Tom hesitated and began to mop his forehead again.
"Please don't mind me," Victoria pleaded.
"Well, all right," said Tom, "I'll tell you the truth, or die for it. But I don't want to make you-unhappy."
"You will do me a kindness, Mr. Gaylord," she said, "by telling me what you believe to be true."
There was a note in her voice which young Tom did not understand. Afterwards, when he reflected about the matter, he wondered if she were unhappy.
"I don't want to blame Hilary too much," he answered. "I know Austen don't. Hilary's grown up with that way of doing things, and in the old days there was no other way. Hilary is the chief counsel for the Northeastern, and he runs the Republican organization in this State for their benefit. But Austen made up his mind that there was no reason why he should grow up that way. He says that'a lawyer should keep to his profession, and not become a lobbyist in the interest of his clients. He lived with the old man until the other day, because he has a real soft spot for him. Austen put up with a good deal. And then Hilary turned loose on him and said a lot of things he couldn't stand. Austen didn't answer, but went up and packed his bags and made Hilary's housekeeper promise to stay with him, or she'd have left, too. They say Hilary's sorry, now. He's fond of Austen, but he can't get along with him."
"Do--Do you know what they quarreled about?" asked Victoria, in a low voice.
"This spring," said Tom, "the Gaylord Lumber Company made Austen junior counsel. He ran across a law the other day that nobody else seems to have had sense enough to discover, by which we can sue the railroad for excessive freight rates. It means a lot of money. He went right in to Hilary and showed him the section, told him that suit was going to be brought, and offered to resign. Hilary flew off the track--and said if he didn't bring suit he'd publish it all over the State that Austen started it. Galusha Hammer, our senior counsel, is sick, and I don't think he'll ever get well. That makes Austen senior counsel. But he persuaded old Tom, my father, not to bring this suit until after the political campaign, until Mr. Crewe gets through with his fireworks. Hilary doesn't know that."