Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon
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then these words escaped his lips:
THE CRIME OF TIJUCO
ON THE ARRIVAL of the judge the mournful procession halted. A roaring
echo had repeated after him and again repeated the cry which escaped
from every mouth:
Then complete silence fell on all. The people did not want to lose
one syllable of what was about to be proclaimed.
Judge Jarriquez sat down on a stone seat, and then, while Minha,
Benito, Manoel, and Fragoso stood round him, while Joam Dacosta
clasped Yaquita to his heart, he first unraveled the last paragraph
of the document by means of the number, and as the words appeared by
the institution of the true letters for the cryptological ones, he
divided and punctuated them, and then read it out in a loud voice.
And this is what he read in the midst of profound silence:
_Le véritable auteur du vol des diamants et de_
43 251343251 343251 34 325 134 32513432 51 34
_Ph yjslyddf dzxgas gz zqq ehx gkfndrxu ju gi
l'assassinat des soldats qui escortaient le convoi,_
32513432513 432 5134325 134 32513432513 43 251343
_ocytdxvksbx bhu ypohdvy rym huhpuydkjox ph etozsl
commis dans la nuit du vingt-deux janvier mil_
251343 2513 43 2513 43 251343251 3432513 432
_etnpmv ffov pd pajx hy ynojyggay meqynfu q1n
huit-cent vingt-six, n'est donc pas Joam Dacosta,_
5134 3251 3425 134 3251 3432 513 4325 1343251
_mvly fgsu zmqiz tlb qgyu gsqe uvb nrcc edgruzb
injustement condamné à mort, c'est moi, les misérable_
34325134325 13432513 4 3251 3432 513 43 251343251
_l4msyuhqpz drrgcroh e pqxu fivv rpl ph onthvddqf
employé de l'administration du district diamantin,_
3432513 43 251343251343251 34 32513432 513432513
_hqsntzh hh nfepmqkyuuexkto gz gkyuumfv ijdqdpzjq
out, moi seul, qui signe de mon vrai nom, Ortega._
432 513 4325 134 32513 43 251 3432 513 432513
_syk rpl xhxq rym vkloh hh oto zvdk spp suvjhd._
"The real author of the robbery of the diamonds and of the murder of
the soldiers who escorted the convoy, committed during the night of
the twenty-second of January, one thousand eight hundred and
twenty-six, was thus not Joam Dacosta, unjustly condemned to death;
it was I, the wretched servant of the Administration of the diamond
district; yes, I alone, who sign this with my true name, Ortega."
The reading of this had hardly finished when the air was rent with
What could be more conclusive than this last paragraph, which
summarized the whole of the document, and proclaimed so absolutely
the innocence of the fazender of Iquitos, and which snatched from the
gallows this victim of a frightful judicial mistake!
Joam Dacosta, surrounded by his wife, his children, and his friends,
was unable to shake the hands which were held out to him. Such was
the strength of his character that a reaction occurred, tears of joy
escaped from his eyes, and at the same instant his heart was lifted
up to that Providence which had come to save him so miraculously at
the moment he was about to offer the last expiation to that God who
would not permit the accomplishment of that greatest of crimes, the
death of an innocent man!
Yes! There could be no doubt as to the vindication of Joam Dacosta.
The true author of the crime of Tijuco confessed of his own free
will, and described the circumstances under which it had been
By means of the number Judge Jarriquez interpreted the whole of the
And this was what Ortega confessed.
He had been the colleague of Joam Dacosta, employed, like him, at
Tijuco, in the offices of the governor of the diamond arrayal. He had
been the official appointed to accompany the convoy to Rio de
Janeiro, and, far from recoiling at the horrible idea of enriching
himself by means of murder and robbery, he had informed the smugglers
of the very day the convoy was to leave Tijuco.
During the attack of the scoundrels, who awaited the convoy just
beyond Villa Rica, he pretended to defend himself with the soldiers
of the escort, and then, falling among the dead, he was carried away
by his accomplices. Hence it was that the solitary soldier who
survived the massacre had reported that Ortega had perished in the
But the robbery did not profit the guilty man in the long run, for, a
little time afterward, he was robbed by those whom he had helped to
commit the crime.
