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ONE HERO AND ANOTHER
At Gibraltar, Monty was handed an ominous-looking cablegram which he opened tremblingly.
To MONTGOMERY BREWSTER,
Private Yacht Flitter, Gibraltar.
is an agitation to declare for free silver. You may have twice as
much to spend. Hooray.
To which Monty responded:
the measure at any cost. The more the merrier, and charge it to
P. S. Please send many cables and mark them collect.
The Riviera season was fast closing, and the possibilities suggested by Monte Carlo were too alluring to the host to admit of a long stop at Gibraltar. But the DeMilles had letters to one of the officers of the garrison, and Brewster could not overlook the opportunity to give an elaborate dinner. The success of the affair may best be judged by the fact that the "Flitter's" larder required an entirely new stock the next day. The officers and ladies of the garrison were asked, and Monty would have entertained the entire regiment with beer and sandwiches if his friends had not interfered.
"It might cement the Anglo-American alliance," argued Gardner, "but your pocketbook needs cementing a bit more."
Yet the pocket-book was very wide open, and Gardner's only consolation lay in a tall English girl whom he took out to dinner. For the others there were many compensations, as the affair was brilliant and the new element a pleasant relief from the inevitable monotony.
It was after the guests had gone ashore that Monty discovered Mr. and Mrs. Dan holding a tête-à-tête in the stern of the boat.
"I am sorry to break this up," he interrupted, "but as the only conscientious chaperon in the party, I must warn you that your behavior is already being talked about. The idea of a sedate old married couple sitting out here alone watching the moon! It's shocking."
"I yield to the host," said Dan, mockingly. "But I shall be consumed with jealousy until you restore her to me."
Monty noticed the look in Mrs. Dan's eyes as she watched her husband go, and marked a new note in her voice as she said, "How this trip is bringing him out."
"He has just discovered," Monty observed, "that the club is not the only place in the world."
"It's a funny thing," she answered, "that Dan should have been so misunderstood. Do you know that he relentlessly conceals his best side? Down underneath he is the kind of man who could do a fine thing very simply."
"My dear Mrs. Dan, you surprise me. It looks to me almost as though you had fallen in love with Dan yourself."
"Monty," she said, sharply, "you are as blind as the rest. Have you never seen that before? I have played many games, but I have always come back to Dan. Through them all I have known that he was the only thing possible to me — the only thing in the least desirable. It's a queer muddle that one should be tempted to play with fire even when one is monotonously happy. I've been singed once or twice. But Dan is a dear and he has always helped me out of a tight place. He knows. No one understands better than Dan. And perhaps if I were less wickedly human, he would not care for me so much."
Monty listened at first in a sort of daze, for he had unthinkingly accepted the general opinion of the DeMille situation. But there were tears in her eyes for a moment, and the tone of her voice was convincing. It came to him with unpleasant distinctness that he had been all kinds of a fool. Looking back over his intercourse with her, he realized that the situation had been clear enough all the time.
"How little we know our friends!" he exclaimed, with some bitterness. And a moment later, "I've liked you a great deal Mrs. Dan, for a long time, but to-night — well, to-night I am jealous of Dan."
The "Flitter" saw some rough weather in making the trip across the Bay of Lyons. She was heading for Nice when an incident occurred that created the first real excitement experienced on the voyage. A group of passengers in the main saloon was discussing, more or less stealthily, Monty's "misdemeanors," when Reggie Vanderpool sauntered lazily in, his face displaying the only sign of interest it had shown in days.
"Funny predicament I was just in," he drawled. "I want to ask what a fellow should have done under the circumstances."
"I'd have refused the girl," observed "Rip" Van Winkle, laconically.
"Girl had nothing to do with it, old chap," went on Reggie, dropping into a chair. "Fellow fell overboard a little while ago," he went on, calmly. There was a chorus of cries and Brewster was forgotten for a time. "One of the sailors, you know. He was doing something in the rigging near where I was standing. Puff! off he went into the sea, and there he was puttering around in the water."
"Oh, the poor fellow," cried Miss Valentine.
"I'd never set eyes on him before — perfect stranger. I wouldn't have hesitated a minute, but the deck was crowded with a lot of his friends. One chap was his bunkie. So, really now, it wasn't my place to jump in after him. He could swim a bit, and I yelled to him to hold up and I'd tell the captain. Confounded captain wasn't to be found though. Somebody said he was asleep. In the end I told the mate. By this time we were a mile away from the place where he went overboard, and I told the mate I didn't think we could find him if we went back.. But he lowered some boats and they put back fast. Afterwards I got to thinking about the matter. Of course if I had known him — if he had been one of you — it would have been different."
"And you were the best swimmer in college, you miserable rat," exploded Dr. Lotless. There was a wild rush for the upper deck, and Vanderpool was not the hero of the hour. The "Flitter" had turned and was steaming back over her course. Two small boats were racing to the place where Reggie's unknown had gone over.
"Where is Brewster?" shouted Joe Bragdon. "I can't find him, sir," answered the first mate.
"He ought to know of this," cried Mr. Valentine.
"There! By the eternal, they are picking somebody up over yonder," exclaimed the mate. "See! that first boat has laid to and they are dragging — yes, sir, he's saved!"
A cheer went up on board and the men in the small boats waved their caps in response. Everybody rushed to the rail as the "Flitter" drew up to the boats, and there was intense excitement on board. A gasp of amazement went up from every one.
Monty Brewster, drenched but smiling, sat in one of the boats, and leaning limply against him, his head on his chest, was the sailor who had fallen overboard. Brewster had seen the man in the water and, instead of wondering what his antecedents were, leaped to his assistance. When the boat reached him his unconscious burden was a dead weight and his own strength was almost gone. Another minute or two and both would have gone to the bottom.
As they hauled Monty over the side he shivered for an instant, grasped the first little hand that sought his so frantically, and then turned to look upon the half-dead sailor.
"Find out that boy's name, Mr. Abertz, and see that he has the best of care. Just before he fainted out there he murmured something about his mother. He wasn't thinking of himself even then, you see. And Bragdon" — this in a lower voice — "will you see that his wages are properly increased? Hello, Peggy! Look out, you'll get wet to the skin if you do that."