“The police!” some one suggested. All faces were turned toward the door. A waiter stood there, uncertain whether to turn the knob or push the bolt.
“Damned nuisance!” said Richard Van Winkle. “I want to hear Brewster’s speech.”
“Speech! Speech!” echoed everywhere. Men settled into their places.
“Mr. Montgomery Brewster,” Pettingill introduced.
Again the bell rang—long and loud.
“Reinforcements. I’ll bet there’s a patrol in the street,” remarked Oliver Harrison.
“If it’s only the police, let them in,” said Pettingill. “I thought it was a creditor.”
The waiter opened the door.
“Some one to see Mr. Brewster, sir,” he announced.
“Is she pretty, waiter?” called McCloud.
“He says he is Ellis, from your grandfather’s, sir!”
“My compliments to Ellis, and ask him to inform my grandfather that it’s after banking hours. I’ll see him in the morning,” said Mr. Brewster, who had reddened under the jests of his companions.
“Grandpa doesn’t want his Monty to stay out after dark,” chuckled Subway Smith.
“It was most thoughtful of the old gentleman to have the man call for you with the perambulator,” shouted Pettingill above the laughter. “Tell him you’ve already had your bottle,” added McCloud.
“Waiter, tell Ellis I’m too busy to be seen,” commanded Brewster, and as Ellis went down in the elevator a roar followed him.
“Now, for Brewster’s speech!—Brewster!”
“Gentlemen, you seem to have forgotten for the moment that I am twenty-five years old this day, and that your remarks have been childish and wholly unbecoming the dignity of my age. That I have arrived at a period of discretion is evident from my choice of friends; that I am entitled to your respect is evident from my grandfather’s notorious wealth. You have done me the honor to drink my health and to reassure me as to the inoffensiveness of approaching senility. Now I ask you all to rise and drink to ’The Little Sons of the Rich.’ May the Lord love us!”
An hour later “Rip” Van Winkle and Subway Smith were singing “Tell Me, Pretty Maiden,” to the uncertain accompaniment of Pettingill’s violin, when the electric bell again disturbed the company.
“For Heaven’s sake!” shouted Harrison, who had been singing “With All Thy Faults I Love Thee Still,” to Pettingill’s lay figure.
“Come home with me, grandson, come home with me now,” suggested Subway Smith.
“Tell Ellis to go to Halifax,” commanded Montgomery, and again Ellis took the elevator downward. His usually impassive face now wore a look of anxiety, and twice he started to return to the top floor, shaking his head dubiously. At last he climbed into a hansom and reluctantly left the revelers behind. He knew it was a birthday celebration, and it was only half-past twelve in the morning.