“Then I suppose you have not been able to pay interest for the last year.”
“Have you heard from the Squire lately?”
“Yes, I had a letter only last week. You remember bringing me one postmarked Cedarville?”
“Yes, I wondered at the time who it could be from.”
“You will find it on the mantelpiece. I should like to have you get it and read it.”
Paul readily found the letter. It was enclosed in a brown envelope, directed in a bold hand to “Mr. John Prescott, Wrenville.”
The letter was as follows:—
CEDARVILLE, APRIL 15, 18—,
Mr. John Prescott:—
Sir: I have been waiting impatiently to hear something about the five hundred dollars in which sum you are indebted to me, on account of a loan which I was fool enough to make you seven years since. I thought you an honest man, but I have found, to my cost, that I was mistaken. For the last year you have even failed to pay interest as stipulated between us. Your intention is evident. I quite understand that you have made up your mind to defraud me of what is rightfully mine. I don’t know how you may regard this, but I consider it as bad as highway robbery. I do not hesitate to say that if you had your deserts you would be in the Penitentiary. Let me advise you, if you wish to avoid further trouble, to make no delay in paying a portion of this debt. Yours, etc. Ezekiel Conant.
Paul’s face flushed with indignation as he read this bitter and cruel letter.
“Does Squire Conant know that you are sick, father?” he inquired.
“Yes, I wrote him about my accident, telling him at the same time that I regretted it in part on account of the interruption which it must occasion in my payments.”
“And knowing this, he wrote such a letter as that,” said Paul, indignantly, “what a hard, unfeeling wretch he must be!”
“I suppose it is vexatious to him to be kept out of his money.”
“But he has plenty more. He would never miss it if he had given it to you outright.”
“That is not the way to look at it, Paul. The money is justly his, and it is a great sorrow to me that I must die without paying it.”
“Father,” said Paul, after a pause, “will it be any relief to you, if I promise to pay it,—that is, if I am ever able?”
Mr. Prescott’s face brightened.
“That was what I wanted to ask you, Paul. It will be a comfort to me to feel that there is some hope of the debt being paid at some future day.”
“Then don’t let it trouble you any longer, father. The debt shall be mine, and I will pay it.”
Again a shadow passed over the sick man’s face, “Poor boy,” he said, “why should I burden your young life with such a load? You will have to struggle hard enough as it is. No, Paul, recall your promise. I don’t want to purchase comfort at such a price.”