From the bank of the river, bordered with reeds and aquatic plants, the tree-encircled house was alone visible.
A vast meadow, laboriously cleared along the lagoons, offered excellent pasturage. Cattle abounded--a new source of profit in these fertile countries, where a herd doubles in four years, and where ten per cent. interest is earned by nothing more than the skins and the hides of the animals killed for the consumption of those who raise them! A few _"sitios,"_ or manioc and coffee plantations, were started in parts of the woods which were cleared. Fields of sugar-canes soon required the construction of a mill to crush the sacchariferous stalks destined to be used hereafter in the manufacture of molasses, tafia, and rum. In short, ten years after the arrival of Joam Garral at the farm at Iquitos the fazenda had become one of the richest establishments on the Upper Amazon. Thanks to the good management exercised by the young clerk over the works at home and the business abroad, its prosperity daily increased.
The Portuguese did not wait so long to acknowledge what he owed to Joam Garral. In order to recompense him in proportion to his merits he had from the first given him an interest in the profits of his business, and four years after his arrival he had made him a partner on the same footing as himself, and with equal shares.
But there was more that he had in store for him. Yaquita, his daughter, had, in this silent young man, so gentle to others, so stern to himself, recognized the sterling qualities which her father had done. She was in love with him, but though on his side Joam had not remained insensible to the merits and the beauty of this excellent girl, he was too proud and reserved to dream of asking her to marry him.
A serious incident hastened the solution.
MagalhaŽs was one day superintending a clearance and was mortally wounded by the fall of a tree. Carried home helpless to the farm, and feeling himself lost, he raised up Yaquita, who was weeping by his side, took her hand, and put it into that of Joam Garral, making him swear to take her for his wife.
"You have made my fortune," he said, "and I shall not die in peace unless by this union I know that the fortune of my daughter is assured."
"I can continue her devoted servant, her brother, her protector, without being her husband," Joam Garral had at first replied. "I owe you all, MagalhaŽs. I will never forget it, but the price you would pay for my endeavors is out of all proportion to what they are worth."
The old man insisted. Death would not allow him to wait; he demanded the promise, and it was made to him.
Yaquita was then twenty-two years old, Joam was twenty-six. They loved each other and they were married some hours before the death of MagalhaŽs, who had just strength left to bless their union.
It was under these circumstances that in 1830 Joam Garral became the new fazender of Iquitos, to the immense satisfaction of all t hose who composed the staff of the farm.
The prosperity of the settlement could not do otherwise than grow then these two minds were thus united.
A year after her marriage Yaquita presented her husband with a son, and, two years after, a daughter. Benito and Minha, the grandchildren of the old Portuguese, became worthy of their grandfather, children worthy of Joam and Yaquita.
The daughter grew to be one of the most charming of girls. She never left the fazenda. Brought up in pure and healthy surroundings, in the midst of the beauteous nature of the tropics, the education given to her by her mother, and the instruction received by her from her father, were ample. What more could she have learned in a convent at Manaos or Belem? Where would she have found better examples of the domestic virtues? Would her mind and feelings have been more delicately formed away from her home? If it was ordained that she was not to succeed her mother in the management of the fazenda, she was equal to say any other position to which she might be called.
With Benito it was another thing.