“If they carry the case against Lorne,” said Stella, “he’ll be disqualified for seven years.”
“Only if they prove him personally mixed up in it,” said the father. “And that,” he added with a concentration of family sentiment in the emphasis of it, “they’ll not do.”
It was late afternoon when the train from the West deposited Hugh Finlay upon the Elgin platform, the close of one of those wide, wet, uncertain February days when the call of spring is on the wind though spring is weeks away. The lights of the town flashed and glimmered down the streets under the bare swaying maple branches. The early evening was full of soft bluster; the air was conscious with an appeal of nature, vague yet poignant. The young man caught at the strange sympathy that seemed to be abroad for his spirit. He walked to his house, courting it, troubled by it. They were expecting him that evening at Dr Drummond’s, and there it was his intention to go. But on his way he would call for a moment to see Advena Murchison. He had something to tell her. It would be news of interest at Dr Drummond’s also; but it was of no consequence, within an hour or so, when they should receive it there, while it was of great consequence that Advena should hear it at the earliest opportunity, and from him. There is no weighing or analysing the burden of such a necessity as this. It simply is important: it makes its own weight; and those whom it concerns must put aside other matters until it has been accomplished. He would tell her: they would accept it for a moment together, a moment during which he would also ascertain whether she was well and strong, with a good chance of happiness—God protect her—in the future that he should not know. Then he would go on to Dr Drummond’s.
The wind had risen when he went out again; it blew a longer blast, and the trees made a steady sonorous rhythm in it. The sky was full of clouds that dashed upon the track of a failing moon; there was portent everywhere, and a hint of tumult at the end of the street. No two ways led from Finlay’s house to his first destination. River Street made an angle with that on which the Murchisons lived—half a mile to the corner, and three-quarters the other way. Drops drove in his face as he strode along against the wind, stilling his unquiet heart, that leaped before him to that brief interview. As he took the single turning he came into the full blast of the veering, irresolute storm. The street was solitary and full of the sound of the blown trees, wild and uplifting. Far down the figure of a woman wavered before the wind across the zone of a blurred lamp-post. She was coming toward him. He bent his head and lowered his umbrella and lost sight of her as they approached, she with the storm behind her, driven with hardly more resistance than the last year’s blackened leaves that blew with her, he assailed by it and making the best way he