Chapter V. The Rectory
 

The Rectory was one of the very oldest of the more substantial of Blackwater's dwellings. Built of grey limestone from the local quarries, its solid square mass relieved by its quaint dormer windows was softened from its primal ugliness by the Boston ivy that had clambered to the eaves and lay draped about the windows like a soft green mantle. Built in the early days, it stood with the little church, a gem of Gothic architecture, within spacious grounds bought when land was cheap. Behind the house stood the stable, built also of grey limestone, and at one side a cherry and apple orchard formed a charming background to the grey buildings with their crowding shrubbery and gardens. A gravelled winding drive led from the street through towering elms, a picturesque remnant from the original forest, to the front door and round the house to the stable yard behind. From the driveway a gravelled footpath led through the shrubbery and flower garden by a wicket gate to the Church. When first built the Rectory stood in dignified seclusion on the edge of the village, but the prosperity of the growing town demanding space for its inhabitants had driven its streets far beyond the Rectory demesne on every side, till now it stood, a green oasis of sheltered loveliness, amid a crowding mass of modern brick dwellings, comfortable enough but arid of beauty and suggestive only of the utilitarian demands of a busy manufacturing town.

For nearly a quarter of a century the Rev. Herbert Aveling Templeton, D.D., LL.D., for whom the Rectory had been built, had ministered in holy things to the Parish of St. Alban's and had exercised a guiding and paternal care over the social and religious well-being of the community. The younger son of one of England's noble families, educated in an English Public School and University, he represented, in the life of this new, thriving, bustling town, the traditions and manners of an English gentleman of the Old School. Still in his early sixties, he carried his years with all the vigour of a man twenty years his junior. As he daily took his morning walk for his mail, stepping with the brisk pace of one whose poise the years had not been able to disturb, yet with the stately bearing consistent with the dignity attaching to his position and office, men's eyes followed the tall, handsome, white-haired, well set up gentleman always with admiration and, where knowledge was intimate, with reverence and affection. Before the recent rapid growth of the town consequent upon the establishment of various manufacturing industries attracted thither by the unique railroad facilities, the Rector's walk was something in the nature of public perambulatory reception. For he knew them all, and for all had a word of greeting, of enquiry, of cheer, of admonition, so that by the time he had returned to his home he might have been said to have conducted a pastoral visitation of a considerable proportion of his flock. Even yet, with the changes that had taken place, his walk to the Post Office was punctuated with greetings and salutations from his fellow-citizens in whose hearts his twenty-five years of devotion to their well-being, spiritual and physical, had made for him an enduring place.

The lady of the Rectory, though some twenty years his junior, yet, by reason of delicate health due largely to the double burden of household cares and parish duties, appeared to be quite of equal age. Gentle in spirit, frail in body, there seemed to be in her soul something of the quality of tempered steel, yet withal a strain of worldly wisdom mingled with a strange ignorance of the affairs of modern life. Her life revolved around one centre, her adored husband, a centre enlarged as time went on to include her only son and her two daughters. All others and all else in her world were of interest solely as they might be more or less closely related to these, the members of her family. The town and the town folk she knew solely as her husband's parish. There were other people and other communions, no doubt, but being beyond the pale they could hardly be supposed to matter, or, at any rate, she could not be supposed to regard them with more than the interest and spasmodic concern which she felt it her duty to bestow upon those unfortunate dwellers in partibus infidelium.

Regarding the Public School of the town with aversion because of its woefully democratic character, she was weaned from her hostility to that institution when her son's name was entered upon its roll. Her eldest daughter, indeed, she sent as a girl of fourteen to an exclusive English school, the expense of which was borne by her husband's eldest brother, Sir Arthur Templeton, for she held the opinion that while for a boy the Public School was an excellent institution with a girl it was quite different. Hence, while her eldest daughter went "Home" for her education, her boy went to the Blackwater Public and High Schools, which institutions became henceforth invested with the highest qualifications as centres of education. Her boy's friends were her friends, and to them her house was open at all hours of day or night. Indeed, it became the governing idea in her domestic policy that her house should be the rallying centre for everything that was related in any degree to her children's life. Hence, she quietly but effectively limited the circle of the children's friends to those who were able and were willing to make the Rectory their social centre. She saw to it that for Herbert's intimate boy friends the big play room at the top of the house, once a bare and empty room and later the large and comfortable family living room, became the place of meeting for all their social and athletic club activities. With unsleeping vigilance she stood on guard against anything that might break that circle of her heart's devotion. The circle might be, indeed must be enlarged, as for instance to take in the Maitland boys, Herbert's closest chums. She was wise enough to see the wisdom of that, but nothing on earth would she allow to filch from her a single unit of the priceless treasures of her heart.

