Elgin rose to its liking for the fellow, and even his political enemies felt a half-humorous pride that the town had produced a candidate whose natural parts were held to eclipse the age and experience of party hacks. Plenty of them were found to declare that Lorne Murchison would poll more votes for the Grits than any other man they could lay their hands on, with the saving clause that neither he nor any other man could poll quite enough this time. They professed to be content to let the issue have it; meanwhile they congratulated Lorne on his chance, telling him that a knock or two wouldn’t do him any harm at his age. Walter Winter, who hadn’t been on speaking terms with Farquharson, made a point of shaking hands with Murchison in the publicity of the post-office, and assuring him that he, Winter, never went into a contest more confident of the straight thing on the part of the other side. Such cavilling as there was came from the organized support of his own party and had little importance because it did. The grumblers fell into line almost as soon as Horace Williams said they would; a little oil, one small appointment wrung from the Ontario Government—Fawkes, I believe, got it—and the machine was again in good working order. Lorne even profited, in the opinion of many, by the fact of his youth, with its promise of energy and initiative, since Mr Farquharson had lately been showing the defects as well as the qualities of age and experience, and the charge of servile timidity was already in the mouths of his critics.
The agricultural community took it, as usual, with phlegm; but there was a distinct tendency in the bar at Barker’s, on market-days, to lay money on the colt.
Mr Farquharson was to retain his seat until the early spring, for the double purpose of maintaining his influence upon an important commission of which he was chairman until the work should be done, and of giving the imperial departure championed by his successor as good a chance as possible of becoming understood in the constituency. It was understood that the new writ would issue for a date in March; Elgin referred all interest to that point, and prophesied for itself a lively winter. Another event, of importance less general, was arranged for the end of February—the arrival of Miss Cameron and Mrs Kilbannon from Scotland. Finlay had proposed an earlier date, but matters of business connected with her mother’s estate would delay Miss Cameron’s departure. Her arrival would be the decisive point of another campaign. He and Advena faced it without misgiving, but there were moments when Finlay greatly wished the moment past.