“Well, I won’t be certain about the clergy, but I tell you it had to do with Saskatchewan, for that I remember! And anyhow, the first meeting was held at the Milburns’ —members lent their drawing-rooms. Well, Mrs Leveret and Mrs Delarue went to the meeting—they were very thick just then, the Leverets and the Delarues. They were so pleased to be going that they got there about five minutes too soon, and they were the first to come. Well, they rang the bell and in they went. The girl showed them into the front drawing-room and asked them to sit down. And there in the back drawing-room sat Mrs Milburn and Miss Filkin, and never spoke to them! Took not the smallest notice, any more than if they had been stray cats—not so much! Their own denomination, mind you, too! And there they might have been sitting still if Mrs Leveret hadn’t had the spirit to get up and march out. No thank you. No Milburns for me.”
Lorne watched his mother with twinkling eyes till she finished.
“Well, Mother, after that, if it was going to be a sewing circle I think I’d send an excuse,” he said, “but maybe they won’t be so mean at a dance.”
Octavius Milburn would not, I think, have objected to being considered, with relation to his own line in life, a representative man. He would have been wary to claim it, but if the stranger had arrived unaided at this view of him, he would have been inclined to think well of the stranger’s power of induction. That is what he was—a man of averages, balances, the safe level, no more disposed to an extravagant opinion than to wear one side whisker longer than the other. You would take him any day, especially on Sunday in a silk hat, for the correct medium: by his careful walk with the spring in it, his shrewd glance with the caution in it, his look of being prepared to account for himself, categorically, from head to foot. He was fond of explaining, in connection with an offer once made him to embark his capital in Chicago, that he preferred a fair living under his own flag to a fortune under the Stars and Stripes. There we have the turn of his mind, convertible into the language of bookkeeping, a balance struck, with the profit on the side of the flag, the patriotic equivalent in good sound terms of dollars and cents. With this position understood, he was prepared to take you up on any point of comparison between the status and privileges of a subject and a citizen—the political Morale of a monarchy and a republic—the advantage of life on this and the other side of the line. There was nothing he liked better to expatiate upon, with that valuable proof of his own sincerity always at hand for reference and illustration. His ideal was life in a practical, go-ahead, self-governing colony, far enough from England actually to be disabused of her inherited anachronisms and make your own tariff,