The Lighted Match (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)


Previous Page
Next Page

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
riding-gauntlets.

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.

"Colonel Von Ritz is here," confided Bristow. "Arrived by the next train
after you and was for posting off in search of you instanter. He acted
very much like a summons-server or a bailiff. He's ensconced in rooms
adjoining yours. You might look in on him as you go up to dress. He
seems to be in the very devil of a hurry."

Pagratide's brows went up in evident annoyance and for an instant there
was a defiant stiffening of his jaw, but when he spoke his voice held
neither excitement nor surprise.

"Ah, indeed!" The exclamation was casual. He watched the glowing end of
his cigarette for a moment, then magnanimously added: "However, since he
has followed across three thousand miles, I had better see him."

The host turned to the girl. "I'm borrowing this young man until
dinner," he vouchsafed as he led Pagratide to the door.

Cara stood watching the two as they passed into the hall; then her face
changed suddenly as though she had been leaving a stage and had laid
aside a part--abandoning a semblance which it was no longer necessary to
maintain. A pained droop came to the corners of her lips and she dropped
wearily into the broad oak seat of the inglenook. There she sat, with
her chin propped on her hands, elbows on her knees, and gazed silently
at the logs.

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.6/5 (272 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment