Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon
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"Joam Garral," answered Fragoso.
And at the same time he muttered to himself:
"I certainly have seen this fellow somewhere!"
Torres was not the man to allow a conversation to drop which was
likely to interest him, and for very good reasons.
"And so you think Joam Garral would give me a passage?"
"I do not doubt it," replied Fragoso. "What he would do for a poor
chap like me he would not refuse to do for a compatriot like you."
"Is he alone on board the jangada?"
"No," replied Fragoso. "I wa going to tell you that he is traveling
with all his family--and jolly people they are, I assure you. He is
accompanied by a crew of Indians and negroes, who form part of the
staff at the fazenda."
"Is he rich?"
"Oh, certainly!" answered Fragoso--"very rich. Even the timber which
forms the jangada, and the cargo it carries, constitute a fortune!"
"The Joam Garral and his whole family have just passed the Brazilian
"Yes," said Fragoso; "his wife, his son, his daughter, and Miss
"Ah! he has a daughter?" said Torres.
"A charming girl!"
"Going to get married?"
"Yes, to a brave young fellow," replied Fragoso--"an army surgeon in
garrison at Belem, and the wedding is to take place as soon as we get
to the end of the voyage."
"Good!" said the smiling Torres; "it is what you might call a
"A voyage of betrothal, of pleasure, and of business!" said Fragoso.
"Madame Yaquita and her daughter have never set foot on Brazilian
ground; and as for Joam Garral, it is the first time he has crossed
the frontier since he went to the farm of old MagalhaŽs."
"I suppose," asked Torres, "that there are some servants with the
"Of course," replied Fragoso--"old Cybele, on the farm for the last
fifty years, and a pretty mulatto, Miss Lina, who is more of a
companion than a servant to her mistress. Ah, what an amiable
disposition! What a heart, and what eyes! And the ideas she has about
everything, particularly about lianas--" Fragoso, started on this
subject, would not have been able to stop himself, and Lina would
have been the object of a good many enthusiastic declarations, had
Torres not quitted the chair for another customer.
"What do I owe you?" asked he of the barber.
"Nothing," answered Fragoso. "Between compatriots, when they meet on
the frontier, there can be no question of that sort."
"But," replied Torres, "I want to----"
"Very well, we will settle that later on, on board the jangada."
"But I do not know that, and I do not like to ask Joam Garral to
"Do not hesitate!" exclaimed Fragoso; "I will speak to him if you
would like it better, and he will be very happy to be of use to you
under the circumstances."
And at that instant Manoel and Benito, coming into the town after
dinner, appeared at the door of the loja, wishing to see Fragoso at
Torres turned toward them and suddenly said: "There are two gentlemen
I know--or rather I remember."
"You remember them!" asked Fragoso, surprised.
"Yes, undoubtedly! A month ago, in the forest of Iquitos, they got me
out of a considerable difficulty."
"But they are Benito Garral and Manoel Valdez."
"I know. They told me their names, but I never expected to see them
Torres advanced toward the two young men, who looked at him without
"You do not remember me, gentlemen?" he asked.
"Wait a little," answered Benito; "Mr. Torres, if I remember aright;
it was you who, in the forest of Iquitos, got into difficulties with
"Quite true, gentlemen," replied Torres. "For six weeks I have been
traveling down the Amazon, and I have just crossed the frontier at
the same time as you have."
"Very pleased to see you again," said Benito; "but you have not
forgotten that you promised to come to the fazenda to my father?"
"I have not forgotten it," answered Torres.
"And you would have done better to have accepted my offer; it would
have allowed you to have waited for our departure, rested from you
fatigues, and descended with us to the frontier; so many days of
"To be sure!" answered Torres.
"Our compatriot is not going to stop at the frontier," said Fragoso,
"he is going on to Manaos."
"Well, then," replied Benito, "if you will come on board the jangada
you will be well received, and I am sure my father will give you a
"Willingly," said Torres; "and you will allow me to thank you in
Manoel took no part in the conversation; he let Benito make the offer
of his services, and attentively watched Torres, whose face he
scarcely remembered. There was an entire want of frankness in the
eyes, whose look changed unceasingly, as if he was afraid to fix them
anywhere. But Manoel kept this impression to himself, not wishing to
injure a compatriot whom they were about to oblige.
"Gentlemen," said Torres, "if you like, I am ready to follow you to
"Come, then," answered Benito.
A quarter of an hour afterward Torres was on board the jangada.
Benito introduced him to Joam Garral, acquainting him with the
circumstances under which they had previously met him, and asked him
to give him a passage down to Manaos.
"I am happy, sir, to be able to oblige you," replied Joam.
"Thank you," said Torres, who at the moment of putting forth his hand
kept it back in spite of himself.
"We shall be off at daybreak to-morrow," added Joam Garral, "so you
had better get your things on board."
"Oh, that will not take me long!" answered Torres; "there is only
myself and nothing else!"
"Make yourself at home," said Joam Garral.
That evening Torres took possession of a cabin near to that of the
barber. It was not till eight o'clock that the latter returned to the
raft, and gave the young mulatto an account of his exploits, and
repeated, with no little vanity, that the renown of the illustrious
Fragoso was increasing in the basin of the Upper Amazon.
AT DAYBREAK on the morrow, the 27th of June, the cables were cast
off, and the raft continued its journey down the river.
An extra passenger was on board. Whence came this Torres? No one
exactly knew. Where was he going to? "To Manaos," he said. Torres was
careful to let no suspicion of his past life escape him, nor of the
profession that he had followed till within the last two months, and
no one would have thought that the jangada had given refuge to an old
captain of the woods. Joam Garral did not wish to mar the service he
was rendering by questions of too pressing a nature.
In taking him on board the fazender had obeyed a sentiment of
humanity. In the midst of these vast Amazonian deserts, more
especially at the time when the steamers had not begun to furrow the
waters, it was very difficult to find means of safe and rapid
transit. Boats did not ply regularly, and in most cases the traveler
was obliged to walk across the forests. This is what Torres had done,
and what he would continue to have done, and it was for him
unexpected good luck to have got a passage on the raft.
From the moment that Benito had explained under what conditions he
had met Torres the introduction was complete, and he was able to
consider himself as a passenger on an Atlantic steamer, who is free
to take part in the general life if he cares, or free to keep himself
a little apart if of an unsociable disposition.
It was noticed, at least during the first few days, that Torres did
not try to become intimate with the Garral family. He maintained a