Mrs Murchison saw with relief that Dr Drummond occupied his own pulpit, but if her glance had gone the length of three pews behind her she would have discovered that Hugh Finlay made one of the congregation. Fortunately, perhaps, for her enjoyment of the service, she did not look round. Dr Drummond was more observing, but his was a position of advantage. In the accustomed sea of faces two, heavy shadowed and obstinately facing fate, swam together before Dr Drummond, and after he had lifted his hands and closed his eyes for the long prayer he saw them still. So that these words occurred, near the end, in the long prayer—
“O Thou Searcher of hearts, who hast known man from the beginning, to whom his highest desires and his loftiest intentions are but as the desires and intentions of a little child, look with Thine own compassion, we beseech Thee, upon souls before Thee in any peculiar difficulty. Our mortal life is full of sin, it is also full of the misconception of virtue. Do Thou clear the understanding, O Lord, of such as would interpret Thy will to their own undoing; do Thou teach them that as happiness may reside in chastening, so chastening may reside in happiness. And though such stand fast to their hurt, do Thou grant to them in Thine own way, which may not be our way, a safe issue out of the dangers that beset them.”
Dr Drummond had his own method of reconciling foreordination and free will. To Advena his supplication came with that mysterious double emphasis of chance words that fit. Her thought played upon them all through the sermon, rejecting and rejecting again their application and their argument and the spring of hope in them. She, too, knew that Finlay was in church and, half timidly, she looked back for him, as the congregation filed out again into the winter streets. But he, furious, and more resolved than ever, had gone home by another way.
Octavius Milburn was not far beyond the facts when he said that the Elgin Chamber of Commerce was practically solid this time against the Liberal platform, though to what extent this state of things was due to his personal influence might be a matter of opinion. Mr Milburn was President of the Chamber of Commerce, and his name stood for one of the most thriving of Elgin’s industries, but he was not a person of influence except as it might be represented in a draft on the Bank of British North America. He had never converted anybody to anything, and never would, possibly because the governing principle of his life was the terror of being converted to anything himself. If an important nonentity is an imaginable thing, perhaps it would stand for Mr Milburn; and he found it a more valuable combination than it may appear, since his importance gave him position and opportunity, and his nonentity saved him from their risks. Certainly he had not imposed his view upon his fellow-members—they would have