So Thor, being then in the first prime of life, was prepared to settle down and become domestic. But the sudden death of his wife, and the subsequent loss of one of the children she had borne him, drove him once more abroad, with his baby son, never again to take root, or to return. And here Balder’s story, as told by him, began. He seemed to have matured very early, and to have taken hold of knowledge in all its branches like a Titan. The precise age at which he had learned all that European schools could teach him, it is not necessary to specify; since it is rather with the nature of his mind than with the list of his accomplishments that we shall have to do. It might be possible, by tracing his-connection with French, or German, or English philosophers, to make shrewd guesses at the qualities of his own! creed; but these will perhaps reveal themselves less diffidently under other tests.
The last four or five years of his life Balder had spent in acquiring such culture as schools could not give him. Where he went, what he did and saw, we shall not exercise our power categorically to reveal; remarking only that his means and his social rank left him free to go as high as well as low as he pleased,—to dine with English dukes or with Russian serfs. But a fine chastity inherent in his Northern blood had, whatever were his moral convictions, kept him from the mire; and the sudden death of his father had given him a graver turn than was normal to his years. Meanwhile, the financial crash, which at this time so largely affected Europe, swallowed up the greater part of Balder’s fortune; and with the remnant (about a thousand pounds sterling), and a potential independence (in the shape of a learned profession) in his head, he sailed for Boston.
“I knew you were my uncle Hiero’s bankers,” he added, “and I supposed you would be able to tell me about him. He is my only living relative.”
“Why, as to that, I believe it is a long time since the house has had anything to do with his concerns,” returned the venerable President, abstractedly gazing at Balder’s high boots; “but I’ll ask Mr. Dyke. He remembers everything.”
That gentleman (who had not passed an easy moment since Mr. Helwyse’s arrival) was now called in, and his suspense regarding the mysterious visitor soon relieved. In respect to Doctor Glyphic’s affair he was ready and explicit.
“No dollar of his money has been through our hands since winter of Eighteen thirty-five—six, Mr. Helwyse, sir,—winter following your and your respected father’s departure for foreign parts,” stated Mr. Dyke, straightening his mouth, and planting his fist on his hip.
“Hm—hm!” murmured the President, standing thin and bent before the empty fireplace, a coat-tail over each arm.
“You have heard nothing of him since then?”
“Nothing, Mr. Helwyse, sir! Reverend Manetho Glyphic—understood to be the Doctor’s adopted son—came here and effected the transfer, under authority, of course, of his foster-father’s signature. Where the property is at this moment, how invested with what returns, neither the President nor I can inform you, sir.”