To this law of her life she made one glorious, one splendid exception. When her country called, she, after weeks of silent, fierce, lonely, agonised struggle gave up her boy and sent him with voiceless, tearless pride to the War.

But, when the boy's Colonel wrote in terms of affectionate pride of her boy's glorious passing, with new and strange adaptability her heart circle was extended to include her boy's comrades in war and those who like herself had sent them forth. Thenceforth every khaki covered lad was to her a son, and every soldier's mother a friend.

As her own immediate home circle grew smaller, the intensity of her devotion increased. Her two daughters became her absorbing concern. With the modern notion that a girl might make for herself a career in life she had no sympathy whatever. To see them happily married and in homes of their own became the absorbing ambition of her life. To this end she administered her social activities, with this purpose in view she encouraged or discouraged her daughters' friendships with men. With the worldly wisdom of which she had her own share she came to the conclusion that ineligible men friends, that is, men friends unable to give her daughters a proper setting in the social world, were to be effectively eliminated. That the men of her daughters' choosing should be gentlemen in breeding went without saying, but that they should be sufficiently endowed with wealth to support a proper social position was equally essential.

That Jack Maitland had somehow dropped out of the intimate circle of friends who had in pre-war days made the Rectory their headquarters was to her a more bitter disappointment than she cared to acknowledge even to herself. Her son and the two Maitland boys had been inseparable in their school and college days, and with the two young men her daughters had been associated in the very closest terms of comradeship. But somehow Captain Jack Maitland after the first months succeeding his return from the war had drawn apart. Disappointed, perplexed, hurt, she vainly had striven to restore the old footing between the young man and her daughters. Young Maitland had taken up his medical studies for a few months at his old University in Toronto and so had been out of touch with the social life of his home town. Then after he had "chucked" his course as impossible he had at his father's earnest wish taken up work at the mills, at first in the office, later in the manufacturing department. There was something queer in Jack's attitude toward his old life and its associations, and after her first failures in attempting to restore the old relationship her eldest daughter's pride and then her own forbade further efforts.

Adrien, her eldest daughter, had always been a difficult child, and her stay in England and later her experience in war work in France where for three years she had given rare service in hospital work had somehow made her even more inaccessible to her mother. And now the situation had been rendered more distressing by her determination "to find something to do." She was firm in her resolve that she had no intention of patiently waiting in her home, ostensibly busying herself with social duties but in reality "waiting if not actually angling for a man." She bluntly informed her scandalised parent that "when she wanted a man more than a career it would be far less humiliating to frankly go out and get him than to practise alluring poses in the hopes that he might deign to bestow upon her his lordly regard." Her mother wisely forebore to argue. Indeed, she had long since learned that in argumentive powers she was hopelessly outclassed by her intellectual daughter. She could only express her shocked disappointment at such intentions and quietly plan to circumvent them.

As to Patricia, her younger daughter, she dismissed all concern. She was only a child as yet, wise beyond her years, but too thoroughly immature to cause any anxiety for some years to come. Meantime she had at first tolerated and then gently encouraged the eager and obvious anxiety of Rupert Stillwell to make a footing for himself in the Rectory family. At the outbreak of the war her antipathy to young Stillwell as a slacker had been violent. He had not joined up with the first band of ardent young souls who had so eagerly pointed the path to duty and to glory. But, when it had been made clear to the public mind that young Stillwell had been pronounced physically unfit for service and was therefore prevented from taking his place in that Canadian line which though it might wear thin at times had never broken, Mrs. Templeton relieved him in her mind of the damning count of being a slacker. Later, becoming impressed with the enthusiasm of the young man's devotion to various forms of patriotic war service at home, she finally, though it must be confessed with something of an effort, had granted him a place within the circle of her home. Furthermore, Rupert Stillwell had done extremely well in all his business enterprises and had come to be recognised as one of the coming young men of the district, indeed of the Province, with sure prospects of advancement in public estimation. Hence, the frequency with which Stillwell's big Hudson Six could be seen parked on the gravelled drive before the Rectory front door. In addition to this, Rupert and his Hudson Six were found to be most useful. He had abundance of free time and he was charmingly ready with his offers of service. Any hour of the day the car, driven by himself or his chauffeur, was at the disposal of any member of the Rectory family, a courtesy of which Mrs. Templeton was not unwilling to avail herself though never with any loss of dignity but always with appearance of bestowing rather than of receiving a favour. As to the young ladies, Adrien rarely allowed herself the delight of a motor ride in Rupert Stillwell's luxurious car. On the other hand, had her mother not intervened, Patricia would have indulged without scruple her passion for joy-riding. The car she adored, Rupert Stillwell she regarded simply as a means to the indulgence of her adoration. He was a jolly companion, a cleverly humourous talker, and an unfailing purveyor of bon-bons. Hence he was to Patricia an ever welcome guest at the Rectory, and the warmth of Patricia's welcome went a long way to establish his position of intimacy in the family.

