She would there see and learn to love the mother of Manoel Valdez. How could Joam Garral hesitate in the face of so praiseworthy a desire? Why, on the other hand, did he not participate in this desire to become acquainted with her who was to be the second mother of his child?
Yaquita took her husband's hand, and with that gentle voice which had been to him all the music of his life:
"Joam," she said, "I am going to talk to you about something which we ardently wish, and which will make you as happy as we are."
"What is it about, Yaquita?" asked Joam.
"Manoel loves your daughter, he is loved by her, and in this union they will find the happiness----"
At the first words of Yaquita Joam Garral had risen, without being able to control a sudden start. His eyes were immediately cast down, and he seemed to designedly avoid the look of his wife.
"What is the matter with you?" asked she.
"Minha? To get married!" murmured Joam.
"My dear," said Yaquita, feeling somewhat hurt, "have you any objection to make to the marriage? Have you not for some time noticed the feelings which Manoel has entertained toward our daughter?"
"Yes; and a year since----"
And Joam sat down without finishing his thoughts. By an effort of his will he had again become master of himself. The unaccountable impression which had been made upon him disappeared. Gradually his eyes returned to meet those of Yaquita, and he remained thoughtfully looking at her.
Yaquita took his hand.
"Joam," she said, "have I been deceived? Had you no idea that this marriage would one day take place, and that it would give her every chance of happiness?"
"Yes," answered Joam. "All! Certainly. But, Yaquita, this wedding--this wedding that we are both thinking of--when is it coming off? Shortly?"
"It will come off when you choose, Joam."
"And it will take place here--at Iquitos?"
This question obliged Yaquita to enter on the other matter which she had at heart. She did not do so, however, without some hesitation, which was quite intelligible.
"Joam," said she, after a moment's silence, "listen to me. Regarding this wedding, I have got a proposal which I hope you will approve of. Two or three times during the last twenty years I have asked you to take me and my daughter to the provinces of the Lower Amazon, and to Para, where we have never been. The cares of the fazenda, the works which have required your presence, have not allowed you to grant our request. To absent yourself even for a few days would then have injured your business. But now everything has been successful beyond your dreams, and if the hour of repose has not yet come for you, you can at least for a few weeks get away from your work."
Joam Garral did not answer, but Yaquita felt his hand tremble in hers, as though under the shock of some sorrowful recollection. At the same time a half-smile came to her husband's lips--a mute invitation for her to finish what she had begun.
"Joam," she continued, "here is an occasion which we shall never see again in this life. Minha is going to be married away from us, and is going to leave us! It is the first sorrow which our daughter has caused us, and my heart quails when I think of the separation which is so near! But I should be content if I could accompany her to Belem! Does it not seem right to you, even in other respects that we should know her husband's mother, who is to replace me, and to whom we are about to entrust her? Added to this, Minha does not wish to grieve Madame Valdez by getting married at a distance from her. When we were married, Joam, if your mother had been alive, would you not have liked her to be present at your wedding?"
At these words of Yaquita Joam made a movement which he could not repress.
"My dear," continued Yaquita, "with Minha, with our two sons, Benito and Manoel, with you, how I should like to see Brazil, and to journey down this splendid river, even to the provinces on the seacoast through which it runs! It seems to me that the separation would be so much less cruel! As we came back we should revisit our daughter in her house with her second mother.