"The last letters!" he muttered. "Let us try once more the last letters!"
It was the last hope.
And then, with a hand whose agitation nearly prevented him from writing at all, he placed the name of Ortega over the six last letters of the paragraph, as he had done over the first.
An exclamation immediately escaped him. He saw, at first glance, that the six last letters were inferior in alphabetical order to those which composed Ortega's name, and that consequently they might yield the number.
And when he reduced the formula, reckoning each later letter from the earlier letter of the word, he obtained.
O r t e g a 4 3 2 5 1 3 _S u v j h d_
The number thus disclosed was 432513.
But was this number that which had been used in the document? Was it not as erroneous as those he had previously tried?
At this moment the shouts below redoubled--shouts of pity which betrayed the sympathy of the excited crowd. A few minutes more were all that the doomed man had to live!
Fragoso, maddened with grief, darted from the room! He wished to see, for the last time, his benefactor who was on the road to death! He longed to throw himself before the mournful procession and stop it, shouting, "Do not kill this just man! do not kill him!"
But already Judge Jarriquez had placed the given number above the first letters of the paragraph, repeating them as often as was necessary, as follows:
4 3 2 5 1 3 4 3 2 5 1 3 4 3 2 5 1 3 4 3 2 5 1 3 _P h y j s l y d d q f d z x g a s g z z q q e h_
And then, reckoning the true letters according to their alphabetical order, he read:
"Le véritable auteur du vol de----"
A yell of delight escaped him! This number, 432513, was the number sought for so long! The name of Ortega had enabled him to discover it! At length he held the key of the document, which would incontestably prove the innocence of Joam Dacosta, and without reading any more he flew from his study into the street, shouting:
To cleave the crowd, which opened as he ran, to dash to the prison, whence the convict was coming at the last moment, with his wife and children clinging to him with the violence of despair, was but the work of a minute for Judge Jarriquez.
Stopping before Joam Dacosta, he could not speak for a second, and 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 prolonged hurrahs.