“You’ll find,” said John Murchison, removing his pipe, “that protection’ll have to come first over there. They’ll put up a fence and save their trade—in their own good time, not next week or next year—and when they’ve done that they’ll talk to us about our big ideas—not before. And if Wallingham hadn’t frightened them with the imperial job, he never would have got them to take up the other. It’s just his way of getting both done.”
“I hope you’re right, Father,” said Lorne, with a covert glance at his watch. “Horace—Mrs Williams—I’ll have to get you to excuse me. I have an engagement at eight.”
He left them with a happy spring in his step, left them looking after him, talking of him, with pride and congratulation. Only Stella, with a severe lip and a disapproving eye, noted the direction he took as he left the house.
Peter Macfarlane had carried the big Bible up the pulpit steps of Knox Church, and arranged the glass of water and the notices to be given out beside it, twice every Sunday for twenty years. He was a small spare man, with thin grey hair that fell back from the narrow dome of his forehead to his coat collar, decent and severe. He ascended the pulpit exactly three minutes before the minister did; and the dignity with which he put one foot before the other made his appearance a ceremonious feature of the service and a thing quoted. “I was there before Peter” was a triumphant evidence of punctuality. Dr Drummond would have liked to make it a test. It seemed to him no great thing to expect the people of Knox Church to be there before Peter.
Macfarlane was also in attendance in the vestry to help the minister off with his gown and hang it up. Dr Drummond’s gown needed neither helping nor hanging; the Doctor was deftness and neatness and impatience itself, and would have it on the hook with his own hands, and never a fold crooked. After Mr Finlay, on the contrary, Peter would have to pick up and smooth out—ten to one the garment would be flung on a chair. Still, he was invariably standing by to see it flung. and to hand Mr Finlay his hat and stick. He was surprised and put about to find himself one Sunday evening too late for this attendance. The vestry was empty, the gown was on the floor. Peter gathered it up with as perturbed an air as if Mr Finlay had omitted a point of church observance. “I doubt they get into slack ways in these missions,” said Peter. He had been unable, with Dr Drummond, to see the necessity for such extensions.