George Barr McCutcheon
Part 4 out of 4
A FAIR TRAITOR
"Now will you be good?" cried Reggie Vanderpool to DeMille as
Monty went down the companionway. The remark was precisely what
was needed, for the pent-up feelings of the entire company were
now poured forth upon the unfortunate young man. "Subway" Smith
was for hanging him to the yard arm, and the denunciation of the
others was so decisive that Reggie sought refuge in the chart
house. But the atmosphere had been materially cleared and the
leaders of the mutiny were in a position to go into executive
session and consider the matter. The women waited on deck while
the meeting lasted. They were unanimous in the opinion that the
affair had been badly managed.
"They should have offered to stay by the ship providing Monty
would let DeMille manage the cruise," said Miss Valentine. "That
would have been a concession and at the same time it would have
put the cruise on an economical basis."
"In other words, you will accept a man's invitation to dinner if
he will allow you to order it and invite the other guests," said
Peggy, who was quick to defend Monty.
"Well that would be better than helping to eat up every bit of
food he possessed." But Miss Valentine always avoided argument
when she could and gave this as a parting thrust before she walked
"There must be something more than we know about in Monty's
extravagance," said Mrs. Dan. "He isn't the kind of man to
squander his last penny without having something left to show for
it. There must be a method in his madness."
"He has done it for us," said Peggy. "He has devoted himself all
along to giving us a good time and now we are showing our
Further discussion was prevented by the appearance of the
conspiring committee and the whole company was summoned to hear
DeMille's report as chairman.
"We have found a solution of our difficulties," he began, and his
manner was so jubilant that every one became hopeful. "It is
desperate, but I think it will be effective. Monty has given us
the privilege of leaving the yacht at any port where we can take a
steamer to New York. Now, my suggestion is that we select the most
convenient place for all of us, and obviously there is nothing
quite so convenient as Boston."
"Dan DeMille, you are quite foolish," cried his wife. "Who ever
conceived such a ridiculous idea?"
"Captain Perry has his instructions," continued DeMille, turning
to the captain. "Are we not acting along the lines marked out by
"I will sail for Boston if you say the word," said the thoughtful
captain. "But he is sure to countermand such an order."
"He won't be able to, captain," cried "Subway" Smith, who had for
some time been eager to join in the conversation. "This is a
genuine, dyed-in-the-wool mutiny and we expect to carry out the
original plan, which was to put Mr. Brewster in irons, until we
are safe from all opposition."
"He is my friend, Mr. Smith, and at least it is my duty to protect
him from any indignity," said the captain, stiffly.
"You make for Boston, my dear captain, and we'll do the rest,"
said DeMille. "Mr. Brewster can't countermand your orders unless
he sees you in person. We'll see to it that he has no chance to
talk to you until we are in sight of Boston Harbor."
The captain looked doubtful and shook his head as he walked away.
At heart he was with the mutineers and his mind was made up to
assist them as long as it was possible to do so without violating
his obligations to Brewster. He felt guilty, however, in
surreptitiously giving the order to clear for Boston at daybreak.
The chief officers were let into the secret, but the sailors were
kept in darkness regarding the destination of the "Flitter."
Montgomery Brewster's guests were immensely pleased with the
scheme, although they were dubious about the outcome. Mrs. Dan
regretted her hasty comment on the plan and entered into the plot
with eagerness. In accordance with plans decided upon by the
mutineers, Monty's stateroom door was guarded through the night by
two of the men. The next morning as he emerged from his room, he
was met by "Subway" Smith and Dan DeMille.
"Good morning," was his greeting. "How's the weather to-day?"
"Bully," answered DeMille. "By the way, you are going to have
breakfast in your room, old man."
Brewster unsuspectingly led the way into his stateroom, the two
"What's the mystery?" he demanded.
"We've been deputized to do some very nasty work," said "Subway,"
as he turned the key in the door. "We are here to tell you what
port we have chosen."
"It's awfully good of you to tell me."
"Yes, isn't it? But we have studied up on the chivalrous treatment
of prisoners. We have decided on Boston."
"Is there a Boston on this side of the water?" asked Monty in mild
"No; there is only one Boston in the universe, so far as we know.
It is a large body of intellect surrounded by the rest of the
"What the devil are you talking about? You don't mean Boston,
Massachusetts?" cried Monty, leaping to his feet.
"Precisely. That's the port for us and you told us to choose for
ourselves," said Smith.
"Well, I won't have it, that's all," exclaimed Brewster,
indignantly. "Captain Perry takes orders from me and from no one
"He already has his orders," said DeMille, smiling mysteriously.
"I'll see about that. Brewster sprang to the door. It was locked
and the key was in "Subway" Smith's pocket. With an impatient
exclamation he turned and pressed an electric button.
"It won't ring, Monty," explained "Subway." "The wire has been
cut. Now, be cool for a minute or two and we'll talk it over."
Brewster stormed for five minutes, the "delegation" sitting calmly
by, smiling with exasperating confidence. At last he calmed down
and in terms of reason demanded an explanation. He was given to
understand that the yacht would sail for Boston and that he would
be kept a prisoner for the entire voyage unless he submitted to
the will of the majority.
Brewster listened darkly to the proclamation. He saw that they had
gained the upper hand by a clever ruse, and that only strategy on
his part could outwit them. It was out of the question for him to
submit to them now that the controversy had assumed the dignity of
"But you will be reasonable, won't you?" asked DeMille, anxiously.
"I intend to fight it out to the bitter end," said Brewster, his
eyes flashing. "At present I am your prisoner, but it is a long
way to Boston."
For three days and two nights the "Flitter" steamed westward into
the Atlantic, with her temporary owner locked into his stateroom.
The confinement was irksome, but he rather liked the sensation of
being interested in something besides money. He frequently laughed
to himself over the absurdity of the situation. His enemies were
friends, true and devoted; his gaolers were relentless but they
were considerate. The original order that he should be guarded by
one man was violated on the first day. There were times when his
guard numbered at least ten persons and some of them served tea
and begged him to listen to reason.
"It is difficult not to listen," he said fiercely. "It's like
holding a man down and then asking him to be quiet. But my time is
"Revenge will be his!" exclaimed Mrs. Dan, tragically.
"You might have your term shortened on account of good conduct if
you would only behave," suggested Peggy, whose reserve was
beginning to soften. "Please be good and give in."
"I haven't been happier during the whole cruise," said Monty. "On
deck I wouldn't be noticed, but here I am quite the whole thing.
Besides I can get out whenever I feel like it."
"I have a thousand dollars which says you can't," said DeMille,
and Monty snapped him up so eagerly that he added, "that you can't
get out of your own accord."
Monty acceded to the condition and offered odds on the proposition
to the others, but there were no takers.
"That settles it," he smiled grimly to himself. "I can make a
thousand dollars by staying here and I can't afford to escape."
On the third day of Monty's imprisonment the "Flitter" began to
roll heavily. At first he gloated over the discomfort of his
guards, who obviously did not like to stay below. "Subway" Smith
and Bragdon were on duty and neither was famous as a good sailor.
When Monty lighted his pipe there was consternation and "Subway"
rushed on deck.
"You are a brave man, Joe," Monty said to the other and blew a
cloud of smoke in his direction. "I knew you would stick to your
post. You wouldn't leave it even if the ship should go down."
Bragdon had reached the stage where he dared not speak and was
busying himself trying to "breathe with the motion of the boat,"
as he had called it.
"By Gad," continued Monty, relentlessly, "this smoke is getting
thick. Some of this toilet water might help if I sprinkled it
One whiff of the sweet-smelling cologne was enough for Bragdon and
he bolted up the companionway, leaving the stateroom door wide
open and the prisoner free to go where he pleased. Monty's first
impulse was to follow, but he checked himself on the threshold.
"Damn that bet with DeMille," he said to himself, and added aloud
to the fleeting guard, "The key, Joe, I dare you to come back and
But Bragdon was beyond recall and Monty locked the door on the
inside and passed the key through the ventilator.
On deck a small part of the company braved the spray in the lee of
the deck house, but the others had long since gone below. The boat
was pitching furiously in the ugliest sea it had encountered, and
there was anxiety underneath Captain Perry's mask of unconcern.
DeMille and Dr. Lotless talked in the senseless way men have when
they try to conceal their nervousness. But the women did not
respond; they were in no mood for conversation.
