Chapter 82327464

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article82327464
Full Date1902-12-15
Page Number75
Corrections0
Word Count1873
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)
Trove TitleHis Only Debt: A Christmas Story
article text

DGBt

STORY.

1

By tne Author of

"The Hand of His Brother," "The Squire of I^onsdale," Etc.

CHAPTElR I.

"Christmas time, and all the bills mre paid: That is? as it should be," re marked Mrs. Brewer cheerfully to her husband afethey setf; at tea with their two children—Robin, aged nine, and

Cissy; seven.

vW;eM, we never did get into much d sbt,' V remarked Mr. Brewer, glancing with content at his smiling wife and happy Children. "When we couldn't payfor-thitigs we went without them. We reaifembered the Bible say®, 'Owe nc* maaanything.'"

.*? 'But to love one another, for he th$k loveiii another hsuth fulfilled the law,'* *8&td his wife, completing the verfce;. "It isn't like you to quote only lialf a* text, 'Robert."

**Ah,\but love is a debt we are not likeiy to omit to pay," answered Mr. Bt^wer, looking, with affectionate prideat his family.

Mrs. Brewer was not quite satisfied. She gtanced^at him rather wistfully as stye cat-lip some bread for the children,

"^sn't t^^re a danger," she said gen. tly ^l l^^'that in our little Paradise

oftyggn* we may forget tjxe claims cf

, ^er^Ustmnd began thinking how hard ofih^r people had often been to him Ui tbe world outfcSde his home. He fc^4 had a difficult struggle to get oil in ^18 {votession as an author, an.1

no> oq$ h»d troubled to give him a helping hand at the start For his own JRft b^ng a good man and a Christen, -he had often greatiy helped o%ei^ ^)io by that means had obtain ed® footing on the" ladder of suc cess, agdthen, to an intents and pur tOsesl|brgot their benefactor in the rusli fpr fame! This was a bitter ex pterieiHjBf, Which made him more chary of aid now. Yet God had bless ed hifQ> and he wa& id receipt of a

at last, and had a dear

W& $&? j^OVjng children.

"I tjJfsrftyK Subiscribe what I can af ford to feally deserving Objects /'

"jPa^,V interrupted Robin, very ear

does subscribe mean?''

"It yftiyfis to promise a certain sum with 0f$ieii3, to write down that I will give £p much. You remember, Robbie, when poor Ben Oates lost his pony. 1 could f?ot afford to give him another, but I -wrote down on a piece of par er that I would give si sovereign towards a new for him ; then other peo plejpFOittised they would give mongy too."i^: '

„ Robi&who had caught hGid of the

Conver^Uo^i at a certain point, an ch«drpij §o; seemed satisfied, and went on eating his bread and jam; and Mr. Brewer added to bis wife, "I don't think „-t&3t I'm hard on outsiders, Mary»?.;'

"Ofe my dear, I did not think it for a moment/' she exclaimed; "I was speaking to myself as much as to you. I get so absorbed in home—:you and the«chU$reia I mean—that I have to pull myself up sometimes. That ih junctiop/about love means so much— more ' i^$n subscriptions, I think,

dear." .

"Ye®,'of course. Well, you mu?t teach the children all that—we learn such things mere easily when we are youflar, L'm a " he shrugged his shoulders. "You must let me go my own wfty."

"You'll a dear, good man, that's what you are!" cried Mrs. Brewer with loving admiration, "and your way, please God, Will be straight on, through the tr&ls t)f this life to the better li£;» beyonfl." :

"^.h, my dear, your faith in me "s

always^beautiful, like your own dear Self!," He beamed on her. She pos sessed tl*e happy art of appealing to hi's nobleut qualities.

When the meal was over Mr. Brewer retired to his den, where he wrote his very successful stories, and sat down at his writing-table. He had promiee-1 a®. editor the first part of a serial that week, but he could not begin St, his mind was crowded with other thoughts.

It was Christmas, and one debt re mained unpaid. Yete, he knew now what had made him so uneasy when, his wife was speaking—it was th -t pressing debt. Not money. No, he did not owe a farthing in the world He was blameless there. The Apos tolical injunction, " Owe no man any thing," he had obeyed, yet not the lat ter part of the sentence, "but to love one another." He had failed in that, and at Christmas time too !

Slowly, very slowly and reluctantly he searched in his waste-paper basket for a letter flung there impatiently that morning:; and, when it was found, he drew it out of its envelope and read it again. It was short andtio

the point.

"Dear Brewer,—

"I'm nearly cleaned out. I've been living beyond my means this last twelve monthis—chiefly to please my wife, who was in delicate health. She died a month ago, and the cost of her funeral greatly added to the pile of debts now overwhelming me. I have two little ones who will be homeless in a few days, when our furniture will be sold at auction. I have, no credit now and no friends. The so-called friends who assisted me to spend my money, when I had it, have fled like rate from ai failing house. For pity's sake help me, and At once,

or it will be too late.

