|Chapter Title||LOWERING. "Heaven is here,|
|Newspaper Title||Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876)|
|Trove Title||Harry Linton's Downfall: A Story of Old Sydney|
?ARRY LINTON'S DOWNFALL. A STORY OF OLD SYDNEY. BY R. A. ATEINS. (Written expresly for the Portland Guardian.) CHAPTER V. Lowazueao. " eaven is here, Where Jillet lives; and every cat and dog And little mouse, every unworthy thing, live here in heaven and may look on her; But Romeo may not." Romeo and Juliet. "Although I neither lend nor borrow, By taking nor by giving of excess, Yet to supply the ripe wants of my friend, I'll break a custom, Moerchant of Venice. Colonel Winter sat looking gloomily over hlis wine.' He was thinking abouo his gamb ling debts and the tr essity of paying them. -He appeared restless and uneasy, and his face wore a morose sullen expresolon foreign to it. lHe trusted implicitly to receiving then pro wised loan iromn Lieutenant Linton, and willh that money and whatol he would be ablo to raise elsewhere he could easily clar himself, break the heavy chain of debt which bound him, and snd d up, once more a free man, tree from the harassing core which now
opprresed him. But boauld Lintnn fail in his promise 7 The thought nearly drove the old soldier mad. If the young man dared to trifle with him, to cause his ruin, to have his name posted in every hotel and club room in Sydney, to take from him all claim to the title of a man of honor, what then?. He had trotted to Harry's promise, had given written assurance of payment to his creditors on the strength of it, and now, if the young man deceived him, be would certainly be justified in regarding him as the cause of his degradation, and the greatest enemy be had on earth. The Colonel had worked himself up into a state of semi-insanity; bis reason ing powers had departed; and by a strange sophistry, far from unusual in men similarly placed, he had already sbitted all the blame of his present position on Harry's shoulders. His reasoning was not deep, for what sopbist can reason deeply? He passed over altcgether the true causes which bad brought him into his imreconious state, he only started from the rre-ent time and said : "I am in an unpleasant predicament, and should not bave been half as badly off, if I had not been backed up by thoughts of the boy's loan. If he fails to release me he shall never enter my doors again ! " At the time when Colonel Winter had argued himself into this uncomfortable state of mind, his housekeeper entered the room and placed a letter on the table. The Colonel opened it bastily and read a. follows : "My dear Sir,-I hare this morning been visited by Mr. Cash, a gentleman residing in Sidney to whom I am indebted in the sum of six hundred pounds sterling. He de mended instant payment, and threatened me with legal proceedings in case I failed to satisfy his demand. We at length came to an arrangement relative to which I consider it my duty to write to you. I agreed to pay him two hundred pounds, (all I have by me) and he agreed to receive that in part pay meat on condition that I handed over to him your note of hand for £400, due on the 24th of this month. I did not like the idea of doing this without first consulting you, but Mbr. Cash woold not allow me a moment to consider, and at last I consented to his terms. You now owe the money to Mr. Cash, and not to me, and of course it is a matter of perfect indifference to you who is your creditor, so that he is a man of good position and unimpeachable honor. I am Sir, Your most obedient servant, Joshua Levi. Sydney, Nov. 18th, 18-. Sir John Winter aut, Mlacquarie-street, Sydney." "Unimpeachable honor l" exclaimed Sir John rising in great agitation and pacing the room hurriedly, "an emancipist, a trans ported felon I And it is to this man I owe four hundred pounds, this is the man who may perhaps be able to declare me a delaulter; to "post" me throughout the town. Harry Linton if you dare fail me I " and the old man sank back in his chair his beands clenched, and his face livid with con tending emotions. The tceling exhibited by Sir John towards ac emancipist was by no means rare at the time of which I am writing. The unprece dented means adopted by governor Mac quarie towards reforming the convict popu lation,. were viewed with anything but favorable eyes by the free settlers. This may in a great measure be attributed-to jealousy. The favors showered upon ex-con victs by the governor were numerous, and given with a heartiness which doubly en hanced their value. He invited them to his own table, and in every respect payed them more attention than he did the free settlers. The latter he looked