Infomotions, Inc.Brewster's Millions / McCutcheon, George Barr, 1866-1928



Author: McCutcheon, George Barr, 1866-1928
Title: Brewster's Millions
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): monty; brewster; peggy; montgomery brewster; swearengen jones; monty brewster; subway smith; jones; dan; dan demille; nopper harrison; joe bragdon; peggy gray; grant ripley; captain perry
Contributor(s): Bell, Clara, 1834-1927 [Translator]
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Size: 64,505 words (short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 67 (easy)
Identifier: etext4709
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Title: Brewster's Millions

Author: George Barr McCutcheon

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BREWSTER'S MILLIONS

BY GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON

Author of "Graustark," "Beverly of Graustark," "Castle
Craneycrow," etc.





CONTENTS


     I. A Birthday Dinner
    II. Shades of Aladdin
   III. Mrs. and Miss Gray
    IV. A Second Will
     V. The Message from Jones
    VI. Monty Cristo
   VII. A Lesson in Tact
  VIII. The Forelock of Time
    IX. Love and a Prize-fight
     X. The Napoleon of Finance
    XI. Coals of Fire
   XII. Christmas Despair
  XIII. A Friend in Need
   XIV. Mrs. DeMille Entertains
    XV. The Cut Direct
   XVI. In the Sunny South
  XVII. The New Tenderfoot
 XVIII. The Prodigal at Sea
   XIX. One Hero and Another
    XX. Le Roi S'Amuse
   XXI. Fairyland
  XXII. Prince and Peasants
 XXIII. An Offer of Marriage
  XXIV. The Sheik's Strategy
   XXV. The Rescue of Peggy
  XXVI. The Mutiny
 XXVII. A Fair Traitor
XXVIII. A Catastrophe
  XXIX. The Prodigal's Return
   XXX. The Promise of Thrift
  XXXI. How the Million Disappeared
 XXXII. The Night Before
XXXIII. The Flight of Jones
 XXXIV. The Last Word





BREWSTER'S MILLIONS





CHAPTER I

A BIRTHDAY DINNER


"The Little Sons of the Rich" were gathered about the long table
in Pettingill's studio. There were nine of them present, besides
Brewster. They were all young, more or less enterprising, hopeful,
and reasonably sure of better things to come. Most of them bore
names that meant something in the story of New York. Indeed, one
of them had remarked, "A man is known by the street that's named
after him," and as he was a new member, they called him "Subway."

The most popular man in the company was young "Monty" Brewster. He
was tall and straight and smooth-shaven. People called him "clean-
looking." Older women were interested in him because his father
and mother had made a romantic runaway match, which was the talk
of the town in the seventies, and had never been forgiven. Worldly
women were interested in him because he was the only grandson of
Edwin Peter Brewster, who was many times a millionaire, and Monty
was fairly certain to be his heir--barring an absent-minded gift
to charity. Younger women were interested for a much more obvious
and simple reason: they liked him. Men also took to Monty because
he was a good sportsman, a man among men, because he had a decent
respect for himself and no great aversion to work.

His father and mother had both died while he was still a child,
and, as if to make up for his long relentlessness, the grandfather
had taken the boy to his own house and had cared for him with what
he called affection. After college and some months on the
continent, however, Monty had preferred to be independent. Old Mr.
Brewster had found him a place in the bank, but beyond this and
occasional dinners, Monty asked for and received no favors. It was
a question of work, and hard work, and small pay. He lived on his
salary because he had to, but he did not resent his grandfather's
attitude. He was better satisfied to spend his "weakly salary," as
he called it, in his own way than to earn more by dining seven
nights a week with an old man who had forgotten he was ever young.
It was less wearing, he said.

Among the "Little Sons of the Rich," birthdays were always
occasions for feasting. The table was covered with dishes sent up
from the French restaurant in the basement. The chairs were pushed
back, cigarettes were lighted, men had their knees crossed. Then
Pettingill got up.

"Gentlemen," he began, "we are here to celebrate the twenty-fifth
birthday of Mr. Montgomery Brewster. I ask you all to join me in
drinking to his long life and happiness."

"No heel taps!" some one shouted. "Brewster! Brewster!" all called
at once.

    "For he's a jolly good fellow,
     For he's a jolly good fellow!"

The sudden ringing of an electric bell cut off this flow of
sentiment, and so unusual was the interruption that the ten
members straightened up as if jerked into position by a string.

"The police!" some one suggested. All faces were turned toward the
door. A waiter stood there, uncertain whether to turn the knob or
push the bolt.

"Damned nuisance!" said Richard Van Winkle. "I want to hear
Brewster's speech."

"Speech! Speech!" echoed everywhere. Men settled into their
places.

"Mr. Montgomery Brewster," Pettingill introduced.

Again the bell rang--long and loud.

"Reinforcements. I'll bet there's a patrol in the street,"
remarked Oliver Harrison.

"If it's only the police, let them in," said Pettingill. "I
thought it was a creditor."

The waiter opened the door.

"Some one to see Mr. Brewster, sir," he announced.

"Is she pretty, waiter?" called McCloud.

"He says he is Ellis, from your grandfather's, sir!"

"My compliments to Ellis, and ask him to inform my grandfather
that it's after banking hours. I'll see him in the morning," said
Mr. Brewster, who had reddened under the jests of his companions.

"Grandpa doesn't want his Monty to stay out after dark," chuckled
Subway Smith.

"It was most thoughtful of the old gentleman to have the man call
for you with the perambulator," shouted Pettingill above the
laughter. "Tell him you've already had your bottle," added
McCloud.

"Waiter, tell Ellis I'm too busy to be seen," commanded Brewster,
and as Ellis went down in the elevator a roar followed him.

"Now, for Brewster's speech!--Brewster!"

Monty rose.

"Gentlemen, you seem to have forgotten for the moment that I am
twenty-five years old this day, and that your remarks have been
childish and wholly unbecoming the dignity of my age. That I have
arrived at a period of discretion is evident from my choice of
friends; that I am entitled to your respect is evident from my
grandfather's notorious wealth. You have done me the honor to
drink my health and to reassure me as to the inoffensiveness of
approaching senility. Now I ask you all to rise and drink to 'The
Little Sons of the Rich.' May the Lord love us!"

An hour later "Rip" Van Winkle and Subway Smith were singing "Tell
Me, Pretty Maiden," to the uncertain accompaniment of Pettingill's
violin, when the electric bell again disturbed the company.

"For Heaven's sake!" shouted Harrison, who had been singing "With
All Thy Faults I Love Thee Still," to Pettingill's lay figure.

"Come home with me, grandson, come home with me now," suggested
Subway Smith.

"Tell Ellis to go to Halifax," commanded Montgomery, and again
Ellis took the elevator downward. His usually impassive face now
wore a look of anxiety, and twice he started to return to the top
floor, shaking his head dubiously. At last he climbed into a
hansom and reluctantly left the revelers behind. He knew it was a
birthday celebration, and it was only half-past twelve in the
morning.

At three o'clock the elevator made another trip to the top floor
and Ellis rushed over to the unfriendly doorbell. This time there
was stubborn determination in his face. The singing ceased and a
roar of laughter followed the hush of a moment or two.

"Come in!" called a hearty voice, and Ellis strode firmly into the
studio.

"You are just in time for a 'night-cap,' Ellis," cried Harrison,
rushing to the footman's side. Ellis, stolidly facing the young
man, lifted his hand.

"No, thank you, sir," he said, respectfully. "Mr. Montgomery, if
you'll excuse me for breaking in, I'd like to give you three
messages I've brought here to-night."

"You're a faithful old chap," said Subway Smith, thickly. "Hanged
if I'd do A.D.T. work till three A.M. for anybody."

"I came at ten, Mr. Montgomery, with a message from Mr. Brewster,
wishing you many happy returns of the day, and with a check from
him for one thousand dollars. Here's the check, sir. I'll give my
messages in the order I received them, sir, if you please. At
twelve-thirty o'clock, I came with a message from Dr. Gower, sir,
who had been called in--"

"Called in?" gasped Montgomery, turning white.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Brewster had a sudden heart attack at half-past
eleven, sir. The doctor sent word by me, sir, that he was at the
point of death. My last message--"

"Good Lord!"

"This time I bring a message from Rawles, the butler, asking you
to come to Mr. Brewster's house at once--if you can, sir--I mean,
if you will, sir," Ellis interjected apologetically. Then, with
his gaze directed steadily over the heads of the subdued "Sons,"
he added, impressively:

"Mr. Brewster is dead, sir."





CHAPTER II

SHADES OF ALADDIN


Montgomery Brewster no longer had "prospects." People could not
now point him out with the remark that some day he would come into
a million or two. He had "realized," as Oliver Harrison would have
put it. Two days after his grandfather's funeral a final will and
testament was read, and, as was expected, the old banker atoned
for the hardships Robert Brewster and his wife had endured by
bequeathing one million dollars to their son Montgomery. It was
his without a restriction, without an admonition, without an
incumbrance. There was not a suggestion as to how it should be
handled by the heir. The business training the old man had given
him was synonymous with conditions not expressed in the will. The
dead man believed that he had drilled into the youth an
unmistakable conception of what was expected of him in life; if he
failed in these expectations the misfortune would be his alone to
bear; a road had been carved out for him and behind him stretched
a long line of guide-posts whose laconic instructions might be
ignored but never forgotten. Edwin Peter Brewster evidently made
his will with the sensible conviction that it was necessary for
him to die before anybody else could possess his money, and that,
once dead, it would be folly for him to worry over the way in
which beneficiaries might choose to manage their own affairs.

The house in Fifth Avenue went to a sister, together with a
million or two, and the residue of the estate found kindly
disposed relatives who were willing to keep it from going to the
Home for Friendless Fortunes. Old Mr. Brewster left his affairs in
order. The will nominated Jerome Buskirk as executor, and he was
instructed, in conclusion, to turn over to Montgomery Brewster,
the day after the will was probated, securities to the amount of
one million dollars, provided for in clause four of the
instrument. And so it was that on the 26th of September young Mr.
Brewster had an unconditional fortune thrust upon him, weighted
only with the suggestion of crepe that clung to it.

Since his grandfather's death he had been staying at the gloomy
old Brewster house in Fifth Avenue, paying but two or three
hurried visits to the rooms at Mrs. Gray's, where he had made his
home. The gloom of death still darkened the Fifth Avenue place,
and there was a stillness, a gentle stealthiness about the house
that made him long for more cheerful companionship. He wondered
dimly if a fortune always carried the suggestion of tube-roses.
The richness and strangeness of it all hung about him
unpleasantly. He had had no extravagant affection for the grim old
dictator who was dead, yet his grandfather was a man and had
commanded his respect. It seemed brutal to leave him out of the
reckoning--to dance on the grave of the mentor who had treated him
well. The attitude of the friends who clapped him on the back, of
the newspapers which congratulated him, of the crowd that expected
him to rejoice, repelled him. It seemed a tragic comedy, haunted
by a severe dead face. He was haunted, too, by memories, and by a
sharp regret for his own foolish thoughtlessness. Even the fortune
itself weighed upon him at moments with a half-defined melancholy.

Yet the situation was not without its compensations. For several
days when Ellis called him at seven, he would answer him and thank
fortune that he was not required at the bank that morning. The
luxury of another hour of sleep seemed the greatest perquisite of
wealth. His morning mail amused him at first, for since the
newspapers had published his prosperity to the world he was
deluged with letters. Requests for public or private charity were
abundant, but most of his correspondents were generous and thought
only of his own good. For three days he was in a hopeless state of
bewilderment. He was visited by reporters, photographers, and
ingenious strangers who benevolently offered to invest his money
in enterprises with certified futures. When he was not engaged in
declining a gold mine in Colorado, worth five million dollars,
marked down to four hundred and fifty, he was avoiding a guileless
inventor who offered to sacrifice the secrets of a marvelous
device for three hundred dollars, or denying the report that he
had been tendered the presidency of the First National Bank.

Oliver Harrison stirred him out early one morning and, while the
sleepy millionaire was rubbing his eyes and still dodging the
bombshell that a dream anarchist had hurled from the pinnacle of a
bedpost, urged him in excited, confidential tones to take time by
the forelock and prepare for possible breach of promise suits.
Brewster sat on the edge of the bed and listened to diabolical
stories of how conscienceless females had fleeced innocent and
even godly men of wealth. From the bathroom, between splashes, he
retained Harrison by the year, month, day and hour, to stand
between him and blackmail.

The directors of the bank met and adopted resolutions lamenting
the death of their late president, passed the leadership on to the
first vice-president and speedily adjourned. The question of
admitting Monty to the directory was brought up and discussed, but
it was left for Time to settle.

One of the directors was Col. Prentiss Drew, "the railroad
magnate" of the newspapers. He had shown a fondness for young Mr.
Brewster, and Monty had been a frequent visitor at his house.
Colonel Drew called him "my dear boy," and Monty called him "a
bully old chap," though not in his presence. But the existence of
Miss Barbara Drew may have had something to do with the feeling
between the two men.

As he left the directors' room, on the afternoon of the meeting,
Colonel Drew came up to Monty, who had notified the officers of
the bank that he was leaving.

"Ah, my dear boy," said the Colonel, shaking the young man's hand
warmly, "now you have a chance to show what you can do. You have a
fortune and, with judgment, you ought to be able to triple it. If
I can help you in any way, come and see me."

Monty thanked him.

"You'll be bored to death by the raft of people who have ways to
spend your money," continued the Colonel. "Don't listen to any of
them. Take your time. You'll have a new chance to make money every
day of your life, so go slowly. I'd have been rich years and years
ago if I'd had sense enough to run away from promoters. They'll
all try to get a whack at your money. Keep your eye open, Monty.
The rich young man is always a tempting morsel. "After a moment's
reflection, he added, "Won't you come out and dine with us to-
morrow night?"





CHAPTER III

MRS. AND MISS GRAY


Mrs. Gray lived in Fortieth Street. For years Montgomery Brewster
had regarded her quiet, old-fashioned home as his own. The house
had once been her grandfather's, and it was one of the pioneers in
that part of the town. It was there she was born; in its quaint
old parlor she was married; and all her girlhood, her brief wedded
life, and her widowhood were connected with it. Mrs. Gray and
Montgomery's mother had been schoolmates and playmates, and their
friendship endured. When old Edwin Peter Brewster looked about for
a place to house his orphaned grandson, Mrs. Gray begged him to
let her care for the little fellow. He was three years older than
her Margaret, and the children grew up as brother and sister. Mr.
Brewster was generous in providing for the boy. While he was away
at college, spending money in a manner that caused the old
gentleman to marvel at his own liberality, Mrs. Gray was well paid
for the unused but well-kept apartments, and there never was a
murmur of complaint from Edwin Peter Brewster. He was hard, but he
was not niggardly.

It had been something of a struggle for Mrs. Gray to make both
ends meet. The property in Fortieth Street was her only
possession. But little money had come to her at her husband's
death, and an unfortunate speculation of his had swept away all
that had fallen to her from her father, the late Judge
Merriweather. For years she kept the old home unencumbered,
teaching French and English until Margaret was well in her teens.
The girl was sent to one of the good old boarding-schools on the
Hudson and came out well prepared to help her mother in the battle
to keep the wolf down and appearances up. Margaret was rich in
friendships; and pride alone stood between her and the advantages
they offered. Good-looking, bright, and cheerful, she knew no
natural privations. With a heart as light and joyous as a May
morning, she faced adversity as though it was a pleasure, and no
one would have suspected that even for a moment her courage
wavered.

Now that Brewster had come into his splendid fortune he could
conceive no greater delight than to share it with them. To walk
into the little drawing-room and serenely lay large sums before
them as their own seemed such a natural proceeding that he refused
to see an obstacle. But he knew it was there; the proffer of such
a gift to Mrs. Gray would mean a wound to the pride inherited from
haughty generations of men sufficient unto themselves. There was a
small but troublesome mortgage on the house, a matter of two or
three thousand dollars, and Brewster tried to evolve a plan by
which he could assume the burden without giving deep and lasting
offense. A hundred wild designs had come to him, but they were
quickly relegated to the growing heap of subterfuges and pretexts
condemned by his tenderness for the pride of these two women who
meant so much to him.

Leaving the bank, he hastened, by electric car, to Fortieth Street
and Broadway, and then walked eagerly off into the street of the
numeral. He had not yet come to the point where he felt like
scorning the cars, even though a roll of banknotes was tucked
snugly away in a pocket that seemed to swell with sudden
affluence. Old Hendrick, faithful servitor through two
generations, was sweeping the autumn leaves from the sidewalk when
Montgomery came up to the house.

"Hello, Hendrick," was the young man's cheery greeting. "Nice lot
of leaves you have there."

"So?" ebbed from Hendrick, who did not even so much as look up
from his work. Hendrick was a human clam.

"Mrs. Gray in?"

A grunt that signified yes.

"You're as loquacious as ever, Hendrick."

A mere nod.

Brewster let himself in with his own latch key, threw his hat on a
chair and unceremoniously bolted into the library. Margaret was
seated near a window, a book in her lap. The first evidence of
unbiased friendship he had seen in days shone in her smile. She
took his hand and said simply, "We are glad to welcome the
prodigal to his home again."

"I remind myself more of the fatted calf."

His first self-consciousness had gone.

"I thought of that, but I didn't dare say it," she laughed. "One
must be respectful to rich relatives."

"Hang your rich relatives, Peggy; if I thought that this money
would make any difference I would give it up this minute."

"Nonsense, Monty," she said. "How could it make a difference? But
you must admit it is rather startling. The friend of our youth
leaves his humble dwelling Saturday night with his salary drawn
for two weeks ahead. He returns the following Thursday a dazzling
millionaire."

"I'm glad I've begun to dazzle, anyway. I thought it might be hard
to look the part."

"Well, I can't see that you are much changed." There was a
suggestion of a quaver in her voice, and the shadows did not
prevent him from seeing the quick mist that flitted across her
deep eyes.

"After all, it's easy work being a millionaire," he explained,
"when you've always had million-dollar inclinations."

"And fifty-cent possibilities," she added.

"Really, though, I'll never get as much joy out of my abundant
riches as I did out of financial embarrassments."

"But think how fine it is, Monty, not ever to wonder where your
winter's overcoat is to come from and how long the coal will last,
and all that."

"Oh, I never wondered about my overcoats; the tailor did the
wondering. But I wish I could go on living here just as before.
I'd a heap rather live here than at that gloomy place on the
avenue." "That sounded like the things you used to say when we
played in the garret. You'd a heap sooner do this than that--don't
you remember?"

"That's just why I'd rather live here, Peggy. Last night I fell to
thinking of that old garret, and hanged if something didn't come
up and stick in my throat so tight that I wanted to cry. How long
has it been since we played up there? Yes, and how long has it
been since I read 'Oliver Optic' to you, lying there in the garret
window while you sat with your back against the wall, your blue
eyes as big as dollars?"

"Oh, dear me, Monty, it was ages ago--twelve or thirteen years at
least," she cried, a soft light in her eyes.

"I'm going up there this afternoon to see what the place is like,"
he said eagerly. "And, Peggy, you must come too. Maybe I can find
one of those Optic books, and we'll be young again."

"Just for old time's sake," she said impulsively. "You'll stay for
luncheon, too."

"I'll have to be at the--no, I won't, either. Do you know, I was
thinking I had to be at the bank at twelve-thirty to let Mr.
Perkins go out for something to eat? The millionaire habit isn't
so firmly fixed as I supposed." After a moment's pause, in which
his growing seriousness changed the atmosphere, he went on,
haltingly, uncertain of his position: "The nicest thing about
having all this money is that--that--we won't have to deny
ourselves anything after this." It did not sound very tactful, now
that it was out, and he was compelled to scrutinize rather
intently a familiar portrait in order to maintain an air of
careless assurance. She did not respond to this venture, but he
felt that she was looking directly into his sorely-tried brain.
"We'll do any amount of decorating about the house and--and you
know that furnace has been giving us a lot of trouble for two or
three years--" he was pouring out ruthlessly, when her hand fell
gently on his own and she stood straight and tall before him, an
odd look in her eyes.

"Don't--please don't go on, Monty," she said very gently but
without wavering. "I know what you mean. You are good and very
thoughtful, Monty, but you really must not."

"Why, what's mine is yours--" he began.

"I know you are generous, Monty, and I know you have a heart. You
want us to--to take some of your money,"--it was not easy to say
it, and as for Monty, he could only look at the floor. "We cannot,
Monty, dear,--you must never speak of it again. Mamma and I had a
feeling that you would do it. But don't you see,--even from you it
is an offer of help, and it hurts."

"Don't talk like that, Peggy," he implored.

"It would break her heart if you offered to give her money in that
way. She'd hate it, Monty. It is foolish, perhaps, but you know we
can't take your money."

"I thought you--that you--oh, this knocks all the joy out of it,"
he burst out desperately.

"Dear Monty!"

"Let's talk it over, Peggy; you don't understand--" he began,
dashing at what he thought would be a break in her resolve.

"Don't!" she commanded, and in her blue eyes was the hot flash he
had felt once or twice before.

He rose and walked across the floor, back and forth again, and
then stood before her, a smile on his lips--a rather pitiful
smile, but still a smile. There were tears in her eyes as she
looked at him.

"It's a confounded puritanical prejudice, Peggy," he said in
futile protest, "and you know it."

"You have not seen the letters that came for you this morning.
They're on the table over there," she replied, ignoring him.

He found the letters and resumed his seat in the window, glancing
half-heartedly over the contents of the envelopes. The last was
from Grant & Ripley, attorneys, and even from his abstraction it
brought a surprised "By Jove!" He read it aloud to Margaret.

September 30.

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER, ESQ.,

New York.

Dear Sir:--We are in receipt of a communication from Mr.
Swearengen Jones of Montana, conveying the sad intelligence that
your uncle, James T. Sedgwick, died on the 24th inst. at M--
Hospital in Portland, after a brief illness. Mr. Jones by this
time has qualified in Montana as the executor of your uncle's will
and has retained us as his eastern representatives. He incloses a
copy of the will, in which you are named as sole heir, with
conditions attending. Will you call at our office this afternoon,
if it is convenient? It is important that you know the contents of
the instrument at once.

Respectfully yours,

GRANT & RIPLEY.

For a moment there was only amazement in the air. Then a faint,
bewildered smile appeared in Monty's face, and reflected itself in
the girl's.

"Who is your Uncle James?" she asked.

"I've never heard of him."

"You must go to Grant & Ripley's at once, of course."

"Have you forgotten, Peggy," he replied, with a hint of vexation
in his voice, "that we are to read 'Oliver Optic' this afternoon?"





CHAPTER IV

A SECOND


"You are both fortunate and unfortunate, Mr. Brewster," said Mr.
Grant, after the young man had dropped into a chair in the office
of Grant & Ripley the next day. Montgomery wore a slightly bored
expression, and it was evident that he took little interest in the
will of James T. Sedgwick. From far back in the recesses of memory
he now recalled this long-lost brother of his mother. As a very
small child he had seen his Uncle James upon the few occasions
which brought him to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brewster. But
the young man had dined at the Drews the night before and Barbara
had had more charm for him than usual. It was of her that he was
thinking when he walked into the office of Swearengen Jones's
lawyers.

"The truth is, Mr. Grant, I'd completely forgotten the existence
of an uncle," he responded.

"It is not surprising," said Mr. Grant, genially. "Every one who
knew him in New York nineteen or twenty years ago believed him to
be dead. He left the city when you were a very small lad, going to
Australia, I think. He was off to seek his fortune, and he needed
it pretty badly when he started out. This letter from Mr. Jones
comes like a message from the dead. Were it not that we have known
Mr. Jones for a long time, handling affairs of considerable
importance for him, I should feel inclined to doubt the whole
story. It seems that your uncle turned up in Montana about fifteen
years ago and there formed a stanch friendship with old Swearengen
Jones, one of the richest men in the far West. Sedgwick's will was
signed on the day of his death, September 24th, and it was quite
natural that Mr. Jones should be named as his executor. That is
how we became interested in the matter, Mr. Brewster."

"I see," said Montgomery, somewhat puzzled. "But why do you say
that I am both fortunate and unfortunate?"

"The situation is so remarkable that you'll consider that a mild
way of putting it when you've heard everything. I think you were
told, in our note of yesterday, that you are the sole heir. Well,
it may surprise you to learn that James Sedgwick died possessed of
an estate valued at almost seven million dollars."

Montgomery Brewster sat like one petrified, staring blankly at the
old lawyer, who could say startling things in a level voice.

"He owned gold mines and ranches in the Northwest and there is no
question as to their value. Mr. Jones, in his letter to us,
briefly outlines the history of James Sedgwick from the time he
landed in Montana. He reached there in 1885 from Australia, and he
was worth thirty or forty thousand dollars at the time. Within
five years he was the owner of a huge ranch, and scarcely had
another five years passed before he was part owner of three rich
gold mines. Possessions accumulated rapidly; everything he touched
turned to gold. He was shrewd, careful, and thrifty, and his money
was handled with all the skill of a Wall Street financier. At the
time of his death, in Portland, he did not owe a dollar in the
world. His property is absolutely unencumbered--safe and sound as
a government bond. It's rather overwhelming, isn't it?" the lawyer
concluded, taking note of Brewster's expression.

"And he--he left everything to me?"

"With a proviso."

"Ah!"

"I have a copy of the will. Mr. Ripley and I are the only persons
in New York who at present know its contents. You, I am sure,
after hearing it, will not divulge them without the most careful
deliberation."

Mr. Grant drew the document from a pigeon-hole in his desk,
adjusted his glasses and prepared to read. Then, as though struck
by a sudden thought, he laid the paper down and turned once more
to Brewster.

"It seems that Sedgwick never married. Your mother was his sister
and his only known relative of close connection. He was a man of
most peculiar temperament, but in full possession of all mental
faculties. You may find this will to be a strange document, but I
think Mr. Jones, the executor, explains any mystery that may be
suggested by its terms. While Sedgwick's whereabouts were unknown
to his old friends in New York, it seems that he was fully posted
on all that was going on here. He knew that you were the only
child of your mother and therefore his only nephew. He sets forth
the dates of your mother's marriage, of your birth, of the death
of Robert Brewster and of Mrs. Brewster. He also was aware of the
fact that old Edwin Peter Brewster intended to bequeath a large
fortune to you--and thereby hangs a tale. Sedgwick was proud. When
he lived in New York, he was regarded as the kind of man who never
forgave the person who touched roughly upon his pride. You know,
of course, that your father married Miss Sedgwick in the face of
the most bitter opposition on the part of Edwin Brewster. The
latter refused to recognize her as his daughter, practically
disowned his son, and heaped the harshest kind of calumny upon the
Sedgwicks. It was commonly believed about town that Jim Sedgwick
left the country three or four years after this marriage for the
sole reason that he and Edwin Brewster could not live in the same
place. So deep was his hatred of the old man that he fled to
escape killing him. It was known that upon one occasion he visited
the office of his sister's enemy for the purpose of slaying him,
but something prevented. He carried that hatred to the grave, as
you will see."

Montgomery Brewster was trying to gather himself together from
within the fog which made himself and the world unreal.

"I believe I'd like to have you read this extraor--the will, Mr.
Grant," he said, with an effort to hold his nerves in leash.

Mr. Grant cleared his throat and began in his still voice. Once he
looked up to find his listener eager, and again to find him grown
indifferent. He wondered dimly if this were a pose.

In brief, the last will of James T. Sedgwick bequeathed
everything, real and personal, of which he died possessed, to his
only nephew, Montgomery Brewster of New York, son of Robert and
Louise Sedgwick Brewster. Supplementing this all-important clause
there was a set of conditions governing the final disposition of
the estate. The most extraordinary of these conditions was the one
which required the heir to be absolutely penniless upon the
twenty-sixth anniversary of his birth, September 23d.

The instrument went into detail in respect to this supreme
condition. It set forth that Montgomery Brewster was to have no
other worldly possession than the clothes which covered him on the
September day named. He was to begin that day without a penny to
his name, without a single article of jewelry, furniture or
finance that he could call his own or could thereafter reclaim. At
nine o'clock, New York time, on the morning of September 23d, the
executor, under the provisions of the will, was to make over and
transfer to Montgomery Brewster all of the moneys, lands, bonds,
and interests mentioned in the inventory which accompanied the
will. In the event that Montgomery Brewster had not, in every
particular, complied with the requirements of the will, to the
full satisfaction of the said executor, Swearengen Jones, the
estate was to be distributed among certain institutions of charity
designated in the instrument. Underlying this imperative
injunction of James Sedgwick was plainly discernible the motive
that prompted it. In almost so many words he declared that his
heir should not receive the fortune if he possessed a single penny
that had come to him, in any shape or form, from the man he hated,
Edwin Peter Brewster. While Sedgwick could not have known at the
time of his death that the banker had bequeathed one million
dollars to his grandson, it was more than apparent that he
expected the young man to be enriched liberally by his enemy. It
was to preclude any possible chance of the mingling of his fortune
with the smallest portion of Edwin P. Brewster's that James
Sedgwick, on his deathbed, put his hand to this astonishing
instrument.

There was also a clause in which he undertook to dictate the
conduct of Montgomery Brewster during the year leading up to his
twenty-sixth anniversary. He required that the young man should
give satisfactory evidence to the executor that he was capable of
managing his affairs shrewdly and wisely,--that he possessed the
ability to add to the fortune through his own enterprise; that he
should come to his twenty-sixth anniversary with a fair name and a
record free from anything worse than mild forms of dissipation;
that his habits be temperate; that he possess nothing at the end
of the year which might be regarded as a "visible or invisible
asset"; that he make no endowments; that he give sparingly to
charity; that he neither loan nor give away money, for fear that
it might be restored to him later; that he live on the principle
which inspires a man to "get his money's worth," be the
expenditure great or small. As these conditions were prescribed
for but a single year in the life of the heir, it was evident that
Mr. Sedgwick did not intend to impose any restrictions after the
property had gone into his hands.

"How do you like it?" asked Mr. Grant, as he passed the will to
Brewster.

The latter took the paper and glanced over it with the air of one
who had heard but had not fully grasped its meaning.

"It must be a joke, Mr. Grant," he said, still groping with
difficulty through the fog.

"No, Mr. Brewster, it is absolutely genuine. Here is a telegram
from the Probate Court in Sedgwick's home county, received in
response to a query from us. It says that the will is to be filed
for probate and that Mr. Sedgwick was many times a millionaire.
This statement, which he calls an inventory, enumerates his
holdings and their value, and the footing shows $6,345,000 in
round numbers. The investments, you see, are gilt-edged. There is
not a bad penny in all those millions."

"Well, it is rather staggering, isn't it?" said Montgomery,
passing his hand over his forehead. He was beginning to
comprehend.

"In more ways than one. What are you going to do about it?"

"Do about it?" in surprise. "Why, it's mine, isn't it?"

"It is not yours until next September," the lawyer quietly said.

"Well, I fancy I can wait," said Brewster with a smile that
cleared the air.

"But, my dear fellow, you are already the possessor of a million.
Do you forget that you are expected to be penniless a year from
now?"

"Wouldn't you exchange a million for seven millions, Mr. Grant?"

"But let me inquire how you purpose doing it?" asked Mr. Grant,
mildly.

"Why, by the simple process of destruction. Don't you suppose I
can get rid of a million in a year? Great Scott, who wouldn't do
it! All I have to do is to cut a few purse strings and there is
but one natural conclusion. I don't mind being a pauper for a few
hours on the 23d of next September."

"That is your plan, then?"

"Of course. First I shall substantiate all that this will sets
forth. When I am assured that there can be no possibility of
mistake in the extent of this fortune and my undisputed claim,
I'll take steps to get rid of my grandfather's million in short
order." Brewster's voice rang true now. The zest of life was
coming back.

Mr. Grant leaned forward slowly and his intent, penetrating gaze
served as a check to the young fellow's enthusiasm.

"I admire and approve the sagacity which urges you to exchange a
paltry million for a fortune, but it seems to me that you are
forgetting the conditions," he said, slowly. "Has it occurred to
you that it will be no easy task to spend a million dollars
without in some way violating the restrictions in your uncle's
will, thereby losing both fortunes?"





CHAPTER V

THE MESSAGE FROM JONES


A new point of view gradually came to Brewster. All his life had
been spent in wondering how to get enough money to pay his bills,
and it had not occurred to him that it might be as difficult to
spend as to acquire wealth. The thought staggered him for a
moment. Then he cried triumphantly, "I can decline to accept
grandfather's million."

"You cannot decline to accept what is already yours. I understand
that the money has been paid to you by Mr. Buskirk. You have a
million dollars, Mr. Brewster, and it cannot be denied."

"You are right," agreed Montgomery, dejectedly. "Really, Mr.
Grant, this proposition is too much for me. If you aren't required
to give an immediate answer, I want to think it over. It sounds
like a dream."

"It is no dream, Mr. Brewster," smiled the lawyer. "You are face
to face with an amazing reality. Come in to-morrow morning and see
me again. Think it over, study it out. Remember the conditions of
the will and the conditions that confront you. In the meantime, I
shall write to Mr. Jones, the executor, and learn from him just
what he expects you to do in order to carry out his own conception
of the terms of your uncle's will."

"Don't write, Mr. Grant; telegraph. And ask him to wire his reply.
A year is not very long in an affair of this kind." A moment later
he added, "Damn these family feuds! Why couldn't Uncle James have
relented a bit? He brings endless trouble on my innocent head,
just because of a row before I was born."

"He was a strange man. As a rule, one does not carry grudges quite
so far. But that is neither here nor there. His will is law in
this case."

"Suppose I succeed in spending all but a thousand dollars before
the 23d of next September! I'd lose the seven millions and be the
next thing to a pauper. That wouldn't be quite like getting my
money's worth."

"It is a problem, my boy. Think it over very seriously before you
come to a decision, one way or the other. In the meantime, we can
establish beyond a doubt the accuracy of this inventory."

"By all means, go ahead, and please urge Mr. Jones not to be too
hard on me. I believe I'll risk it if the restrictions are not too
severe. But if Jones has puritanical instincts, I might as well
give up hope and be satisfied with what I have."

"Mr. Jones is very far from what you'd call puritanical, but he is
intensely practical and clear-headed. He will undoubtedly require
you to keep an expense account and to show some sort of receipt
for every dollar you disburse."

"Good Lord! Itemize?"

"In a general way, I presume."

"I'll have to employ an army of spendthrifts to devise ways and
means for profligacy."

"You forget the item which restrains you from taking anybody into
your confidence concerning this matter. Think it over. It may not
be so difficult after a night's sleep."

"If it isn't too difficult to get the night's sleep."

All the rest of the day Brewster wandered about as one in a dream.
He was pre-occupied and puzzled, and more than one of his old
associates, receiving a distant nod in passing, resentfully
concluded that his wealth was beginning to change him. His brain
was so full of statistics, figures, and computations that it
whirled dizzily, and once he narrowly escaped being run down by a
cable car. He dined alone at a small French restaurant in one of
the side streets. The waiter marveled at the amount of black
coffee the young man consumed and looked hurt when he did not
touch the quail and lettuce.

That night the little table in his room at Mrs. Gray's was
littered with scraps of pad paper, each covered with an
incomprehensible maze of figures. After dinner he had gone to his
own rooms, forgetting that he lived on Fifth Avenue. Until long
after midnight he smoked and calculated and dreamed. For the first
time the immensity of that million thrust itself upon him. If on
that very day, October the first, he were to begin the task of
spending it he would have but three hundred and fifty-seven days
in which to accomplish the end. Taking the round sum of one
million dollars as a basis, it was an easy matter to calculate his
average daily disbursement. The situation did not look so utterly
impossible until he held up the little sheet of paper and ruefully
contemplated the result of that simple problem in mathematics.

It meant an average daily expenditure of $2,801.12 for nearly a
year, and even then there would be sixteen cents left over, for,
in proving the result of his rough sum in division, he could
account for but $999,999.84. Then it occurred to him that his
money would be drawing interest at the bank.

"But for each day's $2,801.12, I am getting seven times as much,"
he soliloquized, as he finally got into bed. "That means
$19,607.84 a day, a clear profit of $16,806.72. That's pretty
good--yes, too good. I wonder if the bank couldn't oblige me by
not charging interest."

The figures kept adding and subtracting themselves as he dozed
off, and once during the night he dreamed that Swearengen Jones
had sentenced him to eat a million dollars' worth of game and
salad at the French restaurant. He awoke with the consciousness
that he had cried aloud, "I can do it, but a year is not very long
in an affair of this kind."

It was nine o'clock when Brewster finally rose, and after his tub
he felt ready to cope with any problem, even a substantial
breakfast. A message had come to him from Mr. Grant of Grant &
Ripley, announcing the receipt of important dispatches from
Montana, and asking him to luncheon at one. He had time to spare,
and as Margaret and Mrs. Gray had gone out, he telephoned Ellis to
take his horse to the entrance to the park at once. The crisp
autumn air was perfect for his ride, and Brewster found a number
of smart people already riding and driving in the park. His horse
was keen for a canter and he had reached the obelisk before he
drew rein. As he was about to cross the carriage road he was
nearly run down by Miss Drew in her new French automobile.

