Yes, it is there, and not a demijohn of tafia will pass my lips until I find it!"
This affirmation from the pilot was worth a good deal, and was of a hope-inspiring nature.
However, Benito, who did not care so much for words as he did for things, thought proper to reply, "Yes, Araujo; the body of Torres is in the river, and we shall find it if----"
"If?" said the pilot.
"If it has not become the prey of the alligators!"
Manoel and Fragoso waited anxiously for Araujo's reply.
The pilot was silent for a few moments; they felt that he was reflecting before he spoke. "Mr. Benito," he said at length, "I am not in the habit of speaking lightly. I had the same idea as you; but listen. During the ten hours we have been at work have you seen a single cayman in the river?"
"Not one," said Fragoso.
"If you have not seen one," continued the pilot, "it was because there were none to see, for these animals have nothing to keep them in the white waters when, a quarter of a mile off, there are large stretches of the black waters, which they so greatly prefer. When the raft was attacked by some of these creatures it was in a part where there was no place for them to flee to. Here it is quite different. Go to the Rio Negro, and there you will see caymans by the score. Had Torres' body fallen into that tributary there might be no chance of recovering it. But it was in the Amazon that it was lost, and in the Amazon it will be found."
Benito, relieved from his fears, took the pilot's hand and chook it, and contented himself with the reply, "To-morrow, my friends!"
Ten minutes later they were all on board the jangada. During the day Yaquit had passed some hours with her husband. But before she started, and when she saw neither the pilot, nor Manoel, nor Benito, nor the boats, she had guessed the search on which they had gone, but she said nothing to Joam Dacosta, as she hoped that in the morning she would be able to inform him of their success.
But when Benito set foot on the raft she perceived that their search had been fruitless. However, she advanced toward him. "Nothing?" she asked.
":Nothing," replied Benito. "But the morrow is left to us."
The members of the family retired to their rooms, and nothing more was said as to what had passed.
Manoel tried to make Benito lie down, so as to take a few hours' rest.
"What is the good of that?" asked Benito. "Do you think I could sleep?"
THE SECOND ATTEMPT
ON THE MORROW, the 27th of August, Benito took Manoel apart, before the sun had risen, and said to him: "Our yesterday's search was vain. If we begin again under the same conditions we may be just as unlucky."
"We must do so, however," replied Manoel.
"Yes," continued Benito; "but suppose we do not find the body, can you tell me how long it will be before it rises to the surface?"
"If Torres," answered Manoel, "had fallen into the water living, and not mortally wounded, it would take five or six days; but as he only disappeared after being so wounded, perhaps two or three days would be enough to bring him up again."
This answer of Manoel, which was quite correct, requires some explanation. Every human body which falls into the water will float if equilibrium is established between its density and that of its liquid bed. This is well known to be the fact, even when a person does not know how to swim. Under such circumstances, if you are entirely submerged, and only keep your mouth and nose away from the water, you are sure to float. But this is not generally done. The first movement of a drowning man is to try and hold as much as he can of himself above the water; he holds up his head and lifts up his arms, and these parts of his body, being no longer supported by the liquid, do not lose that amount of weight which they would do if completely immersed. Hence an excess of weight, and eventually entire submersion, for the water makes its way to the lungs through the mouth, takes the place of the air which fills them, and the body sinks to the bottom.