In the opinion of many of the spectators Austen Vane had yet to learn the art of oratory. He might with propriety have portrayed the suffering and loss of the poor farmer who was his client; he merely quoted from the doctor's testimony to the effect that Mr. Meader would never again be able to do physical labour of the sort by which he had supported himself, and ended up by calling the attention of the jury to the photographs and plans of the crossing he had obtained two days after the accident, requesting them to note the facts that the public highway, approaching through a dense forest and underbrush at an angle of thirty-three degrees, climbed the railroad embankment at that point, and a train could not be seen until the horse was actually on the track.
The jury was out five minutes after the judge's charge, and gave Mr. Zebulun Meader a verdict of six thousand dollars and costs,--a popular verdict, from the evident approval with which it was received in the court room. Quiet being restored, Mr. Billings requested, somewhat vehemently, that the case be transferred on the exceptions to the Supreme Court, that the stenographer write out the evidence, and that he might have three weeks in which to prepare a draft. This was granted.
Zeb Meader, true to his nature, was self-contained throughout the congratulations he received, but his joy was nevertheless intense.
"You shook 'em up good, Austen," he said, making his way to where his counsel stood. "I suspicioned you'd do it. But how about this here appeal?"
"Billings is merely trying to save the face of his railroad," Austen answered, smiling. "He hasn't the least notion of allowing this case to come up again--take my word for it."
"I guess your word's good," said Zeb. "And I want to tell you one thing, as an old man. I've been talkin' to Putnam County folks some, and you hain't lost nothin' by this."
"How am I to get along without the friendship of Brush Bascom?" asked Austen, soberly.
Mr. Meader, who had become used to this mild sort of humour, relaxed sufficiently to laugh.