upon as intruders who had no business in a convict colony. His Excellency was a man of an obstinate dis position, and the very fact of knowing that his patronage of the emancipists was dis tasteful to the free population of the colony, rendered him doubly determined to continue the course he was pursuing. And he did continue it and, we must say, rather over did it. But his motives were good, though his manner of going to work was injudicious, and only resulted in causing the two great parties in Sydney, the bond and free, to live in a state of mutual enmity. The latter generally stood on their dignity as tree men, whilst the former crowed under the protest ing wing of vice-royalty. It was such a time as the poet Butter describes in Hudibras: " When c;vil ddgeon first grew high, "And men fell out, they knew not why; "When hard words, jealousies, and fears, "Set men together by the ears." Many complaints were made to Earl Bathurst, at that time Secretary of State for the colonies; and in the following extract from a despatch to that nobleman from Governor Macquarie, dated "London, 27th July, 1822, written after his return to Eng land the maligned ex-governor bitterly com plains" :-Even my work of charity, and, as it appears to me, sound policy, in en deavouring to restore emancipated and re formed convicts to o level with their fellow subjects, a work which, considered either in a religious or a political point of view, I shall ever value as the most meritorious part of my administration, has not escaped their animadversion." One can imagine the pain it cost the gallant old Major-General (for to that rank he had then attained), when he saw his motives misconstrued, and received blame from' men who wilfully closed their eyeas to his good actions. There is some thing pathetic in the brave old man's com plaiot, iatter of fact and unpoetical as it is. Sir John had only ijust suncceeded in restor ing himself to something like calmness, when Harry Linton was announced and walked into the room. This was his first visit to the Colonel since the races, and he dreaded the result of the interview hie was about to have with the -old man. Ho had lost seriously at the races, for hIis "hedging" had done him no good. He would as soon of thought of backing a turtle, as tho hlorse which had carried off the cop. So hIis losses amounted to £750, which he had paid immediately iafter the race; thus swallowing up hIis re sittance Irom home and compelling him to borrow fifty pounds from a friend. " Good evening Mr. Linton;" commenced the Colonel gravely, I'm glad you've called this evening as I mnished iparticularly to sace you." nIarry moved about uncomforltably in his senat, and hurriedly poured out and drank a plass eot wine. All this did not escape the quick eye of the other, sho feared the worst, from the young man's apparent uneasiness. A pause of Eomc tWao or three minutes en sued-an uncomfortable pause-during which the clock ticked louder, and the cat on the
hearth.rug purred more contentedly than usual, and the two men, one possessing a secret which the other had guessed at, feared to utter a word to break that oppressive sa lence. At length the Colonel mustered courage: "The races passed off welL 1 presume much money has been lost on Hector. I've no patience with men who bet on. horse racing. I never do, because I think it worse than madness. If a man stakes a certain sum of money on the result of a game of skill, he has confidence in his own powers and knows what he can do. If he bets on the throw of the dice, be can satisfy himself that all is fair, that the dice have not been loaded or tampered with in any way. In both cases he sees his way before him. But the man who bets on a race-horse does not know what villany he may have to contend with; the horse may be drugged, the race sold, or a thousand other things may happen, so that bettin" on races is the worst kindof gambling possib'Ie. Thank heaven, with all my faults, I've always avoided that I" With this pious reflection the old Colonel sipped his wine, and looked keenly across the table at Harry, who appeared deeply intent on the rich glow of the wine in the glass be fore him. He muttered something unintelli gible about "great disappointment-could have sworn he'd win." The old officer did not appear to notice what he said, but proceeded at once to busi ness: "What I wanted to see you about, Harry, was this,-read this letter, which came to me just now." When Harry had done so and returned it, the Colonel continued: "I need not tell you, Harry, how this affair has grieved me. The thought that I owe money to this man maddens me,-yon can understand my feelings, for you