George Barr McCutcheon
Part 3 out of 4
before the end of the week a new tenderfoot was on his way to the
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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.
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
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
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
"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
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,
"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
"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."
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,"
"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
"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."
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
"The very thing," declared Brewster; "Petty, we'll have a house-
"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
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
Suddenly the face of the courier grew bright. "I have it," he
said, and then he faltered. "But the expense, monsieur--it would
"Perhaps we can meet it," suggested Monty, quietly. "What's the
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
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
"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?"
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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."
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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!"
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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.
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
He decided to change his plans and sail for the North Cape,
thereby adding more than $30,000 to his credit.
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
"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
"How does the crew feel about this additional trip, captain?"
"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
"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
"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
"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."
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