What whimsical climbers--ruby red and golden yellow, with variegated clusters and tangled twigs--turned over the brackets, under the ridges, on the rafters of the roof, and across the lintels of the doors! They had brought them wholesale from the woods in the neighborhood of the fazenda. A huge liana bound all the parasites together; several times it made the round of the house, clinging on to every angle, encircling every projection, forking, uniting, it everywhere threw out its irregular branchlets, and allowed not a bit of the house to be seen beneath its enormous clusters of bloom.
As a delicate piece of attention, the author of which can be easily recognized, the end of the cipo spread out before the very window of the young mulatto, as though a long arm was forever holding a bouquet of fresh flowers across the blind.
To sum up, it was as charming as could be; and as Yaquita, her daughter, and Lina were content, we need say no more about it.
"It would not take much to make us plant trees on the jangada," said Benito.
"Oh, trees!" ejaculated Minha.
"Why not?" replied Manoel. "Transported on to this solid platform, with some good soil, I am sure they would do well, and we would have no change of climate to fear for them, as the Amazon flows all the time along the same parallel."
"Besides," said Benito, "every day islets of verdure, torn from the banks, go drifting down the river. Do they not pass along with their trees, bushes, thickets, rocks, and fields, to lose themselves in the Atlantic eight hundred leagues away? Why, then, should we not transform our raft into a floating garden?"
"Would you like a forest, miss?" said Fragoso, who stopped at nothing.
"Yes, a forest!" cried the young mulatto; "a forest with its birds and its monkeys----"
"Its snakes, its jaguars!" continued Benito.
"Its Indians, its nomadic tribes," added Manoel, "and even its cannibals!"
"But where are you going to, Fragoso?" said Minha, seeing the active barber making a rush at the bank.
"To look after the forest!" replied Fragoso.
"Useless, my friend," answered the smiling Minha. "Manoel has given me a nosegay and I am quite content. It is true," she added, pointing to the house hidden beneath the flowers, "that he has hidden our house in his betrothal bouquet!"
THE EVENING OF THE FIFTH OF JUNE
WHILE THE master's house was being constructed, Joam Garral was also busied in the arrangement of the out-buildings, comprising the kitchen, and offices in which provisions of all kinds were intended to be stored.
In the first place, there was an important stock of the roots of that little tree, some six or ten feet in height, which yields the manioc, and which form the principal food of the inhabitants of these inter-tropical countries. The root, very much like a long black radish, grows in clumps like potatoes. If it is not poisonous in Africa, it is certain that in South America it contains a more noxious juice, which it is necessary to previously get rid of by pressure. When this result is obtained, the root is reduced to flour, and is then used in many ways, even in the form of tapioca, according to the fancy of the natives.
On board the jangada there was a huge pile of this useful product destined for general consumption.
As for preserved meats, not forgetting a whole flock of sheep, kept in a special stable built in the front, they consisted principally of a quantity of the _"presunto"_ hams of the district, which are of first-class quality; but the guns of the young fellows and of some of the Indians were reckoned on for additional supplies, excellent hunters as they were, to whom there was likely to be no lack of game on the islands and in the forests bordering on the stream. The river was expected to furnish its daily quota; prawns, which ought rather to be called crawfish; _"tambagus,"_ the finest fish in the district, of a flavor superior to that of salmon, to which it is often compared; _"pirarucus"_ with red scales, as large as sturgeons, which when salted are used in great quantities throughout Brazil; _"candirus,"_ awkward to capture, but good to eat; _"piranhas,"_ or devil-fish, striped with red bands, and thirty inches long; turtles large and small, which are counted by millions, and form so large a part of the food of the natives; some of every one of these things it was hoped would figure in turn on the tables of the master and his men.