"We've been through a lot of rows together," Tom continued, warming to his subject, "in school and college. You see, Austen's the kind of man who doesn't care what anybody thinks, if he takes it into his head to do a thing. It was a great piece of luck for me that he shot that fellow out West, or he wouldn't be here now. You heard about that, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Victoria, "I believe I did."
"And yet," said Tom, "although I'm as good a friend as he has, I never quite got under his skin. There's some things I wouldn't talk to him about. I've learned that. I never told him, for instance, that I saw him out in a sleigh with you at the capital."
"Oh," said Victoria; and she added, "Is he ashamed of it?"
"It's not that," replied Tom, hastily, "but I guess if he'd wanted me to know about it, he'd have told me."
Victoria had begun to realize that, in the few minutes which had elapsed since she had found herself on the roadside, gazing up into young Tom's eyes, she had somehow become quite intimate with him.
"I fancy he would have told you all there was to tell about it--if the matter had occurred to him again," she said, with the air of finally dismissing a subject already too prolonged. But Tom knew nothing of the shades and conventions of the art of conversation.
"He's never told me he knew you at all!" he exclaimed, staring at Victoria. Apparently some of the aspects of this now significant omission on Austen's part were beginning to dawn on Tom.