George Barr McCutcheon
Part 2 out of 4
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--
"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
"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--
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
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
"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
"But, Monty, I know what I'm talking about. At least let me tell
you something about this stock," pleaded Elon, loyally, despite
"Gardy, I've gone into this thing carefully, and if ever a man
felt sure about anything I do about this," said Monty, decidedly,
"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
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
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
"I instructed Gardner to sell only when I gave the word," said
Monty, lamely. Several of the men looked at him in surprise and
"Well, if I were you I'd tell him to sell," remarked the Colonel,
"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
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
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.
"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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"What do you want?" he demanded as coolly as his nerves would
"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,
"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,
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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
"You know this fellow, Mr. Brewster?" demanded the captain,
quickly. Bill looked utterly helpless.
"Know Bill?" questioned Monty in surprise. "Of course I do,
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"I think you'll end in the poor-house, Montgomery Brewster," she
said, with a laugh.
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.
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.
"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
"We were"--in a moment of absent mindedness. "But it's all over,"
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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."
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
"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."
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"To work?" laughed the physician. "And what is your occupation,
"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
"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.
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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.
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--
How about having my life insured? Would it violate conditions?
To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,
Seems to me your life would become an asset in that case. Can you
dispose of it before September 23d?
TO SWEARENGEN JONES,
On the contrary, I think life will be a debt by that time.
To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,
If you feel that way about it, I advise you to take out a $500
TO SWEARENGEN JONES,
Do you think that amount would cover funeral expenses?
To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,
You won't be caring about expenses if it comes to that.
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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