Barney gave no sign of recognition, and Barlow, after a casual glance at him, returned to his food. Barney, in solitude at one end of the bar, slowly sipped with a sort of indignation against his kickless purchase. Presently Gavegan was beside him, having most convincing ill-luck in his attempts to light his cigar from a box of splintering safety matches which stood at that end of the bar.
"Why? How could I? He would have recognized me. There would have been a scene, a row, a flare up, a mob round us, I dare say. I had no idea it would so upset me; to see him selling matches too; glad we did not meet at Gatesboro'. Not even for that L100 do I think I could have faced him. No; as he said when we last parted, 'The world is wide enough for both. Give me some brandy; thank you."
A million dollars' worth of gunpowder and three hundred thousand dollars' worth of matches are the annual product. Eleuthère Irenée Du Pont, a French gentleman of honorable family, appeared in Wilmington in 1802. The town had at that time hardly three thousand inhabitants.
Such matches may be said to be heaven-made. It is a fair question whether they do not answer better than those which have less of chance, or less of heaven, in their manufacture.
"Here, quit!" called Roland. "Do you think we fellows are lined with matches? We really might want one for the fire, you know." "Oh, certainly," assented Nat, discontinuing his pastime. "I was just trying the flue." "But I say, fellows," remarked Tom seriously, "isn't this great? What do you suppose the place stands for?" "A woodchopper's cabin," Ned replied.
Why does one woman make matches, ride in a van to Epping Forest, drink gin, and change hats with her lover on the homeward journey; another pant through a dinner-party and half a dozen receptions every night from March to June, rush from country house to fashionable Continental resort from July to February, dress as she is instructed by her milliner, say the smart things that are expected of her?
Matches are soon made. Up go the aërial combatants, and with straining eyes and beating hearts their fate is watched from below. But their masters are far from passive, for this is no game of chance, depending upon the wind.
At the other end of the shelf, within easy reach from one lying upon the bunk, was a cigar-box full of smoking tobacco, a half-dozen books of cigarette papers, and several blocks of the small, evil-smelling matches which men of the outdoors carry for their compact form and slow, steady blaze.
'Then, said I, 'here are two matches in my grasp: be good enough to draw one. Now she was hit to the heart: I saw her eyes widen to the width of horror, with a glassy stare: she had read of the drawing of lots in the Bible: she knew that it meant death for me, or for her.
She had come up without her candle, and the only light in the room was a cold glimmer from the snow outside. But she must find a light, for she must write a letter. By much groping, she found some matches, and then lit one after another while she searched in her untidy drawers for an ink-bottle and a pen she knew must be there.