know that Cash is an emancipist, a man without principle, without honour. I firmly believe that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to 'post' me-disgrace me for life I You see the money is to be paid on the twenty fourth, and this is the eighteenth, I now ask you, as a favor, to pay me the four hundred pounds to-morrow. A few days sooner or later cannot possibly make any difference to you-but to me the time will pass in inde scribable misery until the debt is cleared off." Harry Linton listened to this request of the Colonel's with a settled expression on his face, nearly akin to despair. His first idea on entering the house had been to confess everything to Sir John, and see it some ami cable arrangement could not be arrived at. Now, he knew the impossibility of anything of that kind being brought about. Joshua Levi's letter had rendered the punctual pay ment of the money doubly urgent. Should he boldly tell the truth? No, no I it would be time enough to do that if he could not meet his engagement on the twenty-fourth of the month. He had five clear days, and would perhaps be able to borrow the money in that time. " Sir Joshua Winter, I would do what you desire with great pleasure, but it is now im possible tha' I can let you have the money to-morrow. When the twenty-fourth arrives I've no doubt I shall be able to fulfil my promise I" The young man spoke with a certain air of dignity. lie resented the suspicions which the Colonel so evidently felt as to his ability to fufil his promise. "You have not told me, sir, how Miss Winter is, nor allowed me an opportunity of enqoiring," Harry added, after a short pause, in a lighter tone. " liss Winter is staying on a visit at Par ramatta. I heard this morning from her, she appeared perfectly well, thank you I" The old man fell again into his tone of freez ing reserve: "So I am to understand yoen that you cannot do me the favor of letting me have the money to-morrow ?" " It is impossible I" said Harry. "But on the twenty-fourth you will with out fail redeem your promise?" continued the Colonel. Harry lowered his head confusedly, and did not meet the penetrating glance which the old man darted at him over the table. The investigation did not appear to afford the latter satislaction, for his face wore a troubled, anxious look as he continued: " Dora will not return until the twenty fifth-I've so arranged it. On that day you can call here and see her, provided you have, in the meantime, fulfilled your promise-if not, you shall never cast eyes on her more ! Pardon this seeming doubt in my mind, Harry, but I'm afraid that it is not in your power to keep your promise-I believe you lost your money at the races I" -lad some vindictive individual fired a pistol off, close to Harry's ear, he could not have started more suddenly than he did at this bold shot of the Colonel's. He saw that his only chance of safety lay in his taking high ground, so it was with some show of hauteur that he replied "I confess, sir, that my losses at the races were considerable, but I cannot see what that has to do with my paying over money to you on the twenty-fourth I" This was unanswerable, and so the matter dropped. A desultory conversation followed, and when IIHarry rose to go the two shook hands with an appearance of confidence in each other which they were far from feeling. As the young lieutenant was proceeding moodily along the street, he was startled by receiving a violent slap on the back, and turning hastily round to see who had inflicted it, stood face to face with Cap tain Lambert (owner of Hector), who was rather unsteady on his legs. " Good night IHarry I" exclaimed the gal lant captain, with difficulty malntaining his equilibrinm. "I've been shettling debts borrer'd tin from 'mancipilst, old Cash, son of old Nick, you know 1" "Does he lend money ?" enquired Harry. "I've heard of Mr. Caosb, but did not know that he was a money-'euder I" "Corsh he ish r' exclaimed the other, waiving his right hand gracefully above his head. "Shent per shent, you know-thlat's heavy, but whats a terrer to do? That cursed horse is an imposhler I" By this time they had reached their quar ter, and declining an invitation to go and partake of a devilled bone and Burgundy, Ilarny went to his room. "Old Cash the emancipist!" he thought aloud, as he slowly prepared for .est. '" Well, there's no help for it--to-morrow I must try him. Anything rather than lose you I" he continued, gazing at a miniature which he drew from his bosom and kissed fervently. lie soon afterwards fell asleep, to dream that he was vainly endeavouring to catch Dora who was borne away on the back of Hector, the racehorse.