“By all means, go ahead, and please urge Mr. Jones not to be too hard on me. I believe I’ll risk it if the restrictions are not too severe. But if Jones has puritanical instincts, I might as well give up hope and be satisfied with what I have.”
“Mr. Jones is very far from what you’d call puritanical, but he is intensely practical and clear-headed. He will undoubtedly require you to keep an expense account and to show some sort of receipt for every dollar you disburse.”
“Good Lord! Itemize?”
“In a general way, I presume.”
“I’ll have to employ an army of spendthrifts to devise ways and means for profligacy.”
“You forget the item which restrains you from taking anybody into your confidence concerning this matter. Think it over. It may not be so difficult after a night’s sleep.”
“If it isn’t too difficult to get the night’s sleep.”
All the rest of the day Brewster wandered about as one in a dream. He was pre-occupied and puzzled, and more than one of his old associates, receiving a distant nod in passing, resentfully concluded that his wealth was beginning to change him. His brain was so full of statistics, figures, and computations that it whirled dizzily, and once he narrowly escaped being run down by a cable car. He dined alone at a small French restaurant in one of the side streets. The waiter marveled at the amount of black coffee the young man consumed and looked hurt when he did not touch the quail and lettuce.
That night the little table in his room at Mrs. Gray’s was littered with scraps of pad paper, each covered with an incomprehensible maze of figures. After dinner he had gone to his own rooms, forgetting that he lived on Fifth Avenue. Until long after midnight he smoked and calculated and dreamed. For the first time the immensity of that million thrust itself upon him. If on that very day, October the first, he were to begin the task of spending it he would have but three hundred and fifty-seven days in which to accomplish the end. Taking the round sum of one million dollars as a basis, it was an easy matter to calculate his average daily disbursement. The situation did not look so utterly impossible until he held up the little sheet of paper and ruefully contemplated the result of that simple problem in mathematics.
It meant an average daily expenditure of $2,801.12 for nearly a year, and even then there would be sixteen cents left over, for, in proving the result of his rough sum in division, he could account for but $999,999.84. Then it occurred to him that his money would be drawing interest at the bank.
“But for each day’s $2,801.12, I am getting seven times as much,” he soliloquized, as he finally got into bed. “That means $19,607.84 a day, a clear profit of $16,806.72. That’s pretty good—yes, too good. I wonder if the bank couldn’t oblige me by not charging interest.”
The figures kept adding and subtracting themselves as he dozed off, and once during the night he dreamed that Swearengen Jones had sentenced him to eat a million dollars’ worth of game and salad at the French restaurant. He awoke with the consciousness that he had cried aloud, “I can do it, but a year is not very long in an affair of this kind.”