Torres, in despair, was just about to abandon the chase for good, and to return toward the Amazon, when he heard the sound of voices. Yes! the sound of human voices.
Those were speaking at about twenty paces to the right of him.
The first care of Torres was to hide himself in a dense thicket. Like a prudent man, he did not wish to show himself without at least knowing with whom he might have to deal. Panting, puzzled, his ears on the stretch, he waited, when suddenly the sharp report of a gun rang through the woods.
A cry followed, and the monkey, mortally wounded, fell heavily on the ground, still holding Torres' case.
"By Jove!" he muttered, "that bullet came at the right time!"
And then, without fearing to be seen, he came out of the thicket, and two young gentlemen appeared from under the trees.
They were Brazilians clothed as hunters, with leather boots, light palm-leaf hats, waistcoats, or rather tunics, buckled in at the waist, and more convenient than the national poncho. By their features and their complexion they were at once recognizable as of Portuguese descent.
Each of them was armed with one of those long guns of Spanish make which slightly remind us of the arms of the Arabs, guns of long range and considerable precision, which the dwellers in the forest of the upper Amazon handle with success.
What had just happened was a proof of this. At an angular distance of more than eighty paces the quadruman had been shot full in the head.
The two young men carried in addition, in their belts, a sort of dagger-knife, which is known in Brazil as a _"foca,"_ and which hunters do not hesitate to use when attacking the ounce and other wild animals which, if not very formidable, are pretty numerous in these forests.
Torres had obviously little to fear from this meeting, and so he went on running toward the monkey's corpse.
But the young men, who were taking the same direction, had less ground to cover, and coming forward a few paces, found themselves face to face with Torres.
The latter had recovered his presence of mind.
"Many thanks, gentlemen," said he gayly, as he raised the brim of his hat; "in killing this wretched animal you have just done me a great service!"
The hunters looked at him inquiringly, not knowing what value to attach to his thanks.
Torres explained matters in a few words.
"You thought you had killed a monkey," said he, "but as it happens you have killed a thief!"
"If we have been of use to you," said the youngest of the two, "it was by accident, but we are none the less pleased to find that we have done some good."
And taking several steps to the rear, he bent over the guariba, and, not without an effort, withdrew the case from his stiffened hand.
"Doubtless that, sir, is what belongs to you?"
"The very thing," said Torres briskly, catching hold of the case and failing to repress a huge sigh of relief.
"Whom ought I to thank, gentlemen," said he, "for the service you have rendered me?"
"My friend, Manoel, assistant surgeon, Brazilian army," replied the young man.
"If it was I who shot the monkey, Benito," said Manoel, "it was you that pointed him out to me."
"In that case, sirs," replied Torres, "I am under an obligation to you both, as well to you, Mr. Manoel, as to you, Mr. ----"
"Benito Garral," replied Manoel.
The captain of the woods required great command over himself to avoid giving a jump when he heard this name, and more especially when the young man obligingly continued:
"My father, Joam Garral, has his farm about three miles from here. If you would like, Mr. ----"
"Torres," replied the adventurer.
"If you would like to accompany us there, Mr. Torres, you will be hospitably received."
"I do not know that I can," said Torres, who, surprised by this unexpected meeting, hesitated to make a start. "I fear in truth that I am not able to accept your offer. The occurrence I have just related to you has caused me to lose time. It is necessary for me to return at once to the Amazon--as I purpose descending thence to Para."
"Very well, Mr.