Miss Milburn pressed her contention that the suspicion of his desire would be bad for her lover’s political prospects till she made him feel his honest passion almost a form of treachery to his party. She also hinted that, for the time being, it did not make particularly for her own comfort in the family circle, Mr Milburn having grown by this time quite bitter. She herself drew the excitement of intrigue from the situation, which she hid behind her pretty, pale, decorous features, and never betrayed by the least of her graceful gestures. She told herself that she had never been so right about anything as about that affair of the ring—imagine, for an instant, if she had been wearing it now! She would have banished Lorne altogether if she could. As he insisted on an occasional meeting, she clothed it in mystery, appointing it for an evening when her mother and aunt were out, and answering his ring at the door herself. To her family she remarked with detachment that you saw hardly anything of Lorne Murchison now, he was so taken up with his old election; and to Hesketh she confided her fear that politics did interfere with friendship, whatever he might say. He said a good deal, he cited lofty examples; but the only agreement he could get from her was the hope that the estrangement wouldn’t be permanent.
“But you are going to say something, Lorne,” she insisted, talking of the Jordanville meeting.
“Not much,” he told her. “It’s the safest district we’ve got, and they adore old Farquharson. He’ll do most of the talking—they wouldn’t thank me for taking up the time. Farquharson is going to tell them I’m a first-class man, and they couldn’t do better, and I’ve practically only to show my face and tell them I think so too.”
“But Mr Hesketh will speak?”
“Yes; we thought it would be a good chance of testing him. He may interest them, and he can’t do much harm, anyhow.”
“Lorne, I should simply love to go. It’s your first meeting.”
“I’ll take you.”
“Mr Murchison, have you taken leave of your senses? Really, you are—”
“All right, I’ll send you. Farquharson and I are going out to the Crow place to supper, but Hesketh is driving straight there. He’ll be delighted to bring you—who wouldn’t?”
“I shouldn’t be allowed to go with him alone,” said Dora, thoughtfully.
“Well, no. I don’t know that I’d approve of that myself,” laughed the confident young man. “Hesketh is driving Mrs Farquharson, and the cutter will easily hold three. Isn’t it lucky there’s sleighing?”
“Mother couldn’t object to that,” said Dora. “Lorne, I always said you were the dearest fellow! I’ll wear a thick veil, and not a soul will know me.”
“Not a soul would in any case,” said Lorne. “It’ll be a Jordanville crowd, you know—nobody from Elgin.”
“We don’t visit much in Jordanville, certainly. Well, Mother mayn’t object. She has a great idea of Mrs Farquharson, because she has attended eleven Drawing-Rooms at Ottawa, and one of them was given—held, I should say—by the Princess Louise.”