ANTAGONISM IS BORN AND WAR DECLARED
“Why—hello, Hermy!” exclaimed Spike, pausing in the doorway. “Gee, I thought you was—were in Englewood.”
Hermione lifted her golden head, stayed her humming sewing-machine, and smiled at him.
“And I thought I’d come home and surprise you. Aren’t you glad to see me, boy dear?”
“Why, sure I am!” he answered, and stooping, kissed a golden curl that wantoned at her white temple; which done, he sprawled in the easy-chair and taking a newspaper from his pocket, fell to studying the latest baseball scores while Hermione, head bent above her work again, glanced at him now and then rather wistfully.
“Gee whiz,” he exclaimed suddenly, “the Giants put it all over Cincinnati to-day, Hermy. Y’ see, Matty was in th’ box, an’ he sure pitched some game!”
Hermione stopped her machine and looked at him under wrinkling brows.
“I thought you were hunting through the ‘wanted’ columns, Arthur?”
“Why, y’ see I ain’t—haven’t got to the ads yet, Hermy.”
Hermione sighed softly and, resting her round chin in her hands, viewed him silently awhile until, becoming aware of the steadfast gaze of those sweet and gentle eyes, Spike shuffled uneasily and changed colour.
“Arthur,” she said softly, “when you promised me to try and find a situation you meant it, didn’t you?”
“Sure I did!”
“That was a week ago, dear.”
“But, Hermy, I went after that office-boy’s job—you know I did!”
“Yes, dear, though you got there too late.”
“No, I wasn’t late, Hermy, only another guy happened t’ get there first—an’ got the job! A kid I could have licked with one hand, too. One of these mommer’s pets in a nobby sack suit—all dolled up in a clean collar an’ a bow-tie an’ grey kid gloves. I guess his outfit helped him a whole lot—an’ y’ see I’m a few chips shy on clothes, I guess.”
Hermione looked at her brother’s worn garments, shiny at elbow and knee, and as she looked, her eyes were suddenly suffused.
“Yes, dear, I—I’m afraid they are—rather shabby,” she admitted humbly. “Your clothes always did seem to wear out so very quickly! And—and it costs so much to live! And—sometimes I grow—afraid—”
The smooth, low voice faltered and ended upon a sob. Spike stared in wide-eyed amaze, for seldom had he seen his sister thus, but now, beholding the droop of that brave head, seeing how her strong white hands gripped each other, he tossed the paper aside, and flinging himself on his knees clasped her in his arms.
“Don’t cry, Hermy!” he pleaded. “Oh, don’t cry, I—I can’t bear it. You know I love you best in the world—ah, don’t cry, dear. I—I’ll hunt up a job first thing—honest I will—”
“But your clothes are so very shabby!” she sobbed, “and oh, boy dear, I have only just enough to—pay our rent this month—so I can’t get you any more—yet, dear!”