And while his fingers tattooed a slightly more audible march, he made a sign with his head to Dacosta, which signified as clearly as possible, "Go on! Tell me your history. I know it, but I do not wish to interrupt you in telling it in your own way."
Joam Dacosta, who did not disregard the magistrate's far from encouraging attitude, could not but see this, and he told the history of his whole life. He spoke quietly without departing from the calm he had imposed upon himself, without omitting any circumstances which had preceded or succeeded his condemnation. In the same tone he insisted on the honored and honorable life he had led since his escape, on his duties as head of his family, as husband and father, which he had so worthily fulfilled. He laid stress only on one circumstance--that which had brought him to Manaos to urge on the revision of the proceedings against him, to procure his rehabilitation--and that he was compelled to do.
Judge Jarriques, who was naturally prepossessed against all criminals, did not interrupt him. He contented himself with opening and shutting his eyes like a man who heard the story told for the hundredth time; and when Joam Dacosta laid on the table the memoir which he had drawn up, he made no movement to take it.
"You have finished?" he said.
"And you persist in asserting that you only left Iquitos to procure the revision of the judgment against you."
"I had no other intention."
"What is there to prove that? Who can prove that, without the denunciation which had brought about your arrest, you would have given yourself up?"
"This memoir, in the first place."
"That memoir was in your possession, and there is nothing to show that had you not been arrested, you would have put it to the use you say you intended."
"At the least, sir, there was one thing that was not in my possession, and of the authenticity of which there can be no doubt."
"The letter I wrote to your predecessor, Judge Ribeiro, the letter which gave him notice of my early arrival."
"Ah! you wrote?"
"Yes. And the letter which ought to have arrived at its destination should have been handed over to you."
"Really!" answered Judge Jarriquez, in a slightly incredulous tone. "You wrote to Judge Ribeiro."
"Before he was a judge in this province," answered Joam Dacosta, "he was an advocate at Villa Rica. He it was who defended me in the trial at Tijuco. He never doubted of the justice of my cause. He did all he could to save me. Twenty years later, when he had become chief justice at Manaos, I let him know who I was, where I was, and what I wished to attempt. His opinion about me had not changed, and it was at his advice I left the fazenda, and came in person to proceed with my rehabilitation. But death had unfortunately struck him, and maybe I shall be lost, sir, if in Judge Jarriquez I do not find another Judge Ribeiro."
The magistrate, appealed to so directly, was about to start up in defiance of all the traditions of the judicial bench, but he managed to restrain himself, and was contented with muttering:
"Very strong, indeed; very strong!"
Judge Jarriquez was evidently hard of heart, and proof against all surprise.
At this moment a guard entered the room, and handed a sealed packet to the magistrate.
He broke the seal and drew a letter from the envelope. He opened it and read it, not without a certain contraction of his eyebrows, and then said:
"I have no reason for hiding from you, Joam Dacosta, that this is the letter you have been speaking about, addressed by you to Judge Ribeiro and sent on to me. I have, therefore, no reason to doubt what you have said on the subject."
"Not only on that subject," answered Dacosta, "but on the subject of all the circumstances of my life which I have brought to your knowledge, and which are none of them open to question."
"Eh! Joam Dacosta," quickly replie dJudge Jarriquez. "You protest your innocence; but all prisoners do as much! After all, you only offer moral presumptions.