"I beg your pardon," she cried. "You're the third person I've run
into, so you see I'm not discriminating against you."

"I should be flattered even to be run down by you."

"Very well, then, look out." And she started the machine as if to
charge him. She stopped in time, and said with a laugh, "Your
gallantry deserves a reward. Wouldn't you rather send your horse
home and come for a ride with me?"

"My man is waiting at Fifty-ninth Street. If you'll come that far,
I'll go with pleasure."

Monty had merely a society acquaintance with Miss Drew. He had met
her at dinners and dances as he had a host of other girls, but she
had impressed him more than the others. Something indescribable
took place every time their eyes met. Monty had often wondered
just what that something meant, but he had always realized that it
had in it nothing of platonic affection.

"If I didn't have to meet her eyes," he had said to himself, "I
could go on discussing even politics with her, but the moment she
looks at me I know she can see what I'm thinking about." From the
first they considered themselves very good friends, and after
their third meeting it seemed perfectly natural that they should
call one another by their first names. Monty knew he was treading
on dangerous ground. It never occurred to him to wonder what
Barbara might think of him. He took it as a matter of course that
she must feel more than friendly toward him. As they rode through
the maze of carriages, they bowed frequently to friends as they
passed. They were conscious that some of the women, noticeably old
Miss Dexter, actually turned around and gazed at them.

"Aren't you afraid people will talk about us?" asked Monty with a
laugh.

"Talk about our riding together in the park? It's just as safe
here as it would be in Fifth Avenue. Besides, who cares? I fancy
we can stand it."

"You're a thoroughbred, Barbara. I simply didn't want you talked
about. When I go too far, say the word and drop me."

"I have a luncheon at two, but until then we have our ride."

Monty gasped and looked at his watch. "Five minutes to one," he
cried. The matter of his engagement with the attorney had quite
escaped him. In the exhilaration of Miss Drew's companionship he
had forgotten even Uncle James's millions.

"I've got a date at one that means life and death to me. Would you
mind taking me down to the nearest Elevated--or--here, let me run
it."

Almost before Barbara was aware of what was happening they had
changed places and the machine, under Monty's guidance, was
tearing over the ground.

"Of all the casual people," said the girl, by no means unequal to
the excitement, "I believe you're kidnapping me."

But when she saw the grim look on Monty's face and one policeman
after another warned him she became seriously alarmed. "Monty
Brewster, this pace is positively dangerous."

"Perhaps it is," he responded, "but if they haven't sense enough
to keep out of the way they shouldn't kick if they get run over."

"I don't mean the people or the automobiles or traps or trees or
monuments, Monty; I mean you and me. I know we'll either be killed
or arrested."

"This isn't anything to the gait I'll be going if everything turns
out as I expect. Don't be worried, Babs. Besides it's one now.
Lord, I didn't dream it was so late."

"Is your appointment so important?" she asked, hanging on.

"Well, I should say it is, and--look out--you blooming idiot! Do
you want to get killed?" The last remark was hurled back at an
indignant pedestrian who had escaped destruction by the merest
chance.

"Here we are," he said, as they drew up beside the entrance to the
Elevated. "Thanks awfully,--you're a corker,--sorry to leave you
this way. I'll tell you all about it later. You're a dear to help
me keep my appointment."

"Seems to me you helped yourself," she cried after him as he
darted up the steps. "Come up for tea some day and tell me who the
lady is."

After he had gone Miss Drew turned to her chauffeur, who was in
the tonneau. Then she laughed unrestrainedly, and the faintest
shadow of a grin stole over the man's face.

"Beg pardon, Miss," he said, "but I'd back Mr. Brewster against
Fournier any day."

Only half an hour late, Brewster entered the office of Messrs.
Grant & Ripley, flushed, eager, and unconscious of the big splotch
of mud that decorated his cheek.

"Awfully sorry to have kept you waiting," he apologized.

"Sherlock Holmes would say that you had been driving, Mr.
Brewster," said Mr. Ripley, shaking the young man's hand.

"He would miss it, Mr. Ripley. I've been flying. What have you
heard from Montana?" He could no longer check the impatient
question, which came out so suddenly that the attorneys laughed
irresistibly, Brewster Joining them an instant later. They laid
before him a half dozen telegrams, responses from bankers,
lawyers, and mine-operators in Montana. These messages established
beyond doubt the extent of James T. Sedgwick's wealth; it was
reported to be even greater than shown by the actual figures.

"And what does Mr. Jones say?" demanded Montgomery.

"His reply resembles a press dispatch. He has tried to make
himself thoroughly clear, and if there is anything left unsaid it
is past our comprehension. I am sorry to inform you, though, that
he has paid the telegraph charges," said Mr. Grant, smiling
broadly.

"Is he rational about it?" asked Montgomery, nervously.

Mr. Grant gave his partner a quick, significant glance, and then
drew from his desk the voluminous telegram from Swearengen Jones.
It was as follows:

October 2.

GRANT & RIPLEY,

Yucatan Building, New York.

I am to be sole referee in this matter. You are retained as my
agents, heir to report to me through you weekly. One desire of
uncle was to forestall grandfather's bequest. I shall respect that
desire. Enforce terms rigidly. He was my best friend and trusted
me with disposition of all this money. Shall attend to it
sacredly. Heir must get rid of money left to him in given time.
Out of respect to memory of uncle he must take no one into his
confidence. Don't want world to think S. was damned fool. He
wasn't. Here are rules I want him to work under: 1. No reckless
gambling. 2. No idiotic Board of Trade speculation. 3. No
endowments to institutions of any character, because their memory
would be an invisible asset. 4. No indiscriminate giving away of
funds. By that I don't mean him to be stingy. I hate a stingy man
and so did J.T.S. 5. No more than ordinary dissipation. I hate a
saint. So did J.T.S. And both of us sowed an oat or two. 6. No
excessive donations to charity. If he gives as other millionaires
do I'll let it go at that. Don't believe charity should be spoiled
by indulgence. It is not easy to spend a million, and I won't be
unreasonable with him. Let him spend it freely, but not foolishly,
and get his money's worth out of it. If he does that I'll consider
him a good business man. I regard it foolish to tip waiter more
than a dollar and car porter does not deserve over five. He does
not earn more than one. If heir wants to try for the big stake
he'd better begin quick, because he might slip up if he waits
until day of judgment. It's less than year off. Luck to him. Will
write you more fully.

S. JONES.

"Write more fully!" echoed Montgomery. "What can there be left to
write about?"

"He is explicit," said the attorney, "but it is best to know all
the conditions before you decide. Have you made up your mind?"

Brewster sat for a long time, staring hard at the floor. A great
struggle was going on in his mind.

"It's a gamble, and a big one," he said at last, squaring his
shoulders, "but I'll take it. I don't want to appear disloyal to
my grandfather, but I think that even he would advise me to
accept. Yes, you may write Mr. Jones that I accept the chance."

The attorneys complimented him on his nerve, and wished him
success. Brewster turned with a smile.

"I'll begin by asking what you think a reasonable fee for an
attorney in a case of this kind. I hope you will act for me."

"You don't want to spend it all in a lump, do you?" asked Mr.
Grant, smiling. "We can hardly act as counsel for both you and Mr.
Jones."

"But I must have a lawyer, and the will limits the number of my
confidants. What am I to do?"

"We will consult Mr. Jones in regard to the question. It is not
regular, you see, but I apprehend no legal difficulties. We cannot
accept fees from both sides, however," said Mr. Grant.

"But I want attorneys who are willing to help me. It won't be a
help if you decline to accept my money."

"We'll resort to arbitration," laughed Ripley.

Before night Montgomery Brewster began a career that would have
startled the world had the facts been known. With true loyalty to
the "Little Sons of the Rich," he asked his friends to dinner and
opened their eyes.

"Champagne!" cried Harrison, as they were seated at table. "I
can't remember the last time I had champagne."

"Naturally," laughed "Subway" Smith. "You couldn't remember
anything after that."

As the dinner progressed Brewster explained that he intended to
double his fortune within a year. "I'm going to have some fun,
too," he said, "and you boys are to help me."

"Nopper" Harrison was employed as "superintendent of affairs";
Elon Gardner as financial secretary; Joe Bragdon as private
secretary; "Subway" Smith as counsel, and there were places in
view for the other members.

"I want the smartest apartment you can find, Nopper," he
commanded. "Don't stop at expense. Have Pettingill redecorate it
from top to bottom, Get the best servants you can find. I'm going
to live, Nopper, and hang the consequences."





CHAPTER VI

MONTY CRISTO


A fortnight later Montgomery Brewster had a new home. In strict
obedience to his chief's command, "Nopper" Harrison had leased
until the September following one of the most expensive apartments
to be found in New York City. The rental was $23,000, and the
shrewd financial representative had saved $1,000 for his employer
by paying the sum in advance. But when he reported this bit of
economy to Mr. Brewster he was surprised that it brought forth a
frown. "I never saw a man who had less sense about money,"
muttered "Nopper" to himself. "Why, he spends it like a Chicago
millionaire trying to get into New York society. If it were not
for the rest of us he'd be a pauper in six months."

Paul Pettingill, to his own intense surprise and, it must be said,
consternation, was engaged to redecorate certain rooms according
to a plan suggested by the tenant. The rising young artist, in a
great flurry of excitement, agreed to do the work for $500, and
then blushed like a schoolgirl when he was informed by the
practical Brewster that the paints and material for one room alone
would cost twice as much.

"Petty, you have no more idea of business than a goat," criticised
Montgomery, and Paul lowered his head in humble confession. "That
man who calcimines your studio could figure on a piece of work
with more intelligence than you reveal. I'll pay $2,500. It's only
a fair price, and I can't afford anything cheap in this place."

"At this rate you won't be able to afford anything," said
Pettingill to himself.

And so it was that Pettingill and a corps of decorators soon
turned the rooms into a confusion of scaffoldings and paint
buckets, out of which in the end emerged something very
distinguished. No one had ever thought Pettingill deficient in
ideas, and this was his opportunity. The only drawback was the
time limit which Brewster so remorselessly fixed. Without that he
felt that he could have done something splendid in the way of
decorative panels--something that would make even the glory of
Puvis de Chavannes turn pallid. With it he was obliged to curb his
turbulent ideas, and he decided that a rich simplicity was the
proper note. The result was gorgeous, but not too gorgeous,--it
had depth and distinction.

Elated and eager, he assisted Brewster in selecting furniture and
hangings for each room, but he did not know that his employer was
making conditional purchases of everything. Mr. Brewster had
agreements with all the dealers to the effect that they were to
buy everything back at a fair price, if he desired to give up his
establishment within a year. He adhered to this rule in all cases
that called for the purchase outright of substantial necessities.
The bump of calculativeness in Monty Brewster's head was growing
to abnormal proportions.

In retaining his rooms at Mrs. Gray's, he gave the flimsy but
pathetic excuse that he wanted a place in which he might find
occasional seasons of peace and quiet. When Mrs. Gray protested
against this useless bit of extravagance, his grief was so
obviously genuine that her heart was touched, and there was a
deep, fervent joy in her soul. She loved this fair-faced boy, and
tears of happiness came to her eyes when she was given this new
proof of his loyalty and devotion. His rooms were kept for him
just as if he had expected to occupy them every day and every
night, notwithstanding the luxurious apartments he was to maintain
elsewhere. The Oliver Optic books still lay in the attic, all
tattered and torn, but to Margaret the embodiment of prospective
riches, promises of sweet hours to come. She knew Monty well
enough to feel that he would not forget the dark little attic of
old for all the splendors that might come with the new
dispensation.

There was no little surprise when he sent out invitations for a
large dinner. His grandfather had been dead less than a month, and
society was somewhat scandalized by the plain symptoms of
disrespect he was showing. No one had expected him to observe a
prolonged season of mourning, but that he should disregard the
formalities completely was rather shocking. Some of the older
people, who had not long to live and who had heirs-apparent,
openly denounced his heartlessness. It was not very gratifying to
think of what might be in store for them if all memories were as
short as Brewster's. Old Mrs. Ketchell changed her will, and two
nephews were cut off entirely; a very modest and impecunious
grandson of Joseph Garrity also was to sustain a severe change of
fortune in the near future, if the cards spoke correctly. Judge
Van Woort, who was not expected to live through the night, got
better immediately after hearing some one in the sick-room whisper
that Montgomery Brewster was to give a big dinner. Naturally, the
heirs-to-be condemned young Brewster in no uncertain terms.

Nevertheless, the dinner to be given by the grandson of old Edwin
Peter Brewster was the talk of the town, and not one of the sixty
invited guests could have been persuaded to miss it. Reports as to
its magnificence were abroad long before the night set for the
dinner. One of them had it that it was to cost $3,000 a plate.
From that figure the legendary price receded to a mark as low as
$500. Montgomery would have been only too glad to pay $3,000 or
more, but some mysterious force conveyed to his mind a perfect
portrait of Swearengen Jones in the act of putting down a large
black mark against him, and he forbore.

"I wish I knew whether I had to abide by the New York or the
Montana standard of extravagance," Brewster said to himself. "I
wonder if he ever sees the New York papers."

Late each night the last of the grand old Brewster family went to
his bedroom where, after dismissing his man, he settled down at
his desk, with a pencil and a pad of paper. Lighting the candles,
which were more easily managed, he found, than lamps, and much
more costly, he thoughtfully and religiously calculated the
expenses for the day. "Nopper" Harrison and Elon Gardner had the
receipts for all moneys spent, and Joe Bragdon was keeping an
official report, but the "chief," as they called him, could not go
to sleep until he was satisfied in his own mind that he was
keeping up the average. For the first two weeks it had been easy--
in fact, he seemed to have quite a comfortable lead in the race.
He had spent almost $100,000 in the fortnight, but he realized
that the greater part of it had gone into the yearly and not the
daily expense-account. He kept a "profit and loss" entry in his
little private ledger, but it was not like any other account of
the kind in the world. What the ordinary merchant would have
charged to "loss" he jotted down on the "profit" side, and he was
continually looking for opportunities to swell the total.

Rawles, who had been his grandfather's butler since the day after
he landed in New York, came over to the grandson's establishment,
greatly to the wrath and confusion of the latter's Aunt Emmeline.
The chef came from Paris and his name was Detuit. Ellis, the
footman, also found a much better berth with Monty than he had had
in the house on the avenue. Aunt Emmeline never forgave her nephew
for these base and disturbing acts of treachery, as she called
them.

One of Monty's most extraordinary financial feats grew out of the
purchase of a $14,000 automobile. He blandly admitted to "Nopper"
Harrison and the two secretaries that he intended to use it to
practice with only, and that as soon as he learned how to run an
"auto" as it should be run he expected to buy a good, sensible,
durable machine for $7,000.

His staff officers frequently put their heads together to devise
ways and means of curbing Monty's reckless extravagance. They were
worried.

"He's like a sailor in port," protested Harrison. "Money is no
object if he wants a thing, and--damn it--he seems to want
everything he sees."

"It won't last long," Gardner said, reassuringly. "Like his
namesake, Monte Cristo, the world is his just now and he wants to
enjoy it."

"He wants to get rid of it, it seems to me."

Whenever they reproached Brewster about the matter he disarmed
them by saying, "Now that I've got money I mean to give my friends
a good time. Just what you'd do if you were in my place. What's
money for, anyway?"

"But this $3,000-a-plate dinner--"

"I'm going to give a dozen of them, and even then I can't pay my
just debts. For years I've been entertained at people's houses and
have been taken cruising on their yachts. They have always been
bully to me, and what have I ever done for them? Nothing. Now that
I can afford it, I am going to return some of those favors and
square myself. Doesn't it sound reasonable?"

And so preparations for Monty's dinner went on. In addition to
what he called his "efficient corps of gentlemanly aids" he had
secured the services of Mrs. Dan DeMille as "social mentor and
utility chaperon." Mrs. DeMille was known in the papers as the
leader of the fast younger married set. She was one of the
cleverest and best-looking young women in town, and her husband
was of those who did not have to be "invited too." Mr. DeMille
lived at the club and visited his home. Some one said that he was
so slow and his wife so fast that when she invited him to dinner
he usually was two or three days late. Altogether Mrs. DeMille was
a decided acquisition to Brewster's campaign committee. It
required just her touch to make his parties fun instead of funny.

It was on October 18th that the dinner was given. With the skill
of a general Mrs. Dan had seated the guests in such a way that
from the beginning things went off with zest. Colonel Drew took in
Mrs. Valentine and his content was assured; Mr. Van Winkle and the
beautiful Miss Valentine were side by side, and no one could say
he looked unhappy; Mr. Cromwell went in with Mrs. Savage; and the
same delicate tact--in some cases it was almost indelicate--was
displayed in the disposition of other guests.

Somehow they had come with the expectation of being bored.
Curiosity prompted them to accept, but it did not prevent the
subsequent inevitable lassitude. Socially Monty Brewster had yet
to make himself felt. He and his dinners were something to talk:
about, but they were accepted hesitatingly, haltingly. People
wondered how he had secured the cooperation of Mrs. Dan, but then
Mrs. Dan always did go in for a new toy. To her was inevitably
attributed whatever success the dinner achieved. And it was no
small measure. Yet there was nothing startling about the affair.
Monty had decided to begin conservatively. He did the conventional
thing, but he did it well. He added a touch or two of luxury, the
faintest aroma of splendor. Pettingill had designed the curiously
wayward table, with its comfortable atmosphere of companionship,
and arranged its decoration of great lavender orchids and lacy
butterfly festoons of white ones touched with yellow. He had
wanted to use dahlias in their many rich shades from pale yellow
to orange and deep red, but Monty held out for orchids. It was the
artist, too, who had found in a rare and happy moment the massive
gold candelabra--ancient things of a more luxurious age--and their
opalescent shades. Against his advice the service, too, was of
gold,--"rank vulgarity," he called it, with its rich meaningless
ornamentation. But here Monty was obdurate. He insisted that he
liked the color and that porcelain had no character. Mrs. Dan only
prevented a quarrel by suggesting that several courses should be
served upon Sevres.

Pettingill's scheme for lighting the room was particularly happy.
For the benefit of his walls and the four lovely Monets which
Monty had purchased at his instigation, he had designed a ceiling
screen of heavy rich glass in tones of white that grew into yellow
and dull green. It served to conceal the lights in the daytime,
and at night the glare of electricity was immensely softened and
made harmonious by passing through it. It gave a note of quiet to
the picture, which caused even these men and women, who had been
here and there and seen many things, to draw in their breath
sharply. Altogether the effect manifestly made an impression.

Such an environment had its influence upon the company. It went
far toward making the dinner a success. From far in the distance
came the softened strains of Hungarian music, and never had the
little band played the "Valse Amoureuse" and the "Valse Bleue"
with the spirit it put into them that night. Yet the soft clamor
in the dining-room insistently ignored the emotion of the music.
Monty, bored as he was between the two most important dowagers at
the feast, wondered dimly what invisible part it played in making
things go. He had a vagrant fancy that without it there would have
been no zest for talk, no noisy competition to overcome, no
hurdles to leap. As it was, the talk certainly went well, and Mrs.
Dan inspected the result of her work from time to time with
smiling satisfaction. From across the table she heard Colonel
Drew's voice,--"Brewster evidently objects to a long siege. He is
planning to carry us by assault"

Mrs. Dan turned to "Subway" Smith, who was at her right--the
latest addition to her menagerie. "What is this friend of yours?"
she asked. "I have never seen such complex simplicity. This new
plaything has no real charm for him. He is breaking it to find out
what it is made of. And something will happen when he discovers
the sawdust."

"Oh, don't worry about him," said "Subway," easily; "Monty's at
least a good sportsman. He won't complain, whatever happens. He'll
accept the reckoning and pay the piper."

It was only toward the end of the evening that Monty found his
reward in a moment with Barbara Drew. He stood before her,
squaring his shoulders belligerently to keep away intruders, and
she smiled up at him in that bewildering fashion of hers. But it
was only for an instant, and then came a terrifying din from the
dining-room, followed by the clamor of crashing glass. The guests
tried for a moment to be courteously oblivious, but the noise was
so startling that such politeness became farcical. The host, with
a little laugh, went down the hall. It was the beautiful screen
near the ceiling that had fallen. A thousand pieces of shattered
glass covered the place. The table was a sickening heap of crushed
orchids and sputtering candles. Frightened servants rushed into
the room from one side just as Brewster entered from the other.
Stupefaction halted them. After the first pulseless moment of
horror, exclamations of dismay went up on all sides. For Monty
Brewster the first sensation of regret was followed by a
diabolical sense of joy.

"Thank the Lord!" he said softly in the hush.

The look of surprise he encountered in the faces of his guests
brought him up with a jerk.

"That it didn't happen while we were dining," he added with serene
thankfulness. And his nonchalance scored for him in the idle game
he was playing.





CHAPTER VII

A LESSON IN TACT


Mr. Brewster's butler was surprised and annoyed. For the first
time in his official career he had unbent so far as to manifest a
personal interest in the welfare of his master. He was on the
verge of assuming a responsibility which makes any servant
intolerable. But after his interview he resolved that he would
never again overstep his position. He made sure that it should be
the last offense. The day following the dinner Rawles appeared
before young Mr. Brewster and indicated by his manner that the
call was an important one. Brewster was seated at his writing-
table, deep in thought. The exclamation that followed Rawles's
cough of announcement was so sharp and so unmistakably fierce that
all other evidence paled into insignificance. The butler's
interruption came at a moment when Monty's mental arithmetic was
pulling itself out of a very bad rut, and the cough drove it back
into chaos.

"What is it," he demanded, irritably. Rawles had upset his
calculations to the extent of seven or eight hundred dollars.

"I came to report h'an unfortunate condition h'among the servants,
sir," said Rawies, stiffening as his responsibility became more
and more weighty. He had relaxed temporarily upon entering the
room.

"What's the trouble?"

"The trouble's h'ended, sir."

"Then why bother me about it?"

"I thought it would be well for you to know, sir. The servants was
going to ask for 'igher wiges to-day, sir."

"You say they were going to ask. Aren't they?" And Monty's eyes
lighted up at the thought of new possibilities.

"I convinced them, sir, as how they were getting good pay as it
is, sir, and that they ought to be satisfied. They'd be a long
time finding a better place and as good wiges. They 'aven't been
with you a week, and here they are strikin' for more pay. Really,
sir, these American servants--"

"Rawles, that'll do!" exploded Monty. The butler's chin went up
and his cheeks grew redder than ever.

"I beg pardon, sir," he gasped, with a respectful but injured air.

"Rawles, you will kindly not interfere in such matters again. It
is not only the privilege, but the duty of every American to
strike for higher pay whenever he feels like it, and I want it
distinctly understood that I am heartily in favor of their
attitude. You will kindly go back and tell them that after a
reasonable length of service their wiges--I mean wages--shall be
increased. AND DON'T MEDDLE AGAIN, Rawles."

Late that afternoon Brewster dropped in at Mrs. DeMille's to talk
over plans for the next dinner. He realized that in no other way
could he squander his money with a better chance of getting its
worth than by throwing himself bodily into society. It went
easily, and there could be only one asset arising from it in the
end--his own sense of disgust.

"So glad to see you, Monty," greeted Mrs. Dan, glowingly, coming
in with a rush. "Come upstairs and I'll give you some tea and a
cigarette. I'm not at home to anybody."

"That's very good of you, Mrs. Dan," said he, as they mounted the
stairs. "I don't know what I'd do without your help." He was
thinking how pretty she was.

"You'd be richer, at any rate," turning to smile upon him from the
upper landing. "I was in tears half the night, Monty, over that
glass screen," she said, after finding a comfortable place among
the cushions of a divan. Brewster dropped into a roomy, lazy chair
in front of her and handed her a cigarette, as he responded
carelessly:

"It amounted to nothing. Of course, it was very annoying that it
should happen while the guests were still there." Then he added,
gravely: "In strict confidence, I had planned to have it fall just
as we were pushing back our chairs, but the confounded thing
disappointed me. That's the trouble with these automatic climaxes;
they usually hang fire. It was to have been a sort of Fall of
Babylon effect, you know."

"Splendid! But like Babylon, it fell at the wrong time."

For a lively quarter of an hour they discussed people about town,
liberally approving the slandered and denouncing the slanderers. A
still busier quarter of an hour ensued when together they made up
the list of dinner guests. He moved a little writing-table up to
the divan, and she looked on eagerly while he wrote down the names
she suggested after many puckerings of her fair, aristocratic
brow, and then drew lines through them when she changed her mind.
Mrs. DeMille handled her people without gloves in making up
Monty's lists. The dinners were not hers, and she could afford to
do as she pleased with his; he was broad and tall and she was not
slow to see that he was indifferent. He did not care who the
guests were, or how they came; he merely wished to make sure of
their presence. His only blunder was the rather diffident
recommendation that Barbara Drew be asked again. If he observed
that Mrs. Dan's head sank a little closer to the paper, he
attached no importance to the movement; he could not see that her
eyes grew narrow, and he paid no attention to the little catch in
her breath.

"Wouldn't that be a little--just a little pronounced?" she asked,
lightly enough.

"You mean--that people might talk?"

"She might feel conspicuously present."

"Do you think so? We are such good friends, you know."

"Of course, if you'd like to have her," slowly and doubtfully,
"why, put her name down. But you evidently haven't seen that."
Mrs. Dan pointed to a copy of the Trumpet which lay on the table.

When he had handed her the paper she said, "'The Censor' is
growing facetious at your expense."

"I am getting on in society with a vengeance if that ass starts in
to write about me. Listen to this"--she had pointed out to him the
obnoxious paragraph--"If Brewster Drew a diamond flush, do you
suppose he'd catch the queen? And if he caught her, how long do
you think she'd remain Drew? Or, if she Drew Brewster, would she
be willing to learn such a game as Monte?"

The next morning a writer who signed himself "The Censor" got a
thrashing and one Montgomery Brewster had his name in the papers,
surrounded by fulsome words of praise.





CHAPTER VIII

THE FORELOCK OF TIME


One morning not long after the incidents just related, Brewster
lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, deep in thought. There was a
worried pucker on his forehead, half-hidden by the rumpled hair,
and his eyes were wide and sleepless. He had dined at the Drews'
the evening before and had had an awakening. As he thought of the
matter he could recall no special occurrence that he could really
use as evidence. Colonel and Mrs. Drew had been as kind as ever
and Barbara could not have been more charming. But something had
gone wrong and he had endured a wretched evening.

"That little English Johnnie was to blame," he argued. "Of course,
Barbara had a right to put any one she liked next to her, but why
she should have chosen that silly ass is more than I know. By
Jove, if I had been on the other side I'll warrant his grace would
have been lost in the dust."

His brain was whirling, and for the first time he was beginning to
feel the unpleasant pangs of jealousy. The Duke of Beauchamp he
especially disliked, although the poor man had hardly spoken
during the dinner. But Monty could not be reconciled. He knew, of
course, that Barbara had suitors by the dozen, but it had never
occurred to him that they were even seriously considered.
Notwithstanding the fact that his encounter with "The Censor" had
brought her into undesirable notice, she forgave him everything
after a moment's consideration. The first few wrenches of
resentment were overbalanced by her American appreciation of
chivalry, however inspired. "The Censor" had gone for years
unpunished; his coarse wit being aimed at every one who had come
into social prominence. So pungent and vindictive was his pen that
other men feared him, and there were many who lived in glass
houses in terror of a fusilade. Brewster's prompt and sufficient
action had checked the pernicious attacks, and he became a hero
among men and women. After that night there was no point to "The
Censor's" pen. Monty's first qualms of apprehension were swept
away when Colonel Drew himself hailed him the morning after the
encounter and, in no unmeasured terms, congratulated him upon his
achievement, assuring him that Barbara and Mrs. Drew approved,
although they might lecture him as a matter of form.

But on this morning, as he lay in his bed, Monty was thinking
deeply and painfully. He was confronted by a most embarrassing
condition and he was discussing it soberly with himself. "I've
never told her," he said to himself, "but if she doesn't know my
feeling she is not as clever as I think. Besides, I haven't time
to make love to her now. If it were any other girl I suppose I'd
have to, but Babs, why, she must understand. And yet--damn that
Duke!"

In order to woo her properly he would be compelled to neglect
financial duties that needed every particle of brain-energy at his
command. He found himself opposed at the outset by a startling
embarrassment, made absolutely clear by the computations of the
night before. The last four days of indifference to finance on one
side, and pampering the heart on the other, had proved very
costly. To use his own expression, he had been "set back" almost
eight thousand dollars. An average like that would be ruinous.

"Why, think of it," he continued. "For each day sacrificed to
Barbara I must deduct something like twenty-five hundred dollars.
A long campaign would put me irretrievably in the hole; I'd get so
far behind that a holocaust couldn't put me even. She can't expect
that of me, yet girls are such idiots about devotion, and of
course she doesn't know what a heavy task I'm facing. And there
are the others--what will they do while I am out of the running? I
cannot go to her and say, 'Please, may I have a year's vacation?
I'll come back next September.' On the other hand, I shall surely
neglect my business if she expects me to compete. What pleasure
shall I get out of the seven millions if I lose her? I can't
afford to take chances. That Duke won't have seven millions next
September, it's true, but he'll have a prodigious argument against
me, about the twenty-first or second."

Then a brilliant thought occurred to him which caused him to ring
for a messenger-boy with such a show of impatience that Rawles
stood aghast. The telegram which Monty wrote was as follows:

SWEARENGEN JONES,

Butte, Montana

May I marry and turn all property over to wife, providing she will
have me?

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

"Why isn't that reasonable?" he asked himself after the boy had
gone. "Making property over to one's wife is neither a loan nor is
it charity. Old Jones might call it needless extravagance, since
he's a bachelor, but it's generally done because it's good
business." Monty was hopeful.

Following his habit in trouble, he sought Margaret Gray, to whom
he could always appeal for advice and consolation. She was to come
to his next dinner-party, and it was easy to lead up to the
subject in hand by mentioning the other guests.

"And Barbara Drew," he concluded, after naming all the others.
They were alone in the library, and she was drinking in the
details of the dinner as he related them.

"Wasn't she at your first dinner?" she asked, quickly.

He successfully affected mild embarrassment.

"Yes."

"She must be very attractive." There was no venom in Peggy's
heart.

"She is attractive. In fact, she's one of the best, Peggy," he
said, paving the way.

"It's too bad she seems to care for that little Duke."

"He's a bounder," he argued.

"Well, don't take it to heart. You don't have to marry him," and
Peggy laughed.

"But I do take it to heart, Peggy," said Monty, seriously. "I'm
pretty hard hit, and I want your help. A sister's advice is always
the best in a matter of this sort."

She looked into his eyes dully for an instant, not realizing the
full importance of his confession.

"You, Monty?" she said, incredulously.

"I've got it bad, Peggy," he replied, staring hard at the floor.
She could not understand the cold, gray tone that suddenly
enveloped the room. The strange sense of loneliness that came over
her was inexplicable. The little something that rose in her throat
would not be dislodged, nor could she throw off the weight that
seemed pressing down upon her. He saw the odd look in her eyes and
the drawn, uncertain smile on her lips, but he attributed them to
wonder and incredulity. Somehow, after all these years, he was
transformed before her very eyes; she was looking upon a new
personality. He was no longer Montgomery, the brother, but she
could not explain how and when the change crept over her. What did
it all mean? "I am very glad if it will make you happy, Monty,"
she said slowly, the gray in her lips giving way to red once more.
"Does she know?"

"I haven't told her in so many words, Peggy, but--but I'm going to
this evening," he announced, lamely.

"This evening?"

"I can't wait," Monty said as he rose to go. "I'm glad you're
pleased, Peggy; I need your good wishes. And, Peggy," he
continued, with a touch of boyish wistfulness, "do you think
there's a chance for a fellow? I've had the very deuce of a time
over that Englishman."

It was not quite easy for her to say, "Monty, you are the best in
the world. Go in and win."

From the window she watched him swing off down the street,
wondering if he would turn to wave his hand to her, his custom for
years. But the broad back was straight and uncompromising. His
long strides carried him swiftly out of sight, but it was many
minutes before she turned her eyes, which were smarting a little,
from the point where he was lost in the crowd. The room looked
ashen to her as she brought her mind back to it, and somehow
things had grown difficult.

When Montgomery reached home he found this telegram from Mr.
Jones:

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

New York City.

Stick to your knitting, you damned fool.

S. JONES.





CHAPTER IX

LOVE AND A PRIZE-FIGHT


It is best not to repeat the expressions Brewster used regarding
one S. Jones, after reading his telegram. But he felt considerably
relieved after he had uttered them. He fell to reading accounts of
the big prize-fight which was to take place in San Francisco that
evening. He revelled in the descriptions of "upper cuts" and "left
hooks," and learned incidentally that the affair was to be quite
one-sided. A local amateur was to box a champion. Quick to see an
opportunity, and cajoling himself into the belief that Swearengen
Jones could not object to such a display of sportsmanship,
Brewster made Harrison book several good wagers on the result. He
intimated that he had reason to believe that the favorite would
lose. Harrison soon placed three thousand dollars on his man. The
young financier felt so sure of the result that he entered the
bets on the profit side of his ledger the moment he received
Harrison's report.

This done, he telephoned Miss Drew. She was not insensible to the
significance of his inquiry if she would be in that afternoon. She
had observed in him of late a condition of uneasiness,
supplemented by moroseness and occasional periods of irascibility.
Every girl whose occupation in life is the study of men recognizes
these symptoms and knows how to treat them. Barbara had dealt with
many men afflicted in this manner, and the flutter of anticipation
that came with his urgent plea to see her was tempered by
experience. It had something of joy in it, for she cared enough
for Montgomery Brewster to have made her anxiously uncertain of
his state of mind. She cared, indeed, much more than she intended
to confess at the outset.

It was nearly half-past five when he came, and for once the
philosophical Miss Drew felt a little irritation. So certain was
she of his object in coming that his tardiness was a trifle
ruffling. He apologized for being late, and succeeded in banishing
the pique that possessed her. It was naturally impossible for him
to share all his secrets with her, that is why he did not tell her
that Grant & Ripley had called him up to report the receipt of a
telegram from Swearengen Jones, in which the gentleman laconically
said he could feed the whole State of Montana for less than six
thousand dollars. Beyond that there was no comment. Brewster, in
dire trepidation, hastened to the office of the attorneys. They
smiled when he burst in upon them.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed, "does the miserly old hayseed expect
me to spend a million for newspapers, cigarettes and Boston
terriers? I thought he would be reasonable!"

"He evidently has seen the newspaper accounts of your dinner, and
this is merely his comment," said Mr. Ripley.

"It's either a warning, or else he's ambiguous in his
compliments," growled Brewster, disgustedly.

"I don't believe he disapproved, Mr. Brewster. In the west the old
gentleman is widely known as a wit."

"A wit, eh? Then he'll appreciate an answer from me. Have you a
telegraph blank, Mr. Grant?"

Two minutes later the following telegram to Swearengen Jones was
awaiting the arrival of a messenger-boy, and Brewster was blandly
assuring Messrs. Grant & Ripley that he did not "care a rap for
the consequences":

NEW YORK, October 23, 1--

SWEARENGEN JONES,

Butte, Mont.

No doubt you could do it for less than six thousand. Montana is
regarded as the best grazing country in the world, but we don't
eat that sort of stuff in New York. That's why it costs more to
live here.

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

Just before leaving his apartments for Miss Drew's home he
received this response from faraway Montana:

BUTTE, MONTANA, Oct. 23, 1--

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER, New York.

We are eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. I suppose
that's why it costs us less to live high.

S. JONES.

"I was beginning to despair, Monty," said Miss Drew,
reproachfully, when he had come down from the height of his
exasperation and remembered that there were things of more
importance.

The light in his eyes brought the faintest tinge of red to her
cheeks, and where a moment before there had been annoyance there
was now a feeling of serenity. For a moment the silence was
fraught with purpose. Monty glanced around the room, uncertain how
to begin. It was not so easy as he had imagined.

"You are very good to see me," he said at last. "It was absolutely
necessary for me to talk to you this evening; I could not have
endured the suspense any longer. Barbara, I've spent three or four
sleepless nights on your account. Will it spoil your evening if I
tell you in plain words what you already know? It won't bother
you, will it?" he floundered.

"What do you mean, Monty?" she begged, purposely dense, and with
wonderful control of her eyes.

"I love you, Babs," he cried. "I thought you knew about it all
along or I should have told you before. That's why I haven't
slept. The fear that you may not care for me has driven me nearly
to distraction. It couldn't go on any longer. I must know to-day."

