"I thought the time'd come when you'd want to go off again,--gypsying," he cried.
"I'd stay right here in Ripton, Judge. I believe my work is in this State.
The Honour could see through a millstone with a hole in it. The effect of Austen's assertion on him was a declaration that the mission of the one was to tear down what the other had so laboriously built up. And yet a growing dread of Hilary Vane's had been the loneliness of declining years in that house should Austen leave it again, never to return.
"I knew you had this Meader business in mind," he said. "I knew you had fanciful notions about--some things. Never told you I didn't want you here, did I?"
Would have told you if I hadn't wanted you--wouldn't I?"
"I hope so, Judge," said Austen, who understood something of the feeling which underlay this brusquenees. That knowledge made matters all the harder for him.
"It was your mother's house--you're entitled to that, anyway," said the Honourable Hilary, "but what I want to know is, why you didn't advise that eternal fool of a Meader to accept what we offered him. You'll never get a county jury to give as much."
"I did advise him to accept it," answered Austen.