Only one of them was quite oblivious to personal discomfort and
danger. Peggy Gray was thinking of the prisoner below. In a
reflection of her own terror, she pictured him crouching in the
little state-room, like a doomed criminal awaiting execution,
alone, neglected, forgotten, unpitied. At first she pleaded for
the men for his release, but they insisted upon waiting in the
hope that a scare might bring him to his senses. Peggy saw that no
help was to be secured from the other women, much as they might
care for Brewster's peace of mind and safety. Her heart was bitter
toward every one responsible for the situation, and there was dark
rebellion in her soul. It culminated finally in a resolve to
release Monty Brewster at any cost.
With difficulty she made her way to the stateroom door, clinging
to supports at times and then plunging violently away from them.
For some minutes she listened, franctically clutching Brewster's
door and the wall-rail. There was no guard, and the tumult of the
sea drowned every sound within. Her imagination ran riot when her
repeated calls were not answered.
"Monty, Monty," she cried, pounding wildly on the door.
"Who is it? What is the trouble?" came in muffled tones from
within, and Peggy breathed a prayer of thanks. Just then she
discovered the key which Monty had dropped and quickly opened the
door, expecting to find him cowering with fear. But the picture
was different. The prisoner was seated on the divan, propped up
with many pillows and reading with the aid of an electric light
"The Intrusions of Peggy."
"Oh!" was Peggy's only exclamation, and there was a shadow of
disappointment in her eyes.
"Come in, Peggy, and I'll read aloud," was Monty's cheerful
greeting as he stood before her,
"No, I must go," said Peggy, confusedly. "I thought you might be
nervous about the storm--and--"
"And you came to let me out?" Monty had never been so happy.
"Yes, and I don't care what the others say. I thought you were
suffering--" But at that moment the boat gave a lurch which threw
her across the threshold into Monty's arms. They crashed against
the wall, and he held her a moment and forgot the storm. When she
drew away from him she showed him the open door and freedom. She
could not speak.
"Where are the others?" he asked, bracing himself in the doorway.
"Oh, Monty," she cried, "we must not go to them. They will think
me a traitor."
"Why were you a traitor, Peggy?" he demanded, turning toward her
"Oh--oh, because it seemed so cruel to keep you locked up through
the storm," she answered, blushing.
"And there was no other reason?" he persisted.
"Don't, please don't!" she cried piteously, and he misunderstood
her emotion. It was clear that she was merely sorry for him.
"Never mind, Peggy, it's all right. You stood by me and I'll stand
by you. Come on; we'll face the mob and I'll do the fighting."
Together they made their way into the presence of the mutineers,
who were crowded into the main cabin.
"Well, here's a conspiracy," cried Dan DeMille, but there was no
anger in his voice. "How did you escape? I was just thinking of
unlocking your door, Monty, but the key seemed to be missing."
Peggy displayed it triumphantly.
"By Jove," cried Dan. "This is rank treachery. Who was on guard?"
A steward rushing through the cabin at this moment in answer to
frantic calls from Bragdon furnished an eloquent reply to the
"It was simple," said Monty. "The guards deserted their post and
left the key behind."
"Then it is up to me to pay you a thousand dollars."
"Not at all," protested Monty, taken aback. "I did not escape of
my own accord. I had help. The money is yours. And now that I am
free," he added quietly, "let me say that this boat does not go to
"Just what I expected," cried Vanderpool.
"She's going straight to New York!" declared Monty. The words were
hardly uttered when a heavy sea sent him sprawling across the
cabin, and he concluded, "or to the bottom."
"Not so bad as that," said Captain Perry, whose entrance had been
somewhat hastened by the lurch of the boat. "But until this blows
over I must keep you below." He laughed, but he saw they were not
deceived. "The seas are pretty heavy and the decks are being
holystoned for nothing, but I wouldn't like to have any of you
washed overboard by mistake."
The hatches were battened down, and it was a sorry company that
tried to while away the evening in the main cabin. Monty's chafing
about the advantages of the North Cape over the stormy Atlantic
was not calculated to raise the drooping spirits, and it was very
early when he and his shattered guests turned in. There was little
sleep on board the "Flitter" that night. Even if it had been easy
to forget the danger, the creaking of the ship and the incessant
roar of the water were enough for wakefulness. With each lurch of
the boat it seemed more incredible that it could endure. It was
such a mite of a thing to meet so furious an attack. As it rose on
the wave to pause in terror on its crest before sinking shivering
into the trough, it made the breath come short and the heart stand
still. Through the night the fragile little craft fought its
lonely way, bravely ignoring its own weakness and the infinite
strength of its enemy. To the captain, lashed to the bridge, there
were hours of grave anxiety--hours when he feared each wave as it
approached, and wondered what new damage it had done as it
receded. As the wind increased toward morning he felt a sickening
certainty that the brave little boat was beaten. Somehow she
seemed to lose courage, to waver a bit and almost give tip the
fight. He watched her miserably as the dismal dawn came up out of
the sea. Yet it was not until seven o'clock that the crash came,
which shook the passengers out of their berths and filled them
with shivering terror. The whirring of the broken shaft seemed to
consume the ship. In every cabin it spoke with terrible vividness
of disaster. The clamor of voices and the rush of many feet, which
followed, meant but one thing. Almost instantly the machinery was
stopped--an ominous silence in the midst of the dull roar of the
water and the cry of the wind.
It was a terrified crowd that quickly gathered in the main cabin,
but it was a brave one. There were no cries and few tears. They
expected anything and were ready for the worst, but they would not
show the white feather. It was Mrs. Dan who broke the tension. "I
made sure of my pearls," she said; "I thought they would be
appreciated at the bottom of the sea."
Brewster came in upon their laughter. "I like your nerve, people,"
he exclaimed, "you are all right. It won't be so bad now. The wind
Long afterward when they talked the matter over, DeMille claimed
that the only thing that bothered him that night was the effort to
decide whether the club of which he and Monty were members would
put in the main hallway two black-bordered cards, each bearing a
name, or only one with both names. Mr. Valentine regretted that he
had gone on for years paying life insurance premiums when now his
only relatives were on the boat and would die with him.
The captain, looking pretty rocky after his twenty-four hour
vigil, summoned his chief. "We're in a bad hole, Mr. Brewster," he
said when they were alone, "and no mistake. A broken shaft and
this weather make a pretty poor combination."
"Is there no chance of making a port for repairs?"
"I don't see it, sir. It looks like a long pull."
"We are way off our course, I suppose?" and Monty's coolness won
Captain Perry's admiration.
"I can't tell just how much until I get the sun, but this wind is
hell. I suspect we've drifted pretty far."
"Come and get some coffee, captain. While the storm lasts the only
thing to do is to cheer up the women and trust to luck."
"You're the nerviest mate I ever shipped with, Mr. Brewster," and
the captain's hand gripped Monty's in a way that meant things. It
was a tribute he appreciated.
During the day Monty devoted himself to his guests, and at the
first sign of pensiveness he was ready with a jest or a story. But
he did it all with a tact that inspired the crowd as a whole with
hope, and no one suspected that he himself was not cheerful. For
Peggy Gray there was a special tenderness, and he made up his mind
that if things should go wrong he would tell her that he loved
"It could do no harm," he thought to himself, "and I want her to
Toward night the worst was over. The sea had gone down and the
hatches were opened for a while to admit air, though it was still
too rough to venture out. The next morning was bright and clear.
When the company gathered on deck the havoc created by the storm
was apparent. Two of the boats had been completely carried away
and the launch was rendered useless by a large hole in the stern.
"You don't mean to say that we will drift about until the repairs
can be made?" asked Mrs. Dan in alarm.
"We are three hundred miles off the course already," explained
Monty, "and it will be pretty slow traveling under sail."
It was decided to make for the Canary Islands, where repairs could
be made and the voyage resumed. But where the wind had raged a few
days before, it had now disappeared altogether, and for a week the
"Flitter" tossed about absolutely unable to make headway. The
first of August had arrived and Monty himself was beginning to be
nervous. With the fatal day not quite two months away, things
began to look serious. Over one hundred thousand dollars would
remain after he had settled the expenses of the cruise, and he was
helplessly drifting in mid-ocean. Even if the necessary repairs
could be made promptly, it would take the "Flitter" fourteen days
to sail from the Canaries to New York. Figure as hard as he could
he saw no way out of the unfortunate situation. Two days more
elapsed and still no sign of a breeze. He made sure that September
23d would find him still drifting and still in possession of one
hundred thousand superfluous dollars.
At the end of ten days the yacht had progressed but two hundred
miles and Monty was beginning to plan the rest of his existence on
a capital of $100,000. He had given up all hope of the Sedgwick
legacy and was trying to be resigned to his fate, when a tramp
steamer was suddenly sighted. Brewster ordered the man on watch to
fly a flag of distress. Then he reported to the captain and told
what he had done. With a bound the captain rushed on deck and tore
the flag from the sailor's hand.