There was a gleam in his eyes that made her pose of indifference
difficult; the fervor of his half-whispered words took possession
of her. She had expected sentiment of such a different character
that his frank confession disarmed her completely. Beneath his
ardent, abrupt plea there was assurance, the confidence of one who
is not to be denied. It was not what he said, but the way he said
it. A wave of exultation swept over her, tingling through every
nerve. Under the spell her resolution to dally lightly with his
emotion suffered a check that almost brought ignominious
surrender. Both of her hands were clasped in his when he
exultingly resumed the charge against her heart, but she was
rapidly regaining control of her emotions and he did not know that
he was losing ground with each step he took forward. Barbara Drew
loved Brewster, but she was going to make him pay dearly for the
brief lapse her composure had experienced. When next she spoke she
was again the Miss Drew who had been trained in the ways of the
world, and not the young girl in love.

"I care for you a great deal, Monty," she said, "but I'm wondering
whether I care enough to--to marry you."

"We haven't known each other very long, Babs," he said, tenderly,
"but I think we know each other well enough to be beyond
wondering."

"It is like you to manage the whole thing," she said, chidingly.
"Can't you give me time to convince myself that I love you as you
would like, and as I must love if I expect to be happy with the
man I marry?"

"I forgot myself," he said, humbly.

"You forgot me," she protested, gently, touched by this sign of
contrition. "I do care for you, Monty, but don't you see it's no
little thing you ask of me? I must be sure--very sure--before I--
before--"

"Don't be so distressed," he pleaded. "You will love me, I know,
because you love me now. This means much to me, but it means more
to you. You are the woman and you are the one whose happiness
should be considered. I can live only in the hope that when I come
to you again with this same story and this same question you'll
not be afraid to trust yourself to me."

"You deserve to be happy for that, Monty," she said, earnestly,
and it was with difficulty that she kept her eyes from wavering as
they looked into his.

"You will let me try to make you love me?" he asked, eagerly.

"I may not be worth the struggle."

"I'll take that chance," he replied.

She was conscious of disappointment after he was gone. He had not
pleaded as ardently as she had expected and desired, and, try as
she would, she could not banish the touch of irritation that had
come to haunt her for the night.

Brewster walked to the club, elated that he had at least made a
beginning. His position was now clear. Besides losing a fortune he
must win Barbara in open competition.

At the theater that evening he met Harrison, who was in a state of
jubilation.

"Where did you get that tip?" asked he.

"Tip? What tip?" from Brewster.

"On the prize-fight?"

Brewster's face fell and something cold crept over him.

"How did--what was the result?" he asked, sure of the answer.

"Haven't you heard? Your man knocked him out in the fifth round--
surprised everybody."





CHAPTER X

NAPOLEON OF FINANCE


The next two months were busy ones for Brewster. Miss Drew saw him
quite as often as before the important interview, but he was
always a puzzle to her.

"His attitude is changed somehow," she thought to herself, and
then she remembered that "a man who wins a girl after an ardent
suit is often like one who runs after a street car and then sits
down to read his paper."

In truth after the first few days Monty seemed to have forgotten
his competitors, and was resting in the consciousness of his
assured position. Each day he sent her flowers and considered that
he had more than done his duty. He used no small part of his
income on the flowers, but in this case his mission was almost
forgotten in his love for Barbara.

Monty's attitude was not due to any wanting of his affection, but
to the very unromantic business in which he was engaged. It seemed
to him that, plan as he might, he could not devise fresh ways and
means to earn $16,000 a day. He was still comfortably ahead in the
race, but a famine in opportunities was not far remote. Ten big
dinner parties and a string of elaborate after-the-play suppers
maintained a fair but insufficient average, and he could see that
the time was ripe for radical measures. He could not go on forever
with his dinners. People were already beginning to refer to the
fact that he was warming his toes on the Social Register, and he
had no desire to become the laughing stock of the town. The few
slighting, sarcastic remarks about his business ability, chiefly
by women and therefore reflected from the men, hurt him. Miss
Drew's apparently harmless taunt and Mrs. Dan's open criticism
told plainly enough how the wind was blowing, but it was Peggy's
gentle questions that cut the deepest. There was such honest
concern in her voice that he could see how his profligacy was
troubling her and Mrs. Gray. In their eyes, more than in the
others, he felt ashamed and humiliated. Finally, goaded by the
remark of a bank director which he overheard, "Edwin P. Brewster
is turning handsprings in his grave over the way he is going it,"
Monty resolved to redeem himself in the eyes of his critics. He
would show them that his brain was not wholly given over to
frivolity.

With this project in mind he decided to cause a little excitement
in Wall Street. For some days he stealthily watched the stock
market and plied his friends with questions about values. Constant
reading and observation finally convinced him that Lumber and Fuel
Common was the one stock in which he could safely plunge. Casting
aside all apprehension, so far as Swearengen Jones was concerned,
he prepared for what was to be his one and only venture on the
Stock Exchange before the 23d of the following September. With all
the cunning and craftiness of a general he laid his plans for the
attack. Gardner's face was the picture of despair when Brewster
asked him to buy heavily in Lumber and Fuel.

"Good heavens, Monty," cried the broker, "you're joking. Lumber is
away up now. It can't possibly go a fraction of a point higher.
Take my advice and don't touch it. It opened to-day at 111 3/4 and
closed at 109. Why, man, you're crazy to think about it for an
instant."

"I know my business, Gardner," said Brewster, quietly, and his
conscience smote him when he saw the flush of mortification creep
into the face of his friend. The rebuke had cut Gardner to the
quick.

"But, Monty, I know what I'm talking about. At least let me tell
you something about this stock," pleaded Elon, loyally, despite
the wound.

"Gardy, I've gone into this thing carefully, and if ever a man
felt sure about anything I do about this," said Monty, decidedly,
but affectionately.

"Take my word for it Lumber can't go any higher. Think of the
situation; the lumber men in the north and west are overstocked,
and there is a strike ready to go into effect. When that comes the
stock will go for a song. The slump is liable to begin any day."

"My mind is made up," said the other firmly, and Gardner was in
despair. "Will you or will you not execute an order for me at the
opening to-morrow? I'll start with ten thousand shares. What will
it cost me to margin it for ten points?"

"At least a hundred thousand, exclusive of commission, which would
be twelve and a half a hundred shares." Despite the most strenuous
opposition from Gardner, Brewster adhered to his design, and the
broker executed the order the next morning. He knew that Brewster
had but one chance to win, and that was to buy the stock in a lump
instead of distributing it among several brokers and throughout
the session. This was a point that Monty had overlooked.

There had been little to excite the Stock Exchange for some weeks:
nothing was active and the slightest flurry was hailed as an
event. Every one knew that the calm would be disturbed at some
near day, but nobody looked for a sensation in Lumber and Fuel. It
was a foregone conclusion that a slump was coming, and there was
scarcely any trading in the stock. When Elon Gardner, acting for
Montgomery Brewster; took ten thousand shares at 108 3/4 there was
a mighty gasp on the Exchange, then a rubbing of eyes, then
commotion. Astonishment was followed by nervousness, and then came
the struggle.

Brewster, confident that the stock could go no higher, and that
sooner or later it must drop, calmly ordered his horse for a ride
in the snow-covered park. Even though he knew the venture was to
be a failure in the ordinary sense he found joy in the knowledge
that he was doing something. He might be a fool, he was at least
no longer inactive. The feel of the air was good to him. He was
exhilarated by the glitter of the snow, the answering excitement
of his horse, the gaiety and sparkle of life about him.

Somewhere far back in his inner self there seemed to be the sound
of cheering and the clapping of hands. Shortly before noon he
reached his club, where he was to lunch with Colonel Drew. In the
reading-room he observed that men were looking at him in a manner
less casual than was customary. Some of them went so far as to
smile encouragingly, and others waved their hands in the most
cordial fashion. Three or four very young members looked upon him
with admiration and envy, and even the porters seemed more
obsequious. There was something strangely oppressive in all this
show of deference.

Colonel Drew's dignity relaxed amazingly when he caught sight of
the young man. He came forward to meet him and his greeting almost
carried Monty off his feet.

"How did you do it, my boy?" cried the Colonel. "She's off a point
or two now, I believe, but half an hour ago she was booming. Gad,
I never heard of anything more spectacular!"

Monty's heart was in his mouth as he rushed over to the ticker. It
did not take him long to grasp the immensity of the disaster.
Gardner had bought in at 108 3/4, and that very action seemed to
put new life into the stock. Just as it was on the point of
breaking for lack of support along came this sensational order for
ten thousand shares; and there could be but one result. At one
time in the morning Lumber and Fuel, traded in by excited holders,
touched 113 1/2 and seemed in a fair way to hold firm around that
figure.

Other men came up and listened eagerly. Brewster realized that his
dash in Lumber and Fuel had been a master-stroke of cleverness
when considered from the point of view of these men, but a
catastrophe from his own.

"I hope you sold it when it was at the top," said the Colonel
anxiously.

"I instructed Gardner to sell only when I gave the word," said
Monty, lamely. Several of the men looked at him in surprise and
disgust.

"Well, if I were you I'd tell him to sell," remarked the Colonel,
coldly.

"The effect of your plunge has worn off, Brewster, and the other
side will drive prices down. They won't be caught napping again,
either," said one of the bystanders earnestly.

"Do you think so?" And there was a note of relief in Monty's
voice.

From all sides came the advice to sell at once, but Brewster was
not to be pushed. He calmly lighted a cigarette, and with an
assured air of wisdom told them to wait a little while and see.

"She's already falling off," said some one at the ticker.

When Brewster's bewildered eyes raced over the figures the stock
was quoted at 112. His sigh of relief was heard but misunderstood.
He might be saved after all. The stock had started to go down and
there seemed no reason why it should stop. As he intended to
purchase no more it was fair to assume that the backbone was at
the breaking point. The crash was bound to come. He could hardly
restrain a cry of joy. Even while he stood at the ticker the
little instrument began to tell of a further decline. As the price
went down his hopes went up.

The bystanders were beginning to be disgusted. "It was only a
fluke after all," they said to each other. Colonel Drew was
appealed to urge Monty to save himself, and he was on the point of
remonstrance when the message came that the threatened strike was
off, and that the men were willing to arbitrate. Almost before one
could draw breath this startling news began to make itself felt.
The certainty of a great strike was one of the things that had
made Brewster sure that the price could not hold. With this danger
removed there was nothing to jeopardize the earning power of the
stock. The next quotation was a point higher.

"You sly dog," said the Colonel, digging Monty in the side. "I had
confidence in you all the time."

In ten minutes' time Lumber and Fuel was up to 113 and soaring.
Brewster, panic-stricken, rushed to the telephone and called up
Gardner.

The broker, hoarse with excitement, was delighted when he
recognized Brewster's voice.

"You're a wonder, Monty! I'll see you after the close. How the
devil did you do it?" shouted Gardner.

"What's the price now?" asked Brewster.

"One thirteen and three-fourths, and going up all the time.
Hooray!"

"Do you think she'll go down again?" demanded Brewster.

"Not if I can help it."

"Very well, then, go and sell out," roared Brewster.

"But she's going up like--"

"Sell, damn you! Didn't you hear?"

Gardner, dazed and weak, began selling, and finally liquidated the
full line at prices ranging from 114 to 112 1/2, but Montgomery
Brewster had cleared $58,550, and all because it was he and not
the market that got excited.





CHAPTER XI

COALS OF FIRE


It was not that he had realized heavily in his investments which
caused his friends and his enemies to regard him in a new light;
his profit had been quite small, as things go on the Exchange in
these days. The mere fact that he had shown such foresight proved
sufficient cause for the reversal of opinion. Men looked at him
with new interest in their eyes, with fresh confidence. His
unfortunate operations in the stock market had restored him to
favor in all circles. The man, young or old, who could do what he
had done with Lumber and Fuel well deserved the new promises that
were being made for him.

Brewster bobbed uncertainly between two emotions--elation and
distress. He had achieved two kinds of success--the desired and
the undesired. It was but natural that he should feel proud of the
distinction the venture had brought to him on one hand, but there
was reason for despair over the acquisition of $50,000. It made it
necessary for him to undertake an almost superhuman feat--increase
the number of his January bills. The plans for the ensuing spring
and summer were dimly getting into shape and they covered many
startling projects. Since confiding some of them to "Nopper"
Harrison, that gentleman had worn a never-decreasing look of worry
and anxiety in his eyes.

Rawles added to his despair a day or two after the Stock Exchange
misfortune. He brought up the information that six splendid little
puppies had come to bless his Boston terrier family, and Joe
Bragdon, who was present, enthusiastically predicted that he could
get $100 apiece for them. Brewster loved dogs, yet for one single
horrible moment he longed to massacre the helpless little
creatures. But the old affection came back to him, and he hurried
out with Bragdon to inspect the brood.

"And I've either got to sell them or kill them," he groaned. Later
on he instructed Bragdon to sell the pups for $25 apiece, and went
away, ashamed to look their proud mother in the face.

Fortune smiled on him before the day was over, however. He took
"Subway" Smith for a ride in the "Green Juggernaut," bad weather
and bad roads notwithstanding. Monty lost control of the machine
and headed for a subway excavation. He and Smith saved themselves
by leaping to the pavement, sustaining slight bruises, but the
great machine crashed through the barricade and dropped to the
bottom of the trench far below. To Smith's grief and Brewster's
delight the automobile was hopelessly ruined, a clear loss of many
thousands. Monty's joy was short-lived, for it was soon learned
that three luckless workmen down in the depths had been badly
injured by the green meteor from above. The mere fact that
Brewster could and did pay liberally for the relief of the poor
fellows afforded him little consolation. His carelessness, and
possibly his indifference, had brought suffering to these men and
their families which was not pleasant to look back upon. Lawsuits
were avoided by compromises. Each of the injured men received
$4,000.

At this time every one was interested in the charity bazaar at the
Astoria. Society was on exhibition, and the public paid for the
privilege of gazing at the men and women whose names filled the
society columns. Brewster frequented the booth presided over by
Miss Drew, and there seemed to be no end to his philanthropy. The
bazaar lasted two days and nights, and after that period his
account-book showed an even "profit" of nearly $3,000. Monty's
serenity, however, was considerably ruffled by the appearance of a
new and aggressive claimant for the smiles of the fair Barbara. He
was a Californian of immense wealth and unbounded confidence in
himself, and letters to people in New York had given him a certain
entree. The triumphs in love and finance that had come with his
two score years and ten had demolished every vestige of timidity
that may have been born with him. He was successful enough in the
world of finance to have become four or five times a millionaire,
and he had fared so well in love that twice he had been a widower.
Rodney Grimes was starting out to win Barbara with the same dash
and impulsiveness that overcame Mary Farrell, the cook in the
mining-camp, and Jane Boothroyd, the school-teacher, who came to
California ready to marry the first man who asked her. He was a
penniless prospector when he married Mary, and when he led Jane to
the altar she rejoiced in having captured a husband worth at least
$50,000.

He vied with Brewster in patronizing Barbara's booth, and he
rushed into the conflict with an impetuosity that seemed destined
to carry everything before it. Monty was brushed aside, Barbara
was preempted as if she were a mining claim and ten days after his
arrival in New York, Grimes was the most talked-of man in town.
Brewster was not the sort to be dispatched without a struggle,
however. Recognizing Grimes as an obstacle, but not as a rival, he
once more donned his armor and beset Barbara with all the zest of
a champion who seeks to protect and not to conquer. He regarded
the Californian as an impostor and summary action was necessary.
"I know all about him, Babs," he said one day after he felt sure
of his position. "Why, his father was honored by the V. C, on the
coast in '49."

"The Victoria Cross?" asked Barbara, innocently.

"No, the vigilance committee."

In this way Monty routed the enemy and cleared the field before
the end of another week. Grimes transferred his objectionable
affection and Barbara was not even asked to be wife number three.
Brewster's campaign was so ardent that he neglected other duties
deplorably, falling far behind his improvident average. With
Grimes disposed of, he once more forsook the battlefield of love
and gave his harassed and undivided attention to his own peculiar
business.

The fast-and-loose game displeased Miss Barbara greatly. She was
at first surprised, then piqued, then resentful. Monty gradually
awoke to the distressing fact that she was going to be
intractable, as he put it, and forthwith undertook to smooth the
troubled sea. To his amazement and concern she was not to be
appeased.

"Does it occur to you, Monty," she said, with a gentle coldness
that was infinitely worse than heat, "that you have been carrying
things with a pretty high hand? Where did you acquire the right to
interfere with my privileges? You seem to think that I am not to
speak to any man but you."

"O, come now, Babs," retorted Monty, "I've not been quite as
unreasonable as that. And you know yourself that Grimes is the
worst kind of a bounder."

"I know nothing of the sort," replied the lady, with growing
irritation. "You say that about every man who gives me a smile or
a flower. Does it indicate such atrocious taste?"

"Don't be silly, Barbara. You know perfectly well that you have
talked to Gardner and that idiot Valentine by the hour, and I've
not said a word. But there are some things I can't stand, and the
impertinence of Grimes is one of them. Jove! he looked at you, out
of those fishy eyes, sometimes as though he owned you. If you knew
how many times I've fairly ached to knock him down!"

Inwardly Barbara was weakening a little before his masterfulness.
But she gave no sign.

"And it never occurred to you," she said, with that exasperating
coldness of the voice, "that I was equal to the situation. I
suppose you thought Mr. Grimes had only to beckon and I would
joyfully answer. I'll have you know, Monty Brewster, right now,
that I am quite able to choose my friends, and to handle them. Mr.
Grimes has character and I like him. He has seen more of life in a
year of his strenuous career than you ever dreamed of in all your
pampered existence. His life has been real, Monty Brewster, and
yours is only an imitation."

It struck him hard, but it left him gentle.

"Babs," he said, softly, "I can't take that from you. You don't
really mean it, do you? Am I as bad as that?"

It was a moment for dominance, and he missed it. His gentleness
left her cold.

"Monty," she exclaimed irritably, "you are terribly exasperating.
Do make up your mind that you and your million are not the only
things in the world."

His blood was up now, but it flung him away from her.

"Some day, perhaps, you'll find out that there is not much
besides. I am just a little too big, for one thing, to be played
with and thrown aside. I won't stand it."

He left the house with his head high in the air, angry red in his
cheeks, and a feeling in his heart that she was the most
unreasonable of women. Barbara, in the meantime, cried herself to
sleep, vowing she would never love Monty Brewster again as long as
she lived.

A sharp cutting wind was blowing in Monty's face as he left the
house. He was thoroughly wretched.

"Throw up your hands!" came hoarsely from somewhere, and there was
no tenderness in the tones. For an instant Monty was dazed and
bewildered, but in the next he saw two shadowy figures walking
beside him. "Stop where you are, young fellow," was the next
command, and he stopped short. He was in a mood to fight, but the
sight of a revolver made him think again. Monty was not a coward,
neither was he a fool. He was quick to see that a struggle would
be madness.

"What do you want?" he demanded as coolly as his nerves would
permit.

"Put up your hands quick!" and he hastily obeyed the injunction.

"Not a sound out of you or you get it good and proper. You know
what we want. Get to work, Bill; I'll watch his hands."

"Help yourselves, boys. I'm not fool enough to scrap about it.
Don't hit me or shoot, that's all. Be quick about it, because I'll
take cold if my overcoat is open long. How's business been to-
night?" Brewster was to all intents and purposes the calmest man
in New York.

"Fierce!" said the one who was doing the searching. "You're the
first guy we've seen in a week that looks good."

"I hope you won't be disappointed," said Monty, genially. "If I'd
expected this I might have brought more money."

"I guess we'll be satisfied," chuckled the man with the revolver.
"You're awful nice and kind, mister, and maybe you wouldn't object
to tellin' us when you'll be up dis way ag'in."

"It's a pleasure to do business with you, pardner," said the
other, dropping Monty's $300 watch in his. pocket. "We'll leave
car-fare for you for your honesty." His hands were running through
Brewster's pockets with the quickness of a machine. "You don't go
much on jewelry, I guess. Are dese shoit buttons de real t'ing?"

"They're pearls," said Monty, cheerfully.

"My favorite jool," said the man with the revolver. "Clip 'em out,
Bill."

"Don't cut the shirt," urged Monty. "I'm going to a little supper
and I don't like the idea of a punctured shirt-front."

"I'll be as careful as I kin, mister. There, I guess dat's all.
Shall I call a cab for you, sir?"

"No, thank you, I think I'll walk."

"Well, just walk south a hundred steps without lookin' 'round er
yellin' and you kin save your skin. I guess you know what I mean,
pardner."

"I'm sure I do. Good-night."

"Good-night," came in chuckles from the two hold-up men. But
Brewster hesitated, a sharp thought penetrating his mind.

"By gad!" he exclaimed, "you chaps are very careless. Do you know
you've missed a roll of three hundred dollars in this overcoat
pocket?" The men gasped and the spasmodic oaths that came from
them were born of incredulity. It was plain that they doubted
their ears.

"Say it ag'in," muttered Bill, in bewildered tones.

"He's stringin' us, Bill," said the other.

"Sure," growled Bill. "It's a nice way to treat us, mister. Move
along now and don't turn 'round."

"Well, you're a couple of nice highwaymen," cried Monty in
disgust.

"Sh--not so loud."

"That is no way to attend to business. Do you expect me to go down
in my pocket and hand you the goods on a silver tray?"

"Keep your hands up! You don't woik dat game on me. You got a gun
there."

"No, I haven't. This is on the level. You over-looked a roll of
bills in your haste and I'm not the sort of fellow to see an
earnest endeavorer get the worst of it. My hands are up. See for
yourself if I'm not telling you the truth."

"What kind of game is dis?" growled Bill, dazed and bewildered.
"I'm blowed if I know w'at to t'ink o' you," cried he in honest
amazement. "You don't act drunk, and you ain't crazy, but there's
somethin' wrong wid you. Are you givin' it to us straight about de
wad?"

"You can find out easily."

"Well, I hate to do it, boss, but I guess we'll just take de
overcoat and all. It looks like a trick and we takes no chances.
Off wid de coat."

Monty's coat came off in a jiffy and he stood shivering before the
dumfounded robbers.

"We'll leave de coat at de next corner, pardner. It's cold and you
need it more'n we do. You're de limit, you are. So long. Walk
right straight ahead and don't yell."

Brewster found his coat a few minutes later, and went whistling
away into the night. The roll of bills was gone.





CHAPTER XII

CHRISTMAS DESPAIR


Brewster made a good story of the "hold-up" at the club, but he
did not relate all the details. One of the listeners was a new
public commissioner who was aggressive in his efforts at reform.
Accordingly Brewster was summoned to headquarters the next morning
for the purpose of looking over the "suspects" that had been
brought in. Almost the first man that he espied was a rough-
looking fellow whose identity could not be mistaken. It was Bill.

"Hello, Bill," called Monty, gaily. Bill ground his teeth for a
second, but his eyes had such an appeal in them that Monty
relented.

"You know this fellow, Mr. Brewster?" demanded the captain,
quickly. Bill looked utterly helpless.

"Know Bill?" questioned Monty in surprise. "Of course I do,
Captain."

"He was picked up late last night and detained, because he would
give no account of his actions."

"Was it as bad as that, Bill?" asked Brewster, with a smile. Bill
mumbled something and assumed a look of defiance. Monty's attitude
puzzled him sorely. He hardly breathed for an instant, and gulped
perceptibly.

"Pass Bill, Captain. He was with me last night just before my
money was taken, and he couldn't possibly have robbed me without
my knowledge. Wait for me outside, Bill. I want to talk to you.
I'm quite sure neither of the thieves is here, Captain," concluded
Brewster, after Bill had obeyed the order to step out of the line.

Outside the door the puzzled crook met Brewster, who shook him
warmly by the hand.

"You're a peach," whispered Bill, gratefully "What did you do it
for, mister?"

"Because you were kind enough not to cut my shirt."

"Say, you're all right, that's what. Would you mind havin' a drink
with me? It's your money, but the drink won't be any the worse for
that. We blowed most of it already, but here's what's left." Bill
handed Monty a roll of bills.

"I'd a kept it if you'd made a fight," he continued, "but it ain't
square to keep it now."

Brewster refused the money, but took back his watch.

"Keep it, Bill," he said, "you need it more than I do. It's enough
to set you up in some other trade. Why not try it?"

"I will try, boss," and Bill was so profuse in his thanks that
Monty had difficulty in getting away; As he climbed into a cab he
heard Bill say, "I will try, boss, and say, if ever I can do
anything for you jes' put me nex'. I'm nex' you all de time."

He gave the driver the name of his club, but as he was passing the
Waldorf he remembered that he had several things to say to Mrs.
Dan. The order was changed, and a few moments later he was
received in Mrs. Dan's very special den. She wore something soft
and graceful in lavender, something that was light and wavy and
evanescent, and made you watch its changing shadows. Monty looked
down at her with the feeling that she made a very effective
picture.

"You are looking pretty fit this morning, my lady," he said by way
of preamble. "How well everything plays up to you."

"And you are unusually courtly, Monty," she smiled. "Has the world
treated you so generously of late?"

"It is treating me generously enough just now to make up for
anything," and he looked at her. "Do you know, Mrs. Dan, that it
is borne in upon me now and then that there are things that are
quite worth while?"

"Oh, if you come to that," she answered, lightly, "everything is
worth while. For you, Monty, life is certainly not slow. You can
dominate; you can make things go your way. Aren't they going your
way now, Monty"--this more seriously--"What's wrong? Is the pace
too fast?"

His mood increased upon him with her sympathy. "Oh, no," he said,
"it isn't that. You are good--and I'm a selfish beast. Things are
perverse and people are desperately obstinate sometimes. And here
I am taking it out on you. You are not perverse. You are not
obstinate. You are a ripper, Mrs. Dan, and you are going to help
me out in more ways than one."

"Well, to pay for all these gallantries, Monty, I ought to do
much. I'm your friend through thick and thin. You have only to
command me."

"It was precisely to get your help that I came in. I'm tired of
those confounded dinners. You know yourself that they are all
alike--the same people, the same flowers, the same things to eat,
and the same inane twaddle in the shape of talk. Who cares about
them anyway?"

"Well, I like that," she interrupted. "After all the thought I put
into those dinners, after all the variety I so carefully secured!
My dear boy, you are frightfully ungrateful."

"Oh, you know what I mean. And you know quite as well as I do that
it is perfectly true. The dinners were a beastly bore, which
proves that they were a loud success. Your work was not done in
vain. But now I want something else. We must push along the ball
we've been talking of. And the yachting cruise--that can't wait
very much longer."

"The ball first," she decreed. "I'll see to the cards at once, and
in a day or two I'll have a list ready for your gracious approval.
And what have you done?"

"Pettingill has some great ideas for doing over Sherry's. Harrison
is in communication with the manager of that Hungarian orchestra
you spoke of, and he finds the men quite ready for a little jaunt
across the water. We have that military band--I've forgotten the
number of its regiment--for the promenade music, and the new Paris
sensation, the contralto, is coming over with her primo tenore for
some special numbers."

"You were certainly cut out for an executive, Monty," said Mrs.
Dan. "But with the music and the decorations arranged, you've only
begun. The favors are the real thing, and if you say the word,
we'll surprise them a little. Don't worry about it, Monty. It's a
go already. We'll pull it off together."

"You are a thoroughbred, Mrs. Dan," he exclaimed. "You do help a
fellow at a pinch."

"That's all right, Monty," she answered; "give me until after
Christmas and I'll have the finest favors ever seen. Other people
may have their paper hats and pink ribbons, but you can show them
how the thing ought to be done."

Her reference to Christmas haunted Brewster, as he drove down
Fifth Avenue, with the dread of a new disaster. Never before had
he looked upon presents as a calamity; but this year it was
different. Immediately he began to plan a bombardment of his
friends with costly trinkets, when he grew suddenly doubtful of
the opinion of his uncle's executor upon this move. But in
response to a telegram, Swearengen Jones, with pleasing
irascibility, informed him that "anyone with a drop of human
kindness in his body would consider it his duty to give Christmas
presents to those who deserved them." Monty's way was now clear.
If his friends meant to handicap him with gifts, he knew a way to
get even. For two weeks his mornings were spent at Tiffany's, and
the afternoons brought joy to the heart of every dealer in
antiquities in Fourth and Fifth Avenues. He gave much thought to
the matter in the effort to secure many small articles which
elaborately concealed their value. And he had taste. The result of
his endeavor was that many friends who would not have thought of
remembering Monty with even a card were pleasantly surprised on
Christmas Eve.

As it turned out, he fared very well in the matter of gifts, and
for some days much of his time was spent in reading notes of
profuse thanks, which were yet vaguely apologetic. The Grays and
Mrs. Dan had remembered him with an agreeable lack of ostentation,
and some of the "Little Sons of the Rich," who had kept one
evening a fortnight open for the purpose of "using up their meal-
tickets" at Monty's, were only too generously grateful. Miss Drew
had forgotten him, and when they met after the holiday her
recognition was of the coldest. He had thought that, under the
circumstances, he could send her a gift of value, but the
beautiful pearls with which he asked for a reconciliation were
returned with "Miss Drew's thanks." He loved Barbara sincerely,
and it cut. Peggy Gray was taken into his confidence and he was
comforted by her encouragement. It was a bit difficult for her to
advise him to try again, but his happiness was a thing she had at
heart.

"It's beastly unfair, Peggy," he said. "I've really been white to
her. I believe I'll chuck the whole business and leave New York."

"You're going away?" and there was just a suggestion of a catch in
her breath.

"I'm going to charter a yacht and sail away from this place for
three or four months." Peggy fairly gasped. "What do you think of
the scheme?" he added, noticing the alarm and incredulity in her
eyes.

"I think you'll end in the poor-house, Montgomery Brewster," she
said, with a laugh.





CHAPTER XIII

A FRIEND IN NEED


It was while Brewster was in the depths of despair that his
financial affairs had a windfall. One of the banks in which his
money was deposited failed and his balance of over $100,000 was
wiped out. Mismanagement was the cause and the collapse came on
Friday, the thirteenth day of the month. Needless to say, it
destroyed every vestige of the superstition he may have had
regarding Friday and the number thirteen.

Brewster had money deposited in five banks, a transaction inspired
by the wild hope that one of them might some day suspend
operations and thereby prove a legitimate benefit to him. There
seemed no prospect that the bank could resume operations, and if
the depositors in the end realized twenty cents on the dollar they
would be fortunate. Notwithstanding the fact that everybody had
considered the institution substantial there were not a few
wiseacres who called Brewster a fool and were so unreasonable as
to say that he did not know how to handle money. He heard that
Miss Drew, in particular, was bitterly sarcastic in referring to
his stupidity.

This failure caused a tremendous flurry in banking circles. It was
but natural that questions concerning the stability of other banks
should be asked, and it was not long before many wild, disquieting
reports were afloat. Anxious depositors rushed into the big
banking institutions and then rushed out again, partially assured
that there was no danger. The newspapers sought to allay the fears
of the people, but there were many to whom fear became panic.
There were short, wild runs on some of the smaller banks, but all
were in a fair way to restore confidence when out came the rumor
that the Bank of Manhattan Island was in trouble. Colonel Prentiss
Drew, railroad magnate, was the president of this bank.

When the bank opened for business on the Tuesday following the
failure, there was a stampede of frightened depositors. Before
eleven o'clock the run had assumed ugly proportions and no amount
of argument could stay the onslaught. Colonel Drew and the
directors, at first mildly distressed, and then seeing that the
affair had become serious, grew more alarmed than they could
afford to let the public see. The loans of all the banks were
unusually large. Incipient runs on some had put all of them in an
attitude of caution, and there was a natural reluctance to expose
their own interests to jeopardy by coming to the relief of the
Bank of Manhattan Island.

Monty Brewster had something like $200,000 in Colonel Drew's bank.
He would not have regretted on his own account the collapse of
this institution, but he realized what it meant to the hundreds of
other depositors, and for the first time he appreciated what his
money could accomplish. Thinking that his presence might give
confidence to the other depositors and stop the run he went over
to the bank with Harrison and Bragdon. The tellers were handing
out thousands of dollars to the eager depositors. His friends
advised him strongly to withdraw before it was too late, but Monty
was obdurate. They set it down to his desire to help Barbara's
father and admired his nerve.

"I understand, Monty," said Bragdon, and both he and Harrison went
among the people carelessly asking one another if Brewster had
come to withdraw his money. "No, he has over $200,000, and he's
going to leave it," the other would say.

Each excited group was visited in turn by the two men, but their
assurance seemed to accomplish but little. These men and women
were there to save their fortunes; the situation was desperate.

Colonel Drew, outwardly calm and serene, but inwardly perturbed,
finally saw Brewster and his companions. He sent a messenger over
with the request that Monty come to the president's private office
at once.

"He wants to help you to save your money," cried Bragdon in low
tones. "That shows it's all up."

"Get out every dollar of it, Monty, and don't waste a minute. It's
a smash as sure as fate," urged Harrison, a feverish expression in
his eyes.

Brewster was admitted to the Colonel's private office. Drew was
alone and was pacing the floor like a caged animal.

"Sit down, Brewster, and don't mind if I seem nervous. Of course
we can hold out, but it is terrible--terrible. They think we are
trying to rob them. They're mad--utterly mad."

"I never saw anything like it, Colonel. Are you sure you can meet
all the demands?" asked Brewster, thoroughly excited. The
Colonel's face was white and he chewed his cigar nervously.

"We can hold out unless some of our heaviest depositors get the
fever and swoop down upon us. I appreciate your feelings in an
affair of this kind, coming so swiftly upon the heels of the
other, but I want to give you my personal assurance that the money
you have here is safe. I called you in to impress you with the
security of the bank. You ought to know the truth, however, and I
will tell you in confidence that another check like Austin's,
which we paid a few minutes ago, would cause us serious, though
temporary, embarrassment."

"I came to assure you that I have not thought of withdrawing my
deposits from this bank, Colonel. You need have no uneasiness--"

The door opened suddenly and one of the officials of the bank
bolted inside, his face as white as death. He started to speak
before he saw Brewster, and then closed his lips despairingly.

"What is it, Mr. Moore?" asked Drew, as calmly as possible. "Don't
mind Mr. Brewster."

"Oglethorp wants to draw two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,"
said Moore in strained tones.

"Well, he can have it, can't he?" asked the Colonel quietly. Moore
looked helplessly at the president of the bank, and his silence
spoke more plainly than words.

"Brewster, it looks bad," said the Colonel, turning abruptly to
the young man. The other banks are afraid of a run and we can't
count on much help from them. Some of them have helped us and
others have refused. Now, I not only ask you to refrain from
drawing out your deposit, but I want you to help us in this
crucial moment." The Colonel looked twenty years older and his
voice shook perceptibly. Brewster's pity went out to him in a
flash.

"What can I do, Colonel Drew?" he cried. "I'll not take my money
out, but I don't know how I can be of further assistance to you.
Command me, sir."

"You can restore absolute confidence, Monty, my dear boy, by
increasing your deposits in our bank," said the Colonel slowly,
and as if dreading the fate of the suggestion.

"You mean, sir, that I can save the bank by drawing my money from
other banks and putting it here?" asked Monty, slowly. He was
thinking harder and faster than he had ever thought in his life.
Could he afford to risk the loss of his entire fortune on the fate
of this bank? What would Swearengen Jones say if he deliberately
deposited a vast amount of money in a tottering institution like
the Bank of Manhattan Island? It would be the maddest folly on his
part if the bank went down. There could be no mitigating
circumstances in the eyes of either Jones or the world, if he
swamped all of his money in this crisis.

"I beg of you, Monty, help us." The Colonel's pride was gone. "It
means disgrace if we close our doors even for an hour; it means a
stain that only years can remove. You can restore confidence by a
dozen strokes of your pen, and you can save us."

He was Barbara's father. The proud old man was before him as a
suppliant, no longer the cold man of the world. Back to Brewster's
mind came the thought of his quarrel with Barbara and of her
heartlessness. A scratch of the pen, one way or the other, could
change the life of Barbara Drew. The two bankers stood by scarcely
breathing. From the outside came the shuffle of many feet and the
muffled roll of voices. Again the door to the private office
opened and a clerk excitedly motioned for Mr. Moore to hurry to
the front of the bank. Moore paused irresolutely, his eyes on
Brewster's face. The young man knew the time had come when he must
help or deny them.

Like a flash the situation was made clear to him and his duty was
plain. He remembered that the Bank of Manhattan Island held every
dollar that Mrs. Gray and Peggy possessed; their meager fortune
had been entrusted to the care of Prentiss Drew and his
associates, and it was in danger.

"I will do all I can, Colonel," said Monty, "but upon one
condition."

"That is?"

"Barbara must never know of this." The Colonel's gasp of
astonishment was cut short as Monty continued. "Promise that she
shall never know."

"I don't understand, but if it is your wish I promise."

Inside of half an hour's time several hundred thousand came to the
relief of the struggling bank, and the man who had come to watch
the run with curious eyes turned out to be its savior. His money
won the day for the Bank of Manhattan Island. When the happy
president and directors offered to pay him an astonishingly high
rate of interest for the use of the money he proudly declined.

