The Lighted Match (Chapter 21, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 21

The following day was Tuesday. It found Benton nearer cheerfulness than
he had been since the Isis had in February pointed her bow eastward
for the run across the Atlantic, under sealed orders.

To Blanco the yachtsman announced that he would lunch at Parker's, and
evasively asked the Spaniard if he would mind being left alone for the

As the coachman, hailed at random from the mob of brigands by the
Custom-house entrance, cracked his whip over the bony stallion in the
fiacre shafts, Benton began to notice that Naples was altogether
charming. He found no refusals for the tatterdemalion vagabonds who
pattered alongside to thrust their violets over the carriage door.

At last, as he paced one of the main parlors of the hotel, his eyes
riveted on the street entrance, he heard a laugh behind him; a laugh
tempered with a vibrant mellowness which was of a sort with no other
laugh, and which set him vibrating in turn, as promptly as a tuning-fork
answers to its note.

The sound brought him round in such electric haste as almost resulted in
collision with the girl behind him.

He was prepared, of course, to find in her incognita no suggestion of
Royalty, yet now when he met her standing alone, and could take the hand
she held out to him with her heart-breaking, heart-recompensating smile,
he felt a distinct sense of astonishment.

"I'm having a holiday," she declared. "It's to be the Queen's day off
and you are being allowed to play host with the Isis. Do you approve?"

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