“By my faith, I will do you this favor!” said Patrick, evidently moved. “You know that I was a cabin-boy on board the ’Cynthia’?”
He stopped short.
Erik hung upon his words. Was he at last going to find out the truth? Was he going to solve this enigma and discover the name of his family, the land of his birth? Truly the scene appeared to him almost chimerical. He fastened his eyes upon the wounded man, ready to drink in his words with avidity. For nothing in the world would he have interfered with his recital, neither by interruption nor gesture. He did not even observe that a shadow had appeared behind him. It was the sight of this shadow which had stopped the story of Patrick O’Donoghan.
“Mr. Jones!” he said, in the tone of a school-boy detected in some flagrant mischief.
Erik turned and saw Tudor Brown coming around a neighboring hummock, where until this moment he had been hidden from their sight.
The exclamation of the Irishman confirmed the suspicion which during the last hour had presented itself to his mind.
Mr. Jones and Tudor Brown were one and the same person.
He had hardly time to make this reflection before two shots were heard.
Tudor Brown raised his gun and shot Patrick O’Donoghan through the heart, who fell backward.
Then before he had time to lower his rifle, Tudor Brown received a bullet in his forehead, and fell forward on his face.
“I did well to come back when I saw suspicious footprints in the snow,” said Mr. Hersebom, coming forward, his gun still smoking in his hands.
THE END OF THE VOYAGE.
Erik gave a cry and threw himself on his knees beside Patrick O’Donoghan, seeking for some sign of life, a ray of hope. But the Irishman was certainly dead this time, and that without revealing his secret.
As for Tudor Brown, one convulsion shook his body, his gun fell from his hands, in which he had tightly held it at the moment of his fall, and he expired without a word.
“Father, what have you done?” cried Erik, bitterly. “Why have you deprived me of the last chance that was left to me of discovering the secret of my birth? Would it not have been better for us to throw ourselves upon this man and take him prisoner?”
“And do you believe that he would have allowed us to do so?” answered Mr. Hersebom. “His second shot was intended for you, you may be sure. I have avenged the murder of this unfortunate man, punished the criminal who attempted to shipwreck us, and who is guilty perhaps of other crimes. Whatever may be the result, I do not regret having done so. Besides of what consequence is the mystery surrounding your birth, my child, to men in our situation? The secret of your birth before long, without doubt, will be revealed to us by God.”
He had hardly finished speaking, when the firing of a cannon was heard, and it was re-echoed by the icebergs. It seemed like a reply to the discouraging words of the old fisherman. It was doubtless a response to the two gunshots which had been fired on their island of ice.