The next day Miss Drew issued invitations for a cotillon. Mr.
Montgomery Brewster was not asked to attend.





CHAPTER XIV

MRS. DE MILLE ENTERTAINS


Miss Drew's cotillon was not graced by the presence of Montgomery
Brewster. It is true he received an eleventh-hour invitation and a
very cold and difficult little note of apology, but he maintained
heroically the air of disdain that had succeeded the first sharp
pangs of disappointment. Colonel Drew, in whose good graces Monty
had firmly established himself, was not quite guiltless of
usurping the role of dictator in the effort to patch up a truce. A
few nights before the cotillon, when Barbara told him that Herbert
Ailing was to lead, he explosively expressed surprise. "Why not
Monty Brewster, Babs?" he demanded.

"Mr. Brewster is not coming," she responded, calmly.

"Going to be out of town?"

"I'm sure I do not know," stiffly.

"What's this?"

"He has not been asked, father." Miss Drew was not in good humor.

"Not asked?" said the Colonel in amazement. "It's ridiculous,
Babs, send him an invitation at once."

"This is my dance, father, and I don't want to ask Mr. Brewster."

The Colonel sank back in his chair and struggled to overcome his
anger. He knew that Barbara had inherited his willfulness, and had
long since discovered that it was best to treat her with tact.

"I thought you and he were--" but the Colonel's supply of tact was
exhausted.

"We were"--in a moment of absent mindedness. "But it's all over,"
said Barbara.

"Why, child, there wouldn't have been a cotillon if it hadn't been
for--" but the Colonel remembered his promise to Monty and checked
himself just in time. "I--I mean there will not be any party, if
Montgomery Brewster is not asked. That is all I care to say on the
subject," and he stamped out of the room.

Barbara wept copiously after her father had gone, but she realized
that his will was law and that Monty must be invited. "I will send
an invitation," she said to herself, "but if Mr. Brewster comes
after he has read it, I shall be surprised."

Montgomery, however, did not receive the note in the spirit in
which it had been sent. He only saw in it a ray of hope that
Barbara was relenting and was jubilant at the prospect of a
reconciliation. The next Sunday he sought an interview with Miss
Drew, but she received him with icy reserve. If he had thought to
punish her by staying away, it was evident that she felt equally
responsible for a great deal of misery on his part. Both had been
more or less unhappy, and both were resentfully obstinate.
Brewster felt hurt and insulted, while she felt that he had
imposed upon her disgracefully. He was now ready to cry quits and
it surprised him to find her obdurate. If he had expected to
dictate the terms of peace he was woefully disappointed when she
treated his advances with cool contempt.

"Barbara, you know I care very much for you," he was pleading,
fairly on the road to submission. "I am sure you are not quite
indifferent to me. This foolish misunderstanding must really be as
disagreeable to you as it is to me."

"Indeed," she replied, lifting her brows disdainfully. "You are
assuming a good deal, Mr. Brewster."

"I am merely recalling the fact that you once told me you cared.
You would not promise anything, I know, but it meant much that you
cared. A little difference could not have changed your feeling
completely."

"When you are ready to treat me with respect I may listen to your
petition," she said, rising haughtily.

"My petition?" He did not like the word and his tact quite
deserted him. "It's as much yours as mine. Don't throw the burden
of responsibility on me, Miss Drew."

"Have I suggested going back to the old relations? You will pardon
me if I remind you of the fact that you came to-day on your own
initiative and certainly without my solicitation."

"Now, look here, Barbara--" he began, dimly realizing that it was
going to be hard, very hard, to reason.

"I am very sorry, Mr. Brewster, but you will have to excuse me. I
am going out."

"I regret exceedingly that I should have disturbed you to-day,
Miss Drew," he said, swallowing his pride. "Perhaps I may have the
pleasure of seeing you again."

As he was leaving the house, deep anger in his soul, he
encountered the Colonel. There was something about Monty's
greeting, cordial as it was, that gave the older man a hint as to
the situation.

"Won't you stop for dinner, Monty?" he asked, in the hope that his
suspicion was groundless.

"Thank you, Colonel, not to-night," and he was off before the
Colonel could hold him.

Barbara was tearfully angry when her father came into the room,
but as he began to remonstrate with her the tears disappeared and
left her at white heat.

"Frankly, father, you don't understand matters," she said with
slow emphasis; "I wish you to know now that if Montgomery Brewster
calls again, I shall not see him."

"If that is your point of view, Barbara, I wish you to know mine."
The Colonel rose and stood over her, everything forgotten but the
rage that went so deep that it left the surface calm. Throwing
aside his promise to Brewster, he told Barbara with dramatic
simplicity the story of the rescue of the bank. "You see," he
added, "if it had not been for that open-hearted boy we would now
be ruined. Instead of giving cotillons, you might be giving music
lessons. Montgomery Brewster will always be welcome in this house
and you will see that my wishes are respected. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly," Barbara answered in a still voice. "As your friend I
shall try to be civil to him."

The Colonel was not satisfied with so cold-blooded an
acquiescence, but he wisely retired from the field. He left the
girl silent and crushed, but with a gleam in her eyes that was not
altogether to be concealed. The story had touched her more deeply
than she would willingly confess. It was something to know that
Monty Brewster could do a thing like that, and would do it for
her. The exultant smile which it brought to her lips could only be
made to disappear by reminding herself sharply of his recent
arrogance. Her anger, she found, was a plant which needed careful
cultivation.

It was in a somewhat chastened mood that she started a few days
later for a dinner at the DeMille's. As she entered in her
sweeping golden gown the sight of Monty Brewster at the other end
of the room gave her a flutter at the heart. But it was an
agitation that was very carefully concealed. Brewster was
certainly unconscious of it. To him the position of guest was like
a disguise and he was pleased at the prospect of letting himself
go under the mask without responsibility. But it took on a
different color when the butler handed him a card which signified
that he was to take Miss Drew in to dinner. Hastily seeking out
the hostess he endeavored to convey to her the impossibility of
the situation.

"I hope you won't misunderstand me," he said. "But is it too late
to change my place at the table?"

"It isn't conventional, I know, Monty. Society's chief aim is to
separate engaged couples at dinner," said Mrs. Dan with a laugh.
"It would be positively compromising if a man and his wife sat
together."

Dinner was announced before Monty could utter another word, and as
she led him over to Barbara she said, "Behold a generous hostess
who gives up the best man in the crowd so that he and some one
else may have a happy time. I leave it to you, Barbara, if that
isn't the test of friendship."

For a moment the two riveted their eyes on the floor. Then the
humor of the situation came to Monty.

"I did not know that we were supposed to do Gibson tableaux to-
night," he said drily as he proffered his arm.

"I don't understand," and Barbara's curiosity overcame her
determination not to speak.

"Don't you remember the picture of the man who was called upon to
take his late fiancee out to dinner?"

The awful silence with which this remark was received put an end
to further efforts at humor.

The dinner was probably the most painful experience in their
lives. Barbara had come to it softened and ready to meet him half
way. The right kind of humility in Monty would have found her
plastic. But she had very definite and rigid ideas of his duty in
the premises. And Monty was too simple minded to seem to suffer,
and much too flippant to understand. It was plain to each that the
other did not expect to talk, but they both realized that they
owed a duty to appearances and to their hostess. Through two
courses, at least, there was dead silence between them. It seemed
as though every eye in the room were on them and every mind were
speculating. At last, in sheer desperation, Barbara turned to him
with the first smile he had seen on her face in days. There was no
smile in her eyes, however, and Monty understood.

"We might at least give out the impression that we are friends,"
she said quietly.

"More easily said than done," he responded gloomily.

"They are all looking at us and wondering."

"I don't blame them."

"We owe something to Mrs. Dan, I think."

"I know."

Barbara uttered some inanity whenever she caught any one looking
in their direction, but Brewster seemed not to hear. At length he
cut short some remark of hers about the weather.

"What nonsense this is, Barbara," he said. "With any one else I
would chuck the whole game, but with you it is different. I don't
know what I have done, but I am sorry. I hope you'll forgive me."

"Your assurance is amusing, to say the least."

"But I am sure. I know this quarrel is something we'll laugh over.
You keep forgetting that we are going to be married some day."

A new light came into Barbara's eyes. "You forget that my consent
may be necessary," she said.

"You will be perfectly willing when the time comes. I am still in
the fight and eventually you will come to my way of thinking."

"Oh! I see it now," said Barbara, and her blood was up. "You mean
to force me to it. What you did for father--"

Brewster glowered at her, thinking that he had misunderstood.
"What do you mean?" he said.

"He has told me all about that wretched bank business. But poor
father thought you quite disinterested. He did not see the little
game behind your melodrama. He would have torn up your check on
the instant if he had suspected you were trying to buy his
daughter."

"Does your father believe that?" asked Brewster.

"No, but I see it all now. His persistence and yours--you were not
slow to grasp the opportunity offered."

"Stop, Miss Drew," Monty commanded. His voice had changed and she
had never before seen that look in his eyes. "You need have no
fear that I will trouble you again."





CHAPTER XV

THE CUT DIRECT


A typographical error in one of the papers caused no end of
amusement to every one except Monty and Miss Drew. The headlines
had announced "Magnificent ball to be given Miss Drew by her
Finance," and the "Little Sons of the Rich" wondered why Monty did
not see the humor of it.

"He has too bad an attack to see anything but the lady," said
Harrison one evening when the "Sons" were gathered for an old-time
supper party.

"It's always the way," commented the philosophical Bragdon, "When
you lose your heart your sense of humor goes too. Engaged couples
couldn't do such ridiculous stunts if they had the least particle
of it left."

"Well, if Monty Brewster is still in love with Miss Drew he takes
a mighty poor way of showing it." "Subway" Smith's remark fell
like a bombshell. The thought had come to every one, but no one
had been given the courage to utter it. For them Brewster's
silence on the subject since the DeMille dinner seemed to have
something ominous behind it.

"It's probably only a lovers' quarrel," said Bragdon. But further
comment was cut short by the entrance of Monty himself, and they
took their places at the table.

Before the evening came to an end they were in possession of many
astonishing details in connection with the coming ball. Monty did
not say that it was to be given for Miss Drew and her name was
conspicuously absent from his descriptions. As he unfolded his
plans even the "Little Sons," who were imaginative by instinct and
reckless on principle, could not be quite acquiescent.

"Nopper" Harrison solemnly expressed the opinion that the ball
would cost Brewster at least $125,000. The "Little Sons" looked at
one another in consternation, while Brewster's indifference
expressed itself in an unflattering comment upon his friend's
vulgarity. "Good Lord, Nopper," he added, "you would speculate
about the price of gloves for your wedding."

Harrison resented the taunt. "It would be much less vulgar to do
that, Monty, saving your presence, than to force your millions
down every one's throat."

"Well, they swallow them, I've noticed," retorted Brewster, "as
though they were chocolates."

Pettingill interrupted grandiloquently. "My friends and
gentlemen!"

"Which is which?" asked Van Winkle, casually.

But the artist was in the saddle. "Permit me to present to you the
boy Croesus--the only one extant. His marbles are plunks and his
kites are made of fifty-dollar notes. He feeds upon coupons a la
Newburgh, and his champagne is liquid golden eagles. Look at him,
gentlemen, while you can, and watch him while he spends thirteen
thousand dollars for flowers!"

"With a Viennese orchestra for twenty-nine thousand!" added
Bragdon. "And yet they maintain that silence is golden."

"And three singers to divide twelve thousand among themselves!
That's absolutely criminal," cried Van Winkle. "Over in Germany
they'd sing a month for half that amount."

"Six hundred guests to feed--total cost of not less than forty
thousand dollars," groaned "Nopper," dolefully.

"And there aren't six hundred in town," lamented "Subway" Smith.
"All that glory wasted on two hundred rank outsiders."

"You men are borrowing a lot of trouble," yawned Brewster, with a
gallant effort to seem bored. "All I ask of you is to come to the
party and put up a good imitation of having the time of your life.
Between you and me I'd rather be caught at Huyler's drinking ice
cream soda than giving this thing. But--"

"That's what we want to know, but what?" and "Subway" leaned
forward eagerly.

"But," continued Monty, "I'm in for it now, and it is going to be
a ball that is a ball."

Nevertheless the optimistic Brewster could not find the courage to
tell Peggy of these picturesque extravagances. To satisfy her
curiosity he blandly informed her that he was getting off much
more cheaply than he had expected. He laughingly denounced as
untrue the stories that had come to her from outside sources. And
before his convincing assertions that reports were ridiculously
exaggerated, the troubled expression in the girl's eyes
disappeared.

"I must seem a fool," groaned Monty, as he left the house after
one of these explanatory trials, "but what will she think of me
toward the end of the year when I am really in harness?" He found
it hard to control the desire to be straight with Peggy and tell
her the story of his mad race in pursuit of poverty.

Preparations for the ball went on steadily, and in a dull winter
it had its color value for society. It was to be a Spanish
costume-ball, and at many tea-tables the talk of it was a god-
send. Sarcastic as it frequently was on the question of Monty's
extravagance, there was a splendor about the Aladdin-like
entertainment which had a charm. Beneath the outward disapproval
there was a secret admiration of the superb nerve of the man. And
there was little reluctance to help him in the wild career he had
chosen. It was so easy to go with him to the edge of the precipice
and let him take the plunge alone. Only the echo of the criticism
reached Brewster, for he had silenced Harrison with work and
Pettingill with opportunities. It troubled him little, as he was
engaged in jotting down items that swelled the profit side of his
ledger account enormously. The ball was bound to give him a good
lead in the race once more, despite the heavy handicap the Stock
Exchange had imposed. The "Little Sons" took off their coats and
helped Pettingill in the work of preparation. He found them quite
superfluous, for their ideas never agreed and each man had a way
of preferring his own suggestion. To Brewster's chagrin they were
united in the effort to curb his extravagance.

"He'll be giving automobiles and ropes of pearls for favors if we
don't stop him," said "Subway" Smith, after Monty had ordered a
vintage champagne to be served during the entire evening. "Give
them two glasses first, if you like, and then they won't mind if
they have cider the rest of the night."

"Monty is plain dotty," chimed Bragdon, "and the pace is beginning
to tell on him."

As a matter of fact the pace was beginning to tell on Brewster.
Work and worry were plainly having an effect on his health. His
color was bad, his eyes were losing their lustre, and there was a
listlessness in his actions that even determined effort could not
conceal from his friends. Little fits of fever annoyed him
occasionally and he admitted that he did not feel quite right.

"Something is wrong somewhere," he said, ruefully, "and my whole
system seems ready to stop work through sympathy."

Suddenly there was a mighty check to the preparations. Two days
before the date set for the ball everything came to a standstill
and the managers sank back in perplexity and consternation. Monty
Brewster was critically ill.

Appendicitis, the doctors called it, and an operation was
imperative.

"Thank heaven it's fashionable," laughed Monty, who showed no fear
of the prospect. "How ridiculous if it had been the mumps, or if
the newspapers had said, 'On account of the whooping-cough, Mr.
Brewster did not attend his ball.'"

"You don't mean to say--the ball is off, of course," and Harrison
was really alarmed.

"Not a bit of it, Nopper," said Monty. "It's what I've been
wanting all along. You chaps do the handshaking and I stay at
home."

There was an immediate council of war when this piece of news was
announced, and the "Little Sons" were unanimous in favor of
recalling the invitations and declaring the party off. At first
Monty was obdurate, but when some one suggested that he could give
the ball later on, after he was well, he relented. The opportunity
to double the cost by giving two parties was not to be ignored.

"Call it off, then, but say it is only postponed."

A great rushing to and fro resulted in the cancelling of
contracts, the recalling of invitations, the settling of accounts,
with the most loyal effort to save as much as possible from the
wreckage. Harrison and his associates, almost frantic with fear
for Brewster's life, managed to perform wonders in the few hours
of grace. Gardner, with rare foresight, saw that the Viennese
orchestra would prove a dead loss. He suggested the possibility of
a concert tour through the country, covering several weeks, and
Monty, too ill to care one way or the other, authorized him to
carry out the plan if it seemed feasible.

To Monty, fearless and less disturbed than any other member of his
circle, appendicitis seemed as inevitable as vaccination.

"The appendix is becoming an important feature in the Book of
Life," he once told Peggy Gray.

He refused to go to a hospital, but pathetically begged to be
taken to his old rooms at Mrs. Gray's.

With all the unhappy loneliness of a sick boy, he craved the care
and companionship of those who seemed a part of his own. Dr.
Lotless had them transform a small bedchamber into a model
operating room and Monty took no small satisfaction in the thought
that if he was to be denied the privilege of spending money for
several weeks, he would at least make his illness as expensive as
possible. A consultation of eminent surgeons was called, but true
to his colors, Brewster installed Dr. Lotless, a "Little Son," as
his house surgeon. Monty grimly bore the pain and suffering and
submitted to the operation which alone could save his life. Then
came the struggle, then the promise of victory and then the quiet
days of convalescence. In the little room where he had dreamed his
boyish dreams and suffered his boyish sorrows, he struggled
against death and gradually emerged from the mists of lassitude.
He found it harder than he had thought to come back to life. The
burden of it all seemed heavy. The trained nurses found that some
more powerful stimulant than the medicine was needed to awaken his
ambition, and they discovered it at last in Peggy.

"Child," he said to her the first time she was permitted to see
him, and his eyes had lights in them: "do you know, this isn't
such a bad old world after all. Sometimes as I've lain here, it
has looked twisted and queer. But there are things that straighten
it out. To-day I feel as though I had a place in it--as though I
could fight things and win out. What do you think, Peggy? Do you
suppose there is something that I could do? You know what I mean--
something that some one else would not do a thousand times
better."

But Peggy, to whom this chastened mood in Monty was infinitely
pathetic, would not let him talk. She soothed him and cheered him
and touched his hair with her cool hands. And then she left him to
think and brood and dream.

It was many days before his turbulent mind drifted to the subject
of money, but suddenly he found himself hoping that the surgeons
would be generous with their charges. He almost suffered a relapse
when Lotless, visibly distressed, informed him that the total
amount would reach three thousand dollars.

"And what is the additional charge for the operation?" asked
Monty, unwilling to accept such unwarranted favors.

"It's included in the three thousand," said Lotless. "They knew
you were my friend and it was professional etiquette to help keep
down expenses."

For days Brewster remained at Mrs. Gray's, happy in its
restfulness, serene under the charm of Peggy's presence, and
satisfied to be hopelessly behind in his daily expense account.
The interest shown by the inquiries at the house and the anxiety
of his friends were soothing to the profligate. It gave him back a
little of his lost self-respect. The doctors finally decided that
he would best recuperate in Florida, and advised a month at least
in the warmth. He leaped at the proposition, but took the law into
his own hands by ordering General Manager Harrison to rent a
place, and insisting that he needed the companionship of Peggy and
Mrs. Gray.

"How soon can I get back to work, Doctor?" demanded Monty, the day
before the special train was to carry him south. He was beginning
to see the dark side of this enforced idleness. His blood again
was tingling with the desire to be back in the harness of a
spendthrift.

"To work?" laughed the physician. "And what is your occupation,
pray?"

"Making other people rich," responded Brewster, soberly.

"Well, aren't you satisfied with what you have done for me? If you
are as charitable as that you must be still pretty sick. Be
careful, and you may be on your feet again in five or six weeks."

Harrison came in as Lotless left. Peggy smiled at him from the
window. She had been reading aloud from a novel so garrulous that
it fairly cried aloud for interruptions.

"Now, Nopper, what became of the ball I was going to give?"
demanded Monty, a troubled look in his eyes.

"Why, we called it off," said "Nopper," in surprise.

"Don't you remember, Monty?" asked Peggy, looking up quickly, and
wondering if his mind had gone trailing off.

"I know we didn't give it, of course; but what date did you hit
upon?"

"We didn't postpone it at all," said "Nopper." "How could we? We
didn't know whether--I mean it wouldn't have been quite right to
do that sort of thing."

"I understand. Well, what has become of the orchestra, and the
flowers, and all that?"

"The orchestra is gallivanting around the country, quarreling with
itself and everybody else, and driving poor Gardner to the insane
asylum. The flowers have lost their bloom long ago."

"Well, we'll get together, Nopper, and try to have the ball at
mid-Lent. I think I'll be well by that time."

Peggy looked appealingly at Harrison for guidance, but to him
silence seemed the better part of valor, and he went off wondering
if the illness had completely carried away Monty's reason.





CHAPTER XVI

IN THE SUNNY SOUTH


It was the cottage of a New York millionaire which had fallen to
Brewster. The owner had, for the time, preferred Italy to St.
Augustine, and left his estate, which was well located and
lavishly equipped, in the hands of his friends. Brewster's lease
covered three months, at a fabulous rate per month. With Joe
Bragdon installed as manager-in-chief, his establishment was
transferred bodily from New York, and the rooms were soon as
comfortable as their grandeur would permit. Brewster was not
allowed to take advantage of his horses and the new automobile
which preceded him from New York, but to his guests they offered
unlimited opportunities. "Nopper" Harrison had remained in the
north to renew arrangements for the now hated ball and to look
after the advance details of the yacht cruise. Dr. Lotless and his
sister, with "Subway" Smith and the Grays, made up Brewster's
party. Lotless dampened Monty's spirits by relentlessly putting
him on rigid diet, with most discouraging restrictions upon his
conduct. The period of convalescence was to be an exceedingly
trying one for the invalid. At first he was kept in-doors, and the
hours were whiled away by playing cards. But Monty considered
"bridge" the "pons asinorum," and preferred to play piquet with
Peggy. It was one of these games that the girl interrupted with a
question that had troubled her for many days. "Monty," she said,
and she found it much more difficult than when she had rehearsed
the scene in the silence of her walks; "I've heard a rumor that
Miss Drew and her mother have taken rooms at the hotel. Wouldn't
it be pleasanter to have them here?"

A heavy gloom settled upon Brewster's face, and the girl's heart
dropped like lead. She had puzzled over the estrangement, and
wondered if by any effort of her own things could be set right. At
times she had had flashing hopes that it did not mean as much to
Monty as she had thought. But down underneath, the fear that he
was unhappy seemed the only certain thing in life. She felt that
she must make sure. And together with the very human desire to
know the worst, was the puritanical impulse to bring it about.

"You forget that this is the last place they would care to
invade." And in Brewster's face Peggy seemed to read that for her
martyrdom was the only wear. Bravely she put it on.

"Monty, I forget nothing that I really know. But this is a case in
which you are quite wrong. Where is your sporting blood? You have
never fought a losing fight before, and you can't do it now. You
have lost your nerve, Monty. Don't you see that this is the time
for an aggressive campaign?" Somehow she was not saying things at
all as she had planned to say them. And his gloom weighed heavily
upon her. "You don't mind, do you, Monty," she added, more softly,
"this sort of thing from me? I know I ought not to interfere, but
I've known you so long. And I hate to see things twisted by a very
little mistake."

But Monty did mind enormously. He had no desire to talk about the
thing anyway, and Peggy's anxiety to marry him off seemed a bit
unnecessary. Manifestly her own interest in him was of the
coldest. From out of the gloom he looked at her somewhat sullenly.
For the moment she was thinking only of his pain, and her face
said nothing.

"Peggy," he exclaimed, finally, resenting the necessity of
answering her, "you don't in the least know what you are talking
about. It is not a fit of anger on Barbara Drew's part. It is a
serious conviction."

"A conviction which can be changed," the girl broke in.

"Not at all." Brewster took it up. "She has no faith in me. She
thinks I'm an ass."

"Perhaps she's right," she exclaimed, a little hot. "Perhaps you
have never discovered that girls say many things to hide their
emotions. Perhaps you don't realize what feverish, exclamatory,
foolish things girls are. They don't know how to be honest with
the men they love, and they wouldn't if they did. You are little
short of an idiot, Monty Brewster, if you believed the things she
said rather than the things she looked."

And Peggy, fiery and determined and defiantly unhappy, threw down
her cards and escaped so that she might not prove herself
tearfully feminine. She left Brewster still heavily enveloped in
melancholy; but she left him puzzled. He began to wonder if
Barbara Drew did have something in the back of her mind. Then he
found his thoughts wandering off toward Peggy and her defiance. He
had only twice before seen her in that mood, and he liked it. He
remembered how she had lost her temper once when she was fifteen,
and hated a girl he admired. Suddenly he laughed aloud at the
thought of the fierce little picture she had made, and the gloom,
which had been so sedulously cultivated, was dissipated in a
moment. The laugh surprised the man who brought in some letters.
One of them was from "Nopper" Harrison, and gave him all the
private news. The ball was to be given at mid-Lent, which arrived
toward the end of March, and negotiations were well under way for
the chartering of the "Flitter," the steam-yacht belonging to
Reginald Brown, late of Brown & Brown.

The letter made Brewster chafe under the bonds of inaction. His
affairs were getting into a discouraging state. The illness was
certain to entail a loss of more than $50,000 to his business. His
only consolation came through Harrison's synopsis of the reports
from Gardner, who was managing the brief American tour of the
Viennese orchestra. Quarrels and dissensions were becoming every-
day embarrassments, and the venture was an utter failure from a
financial point of view. Broken contracts and lawsuits were
turning the tour into one continuous round of losses, and poor
Gardner was on the point of despair. From the beginning,
apparently, the concerts had been marked for disaster. Public
indifference had aroused the scorn of the irascible members of the
orchestra, and there was imminent danger of a collapse in the
organization. Gardner lived in constant fear that his troop of
quarrelsome Hungarians would finish their tour suddenly in a
pitched battle with daggers and steins. Brewster smiled at the
thought of practical Gardner trying to smooth down the electric
emotions of these musicians.

A few days later Mrs. Prentiss Drew and Miss Drew registered at
the Ponce de Leon, and there was much speculation upon the chances
for a reconciliation. Monty, however, maintained a strict silence
on the subject, and refused to satisfy the curiosity of his
friends. Mrs. Drew had brought down a small crowd, including two
pretty Kentucky girls and a young Chicago millionaire. She lived
well and sensibly, with none of the extravagance that
characterized the cottage. Yet it was inevitable that Brewster's
guests should see hers and join some of their riding parties.
Monty pleaded that he was not well enough to be in these
excursions, but neither he nor Barbara cared to over-emphasize
their estrangement.

Peggy Gray was in despair over Monty's attitude. She had become
convinced that behind his pride he was cherishing a secret longing
for Barbara. Yet she could not see how the walls were to be broken
down if he maintained this icy reserve. She was sure that the
masterful tone was the one to win with a girl like that, but
evidently Monty would not accept advice. That he was mistaken
about Barbara's feeling she did not doubt for a moment, and she
saw things going hopelessly wrong for want of a word. There were
times when she let herself dream of possibilities, but they always
ended by seeming too impossible. She cared too much to make the
attainment of her vision seem simple. She cared too much to be
sure of anything.

At moments she fancied that she might say a word to Miss Drew
which would straighten things out. But there was something about
her which held her off. Even now that they were thrown together
more or less she could not get beyond a certain barrier. It was
not until a sunny day when she had accepted Barbara's invitation
to drive that things seemed to go more easily. For the first time
she felt the charm of the girl, and for the first time Barbara
seemed unreservedly friendly. It was a quiet drive they were
taking through the woods and out along the beach, and somehow in
the open air things simplified themselves. Finally, in the
softness and the idle warmth, even an allusion to Monty, whose
name usually meant an embarrassing change of subject, began to
seem possible. It was inevitable that Peggy should bring it in;
for with her a question of tact was never allowed to dominate when
things of moment were at stake. She cowered before the plunge, but
she took it unafraid.

"The doctor says Monty may go out driving to-morrow," she began.
"Isn't that fine?"

Barbara's only response was to touch her pony a little too sharply
with the whip. Peggy went on as if unconscious of the challenge.

"He has been bored to death, poor fellow, in the house all this
time, and--"

"Miss Gray, please do not mention Mr. Brewster's name to me
again," interrupted Barbara, with a contraction of the eyebrows.
But Peggy was seized with a spirit of defiance and plunged
recklessly on.

"What is the use, Miss Drew, of taking an attitude like that? I
know the situation pretty well, and I can't believe that either
Monty or you has lost in a week a feeling that was so deep-seated.
I know Monty much too well to think that he would change so
easily." Peggy still lived largely in her ideals. "And you are too
fine a thing not to have suffered under this misunderstanding. It
seems as if a very small word would set you both straight."

Barbara drew herself up and kept her eyes on the road which lay
white and gleaming in the sun. "I have not the least desire to be
set straight." And she was never more serious.

"But it was only a few weeks ago that you were engaged."

"I am sorry," answered Barbara, "that it should have been talked
about so much. Mr. Brewster did ask me to marry him, but I never
accepted. In fact, it was only his persistence that made me
consider the matter at all. I did think about it. I confess that I
rather liked him. But it was not long before I found him out."

"What do you mean?" And there was a flash in Peggy's eyes. "What
has he done?"

"To my certain knowledge he has spent more than four hundred
thousand dollars since last September. That is something, is it
not?" Miss Drew said, in her slow, cool voice, and even Peggy's
loyalty admitted some justification in the criticism.

"Generosity has ceased to be a virtue, then?" she asked coldly.

"Generosity!" exclaimed Barbara, sharply. "It's sheer idiocy.
Haven't you heard the things people are saying? They are calling
him a fool, and in the clubs they are betting that he will be a
pauper within a year."

"Yet they charitably help him to spend his money. And I have
noticed that even worldly mammas find him eligible." The comment
was not without its caustic side.

"That was months ago, my dear," protested Barbara, calmly. "When
he spoke to me--he told me it would be impossible for him to marry
within a year. And don't you see that a year may make him an
abject beggar?"

"Naturally anything is preferable to a beggar," came in Peggy's
clear, soft voice.

Barbara hesitated only a moment.

"Well, you must admit, Miss Gray, that it shows a shameful lack of
character. How could any girl be happy with a man like that? And,
after all, one must look out for one's own fate."

"Undoubtedly," replied Peggy, but many thoughts were dashing
through her brain.

"Shall we turn back to the cottage?" she said, after an awkward
silence.

"You certainly don't approve of Mr. Brewster's conduct?" Barbara
did not like to be placed in the wrong, and felt that she must
endeavor to justify herself. "He is the most reckless of spend-
thrifts, we know, and he probably indulges in even less
respectable excitement."

Peggy was not tall, but she carried her head at this moment as
though she were in the habit of looking down on the world.

"Aren't you going a little too far, Miss Drew?" she asked
placidly.

"It is not only New York that laughs at his Quixotic
transactions," Barbara persisted. "Mr. Hampton, our guest from
Chicago, says the stories are worse out there than they are in the
east."

"It is a pity that Monty's illness should have made him so weak,"
said Peggy quietly, as they turned in through the great iron
gates, and Barbara was not slow to see the point.





CHAPTER XVII

THE NEW TENDERFOOT


Brewster was comparatively well and strong when he returned to New
York in March. His illness had interfered extensively with his
plan of campaign and it was imperative that he redouble his
efforts, notwithstanding the manifest dismay of his friends. His
first act was to call upon Grant & Ripley, from whom he hoped to
learn what Swearengen Jones thought of his methods. The lawyers
had heard no complaint from Montana, and advised him to continue
as he had begun, assuring him, as far as they could, that Jones
would not prove unreasonable.

An exchange of telegrams just before his operation had renewed
Monty's dread of his eccentric mentor.

NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 19--

SWEARENGEN JONES,

Butte, Mont.

How about having my life insured? Would it violate conditions?

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

New York.

Seems to me your life would become an asset in that case. Can you
dispose of it before September 23d?

JONES.

TO SWEARENGEN JONES,

Butte, Mont.

On the contrary, I think life will be a debt by that time.

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

New York.

If you feel that way about it, I advise you to take out a $500
policy.

JONES.

TO SWEARENGEN JONES,

Butte, Mont.

Do you think that amount would cover funeral expenses?

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

New York.

You won't be caring about expenses if it comes to that.

JONES.

The invitations for the second ball had been out for some time and
the preparations were nearly complete when Brewster arrived upon
the scene of festivity. It did not surprise him that several old-
time friends should hunt him up and protest vigorously against the
course he was pursuing. Nor did it surprise him when he found that
his presence was not as essential to the success of some other
affair as it had once been. He was not greeted as cordially as
before, and he grimly wondered how many of his friends would stand
true to the end. The uncertainty made him turn more and more often
to the unquestioned loyalty of Peggy Gray, and her little library
saw him more frequently than for months.

Much as he had dreaded the pretentious and resplendent ball, it
was useful to him in one way at least. The "profit" side of his
ledger account was enlarged and in that there was room for secret
satisfaction. The Viennese orchestra straggled into New York,
headed by Elon Gardner, a physical wreck, in time to make a
harmonious farewell appearance behind Brewster's palms, which
caused his guests to wonder why the American public could not
appreciate the real thing. A careful summing up of the expenses
and receipts proved that the tour had been a bonanza for Brewster.
The net loss was a trifle more than $56,000. When this story
became known about town, everybody laughed pityingly, and poor
Gardner was almost in tears when he tried to explain the disaster
to the man who lost the money. But Monty's sense of humor,
singularly enough, did not desert him on this trying occasion.

Aesthetically the ball proved to be the talk of more than one
season. Pettingill had justified his desire for authority and made
a name which would last. He had taken matters into his own hands
while Brewster was in Florida, and changed the period from the
Spain of Velasquez to France and Louis Quinze. After the cards
were out he remembered, to his consternation, that the favors
purchased for the Spanish ball would be entirely inappropriate for
the French one. He wired Brewster at once of this misfortune, and
was astonished at the nonchalance of his reply. "But then Monty
always was a good sort," he thought, with a glow of affection. The
new plan was more costly than the old, for it was no simple matter
to build a Versailles suite at Sherry's. Pettingill was no
imitator, but he created an effect which was superbly in keeping
with the period he had chosen. Against it the rich costumes, with
their accompaniment of wigs and powdered hair, shone out
resplendent. With great difficulty the artist had secured for
Monty a costume in white satin and gold brocade, which might once
have adorned the person of Louis himself. It made him feel like a
popinjay, and it was with infinite relief that he took it off an
hour or so after dawn. He knew that things had gone well, that
even Mrs. Dan was satisfied; but the whole affair made him
heartsick. Behind the compliments lavished upon him he detected a
note of irony, which revealed the laughter that went on behind his
back. He had not realized how much it would hurt. "For two cents,"
he thought, "I'd give up the game and be satisfied with what's
left." But he reflected that such a course would offer no chance
to redeem himself. Once again he took up the challenge and
determined to win out. "Then," he thought exultantly, "I'll make
them feel this a bit."

He longed for the time when he could take his few friends with him
and sail away to the Mediterranean to escape the eyes and tongues
of New York. Impatiently he urged Harrison to complete the
arrangements, so that they could start at once. But Harrison's
face was not untroubled when he made his report. All the
preliminary details had been perfected. He had taken the "Flitter"
for four months, and it was being overhauled and put into
condition for the voyage. It had been Brown's special pride, but
at his death it went to heirs who were ready and eager to rent it
to the highest bidder. It would not have been easy to find a
handsomer yacht in New York waters. A picked crew of fifty men
were under command of Captain Abner Perry. The steward was a
famous manager and could be relied upon to stock the larder in
princely fashion. The boat would be in readiness to sail by the
tenth of April.

"I think you are going in too heavily, Monty," protested Harrison,
twisting his fingers nervously. "I can't for my life figure how
you can get out for less than a fortune, if we do everything you
have in mind. Wouldn't it be better to pull up a bit? This looks
like sheer madness. You won't have a dollar, Monty--honestly you
won't."

"It's not in me to save money, Nopper, but if you can pull out a
few dollars for yourself I shall not object."

"You told me that once before, Monty," said Harrison, as he walked
to the window. When he resolutely turned back again to Brewster
his face was white, but there was a look of determination around
the mouth.

"Monty, I've got to give up this job," he said, huskily. Brewster
looked up quickly.

"What do you mean, Nopper?"

"I've got to leave, that's all," said Harrison, standing stiff and
straight and looking over Brewster's head.

"Good Lord, Nopper, I can't have that. You must not desert the
ship. What's the matter, old chap? You're as white as a ghost.
What is it?" Monty was standing now and his hands were on
Harrison's shoulders, but before the intensity of his look, his
friend's eyes fell helplessly.

"The truth is, Monty, I've taken some of your money and I've lost
it. That's the reason I--I can't stay on. I have betrayed your
confidence."

"Tell me about it," and Monty was perhaps more uncomfortable than
his friend. "I don't understand."

"You believed too much in me, Monty. You see, I thought I was
doing you a favor. You were spending so much and getting nothing
in return, and I thought I saw a chance to help you out. It went
wrong, that's all, and before I could let go of the stock sixty
thousand dollars of your money had gone. I can't replace it yet.
But God knows I didn't mean to steal."

