ter and Padre Passanha, came out of the house. Minha was still weeping, but her mother's face was tearless, and she had that look of calm resolution which showed that the wife was now ready for all things, either to do her duty or to insist on her rights.
Yaquita slowly advanced toward Manoel.
"Manoel," she said, "listen to what I have to say, for my conscience commands me to speak as I am about to do."
"I am listening," replied Manoel.
Yaquita, looking him straight in the face, continued: "Yesterday, after the interview you had with Joam Dacosta, my husband, you came to me and called me--mother! You took Minha's hand, and called her--your wife! You then knew everything, and the past life of Joam Dacosta had been disclosed to you."
"Yes," answered Manoel, "and heaven forbid I should have had any hesitation in doing so!"
"Perhaps so," replied Yaquita; "but then Joam Dacosta had not been arrested. The position is not now the same. However innocent he may be, my husband is in the hands of justice; his past life has been publicly proclaimed. Minha is a convict's daughter."
"Minha Dacosta or Minha Garral, what matters it to me?" exclaimed Manoel, who could keep silent no longer.
"Manoel!" murmured Minha.
And she would certainly have fallen had not Lina's arm supported her.
"Mother, if you do not wish to kill her," said Manoel, "call me your son!"
"My son! my child!"
It was all Yaquita could say, and the tears, which she restrained with difficulty, filled her eyes.
And then they all re-entered the house. But during the long night not an hour's sleep fell to the lot of the unfortunate family who were being so cruelly tried.
JOAM DACOSTA had relied entirely on Judge Albeiro, and his death was most unfortunate.
Before he was judge at Manaos, and chief magistrate in the province, Ribeiro had known the young clerk at the time he was being prosecuted for the murder in the diamond arrayal. He was then an advocate at Villa Rica, and he it was who defended the prisoner at the trial. He took the cause to heart and made it his own, and from an examination of the papers and detailed information, and not from the simple fact of his position in the matter, he came to the conclusion that his client was wrongfully accused, and that he had taken not the slightest part in the murder of the escort or the theft of the diamonds--in a word, that Joam Dacosta was innocent.
But, notwithstanding this conviction, notwithstanding his talent and zeal, Ribeiro was unable to persuade the jury to take the same view of the matter. How could he remove so strong a presumption? If it was not Joam Dacosta, who had every facility for informing the scoundrels of the convoy's departure, who was it? The official who acocmpanied the escort had perished with the greater part of the soldiers, and suspicion could not point against him. Everything agreed in distinguishing Dacosta as the true and only author of the crime.
Ribeiro defended him with great warmth and with all his powers, but he could not succeed in saving him. The verdict of the jury was affirmative on all the questions. Joam Dacosta, convicted of aggravated and premeditated murder, did not even obtain the benefit of extenuating circumstances, and heard himself condemned to death.
There was no hope left for the accused. No commutation of the sentence was possible, for the crime was committed in the diamond arrayal. The condemned man was lost. But during the night which preceded his execution, and when the gallows was already erected, Joam Dacosta managed to escape from the prison at Villa Rica. We know the rest.
Twenty years later Ribeiro the advocate became the chief justice of Manaos. In the depths of his retreat the fazender of Iquitos heard of the change, and in it saw a favorable opportunity for bringing forward the revision of the former proceedings against him with some chance of success. He knew that the old convictions of the advocate would be still unshaken in the mind of the judge.