Erik was desirous of this interview so long, he had come so far in search of this man, that when he found himself unexpectedly in his presence and recognized him by his red hair and broken nose, he was at first taken aback and scarcely knew what to say to him. But gathering his ideas together, he at last made an attempt.
“I have been wishing to talk to you confidentially for several years,” he said. “I have been seeking for you, and it was to find you that I came into these seas. Will you come on board of my vessel?”
“I do not know you, and I am very well satisfied to stay where I am,” answered the man.
“But I know you. I have heard through Mr. Bowles that you were on board when the ‘Cynthia’ was wrecked, and that you had spoken to him about the infant who was tied to a buoy. I am that infant, and it is about this matter that I wish you to give me all the information in your power.”
“You must question somebody else, for I am not in the humor to give any.”
“Do you wish me to suppose that the information is not to your credit?”
“You can think what you like; it is a matter of perfect indifference to me,” said the man.
Erik resolved to betray no irritation.
“It would be better for you to tell me what I wish to know of your own free will than to be compelled to do so before a court of justice,” he said, coolly.
“A court of justice! They will have to catch me first,” answered the other, mockingly.
Here Tudor Brown interposed.
“You see it is not my fault if you have not obtained the information that you desired,” said he to Erik. “The best thing is now for us both to resume our course and go where we desire.”
“Why should we each go our way?” answered the young captain. “Would it not be better for us to keep together until we reach some civilized country where we can settle these matters.”
“I have no business with you, and do not want any one’s company,” answered Tudor Brown, moving as if he was about to leave the bridge.
Erik stopped him by a sign.
“Proprietor of the ‘Albatross,’” he said, “I bear a regular commission from my government, and am besides an officer of the maritime police. I therefore ask you to show me your papers immediately!”
Tudor Brown did not make the slightest answer, but descended the bridge with the man whom he had called. Erik waited a couple of minutes, and then he spoke again:
“Commander of the ‘Albatross,’ I accuse you of having attempted to shipwreck my vessel on the rocks of Sein, and I now summon you to come and answer this accusation before a marine tribunal. If you refuse to answer this summons it will be my duty to compel you to do so!”
“Try it if you like,” cried Tudor Brown, and gave orders to resume his journey.
During this colloquy his vessel had insensibly tacked, and now stood at right angles with the “Alaska.” Suddenly the wheel commenced to revolve and beat the water which boiled and foamed around it. A prolonged whistle was heard, and the “Albatross” carrying all the steam she could raise sped over the waters in the direction of the North Pole.