"That was my order," said Monty, nettled at the captain's manner.
"You want them to get a line on us and claim salvage, do you?"
"What do you mean?"
"If they get a line on us in response to that flag they will claim
the entire value of the ship as salvage. You want to spend another
$200,000 on this boat?"
"I didn't understand," said Monty, sheepishly. "But for God's sake
fix it up somehow. Can't they tow us? I'll pay for it."
Communication was slow, but after an apparently endless amount of
signaling, the captain finally announced that the freight steamer
was bound for Southampton and would tow the "Flitter" to that
point for a price.
"Back to Southampton!" groaned Monty. "That means months before we
get back to New York."
"He says he can get us to Southampton in ten days," interrupted
"I can do it, I can do it," he cried, to the consternation of his
guests, who wondered if his mind were affected. "If he'll land us
in Southampton by the 27th, I'll pay him up to one hundred
THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN
After what seemed an age to Monty, the "Flitter," in tow of the
freighter "Glencoe," arrived at Southampton. The captain of the
freight boat was a thrifty Scotchman whose ship was traveling with
a light cargo, and he was not, therefore, averse to taking on a
tow. But the thought of salvage had caused him to ask a high price
for the service and Monty, after a futile attempt at bargaining,
had agreed. The price was fifty thousand dollars, and the young
man believed more than ever that everything was ruled by a wise
Providence, which had not deserted him. His guests were heartsick
when they heard the figure, but were as happy as Monty at the
prospect of reaching land again.
The "Glencoe" made several stops before Southampton was finally
reached on the 28th of August, but when the English coast was
sighted every one was too eager to go ashore to begrudge the extra
day. Dan DeMille asked the entire party to become his guests for a
week's shooting trip in Scotland, but Monty vetoed the plan in the
most decided manner.
"We sail for New York on the fastest boat," said Monty, and
hurried off to learn the sailings and book his party. The first
boat was to sail on the 30th and he could only secure
accommodations for twelve of his guests. The rest were obliged to
follow a week later. This was readily agreed to and Bragdon was
left to see to the necessary repairs on the "Flitter" and arrange
for her homeward voyage. Monty gave Bragdon fifteen thousand
dollars for the purpose and extracted a solemn promise that the
entire amount would be used.
"But it won't cost half of this," protested Bragdon.
"You will have to give these people a good time during the week
and--well--you have promised that I shall never see another penny
of it. Some day you'll know why I do this," and Monty felt easier
when his friend agreed to abide by his wishes.
He discharged the "Flitter's" crew, with five months' pay and the
reward promised on the night of Peggy's rescue, which was
productive of touching emotions. Captain Perry and his officers
never forgot the farewell of the prodigal, nor could they hide the
regret that marked their weather-beaten faces.
Plans to dispose of his household goods and the balance of his
cash in the short time that would be left after he arrived in New
York occupied Monty's attention, and most men would have given up
the scheme as hopeless. But he did not despair. He was still game,
and he prepared for the final plunge with grim determination.
"There should have been a clause in Jones's conditions about
'weather permitting,'" he said to himself. "A shipwrecked mariner
should not be expected to spend a million dollars."
The division of the party for the two sailings was tactfully
arranged by Mrs. Dan DeMille. The Valentines chaperoned the
"second table" as "Subway" Smith called those who were to take the
later boat, and she herself looked after the first lot. Peggy Gray
and Monty Brewster were in the DeMille party. The three days in
England were marked by unparalleled extravagance on Monty's part.
One of the local hotels was subsidized for a week, although the
party only stayed for luncheon, and the Cecil in London was a
gainer by several thousand dollars for the brief stop there. It
was a careworn little band that took Monty's special train for
Southampton and embarked two days later. The "rest cure" that
followed was welcome to all of them and Brewster was especially
glad that his race was almost run.
Swiftly and steadily the liner cut down the leagues that separated
her from New York. Fair weather and fair cheer marked her course,
and the soft, balmy nights were like seasons of fairyland. Monty
was cherishing in his heart the hope inspired by Peggy's action on
the night of the storm. Somehow it brought a small ray of light to
his clouded understanding and he found joy in keeping the flame
alive religiously if somewhat doubtfully. His eyes followed her
constantly, searching for the encouragement that the very
blindness of love had hidden from him, forever tormenting himself
with fears and hopes and fears again. Her happiness and vivacity
puzzled him--he was often annoyed, he was now and then seriously
Four days out from New York, then three days, then two days, and
then Brewster began to feel the beginning of the final whirlwind
in profligacy clouding him oppressively, ominously, unkindly. Down
in his stateroom he drew new estimates, new calculations, and
tried to balance the old ones so that they appeared in the light
most favorable to his designs. Going over the statistics
carefully, he estimated that the cruise, including the repairs and
return of the yacht to New York, would cost him $210,000 in round
figures. One hundred and thirty-three days marked the length of
the voyage when reckoned by time and, as near as he could get at
it, the expense had averaged $1,580 a day. According to the
contract, he was to pay for the yacht, exclusive of the cuisine
and personal service. And he had found it simple enough to spend
the remaining $1,080. There were days, of course, when fully
$5,000 disappeared, and there were others on which he spent much
less than $1,000, but the average was secure. Taking everything
into consideration, Brewster found that his fortune had dwindled
to a few paltry thousands in addition to the proceeds which would
come to him from the sale of his furniture. On the whole he was
The landing in New York and the separation which followed were not
entirely merry. Every discomfort was forgotten and the travelers
only knew that the most wonderful cruise since that of the ark had
come to an end. There was not one who would not have been glad to
begin it again the next day.
Immediately after the landing Brewster and Gardner were busy with
the details of settlement. After clearing up all of the
obligations arising from the cruise, they felt the appropriateness
of a season of reflection. It was a difficult moment--a moment
when undelivered reproofs were in the air. But Gardner seemed much
the more melancholy of the two.
Piles of newspapers lay scattered about the floor of the room In
which they sat. Every one of them contained sensational stories of
the prodigal's trip, with pictures, incidents and predictions.
Monty was pained, humiliated and resentful, but he was honest
enough to admit the justification of much that was said of him. He
read bits of it here and there and then threw the papers aside
hopelessly. In a few weeks they would tell another story, and
quite as emphatically.
"The worst of it, Monty, is that you are the next thing to being a
poor man," groaned Gardner. "I've done my best to economize for
you here at home, as you'll see by these figures, but nothing
could possibly balance the extravagances of this voyage. They are
With the condemnation of his friends ringing in his troubled
brain, with the sneers of acquaintances to distress his pride,
with the jibes of the comic papers to torture him remorselessly,
Brewster was fast becoming the most miserable man in New York.
Friends of former days gave him the cut direct, clubmen ignored
him or scorned him openly, women chilled him with the iciness of
unspoken reproof, and all the world was hung with shadows. The
doggedness of despair kept him up, but the strain that pulled down
on him was so relentless that the struggle was losing its
equality. He had not expected such a home-coming.
Compared with his former self, Monty was now almost a physical
wreck, haggard, thin and defiant, a shadow of the once debonair
young New Yorker, an object of pity and scorn. Ashamed and
despairing, he had almost lacked the courage to face Mrs. Gray.
The consolation he once gained through her he now denied himself
and his suffering, peculiar as it was, was very real. In absolute
recklessness he gave dinner after dinner, party after party, all
on a most lavish scale, many of his guests laughing at him openly
while they enjoyed his hospitality. The real friends remonstrated,
pleaded, did everything within their power to check his awful rush
to poverty, but without success; he was not to be stopped.
At last the furniture began to go, then the plate, then ail the
priceless bric-a-brac. Piece by piece it disappeared until the
apartments were empty and he had squandered almost all of the
$40,350 arising from the sales. The servants were paid off, the
apartments relinquished, and he was beginning to know what it
meant to be "on his uppers." At the banks he ascertained that the
interest on his moneys amounted to $19,140.86. A week before the
23d of September, the whole million was gone, including the
amounts won in Lumber and Fuel and other luckless enterprises. He
still had about $17,000 of his interest money in the banks, but he
had a billion pangs in his heart--the interest on his
He found some delight in the discovery that the servants had
robbed him of not less than $3,500 worth of his belongings,
including the Christmas presents that he in honor could not have
sold. His only encouragement came from Grant & Ripley, the
lawyers. They inspired confidence in his lagging brain by urging
him on to the end, promising brightness thereafter. Swearengen
Jones was as mute as the mountains in which he lived. There was no
word from him, there was no assurance that he would approve of
what had been done to obliterate Edwin Peter Brewster's legacy.
