They went down upon their knees where they stood; and Dr Drummond did little less than order Divine interference; but the prayer that was inaudible was to the opposite purpose.
Ten minutes later the minister himself opened the door to let Finlay out into the night. “You will remember,” he said as they shook hands, “that what I think of your position in this matter makes no difference whatever to the question of your aunt’s coming here with Miss Cameron when they arrive. You will bring them to this house as a matter of course. I wish you could be guided to a different conclusion but, after all, it is your own conscience that must be satisfied. They will be better here than at the Murchisons’,” he added with a last shaft of reproach, “and they will be very welcome.”
It said much for Dr Drummond that Finlay was able to fall in with the arrangement. He went back to his boarding-house, and added a postscript embodying it to his letter to Bross. Then he walked out upon the midnight two feverish miles to the town, and posted the letter. The way back was longer and colder.
“Well, Winter,” said Octavius Milburn, “I expect there’s business in this for you.”
Mr Milburn and Mr Winter had met in the act of unlocking their boxes at the post-office. Elgin had enjoyed postal delivery for several years, but not so much as to induce men of business to abandon the post-office box that had been the great convenience succeeding window inquiry. In time the boxes would go, but the habit of dropping in for your own noonday mail on the way home to dinner was deep-rooted, and undoubtedly you got it earlier. Moreover, it takes time to engender confidence in a postman when he is drawn from your midst, and when you know perfectly well that he would otherwise be driving the mere watering-cart, or delivering the mere ice, as he was last year.
“Looks like it,” responded Mr Winter, cheerfully. “The boys have been round as usual. I told them they’d better try another shop this time, but they seemed to think the old reliable was good enough to go on with.”
This exchange, to anyone in Elgin, would have been patently simple. On that day there was only one serious topic in Elgin, and there could have been only one reference to business for Walter Winter. The Dominion had come up the day before with the announcement that Mr Robert Farquharson who, for an aggregate of eleven years, had represented the Liberals of South Fox in the Canadian House of Commons, had been compelled under medical advice to withdraw from public life. The news was unexpected, and there was rather a feeling among Mr Farquharson’s local support in Elgin that it shouldn’t have come from Toronto. It will be gathered that Horace Williams, as he himself acknowledged, was wild. The general feeling, and to some extent Mr Williams’s, was appeased by the further information that Mr Farquharson had