“Alec,” she said, “out of this house you don’t go till you’ve washed your face. Lorne, come here,” she added in a lower voice, producing a bunch of keys. “If you look in the right-hand corner of the top small drawer in my bureau you’ll find about twenty cents. Say nothing about it, and mind you don’t meddle with anything else. I guess the Queen isn’t going to owe it all to you.”
“We’ve seen changes, Mr Murchison. Aye. We’ve seen changes.”
Dr Drummond and Mr Murchison stood together in the store door, over which the sign “John Murchison: Hardware,” had explained thirty years of varying commercial fortune. They had pretty well begun life together in Elgin. John Murchison was one of those who had listened to Mr Drummond’s trial sermon, and had given his vote to “call” him to the charge. Since then there had been few Sundays when, morning and evening, Mr Murchison had not been in his place at the top of his pew, where his dignified and intelligent head appeared with the isolated significance of a strong individuality. People looked twice at John Murchison in a crowd; so did his own children at home. Hearing some discussion of the selection of a premier, Alec, looking earnestly at him once said, “Why don’t they tell Father to be it?” The young minister looked twice at him that morning of the trial sermon, and asked afterward who he was. A Scotchman, Mr Drummond was told, not very long from the old country, who had bought the Playfair business on Main Street, and settled in the “Plummer Place,” which already had a quarter of a century’s standing in the annals of the town. The Playfair business was a respectable business to buy; the Plummer Place, though it stood in an unfashionable outskirt, was a respectable place to settle in; and the minister, in casting his lot in Elgin, envisaged John Murchison as part of it, thought of him confidently as a “dependance,” saw him among the future elders and office-bearers of the congregation, a man who would be punctual with his pew-rent, sage in his judgements, and whose views upon church attendance would be extended to his family.
So the two came, contemporaries, to add their labour and their lives to the building of this little outpost of Empire. It was the frankest transfer, without thought of return; they were there to spend and be spent within the circumference of the spot they had chosen, with no ambition beyond. In the course of nature, even their bones and their memories would enter into the fabric. The new country filled their eyes; the new town was their opportunity, its destiny their fate. They were altogether occupied with its affairs, and the affairs of the growing Dominion, yet obscure in the heart of each of them ran the undercurrent of the old allegiance. They had gone the length of their tether, but the tether was always there. Thus, before a congregation that always stood in the