“That’s my wise dearie!” nodded Mrs. Trapes. “And good luck to ye, Mr. Geoffrey, an’ when you find that b’y, say as I wish—ah, how I wish I was back of him with a toasting fork, that’s all!”
Mr. Ravenslee caught up the shabby hat, opened the door, and going out, closed it softly behind him.
“Hermy,” said Mrs. Trapes, clasping the girl’s slender waist in her long arm and leading her into the brightest of bright little kitchens, “I like that young feller—who he is I don’t know, what he does I don’t know, but what he is I do know, an’ that’s—a man, my dear! An’ he called you—Hermione! Sounds kind o’ pretty the way he says it, don’t you think?” But Hermione didn’t answer.
Meanwhile Mr. Ravenslee, descending the monotonous stairs, paused suddenly to smile and to clap hand to thigh.
“A toasting fork!” said he, “a toasting fork is an instrument possessing three or more sharp points! Ha! Mrs. Trapes is a woman of singularly apposite ideas.” And he smiled a little grimly as he went on down the stairs.
WHICH RECOUNTS THE END OF AN EPISODE
Midway down he beheld two burly policemen who mounted, one behind the other, their grey helmets, blue coats, and silver buttons seeming to fill the narrow stairway.
“Anything wrong?” he enquired, as they drew level.
“Not wid you dis time, bo!” answered one, blandly contemptuous, and strode on up the stair, twirling his club in practised hand, his fellow officer at his heels.
Thus rebuked, Mr. Ravenslee looked after them with quick-drawn brows until, remembering his broken hat brim and shabby clothes, he smiled and went upon his way. Reaching the dingy lower hall he beheld the solitary gas-jet flare whose feeble light showed five lounging forms, rough fellows who talked together in hoarse murmurs and with heads close together.
He was passing by, when, in one of these deep-throated talkers, he recognised the long limbs and wide, sloping shoulders of the Spider. Mr. Ravenslee paused and nodded.
“Good evening!” said he, but this time kept his hands in his pockets. The Spider eyed him somewhat askance, shifted his wad of chewing gum from one cheek to the other, and spoke.
“’Lo!” said he.
“Do you know where Spike is?”
“S’pose I do—then what?” demanded the Spider with a truculent lurch of his wide shoulders.
“Then I shall ask you to tell me where I can find him—or better still, you might show me.”
“Oh, might I?”
The feelings of the Spider waxing beyond mere words, he looked at the speaker, viewed him up and down with a glance of contemptuous hostility, whereat Ravenslee’s whole expression melted into one of lamblike meekness.
“Say,” quoth the Spider at last, “there’s only one thing as I can’t stand about you, an’ that’s—everything!”