Torres," replied Benito, "it is not unlikely that we shall see you again in our travels, for before a month has passed my father and all his family will have taken the same road as you."
"Ah!" said Torres sharply, "your father is thinking of recrossing the Brazilian frontier?"
"Yes, for a voyage of some months," replied Benito. "At least we hope to make him decide so. Don't we, Manoel?"
Manoel nodded affirmatively.
"Well, gentlemen," replied Torres, "it is very probable that we shall meet again on the road. But I cannot, much to my regret, accept your offer now. I thank you, nevertheless, and I consider myself as twice your debtor."
And having said so, Torres saluted the young men, who in turn saluted him, and set out on their way to the farm.
As for Torres he looked after them as they got further and further away, and when he had lost sight of them--
"Ah! he is about to recross the frontier!" said he, with a deep voice. "Let him recross it! and he will be still more at my mercy! Pleasant journey to you, Joam Garral!"
And having uttered these words the captain of the woods, making for the south so as to regain the left bank of the river by the shortest road, disappeared into the dense forest.
THE GARRAL FAMILY
THE VILLAGE of Iquitos is situated on the left bank of the Amazon, near the seventy-fourth meridian, on that portion of the great river which still bears the name of the Mar&acitc;non, and of which the bed separates Peru from the republic of Ecuador. It is about fifty-five leagues to the west of the Brazilian frontier.
Iquitos, like every other collection of huts, hamlet, or village met with in the basin of the Upper Amazon, was founded by the missionaries. Up to the seventeenth year of the century the Iquito Indians, who then formed the entire population, were settled in the interior of the province at some distance from the river. But one day the springs in their territory all dried up under the influence of a volcanic eruption, and they were obliged to come and take up their abode on the left of the Marânon. The race soon altered through the alliances which were entered into with the riverine Indians, Ticunas, or Omaguas, mixed descent with a few Spaniards, and to-day Iquitos has a population of two or three families of half-breeds.
The village is most picturesquely grouped on a kind of esplanade, and runs along at about sixty feet from the river. It consists of some forty miserable huts, whose thatched roofs only just render them worthy of the name of cottages. A stairway made of crossed trunks of trees leads up to the village, which lies hidden from the traveler's eyes until the steps have been ascended. Once at the top he finds himself before an inclosure admitting of slight defense, and consisting of many different shrubs and arborescent plants, attached to each other by festoons of lianas, which here and there have made their way abgove the summits of the graceful palms and banana-trees.
At the time we speak of the Indians of Iquitos went about in almost a state of nudity. The Spaniards and half-breeds alone were clothed, and much as they scorned their indigenous fellow-citizens, wore only a simple shirt, light cotton trousers, and a straw hat. All lived cheerlessly enough in the village, mixing little together, and if they did meet occasionally, it was only at such times as the bell of the mission called them tot he dilapidated cottage which served them for a church.
But if existence in the village of Iquitos, as in most of the hamlets of the Upper Amazon, was almost in a rudimentary stage, it was only necessary to journey a league further down the river to find on the same bank a wealthy settlement, with all the elements of comfortable life.
This was the farm of Joam Garral, toward which our two young friends returned after their meeting with the captain of the woods.
There, on a bend of the stream, at the junction of the River Nanay, which is here about five hundred feet across, there had been established for many years this farm, homestead, or, to use the expression of the country, _"fazenda,"_ then in the height of its prosperity.