"Mr. Flint," he began, in his peculiar deep and resonant voice, "you've said some things to-day that I won't forget. I want to tell you, first of all, that I admire my son."
"I thought so," Mr. Flint interrupted.
"And more than that," the Honourable Hilary continued, "I prophesy that the time will come when you'll admire him. Austen Vane never did an underhanded thing in his life--or committed a mean action. He's be'n wild, but he's always told me the truth. I've done him injustice a good many times, but I won't stand up and listen to another man do him injustice." Here he paused, and picked up his bag. "I'm going down to Ripton to write out my resignation as counsel for your roads, and as soon as you can find another man to act, I shall consider it accepted."
It is difficult to put down on paper the sensations of the president of the Northeastern Railroads as he listened to these words from a man with whom he had been in business relations for over a quarter of a century, a man upon whose judgment he had always relied implicitly, who had been a strong fortress in time of trouble. Such sentences had an incendiary, blasphemous ring on Hilary Vane's lips--at first. It was as if the sky had fallen, and the Northeastern had been wiped out of existence.
Mr. Flint's feelings were, in a sense, akin to those of a traveller by sea who wakens out of a sound sleep in his cabin, with peculiar and unpleasant sensations, which he gradually discovers are due to cold water, and he realizes that the boat on which he is travelling is sinking.
The Honourable Hilary, with his bag, was halfway to the door, when Mr. Flint crossed the room in three strides and seized him by the arm.
"Hold on, Vane," he said, speaking with some difficulty; "I'm--I'm a little upset this morning, and my temper got the best of me. You and I have been good friends for too many years for us to part this way. Sit down a minute, for God's sake, and let's cool off. I didn't intend to say what I did. I apologize."
Mr. Flint dropped his counsel's arm, and pulled out a handkerchief, and mopped his face. "Sit down, Hilary," he said.