Penniless, and unable to enter Tijuco again, Ortega fled away to the
provinces in the north of Brazil, to those districts of the Upper
Amazon where the _capitaes da mato_ are to be found. He had to live
somehow, and so he joined this not very honorable company; they
neither asked him who he was nor whence he came, and so Ortega became
a captain of the woods, and for many years he followed the trade of a
chaser of men.
During this time Torres, the adventurer, himself in absolute want,
became his companion. Ortega and he became most intimate. But, as he
had told Torres, remorse began gradually to trouble the scoundrel's
life. The remembrance of his crime became horrible to him. He knew
that another had been condemned in his place! He knew subsequently
that the innocent man had escaped from the last penalty, but that he
would never be free from the shadow of the capital sentence! And
then, during an expedition of his party for several months beyond the
Peruvian frontier, chance caused Ortega to visit the neighborhood of
Iquitos, and there in Joam Garral, who did not recognize him, he
recognized Joam Dacosta.
Henceforth he resolved to make all the reparation he could for the
injustice of which is old comrade had been the victim. He committed
to the document all the facts relative to the crime of Tijuco,
writing it first in French, which had been his mother's native
tongue, and then putting it into the mysterious form we know, his
intention being to transmit it to the fazender of Iquitos, with the
cipher by which it could be read.
Death prevented his completing his work of reparation. Mortally
wounded in a scuffle with some negroes on the Madeira, Ortega felt he
was doomed. His comrade Torres was then with him. He thought he could
intrust to his friend the secret which had so grievously darkened his
life. He gave him the document, and made him swear to convey it to
Joam Dacosta, whose name and address he gave him, and with his last
breath he whispered the number 432513, without which the document
would remain undecipherable.
Ortega dead, we know how the unworthy Torres acquitted himself of his
mission, how he resolved to turn to his own profit the secret of
which he was the possessor, and how he tried to make it the subject
of an odious bargain.
Torres died without accomplishing his work, and carried his secret
with him. But the name of Ortega, brought back by Fragoso, and which
was the signature of the document, had afforded the means of
unraveling the cryptogram, dtanks to the sagacity of Judge Jarriquez.
Yes, the material proof sought after for so long was the
incontestable witness of the innocence of Joam Dacosta, returned to
life, restored to honor.
The cheers redoubled when the worthy magistrate, in a loud voice, and
for the edification of all, read from the document this terrible
And from that moment Judge Jarriquez, whoo possessed this indubitable
proof, arranged with the chief of the police, and declined to allow
Joam Dacosta, while waiting new instructions from Rio Janeiro, to
stay in any prison but his own house.
There could be no difficulty about this, and in the center of the
crowd of the entire population of Manaos, Joam Dacosta, accompanied
by all his family, beheld himself conducted like a conquerer to the
And in that minute the honest fazender of Iquitos was well repaid for
all that he had suffered during the long years of exile, and if he
was happy for his family's sake more than for his own, he was none
the less proud for his country's sake that this supreme injustice had
not been consummated!
And in all this what had become of Fragoso?
Well, the good-hearted fellow was covered with caresses! Benito,
Manoel, and Minha had overwhelmed him, and Lina had by no means
spared him. He did not know what to do, he defended himself as best
he could. He did not deserve anything like it. Chance alone had done
it. Were any thanks due to him for having recognized Torres as a
captain of the woods? No, certainly not. As to his idea of hurrying
off in search of the band to which Torres had belonged, he did not
think it had been worth much, and as to the name of Ortega, he did
not even know its value.
Gallant Fragoso! Whether he wished it or no, he had none the less
saved Joam Dacosta!
And herein what a strange succession of different events all tending
to the same end. The deliverance of Fragoso at the time when he was
dying of exhaustion in the forest of Iquitos; the hospitable
reception he had met with at the fazenda, the meeting with Torres on
the Brazilian frontier, his embarkation on the jangada; and lastly,
the fact that Fragoso had seen him somewhere before.
"Well, yes!" Fragoso ended by exclaiming; "but it is not to me that
all this happiness is due, it is due to Lina!"