Dan DeMille and his wife implored Monty to come with them to the
mountains before his substance was gone completely. The former
offered him money, employment, rest and security if he would
abandon the course he was pursuing. Up in Fortieth Street Peggy
Gray was grieving her heart out and he knew it. Two or three of
those whom he had considered friends refused to recognize him in
the street in this last trying week, and it did not even interest
him to learn that Miss Barbara Drew was to become a duchess before
the winter was gone. Yet he found some satisfaction in the report
that one Hampton of Chicago had long since been dropped out of the
One day he implored the faithful Bragdon to steal the Boston
terriers. He could not and would not sell them and he dared not
give them away. Bragdon dejectedly appropriated the dogs and
Brewster announced that some day he would offer a reward for their
return and "no questions asked."
He took a suite of rooms in a small hotel and was feverishly
planning the overthrow of the last torturing thousands. Bragdon
lived with him and the "Little Sons of the Rich" stood loyally
ready to help him when he uttered the first cry of want. But even
this establishment had to be abandoned at last. The old rooms in
Fortieth Street were still open to him and though he quailed at
the thought of making them a refuge, he faced the ordeal in the
spirit of a martyr.
THE PROMISE OF THRIFT
"Monty, you are breaking my heart," was the first and only appeal
Mrs. Gray ever made to him. It was two days before the twenty-
third and it did not come until after the "second-hand store" men
had driven away from her door with the bulk of his clothing in
their wagon. She and Peggy had seen little of Brewster, and his
nervous restlessness alarmed them. His return was the talk of the
town. Men tried to shun him, but he persistently wasted some
portion of his fortune on his unwilling subjects. When he gave
$5,000 in cash to a Home for Newsboys, even his friends jumped to
the conclusion that he was mad. It was his only gift to charity
and he excused his motive in giving at this time by recalling
Sedgwick's injunction to "give sparingly to charity." Everything
was gone from his thoughts but the overpowering eagerness to get
rid of a few troublesome thousands. He felt like an outcast, a
pariah, a hated object that infected every one with whom he came
in contact. Sleep was almost impossible, eating was a farce; he
gave elaborate suppers which he did not touch. Already his best
friends were discussing the advisability of putting him in a
sanitarium where his mind might be preserved. His case was looked
upon as peculiar in the history of mankind; no writer could find a
parallel, no one imagine a comparison.
Mrs. Gray met him in the hallway of her home as he was nervously
pocketing the $60 he had received in payment for his clothes. Her
face was like that of a ghost. He tried to answer her reproof, but
the words would not come, and he fled to his room, locking the
door after him. He was at work there on the transaction that was
to record the total disappearance of Edwin Brewster's million--his
final report to Swearengen Jones, executor of James Sedgwick's
will. On the floor were bundles of packages, carefully wrapped and
tied, and on the table was the long sheet of white paper on which
the report was being drawn. The package contained receipts--
thousands upon thousands of them--for the dollars he had spent in
less than a year. They were there for the inspection of Swearengen
Jones, faithfully and honorably kept--as if the old westerner
would go over in detail the countless documents.
He had the accounts balanced up to the hour. On the long sheet lay
the record of his ruthlessness, the epitaph of a million. In his
pocket was exactly $79.08. This was to last him for less than
forty-eight hours and--then it would go to join the rest. It was
his plan to visit Grant & Ripley on the afternoon of the twenty-
second and to read the report to them, in anticipation of the
meeting with Jones on the day following.
Just before noon, after his encounter with Mrs. Gray, he came down
stairs and boldly, for the first time in days, sought out Peggy.
There was the old smile in his eye and the old heartiness in his
voice when he came upon her in the library. She was not reading.
Books, pleasures and all the joys of life had fled from her mind
and she thought only of the disaster that was coming to the boy
she had always loved. His heart smote him as he looked into the
deep, somber, frightened eyes, running over with love and fear for
"Peggy, do you think I'm worth anything more from your mother? Do
you think she will ask me to live here any longer?" he asked,
steadily, taking her hand in his. Hers was cold, his as hot as
fire. "You know what you said away off yonder somewhere, that
she'd let me live here if I deserved it. I am a pauper, Peggy, and
I'm afraid I'll--I may have to get down to drudgery again. Will
she turn me out? You know I must have somewhere to live. Shall it
be the poorhouse? Do you remember saying one day that I'd end in
She was looking into his eyes, dreading what might be seen in
them. But there was no gleam of insanity there, there was no
fever; instead there was the quiet smile of the man who is
satisfied with himself and the world. His voice bore traces of
emotion, but it was the voice of one who has perfect control of
"Is it all--gone, Monty?" she asked, almost in a whisper.
"Here is the residue of my estate," he said, opening his purse
with steady fingers. "I'm back to where I left off a year ago. The
million is gone and my wings are clipped." Her face was white, her
heart was in the clutch of ice. How could he be so calm about it,
when for him she was suffering such agony? Twice she started to
speak, but her voice failed her. She turned slowly and walked to
the window, keeping her back to the man who smiled so sadly and
yet so heartlessly.
"I didn't want the million, Peggy," he went on. "You think as the
rest do, I know, that I was a fool to act as I did. It would be
rank idiocy on my part to blame you any more than the others for
thinking as you do. Appearances are against me, the proof is
overwhelming. A year ago I was called a man, to-day they are
stripping me of every claim to that distinction. The world says I
am a fool, a dolt, almost a criminal--but no one believes I am a
man. Peggy, will you feel better toward me if I tell you that I am
going to begin life all over again? It will be a new Monty
Brewster that starts out again in a few days, or, if you will, it
shall be the old one--the Monty you once knew."
"The old Monty?" she murmured softly, dreamily. "It would be good
to see him--so much better than to see the Monty of the last
"And, in spite of all I have done, Peggy, you will stand by me?
You won't desert me like the rest? You'll be the same Peggy of the
other days?" he cried, his calmness breaking down.
"How can you ask? Why should you doubt me?"
For a moment they stood silent, each looking into the heart of the
other, each seeing the beginning of a new day.
"Child," his voice trembled dangerously, "I--I wonder if you care
enough for me to--to--" but he could only look the question.
"To start all over again with you?" she whispered.
"Yes--to trust yourself to the prodigal who has returned. Without
you, child, all the rest would be as the husks. Peggy, I want you
--you! You DO love me--I can see it in your eyes, I can feel it in
"How long you have been in realizing it," she said pensively as
she stretched out her arms to him. For many minutes he held her
close, finding a beautiful peace in the world again.
"How long have you really cared?" he asked in a whisper.
"Always, Monty; all my life."
"And I, too, child, all my life. I know it now; I've known it for
months. Oh, what a fool I was to have wasted all this love of
yours and all this love of mine. But I'll not be a profligate in
love, Peggy. I'll not squander an atom of it, dear, not as long as
"And we will build a greater love, Monty, as we build the new life
together. We never can be poor while we have love as a treasure."
"You won't mind being poor with me?" he asked.
"I can't be poor with you," she said simply.
"And I might have let all this escape me," he cried fervently.
"Listen, Peggy--we will start together, you as my wife and my
fortune. You shall be all that is left to me of the past. Will you
marry me the day after to-morrow? Don't say no, dearest. I want to
begin on that day. At seven in the morning, dear? Don't you see
how good the start will be?"
And he pleaded so ardently and so earnestly that he won his point
even though it grew out of a whim that she could not then
understand. She was not to learn until afterward his object in
having the marriage take place on the morning of September 23d,
two hours before the time set for the turning over of the Sedgwick
millions. If all went well they would be Brewster's millions
before twelve o'clock, and Peggy's life of poverty would cover no
more than three hours of time. She believed him worth a lifetime
of poverty. So they would start the new life with but one
Peggy rebelled against his desire to spend the seventy dollars
that still remained, but he was firm in his determination. They
would dine and drive together and see all of the old life that was
left--on seventy dollars. Then on the next day they would start
all over again. There was one rude moment of dismay when it
occurred to him that Peggy might be considered an "asset" if she
became his wife before nine o'clock. But he realized at once that
it was only demanded of him that he be penniless and that he
possess no object that had been acquired through the medium of
Edwin Peter Brewster's money. Surely this wife who was not to come
to him until his last dollar was gone could not be the product of
an old man's legacy. But so careful was he in regard to the
transaction that he decided to borrow money of Joe Bragdon to buy
the license and to pay the minister's fee. Not only would he be
penniless on the day of settlement, but he would be in debt. So
changed was the color of the world to him now that even the
failure to win Sedgwick's millions could not crush out the new
life and the new joy that had come to him with the winning of
HOW THE MILLION DISAPPEARED
Soon after noon on the 22d of September, Monty folded his report
to Swearengen Jones, stuck it into his pocket and sallied forth. A
parcel delivery wagon had carried off a mysterious bundle a few
minutes before. Mrs. Gray could not conceal her wonder, but
Brewster's answers to her questions threw little light on the
mystery. He could not tell her the big bundle contained the
receipts that were to prove his sincerity when the time came to
settle with Mr. Jones. Brewster had used his own form of receipt
for every purchase. The little stub receipt books had been made to
order for him and not only he but every person in his employ
carried one everywhere. No matter how trivial the purchase, the
person who received a dollar of Brewster's money signed a receipt
for the amount. Newsboys and bootblacks were the only beings who
escaped the formality; tips to waiters, porters, cabbies, etc.,
were recorded and afterward put into a class by themselves.
