9. CHAPTER IX.
"You will not deny, I am sure," said Gavrila Ardalionovitch,
turning to Burdovsky, who sat looking at him with wide-open eyes,
perplexed and astonished. You will not deny, seriously, that you
were born just two years after your mother's legal marriage to
Mr. Burdovsky, your father. Nothing would be easier than to prove
the date of your birth from well-known facts; we can only look on
Mr. Keller's version as a work of imagination, and one, moreover,
extremely offensive both to you and your mother. Of course he
distorted the truth in order to strengthen your claim, and to
serve your interests. Mr. Keller said that he previously
consulted you about his article in the paper, but did not read it
to you as a whole. Certainly he could not have read that passage.
.. . .
"As a matter of fact, I did not read it," interrupted the boxer,
"but its contents had been given me on unimpeachable authority,
and I . . ."
"Excuse me, Mr. Keller," interposed Gavrila Ardalionovitch.
"Allow me to speak. I assure you your article shall be mentioned
in its proper place, and you can then explain everything, but for
the moment I would rather not anticipate. Quite accidentally,
with the help of my sister, Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsin, I
obtained from one of her intimate friends, Madame Zoubkoff, a
letter written to her twenty-five years ago, by Nicolai
Andreevitch Pavlicheff, then abroad. After getting into
communication with this lady, I went by her advice to Timofei
Fedorovitch Viazovkin, a retired colonel, and one of Pavlicheff's
oldest friends. He gave me two more letters written by the latter
when he was still in foreign parts. These three documents, their
dates, and the facts mentioned in them, prove in the most
undeniable manner, that eighteen months before your birth,
Nicolai Andreevitch went abroad, where he remained for three
consecutive years. Your mother, as you are well aware, has never
been out of Russia. . . . It is too late to read the letters now;
I am content to state the fact. But if you desire it, come to me
tomorrow morning, bring witnesses and writing experts with you,
and I will prove the absolute truth of my story. From that moment
the question will be decided."
These words caused a sensation among the listeners, and there was
a general movement of relief. Burdovsky got up abruptly.