I read that as "he waited a beat before continuing", though I did think it was odd to shorten it to such an extreme. I could go either way on whether or not it was deliberate.
Shouldn't "till" be 'til, since it's short for "until"? I've never seen it spelled with two L's. (I'm Canadian, though, so perhaps it's some newfangled U.S. spelling I need to learn.