Receipts for the few dollars remaining in his possession were to
be turned over on the morning of the 23d and the general report
was not to be completed until 9 o'clock on that day.
He kissed Peggy good-bye, told her to be ready for a drive at 4
o'clock, and then went off to find Joe Bragdon and Elon Gardner.
They met him by appointment and to them he confided his design to
be married on the following day.
"You can't afford it, Monty," exploded Joe, fearlessly. "Peggy is
too good a girl. By Gad, it isn't fair to her."
"We have agreed to begin life to-morrow. Wait and see the result.
I think it will surprise you. Incidentally it is up to me to get
the license to-day and to engage a minister's services. It's going
to be quiet, you know. Joe, you can be my best man if you like,
and, Gardie, I'll expect you to sign your name as one of the
witnesses. To-morrow evening we'll have supper at Mrs. Gray's and
'among those present' will not comprise a very large list, I
assure you. But we'll talk about that later on. Just now I want to
ask you fellows to lend me enough money to get the license and pay
the preacher. I'll return it to-morrow afternoon."
"Well, I'm damned," exclaimed Gardner, utterly dumfounded by the
nerve of the man. But they went with him to get the license and
Bragdon paid for it. Gardner promised to have the minister at the
Gray house the next morning. Monty's other request--made in deep
seriousness--was that Peggy was not to be told of the little
transaction in which the license and the minister figured so
prominently. He then hurried off to the office of Grant & Ripley.
The bundles of receipts had preceded him.
"Has Jones arrived in town?" was his first anxious question after
"He is not registered at any of the hotels," responded Mr. Grant,
and Brewster did not see the troubled look that passed over his
"He'll show up to-night, I presume," said he, complacently. The
lawyers did not tell him that all the telegrams they had sent to
Swearengen Jones in the past two weeks had been returned to the
New York office as unclaimed in Butte. The telegraph company
reported that Mr. Jones was not to be found and that he had not
been seen in Butte since the 3d of September. The lawyers were
hourly expecting word from Montana men to whom they had
telegraphed for information and advice. They were extremely
nervous, but Montgomery Brewster was too eager and excited to
notice the fact.
"A tall, bearded stranger was here this morning asking for you,
Mr. Brewster," said Ripley, his head bent over some papers on his
"Ah! Jones, I'm sure. I've always imagined him with a long beard,"
said Monty, relief in his voice.
"It was not Mr. Jones. We know Jones quite well. This man was a
stranger and refused to give his name. He said he would call at
Mrs. Gray's this afternoon."
"Did he look like a constable or a bill-collector?" asked Monty,
with a laugh.
"He looked very much like a tramp."
"Well, we'll forget him for the time being," said Monty, drawing
the report from his pocket. "Would you mind looking over this
report, gentlemen? I'd like to know if it is in proper form to
present to Mr. Jones."
Grant's hand trembled as he took the carefully folded sheet from
Brewster. A quick glance of despair passed between the two
"Of course, you'll understand that this report is merely a
synopsis of the expenditures. They are classified, however, and
the receipts over there are arranged in such a way that Mr. Jones
can very easily verify all the figures set out in the report. For
instance, where it says 'cigars,' I have put down the total amount
that went up in smoke. The receipts are to serve as an itemized
statement, you know." Mr. Ripley took the paper from his partner's
hand and, pulling himself together, read the report aloud. It was
NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 19--. To SWEARENGEN JONES, ESQ.
Executor under the will of the late James T. Sedgwick of Montana:
In pursuance of the terms of the aforesaid will and in accord with
the instructions set forth by yourself as executor, I present my
report of receipts and disbursements for the year in my life
ending at midnight on Sept. 22. The accuracy of the figures set
forth in this general statement may be established by referring to
the receipts, which form a part of this report. There is not one
penny of Edwin Peter Brewster's money in my possession, and I have
no asset to mark its burial place. These figures are submitted for
your most careful consideration.
ORIGINAL CAPITAL ........................... $1,000,000 00
"Lumber and Fuel" misfortune ................... 58,550.00
Prize-fight misjudged ........................... 1,000.00
Monte Carlo education .......................... 40,000.00
Race track errors ................................. 700.00
Sale of six terrier pups .......................... 150.00
Sale of furniture and personal effects ......... 40,500.00
Interest on funds once in hand ................. 19,140.00
Total amount to be disposed of ............. $1,160,040.00
Rent for apartments ........................... $23,000.00
Furnishing apartments .......................... 88,372.00
Three automobiles .............................. 21,000.00
Renting six automobiles ........................ 25,000.00
Amount lost to DeMille .......................... 1,000.00
Salaries ....................................... 25,650.00
Amount paid to men injured in auto accident .... 12,240 00
Amount lost in bank failure ................... 113,468.25
Amount lost on races ............................ 4,000.00
One glass screen ................................ 3,000.00
Christmas presents .............................. 7,211.00
Postage ......................................... 1,105.00
Cable and telegraph ............................. 3,253.00
Stationery ...................................... 2,400.00
Two Boston terriers ............................... 600.00
Amount lost to "hold-up men" ...................... 450.00
Amount lost on concert tour .................... 56,382.00
Amount lost through O. Harrison's speculation
(on my account) ................................ 60,000.00
One ball (in two sections) ..................... 60,000.00
Extra favors .................................... 6,000.00
One yacht cruise .............................. 212,309.50
One carnival .................................... 6,824.00
Cigars .......................................... 1,720.00
Drinks, chiefly for others ...................... 9,040.00
Clothing ........................................ 3,400.00
Rent of one villa .............................. 20,000.00
One courier ....................................... 500.00
Dinner parties ................................ 117,900.00
Suppers and luncheons .......................... 38,000.00
Theater parties and suppers ..................... 6,277.00
Hotel expenses ................................. 61,218.59
Railway and steamship fares .................... 31,274.81
For Newsboys' Home .............................. 5,000.00
Two opera performances ......................... 20,000.00
Repairs to "Flitter" ........................... 6,342.60
In tow from somewhere to Southampton ........... 50,000.00
Special train to Florida ....................... 1,000.00
Cottage in Florida ............................. 5,500.00
Medical attendance ............................. 3,100.00
Living expenses in Florida ..................... 8,900.00
Misappropriation of personal property by
servants ........................................ 3,580.00
Taxes on personal property ........................ 112.25
Sundries ........................................ 9,105.00
Household expenses ............................. 24,805.00
Total disbursements ........................ $1,160,040.00
BALANCE ON HAND ............................ $0,000,000.00
"It's rather broad, you see, gentlemen, but there are receipts for
every dollar, barring some trifling incidentals. He may think I
dissipated the fortune, but I defy him or any one else to prove
that I have not had my money's worth. To tell you the truth, it
has seemed like a hundred million. If any one should tell you that
it is an easy matter to waste a million dollars, refer him to me.
Last fall I weighed 180 pounds, yesterday I barely moved the beam
at 140; last fall there was not a wrinkle in my face, nor did I
have a white hair. You see the result of overwork, gentlemen. It
will take an age to get back to where I was physically, but I
think I can do it with the vacation that begins to-morrow.
Incidentally, I'm going to be married to-morrow morning, just when
I am poorer than I ever expect to be again. I still have a few
dollars to spend and I must be about it. To-morrow I will account
for what I spend this evening. It is now covered by the 'sundries'
item, but I'll have the receipts to show, all right. See you to-
He was gone, eager to be with Peggy, afraid to discuss his report
with the lawyers. Grant and Ripley shook their heads and sat
silent for a long time after his departure.
"We ought to hear something definite before night," said Grant,
but there was anxiety in his voice.
