Erik had read his works with very great interest, and he mentioned that he had done so, when he had been presented to the French savant, who experienced a feeling of satisfaction as he listened to the enthusiastic young man.
It is often the fate of travelers, when their adventures make a stir in the world, to receive the loud admiration of the crowd; but to find that their labors are appreciated, by those who are well informed and capable of judging, does not occur so frequently. Therefore the respectful curiosity of Erik went straight to the heart of the old geographer, and brought a smile to his pale lips.
“I have never attached any great merit to my discoveries,” he said, in reply to a few words from Erik, regarding the fortunate excavations which had recently been made. “I went ahead seeking, to forget my own cruel misfortunes, and not caring so much for the results as I did for prosecuting a work which was in entire accordance with my tastes. Chance has done the rest.”
Seeing Erik and Mr. Durrien so friendly, the admiral took care to seat them together at table, so that they could continue their conversation during dinner.
As they were taking their coffee, the young lieutenant of the “Alaska” was accosted by a little bald-headed man, who had been introduced to him as Dr. Kergaridec, who asked him without any preamble to what country he belonged. A little surprised at first by the question, Erik answered that he was from Sweden, or, to be more exact, from Norway, and that his family lived in the province of Bergen. Then he inquired his motive for asking the question.
“My motive is a very simple one,” answered his interlocutor. “For an hour I have been studying your face across the table, while we were at dinner, and I have never seen anywhere such a perfect type of the Celt as I behold in you! I must tell you that I am devoted to Celtic studies, and it is the first time that I have met with this type among the Scandinavians. Perhaps this is a precious indication for science, and we may be able to place Norway among the regions visited by our Gaelic ancestors?”
Erik was about to explain to the worthy savant the reasons which would invalidate this hypothesis, when Dr. Kergaridec turned away to pay his respects to a lady who had just entered the room, and their conversation was not resumed.
The young lieutenant of the “Alaska” would probably never have thought of this incident again, but the next day as they were passing through a street near the market, Dr. Schwaryencrona said suddenly to him:
“My dear child, if I have ever had a doubt as to your Celtic origin, I should have lost it here. See how you resemble these Bretons. They have the same brown eyes, black hair, bony neck, colored skin and general appearance. Bredejord may say what he likes, but you are a pure-blooded Celt—you may depend upon it.” Erik then told him what old Dr. Kergaridec had said to him, and Dr. Schwaryencrona was so delighted that he could not talk of anything else all the day.