It was not to be supposed, however, that that young lady's gracious and indeed eager acceptance of the manifold courtesies of the young gentleman in question burdened her in the very slightest with any sense of obligation to anything but the most cavalier treatment of him, should occasion demand. She was unhesitatingly frank and ready with criticism and challenge of his opinions, indeed he appeared to possess a fatal facility for championing her special aversions and antagonising her enthusiasms. Of the latter her most avowed example was Captain Jack, as she loved to call him. A word of criticism of Captain Jack, her hero, her knight, sans peur et sans reproche and her loyal soul was aflame with passionate resentment.

It so fell on an occasion when young Stillwell was a dinner guest at the Rectory.

"Do you know, Patricia," and Rupert Stillwell looked across the dinner table teasingly into Patricia's face, "your Captain Jack was rather mixed up in a nice little row to-day?"

"I heard all about it, Rupert, and Captain Jack did just what I would have expected him to do." Patricia's unsmiling eyes looked steadily into the young man's smiling face.

"Rescued a charming young damsel, eh? By the way, that Perrotte girl has turned out uncommonly good looking," continued Rupert, addressing the elder sister.

"Rescuing a poor little ill-treated boy from the hands of a brutal bully and the bully's brutal father--" Patricia's voice was coolly belligerent.

"My dear Patricia!" The mother's voice was deprecatingly pacific.

"It is simply true, Mother, and Rupert knows it quite well too, or--"

"Patricia!" Her father's quiet voice arrested his daughter's flow of speech.

"But, Father, everyone--"

"Patricia!" The voice was just as quiet but with a slightly increased distinctness in enunciation, and glancing swiftly at her father's face Patricia recognised that the limits of her speech had been reached, unless she preferred to change the subject.

"Yes, Annette has grown very pretty, indeed," said Adrien, taking up the conversation, "and is really a very nice girl, indeed. She sings beautifully. She is the leading soprano in her church choir, I believe."

"Captain Jack Maitland appeared to think her quite charming," said Rupert, making eyes at Patricia. Patricia's lips tightened and her eyes gleamed a bit.

"They were in school together, I think, were they not, Mamma?" said Adrien, flushing slightly.

"Of course they were, and so was Rupert, too--" said Patricia with impatient scorn, "and so would you if you hadn't been sent to England," she added to her sister.

"No doubt of it," said Rupert with a smile, "but you see she was fortunate enough to be sent to England."

"Blackwater is good enough for me," said Patricia, a certain stubborn hostility in her tone.

"I have always thought the Blackwater High School an excellent institution," said her mother quickly, "especially for boys."

"Yes, indeed, for boys," replied Stillwell, "but for young ladies-- well, there is something in an English school, you know, that you can't get in any High School here in Canada."

"Rot!" ejaculated Patricia.

"My dear Patricia!" The mother was quite shocked.

"Pardon me, Mother, but you know we have a perfectly splendid High School here. Father has often said so."

Her mother sighed. "Yes, for boys. But for girls, I feel with Rupert that you get something in English schools that--" She hesitated, looking uncertainly at her elder daughter.

"Yes, and perhaps lose something, Mamma," said Adrien quietly. "I mean," she added hastily, "you lose touch with a lot of things and people, friends. Now, for instance, you remember when we were all children, boys and girls together, at the Public School, Annette was one of the cleverest and best of the lot of us, I used to be fond of her--and the others. Now--"

"But you can't help growing up," said Rupert, "and--well, democracy is all right and that sort of thing, but you must drift into your class you know. There's Annette, for instance. She is a factory hand, a fine girl of course, and all that, but--"

"Oh, I suppose we must recognise facts. Rupert, you are quite right," said Mrs. Templeton, "there must be social distinctions and there are classes. I mean," she added, as if to forestall the outburst she saw gathering behind her younger daughter's closed lips, "we must inevitably draw to our own set by our natural or acquired tastes and by our traditions and breeding."