"It's all right, Nopper. I see that you thought you were helping
me. The money's gone and that ends it. Don't take it so hard, old
boy."

"I knew you'd act this way, but it doesn't help matters. Some day
I may be able to pay back the money I took, and I'm going to work
until I do."

Brewster protested that he had no use for the money and begged him
to retain the position of trust he had held. But Harrison had too
much self-respect to care to be confronted daily with the man he
had wronged. Gradually Monty realized that "Nopper" was pursuing
the most manly course open to him, and gave up the effort to
dissuade him. He insisted upon leaving New York, as there was no
opportunity to redeem himself in the metropolis.

"I've made up my mind, Monty, to go out west, up in the mountains
perhaps. There's no telling, I may stumble on a gold mine up
there--and--well, that seems to be the only chance I have to
restore what I have taken from you."

"By Jove, Nopper, I have it!" cried Monty. "If you must go, I'll
stake you in the hunt for gold."

In the end "Nopper" consented to follow Brewster's advice, and it
was agreed that they should share equally all that resulted from
his prospecting tour. Brewster "grub-staked" him for a year, and
before the end of the week a new tenderfoot was on his way to the
Rocky Mountains.





CHAPTER XVIII

THE PRODIGAL AT SEA


Harrison's departure left Brewster in sore straits. It forced him
to settle down to the actual management of his own affairs. He was
not indolent, but this was not the kind of work he cared to
encourage. The private accounts he had kept revealed some
appalling facts when he went over them carefully one morning at
four o'clock, after an all-night session with the ledger. With
infinite pains he had managed to rise to something over $450,000
in six months. But to his original million it had been necessary
to add $58,550 which he had realized from Lumber and Fuel and some
of his other "unfortunate" operations. At least $40,000 would come
to him ultimately through the sale of furniture and other
belongings, and then there would be something like $20,000
interest to consider. But luck had aided him in getting rid of his
money. The bank failure had cost him $113,468.25, and "Nopper"
Harrison had helped him to the extent of $60,000. The reckless but
determined effort to give a ball had cost $30,000. What he had
lost during his illness had been pretty well offset by the unlucky
concert tour. The Florida trip, including medical attention, the
cottage and living expenses, had entailed the expenditure of
$18,500, and his princely dinners and theater parties had footed
up $31,000. Taking all the facts into consideration, he felt that
he had done rather well as far as he had gone, but the hardest
part of the undertaking was yet to come. He was still in
possession of an enormous sum, which must disappear before
September 23d. About $40,000 had already been expended in the
yachting project.

He determined to begin at once a systematic campaign of
extinction. It had been his intention before sailing to dispose of
many household articles, either by sale or gift. As he did not
expect to return to New York before the latter part of August,
this would minimize the struggles of the last month. But the
prospective "profit" to be acquired from keeping his apartment
open was not to be overlooked. He could easily count upon a
generous sum for salaries and running expenses. Once on the other
side of the Atlantic, he hoped that new opportunities for
extravagance would present themselves, and he fancied he could
leave the final settlement of his affairs for the last month. As
the day for sailing approached, the world again seemed bright to
this most mercenary of spendthrifts.

A farewell consultation with his attorneys proved encouraging, for
to them his chances to win the extraordinary contest seemed of the
best. He was in high spirits as he left them, exhilarated by the
sensation that the world lay before him. In the elevator he
encountered Colonel Prentiss Drew. On both sides the meeting was
not without its difficulties. The Colonel had been dazed by the
inexplicable situation between Monty and his daughter, whose
involutions he found hard to understand. Her summary of the effort
she had made to effect a reconciliation, after hearing the story
of the bank, was rather vague. She had done her utmost, she said,
to be nice to him and make him feel that she appreciated his
generosity, but he took it in the most disagreeable fashion.
Colonel Drew knew that things were somehow wrong; but he was too
strongly an American father to interfere in a matter of the
affections. It distressed him, for he had a liking for Monty, and
Barbara's "society judgments," as he called them, had no weight
with him. When he found himself confronted with Brewster in the
elevator, the old warmth revived and the old hope that the quarrel
might have an end. His greeting was cheery.

"You have not forgotten, Brewster," he said, as they shook hands,
"that you have a dollar or two with us?"

"No," said Monty, "not exactly. And I shall be calling upon you
for some of it very soon. I'm off on Thursday for a cruise in the
Mediterranean."

"I've heard something of it." They had reached the main floor and
Colonel Drew had drawn his companion out of the crowd into the
rotunda. "The money is at your disposal at any moment. But aren't
you setting a pretty lively pace, my boy? You know I've always
liked you, and I knew your grandfather rather well. He was a good
old chap, Monty, and he would hate to see you make ducks and
drakes of his fortune."

There was something in the Colonel's manner that softened
Brewster, much as he hated to take a reproof from Barbara's
father. Once again he was tempted to tell the truth, but he pulled
himself up in time. "It's a funny old world, Colonel," he said;
"and sometimes one's nearest friend is a stranger. I know I seem a
fool; but, after all, why isn't it good philosophy to make the
most of a holiday and then settle back to work?"

"That is all very well, Monty," and Colonel Drew was entirely
serious; "but the work is a hundred times harder after you have
played to the limit You'll find that you are way beyond it. It's
no joke getting back into the harness."

"Perhaps you are right, Colonel, but at least I shall have
something to look back upon--even if the worst comes." And Monty
instinctively straightened his shoulders.

They turned to leave the building, and the Colonel had a moment of
weakness.

"Do you know, Monty," he said, "my daughter is awfully cut up
about this business. She is plucky and tries not to show it, but
after all a girl doesn't get over that sort of thing all in a
moment. I am not saying"--it seemed necessary to recede a step
"that it would be an easy matter to patch up. But I like you,
Monty, and if any man could do it, you can."

"Colonel, I wish I might," and Brewster found that he did not
hesitate. "For your sake I very much wish the situation were as
simple as it seems. But there are some things a man can't forget,
and--well--Barbara has shown in a dozen ways that she has no faith
in me."

"Well, I've got faith in you, and a lot of it. Take care of
yourself, and when you get back you can count on me. Good-bye."

On Thursday morning the "Flitter" steamed off down the bay, and
the flight of the prodigal grand-son was on. No swifter, cleaner,
handsomer boat ever sailed out of the harbor of New York, and it
was a merry crowd that she carried out to sea. Brewster's guests
numbered twenty-five, and they brought with them a liberal supply
of maids, valets, and luggage. It was not until many weeks later
that he read the vivid descriptions of the weighing of the anchor
which were printed in the New York papers, but by that time he was
impervious to their ridicule.

On deck, watching the rugged silhouette of the city disappear into
the mists, were Dan DeMille and Mrs. Dan, Peggy Gray, "Rip" Van
Winkle, Reginald Vanderpool, Joe Bragdon, Dr. Lotless and his
sister Isabel, Mr. and Mrs. Valentine--the official chaperon--and
their daughter Mary, "Subway" Smith, Paul Pettingill, and some
others hardly less distinguished. As Monty looked over the eager
crowd, he recognized with a peculiar glow that here were
represented his best and truest friendships. The loyalty of these
companions had been tested, and he knew that they would stand by
him through everything.

There was no little surprise when it was learned that Dan DeMille
was ready to sail. Many of the idle voyagers ventured the opinion
that he would try to desert the boat in mid-ocean if he saw a
chance to get back to his club on a west-bound steamer. But
DeMille, big, indolent, and indifferent, smiled carelessly, and
hoped he wouldn't bother anybody if he "stuck to the ship" until
the end.

For a time the sea and the sky and the talk of the crowd were
enough for the joy of living. But after a few peaceful days there
was a lull, and it was then that Monty gained the nickname of
Aladdin, which clung to him. From somewhere, from the hold or the
rigging or from under the sea, he brought forth four darkies from
the south who strummed guitars and sang ragtime melodies. More
than once during the voyage they were useful.

"Peggy," said Brewster one day, when the sky was particularly
clear and things were quiet on deck, "on the whole I prefer this
to crossing the North River on a ferry. I rather like it, don't
you?"

"It seems like a dream," she cried, her eyes, bright, her hair
blowing in the wind.

"And, Peggy, do you know what I tucked away in a chest down in my
cabin? A lot of books that you like--some from the old garret.
I've saved them to read on rainy days."

Peggy did not speak, but the blood began to creep into her face
and she looked wistfully across the water. Then she smiled.

"I didn't know you could save anything," she said, weakly.

"Come now, Peggy, that is too much."

"I didn't mean to hurt you. But you must not forget, Monty, that
there are other years to follow this one. Do you know what I
mean?"

"Peggy, dear, please don't lecture me," he begged, so piteously
that she could not be serious.

"The class is dismissed for to-day, Monty," she said, airily. "But
the professor knows his duty and won't let you off so easily next
time."





CHAPTER XIX

ONE HERO AND ANOTHER


At Gibraltar, Monty was handed an ominous-looking cablegram which
he opened tremblingly.

To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

Private Yacht Flitter, Gibraltar.

There is an agitation to declare for free silver. You may have
twice as much to spend. Hooray.

JONES.

To which Monty responded:

Defeat the measure at any cost. The more the merrier, and charge
it to me. BREWSTER. P.S. Please send many cables and mark them
collect.

The Riviera season was fast closing, and the possibilities
suggested by Monte Carlo were too alluring to the host to admit of
a long stop at Gibraltar. But the DeMilles had letters to one of
the officers of the garrison, and Brewster could not overlook the
opportunity to give an elaborate dinner. The success of the affair
may best be judged by the fact that the "Flitter's" larder
required an entirely new stock the next day. The officers and
ladies of the garrison were asked, and Monty would have
entertained the entire regiment with beer and sandwiches if his
friends had not interfered.

"It might cement the Anglo-American alliance," argued Gardner,
"but your pocketbook needs cementing a bit more."

Yet the pocketbook was very wide open, and Gardner's only
consolation lay in a tall English girl whom he took out to dinner.
For the others there were many compensations, as the affair was
brilliant and the new element a pleasant relief from the
inevitable monotony.

It was after the guests had gone ashore that Monty discovered Mr.
and Mrs. Dan holding a tete-a-tete in the stern of the boat.

"I am sorry to break this up," he interrupted, "but as the only
conscientious chaperon in the party, I must warn you that your
behavior is already being talked about. The idea of a sedate old
married couple sitting out here alone watching the moon! It's
shocking."

"I yield to the host," said Dan, mockingly. "But I shall be
consumed with jealousy until you restore her to me."

Monty noticed the look in Mrs. Dan's eyes as she watched her
husband go, and marked a new note in her voice as she said, "How
this trip is bringing him out."

"He has just discovered," Monty observed, "that the club is not
the only place in the world."

"It's a funny thing," she answered, "that Dan should have been so
misunderstood. Do you know that he relentlessly conceals his best
side? Down underneath he is the kind of man who could do a fine
thing very simply."

"My dear Mrs. Dan, you surprise me. It looks to me almost as
though you had fallen in love with Dan yourself."

"Monty," she said, sharply, "you are as blind as the rest. Have
you never seen that before? I have played many games, but I have
always come back to Dan. Through them all I have known that he was
the only thing possible to me--the only thing in the least
desirable. It's a queer muddle that one should be tempted to play
with fire even when one is monotonously happy. I've been singed
once or twice. But Dan is a dear and he has always helped me out
of a tight place. He knows. No one understands better than Dan.
And perhaps if I were less wickedly human, he would not care for
me so much."

Monty listened at first in a sort of a daze, for he had
unthinkingly accepted the general opinion of the DeMille
situation. But there were tears in her eyes for a moment, and the
tone of her voice was convincing. It came to him with unpleasant
distinctness that he had been all kinds of a fool. Looking back
over his intercourse with her, he realized that the situation had
been clear enough all the time.

"How little we know our friends!" he exclaimed, with some
bitterness. And a moment later, "I've liked you a great deal, Mrs.
Dan, for a long time, but to-night--well, to-night I am jealous of
Dan."

The "Flitter" saw some rough weather in making the trip across the
Bay of Lyons. She was heading for Nice when an incident occurred
that created the first real excitement experienced on the voyage.
A group of passengers in the main saloon was discussing, more or
less stealthily, Monty's "misdemeanors," when Reggy Vanderpool
sauntered lazily in, his face displaying the only sign of interest
it had shown in days.

"Funny predicament I was just in," he drawled. "I want to ask what
a fellow should have done under the circumstances."

"I'd have refused the girl," observed "Rip" Van Winkle,
laconically.

"Girl had nothing to do with it, old chap," went on Reggy,
dropping into a chair. "Fellow fell overboard a little while ago,"
he went on, calmly. There was a chorus of cries and Brewster was
forgotten for a time. "One of the sailors, you know. He was doing
something in the rigging near where I was standing. Puff! off he
went into the sea, and there he was puttering around in the
water."

"Oh, the poor fellow," cried Miss Valentine.

"I'd never set eyes on him before--perfect stranger. I wouldn't
have hesitated a minute, but the deck was crowded with a lot of
his friends. One chap was his bunkie. So, really, now, it wasn't
my place to jump in after him. He could swim a bit, and I yelled
to him to hold up and I'd tell the captain. Confounded captain
wasn't to be found though. Somebody said he was asleep. In the end
I told the mate. By this time we were a mile away from the place
where he went overboard, and I told the mate I didn't think we
could find him if we went back. But he lowered some boats and they
put back fast. Afterwards I got to thinking about the matter. Of
course if I had known him--if he had been one of you--it would
have been different."

"And you were the best swimmer in college, you miserable rat,"
exploded Dr. Lotless.

There was a wild rush for the upper deck, and Vanderpool was not
the hero of the hour. The "Flitter" had turned and was steaming
back over her course. Two small boats were racing to the place
where Reggy's unknown had gone over.

"Where is Brewster?" shouted Joe Bragdon.

"I can't find him, sir," answered the first mate.

"He ought to know of this," cried Mr. Valentine.

"There! By the eternal, they are picking somebody up over yonder,"
exclaimed the mate. "See! that first boat has laid to and they are
dragging--yes, sir, he's saved!"

A cheer went up on board and the men in the small boats waved
their caps in response. Everybody rushed to the rail as the
"Flitter" drew up to the boats, and there was intense excitement
on board. A gasp of amazement went up from every one.

Monty Brewster, drenched but smiling, sat in one of the boats, and
leaning limply against him, his head on his chest, was the sailor
who had fallen overboard. Brewster had seen the man in the water
and, instead of wondering what his antecedents were, leaped to his
assistance. When the boat reached him his unconscious burden was a
dead weight and his own strength was almost gone. Another minute
or two and both would have gone to the bottom.

As they hauled Monty over the side he shivered for an instant,
grasped the first little hand that sought his so frantically, and
then turned to look upon the half-dead sailor.

"Find out the boy's name, Mr. Abertz, and see that he has the best
of care. Just before he fainted out there he murmured something
about his mother. He wasn't thinking of himself even then, you
see. And Bragdon"--this in a lower voice--"will you see that his
wages are properly increased? Hello, Peggy! Look out, you'll get
wet to the skin if you do that."





CHAPTER XX

LE ROI S'AMUSE


If Montgomery Brewster had had any misgivings about his ability to
dispose of the balance of his fortune they were dispelled very
soon after his party landed in the Riviera. On the pretext that
the yacht required a thorough "house cleaning" Brewster
transferred his guests to the hotel of a fascinating village which
was near the sea and yet quite out of the world. The place was
nearly empty at the time, and the proprietor wept tears of joy
when Monty engaged for his party the entire first floor of the
house with balconies overlooking the blue Mediterranean and a
separate dining-room and salon. Extra servants were summoned, and
the Brewster livery was soon a familiar sight about the village.
The protests of Peggy and the others were only silenced when Monty
threatened to rent a villa and go to housekeeping.

The town quickly took on the appearance of entertaining a royal
visitor, and a number of shops were kept open longer than usual in
the hope that their owners might catch some of the American's
money. One morning Philippe, the hotel proprietor, was trying to
impress Brewster with a gesticulatory description of the glories
of the Bataille de Fleurs. It seemed quite impossible to express
the extent of his regret that the party had not arrived in time to
see it.

"This is quite another place at that time," he said ecstatically.
"C'est magnifique! c'est superbe! If monsieur had only seen it!"

"Why not have another all to ourselves?" asked Monty. But the
suggestion was not taken seriously.

Nevertheless the young American and his host were in secret
session for the rest of the morning, and when the result was
announced at luncheon there was general consternation. It appeared
that ten days later occurred the fete day of some minor saint who
had not for years been accorded the honor of a celebration. Monty
proposed to revive the custom by arranging a second carnival.

"You might just as well not come to the Riviera at all," he
explained, "if you can't see a carnival. It's a simple matter,
really. I offer one price for the best decorated carriage and
another to the handsomest lady. Then every one puts on a domino
and a mask, throws confetti at every one else, and there you are."

"I suppose you will have the confetti made of thousand franc
notes, and offer a house and lot as a prize." And Bragdon feared
that his sarcasm was almost insulting.

"Really, Monty, the scheme is ridiculous," said DeMille, "the
police won't allow it."

"Won't they though!" said Monty, exultantly. "The chief happens to
be Philippe's brother-in-law, and we had him on the telephone. He
wouldn't listen to the scheme until we agreed to make him grand
marshal of the parade. Then he promised the cooperation of the
entire force and hoped to interest his colleague, the chief of the
fire department."

"The parade will consist of two gendarmes and the Brewster party
in carriages," laughed Mrs. Dan. "Do you expect us to go before or
after the bakery carts?"

"We review the procession from the hotel," said Monty. "You
needn't worry about the fete. It's going to be great. Why, an
Irishman isn't fonder of marching than these people are of having
a carnival."

The men in the party went into executive session as soon as Monty
had gone to interview the local authorities, and seriously
considered taking measures to subdue their host's eccentricities.
But the humor of the scheme appealed to them too forcibly, and
almost before they knew it they were making plans for the
carnival.

"Of course we can't let him do it, but it would be sport," said
"Subway" Smith. "Think of a cake-walk between gendarmes and
blanchiseuses."

"I always feel devilish the moment I get a mask on," said
Vanderpool, "and you know, by Jove, I haven't felt that way for
years."

"That settles it, then," said DeMille. "Monty would call it off
himself if he knew how it would affect Reggie."

Monty returned with the announcement that the mayor of the town
would declare a holiday if the American could see his way to pay
for the repairs on the mairie roof. A circus, which was traveling
in the neighborhood, was guaranteed expenses if it would stop over
and occupy the square in front of the Hotel de Ville. Brewster's
enthusiasm was such that no one could resist helping him, and for
nearly a week his friends were occupied in superintending the
erection of triumphal arches and encouraging the shopkeepers to do
their best. Although the scheme had been conceived in the spirit
of a lark it was not so received by the townspeople. They were
quite serious in the matter. The railroad officials sent
advertisements broadcast, and the local cure called to thank
Brewster for resurrecting, as it were, the obscure saint. The
expression of his gratitude was so mingled with flattery and
appeal that Monty could not overlook the hint that a new altar
piece had long been needed.

The great day finally arrived, and no carnival could have been
more bizarre or more successful. The morning was devoted to
athletics and the side shows. The pompiers won the tug of war, and
the people marveled when Monty duplicated the feats of the strong
man in the circus. DeMille was called upon for a speech, but
knowing only ten words of French, he graciously retired in favor
of the mayor, and that pompous little man made the most of a rare
opportunity. References to Franklin and Lafayette were so frequent
that "Subway" Smith intimated that a rubber stamp must have been
used in writing the address.

The parade took place in the afternoon, and proved quite the
feature of the day. The question of precedence nearly overturned
Monty's plans, but the chief of police was finally made to see
that if he were to be chief marshal it was only fair that the
pompiers should march ahead of the gendarmes. The crew of the
"Flitter" made a wonderful showing. It was led by the yacht's
band, which fairly outdid Sousa in noise, though it was less
unanimous in the matter of time. All the fiacres came at the end,
but there were so many of them and the line of march was so short
that at times they were really leading the processional despite
the gallant efforts of the grand marshal.

From the balcony of the hotel Monty and his party pelted those
below with flowers and confetti. More allusions to Franklin and
Lafayette were made when the cure and the mayor halted the
procession and presented Monty with an address richly engrossed on
imitation parchment. Then the school children sang and the crowd
dispersed to meet again in the evening.

At eight o'clock Brewster presided over a large banquet, and
numbered among his guests every one of distinction in the town.
The wives were also invited and Franklin and Lafayette were again
alluded to. Each of the men made at least one speech, but "Subway"
Smith's third address was the hit of the evening. Knowing nothing
but English, he had previously clung consistently to that
language, but the third and final address seemed to demand
something more friendly and genial. With a sweeping bow and with
all the dignity of a statesman he began:

"Mesdames et Messieurs: J'ai, tu as, il a, nous avons,"--with a
magnificent gesture, "vous avez." The French members of the
company were not equal to his pronunciation and were under the
impression that he was still talking English. They were profoundly
impressed with his deference and grace, and accorded his preamble
a round of applause. The Americans did their utmost to persuade
him to be seated, but their uproar was mistaken by the others for
enthusiasm, and the applause grew louder than ever. "Subway" held
up his hand for silence, and his manner suggested that he was
about to utter some peculiarly important thought. He waited until
a pin fall could have been heard before he went on.

"Maitre corbeau sur un arbre perche--" he finished the speech as
he was being carried bodily from the room by DeMille and Bragdon.
The Frenchmen then imagined that Smith's remarks had been
insulting, and his friends had silenced him on that account. A
riot seemed imminent when Monty succeeded in restoring silence,
and with a few tactful remarks about Franklin and Lafayette
quieted the excited guests.

The evening ended with fireworks and a dance in the open air,--a
dance that grew gay under the masks. The wheels had been well
oiled and there was no visible failure of the carnival spirit. To
Brewster it seemed a mad game, and he found it less easy to play a
part behind the foolish mask than he expected. His own friends
seemed to elude him, and the coquetries of the village damsels had
merely a fleeting charm. He was standing apart to watch the
glimmering crowd when he was startled by a smothered cry. Turning
to investigate, he discovered a little red domino, unmistakably
frightened, and trying to release herself from a too ardent
Punchinello. Monty's arrival prevented him from tearing off the
girl's mask and gave him an entirely new conception of the
strenuous life. He arose fuming and sputtering, but he was taken
in hand by the crowd and whirled from one to another in whimsical
mockery. Meanwhile Monty, unconscious that his mask had dropped
during the encounter, was astonished to feel the little hand of
the red domino on his arm and to hear a voice not at all
unfamiliar in his ear:

"Monty, you are a dear. I love you for that. You looked like a
Greek athlete. Do you know--it was foolish--but I really was
frightened."

"Child, how could it have happened?" he whispered, leading her
away. "Fancy my little Peggy with no one to look after her. What a
beast I was to trust you to Pettingill. I might have known the
chump would have been knocked out by all this color." He stopped
to look down at her and a light came into his eyes. "Little Peggy
in the great world," he smiled; "you are not fit. You need--well,
you need--just me."

But Mrs. Valentine had seen him as he stood revealed, and came up
in search of Peggy. It was almost morning, she told her, and quite
time to go back to the hotel and sleep. So in Bragdon's charge
they wandered off, a bit reluctantly, a bit lingeringly.

It was not until Monty was summoned to rescue "Reggie" Vanderpool
from the stern arm of the law that he discovered the identity of
Punchinello. Manifestly he had not been in a condition to
recognize his assailant, and a subsequent disagreement had driven
the first out of his head. The poor boy was sadly bruised about
the face and his arrest had probably saved him from worse
punishment.

"I told you I couldn't wear a mask," he explained ruefully as
Monty led him home. "But how could I know that he could hear me
all the time?"

The day after the carnival Brewster drove his guests over to Monte
Carlo. He meant to stay only long enough to try his luck at the
tables and lose enough to make up for the days at sea when his
purse was necessarily idle. Swearengen Jones was forgotten, and
soon after his arrival he began to plunge. At first he lost
heavily, and it was with difficulty that he concealed his joy.
Peggy Gray was watching him, and in whispers implored him to stop,
but Mrs. Dan excitedly urged him to continue until the luck
changed. To the girl's chagrin it was the more reckless advice
that he followed. In so desperate a situation he felt that he
could not stop. But his luck turned too soon.

"I can't afford to give up," he said, miserably, to himself, after
a time. "I'm already a winner by five thousand dollars, and I must
at least get rid of that."

Brewster became the center of interest to those who were not
playing and people marveled at his luck. They quite misunderstood
his eagerness and the flushed, anxious look with which he followed
each spin of the wheel. He had chosen a seat beside an English
duchess whose practice it was to appropriate the winnings of the
more inexperienced players, and he was aware that many of his gold
pieces were being deliberately stolen. Here he thought was at
least a helping hand, and he was on the point of moving his stack
toward her side when DeMille interfered. He had watched the
duchess, and had called the croupier's attention to her neat
little method. But that austere individual silenced him by saying
in surprise, "Mais c'est madame la duchesse, que voulez-vous?"

Not to be downed so easily, DeMille watched the play from behind
Monty's chair and cautioned his friend at the first opportunity.

"Better cash in and change your seat, Monty. They're robbing you,"
he whispered.

"Cash in when I'm away ahead of the game? Never!" and Monty did
his best to assume a joyful tone.

At first he played with no effort at system, piling his money flat
on the numbers which seemed to have least chance of winning. But
he simply could not lose. Then he tried to reverse different
systems he had heard of, but they turned out to be winners.
Finally in desperation he began doubling on one color in the hope
that he would surely lose in the end, but his particular fate was
against him. With his entire stake on the red the ball continued
to fall into the red holes until the croupier announced that the
bank was broken.

Dan DeMille gathered in the money and counted forty thousand
dollars before he handed it to Monty. His friends were overjoyed
when he left the table, and wondered why he looked so downhearted.
Inwardly he berated himself for not taking Peggy's advice.

"I'm so glad for your sake that you did not stop when I asked you,
Monty, but your luck does not change my belief that gambling is
next to stealing," Peggy was constrained to say as they went to
supper.

"I wish I had taken your advice," he said gloomily.

"And missed the fortune you have won? How foolish of you, Monty!
You were a loser by several thousand dollars then," she objected
with whimsical inconsistency.

"But, Peggy," he said quietly, looking deep into her eyes, "it
would have won me your respect."





CHAPTER XXI

FAIRYLAND


Monty's situation was desperate. Only a little more than six
thousand dollars had been spent on the carnival and no opportunity
of annihilating the roulette winnings seemed to offer itself. His
experience at Monte Carlo did not encourage him to try again, and
Peggy's attitude toward the place was distinctly antagonistic. The
Riviera presenting no new opportunities for extravagance, it
became necessary to seek other worlds.

"I never before understood the real meaning of the phrase 'tight
money,'" thought Monty. "Lord, if it would only loosen a bit and
stay loosened." Something must be done, he realized, to earn his
living. Perhaps the role of the princely profligate would be
easier in Italy than anywhere else. He studied the outlook from
every point of view, but there were moments when it seemed
hopeless. Baedeker was provokingly barren of suggestions for
extravagance and Monty grew impatient of the book's small
economies. Noticing some chapters on the Italian lakes, in an
inspired moment he remembered that Pettingill had once lost his
heart to a villa on the Lake of Como. Instantly a new act of
comedy presented itself to him. He sought out Pettingill and
demanded a description of his castle in the air.

"Oh, it's a wonder," exclaimed the artist, and his eyes grew
dreamy. "It shines out at you with its white terraces and turrets
like those fascinating castles that Maxfield Parrish draws for
children. It is fairyland. You expect to wake and find it gone."

"Oh, drop that, Petty," said Brewster, "or it will make you
poetical. What I want to know is who owns it and is it likely to
be occupied at this season?"

"It belongs to a certain marquise, who is a widow with no
children. They say she has a horror of the place for some reason
and has never been near it. It is kept as though she was to turn
up the next day, but except for the servants it is always
deserted."

"The very thing," declared Brewster; "Petty, we'll have a house-
party."

"You'd better not count on that, Monty. A man I know ran across
the place once and tried for a year to buy it. But the lady has
ideas of her own."

"Well, if you wish to give him a hint or two about how to do
things, watch me. If you don't spend two weeks in your dream-
castle, I will cut the crowd and sail for home." He secured the
name of the owner, and found that Pettingill had even a remote
idea of the address of her agent. Armed with these facts he set
out in search of a courier, and through Philippe he secured a
Frenchman named Bertier, who was guaranteed to be surprisingly
ingenious in providing methods of spending money. To him Brewster
confided his scheme, and Bertier realized with rising enthusiasm
that at last he had secured a client after his own heart. He was
able to complete the address of the agent of the mysterious
marquise, and an inquiry was immediately telegraphed to him.

The agent's reply would have been discouraging to any one but
Brewster. It stated that the owner had no intention of leasing her
forsaken castle for any period whatever. The profligate learned
that a fair price for an estate of that kind for a month was ten
thousand francs, and he wired an offer of five times that sum for
two weeks. The agent replied that some delay would be necessary
while he communicated with his principal. Delay was the one word
that Brewster did not understand, so he wired him an address in
Genoa, and the "Flitter" was made ready for sea. Steam had been
kept up, and her coal account would compare favorably with that of
an ocean liner. Philippe was breathless with joy when he was paid
in advance for another month at the hotel, on the assumption that
the party might be moved to return at any moment. The little town
was gay at parting and Brewster and his guests were given a royal
farewell.

At Genoa the mail had accumulated and held the attention of the
yacht to the exclusion of everything else. Brewster was somewhat
crestfallen to learn that the lady of the villa haughtily refused
his princely offer. He won the life-long devotion of his courier
by promptly increasing it to one hundred thousand francs. When
this too met with rejection, there was a pause and a serious
consultation between the two.

"Bertier," exclaimed Brewster, "I must have the thing now. What's
to be done? You've got to help me out."

But the courier, prodigal as he was of gestures, had no words
which seemed pertinent.

"There must be some way of getting at this marquise," Monty
continued reflectively. "What are her tastes? Do you know anything
about her?"

Suddenly the face of the courier grew bright. "I have it," he
said, and then he faltered. "But the expense, monsieur--it would
be heavy."

"Perhaps we can meet it," suggested Monty, quietly. "What's the
idea?"

It was explained, with plenty of action to make it clear. The
courier had heard in Florence that madame la marquise had a
passion for automobiles. But with her inadequate fortune and the
many demands upon it, it was a weakness not readily gratified. The
machine she had used during the winter was by no means up-to-date.
Possibly if Monsieur--yet it was too much--no villa--

But Brewster's decision was made. "Wire the fellow," he said,
"that I will add to my last offer a French machine of the latest
model and the best make. Say, too, that I would like immediate
possession."

He secured it, and the crowd was transferred at once to fairyland.
There were protests, of course, but these Brewster had grown to
expect and he was learning to carry things with a high hand. The
travelers had been preceded by Bertier, and the greeting they
received from the steward of the estate and his innumerable
assistants was very Italian and full of color. A break in their
monotony was welcome.

The loveliness of the villa and its grounds, which sloped down to
the gentle lake, silenced criticism. For a time it was supremely
satisfying to do nothing. Pettingill wandered about as though he
could not believe it was real. He was lost in a kind of atmosphere
of ecstasy. To the others, who took it more calmly, it was still a
sort of paradise. Those who were happy found in it an
intensification of happiness, and to those who were sad it offered
the tenderest opportunities for melancholy. Mrs. Dan told Brewster
that only a poet could have had this inspiration. And Peggy added,
"Anything after this would be an anti-climax. Really, Monty, you
would better take us home."

"I feel like the boy who was shut in a closet for punishment and
found it the place where they kept the jam," said "Subway." "It is
almost as good as owning Central Park."

The stables were well equipped and the days wore on in a wonderful
peace. It was on a radiant afternoon, when twelve of the crowd had
started out, after tea, for a long ride toward Lugano, that Monty
determined to call Peggy Gray to account. He was certain that she
had deliberately avoided him for days and weeks, and he could find
no reason for it. Hour after hour he had lain awake wondering
where he had failed her, but the conclusion of one moment was
rejected the next. The Monte Carlo episode seemed the most
plausible cause, yet even before that he had noticed that whenever
he approached her she managed to be talking with some one else.
Two or three times he was sure she had seen his intention before
she took refuge with Mrs. Dan or Mary Valentine or Pettingill. The
thought of the last name gave Monty a sudden thrill. What if it
were he who had come between them? It troubled him, but there were
moments when the idea seemed impossible. As they mounted and
started off, the exhilaration of the ride made him hopeful. They
were to have dinner in the open air in the shadow of an abbey ruin
some miles away, and the servants had been sent ahead to prepare
it. It went well, and with Mrs. Dan's help the dinner was made
gay. On the return Monty who was off last spurred up his horse to
join Peggy. She seemed eager to be with the rest and he lost no
time with a preamble.

"Do you know, Peggy," he began, "something seems to be wrong, and
I am wondering what it is."

"Why, what do you mean, Monty?" as he paused.

"Every time I come near you, child, you seem to have something
else to do. If I join the group you are in, it is the signal for
you to break away."

"Nonsense, Monty, why should I avoid you? We have known one
another much too long for that." But he thought he detected some
contradiction in her eyes, and he was right. The girl was afraid
of him, afraid of the sensations he awoke, afraid desperately of
betrayal.

"Pettingill may appeal to you," he said, and his voice was
serious, "but you might at least be courteous to me."

"How absurd you are, Monty Brewster." The girl grew hot. "You
needn't think that your million gives you the privilege of
dictating to all of your guests."

"Peggy, how can you," he interjected.

She went on ruthlessly. "If my conduct interferes with your
highness's pleasure I can easily join the Prestons in Paris."

Suddenly Brewster remembered that Pettingill had spoken of the
Prestons and expressed a fleeting wish that he might be with them
in the Latin Quarter. "With Pettingill to follow, I suppose," he
said, icily. "It would certainly give you more privacy."

"And Mrs. Dan more opportunities," she retorted as he dropped back
toward the others.

The artist instantly took his place. The next moment he had
challenged her to a race and they were flying down the road in the
moonlight. Brewster, not to be outdone, was after them, but it was
only a moment before his horse shied violently at something black
in the road. Then he saw Peggy's horse galloping riderless.
Instantly, with fear at his throat, he had dismounted and was at
the girl's side. She was not hurt, they found, only bruised and
dazed and somewhat lamed. A girth had broken and her saddle
turned. The crowd waited, silent and somewhat awed, until the
carriage with the servants came up and she was put into it. Mrs.
Dan's maid was there and Peggy insisted that she would have no one
else. But as Monty helped her in, he had whispered, "You won't go,
child, will you? How could things go on here?"





CHAPTER XXII

PRINCE AND PEASANTS


The peacefulness of fairyland was something which Brewster could
not afford to continue, and with Bertier he was soon planning to
invade it, The automobile which he was obliged to order for the
mysterious marquise put other ideas into his head. It seemed at
once absolutely necessary to give a coaching party in Italy, and
as coaches of the right kind were hard to find there, and changes
of horses most uncertain, nothing could be more simple and natural
than to import automobiles from Paris. Looking into the matter, he
found that they would have to be purchased outright, as the
renting of five machines would put his credit to too severe a
test. Accordingly Bertier telegraphed a wholesale order, which
taxed the resources of the manufacturers and caused much complaint
from some customers whose work was unaccountably delayed. The
arrangement made by the courier was that they were to be taken
back at a greatly reduced price at the end of six weeks. The
machines were shipped at once, five to Milan, and one to the
address of the mysterious marquise in Florence.

It was with a sharp regret that Monty broke into the idyl of the
villa, for the witchery of the place had got into his blood. But a
stern sense of duty, combined with the fact that the Paris
chauffeurs and machines were due in Milan on Monday, made him
ruthless. He was astonished that his orders to decamp were so
meekly obeyed, forgetting that his solicitous guests did not know
that worse extravagance lay beyond. He took them to Milan by train
and lodged them with some splendor at the Hotel Cavour. Here he
found that the fame of the princely profligate had preceded him,
and his portly host was all deference and attention. All regret,
too, for monsieur was just too late to hear the wonderful company
of artists who had been singing at La Scala. The season was but
just ended. Here was an opportunity missed indeed, and Brewster's
vexation brought out an ironical comment to Bertier. It rankled,
but it had its effect. The courier proved equal to the emergency.
Discovering that the manager of the company and the principal
artists were still in Milan, he suggested to Brewster that a
special performance would be very difficult to secure, but might
still be possible. His chief caught at the idea and authorized him
to make every arrangement, reserving the entire house for his own
party.

"But the place will look bare," protested the courier, aghast.

"Fill it with flowers, cover it with tapestries," commanded
Brewster. "I put the affair in your hands, and I trust you to
carry it through in the right way. Show them how it ought to be
done."

