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The Church Debt
by [?]

I have been thinking the matter over seriously and I have decided that if I had my life to live over again, I would like to be an eccentric millionaire.

I have eccentricity enough, but I cannot successfully push it without more means.

I have a great many plans which I would like to carry out, in case I could unite the two necessary elements for the production of the successful eccentric millionaire.

Among other things, I would be willing to bind myself and give proper security to any one who would put in money to offset my eccentricity, that I would ultimately die. We all know how seldom the eccentric millionaire now dies. I would be willing to inaugurate a reform in that direction.

I think now that I would endow a home for men whose wives are no longer able to support them. In many cases the wife who was at first able to support her husband comfortably, finally shoulders a church debt, and in trying to lift that she overworks and impairs her health so that she becomes an invalid, while hor husband is left to pine away in solitude or dependent on the cold charities of the world.

My heart goes out toward those men even now, and in case I should fill the grave of the eccentric millionaire, I am sure that I would do the square thing by them.

The method by which our wives in America are knocking the church debt silly, by working up their husbands’ groceries into “angel food” and selling them below actual cost, is deserving of the attention of our national financiers.

The church debt itself is deserving of notice in this country. It certainly thrives better under a republican form of government than any other feature of our boasted civilization. Western towns spring up everywhere, and the first anxiety is to name the place, the second to incur a church debt and establish a roller rink.

After that a general activity in trade is assured. Of course the general hostility of church and rink will prevent ennui and listlessness, and the church debt will encourage a business boom. Naturally the church debt cannot be paid without what is generally known through the West as the “festival and hooraw.” This festival is an open market where the ladies trade the groceries of their husbands to other ladies’ husbands, and everybody has a “perfectly lovely time.” The church clears $2.30, and thirteen ladies are sick all the next day.

This makes a boom for the physicians and later on for the undertaker and general tombist. So it will be seen that the Western town is right in establishing a church debt as soon as the survey is made and the town properly named. After the first church debt has been properly started, others will rapidly follow, so that no anxiety need be felt if the church will come forward the first year and buy more than it can pay for.

The church debt is a comparatively modern appliance, and yet it has been productive of many peculiar features. For instance, we call to mind the clergyman who makes a specialty of going from place to place as a successful debt demolisher. He is a part of the general system, just as much as the ice cream freezer or the buttonhole bouquet.

Then there is a row or social knock-down-and-drag-out which goes along with the church debt. All these things add to the general interest, and to acquire interest in one way or another is the mission of the c.d.

I once knew a most exemplary woman who became greatly interested in the wiping out of a church debt, and who did finally succeed in wiping out the debt, but in its last expiring death struggle it gave her a wipe from which she never recovered. She had succeeded in begging the milk and the cream, and the eggs and the sandwiches, and the use of the dishes and the sugar, and the loan of an oyster, and the use of a freezer and fifty button-hole bouquets to be sold to men who were not in the habit of wearing bouquets, but she could not borrow a circular artist to revolve the crank of the freezer, so she agitated it herself. Her husband had to go away prior to the festivities, but he ordered her not to crank the freezer. He had very little influence with her, however, and so to-day he is a widower. The church debt was revived in the following year, and now there isn’t a more thriving church debt anywhere in the country. Only last week that church traded off $75 worth of groceries, in the form of asbestos cake and celluloid angel food, in such a way that if the original cost of the groceries and the work were not considered, the clear profit was $13, after the hall rent was paid. And why should the first cost of the groceries be reckoned, when we stop to think that they were involuntarily furnished by the depraved husband and father.

I must add, also, that in the above estimate doctors’ bills and funeral expenses are not reckoned.