At the instant he was saying “Huh?” Blow knew precisely what Barbara Bassett had just said to him. Ordinarily such sloppiness would embarrass him. He was a lawyer. Lawyers were trained to keep ahead of everyone else or else to react quickly enough with something like “That's a damn good question” or “Are you sure?” to jangle the narrative, buy a little time. Lawyers did not say “Huh?” unless they were being sarcastic, and Barbara Bassett, the semi-retired secretary he'd inherited from his father, would tolerate sarcasm only if done playfully. Blow and Bassett were feeling anything but playful.
He recovered quickly, almost quickly enough to keep it from being a question. But even as a question he had wiggle room. It was noisy around them, and Bassett had lowered her voice a tad more than necessary to keep potential eavesdroppers from picking up what she said. He rotated his head to complement the “Huh?” which served also to compliment her for noticing something of possible importance he had missed. In fact, it occurred to him as he surveyed the courtroom, a flat unquestioning “Huh” might have sounded patronizing. Sensing that his response had done no harm triggered a warm pulse of reassurance his instincts at least were in balance. This came as a particularly welcome affirmation in the foggy uncertainty that shrouded the trial's conclusion for him after his tumble through the emotional rapids.
Buoyed momentarily by Bacon's successful testimony, his confidence dropped under Bacon's mood change. Rose again on the crest of his closing argument, then a plunge wondering what was wrong with his client. Buffeted in the struggle with self-doubt over the two-hour jury mystery. Ascending on the private hope from a verdictless two hours, jarred by Leonard Bacon's violating the two-hour taboo, startled to near abdominal collapse by the inside knock on the jury room door, and giddily relieved by the break for lunch. His calm response to Bassett's question was less a triumph of intent than a product of nervous fatigue.