Bertier's heart swelled within him at the thought of so glorious
an opportunity. His fame, he felt, was already established in
Italy. It became a matter of pride to do the thing handsomely, and
the necessary business arrangements called out all his unused
resources of delicacy and diplomacy. When it came to the
decoration of the opera house, he called upon Pettingill for
assistance, and together they superintended an arrangement which
curtained off a large part of the place and reduced it to livable
proportions. With the flowers and the lights, the tapestries and
the great faded flags, it became something quite different from
the usual empty theater.

To the consternation of the Italians, the work had been rushed,
and it was on the evening after their arrival in Milan that
Brewster conducted his friends in state to the Scala. It was
almost a triumphal progress, for he had generously if unwittingly
given the town the most princely sensation in years, and curiosity
was abundant. Mrs. Valentine, who was in the carriage with Monty,
wondered openly why they were attracting so much attention.

"They take us for American dukes and princesses," explained Monty.
"They never saw a white man before."

"Perhaps they expected us to ride on buffaloes," said Mrs. Dan,
"with Indian captives in our train."

"No," "Subway" Smith protested, "I seem to see disappointment in
their faces. They are looking for crowns and scepters and a shower
of gold coin. Really, Monty, you don't play the game as you
should. Why, I could give you points on the potentate act myself.
A milk-white steed, a few clattering attendants in gorgeous
uniforms, a lofty nod here and there, and little me distributing
silver in the rear."

"I wonder," exclaimed Mrs. Dan, "if they don't get tired now and
then of being potentates. Can't you fancy living in palaces and
longing for a thatched cottage?"

"Easily," answered "Subway," with a laugh. "Haven't we tried it
ourselves? Two months of living upon nothing but fatted calves is
more than I can stand. We shall be ready for a home for dyspeptics
if you can't slow down a bit, Monty."

Whereupon Mrs. Dan evolved a plan, and promptly began to carry it
out by inviting the crowd to dinner the next night. Monty
protested that they would be leaving Milan in the afternoon, and
that this was distinctly his affair and he was selfish.

But Mrs. Dan was very sure. "My dear boy, you can't have things
your own way every minute. In another month you will be quite
spoiled. Anything to prevent that. My duty is plain. Even if I
have to use heroic measures, you dine with me to-morrow."

Monty recognized defeat when he met it, and graciously accepted
her very kind invitation. The next moment they drew up at the
opera house and were ushered in with a deference accorded only to
wealth. The splendor of the effect was overpowering to Brewster as
well as to his bewildered guests. Aladdin, it seemed, had fairly
outdone himself. The wonder of it was so complete that it was some
time before they could settle down to the opera, which was Aida,
given with an enthusiasm that only Italians can compass.

During the last intermission Brewster and Peggy were walking in
the foyer. They had rarely spoken since the day of the ride, but
Monty noticed with happiness that she had on several occasions
avoided Pettingill.

"I thought we had given up fairyland when we left the lakes, but I
believe you carry it with you," she said.

"The trouble with this," Monty replied, "is that there are too
many people about. My fairyland is to be just a little different."

"Your fairyland, Monty, will be built of gold and paved with
silver. You will sit all day cutting coupons in an office of
alabaster."

"Peggy, do you too think me vulgar? It's a beastly parade, I know,
but it can't stop now. You don't realize the momentum of the
thing."

"You do it up to the handle," she put in. "And you are much too
generous to be vulgar. But it worries me, Monty, it worries me
desperately. It's the future I'm thinking of--your future, which
is being swallowed up. This kind of thing can't go on. And what is
to follow it? You are wasting your substance, and you are not
making any life for yourself that opens out."

"Peggy," he answered very seriously, "you have got to trust me. I
can't back out, but I'll tell you this. You shall not be
disappointed in me in the end."

There was a mist before the girl's eyes as she looked at him. "I
believe you, Monty," she said simply; "I shall not forget."

The curtain rose upon the next act, and something in the opera
toward the end seemed to bring the two very close together. As
they were leaving the theater, there was a note of regret from
Peggy. "It has been perfect," she breathed, "yet, Monty, isn't it
a waste that no one else should have seen it? Think of these
poverty-stricken peasants who adore music and have never heard an
opera."

"Well, they shall hear one now." Monty rose to it, but he felt
like a hypocrite in concealing his chief motive. "We'll repeat the
performance to-morrow night and fill the house with them."

He was as good as his word. Bertier was given a task the next day
which was not to his taste. But with the assistance of the city
authorities he carried it through. To them it was an evidence of
insanity, but there was something princely about it and they were
tolerant. The manager of the opera house was less complacent, and
he had an exclamatory terror of the damage to his upholstery. But
Brewster had discovered that in Italy gold is a panacea for all
ills, and his prescriptions were liberal. To him the day was
short, for Peggy's interest in the penance, as it came to be
called, was so keen that she insisted on having a hand in the
preliminaries. There was something about the partnership that
appealed to Monty.

To her regret the DeMille dinner interfered with the opening of
the performance, but Monty consoled her with the promise that the
opera and its democratic audience should follow. During the day
Mrs. Dan had been deep in preparations for her banquet, but her
plans were elaborately concealed. They culminated at eight o'clock
in the Cova not far from the Scala, and the dinner was eaten in
the garden to the sound of music. Yet it was an effect of
simplicity with which Mrs. Dan surprised her guests. They were
prepared for anything but that, and when they were served with
consomme, spaghetti--a concession to the chef--and chops and peas,
followed by a salad and coffee, the gratitude of the crowd was
quite beyond expression. In a burst of enthusiasm "Subway" Smith
suggested a testimonial.

Monty complained bitterly that he himself had never received a
ghost of a testimonial. He protested that it was not deserved.

"Why should you expect it?" exclaimed Pettingill, "when you have
risen from terrapin and artichokes to chops and chicory? When have
you given us nectar and ambrosia like this?"

Monty was defeated by a unanimous vote and Mrs. Dan's testimonial
was assured. This matter settled, Peggy and Mrs. Valentine, with
Brewster and Pettingill, walked over to the Scala and heard again
the last two acts of Aida. But the audience was different, and the
applause.

The next day at noon the chauffeurs from Paris reported for duty,
and five gleaming French devil-wagons steamed off through the
crowd in the direction of Venice. Through Brescia and Verona and
Vicenza they passed, scattering largess of silver in their wake
and leaving a trail of breathless wonder. Brewster found the pace
too fast and by the time they reached Venice he had a wistful
longing to take this radiant country more slowly. "But this is
purely a business trip," he thought, "and I can't expect to enjoy
it. Some day I'll come back and do it differently. I could spend
hours in a gondola if the blamed things were not more expensive by
the trip."

It was there that he was suddenly recalled to his duty from dreams
of moonlight on the water by a cablegram which demanded $324.00
before it could be read. It contained word for word the parable of
the ten talents and ended with the simple word "Jones."





CHAPTER XXIII

AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE


The summer is scarcely a good time to visit Egypt, but Monty and
his guests had a desire to see even a little of the northern coast
of Africa. It was decided, therefore, that after Athens, the
"Flitter" should go south. The yacht had met them at Naples after
the automobile procession,--a kind of triumphal progress,--was
disbanded in Florence, and they had taken a hurried survey of
Rome. By the middle of July the party was leaving the heat of
Egypt and finding it not half bad. New York was not more than a
month away as Brewster reckoned time and distance, and there was
still too much money in the treasury. As September drew nearer he
got into the habit of frequently forgetting Swearengen Jones until
it was too late to retrace his steps. He was coming to the "death
struggle," as he termed it, and there was something rather
terrorizing in the fear that "the million might die hard." And so
these last days and nights were glorious ones, if one could have
looked at them with unbiased, untroubled eyes. But every member of
his party was praying for the day when the "Flitter" would be well
into the broad Atlantic and the worst over. At Alexandria Brewster
had letters to some Englishmen, and in the few entertainments that
he gave succeeded once again in fairly outdoing Aladdin.

A sheik from the interior was a guest at one of Monty's
entertainments. He was a burly, hot-blooded fellow, with a
densely-populated harem, and he had been invited more as a
curiosity than as one to be honored. As he came aboard the
"Flitter," Monty believed the invitation was more than justified.
Mohammed was superb, and the women of the party made so much of
him that it was small wonder that his head was turned. He fell
desperately in love with Peggy Gray on sight, and with all the
composure of a potentate who had never been crossed he sent for
Brewster the next day and told him to "send her around" and he
would marry her. Monty's blood boiled furiously for a minute or
two, but he was quick to see the wisdom of treating the
proposition diplomatically. He tried to make it plain to the sheik
that Miss Gray could not accept the honor he wished to confer upon
her, but it was not Mohammed's custom to be denied anything he
asked for--especially anything feminine. He complacently announced
that he would come aboard that afternoon and talk it over with
Peggy.

Brewster looked the swarthy gentleman over with unconcealed
disgust in his eyes. The mere thought of this ugly brute so much
as touching the hand of little Peggy Gray filled him with horror,
and yet there was something laughable in the situation. He could
not hide the smile that came with the mind picture of Peggy
listening to the avowal of the sheik. The Arab misinterpreted this
exhibition of mirth. To him the grin indicated friendship and
encouragement. He wanted to give Brewster a ring as a pledge of
affection, but the American declined the offering, and also
refused to carry a bag of jewels to Peggy.

"I'll let the old boy come aboard just to see Peggy look a hole
through him," he resolved. "No matter how obnoxious it may be, it
isn't every girl who can say an oriental potentate has asked her
to marry him. If this camel-herder gets disagreeable we may tumble
him into the sea for a change."

With the best grace possible he invited the sheik to come aboard
and consult Miss Gray in person. Mohammed was a good bit puzzled
over the intimation that it would be necessary for him to plead
for anything he had expressed a desire to possess. Brewster
confided the news to "Rip" Van Winkle and "Subway" Smith, who had
gone ashore with him, and the trio agreed that it would be good
sport to let the royal proposal come as a surprise to Peggy. Van
Winkle returned to the yacht at once, but his companions stayed
ashore to do some shopping. When they approached the "Flitter"
later on they observed an unusual commotion on deck.

Mohammed had not tarried long after their departure. He gathered
his train together, selected a few costly presents that had been
returned from the harem and advanced on the boat without delay.
The captain of the "Flitter" stared long and hard at the gaily
bedecked launches and then called to his first officer. Together
they watched the ceremonious approach. A couple of brown-faced
heralds came aboard first and announced the approach of the mighty
chief. Captain Perry went forward to greet the sheik as he came
over the side of the ship, but he was brushed aside by the advance
guards. Half a hundred swarthy fellows crowded aboard and then
came the sheik, the personification of pomp and pride.

"Where is she?" he asked in his native tongue. The passengers were
by this time aware of the visitation, and began to straggle on
deck, filled with curiosity. "What the devil do you mean by coming
aboard in this manner?" demanded the now irate Captain Perry,
shoving a couple of retainers out of his path and facing the
beaming suitor. An interpreter took a hand at this juncture and
the doughty captain finally was made to understand the object of
the visit. He laughed in the sheik's face and told the mate to
call up a few jackies to drive the "dagoes" off. "Rip" Van Winkle
interfered and peace was restored. The cruise had changed "Rip"
into a happier and far more radiant creature, so it was only
natural that he should have shared the secret with Mary Valentine.
He had told the story of the sheik's demand to her as soon as he
came aboard, and she had divulged it to Peggy the instant "Rip"
was out of sight.

Brewster found the sheik sitting in state on the upper deck
impatiently awaiting the appearance of his charmer. He did not
know her name, but he had tranquilly commanded "Rip" to produce
all of the women on board so that he might select Peggy from among
them. Van Winkle and Bragdon, who now was in the secret, were
preparing to march the ladies past the ruler when Monty came up.

"Has he seen Peggy?" he asked of Van Winkle.

"Not yet. She is dressing for the occasion."

"Well, wait and see what happens to him when she gets over the
first shock," laughed Monty.

Just then the sheik discovered Peggy, who, pretty as a picture,
drew near the strange group. To her amazement two slaves rushed
forward and obstructed her passage long enough to beat their heads
on the deck a few times, after which they arose and tendered two
magnificent necklaces. She was prepared for the proposal, but this
action disconcerted her; she gasped and looked about in
perplexity. Her friends were smiling broadly and the sheik had
placed his hands over his palpitating heart.

"Lothario has a pain," whispered "Rip" Van Winkle sympathetically,
and Brewster laughed. Peggy did not hesitate an instant after
hearing the laugh. She walked straight toward the sheik. Her
cheeks were pink and her eyes were flashing dangerously. The
persistent brown slaves followed with the jewels, but she ignored
them completely. Brave as she intended to be, she could not
repress the shudder of repulsion that went over her as she looked
full upon this eager Arab.

Graceful and slender she stood before the burly Mohammed, but his
ardor was not cooled by the presence of so many witnesses. With a
thud he dropped to his knees, wabbling for a moment in the
successful effort to maintain a poetic equilibrium. Then he began
pouring forth volumes of shattered French, English and Arabic
sentiment, accompanied by facial contortions so intense that they
were little less than gruesome.

"Oh, joy of the sun supreme, jewel of the only eye, hearken to the
entreaty of Mohammed." It was more as if he were commanding his
troops in battle than pleading for the tender compassion of a lady
love. "I am come for you, queen of the sea and earth and sky. My
boats are here, my camels there, and Mohammed promises you a
palace in the sun-lit hills if you will but let him bask forever
in the glory of your smile." All this was uttered in a mixture of
tongues so atrocious that "Subway" Smith afterward described it as
a salad. The retinue bowed impressively and two or three graceless
Americans applauded as vigorously as if they were approving the
actions of a well-drilled comic opera chorus. Sailors were hanging
in the rigging, on the davits and over the deck house roof.

"Smile for the gentleman, Peggy," commanded Brewster delightedly.
"He wants to take a short bask."

"You are very rude, Mr. Brewster," said Peggy, turning upon him
coldly. Then to the waiting, expectant sheik: "What is the meaning
of this eloquence?"

Mohammed looked bewildered for a moment and then turned to the
interpreter, who cleared up the mystery surrounding her English.
For the next three or four minutes the air was filled with the
"Jewels of Africa," "Star," "Sunlight," "Queen," "Heavenly Joy,"
"Pearl of the Desert," and other things in bad English, worse
French, and perfect Arabic. He was making promises that could not
be redeemed if he lived a thousand years. In conclusion the
gallant sheik drew a long breath, screwed his face into a
simpering grin and played his trump card in unmistakable English.
It sounded pathetically like "You're a peach."

An indecorous roar went up from the white spectators and a jacky
in the rigging, suddenly thinking of home, piped up with a bar or
two from "The Star Spangled Banner."

Having accomplished what he considered to be his part of the
ceremony the sheik arose and started toward his launch, coolly
motioning for her to follow. So far as he was concerned the matter
was closed. But Peggy, her heart thumping like a trip-hammer, her
eyes full of excitement, implored him to stop for a moment.

"I appreciate this great honor, but I have a request to make," she
said clearly. Mohammed paused irresolutely and in some irritation.

"Here's where the heathen gets it among the beads," whispered
Monty to Mrs. Dan, and he called out: "Captain Perry, detail half
a dozen men to pick up the beads that are about to slip from his
majesty's neck."





CHAPTER XXIV

THE SHEIK'S STRATEGY


Peggy gave the sheik an entrancing smile, followed by a brief
glance at the beaming Miss Valentine, who nodded her head
approvingly.

"Won't you give me time to go below and pack my belongings that
they may be sent ashore?" she asked naively.

"Thunder!" gasped Monty. "That's no way to turn him down."

"What do you mean, Monty Brewster?" she cried, turning upon him
with flashing eyes.

"Why, you're encouraging the old guy," he protested,
disappointment in every inflection.

"And what if I am? Isn't it my affair? I think I am right in
suspecting that he has asked me to be his wife. Isn't it my
privilege to accept him if I wish?"

Brewster's face was a study. He could not believe that she was in
earnest, but there was a ghastly feeling that the joke was being
turned on him. The rest of the company stared hard at the flushed
Peggy and breathlessly waited developments.

"It won't do to trifle with this chap, Peggy," said Monty, coming
quite close to her. "Don't lead him on. He might get nasty if he
thinks you're making sport of him."

"You are quite absurd, Monty," she cried, petulantly. "I am not
making sport of him."

"Well, then, why don't you tell him to go about his business?"

"I don't see any beads lying around loose," said "Rip"
tormentingly. The sheik impatiently said something to the
interpreter and that worthy repeated it for Peggy's benefit.

"The Son of the Prophet desires that you be as quick as possible,
Queen of the World. He tires of waiting and commands you to come
with him at once."

Peggy winced and her eyes shot a brief look of scorn at the
scowling sheik. In an instant, however, she was smiling agreeably
and was turning toward the steps.

"Holy mackerel! Where are you going, Peggy?" cried Lotless, the
first to turn fearful.

"To throw some things into my trunk," she responded airily. "Will
you come with me, Mary?"

"Peggy!" cried Brewster angrily. "This has gone far enough."

"You should have spoken sooner, Monty," she said quietly.

"What are you going to do, Margaret?" cried Mrs. Dan, her eyes
wide with amazement.

"I am going to marry the Son of the Prophet," she replied so
decidedly that every one gasped. A moment later she was surrounded
by a group of excited women, and Captain Perry was calling the
"jackies" forward in a voice of thunder.

Brewster pushed his way to her side, his face as white as death.

"This isn't a joke, Peggy," he cried. "Go below and I'll get rid
of the sheik."

Just then the burly Algerian asserted himself. He did not like the
way in which his adored one was being handled by the "white dogs,"
and with two spearmen he rushed up to Brewster, jabbering angrily.

"Stand back, you idiot, or I'll punch your head off," said
Brewster, with sudden emphasis.

It was not until this moment that Peggy realized that there might
be a serious side to the little farce she and Mary had decided to
play for the punishment of Brewster. Terror suddenly took the
place of mirth, and she clung frantically to Monty's arm. "I was
joking, Monty, only joking," she cried. "Oh, what have I done?"

"It's my fault," he exclaimed, "but I'll take care of you, never
fear."

"Stand aside!" roared the sheik threateningly.

The situation was ominous. Frightened as they were the women could
not flee, but stood as if petrified. Sailors eagerly swarmed to
the deck.

"Get off this boat," said Monty, ominously calm, to the
interpreter, "or we'll pitch you and your whole mob into the sea."

"Keep cool! Keep cool!" cried "Subway" Smith quickly. He stepped
between Brewster and the angry suitor, and that action alone
prevented serious trouble. While he parleyed with the sheik Mrs.
DeMille hurried Peggy to a safe place below deck, and they were
followed by a flock of shivering women. Poor Peggy was almost in
tears and the piteous glances she threw at Brewster when he
stepped between her and the impetuous sheik, who had started to
follow, struck deep into his heart and made him ready to fight to
the death for her.

It took nearly an hour to convince the Algerian that Peggy had
misunderstood him and that American women were not to be wooed
after the African fashion. He finally departed with his entire
train, thoroughly dissatisfied and in high dudgeon. At first he
threatened to take her by force; then he agreed to give her
another day in which to make up her mind to go with him peaceably,
and again he concluded that a bird in the hand was worth two in
the bush.

Brewster stood gloomily on the outside of the excited group
glowering upon the ugly suitor. Cooler heads had relegated him to
this place of security during the diplomatic contest. The sheik's
threats of vengeance were direful. He swore by somebody's beard
that he would bring ten thousand men to establish his claim by
force. His intense desire to fight for her then and there was
quelled by Captain Perry's detachment of six lusty sailors, whose
big bare fists were shaken vigorously under a few startled noses.
It took all the fight out of the sheik and his train. Three
retainers fell into the sea while trying to retreat as far as
possible from danger.

Mohammed departed with the irate declaration that he would come
another day and that the whole world would tremble at his
approach. Disgusted with himself and afraid to meet the eyes of
the other men, Brewster went below in search of Peggy. He took
time to comfort the anxious women who crowded about him and then
asked for Miss Gray. She was in her stateroom and would not come
forth. When he knocked at the door a dismal, troubled voice from
within told him to go away.

"Come out, Peggy; it's all over," he called.

"Please go away, Monty," she said.

"What are you doing in there?" There was a long pause, and then
came the pitiful little wail: "I am unpacking, please, sir."

That night Brewster entertained on board the yacht, several
resident French and English acquaintances being the guests of
honor. The story of the day was told by Mrs. Dan DeMille,
commissioned especially for the duty. She painted the scene so
vividly that the guests laughed with joy over the discomfiture of
the sheik. Peggy and Brewster found themselves looking sheepishly
at one another now and then in the course of the recital. She
purposely had avoided him during the evening, but she had gamely
endured the raillery that came from the rest of the party. If she
was a bit pale, it was not surprising. Now that it was over the
whole affair appalled her more than she could have suspected. When
several of the guests of the evening soberly announced that
Mohammed was a dangerous man and even an object of worry to the
government she felt a strange catch in her throat and her now
mirthless eyes turned instinctively to Brewster, who, it seemed,
was the sheik's special object of aversion.

The next day she and Monty talked it over. The penitence of both
was beautiful to behold. Each denied the other the privilege of
assuming all the blame and both were so happy that Mohammed was
little more than a preposition in their conversation so far as
prominence was concerned. But all day long the harbor was full of
fisher boats, and at nightfall they still were lolling about,
sinister, restless, mysterious like purposeless buzzards. And the
dark men on board were taking up no fish, neither were they
minding the nets that lay dry and folded in the bottom of their
boats.

Far into the night there was revelry on board the "Flitter," more
guests having come out from the city. The dark hours before the
dawn of day had arrived before they put off for shore, but the
fisher boats still were bobbing about in the black waters of the
harbor. The lights gradually disappeared from the port-holes of
the yacht, and the tired watch was about to be relieved. Monty
Brewster and Peggy remained on deck after the guests had gone over
the side of the vessel. They were leaning over the rail aft
listening to the jovial voices of the visitors as they grew
fainter and fainter in the distance. The lights of the town were
few, but they could plainly be seen from the offing.

"Are you tired, Peggy?" asked Brewster, with a touch of
tenderness. Somehow of late he had often felt a strange desire to
take her in his arms, and now it was strong upon him. She was very
near, and there was a drooping weariness in her attitude which
seemed to demand protection.

"I have a queer feeling that something awful is going to happen
to-night, Monty," she answered, trouble in her soft voice.

"You're nervous, that's all," he said, "and you should get to
sleep. Good-night." Their hands touched in the darkness, and the
thrill that went over him told a truth of which he had been only
vaguely conscious. The power of it made him exultant. Yet when he
thought of her and her too quiet affection for him it left him
despondent.

Something bumped against the side of the ship and a grating sound
followed. Then came other gentle thuds combined with the soft
swish of water disturbed. Peggy and Brewster were on the point of
going below when their attention was caught by these strange
sounds.

"What is it?" she asked as they paused irresolutely. He strode to
the rail, the girl following close behind him. Three sharp little
whistles came from above and behind them, but before they had time
even to speculate as to their meaning the result was in evidence.

Over the sides of the ship came shadowy forms as if by magic; at
their backs panther-like bodies dropped to the deck with stealthy
thuds, as if coming from the inky sky above. There was an instant
of dreadful calm and then the crisis. A dozen sinewy forms hurled
themselves upon Brewster, who, taken completely by surprise, was
thrown to the deck in an instant, his attempt to cry out for help
being checked by heavy hands. Peggy's scream was cut off quickly,
and paralyzed by terror, she felt herself engulfed in strong arms
and smothered into silence. It all happened so quickly that there
was no chance to give the alarm, no opportunity to resist.

Brewster felt himself lifted bodily, and then there was the
sensation of falling. He struck something forcibly with all his
weight and fell back with a crash to the deck. Afterward he found
that the effort to throw him overboard had failed only because his
assailants in their haste had hurled him against an unseen
stanchion. Peggy was borne forward and lowered swiftly into arms
that deposited her roughly upon something hard. There was a jerky,
rocking motion, the sudden splash of oars, and then she knew no
more.

The invaders had planned with a craftiness and patience that
deserved success. For hours they had waited, silently, watchfully,
and with deadly assurance. How they crept up to the "Flitter" in
such numbers and how the more daring came aboard long before the
blow was struck, no one ever explained. So quickly and so
accurately was the abduction performed that the boats were well
clear of the yacht before alarm was given by one of the watch who
had been overlooked in the careful assault.

Sleepy sailors rushed on deck with a promptness that was amazing.
Very quickly they had found and unbound Brewster, carried a couple
of wounded shipmates below and had Captain Perry in his pajamas on
deck to take command.

"The searchlight!" cried Brewster frantically. "The devils have
stolen Miss Gray."

While swift hands were lowering the boats for the chase others
were carrying firearms on deck. The searchlight threw its mighty
white arm out over the water before many seconds had passed, and
eager eyes were looking for the boats of the pillagers. The Arabs
had reckoned without the searchlight. Their fierce exultation died
suddenly when the mysterious streak of light shot into the sky and
then swept down upon the sea, hunting them out of the darkness
like a great relentless eye.

The "Flitter's" boats were in the water and manned by sturdy
oarsmen before the glad cry went up that the robber fleet had been
discovered. They were so near the yacht that it was evident the
dusky tribesmen were poor oarsmen. In the clear light from the
ship's deck they could be seen paddling wildly, their white robes
fluttering as though inspired by fear. There were four boats, all
of them crowded to the gunwales.

"Keep the light on them, captain," shouted Monty from below. "Try
to pick out the boat that has Miss Gray on board. Pull away, boys!
This means a hundred dollars to every one of you--yes, a thousand
if we have to fight for her!"

"Kill every damned one of them, Mr. Brewster," roared the captain,
who had retired behind a boat when he became aware of the presence
of women on deck.

Three boats shot away from the side of the yacht, Brewster and Joe
Bragdon in the first, both armed with rifles.

"Let's take a shot at 'em," cried a sailor who stood in the stern
with his finger on a trigger.

"Don't do that! We don't know what boat holds Peggy," commanded
Brewster. "Keep cool, boys, and be ready to scrap if we have to."
He was half mad with fear and anxiety, and he was determined to
exterminate the bands of robbers if harm came to the girl in their
power.

"She's in the second boat," came the cry from the yacht, and the
searchlight was kept on that particular object almost to the
exclusion of the others. But Captain Perry saw the wisdom of
keeping all of them clearly located in order to prevent trickery.

Brewster's brawny sailor boys came up like greyhounds, cheering as
they dashed among the boats of the fugitives. Three or four shots
were fired into the air by the zealous American lads, and there
were loud cries from the Arabs as they veered off panic-stricken.
Monty's boat was now in the path of light and not far behind the
one which held Peggy. He was standing in the bow.

"Take care of the others!" he called back to his followers. "We'll
go after the leaders."

The response from behind was a cheer, a half dozen shots and some
of the most joyous profanity that ever fell from the lips of
American sailors, mingled with shrieks from the boats they were to
"take care of."

"Stop!" Brewster shouted to the Arabs. "Stop, or we'll kill every
one of you!" His boat was not more than fifty feet from the other.

Suddenly a tall, white-robed figure arose in the middle of the
Egyptian craft, and a moment later the pursuers saw Peggy's form
passed up to him. She was instantly clasped by one of his long
arms, and the other was lifted high above her. A gleaming knife
was held in the upraised hand.

"Fire on us if you dare!" came in French from the tall Arab. "Dog
of an American, she shall die if you come near her!"





CHAPTER XXV

THE RESCUE OF PEGGY


Brewster's heart almost ceased beating, and every vestige of color
left his face. Clear and distinct in the light from the yacht the
Arab and his burden were outlined against the black screen beyond.
There was no mistaking the earnestness of the threat, nor could
the witnesses doubt the ghastly intention of the long, cruel knife
that gleamed on high. Peggy's body served as a shield for that of
her captor. Brewster and Bragdon recognized the man as one of
Mohammed's principal retainers, a fierce-looking fellow who had
attracted more than usual attention on the day of the sheik's
visit.

"For God's sake, don't kill her!" cried Brewster in agonized
tones. There was a diabolical grin on the face of the Arab, who
was about to shout back some defiant taunt when the unexpected
happened.

The sharp crack of a gun sounded in the stern of Brewster's boat,
and an unerring bullet sped straight for the big Arab's forehead.
It crashed between his eyes and death must have been
instantaneous. The knife flew from his hand, his body straightened
and then collapsed, toppling over, not among his oarsmen, but
across the gunwale of the craft. Before a hand could be lifted to
prevent, the dead Arab and the girl were plunged into the sea.

A cry of horror went up from the Americans, and something
surprisingly like a shout of triumph from the abductors. Even as
Brewster poised for the spring into the water a flying form shot
past him and into the sea with a resounding splash. The man that
fired the shot had reckoned cleverly, and he was carrying out the
final details of an inspired plan. The Arab's position as he stood
in the boat was such as to warrant the sailor's belief that he
could fall no other way than forward, and that meant over the side
of the boat. With all this clearly in mind he had shot straight
and true and was on his way to the water almost as the two toppled
overboard.

Monty Brewster was in the water an instant later, striking out for
the spot where they had disappeared, a little to the left of the
course in which his boat was running. There was a rattle of
firearms, with curses and cheers, but he paid no heed to these
sounds. He was a length or two behind the sailor, praying with all
his soul that one or the other might succeed in reaching the white
robes that still kept the surface of the water. His crew was
"backing water" and straining every muscle to bring the boat
around sharp for the rescue.

The sailor's powerful strokes brought him to the spot first, but
not in time to clutch the disappearing white robes. Just as he
reached out an arm to grasp the form of the girl she went down. He
did not hesitate a second but followed. Peggy had fallen from the
dead Arab's embrace, and that worthy already was at the bottom of
the sea. She was half conscious when the shot came, but the plunge
into the cold water revived her. Her struggles were enough to keep
her up for a few moments, but not long enough for the swimmers to
reach her side. She felt herself going down and down, strangling,
smothering, dying. Then something vise-like clutched her arm and
she had the sensation of being jerked upward violently.

The sailor fought his way to the surface with the girl, and
Brewster was at his side in an instant. Together they supported
her until one of the boats came up, and they were drawn over the
side to safety. By this time the abductors had scattered like
sheep without a leader, and as there was no further object in
pursuing them the little American fleet put back for the yacht in
great haste. Peggy was quite conscious when carried aboard by the
triumphant Brewster. The words he whispered to her as she lay in
the bottom of the boat were enough to give her life.

The excitement on board the "Flitter" was boundless. Fear gave way
to joy, and where despair had for a moment reigned supreme, there
was now the most insane delight. Peggy was bundled below and into
her berth, Dr. Lotless attending her, assisted by all the women on
board. Brewster and the sailor, drenched but happy, were carried
on the shoulders of enthusiastic supporters to a place where hot
toddies were to be had before blankets.

"You have returned the favor, Conroy," said Brewster fervently, as
he leaned across the heads of his bearers to shake hands with the
sailor who was sharing the honors with him. Conroy was grinning
from ear to ear as he sat perched on the shoulders of his
shipmates. "I was luckier than I thought in saving your life that
day."

"It wasn't anything, Mr. Brewster," said young Conroy. "I saw a
chance to drop the big nigger, and then it was up to me to get her
out of the water."

"You took a big risk, Conroy, but you made good with it. If it had
not been for you, my boy, they might have got away with Miss
Gray."

"Don't mention it, Mr. Brewster, it was nothing to do," protested
Conroy in confusion. "I'd do anything in the world for you and for
her."

"What is the adage about casting your bread upon the water and
getting it back again?" asked "Rip" Van Winkle of Joe Bragdon as
they jubilantly followed the procession below.

There was no more sleep on board that night. In fact the sun was
not long in showing itself after the rescuers returned to the
vessel. The daring attempt of Mohammed's emissaries was discussed
without restraint, and every sailor had a story to tell of the
pursuit and rescue. The event furnished conversational food for
days and days among both the seamen and the passengers. Dan
DeMille blamed himself relentlessly for sleeping through it all
and moped for hours because he had lost a magnificent chance to
"do something." The next morning he proposed to hunt for the
sheik, and offered to lead an assault in person. An investigation
was made and government officials tried to call Mohammed to
account, but he had fled to the desert and the search was
fruitless.

Brewster refused to accept a share of the glory of Peggy's rescue,
pushing Conroy forward as the real hero. But the sailor insisted
that he could not have succeeded without help,--that he was
completely exhausted when Monty came to the rescue. Peggy found it
hard to thank him gently while her heart was so dangerously near
the riot point, and her words of gratitude sounded pitifully weak
and insufficient.

"It would have been the same had anybody else gone to her rescue,"
he mused dejectedly. "She cares for me with the devotion of a
sister and that's all. Peggy, Peggy," he moaned, "if you could
only love me, I'd--I'd--oh, well, there's no use thinking about
it! She will love some one else, of course, and--and be happy,
too. If she'd appear only one-tenth as grateful to me as to Conroy
I'd be satisfied. He had the luck to be first, that's all, but God
knows I tried to do it."

Mrs. Dan DeMille was keen enough to see how the land lay, and she
at once tried to set matters straight. She was far too clever to
push her campaign ruthlessly, but laid her foundations and then
built cunningly and securely with the most substantial material
that came to hand from day to day. Her subjects were taking
themselves too deeply to heart to appreciate interference on the
part of an outsider, and Mrs. Dan was wise in the whims of love.

Peggy was not herself for several days after her experience, and
the whole party felt a distinct relief when the yacht finally left
the harbor and steamed off to the west. A cablegram that came the
day before may have had something to do with Brewster's
depression, but he was not the sort to confess it. It was from
Swearengen Jones, of Butte, Montana, and there was something
sinister in the laconic admonition. It read:

"BREWSTER, U.S. CONSULATE, ALEXANDRIA.

"Have a good time while good times last.

"JONES."

His brain was almost bursting with the hopes and fears and
uncertainties that crowded it far beyond its ordinary capacity. It
had come to the point, it seemed to him, when the brains of a
dozen men at least were required to operate the affairs that were
surging into his alone. The mere fact that the end of his year was
less than two months off, and that there was more or less
uncertainty as to the character of the end, was sufficient cause
for worry, but the new trouble was infinitely harder to endure.
When he sat down to think over his financial enterprises his mind
treacherously wandered off to Peggy Gray, and then everything was
hopeless. He recalled the courage and confidence that had carried
him to Barbara Drew with a declaration of love--to the stunning,
worldly Barbara--and smiled bitterly when he saw how basely the
two allies were deserting him in this hour of love for Peggy Gray.
For some reason he had felt sure of Barbara; for another reason he
saw no chance with Peggy. She was not the same sort--she was
different. She was--well, she was Peggy.

Occasionally his reflections assumed the importance of
calculations. His cruise was sure to cost $200,000, a princely
sum, but not enough. Swearengen Jones and his cablegram did not
awe him to a great extent. The spending of the million had become
a mania with him now and he had no regard for consequences. His
one desire, aside from Peggy, was to increase the cost of the
cruise. They were leaving Gibraltar when a new idea came into his
troubled head.

He decided to change his plans and sail for the North Cape,
thereby adding more than $30,000 to his credit.





CHAPTER XXVI

MUTINY


Monty was on deck when the inspiration seized him, and he lost no
time in telling his guests, who were at breakfast. Although he had
misgivings about their opinion of the scheme, he was not prepared
for the ominous silence that followed his announcement.

"Are you in earnest, Mr. Brewster?" asked Captain Perry, who was
the first of the company to recover from the surprise.

"Of course I am. I chartered this boat for four months with the
privilege of another month I can see no reason to prevent us from
prolonging the trip." Monty's manner was full of self-assurance as
he continued: "You people are so in the habit of protesting
against every suggestion I make that you can't help doing it now."

"But, Monty," said Mrs. Dan, "what if your guests would rather go
home."

"Nonsense; you were asked for a five months' cruise. Besides,
think of getting home in the middle of August, with every one
away. It would be like going to Philadelphia."

Brave as he was in the presence of his friends, in the privacy of
his stateroom Monty gave way to the depression that was bearing
down upon him. It was the hardest task of his life to go on with
his scheme in the face of opposition. He knew that every man and
woman on board was against the proposition, for his sake at least,
and it was difficult to be arbitrary under the circumstances.
Purposely he avoided Peggy all forenoon. His single glance at her
face in the salon was enough to disturb him immeasurably.

The spirits of the crowd were subdued. The North Cape had charms,
but the proclamation concerning it had been too sudden--had
reversed too quickly the general expectation and desire. Many of
the guests had plans at home for August, and even those who had
none were satiated with excitement. During the morning they
gathered in little knots to discuss the situation. They were all
generous and each one was sure that he could cruise indefinitely,
if on Monty's account the new voyage were not out of the question.
They felt it their duty to take a desperate stand.

