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.