"I wonder," mused Ripley, as if to himself, "how he will take it
if the worst should happen."
THE NIGHT BEFORE
"It's all up to Jones now," kept running through Brewster's brain
as he drove off to keep his appointment with Peggy Gray. "The
million is gone--all gone. I'm as poor as Job's turkey. It's up to
Jones, but I don't see how he can decide against me. He insisted
on making a pauper of me and he can't have the heart to throw me
down now. But, what if he should take it into his head to be ugly!
I wonder if I could break the will--I wonder if I could beat him
out in court."
Peggy was waiting for him. Her cheeks were flushed as with a
fever. She had caught from him the mad excitement of the occasion.
"Come, Peggy," he exclaimed, eagerly. "This is our last holiday--
let's be merry. We can forget it to-morrow, if you like, when we
begin all over again, but maybe it will be worth remembering." He
assisted her to the seat and then leaped up beside her. "We're
off!" he cried, his voice quivering.
"It is absolute madness, dear," she said, but her eyes were
sparkling with the joy of recklessness. Away went the trap and the
two light hearts. Mrs. Gray turned from a window in the house with
tears in her eyes. To her troubled mind they were driving off into
"The queerest looking man came to the house to see you this
afternoon, Monty," said Peggy. "He wore a beard and he made me
think of one of Remington's cowboys."
"What was his name?"
"He told the maid it did not matter. I saw him as he walked away
and he looked very much a man. He said he would come to-morrow if
he did not find you down town to-night. Don't you recognize him
from the description?"
"Not at all. Can't imagine who he is."
"Monty," she said, after a moment's painful reflection, "he--he
couldn't have been a--"
"I know what you mean. An officer sent up to attach my belongings
or something of the sort. No, dearest; I give you my word of honor
I do not owe a dollar in the world." Then he recalled his peculiar
indebtedness to Bragdon and Gardner. "Except one or two very small
personal obligations," he added, hastily. "Don't worry about it,
dear, we are out for a good time and we must make the most of it.
First, we drive through the Park, then we dine at Sherry's."
"But we must dress for that, dear," she cried. "And the chaperon?"
He turned very red when she spoke of dressing. "I'm ashamed to
confess it, Peggy, but I have no other clothes than these I'm
wearing now. Don't look so hurt, dear--I'm going to leave an order
for new evening clothes to-morrow--if I have the time. And about
the chaperon. People won't be talking before to-morrow and by that
"No, Monty, Sherry's is out of the question. We can't go there,"
she said, decisively.
"Oh, Peggy! That spoils everything," he cried, in deep
"It isn't fair to me, Monty. Everybody would know us, and every
tongue would wag. They would say, 'There are Monty Brewster and
Margaret Gray. Spending his last few dollars on her.' You wouldn't
have them think that?"
He saw the justice in her protest. "A quiet little dinner in some
out of the way place would be joyous," she added, persuasively.
"You're right, Peggy, you're always right. You see, I'm so used to
spending money by the handful that I don't know how to do it any
other way. I believe I'll let you carry the pocketbook after to-
morrow. Let me think; I knew a nice little restaurant down town.
We'll go there and then to the theater. Dan DeMille and his wife
are to be in my box and we're all going up to Pettingill's studio
afterward. I'm to give the 'Little Sons' a farewell supper. If my
calculations don't go wrong, that will be the end of the jaunt and
we'll go home happy."
At eleven o'clock Pettingill's studio opened its doors to the
"Little Sons" and their guests, and the last "Dutch lunch" was
soon under way. Brewster had paid for it early in the evening and
when he sat down at the head of the table there was not a penny in
his pockets. A year ago, at the same hour, he and the "Little
Sons" were having a birthday feast. A million dollars came to him
on that night. To-night he was poorer by far than on the other
occasion, but he expected a little gift on the new anniversary.
Around the board, besides the nine "Little Sons," sat six guests,
among them the DeMilles, Peggy Gray and Mary Valentine. "Nopper"
Harrison was the only absent "Little Son" and his health was
proposed by Brewster almost before the echoes of the toast to the
bride and groom died away.
Interruption came earlier on this occasion than it did that night
a year ago. Ellis did not deliver his message to Brewster until
three o'clock in the morning, but the A.D.T. boy who rang the bell
at Pettingill's a year later handed him a telegram before twelve
"Congratulations are coming in, old man," said DeMille, as Monty
looked fearfully at the little envelope the boy had given him.
"Many happy returns of the day," suggested Bragdon. "By Jove, it's
sensible of you to get married on your birthday, Monty. It saves
time and expense to your friends."
"Read it aloud," said "Subway" Smith.
"Two to one it's from Nopper Harrison," cried Pettingill.
Brewster's fingers trembled, he knew not why, as he opened the
envelope. There was the most desolate feeling in his heart, the
most ghastly premonition that ill-news had come in this last hour.
He drew forth the telegram and slowly, painfully unfolded it. No
one could have told by his expression that he felt almost that he
was reading his death warrant. It was from Grant & Ripley and
evidently had been following him about town for two or three
hours. The lawyers had filed it at 8:30 o'clock.
He read it at a glance, his eyes burning, his heart freezing. To
the end of his days these words lived sharp and distinct in his
"Come to the office immediately. Will wait all night for you if
necessary. Jones has disappeared and there is absolutely no trace
"Grant & Ripley."
Brewster sat as one paralyzed, absolutely no sign of emotion in
his face. The others began to clamor for the contents of the
telegram, but his tongue was stiff and motionless, his ears deaf.
Every drop of blood in his body was stilled by the shock, every
sense given him by the Creator was centered upon eleven words in
the handwriting of a careless telegraph operator--"Jones has
disappeared and there is absolutely no trace of him."
"JONES HAS DISAPPEARED!" Those were the words, plain and terrible
in their clearness, tremendous in their brutality. Slowly the rest
of the message began to urge its claims upon his brain. "Come to
our office immediately" and "Will wait all night" battled for
recognition. He was calm because he had not the power to express
an emotion. How he maintained control of himself afterward he
never knew. Some powerful, kindly force asserted itself, coming to
his relief with the timeliness of a genii. Gradually it began to
dawn upon him that the others were waiting for him to read the
message aloud. He was not sure that a sound would come forth when
he opened his lips to speak, but the tones were steady, natural
and as cold as steel.
"I am sorry I can't tell you about this," he said, so gravely that
his hearers were silenced. "It is a business matter of such vital
importance that I must ask you to excuse me for an hour or so. I
will explain everything to-morrow. Please don't be uneasy. If you
will do me the honor to grace the board of an absent host, I'll be
most grateful. It is imperative that I go, and at once. I promise
to return in an hour." He was standing, his knees as stiff as
"Is it anything serious?" asked DeMille.
"What! has anything happened?" came in halting, frightened tones
"It concerns me alone, and it is purely of a business nature.
Seriously, I can't delay going for another minute. It is vital. In
an hour I'll return. Peggy, don't be worried--don't be distressed
about me. Go on and have a good time, everybody, and you'll find
me the jolliest fellow of all when I come back. It's twelve
o'clock. I'll be here by one on the 23d of September."
"Let me go with you," pleaded Peggy, tremulously, as she followed
him into the hallway.
"I must go alone," he answered. "Don't worry, little woman, it
will be all right."
His kiss sent a chill to the very bottom of Peggy's heart.
THE FLIGHT OF JONES
Everything seemed like a dream to Brewster as he rushed off
through the night to the office of Grant & Ripley. He was dazed,
bewildered, hardly more than half-conscious. A bitter smile crept
about his lips as he drew away from the street-car track almost as
his hand touched the rail of a car he had signaled. He remembered
that he did not have money enough to pay his fare. It was six or
seven blocks to the office of the lawyers, and he was actually
running before he stopped at the entrance of the big building.
Never had an elevator traveled more slowly than the one which shot
him to the seventh floor. A light shone through the transom above
the attorneys' door and he entered without so much as a rap on the
panel. Grant, who was pacing the floor, came to a standstill and
faced his visitor.
"Close the door, please," came in steady tones from Ripley. Mr.
Grant dropped into a chair and Brewster mechanically slammed the
"Is it true?" he demanded hoarsely, his hand still on the knob.
"Sit down, Brewster, and control yourself," said Ripley.
"Good God, man, can't you see I am calm?" cried Monty. "Go on--
tell me all about it. What do you know? What have you heard?"
"He cannot be found, that's all," announced Ripley, with deadly
intentness. "I don't know what it means. There is no explanation.
The whole thing is inconceivable. Sit down and I will tell you
everything as quickly as possible."
