“Twelve new species!” he said, with pride. “Mein own country will gif me honor for this. Five years I spend. Now I go back home.
“I shall not tell you what nickname they gif me in Oregon,” he added, smiling; “but my real name iss Wolfram von Rittenhofen. Berlin, it wass last my home. Tell me, you go soon to Oregon?”
“That is very possible,” I answered; and this time at least I spoke the truth. “We are bound in opposite directions, but if you are sailing for Europe this spring, you would save time and gain comfort by starting from New York. It would give us great pleasure if we could welcome so distinguished a scientist in Washington.”
“No, I am not yet distinguished. Only shall I be distinguished when I have shown my twelve new species to mein own university.”
“But it would give me pleasure also to show you Washington. You should see also the government of those backwoodsmen who are crowding out to Oregon. Would you not like to travel with me in America so far as that?”
He shook his head doubtfully. “Perhaps I make mistake to come by the St. Lawrence? It would be shorter to go by New York? Well, I haf no hurry. I think it over, yess.”
“But tell me, where did you get that leetle thing?” he asked me again presently, taking up in his hand the Indian clasp.
“I traded for it among the Crow Indians.”
“You know what it iss, eh?”
“No, except that it is Indian made.”
He scanned the round disks carefully. “Wait!” he exclaimed. “I show you sometings.”
He reached for my pencil, drew toward him a piece of paper, taking from his pocket meantime a bit of string. Using the latter for a radius, he drew a circle on the piece of paper.
“Now look what I do!” he said, as I bent over curiously. “See, I draw a straight line through the circle. I divide it in half, so. I divide it in half once more, and make a point. Now I shorten my string, one-half. On each side of my long line I make me a half circle—only half way round on the opposite sides. So, now, what I got, eh? You understand him?”
I shook my head. He pointed in turn to the rude ornamentation in the shell clasp. I declare that then I could see a resemblance between the two designs!
“It is curious,” I said.
“Mein Gott! it iss more than curious. It iss vonderful! I haf two Amazonias collected by my own bands, and twelve species of my own discovery, yess, in butterflies alone. That iss much? Listen. It iss notings! Here iss the discovery!”
He took a pace or two excitedly, and came back to thump with his forefinger on the little desk.