“No—no! It ain’t true—oh, my God!”
And with the cry, Spike turned sharp about and, springing to a run, vanished into the shadows.
“What’s the matter?” demanded Ravenslee, turning on the Spider.
“Matter?” repeated that youth, staring at him under his cap brim again; “well, say—I guess you’d better ask d’ Kid.”
“Where’s he gone?”
“How do I know?”
“It isn’t—his sister, is it?”
“Miss Hermione? Well, I guess not!” So saying, the Spider, chewing ferociously, turned and vanished down the dark entry with divers other shadows.
For a moment Mr. Ravenslee stood where he was, staring uncertainly after him; presently however he went on toward Mulligan’s, though very slowly, and with black brows creased in frowning perplexity.
CONCERNING ANKLES, STAIRS, AND NEIGHBOURLINESS
It was in no very pleasant humour that Geoffrey Ravenslee began to climb the many stairs (that much-trodden highway) that led up to his new abode; he climbed them slowly, frowning in a dark perplexity, and wholly unconscious of the folk that jostled him or paused to stare after him as he went.
But presently, and all at once, he became aware of one who climbed half a flight above him, and, glancing up, he saw a foot in a somewhat worn shoe, a shapely foot nevertheless, joined to a slender ankle which peeped and vanished alternately beneath a neat, well-brushed skirt that swayed to the vigorous action of the shapely limbs it covered. He was yet observing the soft, rounded curves of this most feminine back when he became aware of two facts: one, that she bore a heavy suit case in her neatly gloved hand; two, that the tress of hair peeping rebellious beneath the neat hat brim was of a wondrous yellow gold. Instantly he hastened his steps, and reaching out his hand almost instinctively, sought to relieve her of her burden.
“Allow me!” said he.
She stopped, and turning on the stair above, looked down on him with a pair of wondering blue eyes; her cheeks glowed, and she was panting a little. For a long moment they fronted each other thus silently upon that grimy, narrow stair, she above with gracious head stooped, her dark eyes questioning and wistful. And looking up into the flushed loveliness of her face, those eyes deep and soft beneath their long, black lashes, the tender droop of those vivid lips, beholding all this, he knew her to be a thousand times more beautiful than any photograph could possibly portray, wherefore he bared his head, and striving to speak, could find no words to utter. For a moment longer she hesitated while her clear eyes searched his face, then the red lips curved in a little wistful smile.
“Thank you!” she said, and, yielding him her burden, led the way up-stairs. “I’m afraid it’s rather heavy,” she said over her shoulder after they had climbed another flight.