At length the doctor broke the silence.
“I understand, sir,” he said, addressing the Skipper, “that you have a paper, a will or the like, substantiating your claims?”
“I have!” the Skipper replied. “The letter received by my mother, shortly before her death, was dictated by my grandfather, and told that, hearing for many years nothing from his son, this child’s grandfather, he had made a will in her favour. This, being timorous, he had not dared to show to anyone, neither to send her a copy, but he bade her send a messenger to make search in a certain cupboard of this house, on a certain shelf, where would be found this paper. My mother dying, commended to me this search. I at that time was a youth on adventures bent, with already plans for eastern voyages. Keeping always the letter in my pouch, and in my heart the desire of my mother, I came, nevertheless, not to this part of the world; years come and go, Senor, swiftly with men of the sea, and these shores seemed to me less of attraction than Borneo and other places where were easily to be found my wares. Briefly, I came not; till this year, a commission from a collector of some extent brought the ‘Nautilus’ to New York. And then, say I, how then if I go on, see this my inheritance, discover if it may profit me somewhat? I come, I discover my revered uncle, unknown to him. Is the discovery such that I desire to fall on his respected bosom, crying, ‘My uncle, soul of my family, behold your son!’ I ask you, Senors both! But I find this, my revered uncle, to be a collector of shells: thus he is in one way already dear to my heart. Again, I find here at the moment of my arrival a child, who is in effect of my own blood, who is to me a son from the moment of our first speech. Is it so, Colorado? Speak, my child!”
John could not speak, but he nodded like a little mandarin, and the red curls fell into his eyes and hid the tears, so that no one but the Skipper saw them.
“How then?” the Skipper resumed, after a moment’s pause. “My soul not calling me to reveal myself to this so-dear relative, what do I? I come to this house, without special plan, to spy out the land, do we say? I find my uncle forth of the house; I find my child travailing in the garden. Good! The time appears to me accepted. I enter, I search, I find the cupboard, I find the paper. Briefly, Senors both, behold me possessor of this house, this garden, this domain royal.”
He handed a paper to the doctor, who read it carefully, and nodded. Mr. Scraper made an attempt to clutch it in passing, but grasped the air only.
“What then, in finality, do I say?” the Skipper went on. “Do I desire to stay in this place? Wishing not to grieve the Senor Pike, whom greatly I esteem, I consider it unfit for the human being. Of property, I have little desire; I have for my wants enough, I have my ‘Nautilus,’ I have my boys, to what end should I retain these cold spots of earth, never before seen by me? To what purpose, I ask it of you, Senors? Therefore, in finality, I say to my revered uncle this: Give to me the child, give to me the boy, that I take away and make a sailor, for which he was born; and I of my part surrender house and garden, even any money bags which may be, what know I, perhaps at this moment in the bed of my revered uncle concealed?”