The half-hearted little gatherings resolved themselves into
ominous groups and in the end there was a call for a general
meeting in the main cabin. Captain Perry, the first mate, and the
chief engineer were included in the call, but Montgomery Brewster
was not to be admitted. Joe Bragdon loyally agreed to keep him
engaged elsewhere while the meeting was in progress. The doors
were locked and a cursory glance assured the chairman of the
meeting, Dan DeMille, that no member of the party was missing save
the devoted Bragdon. Captain Perry was plainly nervous and
disturbed. The others were the victims of a suppressed energy that
presaged subsequent eruptions.

"Captain Perry, we are assembled here for a purpose," said
DeMille, clearing his throat three times. "First of all, as we
understand it, you are the sailing master of this ship. In other
words, you are, according to maritime law, the commander of this
expedition. You alone can give orders to the sailors and you alone
can clear a port. Mr. Brewster has no authority except that vested
in a common employer. Am I correct?"

"Mr. DeMille, if Mr. Brewster instructs me to sail for the North
Cape, I shall do so," said the captain, firmly. "This boat is his
for the full term of the lease and I am engaged to sail her with
my crew until the tenth of next September."

"We understand your position, captain, and I am sure you
appreciate ours. It isn't that we want to end a very delightful
cruise, but that we regard it as sheer folly for Mr. Brewster to
extend the tour at such tremendous expense. He is--or was--a rich
man, but it is impossible to ignore the fact that he is plunging
much too heavily. In plain words, we want to keep him from
spending more of his money on this cruise. Do you understand our
position, Captain Perry?"

"Fully. I wish with all my soul that I could help you and him. My
hands are tied by contract, however, much as I regret it at this
moment."

"How does the crew feel about this additional trip, captain?"
asked DeMille.

"They shipped for five months and will receive five months' pay.
The men have been handsomely treated and they will stick to Mr.
Brewster to the end," said the captain.

"There is no chance for a mutiny, then?" asked Smith regretfully.
The captain gave him a hard look, but said nothing. Everybody
seemed uncomfortable.

"Apparently the only way is the one suggested by Mr. Smith this
morning," said Mrs. Dan, speaking for the women. "No one will
object, I am sure, if Captain Perry and his chief officers are
allowed to hear the plan."

"It is very necessary, in fact," said Mr. Valentine. "We cannot
proceed without them. But they will agree with us, I am sure, that
it is wise."

An hour later the meeting broke up and the conspirators made their
way to the deck. It was a strange fact that no one went alone.
They were in groups of three and four and the mystery that hung
about them was almost perceptible. Not one was willing to face the
excited, buoyant Brewster without help; they found strength and
security in companionship.

Peggy was the one rebel against the conspiracy, and yet she knew
that the others were justified in the step they proposed to take.
She reluctantly joined them in the end, but felt that she was the
darkest traitor in the crowd. Forgetting her own distress over the
way in which Monty was squandering his fortune, she stood out the
one defender of his rights until the end and then admitted
tearfully to Mrs. DeMille that she had been "quite unreasonable"
in doing so.

Alone in her stateroom after signing the agreement, she wondered
what he would think of her. She owed him so much that she at least
should have stood by him. She felt that he would be conscious of
this? How could she have turned against him? He would not
understand--of course he would never understand. And he would hate
her with the others--more than the others. It was all a wretched
muddle and she could not see her way out of it.

Monty found his guests very difficult. They listened to his plans
with but little interest, and he could not but see that they were
uncomfortable. The situation was new to their experience, and they
were under a strain. "They mope around like a lot of pouting boys
and girls," he growled to himself. "But it's the North Cape now in
spite of everything. I don't care if the whole crowd deserts me,
my mind is made up."

Try as he would, he could not see Peggy alone. He had much that he
wanted to say to her and he hungered for the consolation her
approval would bring him, but she clung to Pettingill with a
tenacity that was discouraging. The old feeling of jealousy that
was connected with Como again disturbed him.

"She thinks that I am a hopeless, brainless idiot," he said to
himself. "And I don't blame her, either."

Just before nightfall he noticed that his friends were assembling
in the bow. As he started to join the group "Subway" Smith and
DeMille advanced to meet him. Some of the others were smiling a
little sheepishly, but the two men were pictures of solemnity and
decision.

"Monty," said DeMille steadily, "we have been conspiring against
you and have decided that we sail for New York to-morrow morning."

Brewster stopped short and the expression on his face was one they
never could forget. Bewilderment, uncertainty and pain succeeded
each other like flashes of light. Not a word was spoken for
several seconds. The red of humiliation slowly mounted to his
cheeks, while in his eyes wavered the look of one who has been
hunted down.

"You have decided?" he asked lifelessly, and more than one heart
went out in pity to him.

"We hated to do it, Monty, but for your own sake there was no
other way," said "Subway" Smith quickly. "We took a vote and there
wasn't a dissenting voice." "It is a plain case of mutiny, I take
it," said Monty, utterly alone and heart-sick.

"It isn't necessary to tell you why we have taken this step," said
DeMille. "It is heart-breaking to oppose you at this stage of the
game. You've been the best ever and--"

"Cut that," cried Monty, and his confidence in himself was fast
returning. "This is no time to throw bouquets."

"We like you, Brewster." Mr. Valentine came to the chairman's
assistance because the others had looked at him so appealingly.
"We like you so well that we can't take the responsibility for
your extravagance. It would disgrace us all."

"That side of the matter was never mentioned," cried Peggy
indignantly, and then added with a catch in her voice, "We thought
only of you."

"I appreciate your motives and I am grateful to you," said Monty.
"I am more sorry than I can tell you that the cruise must end in
this way, but I too have decided. The yacht will take you to some
point where you can catch a steamer to New York. I shall secure
passage for the entire party and very soon you will be at home.
Captain Perry, will you oblige me by making at once for any port
that my guests may agree upon?" He was turning away deliberately
when "Subway" Smith detained him.

"What do you mean by getting a steamer to New York? Isn't the
'Flitter' good enough?" he asked.

"The 'Flitter' is not going to New York just now," answered
Brewster firmly, "notwithstanding your ultimatum. She is going to
take me to the North Cape."





CHAPTER XXVII

A FAIR TRAITOR


"Now will you be good?" cried Reggie Vanderpool to DeMille as
Monty went down the companionway. The remark was precisely what
was needed, for the pent-up feelings of the entire company were
now poured forth upon the unfortunate young man. "Subway" Smith
was for hanging him to the yard arm, and the denunciation of the
others was so decisive that Reggie sought refuge in the chart
house. But the atmosphere had been materially cleared and the
leaders of the mutiny were in a position to go into executive
session and consider the matter. The women waited on deck while
the meeting lasted. They were unanimous in the opinion that the
affair had been badly managed.

"They should have offered to stay by the ship providing Monty
would let DeMille manage the cruise," said Miss Valentine. "That
would have been a concession and at the same time it would have
put the cruise on an economical basis."

"In other words, you will accept a man's invitation to dinner if
he will allow you to order it and invite the other guests," said
Peggy, who was quick to defend Monty.

"Well that would be better than helping to eat up every bit of
food he possessed." But Miss Valentine always avoided argument
when she could and gave this as a parting thrust before she walked
away.

"There must be something more than we know about in Monty's
extravagance," said Mrs. Dan. "He isn't the kind of man to
squander his last penny without having something left to show for
it. There must be a method in his madness."

"He has done it for us," said Peggy. "He has devoted himself all
along to giving us a good time and now we are showing our
gratitude."

Further discussion was prevented by the appearance of the
conspiring committee and the whole company was summoned to hear
DeMille's report as chairman.

"We have found a solution of our difficulties," he began, and his
manner was so jubilant that every one became hopeful. "It is
desperate, but I think it will be effective. Monty has given us
the privilege of leaving the yacht at any port where we can take a
steamer to New York. Now, my suggestion is that we select the most
convenient place for all of us, and obviously there is nothing
quite so convenient as Boston."

"Dan DeMille, you are quite foolish," cried his wife. "Who ever
conceived such a ridiculous idea?"

"Captain Perry has his instructions," continued DeMille, turning
to the captain. "Are we not acting along the lines marked out by
Brewster himself?"

"I will sail for Boston if you say the word," said the thoughtful
captain. "But he is sure to countermand such an order."

"He won't be able to, captain," cried "Subway" Smith, who had for
some time been eager to join in the conversation. "This is a
genuine, dyed-in-the-wool mutiny and we expect to carry out the
original plan, which was to put Mr. Brewster in irons, until we
are safe from all opposition."

"He is my friend, Mr. Smith, and at least it is my duty to protect
him from any indignity," said the captain, stiffly.

"You make for Boston, my dear captain, and we'll do the rest,"
said DeMille. "Mr. Brewster can't countermand your orders unless
he sees you in person. We'll see to it that he has no chance to
talk to you until we are in sight of Boston Harbor."

The captain looked doubtful and shook his head as he walked away.
At heart he was with the mutineers and his mind was made up to
assist them as long as it was possible to do so without violating
his obligations to Brewster. He felt guilty, however, in
surreptitiously giving the order to clear for Boston at daybreak.
The chief officers were let into the secret, but the sailors were
kept in darkness regarding the destination of the "Flitter."

Montgomery Brewster's guests were immensely pleased with the
scheme, although they were dubious about the outcome. Mrs. Dan
regretted her hasty comment on the plan and entered into the plot
with eagerness. In accordance with plans decided upon by the
mutineers, Monty's stateroom door was guarded through the night by
two of the men. The next morning as he emerged from his room, he
was met by "Subway" Smith and Dan DeMille.

"Good morning," was his greeting. "How's the weather to-day?"

"Bully," answered DeMille. "By the way, you are going to have
breakfast in your room, old man."

Brewster unsuspectingly led the way into his stateroom, the two
following.

"What's the mystery?" he demanded.

"We've been deputized to do some very nasty work," said "Subway,"
as he turned the key in the door. "We are here to tell you what
port we have chosen."

"It's awfully good of you to tell me."

"Yes, isn't it? But we have studied up on the chivalrous treatment
of prisoners. We have decided on Boston."

"Is there a Boston on this side of the water?" asked Monty in mild
surprise.

"No; there is only one Boston in the universe, so far as we know.
It is a large body of intellect surrounded by the rest of the
world."

"What the devil are you talking about? You don't mean Boston,
Massachusetts?" cried Monty, leaping to his feet.

"Precisely. That's the port for us and you told us to choose for
ourselves," said Smith.

"Well, I won't have it, that's all," exclaimed Brewster,
indignantly. "Captain Perry takes orders from me and from no one
else."

"He already has his orders," said DeMille, smiling mysteriously.

"I'll see about that. Brewster sprang to the door. It was locked
and the key was in "Subway" Smith's pocket. With an impatient
exclamation he turned and pressed an electric button.

"It won't ring, Monty," explained "Subway." "The wire has been
cut. Now, be cool for a minute or two and we'll talk it over."

Brewster stormed for five minutes, the "delegation" sitting calmly
by, smiling with exasperating confidence. At last he calmed down
and in terms of reason demanded an explanation. He was given to
understand that the yacht would sail for Boston and that he would
be kept a prisoner for the entire voyage unless he submitted to
the will of the majority.

Brewster listened darkly to the proclamation. He saw that they had
gained the upper hand by a clever ruse, and that only strategy on
his part could outwit them. It was out of the question for him to
submit to them now that the controversy had assumed the dignity of
a struggle.

"But you will be reasonable, won't you?" asked DeMille, anxiously.

"I intend to fight it out to the bitter end," said Brewster, his
eyes flashing. "At present I am your prisoner, but it is a long
way to Boston."

For three days and two nights the "Flitter" steamed westward into
the Atlantic, with her temporary owner locked into his stateroom.
The confinement was irksome, but he rather liked the sensation of
being interested in something besides money. He frequently laughed
to himself over the absurdity of the situation. His enemies were
friends, true and devoted; his gaolers were relentless but they
were considerate. The original order that he should be guarded by
one man was violated on the first day. There were times when his
guard numbered at least ten persons and some of them served tea
and begged him to listen to reason.

"It is difficult not to listen," he said fiercely. "It's like
holding a man down and then asking him to be quiet. But my time is
coming."

"Revenge will be his!" exclaimed Mrs. Dan, tragically.

"You might have your term shortened on account of good conduct if
you would only behave," suggested Peggy, whose reserve was
beginning to soften. "Please be good and give in."

"I haven't been happier during the whole cruise," said Monty. "On
deck I wouldn't be noticed, but here I am quite the whole thing.
Besides I can get out whenever I feel like it."

"I have a thousand dollars which says you can't," said DeMille,
and Monty snapped him up so eagerly that he added, "that you can't
get out of your own accord."

Monty acceded to the condition and offered odds on the proposition
to the others, but there were no takers.

"That settles it," he smiled grimly to himself. "I can make a
thousand dollars by staying here and I can't afford to escape."

On the third day of Monty's imprisonment the "Flitter" began to
roll heavily. At first he gloated over the discomfort of his
guards, who obviously did not like to stay below. "Subway" Smith
and Bragdon were on duty and neither was famous as a good sailor.
When Monty lighted his pipe there was consternation and "Subway"
rushed on deck.

"You are a brave man, Joe," Monty said to the other and blew a
cloud of smoke in his direction. "I knew you would stick to your
post. You wouldn't leave it even if the ship should go down."

Bragdon had reached the stage where he dared not speak and was
busying himself trying to "breathe with the motion of the boat,"
as he had called it.

"By Gad," continued Monty, relentlessly, "this smoke is getting
thick. Some of this toilet water might help if I sprinkled it
about."

One whiff of the sweet-smelling cologne was enough for Bragdon and
he bolted up the companionway, leaving the stateroom door wide
open and the prisoner free to go where he pleased. Monty's first
impulse was to follow, but he checked himself on the threshold.

"Damn that bet with DeMille," he said to himself, and added aloud
to the fleeting guard, "The key, Joe, I dare you to come back and
get it!"

But Bragdon was beyond recall and Monty locked the door on the
inside and passed the key through the ventilator.

On deck a small part of the company braved the spray in the lee of
the deck house, but the others had long since gone below. The boat
was pitching furiously in the ugliest sea it had encountered, and
there was anxiety underneath Captain Perry's mask of unconcern.
DeMille and Dr. Lotless talked in the senseless way men have when
they try to conceal their nervousness. But the women did not
respond; they were in no mood for conversation.

Only one of them was quite oblivious to personal discomfort and
danger. Peggy Gray was thinking of the prisoner below. In a
reflection of her own terror, she pictured him crouching in the
little state-room, like a doomed criminal awaiting execution,
alone, neglected, forgotten, unpitied. At first she pleaded for
the men for his release, but they insisted upon waiting in the
hope that a scare might bring him to his senses. Peggy saw that no
help was to be secured from the other women, much as they might
care for Brewster's peace of mind and safety. Her heart was bitter
toward every one responsible for the situation, and there was dark
rebellion in her soul. It culminated finally in a resolve to
release Monty Brewster at any cost.

With difficulty she made her way to the stateroom door, clinging
to supports at times and then plunging violently away from them.
For some minutes she listened, franctically clutching Brewster's
door and the wall-rail. There was no guard, and the tumult of the
sea drowned every sound within. Her imagination ran riot when her
repeated calls were not answered.

"Monty, Monty," she cried, pounding wildly on the door.

"Who is it? What is the trouble?" came in muffled tones from
within, and Peggy breathed a prayer of thanks. Just then she
discovered the key which Monty had dropped and quickly opened the
door, expecting to find him cowering with fear. But the picture
was different. The prisoner was seated on the divan, propped up
with many pillows and reading with the aid of an electric light
"The Intrusions of Peggy."





CHAPTER XXVIII

A CATASTROPHE


"Oh!" was Peggy's only exclamation, and there was a shadow of
disappointment in her eyes.

"Come in, Peggy, and I'll read aloud," was Monty's cheerful
greeting as he stood before her,

"No, I must go," said Peggy, confusedly. "I thought you might be
nervous about the storm--and--"

"And you came to let me out?" Monty had never been so happy.

"Yes, and I don't care what the others say. I thought you were
suffering--" But at that moment the boat gave a lurch which threw
her across the threshold into Monty's arms. They crashed against
the wall, and he held her a moment and forgot the storm. When she
drew away from him she showed him the open door and freedom. She
could not speak.

"Where are the others?" he asked, bracing himself in the doorway.

"Oh, Monty," she cried, "we must not go to them. They will think
me a traitor."

"Why were you a traitor, Peggy?" he demanded, turning toward her
suddenly.

"Oh--oh, because it seemed so cruel to keep you locked up through
the storm," she answered, blushing.

"And there was no other reason?" he persisted.

"Don't, please don't!" she cried piteously, and he misunderstood
her emotion. It was clear that she was merely sorry for him.

"Never mind, Peggy, it's all right. You stood by me and I'll stand
by you. Come on; we'll face the mob and I'll do the fighting."

Together they made their way into the presence of the mutineers,
who were crowded into the main cabin.

"Well, here's a conspiracy," cried Dan DeMille, but there was no
anger in his voice. "How did you escape? I was just thinking of
unlocking your door, Monty, but the key seemed to be missing."

Peggy displayed it triumphantly.

"By Jove," cried Dan. "This is rank treachery. Who was on guard?"

A steward rushing through the cabin at this moment in answer to
frantic calls from Bragdon furnished an eloquent reply to the
question.

"It was simple," said Monty. "The guards deserted their post and
left the key behind."

"Then it is up to me to pay you a thousand dollars."

"Not at all," protested Monty, taken aback. "I did not escape of
my own accord. I had help. The money is yours. And now that I am
free," he added quietly, "let me say that this boat does not go to
Boston."

"Just what I expected," cried Vanderpool.

"She's going straight to New York!" declared Monty. The words were
hardly uttered when a heavy sea sent him sprawling across the
cabin, and he concluded, "or to the bottom."

"Not so bad as that," said Captain Perry, whose entrance had been
somewhat hastened by the lurch of the boat. "But until this blows
over I must keep you below." He laughed, but he saw they were not
deceived. "The seas are pretty heavy and the decks are being
holystoned for nothing, but I wouldn't like to have any of you
washed overboard by mistake."

The hatches were battened down, and it was a sorry company that
tried to while away the evening in the main cabin. Monty's chafing
about the advantages of the North Cape over the stormy Atlantic
was not calculated to raise the drooping spirits, and it was very
early when he and his shattered guests turned in. There was little
sleep on board the "Flitter" that night. Even if it had been easy
to forget the danger, the creaking of the ship and the incessant
roar of the water were enough for wakefulness. With each lurch of
the boat it seemed more incredible that it could endure. It was
such a mite of a thing to meet so furious an attack. As it rose on
the wave to pause in terror on its crest before sinking shivering
into the trough, it made the breath come short and the heart stand
still. Through the night the fragile little craft fought its
lonely way, bravely ignoring its own weakness and the infinite
strength of its enemy. To the captain, lashed to the bridge, there
were hours of grave anxiety--hours when he feared each wave as it
approached, and wondered what new damage it had done as it
receded. As the wind increased toward morning he felt a sickening
certainty that the brave little boat was beaten. Somehow she
seemed to lose courage, to waver a bit and almost give tip the
fight. He watched her miserably as the dismal dawn came up out of
the sea. Yet it was not until seven o'clock that the crash came,
which shook the passengers out of their berths and filled them
with shivering terror. The whirring of the broken shaft seemed to
consume the ship. In every cabin it spoke with terrible vividness
of disaster. The clamor of voices and the rush of many feet, which
followed, meant but one thing. Almost instantly the machinery was
stopped--an ominous silence in the midst of the dull roar of the
water and the cry of the wind.

It was a terrified crowd that quickly gathered in the main cabin,
but it was a brave one. There were no cries and few tears. They
expected anything and were ready for the worst, but they would not
show the white feather. It was Mrs. Dan who broke the tension. "I
made sure of my pearls," she said; "I thought they would be
appreciated at the bottom of the sea."

Brewster came in upon their laughter. "I like your nerve, people,"
he exclaimed, "you are all right. It won't be so bad now. The wind
has dropped."

Long afterward when they talked the matter over, DeMille claimed
that the only thing that bothered him that night was the effort to
decide whether the club of which he and Monty were members would
put in the main hallway two black-bordered cards, each bearing a
name, or only one with both names. Mr. Valentine regretted that he
had gone on for years paying life insurance premiums when now his
only relatives were on the boat and would die with him.

The captain, looking pretty rocky after his twenty-four hour
vigil, summoned his chief. "We're in a bad hole, Mr. Brewster," he
said when they were alone, "and no mistake. A broken shaft and
this weather make a pretty poor combination."

"Is there no chance of making a port for repairs?"

"I don't see it, sir. It looks like a long pull."

"We are way off our course, I suppose?" and Monty's coolness won
Captain Perry's admiration.

"I can't tell just how much until I get the sun, but this wind is
hell. I suspect we've drifted pretty far."

"Come and get some coffee, captain. While the storm lasts the only
thing to do is to cheer up the women and trust to luck."

"You're the nerviest mate I ever shipped with, Mr. Brewster," and
the captain's hand gripped Monty's in a way that meant things. It
was a tribute he appreciated.

During the day Monty devoted himself to his guests, and at the
first sign of pensiveness he was ready with a jest or a story. But
he did it all with a tact that inspired the crowd as a whole with
hope, and no one suspected that he himself was not cheerful. For
Peggy Gray there was a special tenderness, and he made up his mind
that if things should go wrong he would tell her that he loved
her.

"It could do no harm," he thought to himself, "and I want her to
know."

Toward night the worst was over. The sea had gone down and the
hatches were opened for a while to admit air, though it was still
too rough to venture out. The next morning was bright and clear.
When the company gathered on deck the havoc created by the storm
was apparent. Two of the boats had been completely carried away
and the launch was rendered useless by a large hole in the stern.

"You don't mean to say that we will drift about until the repairs
can be made?" asked Mrs. Dan in alarm.

"We are three hundred miles off the course already," explained
Monty, "and it will be pretty slow traveling under sail."

It was decided to make for the Canary Islands, where repairs could
be made and the voyage resumed. But where the wind had raged a few
days before, it had now disappeared altogether, and for a week the
"Flitter" tossed about absolutely unable to make headway. The
first of August had arrived and Monty himself was beginning to be
nervous. With the fatal day not quite two months away, things
began to look serious. Over one hundred thousand dollars would
remain after he had settled the expenses of the cruise, and he was
helplessly drifting in mid-ocean. Even if the necessary repairs
could be made promptly, it would take the "Flitter" fourteen days
to sail from the Canaries to New York. Figure as hard as he could
he saw no way out of the unfortunate situation. Two days more
elapsed and still no sign of a breeze. He made sure that September
23d would find him still drifting and still in possession of one
hundred thousand superfluous dollars.

At the end of ten days the yacht had progressed but two hundred
miles and Monty was beginning to plan the rest of his existence on
a capital of $100,000. He had given up all hope of the Sedgwick
legacy and was trying to be resigned to his fate, when a tramp
steamer was suddenly sighted. Brewster ordered the man on watch to
fly a flag of distress. Then he reported to the captain and told
what he had done. With a bound the captain rushed on deck and tore
the flag from the sailor's hand.

"That was my order," said Monty, nettled at the captain's manner.

"You want them to get a line on us and claim salvage, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"If they get a line on us in response to that flag they will claim
the entire value of the ship as salvage. You want to spend another
$200,000 on this boat?"

"I didn't understand," said Monty, sheepishly. "But for God's sake
fix it up somehow. Can't they tow us? I'll pay for it."

Communication was slow, but after an apparently endless amount of
signaling, the captain finally announced that the freight steamer
was bound for Southampton and would tow the "Flitter" to that
point for a price.

"Back to Southampton!" groaned Monty. "That means months before we
get back to New York."

"He says he can get us to Southampton in ten days," interrupted
the captain.

"I can do it, I can do it," he cried, to the consternation of his
guests, who wondered if his mind were affected. "If he'll land us
in Southampton by the 27th, I'll pay him up to one hundred
thousand dollars."





CHAPTER XXIX

THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN


After what seemed an age to Monty, the "Flitter," in tow of the
freighter "Glencoe," arrived at Southampton. The captain of the
freight boat was a thrifty Scotchman whose ship was traveling with
a light cargo, and he was not, therefore, averse to taking on a
tow. But the thought of salvage had caused him to ask a high price
for the service and Monty, after a futile attempt at bargaining,
had agreed. The price was fifty thousand dollars, and the young
man believed more than ever that everything was ruled by a wise
Providence, which had not deserted him. His guests were heartsick
when they heard the figure, but were as happy as Monty at the
prospect of reaching land again.

The "Glencoe" made several stops before Southampton was finally
reached on the 28th of August, but when the English coast was
sighted every one was too eager to go ashore to begrudge the extra
day. Dan DeMille asked the entire party to become his guests for a
week's shooting trip in Scotland, but Monty vetoed the plan in the
most decided manner.

"We sail for New York on the fastest boat," said Monty, and
hurried off to learn the sailings and book his party. The first
boat was to sail on the 30th and he could only secure
accommodations for twelve of his guests. The rest were obliged to
follow a week later. This was readily agreed to and Bragdon was
left to see to the necessary repairs on the "Flitter" and arrange
for her homeward voyage. Monty gave Bragdon fifteen thousand
dollars for the purpose and extracted a solemn promise that the
entire amount would be used.

"But it won't cost half of this," protested Bragdon.

"You will have to give these people a good time during the week
and--well--you have promised that I shall never see another penny
of it. Some day you'll know why I do this," and Monty felt easier
when his friend agreed to abide by his wishes.

He discharged the "Flitter's" crew, with five months' pay and the
reward promised on the night of Peggy's rescue, which was
productive of touching emotions. Captain Perry and his officers
never forgot the farewell of the prodigal, nor could they hide the
regret that marked their weather-beaten faces.

Plans to dispose of his household goods and the balance of his
cash in the short time that would be left after he arrived in New
York occupied Monty's attention, and most men would have given up
the scheme as hopeless. But he did not despair. He was still game,
and he prepared for the final plunge with grim determination.

"There should have been a clause in Jones's conditions about
'weather permitting,'" he said to himself. "A shipwrecked mariner
should not be expected to spend a million dollars."

The division of the party for the two sailings was tactfully
arranged by Mrs. Dan DeMille. The Valentines chaperoned the
"second table" as "Subway" Smith called those who were to take the
later boat, and she herself looked after the first lot. Peggy Gray
and Monty Brewster were in the DeMille party. The three days in
England were marked by unparalleled extravagance on Monty's part.
One of the local hotels was subsidized for a week, although the
party only stayed for luncheon, and the Cecil in London was a
gainer by several thousand dollars for the brief stop there. It
was a careworn little band that took Monty's special train for
Southampton and embarked two days later. The "rest cure" that
followed was welcome to all of them and Brewster was especially
glad that his race was almost run.

Swiftly and steadily the liner cut down the leagues that separated
her from New York. Fair weather and fair cheer marked her course,
and the soft, balmy nights were like seasons of fairyland. Monty
was cherishing in his heart the hope inspired by Peggy's action on
the night of the storm. Somehow it brought a small ray of light to
his clouded understanding and he found joy in keeping the flame
alive religiously if somewhat doubtfully. His eyes followed her
constantly, searching for the encouragement that the very
blindness of love had hidden from him, forever tormenting himself
with fears and hopes and fears again. Her happiness and vivacity
puzzled him--he was often annoyed, he was now and then seriously
mystified.

Four days out from New York, then three days, then two days, and
then Brewster began to feel the beginning of the final whirlwind
in profligacy clouding him oppressively, ominously, unkindly. Down
in his stateroom he drew new estimates, new calculations, and
tried to balance the old ones so that they appeared in the light
most favorable to his designs. Going over the statistics
carefully, he estimated that the cruise, including the repairs and
return of the yacht to New York, would cost him $210,000 in round
figures. One hundred and thirty-three days marked the length of
the voyage when reckoned by time and, as near as he could get at
it, the expense had averaged $1,580 a day. According to the
contract, he was to pay for the yacht, exclusive of the cuisine
and personal service. And he had found it simple enough to spend
the remaining $1,080. There were days, of course, when fully
$5,000 disappeared, and there were others on which he spent much
less than $1,000, but the average was secure. Taking everything
into consideration, Brewster found that his fortune had dwindled
to a few paltry thousands in addition to the proceeds which would
come to him from the sale of his furniture. On the whole he was
satisfied.

The landing in New York and the separation which followed were not
entirely merry. Every discomfort was forgotten and the travelers
only knew that the most wonderful cruise since that of the ark had
come to an end. There was not one who would not have been glad to
begin it again the next day.

Immediately after the landing Brewster and Gardner were busy with
the details of settlement. After clearing up all of the
obligations arising from the cruise, they felt the appropriateness
of a season of reflection. It was a difficult moment--a moment
when undelivered reproofs were in the air. But Gardner seemed much
the more melancholy of the two.

Piles of newspapers lay scattered about the floor of the room In
which they sat. Every one of them contained sensational stories of
the prodigal's trip, with pictures, incidents and predictions.
Monty was pained, humiliated and resentful, but he was honest
enough to admit the justification of much that was said of him. He
read bits of it here and there and then threw the papers aside
hopelessly. In a few weeks they would tell another story, and
quite as emphatically.

"The worst of it, Monty, is that you are the next thing to being a
poor man," groaned Gardner. "I've done my best to economize for
you here at home, as you'll see by these figures, but nothing
could possibly balance the extravagances of this voyage. They are
simply appalling."

With the condemnation of his friends ringing in his troubled
brain, with the sneers of acquaintances to distress his pride,
with the jibes of the comic papers to torture him remorselessly,
Brewster was fast becoming the most miserable man in New York.
Friends of former days gave him the cut direct, clubmen ignored
him or scorned him openly, women chilled him with the iciness of
unspoken reproof, and all the world was hung with shadows. The
doggedness of despair kept him up, but the strain that pulled down
on him was so relentless that the struggle was losing its
equality. He had not expected such a home-coming.

Compared with his former self, Monty was now almost a physical
wreck, haggard, thin and defiant, a shadow of the once debonair
young New Yorker, an object of pity and scorn. Ashamed and
despairing, he had almost lacked the courage to face Mrs. Gray.
The consolation he once gained through her he now denied himself
and his suffering, peculiar as it was, was very real. In absolute
recklessness he gave dinner after dinner, party after party, all
on a most lavish scale, many of his guests laughing at him openly
while they enjoyed his hospitality. The real friends remonstrated,
pleaded, did everything within their power to check his awful rush
to poverty, but without success; he was not to be stopped.

At last the furniture began to go, then the plate, then ail the
priceless bric-a-brac. Piece by piece it disappeared until the
apartments were empty and he had squandered almost all of the
$40,350 arising from the sales. The servants were paid off, the
apartments relinquished, and he was beginning to know what it
meant to be "on his uppers." At the banks he ascertained that the
interest on his moneys amounted to $19,140.86. A week before the
23d of September, the whole million was gone, including the
amounts won in Lumber and Fuel and other luckless enterprises. He
still had about $17,000 of his interest money in the banks, but he
had a billion pangs in his heart--the interest on his
improvidence.

He found some delight in the discovery that the servants had
robbed him of not less than $3,500 worth of his belongings,
including the Christmas presents that he in honor could not have
sold. His only encouragement came from Grant & Ripley, the
lawyers. They inspired confidence in his lagging brain by urging
him on to the end, promising brightness thereafter. Swearengen
Jones was as mute as the mountains in which he lived. There was no
word from him, there was no assurance that he would approve of
what had been done to obliterate Edwin Peter Brewster's legacy.

Dan DeMille and his wife implored Monty to come with them to the
mountains before his substance was gone completely. The former
offered him money, employment, rest and security if he would
abandon the course he was pursuing. Up in Fortieth Street Peggy
Gray was grieving her heart out and he knew it. Two or three of
those whom he had considered friends refused to recognize him in
the street in this last trying week, and it did not even interest
him to learn that Miss Barbara Drew was to become a duchess before
the winter was gone. Yet he found some satisfaction in the report
that one Hampton of Chicago had long since been dropped out of the
race.

One day he implored the faithful Bragdon to steal the Boston
terriers. He could not and would not sell them and he dared not
give them away. Bragdon dejectedly appropriated the dogs and
Brewster announced that some day he would offer a reward for their
return and "no questions asked."

He took a suite of rooms in a small hotel and was feverishly
planning the overthrow of the last torturing thousands. Bragdon
lived with him and the "Little Sons of the Rich" stood loyally
ready to help him when he uttered the first cry of want. But even
this establishment had to be abandoned at last. The old rooms in
Fortieth Street were still open to him and though he quailed at
the thought of making them a refuge, he faced the ordeal in the
spirit of a martyr.





CHAPTER XXX

THE PROMISE OF THRIFT


"Monty, you are breaking my heart," was the first and only appeal
Mrs. Gray ever made to him. It was two days before the twenty-
third and it did not come until after the "second-hand store" men
had driven away from her door with the bulk of his clothing in
their wagon. She and Peggy had seen little of Brewster, and his
nervous restlessness alarmed them. His return was the talk of the
town. Men tried to shun him, but he persistently wasted some
portion of his fortune on his unwilling subjects. When he gave
$5,000 in cash to a Home for Newsboys, even his friends jumped to
the conclusion that he was mad. It was his only gift to charity
and he excused his motive in giving at this time by recalling
Sedgwick's injunction to "give sparingly to charity." Everything
was gone from his thoughts but the overpowering eagerness to get
rid of a few troublesome thousands. He felt like an outcast, a
pariah, a hated object that infected every one with whom he came
in contact. Sleep was almost impossible, eating was a farce; he
gave elaborate suppers which he did not touch. Already his best
friends were discussing the advisability of putting him in a
sanitarium where his mind might be preserved. His case was looked
upon as peculiar in the history of mankind; no writer could find a
parallel, no one imagine a comparison.

Mrs. Gray met him in the hallway of her home as he was nervously
pocketing the $60 he had received in payment for his clothes. Her
face was like that of a ghost. He tried to answer her reproof, but
the words would not come, and he fled to his room, locking the
door after him. He was at work there on the transaction that was
to record the total disappearance of Edwin Brewster's million--his
final report to Swearengen Jones, executor of James Sedgwick's
will. On the floor were bundles of packages, carefully wrapped and
tied, and on the table was the long sheet of white paper on which
the report was being drawn. The package contained receipts--
thousands upon thousands of them--for the dollars he had spent in
less than a year. They were there for the inspection of Swearengen
Jones, faithfully and honorably kept--as if the old westerner
would go over in detail the countless documents.

He had the accounts balanced up to the hour. On the long sheet lay
the record of his ruthlessness, the epitaph of a million. In his
pocket was exactly $79.08. This was to last him for less than
forty-eight hours and--then it would go to join the rest. It was
his plan to visit Grant & Ripley on the afternoon of the twenty-
second and to read the report to them, in anticipation of the
meeting with Jones on the day following.

Just before noon, after his encounter with Mrs. Gray, he came down
stairs and boldly, for the first time in days, sought out Peggy.
There was the old smile in his eye and the old heartiness in his
voice when he came upon her in the library. She was not reading.
Books, pleasures and all the joys of life had fled from her mind
and she thought only of the disaster that was coming to the boy
she had always loved. His heart smote him as he looked into the
deep, somber, frightened eyes, running over with love and fear for
him.

"Peggy, do you think I'm worth anything more from your mother? Do
you think she will ask me to live here any longer?" he asked,
steadily, taking her hand in his. Hers was cold, his as hot as
fire. "You know what you said away off yonder somewhere, that
she'd let me live here if I deserved it. I am a pauper, Peggy, and
I'm afraid I'll--I may have to get down to drudgery again. Will
she turn me out? You know I must have somewhere to live. Shall it
be the poorhouse? Do you remember saying one day that I'd end in
the poorhouse?"

She was looking into his eyes, dreading what might be seen in
them. But there was no gleam of insanity there, there was no
fever; instead there was the quiet smile of the man who is
satisfied with himself and the world. His voice bore traces of
emotion, but it was the voice of one who has perfect control of
his wits.

"Is it all--gone, Monty?" she asked, almost in a whisper.

"Here is the residue of my estate," he said, opening his purse
with steady fingers. "I'm back to where I left off a year ago. The
million is gone and my wings are clipped." Her face was white, her
heart was in the clutch of ice. How could he be so calm about it,
when for him she was suffering such agony? Twice she started to
speak, but her voice failed her. She turned slowly and walked to
the window, keeping her back to the man who smiled so sadly and
yet so heartlessly.

"I didn't want the million, Peggy," he went on. "You think as the
rest do, I know, that I was a fool to act as I did. It would be
rank idiocy on my part to blame you any more than the others for
thinking as you do. Appearances are against me, the proof is
overwhelming. A year ago I was called a man, to-day they are
stripping me of every claim to that distinction. The world says I
am a fool, a dolt, almost a criminal--but no one believes I am a
man. Peggy, will you feel better toward me if I tell you that I am
going to begin life all over again? It will be a new Monty
Brewster that starts out again in a few days, or, if you will, it
shall be the old one--the Monty you once knew."

"The old Monty?" she murmured softly, dreamily. "It would be good
to see him--so much better than to see the Monty of the last
year."

