The Lighted Match (Chapter 4, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 4

Benton nodded and a defiant glint came to his pupils.

"I come to serve notice," he announced briefly, "of something I mean to
do."

Van took the pipe from his mouth and regarded it with concentrated
attention, while his friend went on in carefully gauged voice.

"I am here," he explained, "as a guest in your house. I mean to make war
on certain plans and arrangements which presumably have your sympathy
and support--and I mean to make the hardest war I know." He paused, but
as Van gave no indication of cutting in, he went on in aggressive
announcement. "What I mean to do is my business--mine and a girl's--but
since she is your kinswoman and this is your place, it wouldn't be quite
fair to begin without warning."

For a time Bristow's attitude remained that of deep and silent
reflection. Finally he knocked the ashes from his pipe and came over
until he stood directly confronting Benton.

"So she has told you?" was his brief question at last.

The other nodded.

The master of "Idle Times" paced thoughtfully up and down the room. When
at length he stopped it was to clap his hand on his class-mate's
shoulder.

"George," he said, with a voice hardened to edit down the note of
sympathy that threatened it, "you seem to start out with the assumption
that I am against you. Get that out of your head. Cara has hungered for
freedom. We've felt that she had the right to, at least, her little
intervals of recess. It happened that she could have them here. Here she
could be Miss Carstow--and cease to be Cara of Maritzburg. I am sorry if
you--and she--must pay for these vacations with your happiness. I see
now that people who are sentenced to imprisonment, should not play with
liberty."

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