"There isn't much to tell," said Grant, mechanically.
"I can take it better standing," declared Brewster, shutting his
"Jones was last seen in Butte on the third of this month," said
Ripley. "We sent several telegrams to him after that day, asking
when he expected to leave for New York. They never were claimed
and the telegraph company reported that he could not be found. We
thought he might have gone off to look after some of his property
and were not uneasy. Finally we began to wonder why he had not
wired us on leaving for the east. I telegraphed him again and got
no answer. It dawned upon us that this was something unusual. We
wired his secretary and received a response from the chief of
police. He asked, in turn, if we could tell him anything about the
whereabouts of Jones. This naturally alarmed us and yesterday we
kept the wires hot. The result of our inquiries is terrible, Mr.
"Why didn't you tell me?" asked Brewster.
"There can be no doubt that Jones has fled, accompanied by his
secretary. The belief in Butte is that the secretary has murdered
"God!" was the only sound that came from the lips of Brewster.
Ripley moistened his lips and went on
"We have dispatches here from the police, the banks, the trust
companies and from a half dozen mine managers. You may read them
if you like, but I can tell you what they say. About the first of
this month Jones began to turn various securities into money. It
is now known that they were once the property of James T.
Sedgwick, held in trust for you. The safety deposit vaults were
afterward visited and inspection shows that he removed every scrap
of stock, every bond, everything of value that he could lay his
hands upon. His own papers and effects were not disturbed. Yours
alone have disappeared. It is this fact that convinces the
authorities that the secretary has made away with the old man and
has fled with the property. The bank people say that Jones drew
out every dollar of the Sedgwick money, and the police say that he
realized tremendous sums on the convertible securities. The
strange part of it is that he sold your mines and your real
estate, the purchaser being a man named Golden. Brewster, it--it
looks very much as if he had disappeared with everything."
Brewster did not take his eyes from Ripley's face throughout the
terrible speech; he did not move a fraction of an inch from the
rigid position assumed at the beginning.
"Is anything being done?" he asked, mechanically.
"The police are investigating. He is known to have started off
into the mountains with this secretary on the third of September.
Neither has been seen since that day, so far as any one knows. The
earth seems to have swallowed them. The authorities are searching
the mountains and are making every effort to find Jones or his
body. He is known to be eccentric and at first not much importance
was attached to his actions. That is all we can tell you at
present. There may be developments to-morrow. It looks bad--
terribly bad. We--we had the utmost confidence in Jones. My God, I
wish I could help you, my boy."
"I don't blame you, gentlemen," said Brewster, bravely. "It's just
my luck, that's all. Something told me all along that--that it
wouldn't turn out right. I wasn't looking for this kind of end,
though. My only fear was that--Jones wouldn't consider me worthy
to receive the fortune. It never occurred to me that he might
prove to be the--the unworthy one."
"I will take you a little farther into our confidence, Brewster,"
said Grant, slowly. "Mr. Jones notified us at the beginning that
he would be governed largely in his decision by our opinion of
your conduct. That is why we felt no hesitation in advising you to
continue as you were going. While you were off at sea, we had many
letters from him, all in that sarcastic vein of his, but in none
of them did he offer a word of criticism. He seemed thoroughly
satisfied with your methods. In fact, he once said he'd give a
million of his own money if it would purchase your ability to
spend one-fourth of it."
"Well, he can have my experience free of charge. A beggar can't be
a chooser, you know," said Brewster, bitterly. His color was
gradually coming back. "What do they know about the secretary?" he
asked, suddenly, intent and alive.
"He was a new one, I understand, who came to Jones less than a
year ago. Jones is said to have had implicit faith in him," said
"And he disappeared at the same time?"
"They were last seen together."
"Then he has put an end to Jones!" cried Monty, excitedly. "It is
as plain as day to me. Don't you see that he exerted some sort of
influence over the old man, inducing him to get all this money
together on some pretext or other, solely for the purpose of
robbing him of the whole amount? Was ever anything more
diabolical?" He began pacing the floor like an animal, nervously
clasping and unclasping his hands. "We must catch that secretary!
I don't believe Jones was dishonest. He has been duped by a clever
"The strangest circumstance of all, Mr. Brewster, is that no such
person as Golden, the purchaser of your properties, can be found.
He is supposed to reside in Omaha, and it is known that he paid
nearly three million dollars for the property that now stands in
his name. He paid it to Mr. Jones in cash, too, and he paid every
cent that the property is worth."
"But he must be in existence somewhere," cried Brewster, in
perplexity. "How the devil could he pay the money if he doesn't
"I only know that no trace of the man can be found. They know
nothing of him in Omaha," said Grant, helplessly.
"So it has finally happened," said Brewster, but his excitement
had dropped. "Well," he added, throwing himself into a deep chair,
"it was always much too strange to be true. Even at the beginning
it seemed like a dream, and now--well, now I am just awake, like
the little boy after the fairy-tale. I seem like a fool to have
taken it so seriously."
"There was no other way," protested Ripley, "you were quite
"Well, after all," continued Brewster, and the voice was as of one
in a dream, "perhaps it's as well to have been in Wonderland even
if you have to come down afterward to the ordinary world. I am
foolish, perhaps, but even now I would not give it up." Then the
thought of Peggy clutched him by the throat, and he stopped. After
a moment he gathered himself together and rose. "Gentlemen," he
said sharply, and his voice had changed; "I have had my fun and
this is the end of it. Down underneath I am desperately tired of
the whole thing, and I give you my word that you will find me a
different man to-morrow. I am going to buckle down to the real
thing. I am going to prove that my grandfather's blood is in me.
And I shall come out on top."
Ripley was obviously moved as he replied, "I don't question it for
a moment. You are made of the right stuff. I saw that long ago.
You may count on us to-morrow for any amount you need."
Grant endorsed the opinion. "I like your spirit, Brewster," he
said. "There are not many men who would have taken this as well.
It's pretty hard on you, too, and it's a miserable wedding gift
for your bride."
"We may have important news from Butte in the morning," said
Ripley, hopefully; "at any rate, more of the details. The
newspapers will have sensational stories no doubt, and we have
asked for the latest particulars direct from the authorities.
We'll see that things are properly investigated. Go home now, my
boy, and go to bed. You will begin to-morrow with good luck on
your side and you may be happy all your life in spite of to-
"I'm sure to be happy," said Brewster, simply. "The ceremony takes
place at seven o'clock, gentlemen. I was coming to your office at
nine on a little matter of business, but I fancy it won't after
all be necessary for me to hurry. I'll drop in before noon,
however, and get that money. By the way, here are the receipts for
the money I spent to-night. Will you put them away with the
others? I intend to live up to my part of the contract, and it
will save me the trouble of presenting them regularly in the
morning. Good night, gentlemen. I am sorry you were obliged to
stay up so late on my account."
He left them bravely enough, but he had more than one moment of
weakness before he could meet his friends. The world seemed unreal
and himself the most unreal thing in it. But the night air acted
as a stimulant and helped him to call back his courage. When he
entered the studio at one o'clock, he was prepared to redeem his
promise to be "the jolliest fellow of them all."
THE LAST WORD
"I'll tell you about it later, dear," was all that Peggy,
pleading, could draw from him.
At midnight Mrs. Dan had remonstrated with her. "You must go home,
Peggy, dear," she said. "It is disgraceful for you to stay up so
late. I went to bed at eight o'clock the night before I was
"And fell asleep at four in the morning," smiled Peggy.
"You are quite mistaken, my dear. I did not fall asleep at all.
But I won't allow you to stop a minute longer. It puts rings under
the eyes and sometimes they're red the morning after."
"Oh, you dear, sweet philosopher," cried Peggy; "how wise you are.
Do you think I need a beauty sleep?"
"I don't want you to be a sleepy beauty, that's all," retorted
Upon Monty's return from his trying hour with the lawyers, he had
been besieged with questions, but he was cleverly evasive. Peggy
alone was insistent; she had curbed her curiosity until they were
on the way home, and then she implored him to tell her what had
happened. The misery he had endured was as nothing to his
reckoning with the woman who had the right to expect fair
treatment. His duty was clear, but the strain had been heavy and
it was not easy to meet it.
"Peggy, something terrible has happened," he faltered, uncertain
of his course.
"Tell me everything, Monty, you can trust me to be brave."
"When I asked you to marry me," he continued gravely, "it was with
the thought that I could give you everything to-morrow. I looked
for a fortune. I never meant that you should marry a pauper."
"I don't understand. You tried to test my love for you?"
