“And only ten days to get him ready in,” said Mrs Murchison. “It will take some seeing to, I assure you; and I don’t know how it’s to be done in the time. For once, Lorne, I’ll have to order you ready-made shirts, and you’ll just have to put up with it. Nothing else could possibly get back from the wash.”
“I’ll put up with it, Mother.”
They went into other details of Lorne’s equipment while Mrs Murchison’s eye still wandered over the necessities of his wardrobe. They arranged the date on which he was to meet the members of the deputation in Montreal, and Mr Cruickshank promised to send him all available documents and such presentation of the project as had been made in the newspapers.
“You shall be put in immediate possession of the bones of the thing,” he said, “but what really matters,” he added pleasantly, “I think you’ve got already.”
It took, of course, some discussion, and it was quite ten o’clock before everything was gone into, and the prospect was clear to them all. As they emerged into the hall together, the door of the room opposite also opened, and the Rev. Hugh Finlay found himself added to their group. They all made the best of the unexpected encounter. It was rather an elaborate best, very polite and entirely grave, except in the instance of Dr Drummond, who met his subaltern with a smile in which cordiality struggled in vain to overcome the delighted humour.
It was the talk of the town, the pride of the market-place, Lorne Murchison’s having been selected to accompany what was known as the Cruickshank deputation to England. The general spirit of congratulation was corrected by a tendency to assert it another proof of sagacity on the chairman’s part; Elgin wouldn’t be too flattered; Lawyer Cruickshank couldn’t have done better. You may be sure the Express was well ahead with it. “Honour to Our Young Fellow Townsman. A Well-Merited Compliment,” and Rawlins was round promptly next morning to glean further particulars. He found only Mrs Murchison, on a stepladder tying up the clematis that climbed about the verandah, and she told him a little about clematis and a good deal about the inconvenience of having to abandon superintending the spring cleaning in order to get Lorne ready to go to the Old Country at such short notice, but nothing he could put in the paper. Lorne, sought at the office, was hardly more communicative. Mr Williams himself dropped in there. He said the Express would now have a personal interest in the object of the deputation, and proposed to strike out a broad line, a broader line than ever.
“We’ve got into the way of taking it for granted,” said Mr Williams, “that the subsidy idea is a kind of mediaeval idea. Raise a big enough shout and you get things taken for granted in economics for a long while. Conditions keep changing, right along, all the time, and presently you’ve got to reconsider. There ain’t any sort of ultimate truth in the finest economic position, my son; not any at all.”