“Sorry for that,” murmured Ravenslee, “because I rather like you, Spider. I think you could be quite a decent fellow if you tried very hard! Come, shake your grouch and let’s be friends.”
“Say,” growled the Spider, “what you’re sufferin’ from’s a hard neck! You ain’t no friend o’ mine—not much you ain’t, savvy? So crank up an’ get on yer way like a good little feller!”
“But you see I’m anxious to find Spike because—”
“Well, say, you keep on bein’ anxious, only do it somewheres else. I don’t want youse around where I am, see? So beat it while d’ goin’s good!”
“Why—er—no,” said Ravenslee in his laziest tones, “no, I don’t think I’ll beat it. I guess I’ll stay right here and wait until you are so kind, so—er—very kind and obliging as to show me where I can find Spike.” And he sighed plaintively as he lounged against the wall behind, but his eyes were surprisingly bright and quick beneath the shadow of the battered hat.
“Hully Chee!” exclaimed the Spider, expectorating contemptuously, “hark to the flossy-boy, fellers! Aw, run away, now!” said he, scowling suddenly, “run away before ye get slapped on th’ wrist!” and, while divers of his companions laughed hoarsely, he turned a contemptuous back on Mr. Ravenslee. But even then he was seized in iron fingers that clutched his shoulder and, in that painful grip, was jerked suddenly around again to behold a face vicious-eyed, thin-lipped, square-jawed, fiercely outthrust. Recognising the “fighting-face”, the Spider, being a fighter of a large and varied experience, immediately “covered up”, and fell into that famous crouch of his that had proved the undoing of so many doughty fighters ere now. Then, like a flash, his long arm shot out, but in that same instant, Ravenslee, timing the blow to a fraction, moved slightly, and the Spider’s knuckles bruised themselves against the wall at the precise moment that Ravenslee’s open hand flipped lightly on the side of the Spider’s square, lean jaw.
The Spider drew back, staring from Ravenslee’s tall, alert figure to his bruised knuckles and back again, while his companions stood by in mute and wide-eyed wonder.
“Spider,” said Ravenslee, shaking his head in grave reproof, “you were rather slow that time—very foolish to leave your point uncovered and offer me your jaw like that, you know!”
Five pairs of eyes stared at the speaker with a new and suddenly awakened interest, and beholding in him that lithe assurance of poise, that indefinable air that bespeaks the trained pugilist and which cannot be mistaken, elbows were nudged, and heads wagged knowingly.
Ravenslee’s grey eyes were shining, and his pale cheeks tinged with colour.
“Ah, Spider,” said he, “life is rather worth while after all, isn’t it? Spider, I like you better and better; come, don’t be a surly Spider, shake hands!”
“T’ hell wid youse!” growled the Spider, covering up again, and, though his face was sulky yet was no trace of contempt there now.