The scoundrel at last disappeared.
The family, who were still appalled, respected the silence of its chief; but Fragoso, comprehending scarce half the gravity of the situation, and carried away by his customary vivacity, came up to Joam Garral.
"If the wedding of Miss Minha and Mr. Manoel is to take place to-morrow on the raft----"
"Yours shall take place at the same time," kindly answered Joam Garral.
And making a sign to Manoel, he retired to his room with him.
The interview between Joam and Manoel had lasted for half an hour, and it seemed a century to the family, when the door of the room was reopened.
Manoel came out alone; his face glowed with generous resolution.
Going up to Yaquita, he said, "My mother!" to Minha he said, "My wife!" and to Benito he said, "My brother!" and, turning toward Lina and Fragoso, he said to all, "To-morrow!"
He knew all that had passed between Joam Garral and Torres. He knew that, counting on the protection of Judge Ribeiro, by means of a correspondence which he had had with him for a year past without speaking of it to his people, Joam Garral had at last succeeded in clearing himself and convincing him of his innocence. He knew that Joam Garral had boldly undertaken the voyage with the sole object of canceling the hateful proceedings of which he had been the victim, so as not to leave on his daughter and son-in-law the weight of the terrible situation which he had had to endure so long himself.
Yes, Manoel knew all this, and, further, he knew that Joam Garral--or rather Joam Dacosta--was innocent, and his misfortunes made him even dearer and more devoted to him. What he did not know was that the material proof of the innocence of the fazender existed, and that this proof was in the hands of Torres. Joam Garral wished to reserve for the judge himself the use of this proof, which, if the adventurer had spoken truly, would demonstrate his innocence.
Manoel confined himself, then, to announcing that he was going to Padre Passanha to ask him to get things ready for the two weddings.
Next day, the 24th of August, scarcely an hour before the ceremony was to take place, a large pirogue came off from the left bank of the river and hailed the jangada. A dozen paddlers had swiftly brought it from Manaos, and with a few men it carried the chief of the police, who made himself known and came on board.
At the moment Joam Garral and his family, attired for the ceremony, were coming out of the house.
"Joam Garral?" asked the chief of the police.
"I am here," replied Joam.
"Joam Garral," continued the chief of the police, "you have also been Joam Dacosta; both names have been borne by the same man--I arrest you!"
At these words Yaquita and Minha, struck with stupor, stopped without any power to move.
"My father a murderer?" exclaimed Benito, rushing toward Joam Garral.
By a gesture his father silenced him.
"I will only ask you one question," said Joam with firm voice, addressing the chief of police. "Has the warrant in virtue of which you arrest me been issued against me by the justice at Manaos--by Judge Ribeiro?"
"No," answered the chief of the police, "it was given to me, with an order for its immediate execution, by his substitute. Judge Ribeiro was struck with apoplexy yesterday evening, and died during the night at two o'clock, without having recovered his consciousness."
"Dead!" exclaimed Joam Garral, crushed for a moment by the news--"dead! dead!"
But soon raising his head, he said to his wife and children, "Judge Ribeiro alone knew that I was innocent, my dear ones. The death of the judge may be fatal to me, but that is no reason for me to despair."
And, turning toward Manoel, "Heaven help us!" he said to him; "we shall see if truth will come down to the earth from Above."
The chief of the police made a sign to his men, who advanced to secure Joam Garral.
"But speak, father!" shouted Benito, mad with despair; "say one word, and we shall contest even by force this horrible mistake of which you are the victim!"
"There is no mistake here, my son," replied Joam Garral; "Joam Dacosta and Joam Garral are one.