The guards entered the room, and took away Joam Dacosta.
Judge Jarriquez watched him as he went out, and shook his head and muttered:
"Well, well! This is a much stranger affair than I ever thought it would be!"
THE LAST BLOW
WHILE JOAM DACOSTA was undergoing this examination, Yaquita, from an inquiry made by Manoel, ascertained that she and her children would be permitted to see the prisoner that very day about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Yaquita had not left her room since the evening before. Minha and Lina kept near her, waiting for the time when she would be admitted to see her husband.
Yaquita Garral or Yaquita Dacosta, he would still find her the devoted wife and brave companion he had ever known her to be.
About eleven o'clock in the morning Benito joined Manoel and Fragoso, who were talking in the bow of the jangada.
"Manoel," said he, "I have a favor to ask you."
"What is it?"
"And you too, Fragoso."
"I am at your service, Mr. Benito," answered the barber.
"What is the matter?" asked Manoel, looking at his friend, whose expression was that of a man who had come to some unalterable resolution.
"You never doubt my father's innocence? Is that so?" said Benito.
"Ah!" exclaimed Fragoso. "Rather I think it was I who committed the crime."
"Well, we must now commence on the project I thought of yesterday."
"To find out Torres?" asked Manoel.
"Yes, and know from him how he found out my father's retreat. There is something inexplicable about it. Did he know it before? I cannot understand it, for my father never left Iquitos for more than twenty years, and this scoundrel is hardly thirty! But the day will not close before I know it; or, woe to Torres!"
Benito's resolution admitted of no discussion; and besides, neither Manoel nor Fragoso had the slightest thought of dissuading him.
"I will ask, then," continued Benito, "for both of you to accompany me. We shall start in a minute or two. It will not do to wait till Torres has left Manaos. He has no longer got his silence to sell, and the idea might occur to him. Let us be off!"
And so all three of them landed on the bank of the Rio Negro and started for the town.
Manaos was not so considerable that it could not be searched in a few hours. They had made up their minds to go from house to house, if necessary, to look for Torres, but their better plan seemed to be to apply in the first instance to the keepers of the taverns and lojas where the adventurer was most likely to put up. There could hardly be a doubt that the ex-captain of the woods would not have given his name; he might have personal reasons for avoiding all communication with the police. Nevertheless, unless he had left Manaos, it was almost impossible for him to escape the young fellows' search. In any case, there would be no use in applying to the police, for it was very probable--in fact, we know that it actually was so--that the information given to them had been anonymous.
For an hour Benito, Manoel, and Fragoso walked along the principal streets of the town, inquiring of the tradesmen in their shops, the tavern-keepers in their cabarets, and even the bystanders, without any one being able to recognize the individual whose description they so accurately gave.
Had Torres left Manaos? Would they have to give up all hope of coming across him?
In vain Manoel tried to calm Benito, whose head seemed on fire. Cost what it might, he must get at Torres!
Chance at last favored them, and it was Fragoso who put them on the right track.
In a tavern in Holy Ghost Street, from the description which the people received of the adventurer, they replied that the individual inquestion had put up at the loja the evening before.
"Did he sleep here?" asked Fragoso.
"Yes," answered the tavern-keeper.
"Is he here now?"
"No. He has gone out."
"But has he settled his bill, as a man would who has gone for good?"
"By no means; he left his room about an hour ago, and he will doubtless come back to supper."
"Do you know what road he took when he went out?"
"We saw him turning toward the Amazon, going through the lower town, and you will probably meet him on that side."
Fragoso did not want any more.