"All very well in England, Mamma. I suppose dear Uncle Arthur and our dear cousins would hardly feel called upon to recognise Annette as a friend."

"Why should they?" challenged Rupert.

"My dear Patricia," said her father, mildly patient, "you are quite wrong. Our people at home, your uncle Arthur, I mean, and your cousins, and all well-bred folk, do not allow class distinctions to limit friendship. Friends are chosen on purely personal grounds of real worth and--well, congeniality."

"Would Uncle Arthur, or rather, Aunt Alicia have Annette to dinner, for instance?" demanded Patricia.

"Certainly not," said her mother promptly.

"She would not do anything to embarrass Annette," said her father.

"Oh, Dad, what a funk. That is quite unworthy of you."

"Would she be asked here now to dinner?" said Rupert. "I mean," he added in some confusion, "would it be, ah, suitable? You know what I mean."

"She has been here. Don't you remember, Mamma? She was often here. And every time she came she was the cleverest thing, she was the brightest, the most attractive girl in the bunch." Her mother's eyebrows went up. "In the party, I mean. And the most popular. Why, I remember quite well that Rupert was quite devoted to her."

"A mere child, she was then, you know," said Rupert.

"She is just as bright, just as attractive, as clever now, more so indeed, as fine a girl in every way. But of course she was not a factory girl then. That's what you mean," replied Patricia scornfully.

"She has found her class," persisted Rupert. "She is all you say, but surely--"

"Yes, she is working in the new box factory. Her mother, lazy, selfish thing, took her from the High School."

"My dear Patricia, you are quite violent," protested her mother.

"It's true, Mamma," continued the girl, her eyes agleam, "and now she works in the box factory while Captain Jack works in the planing mill. She is in the same class."

"And good friends apparently," said Rupert with a malicious little grin.

"Why not? We would have Captain Jack to dinner, but not Annette."

Her father smiled at her. "Well done, little girl. Annette is a fine girl and is fortunate in her champion. You can have her to dinner any evening, I am quite sure."

"Can we, Mamma?"

"My dear, we will not discuss the matter any further," said her mother. "It is a very old question and very perplexing, I confess, but--"

"We don't see Captain Jack very much since his return," said her father, turning the conversation. "You might begin with him, eh, Patsy?"

"No," said the girl, a shade falling on her face. "He is always busy. He has such long hours. He works his day's work with the men and then he always goes up to the office to his father--and-- and--Oh, I don't know, I wish he would come. He's not--" Patricia fell suddenly silent.

"Jack is very much engaged," said her mother quietly.

"Naturally he is tied up, learning the business, I mean," said the elder sister quietly. "He has little time for mere social frivolities and that sort of thing."

"It's not that, Adrien," said Patricia. "He is different since he came back. I wish--" She paused abruptly.

"He is changed," said her mother with a sigh. "They--the boys are all changed."

"The war has left its mark upon them, and what else can we expect?" said Dr. Templeton. "One wonders how they can settle down at all to work."

"Oh, Jack has settled down all right," said Patricia, as if analysing a subject interesting to herself alone. "Jack's not like a lot of them. He's too much settled down. What is it, I wonder? He seems to have quit everything, dancing, tennis, golf. He doesn't care--"

"Doesn't care? What for? That sounds either as if he were an egotist or a slacker." Her sister's words rasped Patricia's most sensitive heart string. She visibly squirmed, eagerly waiting a chance to reply. "Jack is neither," continued Adrien slowly. "I understand the thing perfectly. He has been up against big things, so big that everything else seems trivial. Fancy a tennis tournament for a man that has stared into hell's mouth."

"My dear, you are right," said her father. "Patricia is really talking too much. Young people should--"

"I know, Daddy--'be seen,'" said the younger daughter, and grinning affectionately at him she blew him a kiss. "But, all the same, I wish Captain Jack were not so awfully busy or were a little more keen about things. He wants something to stir him up."

"He may get that sooner than he thinks," said Stillwell, "or wishes. I hear there's likely to be trouble in the mills."

"Trouble? Financial? I should be very sorry," said Dr. Templeton.

"No. Labour. The whole labour world is in a ferment. The Maitlands can hardly expect to escape. As a matter of fact, the row has made a little start, I happen to know."

