He had learned the name of the ex-director of the Canadian Transportation Company, it was Mr. Joshua Churchill. But they did not know what had become of this gentleman since the dissolution of the company. If they could succeed in finding him, he might be able to give them some information about the old records of the company; perhaps there might have been a list of the passengers by the “Cynthia,” and the baby might have been registered with his family or with the persons who had charge of him. But their investigations proved very unsatisfactory. The solicitor who had formerly had the books in his possession as the receiver of the company about ten years before; did not know what had become of Mr. Churchill. For a moment Dr. Schwaryencrona consoled himself with a false hope. He remembered that the American newspapers usually published a list of the passengers embarking for Europe, and he sent for a number of old gazettes to see if he could find the “Cynthia’s” list; but he was soon convinced that this was a fruitless effort. He discovered that the practice of publishing the names of passengers on European steamships was of comparatively recent date. But the old gazettes were of one use to him, they gave the exact date of sailing of the “Cynthia,” which had left on the 3d of November, not from a Canadian port as they had at first supposed, but from New York, to go to Hamburg.
It was therefore in New York that the doctor must first make his investigations, and, if unsuccessful, then in other parts of the United States.
At Hamburg all his inquiries proved to be useless. The consignee of the Canadian Transportation Company knew nothing about the passengers of the “Cynthia,” and could only give them information about the freight, which they had already obtained.
Erik had been in Stockholm six months when they learned that the ex-director, Mr. Joshua Churchill, had died several years before, in an hospital, without leaving any known heirs, or probably any money. As for the registers of the company, they had probably been sold long before as waste paper.
These long researches led to nothing, except to provoke the sarcasms of Mr. Bredejord, which were wounding, to the doctor’s self-love, who, however, did not as yet give way to despair.
Erik’s history was now well known in the doctor’s household. They no longer forbore to speak openly about it, and the results of their researches were talked of both in the dining-room and the parlor.
Perhaps the doctor had acted more discreetly during the first two years of Erik’s sojourn with him, when he had kept his affairs a secret. Now they furnished food for the gossiping of Kajsa and Dame Greta, and even occupied the thoughts of Erik himself; and his reflections were often very melancholy.
Not to know whether his parents were still living, to reflect that he might never be able to discover the secret of his birth, was in itself a sad thought to him; but it was still more sad to be ignorant of the land of his birth.