The Honourable Hilary took the slip of paper in his hand and stared at it. "The rates for fares and freights existing at the time of the passage of this act shall mot be increased on the roads leased or united under it." What his sensations were when he read it no man might have read in his face, but his hand trembled a little, and along silence ensued before he gave it back to his son with the simple comment:--
"I do not wish to be understood to ask your legal opinion, although you probably know that lumber rates have been steadily raised, and if a suit under that section were successful the Gaylord Lumber Company could recover a very large sum of money from the Northeastern Railroads," said Austen. "Having discovered the section, I believe it to be my duty to call it to the attention of the Gaylords. What I wish to know is, whether my taking the case would cause you any personal inconvenience or distress? If so, I will refuse it."
"No," answered the Honourable Hilary, "it won't. Bring suit. Much use it'll be. Do you expect they can recover under that section?"
"I think it is worth trying," said Austen.
"Why didn't somebody try it before?" asked the Honourable Hilary.
"See here, Judge, I wish you'd let me out of an argument about it. Suit is going to be brought, whether I bring it or another man. If you would prefer for any reason that I shouldn't bring it--I won't. I'd much rather resign as counsel for the Gaylords--and I am prepared to do so."
"Bring suit," answered the Honourable Hilary, quickly, "bring suit by all means. And now's your time. This seems to be a popular season for attacking the property which is the foundation of the State's prosperity." ("Book of Arguments," chapter 3.)
In spite of himself, Austen smiled again. Long habit had accustomed Hilary Vane to put business considerations before family ties; and this habit had been the secret of his particular success. And now, rather than admit by the least sign the importance of his son's discovery of the statute (which he had had in mind for many years, and to which he had more than once, by the way, called Mr. Flint's attention), the Honourable Hilary deliberately belittled the matter as part and parcel of the political tactics against the Northeastern.