“What would I say?” said the professor, somewhat troubled by this sudden attack. “Upon my word I do not know. I would have to consider the question in a different aspect.”
“Examine it then at your leisure,” answered the advocate, thrusting his hand into the inner pocket of his coat, and taking out a case from which he selected a letter inclosed in one of those yellow envelopes, which betray at the first glance their American origin.
“This is a document which you can not controvert,” he added, placing the letter before the doctor’s eyes, who read aloud:
“To Mr. Bredejord, Stockholm.
“New York, October 27th.
reply to your letter of the 5th instant, I hasten to
write you the following facts:—
“1st.—A vessel named ‘Cynthia,’ commanded by Captain Barton, and the property of the Canadian General Transportation Company, was lost, with her cargo and all on board, just fourteen years ago, in the neighborhood of the Faroe Islands.
vessel was insured in the General Steam Navigation
Company of New York for the sum of eight hundred thousand dollars.
“3d.—The disappearance of the ‘Cynthia’ having remained unexplained, and the causes of the sad accident never having been clearly proved to the satisfaction of the insurance company, a lawsuit ensued, which was lost by the proprietors of the said vessel.
“4th.—The loss of this lawsuit occasioned the dissolution of the Canadian General Transportation Company, which has ceased to exist for the last eleven years, having gone into liquidation. While waiting to hear from you again, I beg of you, sir, to accept our sincere salutations.
“JeremiahSmith, Walker & Co.,
“Well, what do you say to that?” asked Mr. Bredejord, when the doctor had finished reading the letter. “It is a document of some value, I think. Do you agree with me?”
“I quite agree with you,” answered the doctor. “How did you procure it?”
“In the simplest way in the world. That evening when you spoke to me about the ‘Cynthia’ being necessarily an English vessel, I thought that you were taking too limited a field for your researches, and that the vessel might be an American one. When time passed, and you received no intelligence, for you would have told us if you had, the idea occurred to me of writing to New York. The third letter brought the result which you have before you. The affair is no longer a complicated one. Do you not think that it assures to me beyond contest the possession of your Pliny?”
“It appears to me to be rather a forced conclusion,” replied the doctor, taking the letter and reading it over again, to see if he could find any new arguments to support his theory.