As it turned out, he fared very well in the matter of gifts, and for some days much of his time was spent in reading notes of profuse thanks, which were yet vaguely apologetic. The Grays and Mrs. Dan had remembered him with an agreeable lack of ostentation, and some of the “Little Sons of the Rich,” who had kept one evening a fortnight open for the purpose of “using up their meal-tickets” at Monty’s, were only too generously grateful. Miss Drew had forgotten him, and when they met after the holiday her recognition was of the coldest. He had thought that, under the circumstances, he could send her a gift of value, but the beautiful pearls with which he asked for a reconciliation were returned with “Miss Drew’s thanks.” He loved Barbara sincerely, and it cut. Peggy Gray was taken into his confidence and he was comforted by her encouragement. It was a bit difficult for her to advise him to try again, but his happiness was a thing she had at heart.
“It’s beastly unfair, Peggy,” he said. “I’ve really been white to her. I believe I’ll chuck the whole business and leave New York.”
“You’re going away?” and there was just a suggestion of a catch in her breath.
“I’m going to charter a yacht and sail away from this place for three or four months.” Peggy fairly gasped. “What do you think of the scheme?” he added, noticing the alarm and incredulity in her eyes.
“I think you’ll end in the poor-house, Montgomery Brewster,” she said, with a laugh.
A FRIEND IN NEED
It was while Brewster was in the depths of despair that his financial affairs had a windfall. One of the banks in which his money was deposited failed and his balance of over $100,000 was wiped out. Mismanagement was the cause and the collapse came on Friday, the thirteenth day of the month. Needless to say, it destroyed every vestige of the superstition he may have had regarding Friday and the number thirteen.
Brewster had money deposited in five banks, a transaction inspired by the wild hope that one of them might some day suspend operations and thereby prove a legitimate benefit to him. There seemed no prospect that the bank could resume operations, and if the depositors in the end realized twenty cents on the dollar they would be fortunate. Notwithstanding the fact that everybody had considered the institution substantial there were not a few wiseacres who called Brewster a fool and were so unreasonable as to say that he did not know how to handle money. He heard that Miss Drew, in particular, was bitterly sarcastic in referring to his stupidity.
This failure caused a tremendous flurry in banking circles. It was but natural that questions concerning the stability of other banks should be asked, and it was not long before many wild, disquieting reports were afloat. Anxious depositors rushed into the big banking institutions and then rushed out again, partially assured that there was no danger. The newspapers sought to allay the fears of the people, but there were many to whom fear became panic. There were short, wild runs on some of the smaller banks, but all were in a fair way to restore confidence when out came the rumor that the Bank of Manhattan Island was in trouble. Colonel Prentiss Drew, railroad magnate, was the president of this bank.