"These labour troubles are really very distressing. There is no end to them," said Mrs. Templeton, with the resignation one shows in discussing the inscrutable ways of Providence. "It does seem as if the working classes to-day have got quite beyond all bounds. One wonders what they will demand next. What is the trouble now, Rupert? Of course--wages."

"Oh, the eternal old trouble is there, with some new ones added that make even wages seem small."

"And what are these?" enquired Dr. Templeton.

"Oh, division of profits, share in administration and control."

"Division of profits in addition to wages?" enquired Mrs. Templeton, aghast. "But, how dreadful. One would think they actually owned the factory."

"That is the modern doctrine, I believe," said Rupert.

"Surely that is an extreme statement," said Dr. Templeton, in a shocked voice, "or you are talking of the very radical element only."

"The Rads lead, of course, but you would be surprised at the demands made to-day. Why, I heard a young chap last week, a soap- box artist, denouncing all capitalists as parasites. 'Why should we work for anyone but ourselves?' he was saying. 'Why don't we take charge of the factories and run them for the general good?' I assure you, sir, those were his very words."

"Really, Rupert, you amaze me. In Blackwater here?" exclaimed Dr. Templeton.

"But, my dear papa, that sort of thing is the commonplace of Hyde Park, you know," said Adrien, "and--"

"Ah, Hyde Park, yes. I should expect that sort of thing from the Hyde Park orators. You get every sort of mad doctrine in Hyde Park, as I remember it, but--"

"And I was going to say that that sort of thing has got away beyond Hyde Park. Why, papa dear, you have been so engrossed in your Higher Mathematics that you have failed to keep up with the times." His eldest daughter smiled at him and, reaching across the corner of the table, patted his hand affectionately. "We are away beyond being shocked at profit sharing, and even sharing in control of administration and that sort of thing."

"But there remains justice, I hope," said her father, "and the right of ownership."

"Ah, that's just it--what is ownership?"

"Oh, come, Adrien," said Rupert, "you are not saying that Mr. Maitland doesn't own his factory and mill."

"It depends on what you mean by own," said the girl coolly. "You must not take too much for granted."

"Well, what my money pays for I own, I suppose," said Rupert.

"Well," said Adrien, "that depends."

"My dear Adrien," said her mother, "you have such strange notions. I suppose you got them in those Clubs in London and from those queer people you used to meet."

"Very dear people," said Adrien, with a far away look in her eyes, "and people that loved justice and right."

"All right, Ade," said her younger sister, with a saucy grin, "I agree entirely with your sentiments. I just adore that pale blue tie of yours. I suppose, now that what's yours is mine, I can preempt that when I like."

"Let me catch you at it!"

"Well done, Patricia. You see the theories are all right till we come to have them applied all round," said Rupert.

"We were talking of joint ownership, Pat," said her sister, "the joint ownership of things to the making of which we have each contributed a part."

"Exactly," said Rupert. "I guess Grant Maitland paid his own good money for his plant."

"Yes," said Adrien.

"Yes, and all he paid for he owns."

"Yes."

"Well, that's all there is to it."

"Oh, pardon me--there is a good deal more--"

"Well, well, children, we shall not discuss the subject any further. Shall we all go up for coffee?"

"These are very radical views you are advancing, Adrien," said her father, rising from his chair. "You must be careful not to say things like that in circles where you might be taken seriously."

"Seriously, Daddy? I was never more serious in my life." She put her arm through her father's. "I must give you some books, some reports to read, I see," she said, laughing up into his face.

"Evidently," said her father, "if I am to live with you."

"I wonder what Captain Jack would think of these views," said Rupert, dropping into step with Patricia as they left the dining room together.

"He will think as Adrien does," said Patricia stoutly.

"Ah, I wouldn't be too sure about that," said Rupert. "You see, it makes a difference whose ox is being gored."

"What do you mean?" cried Patricia hotly.

"Never mind, Pat," said her sister over her shoulder. "I don't think he knows Captain Jack as we do."

"Perhaps better," said Rupert in a significant tone.

Patricia drew away from him.

"I think you are just horrid," she said. "Captain Jack is--"

"Never mind, dear. Don't let him pull your leg like that," said her sister, with a little colour in her cheek. "We know Captain Jack, don't we?"

"We do!" said Patricia with enthusiasm.

"We do!" echoed Rupert, with a smile that drove Pat into a fury.