Everything accuses you in the proceedings that have already taken place. You are condemned to death, and you know, in sentences for crimes of that nature, the government is forbidden the right of commuting the penalty. Denounced, you are taken; taken, you are executed. And I will denounce you."
Master as he was of himself, Joam could stand it no longler. He was about to rush on Torres.
A gesture from the rascal cooled his anger.
"Take care," said Torres, "your wife knows not that she is the wife of Joam Dacosta, your children do not know they are the children of Joam Dacosta, and you are not going to give them the information."
Joam Garral stopped himself. He regained his usual command over himself, and his features recovered their habitual calm.
"This discussion has lasted long enough," said he, moving toward the door, "and I know what there is left for me to do."
"Take care, Joam Garral!" said Torres, for the last time, for he could scarcely believe that his ignoble attempt at extortion had collapsed.
Joam Garral made him no answer. He threw back the door which opened under the veranda, made a sign to Torres to follow him, and they advanced toward the center of the jangada, where the family were assembled.
Benito, Manoel, and all of them, under a feeling of deep anxiety, had risen. They could see that the bearing of Torres was still menacing, and that the fire of anger still shone in his eyes.
In extraordinary contrast, Joam Garral was master of himself, and almost smiling.
Both of them stopped before Yaquita and her people. Not one dared to say a word to them.
It was Torres who, in a hollow voice, and with his customary impudence, broke the painful silence.
"For the last time, Joam Garral," he said, "I ask you for a last reply!"
"And here is my reply."
And addressing his wife:
"Yaquita," he said, "peculiar circumstances oblige me to alter what we have formerly decided as to the marriage of Minha and Manoel."
"At last!" exclaimed Torres.
Joam Garral, without answering him, shot at the adventurer a glance of the deepest scorn.
But at the words Manoel had felt his heart beat as if it would break. The girl arose, ashy pale, as if she would seek shelter by the side of her mother. Yaquita opened her arms to protect, to defend her.
"Father," said Benito, who had placed himself between Joam Garral and Torres, "what were you going to say?"
"I was going to say," answered Joam Garral, raising his voice, "that to wait for our arrival in Para for the wedding of Minha and Manoel is to wait too long. The marriage will take place here, not later than to-morrow, on the jangada, with the aid of Padre Passanha, if, after a conversation I am about to have with Manoel, he agrees with me to defer it no longer."
"Ah, father, father!" exclaimed the young man.
"Wait a little before you call me so, Manoel," replied Joam, in a tone of unspeakable suffering.
Here Torres, with crossed arms, gave the whole family a look of inconceivable insolence.
"So that is you last word?" said he, extending his hand toward Joam Garral
"No, that is not my last word."
"What is it, then?"
"This, Torres. I am master here. You will be off, if you please, and even if you do not please, and leave the jangada at this very instant!"
"Yes, this instant!" exclaimed Benito, "or I will throw you overboard."
Torres shrugged his shoulders.
"No threats," he said; "they are of no use. It suits me also to land, and without delay. But you will remember me, Joam Garral. We shall not be long before we meet."
"If it only depends on me," answered Joam Garral, "we shall soon meet, and rather sooner, perhaps, than you will like. To-morrow I shall be with Judge Ribeiro, the first magistrate of the province, whom I have advised of my arrival at Manaos. If you dare, meet me there!"
"At Judge Ribeiro's?" said Torres, evidently disconcerted.
"At Judge Ribeiro's," answered Joam Garral.
And then, showing the pirogue to Torres, with a gesture of supreme contempt Joam Garral ordered four of his people to land him without delay on the nearest point of the island.