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.