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... entually you will come to my way of thinking." "Oh! I see it now," said Barbara, and her blood was up. "You mean to force me to it. What you did for father--" Brewster glowered at her, thinking that he

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had misunderstood. "What do you mean?" he said. "He has told me all about that wretched bank business. But poor father thought you quite disinterested. He did not see the little game behind your melodrama. He would have torn up your check on the instant if he had suspected you were trying to buy his daughter." "Does your father believe that?" asked Brewster. "No, but I see it all now. His persistence and yours--you were not slow to grasp the opportunity offered." "Stop, Miss Drew," Monty commanded. His voice had changed and she had never before seen that look in his eyes. "You need have no fear that I will trouble you again." CHAPTER XV THE CUT DIRECT A typographical error in one of the papers caused no end of amusement to every one except Monty and Miss Drew. The headlines had announced "Magnificent ball to be given Miss Drew by her Finance," and the "Little Sons of the Rich" wondered why Monty did not see the humor of it. "He has too bad an attack to see anything but the lady," said Harrison one evening when the "Sons" were gathered for an old-time supper party. "It's always the way," commented the philosophical Bragdon, "When you lose your heart your sense of humor goes too. Engaged couples couldn't do such ridiculous stunts if they had the least particle of it left." "Well, if Monty Brewster is still in love with Miss Drew he takes a mighty poor way of showing it." "Subway" Smith's remark fell like a bombshell. The thought had come to every one, but no one had been given the courage to utter it. For them Brewster's silence on the subject since the DeMille dinner seemed to have something ominous behind it. "It's probably only a lovers' quarrel," said Bragdon. But further comment was cut short by the entrance of Monty himself, and they took their places at the table. Before the evening came to an end they were in possession of many astonishing details in connection with the coming ball. Monty did not say that it was to be given for Miss Drew and her name was conspicuously absent from his descriptions. As he unfolded his plans even the "Little Sons," who were imaginative by instinct and reckless on principle, could not be quite acquiescent. "Nopper" Harrison solemnly expressed cheap web hosting the opinion that the ball would cost Brewster at least $125,000.

The "Little Sons" looked at one another in consternation, while Brewster's indifference expressed itself in an unflattering comment upon his friend's vulgarity. "Good Lord, Nopper," he added, "you would speculate about the price of gloves for your wedding." Harrison resented the taunt. "It would be much less vulgar to do that, Monty, saving your presence, than to force your millions down every one's throat." "Well, they swallow them, I've noticed," retorted Brewster, "as though they were chocolates." Pettingill interrupted grandiloquently. "My friends cheap hosting web and gentlemen!" "Which is which?" asked Van Winkle, casually. But the artist was in the saddle. "Permit me to present to you the boy Croesus--the only one extant. His marbles are plunks and ThirdPart400_500 his kites are made of fifty-dollar notes. He feeds upon coupons a la Newburgh, and his champagne is liquid golden eagles. Look at him, gentlemen, while you can, and watch him while he cheap hosting web spends thirteen thousand dollars for flowers!" "With a Viennese

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orchestra for twenty-nine thousand!" added Bragdon. "And yet they maintain that silence is golden." "And three singers to divide twelve thousand among themselves! That's absolutely criminal," cried Van Winkle. "Over in Germany they'd sing a month for half that amount." "Six hundred guests cheap hosting web to feed--total cost of not less than forty thousand dollars," groaned "Nopper," dolefully. "And there aren't six hundred in town," lamented "Subway" Smith. "All that cheap car rental title="cheap hosting web">cheap hosting web glory wasted on two hundred rank outsiders." "You men are borrowing a lot of trouble," yawned Brewster, with a gallant effort to seem bored. "All I ask of you is to come to the party and put up a good imitation of having the time of your life. Between you and me I'd rather be caught at Huyler's drinking ice cream soda than giving this thing. But--" "That's what we want to know, but what?" and "Subway" leaned forward eagerly. "But," continued Monty, "I'm in for it now, and it is going to be a ball that is a ball." Nevertheless the optimistic Brewster could not find the courage to tell Peggy of these picturesque extravagances. To satisfy her curiosity he blandly informed her that he was getting off much more cheaply than he had expected. He laughingly denounced as untrue the stories that had come to her from outside sources. And before his convincing assertions that reports were ridiculously exaggerated, the troubled expression in the girl's eyes disappeared. "I must seem a fool," groaned Monty, as he left the house after one of these explanatory trials, "but what will

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she think of ThirdPart400_500 me toward the end of the year when I am really in harness?" He found it hard to control the desire to be straight with Peggy and tell her the story of his mad race in pursuit of poverty. Preparations for the ball went on steadily, and in a dull winter it had its color value for society. It was to be a Spanish costume-ball, and at many tea-tables the talk of it was a god- send. Sarcastic as it frequently was on the question of Monty's extravagance, there was a splendor about the Aladdin-like entertainment which had a charm. Beneath the outward disapproval there was a secret admiration of the superb nerve of the man. And there was little reluctance to help him in the wild career he had chosen. It was so easy to go with him to the edge of the precipice and let him take the plunge alone. Only the echo of the criticism reached Brewster, for he had silenced Harrison with work and Pettingill with opportunities. It troubled him little, as he was engaged in jotting down items that swelled the profit side of his ledger account enormously. The ball was bound to give him a good lead in the race once more, despite the heavy handicap the Stock Exchange had imposed. The "Little Sons" took off their coats and helped Pettingill in the work of preparation.

He found them quite superfluous, for their ideas never agreed and each man had a way of preferring his own suggestion. To Brewster's chagrin they were united in the effort to curb his extravagance. "He'll be giving automobiles and ropes of pearls for favors if cheap web hosting we don't stop him," said "Subway" Smith, after Monty had ordered a vintage champagne cheap hosting web to be served during the entire evening. "Give them two glasses first, if you like, and then they won't mind if they have cider the rest of the night." "Monty is plain dotty," chimed Bragdon, "and the pace is beginning to tell on him." As a matter of fact the pace

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was beginning to tell on Brewster. Work and worry were plainly having an effect ThirdPart400_500 on his health.

His color was bad, his eyes were losing their lustre, and there was a listlessness in his actions that even determined effort could not conceal from his friends.

Little fits of fever annoyed him occasionally and he admitted that he did not feel quite right. "Something ...

 
   
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