"Good-by, Austen," said Mr. Vane.
Austen got as far as the door, cast another look back at his father,--who was sitting motionless, with head bowed, as when he came,--and went out. So Mr. Vane remained for a full minute after the door had closed, and then he raised his head sharply and gave a piercing glance at the curtains that separated Number Seven from the governor's room. In three strides he had reached them, flung them open, and the folding doors behind them, already parted by four inches. The gas was turned low, but under the chandelier was the figure of a young man struggling with an overcoat. The Honourable Hilary did not hesitate, but came forward with a swiftness that paralyzed the young man, who turned upon him a face on which was meant to be written surprise and a just indignation, but in reality was a mixture of impudence and pallid fright. The Honourable Hilary, towering above him, and with that grip on his arm, was a formidable person.
"Listening, were you, Ham?" he demanded.
"No," cried Mr. Tooting, with a vehemence he meant for force. "No, I wasn't. Listening to who?"
"Humph " said the Honourable Hilary, still retaining with one hand the grip on Mr. Tooting 's arm, and with the other turning up the gas until it flared in Mr. Tooting's face. "What are you doing in the governor's room?"
"I left my overcoat in here this afternoon when you sent me to bring up the senator."
"Ham," said Mr. Vane, "it isn't any use lying to me."
"I ain't lying to you," said Mr. Tooting, "I never did. I often lied for you," he added, "and you didn't raise any objections that I remember."