"I know that I have no claim on you, and, worse than that, I have treated you badly, for I owed my start as a journalist to you, and then for got you when I was well off. Now that I am down it will secye me right if you forget me. But for my chil dren's sake don't do it. Have mercy!

"Yourts despairingly,

"Horace Hornsby."

"Fine cheek-!'' Mr, Brewer had ex claimed that morning when he read this appeal. Hornby had shown the greatest ingratitude for former assist ance. He had' -made a stepping-stone of him, and then, having passed him in the race, had altogether ignored him untiil now! Brewer had resolved that he would never speak to hiim ag&'n. "Loveone another" surely did not mean that love was due to sue** a man as this. "Love you neighbour as yourself/' Christ commanded, but this man was more an enemy than a neighbour. "Love your enemies"; that met the cake. "But it isn't in human nature to do it," protested Mr. Brewer.

However, presently he opened a drawer and tookout his cheque book. The easier form of charity—the giving cf money—seemed to him, after much thought, to be the solution of iUo problem. But upon further considera tion, pen in hand, he came to the con clusion that what money he oouM spare the man would only be a drop in the ocean of his need.

"I'll write," he said to himself, »"aud offer a subscription, if he can get oth ers to do the same ."

But Mr. Brewer did not get the let ter written, for he was Interrupted.

His wife entered.

"Oh, Robert," said she, linking into a chair and laughing, though thera were tears in her eyes, "what d0' you think the children have been doing-? You know that they are very fond of acting their favourite stories, pretend ing to be characters in them. Once or twice they have played the story cf the Good Samaritan, and after tea Gip sy wanted to play it, but Robin oh-. :"ected. He was tired of the play, he said, for he always had to be the man who fell among thieves?, because that character had to be beaten, and of course, as a gentleman, he couldn't beat Cissy; and Cissy"—ehe laughed a>

little—"Cissy always beat him go hard! However, Cissy declared that if be would play she would take that part. '•You know,' she said, 'you won't te beating a gfirl, you'll be beating the poor man who fell down among thieves—'cos I shall be a poor man when you are beating me, and youll be the robber.' So the little minx got ever the difficulty in that way; and, to make her case more complete, she put on one of her brother's jackets. I was writing a letter and did not ob serve anything more until the noise of very decided thumps, and sundry little cries, made me look up to see Hobble acting the part of the thieves with too much goodwill. 'Olii I'm not Robin, I'm a thief,' he said, when 1 remons trated, 'and this isn't Cifesy/ looking down upon the heav&ng coat upon tho floor, 'it's the poor man who fell among the thieves—don't you know the story ?—he has to be beaten until he's half dead!' 'Oh! Oh!' groanod Cissy from the floor.

"Well, I stopped that part of the play by telling Robin he must take'up the jole of Samaritan. Then I returned to my writing,' but looked up again on hearing Cisisy cry dolefully, *Oh, why don't you come with your oil and wine?' And I saw that, instead of try ing to relieve her with the supposed remedies, Robbie sat at the other end of my table pretending to write furl- - GU£ly.

" 'Don't interrupt me, Cissy,' he Bald, 'I'm writing my subscription.' - .

" 'I don't like that way,' complained O.ssy ; 'l Want picking up and putting Oil your own horse!'—the rocking horse ife requisitioned for this service.

" 'No,' replied Bobbie, 'I'm doing it like father. He knows the best way, Cissy? I'm putting down . £100 for you. That's what I subscribe.'

" 'Help! Help! I want help!' Cissy cried, forlornly. Then she jumped up, declaring that Robin's way of playing the Samaritan was all wrong, and I left them disputing about it."

Mr. Brewer smiled rather grimlyl "So Cissy oftdn't approve of written help," he said.

"Not at all."

"Look here, my dear, I received this letter to-day from Mr. Hornby." He put the letter in her hand.

"Poor Mr. Hornby," said his wife after she had read it; "and his poor motherless children! What will they do?" .

"The man is greatly to blame, living beyond his means—yes, 1 Jriiow the temptation, to please his w$e—butJhe shouldn't have yielded. ^Besides, lie acted like a cad—when he .was prosr perous he gave me the cut direct.'*

"Yes, yds, dear, I knoWj But he is sorry now."

"Sorry! Ay, because fie wants as

sistance again. However, he is down in the depths, so I thought'of writing to say that if his other friend^ would do so top, I would subscribe five pounds-—-' . "•'*

"But he hsus no friends, he says. Arid the furniture will be sold, and they will be turned out—you see the need is so pressing."

"Well, we can't have them here."

"Can't! Why not?. We have a spare room, and the little girl can share Cissy's night-nursery.'!

"But to take them in—such trouble— and the expense!"

"' Dearest, of course you must do as you think best." ' » J .

" Well, I'll go and see him to-mor row."

" To-morrow ! The man is in de spair."

"I'll go how—to-night."

" Dearest, I thought that you would. There is an old saying, * He who giveb quickly gives twice.'"