Fragoso, urged on by Lina, did not cease to watch Torres.
Many times he tried to get him to talk about his past life, but the adventurer eluded all conversation on the subject, and ended by maintaining a strict reserve toward the barber.
After catching a glimpse of the hamlet of Tahua-Miri, mounted on its piles as on stilts, as a protection against inundation from the floods, which often sweep up and over these low sand banks, the raft was moored for the night.
His intercourse with the Garral family remained the same. If he spoke little to Joam, he addressed himself more willingly to Yaquita and her daughter, and appeared not to notice the evident coolness with which he was received. They all agreed that when the raft arrived at Manaos, Torres should leave it, and that they would never speak of him again. Yaquita followed the advice of Padre Passanha, who counseled patience, but the good priest had not such an easy task in Manoel, who was quite disposed to put on shore the intruder who had been so unfortunately taken on to the raft.
The only thing that happened on this evening was the following:
A pirogue, going down the river, came alongside the jangada, after being hailed by Joam Garral.
"Are you going to Manaos?" askee he of the Indian who commanded and was steering her.
"Yes," replied he.
"When will you get there?"
"In eight days."
"Then you will arrive before we shall. Will you deliver a letter for me?"
"Take this letter, then, my friend, and deliver it at Manaos."
The Indian took the letter which Joam gave him, and a handful of reis was the price of the commission he had undertaken.
No members of the family, then gone into the house, knew anything of this. Torres was the only witness. He heard a few words exchanged between Joam and the Indian, and from the cloud which passed over his face it was easy to see that the sending of this letteer considerably surprised him.
HOWEVER, if Manoel, to avoid giving rise to a violent scene on board, said nothing on the subject of Torres, he resolved to have an explanation with Benito.
"Benito," he began, after taking him to the bow of the jangada, "I have something to say to you."
Benito, generally so good-humored, stopped as he looked at Manoel, and a cloud came over his countenance.
"I know why," he said; "it is about Torres."
"And I also wish to speak to you."
"You have then noticed his attention to Minha?" said Manoel, turning pale.
"Ah! It is not a feeling of jealousy, though, that exasperates you against such a man?" said Benito quickly.
"No!" replied Manoel. "Decidedly not! Heaven forbid I should do such an injury to the girl who is to become my wife. No, Benito! She holds the adventurer in horror! I am not thinking anything of that sort; but it distresses me to see this adventurer constantly obtruding himself by his presence and conversation on your mother and sister, and seeking to introduce himself into that intimacy with your family which is already mine."
"Manoel," gravely answered Benito, "I share your aversion for this dubious individual, and had I consulted my feelings I would already have driven Torres off the raft! But I dare not!"
"You dare not?" said Manoel, seizing the hand of his friend. "You dare not?"
"Listen to me, Manoel," continued Benito. "You have observed Torres well, have you not? You have remarked his attentions to my sister! Nothing can be truer! But while you have been noticing that, have you not seen that this annoying man never keeps his eyes off my father, no matter if he is near to him or far from him, and that he seems to have some spiteful secret intention in watching him with such unaccountable persistency?"
"What are you talking about, Benito? Have you any reason to think that Torres bears some grudge against Joam Garral?"
"No! I think nothing!" replied Benito; "it is only a presentiment! But look well at Torres, study his face with care, and you will see what an evil grin he has whenever my father comes into his sight."
"Well, then," exclaimed Manoel, "if it is so, Benito, the more reason for clearing him out!"
"More reason--or less reason," replied Benito.