“The boys,” of course, were too young to think of matrimony. They were still the boys, the Murchison boys; they would be the boys at forty if they remained under their father’s roof. In the mother country, men in short jackets and round collars emerge from the preparatory schools; in the daughter lands boys in tailcoats conduct serious affairs. Alec and Oliver, in the business, were frivolous enough as to the feminine interest. For all Dr Drummond’s expressed and widely known views upon the subject, it was a common thing for one or both of these young men to stray from the family pew on Sunday evenings to the services of other communions, thereafter to walk home in the dusk under the maples with some attractive young person, and be sedately invited to finish the evening on her father’s verandah. Neither of them was guiltless of silk ties knitted or handkerchiefs initialled by certain fingers; without repeating scandal, one might say by various fingers. For while the ultimate import of these matters was not denied in Elgin, there was a general feeling against giving too much meaning to them, probably originating in a reluctance among heads of families to add to their responsibilities. These early spring indications were belittled and laughed at; so much so that the young people them selves hardly took them seriously, but regarded them as a form of amusement almost conventional. Nothing would have surprised or embarrassed them more than to learn that their predilections had an imperative corollary, that anything should, of necessity, “come of it.” Something, of course, occasionally did come of it; and, usually after years of “attention,” a young man of Elgin found himself mated to a young woman, but never under circumstances that could be called precipitate or rash. The cautious blood and far sight of the early settlers, who had much to reckon with, were still preponderant social characteristics of the town they cleared the site for. Meanwhile, however, flowers were gathered, and all sorts of evanescent idylls came and went in the relations of young men and maidens. Alec and Oliver Murchison were already in the full tide of them.