As they drove up Main Street they encountered Walter Winter, who looked after them with a deeply considering eye.
“Old Ormiston always had the Imperial bee in his bonnet,” said he.
Alfred Hesketh was among the first to hear of Lorne’s nomination to represent the constituency of South Fox in the Dominion Parliament. The Milburns told him; it was Dora who actually made the communication. The occasion was high tea; Miss Milburn’s apprehension about Englishmen and late dinner had been dissipated in great amusement. Mr Hesketh liked nothing better than high tea, liked nothing so much. He came often to the Milburns’ after Mrs Milburn said she hoped he would, and pleased her extremely by the alacrity with which he accepted her first invitation to stay to what she described as their very simple and unconventional meal. Later he won her approval entirely by saying boldly that he hoped he was going to be allowed to stay. It was only in good English society, Mrs Milburn declared, that you found such freedom and confidence; it reminded her of Mrs Emmett’s saying that her sister-in-law in London was always at home to lunch. Mrs Milburn considered a vague project of informing a select number of her acquaintances that she was always at home to high tea, but on reflection dismissed it, in case an inconvenient number should come at once. She would never have gone into detail, but since a tin of sardines will only hold so many, I may say for her that it was the part of wisdom.
Mr Hesketh, however, wore the safe and attractive aspect of a single exceptional instance; there were always sardines enough for him. It will be imagined what pleasure Mrs Milburn and Miss Filkin took in his visits, how he propped up their standard of behaviour in all things unessential, which was too likely to be growing limp, so far from approved examples. I think it was a real aesthetic satisfaction; I know they would talk of it afterward for hours, with sighing comparisons of the “form” of the young men of Elgin, which they called beside Hesketh’s quite outre. It was a favourite word with Mrs Milburn —outre. She used it like a lorgnette, and felt her familiarity with it a differentiating mark. Mr Milburn, never so susceptible to delicate distinctions, looked upon the young Englishman with benevolent neutrality. Dora wished it to be understood that she reserved her opinion. He might be all that he seemed, and again he might not. Englishmen were so deep. They might have nice manners, but they didn’t always act up to them, so far as she had noticed. There was that Honourable Somebody, who was in jail even then for trying to borrow money under false pretences from the Governor-General. Lorne, when she expressed these views to him, reassured her, but she continued to maintain a guarded attitude upon Mr Hesketh, to everybody except Mr Hesketh himself.