It was a thing that Hugh Finlay could not abide in Dr Drummond.
As the winter passed, the little Doctor was hard put to it to keep his hands off the great political issue of the year, bound up as it was in the tenets of his own politics, which he held only less uncompromisingly than those of the Shorter Catechism. It was, unfortunately for him, a gradual and peaceful progress of opinion, marked by no dramatic incidents; and analogy was hard to find in either Testament for a change of fiscal policy based on imperial advantage. Dr Drummond liked a pretty definite parallel; he had small opinion of the practice of drawing a pint out of a thimble, as he considered Finlay must have done when he preached the gospel of imperialism from Deuteronomy XXX, 14. “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Moreover, to preach politics in Knox Church was a liberty in Finlay.
The fact that Finlay had been beforehand with him operated perhaps to reconcile the Doctor to his difficulty; and the candidature of one of his own members in what was practically the imperial interest no doubt increased his embarrassment. Nevertheless, he would not lose sight of the matter for more than two or three weeks together. Many an odd blow he delivered for its furtherance by way of illustrating higher things, and he kept it always, so to speak, in the practical politics of the long prayer.
It was Sunday evening, and Abby and her husband, as usual, had come to tea. The family was complete with the exception of Lorne, who had driven out to Clayfield with Horace Williams, to talk over some urgent matters with persons whom he would meet at supper at the Metropole Hotel at Clayfield. It was a thing Mrs Murchison thought little short of scandalous—supper to talk business on the Sabbath day, and in a hotel, a place of which the smell about the door was enough to knock you down, even on a weekday. Mrs Murchison considered, and did not scruple to say so, that politics should be left alone on Sundays. Clayfield votes might be very important, but there were such things as commandments, she supposed. “It’ll bring no blessing,” she declared severely, eyeing Lorne’s empty place.
The talk about the lamplit table was, nevertheless, all of the election, blessed or unblessed. It was not in human nature that it shouldn’t be, as Mrs Murchison would have very quickly told you if you had found her inconsistent. There was reason in all things, as she frequently said.