The Lighted Match (Chapter 3, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 3

"How did it happen, Van? How did you acquire your gorgeous relatives?"
persisted O'Barreton.

"Some day I'll tell you all about it. Do you think the Elkridge hounds
will run--"

"I addressed a question to you. That question is still before the
house," interrupted O'Barreton, with dignity. "How did you acquire 'em?"

"Inherited 'em!" snapped Van, but O'Barreton was not to be turned aside.

"Quite true and quite epigrammatic," he persisted sweetly. "But how?"

Van turned to the rest of the table. "You don't have to listen to this,"
he said in despair. "I have to go through it with O'Barreton every time
he comes here. It's a sort of ritual." Then, turning to the tormenting
guest, he explained carefully: "Once upon a time the Earl of Dundredge
had three daughters. The eldest--my mother--married an American husband.
The second married an Englishman--she is the mother of my fair cousin,
Cara, there; the third and youngest married the third son of the Grand
Duke of Maritzburg, at that time a quiet gentleman who loved the Champs
Elysées and landscape-painting in Southern Spain."

Van traced a family-tree on the tablecloth with a salt-spoon, for his
guest's better information.

"That doesn't enlighten me on the semi-royal status of your Aunt
Maritzburg," objected O'Barreton. "How did she grow so great?"

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