Jules Verne

But before leaving the jangada Fragoso had sought Joam Garral, and had the following conversation with him.

"Mr. Garral," said he, "from the day when you received me at the fazenda of Iquitos, lodged, clothed, fed--in a word, took me in so hospitably--I have owed you----"

"You owe me absolutely nothing, my friend," answered Joam, "so do not insist----"

"Oh, do not be alarmed!" exclaimed Fragoso, "I am not going to pay it off! Let me add, that you took me on board the jangada and gave me the means of descending the river. But here we are, on the soil of Brazil, which, according to all probability, I ought never to have seen again. Without that liana----"

"It is to Lina, and to Lina alone, that you should tender your thanks," said Joam.

"I know," said Fragoso, "and I will never forget what I owe here, any more than what I owe you."

"They tell me, Fragoso," continued Joam, "that you are going to say good-by, and intend to remain at Tabatinga."

"By no means, Mr. Garral, since you have allowed me to accompany you to Belem, where I hope at the least to be able to resume my old trade."

"Well, if that is your intention--what were you going to ask me?"

"I was going to ask if you saw any inconvenience in my working at my profession on our route. There is no necessity for my hand to rust; and, besides, a few handfuls of reis would not be so bad at the bottom of my pocket, more particularly if I had earned them. You know, Mr. Garral, that a barber who is also a hairdresser--and I hardly like to say a doctor, out of respect to Mr. Manoel--always finds customers in these Upper Amazon villages."

"Particularly among the Brazilians," answered Joam. "As for the natives----"

"I beg pardon," replied Fragoso, "particularly among the natives. Ah! although there is no beard to trim--for nature has been very stingy toward them in that way--there are always some heads of hair to be dressed in the latest fashion. They are very fond of it, these savages, both the men and the women! I shall not be installed ten minutes in the square at Tabatinga, with my cup and ball in hand--the cup and ball I have brought on board, and which I can manage with pretty pleasantly--before a circle of braves and squaws will have formed around me. They will struggle for my favors. I could remain here for a month, and the whole tribe of the Ticunas would come to me to have their hair looked after! They won't hesitate to make the acquaintance of 'curling tongs'--that is what they will call me--if I revisit the walls of Tabatinga! I have already had two tries here, and my scissors and comb have done marvels! It does not do to return too often on the same track. The Indian ladies don't have their hair curled every day, like the beauties of our Brazilian cities. No; when it is done, it is done for year, and during the twelvemonth they will take every care not to endanger the edifice which I have raised--with what talent I dare not say. Now it is nearly a year since I was at Tabatinga; I go to find my monuments in ruin! And if it is not objectionable to you, Mr. Garral, I would render myself again worthy of the reputation which I have acquired in these parts, the question of reis, and not that of conceit, being, you understand, the principal."

"Go on, then, friend, " replied Joam Garral laughingly; "but be quick! we can only remain a day at Tabatinga, and we shall start to-morrow at dawn."

"I will not lose a minute," answered Fragoso--"just time to take the tools of my profession, and I am off."

"Off you go, Fragoso," said Joam, "and may the reis rain into your pocket!"

"Yes, and that is a proper sort of rain, and there can never be too much of it for your obedient servant."

And so saying Fragoso rapidly moved away.

A moment afterward the family, with the exception of Joam, went ashore. The jangada was able to approach near enough to the bank for the landing to take place without much trouble. A staircase, in a miserable state, cut in the cliff, allowed the visitors to arrive on the crest of the plateau.