"And, in spite of all I have done, Peggy, you will stand by me?
You won't desert me like the rest? You'll be the same Peggy of the
other days?" he cried, his calmness breaking down.

"How can you ask? Why should you doubt me?"

For a moment they stood silent, each looking into the heart of the
other, each seeing the beginning of a new day.

"Child," his voice trembled dangerously, "I--I wonder if you care
enough for me to--to--" but he could only look the question.

"To start all over again with you?" she whispered.

"Yes--to trust yourself to the prodigal who has returned. Without
you, child, all the rest would be as the husks. Peggy, I want you
--you! You DO love me--I can see it in your eyes, I can feel it in
your presence."

"How long you have been in realizing it," she said pensively as
she stretched out her arms to him. For many minutes he held her
close, finding a beautiful peace in the world again.

"How long have you really cared?" he asked in a whisper.

"Always, Monty; all my life."

"And I, too, child, all my life. I know it now; I've known it for
months. Oh, what a fool I was to have wasted all this love of
yours and all this love of mine. But I'll not be a profligate in
love, Peggy. I'll not squander an atom of it, dear, not as long as
I live."

"And we will build a greater love, Monty, as we build the new life
together. We never can be poor while we have love as a treasure."

"You won't mind being poor with me?" he asked.

"I can't be poor with you," she said simply.

"And I might have let all this escape me," he cried fervently.
"Listen, Peggy--we will start together, you as my wife and my
fortune. You shall be all that is left to me of the past. Will you
marry me the day after to-morrow? Don't say no, dearest. I want to
begin on that day. At seven in the morning, dear? Don't you see
how good the start will be?"

And he pleaded so ardently and so earnestly that he won his point
even though it grew out of a whim that she could not then
understand. She was not to learn until afterward his object in
having the marriage take place on the morning of September 23d,
two hours before the time set for the turning over of the Sedgwick
millions. If all went well they would be Brewster's millions
before twelve o'clock, and Peggy's life of poverty would cover no
more than three hours of time. She believed him worth a lifetime
of poverty. So they would start the new life with but one
possession--love.

Peggy rebelled against his desire to spend the seventy dollars
that still remained, but he was firm in his determination. They
would dine and drive together and see all of the old life that was
left--on seventy dollars. Then on the next day they would start
all over again. There was one rude moment of dismay when it
occurred to him that Peggy might be considered an "asset" if she
became his wife before nine o'clock. But he realized at once that
it was only demanded of him that he be penniless and that he
possess no object that had been acquired through the medium of
Edwin Peter Brewster's money. Surely this wife who was not to come
to him until his last dollar was gone could not be the product of
an old man's legacy. But so careful was he in regard to the
transaction that he decided to borrow money of Joe Bragdon to buy
the license and to pay the minister's fee. Not only would he be
penniless on the day of settlement, but he would be in debt. So
changed was the color of the world to him now that even the
failure to win Sedgwick's millions could not crush out the new
life and the new joy that had come to him with the winning of
Peggy Gray.





CHAPTER XXXI

HOW THE MILLION DISAPPEARED


Soon after noon on the 22d of September, Monty folded his report
to Swearengen Jones, stuck it into his pocket and sallied forth. A
parcel delivery wagon had carried off a mysterious bundle a few
minutes before. Mrs. Gray could not conceal her wonder, but
Brewster's answers to her questions threw little light on the
mystery. He could not tell her the big bundle contained the
receipts that were to prove his sincerity when the time came to
settle with Mr. Jones. Brewster had used his own form of receipt
for every purchase. The little stub receipt books had been made to
order for him and not only he but every person in his employ
carried one everywhere. No matter how trivial the purchase, the
person who received a dollar of Brewster's money signed a receipt
for the amount. Newsboys and bootblacks were the only beings who
escaped the formality; tips to waiters, porters, cabbies, etc.,
were recorded and afterward put into a class by themselves.
Receipts for the few dollars remaining in his possession were to
be turned over on the morning of the 23d and the general report
was not to be completed until 9 o'clock on that day.

He kissed Peggy good-bye, told her to be ready for a drive at 4
o'clock, and then went off to find Joe Bragdon and Elon Gardner.
They met him by appointment and to them he confided his design to
be married on the following day.

"You can't afford it, Monty," exploded Joe, fearlessly. "Peggy is
too good a girl. By Gad, it isn't fair to her."

"We have agreed to begin life to-morrow. Wait and see the result.
I think it will surprise you. Incidentally it is up to me to get
the license to-day and to engage a minister's services. It's going
to be quiet, you know. Joe, you can be my best man if you like,
and, Gardie, I'll expect you to sign your name as one of the
witnesses. To-morrow evening we'll have supper at Mrs. Gray's and
'among those present' will not comprise a very large list, I
assure you. But we'll talk about that later on. Just now I want to
ask you fellows to lend me enough money to get the license and pay
the preacher. I'll return it to-morrow afternoon."

"Well, I'm damned," exclaimed Gardner, utterly dumfounded by the
nerve of the man. But they went with him to get the license and
Bragdon paid for it. Gardner promised to have the minister at the
Gray house the next morning. Monty's other request--made in deep
seriousness--was that Peggy was not to be told of the little
transaction in which the license and the minister figured so
prominently. He then hurried off to the office of Grant & Ripley.
The bundles of receipts had preceded him.

"Has Jones arrived in town?" was his first anxious question after
the greetings.

"He is not registered at any of the hotels," responded Mr. Grant,
and Brewster did not see the troubled look that passed over his
face.

"He'll show up to-night, I presume," said he, complacently. The
lawyers did not tell him that all the telegrams they had sent to
Swearengen Jones in the past two weeks had been returned to the
New York office as unclaimed in Butte. The telegraph company
reported that Mr. Jones was not to be found and that he had not
been seen in Butte since the 3d of September. The lawyers were
hourly expecting word from Montana men to whom they had
telegraphed for information and advice. They were extremely
nervous, but Montgomery Brewster was too eager and excited to
notice the fact.

"A tall, bearded stranger was here this morning asking for you,
Mr. Brewster," said Ripley, his head bent over some papers on his
desk.

"Ah! Jones, I'm sure. I've always imagined him with a long beard,"
said Monty, relief in his voice.

"It was not Mr. Jones. We know Jones quite well. This man was a
stranger and refused to give his name. He said he would call at
Mrs. Gray's this afternoon."

"Did he look like a constable or a bill-collector?" asked Monty,
with a laugh.

"He looked very much like a tramp."

"Well, we'll forget him for the time being," said Monty, drawing
the report from his pocket. "Would you mind looking over this
report, gentlemen? I'd like to know if it is in proper form to
present to Mr. Jones."

Grant's hand trembled as he took the carefully folded sheet from
Brewster. A quick glance of despair passed between the two
lawyers.

"Of course, you'll understand that this report is merely a
synopsis of the expenditures. They are classified, however, and
the receipts over there are arranged in such a way that Mr. Jones
can very easily verify all the figures set out in the report. For
instance, where it says 'cigars,' I have put down the total amount
that went up in smoke. The receipts are to serve as an itemized
statement, you know." Mr. Ripley took the paper from his partner's
hand and, pulling himself together, read the report aloud. It was
as follows:

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 19--. To SWEARENGEN JONES, ESQ.

Executor under the will of the late James T. Sedgwick of Montana:

In pursuance of the terms of the aforesaid will and in accord with
the instructions set forth by yourself as executor, I present my
report of receipts and disbursements for the year in my life
ending at midnight on Sept. 22. The accuracy of the figures set
forth in this general statement may be established by referring to
the receipts, which form a part of this report. There is not one
penny of Edwin Peter Brewster's money in my possession, and I have
no asset to mark its burial place. These figures are submitted for
your most careful consideration.

ORIGINAL CAPITAL ........................... $1,000,000 00

"Lumber and Fuel" misfortune ................... 58,550.00

Prize-fight misjudged ........................... 1,000.00

Monte Carlo education .......................... 40,000.00

Race track errors ................................. 700.00

Sale of six terrier pups .......................... 150.00

Sale of furniture and personal effects ......... 40,500.00

Interest on funds once in hand ................. 19,140.00

Total amount to be disposed of ............. $1,160,040.00


DISBURSEMENTS.


Rent for apartments ........................... $23,000.00

Furnishing apartments .......................... 88,372.00

Three automobiles .............................. 21,000.00

Renting six automobiles ........................ 25,000.00

Amount lost to DeMille .......................... 1,000.00

Salaries ....................................... 25,650.00

Amount paid to men injured in auto accident .... 12,240 00

Amount lost in bank failure ................... 113,468.25

Amount lost on races ............................ 4,000.00

One glass screen ................................ 3,000.00

Christmas presents .............................. 7,211.00

Postage ......................................... 1,105.00

Cable and telegraph ............................. 3,253.00

Stationery ...................................... 2,400.00

Two Boston terriers ............................... 600.00

Amount lost to "hold-up men" ...................... 450.00

Amount lost on concert tour .................... 56,382.00

Amount lost through O. Harrison's speculation
(on my account) ................................ 60,000.00

One ball (in two sections) ..................... 60,000.00

Extra favors .................................... 6,000.00

One yacht cruise .............................. 212,309.50

One carnival .................................... 6,824.00

Cigars .......................................... 1,720.00

Drinks, chiefly for others ...................... 9,040.00

Clothing ........................................ 3,400.00

Rent of one villa .............................. 20,000.00

One courier ....................................... 500.00

Dinner parties ................................ 117,900.00

Suppers and luncheons .......................... 38,000.00

Theater parties and suppers ..................... 6,277.00

Hotel expenses ................................. 61,218.59

Railway and steamship fares .................... 31,274.81

For Newsboys' Home .............................. 5,000.00

Two opera performances ......................... 20,000.00

Repairs to "Flitter" ...........................  6,342.60

In tow from somewhere to Southampton ........... 50,000.00

Special train to Florida .......................  1,000.00

Cottage in Florida .............................  5,500.00

Medical attendance .............................  3,100.00

Living expenses in Florida .....................  8,900.00

Misappropriation of personal property by
servants ........................................ 3,580.00

Taxes on personal property ........................ 112.25

Sundries ........................................ 9,105.00

Household expenses ............................. 24,805.00

Total disbursements ........................ $1,160,040.00

BALANCE ON HAND ............................ $0,000,000.00

Respectfully submitted,

MONTGOMERY BREWSTER.

"It's rather broad, you see, gentlemen, but there are receipts for
every dollar, barring some trifling incidentals. He may think I
dissipated the fortune, but I defy him or any one else to prove
that I have not had my money's worth. To tell you the truth, it
has seemed like a hundred million. If any one should tell you that
it is an easy matter to waste a million dollars, refer him to me.
Last fall I weighed 180 pounds, yesterday I barely moved the beam
at 140; last fall there was not a wrinkle in my face, nor did I
have a white hair. You see the result of overwork, gentlemen. It
will take an age to get back to where I was physically, but I
think I can do it with the vacation that begins to-morrow.
Incidentally, I'm going to be married to-morrow morning, just when
I am poorer than I ever expect to be again. I still have a few
dollars to spend and I must be about it. To-morrow I will account
for what I spend this evening. It is now covered by the 'sundries'
item, but I'll have the receipts to show, all right. See you to-
morrow morning."

He was gone, eager to be with Peggy, afraid to discuss his report
with the lawyers. Grant and Ripley shook their heads and sat
silent for a long time after his departure.

"We ought to hear something definite before night," said Grant,
but there was anxiety in his voice.

"I wonder," mused Ripley, as if to himself, "how he will take it
if the worst should happen."





CHAPTER XXXII

THE NIGHT BEFORE


"It's all up to Jones now," kept running through Brewster's brain
as he drove off to keep his appointment with Peggy Gray. "The
million is gone--all gone. I'm as poor as Job's turkey. It's up to
Jones, but I don't see how he can decide against me. He insisted
on making a pauper of me and he can't have the heart to throw me
down now. But, what if he should take it into his head to be ugly!
I wonder if I could break the will--I wonder if I could beat him
out in court."

Peggy was waiting for him. Her cheeks were flushed as with a
fever. She had caught from him the mad excitement of the occasion.

"Come, Peggy," he exclaimed, eagerly. "This is our last holiday--
let's be merry. We can forget it to-morrow, if you like, when we
begin all over again, but maybe it will be worth remembering." He
assisted her to the seat and then leaped up beside her. "We're
off!" he cried, his voice quivering.

"It is absolute madness, dear," she said, but her eyes were
sparkling with the joy of recklessness. Away went the trap and the
two light hearts. Mrs. Gray turned from a window in the house with
tears in her eyes. To her troubled mind they were driving off into
utter darkness.

"The queerest looking man came to the house to see you this
afternoon, Monty," said Peggy. "He wore a beard and he made me
think of one of Remington's cowboys."

"What was his name?"

"He told the maid it did not matter. I saw him as he walked away
and he looked very much a man. He said he would come to-morrow if
he did not find you down town to-night. Don't you recognize him
from the description?"

"Not at all. Can't imagine who he is."

"Monty," she said, after a moment's painful reflection, "he--he
couldn't have been a--"

"I know what you mean. An officer sent up to attach my belongings
or something of the sort. No, dearest; I give you my word of honor
I do not owe a dollar in the world." Then he recalled his peculiar
indebtedness to Bragdon and Gardner. "Except one or two very small
personal obligations," he added, hastily. "Don't worry about it,
dear, we are out for a good time and we must make the most of it.
First, we drive through the Park, then we dine at Sherry's."

"But we must dress for that, dear," she cried. "And the chaperon?"

He turned very red when she spoke of dressing. "I'm ashamed to
confess it, Peggy, but I have no other clothes than these I'm
wearing now. Don't look so hurt, dear--I'm going to leave an order
for new evening clothes to-morrow--if I have the time. And about
the chaperon. People won't be talking before to-morrow and by that
time--"

"No, Monty, Sherry's is out of the question. We can't go there,"
she said, decisively.

"Oh, Peggy! That spoils everything," he cried, in deep
disappointment.

"It isn't fair to me, Monty. Everybody would know us, and every
tongue would wag. They would say, 'There are Monty Brewster and
Margaret Gray. Spending his last few dollars on her.' You wouldn't
have them think that?"

He saw the justice in her protest. "A quiet little dinner in some
out of the way place would be joyous," she added, persuasively.

"You're right, Peggy, you're always right. You see, I'm so used to
spending money by the handful that I don't know how to do it any
other way. I believe I'll let you carry the pocketbook after to-
morrow. Let me think; I knew a nice little restaurant down town.
We'll go there and then to the theater. Dan DeMille and his wife
are to be in my box and we're all going up to Pettingill's studio
afterward. I'm to give the 'Little Sons' a farewell supper. If my
calculations don't go wrong, that will be the end of the jaunt and
we'll go home happy."

At eleven o'clock Pettingill's studio opened its doors to the
"Little Sons" and their guests, and the last "Dutch lunch" was
soon under way. Brewster had paid for it early in the evening and
when he sat down at the head of the table there was not a penny in
his pockets. A year ago, at the same hour, he and the "Little
Sons" were having a birthday feast. A million dollars came to him
on that night. To-night he was poorer by far than on the other
occasion, but he expected a little gift on the new anniversary.

Around the board, besides the nine "Little Sons," sat six guests,
among them the DeMilles, Peggy Gray and Mary Valentine. "Nopper"
Harrison was the only absent "Little Son" and his health was
proposed by Brewster almost before the echoes of the toast to the
bride and groom died away.

Interruption came earlier on this occasion than it did that night
a year ago. Ellis did not deliver his message to Brewster until
three o'clock in the morning, but the A.D.T. boy who rang the bell
at Pettingill's a year later handed him a telegram before twelve
o'clock.

"Congratulations are coming in, old man," said DeMille, as Monty
looked fearfully at the little envelope the boy had given him.

"Many happy returns of the day," suggested Bragdon. "By Jove, it's
sensible of you to get married on your birthday, Monty. It saves
time and expense to your friends."

"Read it aloud," said "Subway" Smith.

"Two to one it's from Nopper Harrison," cried Pettingill.

Brewster's fingers trembled, he knew not why, as he opened the
envelope. There was the most desolate feeling in his heart, the
most ghastly premonition that ill-news had come in this last hour.
He drew forth the telegram and slowly, painfully unfolded it. No
one could have told by his expression that he felt almost that he
was reading his death warrant. It was from Grant & Ripley and
evidently had been following him about town for two or three
hours. The lawyers had filed it at 8:30 o'clock.

He read it at a glance, his eyes burning, his heart freezing. To
the end of his days these words lived sharp and distinct in his
brain.

"Come to the office immediately. Will wait all night for you if
necessary. Jones has disappeared and there is absolutely no trace
of him."

"Grant & Ripley."

Brewster sat as one paralyzed, absolutely no sign of emotion in
his face. The others began to clamor for the contents of the
telegram, but his tongue was stiff and motionless, his ears deaf.
Every drop of blood in his body was stilled by the shock, every
sense given him by the Creator was centered upon eleven words in
the handwriting of a careless telegraph operator--"Jones has
disappeared and there is absolutely no trace of him."

"JONES HAS DISAPPEARED!" Those were the words, plain and terrible
in their clearness, tremendous in their brutality. Slowly the rest
of the message began to urge its claims upon his brain. "Come to
our office immediately" and "Will wait all night" battled for
recognition. He was calm because he had not the power to express
an emotion. How he maintained control of himself afterward he
never knew. Some powerful, kindly force asserted itself, coming to
his relief with the timeliness of a genii. Gradually it began to
dawn upon him that the others were waiting for him to read the
message aloud. He was not sure that a sound would come forth when
he opened his lips to speak, but the tones were steady, natural
and as cold as steel.

"I am sorry I can't tell you about this," he said, so gravely that
his hearers were silenced. "It is a business matter of such vital
importance that I must ask you to excuse me for an hour or so. I
will explain everything to-morrow. Please don't be uneasy. If you
will do me the honor to grace the board of an absent host, I'll be
most grateful. It is imperative that I go, and at once. I promise
to return in an hour." He was standing, his knees as stiff as
iron.

"Is it anything serious?" asked DeMille.

"What! has anything happened?" came in halting, frightened tones
from Peggy.

"It concerns me alone, and it is purely of a business nature.
Seriously, I can't delay going for another minute. It is vital. In
an hour I'll return. Peggy, don't be worried--don't be distressed
about me. Go on and have a good time, everybody, and you'll find
me the jolliest fellow of all when I come back. It's twelve
o'clock. I'll be here by one on the 23d of September."

"Let me go with you," pleaded Peggy, tremulously, as she followed
him into the hallway.

"I must go alone," he answered. "Don't worry, little woman, it
will be all right."

His kiss sent a chill to the very bottom of Peggy's heart.





CHAPTER XXXIII

THE FLIGHT OF JONES


Everything seemed like a dream to Brewster as he rushed off
through the night to the office of Grant & Ripley. He was dazed,
bewildered, hardly more than half-conscious. A bitter smile crept
about his lips as he drew away from the street-car track almost as
his hand touched the rail of a car he had signaled. He remembered
that he did not have money enough to pay his fare. It was six or
seven blocks to the office of the lawyers, and he was actually
running before he stopped at the entrance of the big building.

Never had an elevator traveled more slowly than the one which shot
him to the seventh floor. A light shone through the transom above
the attorneys' door and he entered without so much as a rap on the
panel. Grant, who was pacing the floor, came to a standstill and
faced his visitor.

"Close the door, please," came in steady tones from Ripley. Mr.
Grant dropped into a chair and Brewster mechanically slammed the
door.

"Is it true?" he demanded hoarsely, his hand still on the knob.

"Sit down, Brewster, and control yourself," said Ripley.

"Good God, man, can't you see I am calm?" cried Monty. "Go on--
tell me all about it. What do you know? What have you heard?"

"He cannot be found, that's all," announced Ripley, with deadly
intentness. "I don't know what it means. There is no explanation.
The whole thing is inconceivable. Sit down and I will tell you
everything as quickly as possible."

"There isn't much to tell," said Grant, mechanically.

"I can take it better standing," declared Brewster, shutting his
jaws tightly.

"Jones was last seen in Butte on the third of this month," said
Ripley. "We sent several telegrams to him after that day, asking
when he expected to leave for New York. They never were claimed
and the telegraph company reported that he could not be found. We
thought he might have gone off to look after some of his property
and were not uneasy. Finally we began to wonder why he had not
wired us on leaving for the east. I telegraphed him again and got
no answer. It dawned upon us that this was something unusual. We
wired his secretary and received a response from the chief of
police. He asked, in turn, if we could tell him anything about the
whereabouts of Jones. This naturally alarmed us and yesterday we
kept the wires hot. The result of our inquiries is terrible, Mr.
Brewster."

"Why didn't you tell me?" asked Brewster.

"There can be no doubt that Jones has fled, accompanied by his
secretary. The belief in Butte is that the secretary has murdered
him."

"God!" was the only sound that came from the lips of Brewster.

Ripley moistened his lips and went on

"We have dispatches here from the police, the banks, the trust
companies and from a half dozen mine managers. You may read them
if you like, but I can tell you what they say. About the first of
this month Jones began to turn various securities into money. It
is now known that they were once the property of James T.
Sedgwick, held in trust for you. The safety deposit vaults were
afterward visited and inspection shows that he removed every scrap
of stock, every bond, everything of value that he could lay his
hands upon. His own papers and effects were not disturbed. Yours
alone have disappeared. It is this fact that convinces the
authorities that the secretary has made away with the old man and
has fled with the property. The bank people say that Jones drew
out every dollar of the Sedgwick money, and the police say that he
realized tremendous sums on the convertible securities. The
strange part of it is that he sold your mines and your real
estate, the purchaser being a man named Golden. Brewster, it--it
looks very much as if he had disappeared with everything."

Brewster did not take his eyes from Ripley's face throughout the
terrible speech; he did not move a fraction of an inch from the
rigid position assumed at the beginning.

"Is anything being done?" he asked, mechanically.

"The police are investigating. He is known to have started off
into the mountains with this secretary on the third of September.
Neither has been seen since that day, so far as any one knows. The
earth seems to have swallowed them. The authorities are searching
the mountains and are making every effort to find Jones or his
body. He is known to be eccentric and at first not much importance
was attached to his actions. That is all we can tell you at
present. There may be developments to-morrow. It looks bad--
terribly bad. We--we had the utmost confidence in Jones. My God, I
wish I could help you, my boy."

"I don't blame you, gentlemen," said Brewster, bravely. "It's just
my luck, that's all. Something told me all along that--that it
wouldn't turn out right. I wasn't looking for this kind of end,
though. My only fear was that--Jones wouldn't consider me worthy
to receive the fortune. It never occurred to me that he might
prove to be the--the unworthy one."

"I will take you a little farther into our confidence, Brewster,"
said Grant, slowly. "Mr. Jones notified us at the beginning that
he would be governed largely in his decision by our opinion of
your conduct. That is why we felt no hesitation in advising you to
continue as you were going. While you were off at sea, we had many
letters from him, all in that sarcastic vein of his, but in none
of them did he offer a word of criticism. He seemed thoroughly
satisfied with your methods. In fact, he once said he'd give a
million of his own money if it would purchase your ability to
spend one-fourth of it."

"Well, he can have my experience free of charge. A beggar can't be
a chooser, you know," said Brewster, bitterly. His color was
gradually coming back. "What do they know about the secretary?" he
asked, suddenly, intent and alive.

"He was a new one, I understand, who came to Jones less than a
year ago. Jones is said to have had implicit faith in him," said
Ripley.

"And he disappeared at the same time?"

"They were last seen together."

"Then he has put an end to Jones!" cried Monty, excitedly. "It is
as plain as day to me. Don't you see that he exerted some sort of
influence over the old man, inducing him to get all this money
together on some pretext or other, solely for the purpose of
robbing him of the whole amount? Was ever anything more
diabolical?" He began pacing the floor like an animal, nervously
clasping and unclasping his hands. "We must catch that secretary!
I don't believe Jones was dishonest. He has been duped by a clever
scoundrel."

"The strangest circumstance of all, Mr. Brewster, is that no such
person as Golden, the purchaser of your properties, can be found.
He is supposed to reside in Omaha, and it is known that he paid
nearly three million dollars for the property that now stands in
his name. He paid it to Mr. Jones in cash, too, and he paid every
cent that the property is worth."

"But he must be in existence somewhere," cried Brewster, in
perplexity. "How the devil could he pay the money if he doesn't
exist?"

"I only know that no trace of the man can be found. They know
nothing of him in Omaha," said Grant, helplessly.

"So it has finally happened," said Brewster, but his excitement
had dropped. "Well," he added, throwing himself into a deep chair,
"it was always much too strange to be true. Even at the beginning
it seemed like a dream, and now--well, now I am just awake, like
the little boy after the fairy-tale. I seem like a fool to have
taken it so seriously."

"There was no other way," protested Ripley, "you were quite
right."

"Well, after all," continued Brewster, and the voice was as of one
in a dream, "perhaps it's as well to have been in Wonderland even
if you have to come down afterward to the ordinary world. I am
foolish, perhaps, but even now I would not give it up." Then the
thought of Peggy clutched him by the throat, and he stopped. After
a moment he gathered himself together and rose. "Gentlemen," he
said sharply, and his voice had changed; "I have had my fun and
this is the end of it. Down underneath I am desperately tired of
the whole thing, and I give you my word that you will find me a
different man to-morrow. I am going to buckle down to the real
thing. I am going to prove that my grandfather's blood is in me.
And I shall come out on top."

Ripley was obviously moved as he replied, "I don't question it for
a moment. You are made of the right stuff. I saw that long ago.
You may count on us to-morrow for any amount you need."

Grant endorsed the opinion. "I like your spirit, Brewster," he
said. "There are not many men who would have taken this as well.
It's pretty hard on you, too, and it's a miserable wedding gift
for your bride."

"We may have important news from Butte in the morning," said
Ripley, hopefully; "at any rate, more of the details. The
newspapers will have sensational stories no doubt, and we have
asked for the latest particulars direct from the authorities.
We'll see that things are properly investigated. Go home now, my
boy, and go to bed. You will begin to-morrow with good luck on
your side and you may be happy all your life in spite of to-
night's depression."

"I'm sure to be happy," said Brewster, simply. "The ceremony takes
place at seven o'clock, gentlemen. I was coming to your office at
nine on a little matter of business, but I fancy it won't after
all be necessary for me to hurry. I'll drop in before noon,
however, and get that money. By the way, here are the receipts for
the money I spent to-night. Will you put them away with the
others? I intend to live up to my part of the contract, and it
will save me the trouble of presenting them regularly in the
morning. Good night, gentlemen. I am sorry you were obliged to
stay up so late on my account."

He left them bravely enough, but he had more than one moment of
weakness before he could meet his friends. The world seemed unreal
and himself the most unreal thing in it. But the night air acted
as a stimulant and helped him to call back his courage. When he
entered the studio at one o'clock, he was prepared to redeem his
promise to be "the jolliest fellow of them all."





CHAPTER XXXIV

THE LAST WORD


"I'll tell you about it later, dear," was all that Peggy,
pleading, could draw from him.

At midnight Mrs. Dan had remonstrated with her. "You must go home,
Peggy, dear," she said. "It is disgraceful for you to stay up so
late. I went to bed at eight o'clock the night before I was
married."

"And fell asleep at four in the morning," smiled Peggy.

"You are quite mistaken, my dear. I did not fall asleep at all.
But I won't allow you to stop a minute longer. It puts rings under
the eyes and sometimes they're red the morning after."

"Oh, you dear, sweet philosopher," cried Peggy; "how wise you are.
Do you think I need a beauty sleep?"

"I don't want you to be a sleepy beauty, that's all," retorted
Mrs. Dan.

Upon Monty's return from his trying hour with the lawyers, he had
been besieged with questions, but he was cleverly evasive. Peggy
alone was insistent; she had curbed her curiosity until they were
on the way home, and then she implored him to tell her what had
happened. The misery he had endured was as nothing to his
reckoning with the woman who had the right to expect fair
treatment. His duty was clear, but the strain had been heavy and
it was not easy to meet it.

"Peggy, something terrible has happened," he faltered, uncertain
of his course.

"Tell me everything, Monty, you can trust me to be brave."

"When I asked you to marry me," he continued gravely, "it was with
the thought that I could give you everything to-morrow. I looked
for a fortune. I never meant that you should marry a pauper."

"I don't understand. You tried to test my love for you?"

"No, child, not that. But I was pledged not to speak of the money
I expected, and I wanted you so much before it came."

"And it has failed you?" she answered. "I can't see that it
changes things. I expected to marry a pauper, as you call it. Do
you think this could make a difference?"

"But you don't understand, Peggy. I haven't a penny in the world."

"You hadn't a penny when I accepted you," she replied. "I am not
afraid. I believe in you. And if you love me I shall not give you
up."

"Dearest!" and the carriage was at the door before another word
was uttered. But Monty called to the coachman to drive just once
around the block.

"Good night, my darling," he said when they reached home. "Sleep
till eight o'clock if you like. There is nothing now in the way of
having the wedding at nine, instead of at seven. In fact, I have a
reason for wanting my whole fortune to come to me then. You will
be all that I have in the world, child, but I am the happiest man
alive."

In his room the strain was relaxed and Brewster faced the bitter
reality. Without undressing he threw himself upon the lounge and
wondered what the world held for him. It held Peggy at least, he
thought, and she was enough. But had he been fair to her? Was he
right in exacting a sacrifice? His tired brain whirled in the
effort to decide. Only one thing was clear--that he could not give
her up. The future grew black at the very thought of it. With her
he could make things go, but alone it was another matter. He would
take the plunge and he would justify it. His mind went traveling
back over the graceless year, and he suddenly realized that he had
forfeited the confidence of men who were worth while. His course
in profligacy would not be considered the best training for
business. The thought nerved him to action. He must make good.
Peggy had faith in him. She came to him when everything was
against him, and he would slave for her, he would starve, he would
do anything to prove that she was not mistaken in him. She at
least should know him for a man.

Looking toward the window he saw the black, uneasy night give way
to the coming day. Haggard and faint he arose from the couch to
watch the approach of the sun that is indifferent to wealth and
poverty, to gayety and dejection. From far off in the gray light
there came the sound of a five o'clock bell. A little later the
shrieks of factory whistles were borne to his ears, muffled by
distance but pregnant with the importance of a new day of toil.
They were calling him, with all poor men, to the sweat-shop and
the forge, to the great mill of life. The new era had begun,
dawning bright and clear to disperse the gloom in his soul.
Leaning against the casement and wondering where he could earn the
first dollar for the Peggy Brewster that was Peggy Gray, he rose
to meet it with a fine unflinching fearlessness.

Before seven o'clock he was down stairs and waiting. Joe Bragdon
joined him a bit later, followed by Gardner and the minister. The
DeMilles appeared without an invitation, but they were not denied.
Mrs. Dan sagely shook her head when told that Peggy was still
asleep and that the ceremony was off till nine o'clock.

"Monty, are you going away?" asked Dan, drawing him into a corner.

"Just a week in the hills," answered Monty, suddenly remembering
the generosity of his attorneys.

"Come in and see me as soon as you return, old man," said DeMille,
and Monty knew that a position would be open to him.

To Mrs. Dan fell the honor of helping Peggy dress. By the time she
had had coffee and was ready to go down, she was pink with
excitement and had quite forgotten the anxiety which had made the
night an age.

She had never been prettier than on her wedding morning. Her color
was rich, her eyes as clear as stars, her woman's body the picture
of grace and health. Monty's heart leaped high with love of her.

"The prettiest girl in New York, by Jove," gasped Dan DeMille,
clutching Bragdon by the arm.

"And look at Monty! He's become a new man in the last five
minutes," added Joe. "Look at the glow in his cheeks! By the
eternal, he's beginning to look as he did a year ago."

A clock chimed the hour of nine.

"The man who was here yesterday is in the hall to see Mr.
Brewster," said the maid, a few minutes after the minister had
uttered the words that gave Peggy a new name. There was a moment
of silence, almost of dread.

"You mean the fellow with the beard?" asked Monty, uneasily.

"Yes, sir. He sent in this letter, begging you to read it at
once."

"Shall I send him away, Monty?" demanded Bragdon, defiantly. "What
does he mean by coming at this time?"

"I'll read the letter first, Joe."

Every eye was on Brewster as he tore open the envelope. His face
was expressive. There was wonder in it, then incredulity, then
joy. He threw the letter to Bragdon, clasped Peggy in his arms
spasmodically, and then, releasing her, dashed for the hall like
one bereft of reason.

"It's Nopper Harrison!" he cried, and a moment later the tall
visitor was dragged into the circle. "Nopper" was quite overcome
by the heartiness of his welcome.

"You are an angel, Nopper, God bless you!" said Monty, with
convincing emphasis. "Joe, read that letter aloud and then
advertise for the return of those Boston terriers!"

Bragdon's hands trembled and his voice was not sure as he
translated the scrawl, "Nopper" Harrison standing behind him for
the gleeful purpose of prompting him when the writing was beyond
the range of human intelligence:

 HOLLAND HOUSE, Sept. 23, 19--

"MR. MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,

"My Dear Boy:

"So you thought I had given you the slip, eh? Didn't think I'd
show up here and do my part? Well, I don't blame you; I suppose
I've acted like a damned idiot, but so long as it turns out O.K.
there's no harm done. The wolf won't gnaw very much of a hole in
your door, I reckon. This letter introduces my secretary, Mr.
Oliver Harrison. He came to me last June, out in Butte, with the
prospectus of a claim he had staked out up in the mountains. What
he wanted was backing and he had such a good show to win out that
I went into cahoots with him. He's got a mine up there that is
dead sure to yield millions. Seems as though he has to give you
half of the yield, though. Says you grub-staked him. Good fellow,
this Harrison. Needed a secretary and man of affairs, so took him
into my office. You can see that he did not take me up into the
mountains to murder me, as the papers say this morning. Damned
rot. Nobody's business but my own if I concluded to come east
without telling everybody in Butte about it.

"I am here and so is the money. Got in last night. Harrison came
from Chicago a day ahead of me. I went to the office of G. & R. at
eight this morning. Found them in a hell of a stew. Thought I'd
skipped out or been murdered. Money all gone, everything gone to
smash. That's what they thought. Don't blame 'em much. You see it
was this way: I concluded to follow out the terms of the will and
deliver the goods in person. I got together all of Jim Sedgwick's
stuff and did a lot of other fool things, I suppose, and hiked on
to New York. You'll find about seven million dollars' worth of
stuff to your credit when you endorse the certified checks down at
Grant & Ripley's, my boy. It's all here and in the banks.

"It's a mighty decent sort of wedding gift, I reckon.

"The lawyers told me all about you. Told me all about last night,
and that you were going to be married this morning. By this time
you're comparatively happy with the bride, I guess. I looked over
your report and took a few peeps at the receipts. They're all
right. I'm satisfied. The money is yours. Then I got to thinking
that maybe you wouldn't care to come down at nine o'clock,
especially as you are just recovering from the joy of being
married, so I settled with the lawyers and they'll settle with
you. If you have nothing in particular to do this afternoon about
two o'clock, I'd suggest that you come to the hotel and we'll
dispose of a few formalities that the law requires of us. And you
can give me some lessons in spending money. I've got a little I'd
like to miss some morning. As for your ability as a business man,
I have this to say: Any man who can spend a million a year and
have nothing to show for it, don't need a recommendation from
anybody. He's in a class by himself, and it's a business that no
one else can give him a pointer about. The best test of your real
capacity, my boy, is the way you listed your property for
taxation. It's a true sign of business sagacity. That would have
decided me in your favor if everything else had been against you.

"I'm sorry you've been worried about all this. You have gone
through a good deal in a year and you have been roasted from Hades
to breakfast by everybody. Now it's your turn to laugh. It will
surprise them to read the 'extras' to-day. I've done my duty to
you in more ways than one. I've got myself interviewed by the
newspapers and to-day they'll print the whole truth about
Montgomery Brewster and his millions. They've got the Sedgwick
will and my story and the old town will boil with excitement. I
guess you'll be squared before the world, all right. You'd better
stay indoors for awhile though, if you want to have a quiet
honeymoon.

"I don't like New York. Never did. Am going back to Butte to-
night. Out there we have real skyscrapers and they are not built
of brick. They are two or three miles high and they have gold in
'em. There is real grass in the lowlands and we have valleys that
make Central Park look like a half inch of nothing. Probably you
and Mrs. Brewster were going to take a wedding trip, so why not go
west with me in my car? We start at 7:45 P.M. and I won't bother
you. Then you can take it anywhere you like.

"Sincerely yours,

"SWEARENGEN JONES.

"P.S. I forgot to say there is no such man as Golden. I bought
your mines and ranches with my own money. You may buy them back at
the same figures. I'd advise you to do it. They'll be worth twice
as much in a year. I hope you'll forgive the whims of an old man
who has liked you from the start.

J."







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