A few seconds afterward he rejoined the young fellows, and said:
"I am on the track."
"He is there!" exclaimed Benito.
"No; he has just gone out, and they have seen him walking across to the bank of the Amazon."
"Come on!" replied Benito.
They had to go back toward the river, and the shortest way was for them to take the left bank of the Rio Negro, down to its mouth.
Benito and his companions soon left the last houses of the town behind, and followed the bank, making a slight detour so as not to be observed from the jangada.
The plain was at this time deserted. Far away the view exstended across the flat, where cultivated fields had replaced the former forests.
Benito did not speak; he could not utter a word. Manoel and Fragoso respected his silence. And so the three of them went along and looked about on all sides as they traversed the space between the bank of the Rio Negro and that of the Amazon. Three-quarters of an hour after leaving Manaos, and still they had seen nothing!
Once or twice Indians working in the fields were met with. Manoel questioned them, and one of them at length told him that a man, such as he described, had just passed in the direction of the angle formed by the two rivers at their confluence.
Without waiting for more, Benito, by an irresistible movement, strode to the front, and his two companions had to hurry on to avoid being left behind.
The left bank of the Amazon was then about a quarter of a mile off. A sort of cliff appeared ahead, hiding a part of the horizon, and bounding the view a few hundred paces in advance.
Benito, hurrying on, soon disappeared behind one of the sandy knolls.
"Quicker! quicker!" said Manoel to Fragoso. "We must not leave him alone for an instant."
And they were dashing along when a shout struck on their ears.
Had Benito caught sight of Torres? What had he seen? Had Benito and Torres already met?
Manoel and Fragoso, fifty paces further on, after swiftly running round one of the spurs of the bank, saw two men standing face to face to each other.
They were Torres and Benito.
In an instant Manoel and Fragoso had hurried up to them. It might have been supposed that in Benito's state of excitement he would be unable to restrain himself when he found himself once again in the presence of the adventurer. It was not so.
As soon as the young man saw himself face to face with Torres, and was certain that he could not escape, a complete change took place in his manner, his coolness returned, and he became once more master of himself.
The two men looked at one another for a few moments without a word.
Torres first broke silence, and, in the impudent tone habitual to him, remarked:
"Ah! How goes it, Mr. Benito Garral?"
"No, Benito Dacosta!" answered the young man.
"Quite so," continued Torres. "Mr. Benito Dacosta, accompanied by Mr. Manoel Valdez and my friend Fragoso!"
At the irritating qualification thus accorded him by the adventurer, Fragoso, who was by no means loath to do him some damage, was about to rush to the attack, when Benito, quite unmoved, held him back.
"What is the matter with you, my lad?" exclaimed Torres, retreating for a few steps. "I think I had better put myself on guard."
And as he spoke he drew from beneath his poncho his manchetta, the weapon, adapted at will for offense or defense, which a Brazilian is never without. And then, slightly stooping, and planted firmly on his feet, he waited for what was to follow.
"I have come to look for you, Torres," said Benito, who had not stirred in the least at this threatening attitude.
"To look for me?" answered the adventurer. "It is not very difficult to find me. And why have you come to look for me?"
"To know from your own lips what you appear to know of the past life of my father."
"Yes. I want to know how you recognized him, why yu were prowling about our fazenda in the forest of Iquitos, and why you were waiting for us at Tabatinga."
"Well! it seems to me nothing could be clearer!" answered Torres, with a grin.