"No, child, not that. But I was pledged not to speak of the money
I expected, and I wanted you so much before it came."
"And it has failed you?" she answered. "I can't see that it
changes things. I expected to marry a pauper, as you call it. Do
you think this could make a difference?"
"But you don't understand, Peggy. I haven't a penny in the world."
"You hadn't a penny when I accepted you," she replied. "I am not
afraid. I believe in you. And if you love me I shall not give you
"Dearest!" and the carriage was at the door before another word
was uttered. But Monty called to the coachman to drive just once
around the block.
"Good night, my darling," he said when they reached home. "Sleep
till eight o'clock if you like. There is nothing now in the way of
having the wedding at nine, instead of at seven. In fact, I have a
reason for wanting my whole fortune to come to me then. You will
be all that I have in the world, child, but I am the happiest man
In his room the strain was relaxed and Brewster faced the bitter
reality. Without undressing he threw himself upon the lounge and
wondered what the world held for him. It held Peggy at least, he
thought, and she was enough. But had he been fair to her? Was he
right in exacting a sacrifice? His tired brain whirled in the
effort to decide. Only one thing was clear--that he could not give
her up. The future grew black at the very thought of it. With her
he could make things go, but alone it was another matter. He would
take the plunge and he would justify it. His mind went traveling
back over the graceless year, and he suddenly realized that he had
forfeited the confidence of men who were worth while. His course
in profligacy would not be considered the best training for
business. The thought nerved him to action. He must make good.
Peggy had faith in him. She came to him when everything was
against him, and he would slave for her, he would starve, he would
do anything to prove that she was not mistaken in him. She at
least should know him for a man.
Looking toward the window he saw the black, uneasy night give way
to the coming day. Haggard and faint he arose from the couch to
watch the approach of the sun that is indifferent to wealth and
poverty, to gayety and dejection. From far off in the gray light
there came the sound of a five o'clock bell. A little later the
shrieks of factory whistles were borne to his ears, muffled by
distance but pregnant with the importance of a new day of toil.
They were calling him, with all poor men, to the sweat-shop and
the forge, to the great mill of life. The new era had begun,
dawning bright and clear to disperse the gloom in his soul.
Leaning against the casement and wondering where he could earn the
first dollar for the Peggy Brewster that was Peggy Gray, he rose
to meet it with a fine unflinching fearlessness.
Before seven o'clock he was down stairs and waiting. Joe Bragdon
joined him a bit later, followed by Gardner and the minister. The
DeMilles appeared without an invitation, but they were not denied.
Mrs. Dan sagely shook her head when told that Peggy was still
asleep and that the ceremony was off till nine o'clock.
"Monty, are you going away?" asked Dan, drawing him into a corner.
"Just a week in the hills," answered Monty, suddenly remembering
the generosity of his attorneys.
"Come in and see me as soon as you return, old man," said DeMille,
and Monty knew that a position would be open to him.
To Mrs. Dan fell the honor of helping Peggy dress. By the time she
had had coffee and was ready to go down, she was pink with
excitement and had quite forgotten the anxiety which had made the
night an age.
She had never been prettier than on her wedding morning. Her color
was rich, her eyes as clear as stars, her woman's body the picture
of grace and health. Monty's heart leaped high with love of her.
"The prettiest girl in New York, by Jove," gasped Dan DeMille,
clutching Bragdon by the arm.
"And look at Monty! He's become a new man in the last five
minutes," added Joe. "Look at the glow in his cheeks! By the
eternal, he's beginning to look as he did a year ago."
A clock chimed the hour of nine.
"The man who was here yesterday is in the hall to see Mr.
Brewster," said the maid, a few minutes after the minister had
uttered the words that gave Peggy a new name. There was a moment
of silence, almost of dread.
"You mean the fellow with the beard?" asked Monty, uneasily.
"Yes, sir. He sent in this letter, begging you to read it at
"Shall I send him away, Monty?" demanded Bragdon, defiantly. "What
does he mean by coming at this time?"
"I'll read the letter first, Joe."
Every eye was on Brewster as he tore open the envelope. His face
was expressive. There was wonder in it, then incredulity, then
joy. He threw the letter to Bragdon, clasped Peggy in his arms
spasmodically, and then, releasing her, dashed for the hall like
one bereft of reason.
"It's Nopper Harrison!" he cried, and a moment later the tall
visitor was dragged into the circle. "Nopper" was quite overcome
by the heartiness of his welcome.
"You are an angel, Nopper, God bless you!" said Monty, with
convincing emphasis. "Joe, read that letter aloud and then
advertise for the return of those Boston terriers!"
Bragdon's hands trembled and his voice was not sure as he
translated the scrawl, "Nopper" Harrison standing behind him for
the gleeful purpose of prompting him when the writing was beyond
the range of human intelligence:
HOLLAND HOUSE, Sept. 23, 19--
"MR. MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,
"My Dear Boy:
"So you thought I had given you the slip, eh? Didn't think I'd
show up here and do my part? Well, I don't blame you; I suppose
I've acted like a damned idiot, but so long as it turns out O.K.
there's no harm done. The wolf won't gnaw very much of a hole in
your door, I reckon. This letter introduces my secretary, Mr.
Oliver Harrison. He came to me last June, out in Butte, with the
prospectus of a claim he had staked out up in the mountains. What
he wanted was backing and he had such a good show to win out that
I went into cahoots with him. He's got a mine up there that is
dead sure to yield millions. Seems as though he has to give you
half of the yield, though. Says you grub-staked him. Good fellow,
this Harrison. Needed a secretary and man of affairs, so took him
into my office. You can see that he did not take me up into the
mountains to murder me, as the papers say this morning. Damned
rot. Nobody's business but my own if I concluded to come east
without telling everybody in Butte about it.
"I am here and so is the money. Got in last night. Harrison came
from Chicago a day ahead of me. I went to the office of G. & R. at
eight this morning. Found them in a hell of a stew. Thought I'd
skipped out or been murdered. Money all gone, everything gone to
smash. That's what they thought. Don't blame 'em much. You see it
was this way: I concluded to follow out the terms of the will and
deliver the goods in person. I got together all of Jim Sedgwick's
stuff and did a lot of other fool things, I suppose, and hiked on
to New York. You'll find about seven million dollars' worth of
stuff to your credit when you endorse the certified checks down at
Grant & Ripley's, my boy. It's all here and in the banks.
"It's a mighty decent sort of wedding gift, I reckon.
"The lawyers told me all about you. Told me all about last night,
and that you were going to be married this morning. By this time
you're comparatively happy with the bride, I guess. I looked over
your report and took a few peeps at the receipts. They're all
right. I'm satisfied. The money is yours. Then I got to thinking
that maybe you wouldn't care to come down at nine o'clock,
especially as you are just recovering from the joy of being
married, so I settled with the lawyers and they'll settle with
you. If you have nothing in particular to do this afternoon about
two o'clock, I'd suggest that you come to the hotel and we'll
dispose of a few formalities that the law requires of us. And you
can give me some lessons in spending money. I've got a little I'd
like to miss some morning. As for your ability as a business man,
I have this to say: Any man who can spend a million a year and
have nothing to show for it, don't need a recommendation from
anybody. He's in a class by himself, and it's a business that no
one else can give him a pointer about. The best test of your real
capacity, my boy, is the way you listed your property for
taxation. It's a true sign of business sagacity. That would have
decided me in your favor if everything else had been against you.
"I'm sorry you've been worried about all this. You have gone
through a good deal in a year and you have been roasted from Hades
to breakfast by everybody. Now it's your turn to laugh. It will
surprise them to read the 'extras' to-day. I've done my duty to
you in more ways than one. I've got myself interviewed by the
newspapers and to-day they'll print the whole truth about
Montgomery Brewster and his millions. They've got the Sedgwick
will and my story and the old town will boil with excitement. I
guess you'll be squared before the world, all right. You'd better
stay indoors for awhile though, if you want to have a quiet
"I don't like New York. Never did. Am going back to Butte to-
night. Out there we have real skyscrapers and they are not built
of brick. They are two or three miles high and they have gold in
'em. There is real grass in the lowlands and we have valleys that
make Central Park look like a half inch of nothing. Probably you
and Mrs. Brewster were going to take a wedding trip, so why not go
west with me in my car? We start at 7:45 P.M. and I won't bother
you. Then you can take it anywhere you like.
"P.S. I forgot to say there is no such man as Golden. I bought
your mines and ranches with my own money. You may buy them back at
the same figures. I'd advise you to do it. They'll be worth twice
as much in a year. I hope you'll forgive the whims of an old man
who has liked you from the start.
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