls were redolent of the atmosphere of overseas.

There were photographs wherein the master of "Idle Times" and Mr. George
Benton appeared together, ranging from ancient football days to
snapshots of a mountain-climbing expedition in the Andes, dated only two
years back.

It was into this sanctum that Benton clanked, booted and spurred, early
the following morning.

Ostensibly Van was looking over business letters, but there was a trace
of wander-lust in the eyes that strayed off with dreamy truancy beyond
the tree-tops.

Benton planted himself before his host with folded arms, and stood
looking down almost accusingly into the face of his old friend.

"Whenever I have anything particularly unpleasant to do," began the
guest, "I do it quick. That's why I'm here now."

Van Bristow looked up, mildly astonished.

During a decade of intimacy these two men had joyously, affectionately
and consistently insulted each other on all possible occasions. Now,
however, there was a certain purposeful ring in Benton's voice which
told the other this was quite different from the time-honored
affectation of slander. Consequently his demand for further
enlightenment came with terse directness.

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