"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 allow me----"

"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 work.

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 here."

Torres advanced toward the two young men, who looked at him without recognizing him.

"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 a guariba?"

"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 walking saved."

"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 passage."

"Willingly," said Torres; "and you will allow me to thank you in advance."

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 the landing-place."

"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.

CHAPTER XIV

STILL DESCENDING

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.

Jules Verne
French Authors
All Pages of This Book