"It wasn't worth mentioning," said Victoria, briefly, seeking for a pretext to change the subject.
"I don't believe that," said Tom, "you can't expect me to sit here and look at you and believe that. How long has he known you?"
"I saw him once or twice last summer, at Leith," said Victoria, now wavering between laughter and exasperation. She had got herself into a quandary indeed when she had to parry the appalling frankness of such inquiries.
"The more you see of him, the more you'll admire him, I'll prophesy," said Tom. "If he'd been content to travel along the easy road, as most fellows are, he would have been counsel for the Northeastern. Instead of that--" here Tom halted abruptly, and turned scarlet: "I forgot," he said, "I'm always putting my foot in it, with ladies."
He was so painfully confused that Victoria felt herself suffering with him, and longed to comfort him.
"Please go on, Mr. Gaylord," she said; "I am very much interested in my neighbours here, and I know that a great many of them think that the railroad meddles in politics. I've tried to find out what they think, but it is so difficult for a woman to understand. If matters are wrong, I'm sure my father will right them when he knows the situation. He has so much to attend to." She paused. Tom was still mopping his forehead. "You may say anything you like to me, and I shall not take offence."
Tom's admiration of her was heightened by this attitude.
"Austen wouldn't join Mr. Crewe in his little game, anyway," he said. "When Ham Tooting, Crewe's manager, came to him he kicked him downstairs."