"Hello, Nat," said Austen, and went in.
The Honourable Hilary sat in his usual arm-chair; Mr. Botcher severely strained the tensile strength of the bedsprings; Mr. Hamilton Tooting stood before the still waving portieres in front of the folding doors; and Mr. Manning, the division superintendent, sat pensively, with his pen in his mouth, before the marble-topped table from which everything had been removed but a Bible. Two gentlemen, whom Austen recognized as colleagues of Mr. Billings in the State Senate, stood together in a window, pointing out things of interest in the street. Austen walked up to his father and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"How are you, Judge?" he said. "I only came into pay my respects. I hope I have not disturbed any--entertainment going on here," he added, glancing in turn at the thoughtful occupants of the room, and then at the curtains which hid the folding doors to the apartment of his Excellency.
"Why, no," answered the Honourable Hilary, his customary grunt being the only indication of surprise on his part; "didn't know you were coming down."
"I didn't know it myself until this morning," said Austen.
"Legislative case, I suppose," remarked the Honourable Jacob Botcher, in his deep voice.
"No, merely a pleasure trip, Mr. Botcher."
The Honourable Jacob rubbed his throat, the two State senators in the window giggled, and Mr. Hamilton Tooting laughed.