"Howdy, Austen?" said Brush, genially, lookin' for the Honourable Hilary? Flint got up from New York this morning, and sent for him a couple of hours ago. He'll be back at two."
"Have you read the pronunciamento?" inquired Mr. Billings. "Say, Austen, knowin' your sentiments, I wonder you weren't one of the twenty prominent citizens."
"All you anti-railroad fellers ought to get together," Mr. Bascom suggested; "you've got us terrified since your friend from Leith turned the light of publicity on us this morning. I hear Ham Tooting's been in and made you an offer."
"Austen kicked him downstairs," said Jimmy Towle, the office boy, who had made a breathless entrance during the conversation, and felt it to be the psychological moment to give vent to the news with which he was bursting.
"Is that straight?" Mr. Billings demanded. He wished he had done it himself. "Is that straight?" he repeated, but Austen had gone.
"Of course it's straight," said Jimmy Towle, vigorously. A shrewd observer of human nature, he had little respect for Senator Billings. "Ned Johnson saw him pick himself up at the foot of Austen's stairway."
The Honourable Brush's agate eyes caught the light, and he addressed Mr. Billings in a voice which, by dint of long training, only carried a few feet.
"There's the man the Northeastern's got to look out for," he said. "The Humphrey Crewes don't count. But if Austen Vane ever gets started, there'll be trouble. Old man Flint's got some such idea as that, too. I overheard him givin' it to old Hilary once, up at Fairview, and Hilary said he couldn't control him. I guess nobody else can control him. I wish I'd seen him kick Ham downstairs."