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- Dyke Darrel the Railroad Detective - 44/44 -
men, followed closely behind Manuel, who held his boy in his arms.
Silently, without daring to murmur one word, the men walked bravely onward.
They were nearly half way across.
Manuel had indeed touched firm ground, when a sudden cry from her little girl made Lianor turn in affright to see what ailed her.
That move was fatal; the next instant she had lost her footing and fallen into the dashing torrent.
With a despairing shriek Manuel stopped, and had not some one held him back, would have dashed in after his wife. Panteleone, who saw a chance of saving her, quickly slipped over the side, caught her in his aims as she was about to sink, then bore her to land.
Forgetful of all others, Manuel threw himself beside her still form, from which all life seemed to have fled, calling wildly on her name, pressing passionate kisses on her cold face, hoping by the warmth of his caresses to bring back the color to her cheeks.
But it was useless; Lianor was dead; her head having struck against a rock, caused instant unconsciousness, from which they could not rouse her.
When Tonza realized the awful truth he rose to his feet, pale and haggard, his eyes full of despairing anguish.
"It is just; my sin is punished. My wife, the only thing I loved on earth, for whose sake I committed crime, is taken from me! She alone had power to make me happy; without her I cannot live. It is time I confessed all, and you shall be my judges. It was I who caused the death of Luiz Falcam, that I might win his betrothed; and when I heard that Diniz Sampayo had discovered partly the truth, I had him thrown into prison on suspicion of having stolen the very poignard with which Luiz had met his death--one that I myself had placed in the assassin's hand! You all know how he escaped, but he is an exile for my fault. If ever you should see him, tell him his innocence is established; he can return to India in peace. You have heard my story, now judge me;" and with arms crossed over his breast, his head bowed in deepest grief and humility, he waited his sentence.
A dead hush fell over the group, broken only by the suppressed sobs of Savitre, who was crouching beside Lianor, and the pitiful moans of the little girl dying in one of the rough seamen's arms.
At last Pantaleone, a look of compassion on his face, went towards his friend, and, laying his head on Tonza's shoulder, said gently:
"My cousin, you have sinned, but God has sent your punishment; that is sufficient. Live to devote your life to bringing up the little motherless children left to you. Restore Sampayo to his own again; then try, by true repentance, to atone for the wrong you did him."
Tonza raised his head, and glanced gratefully at Panteleone; but his eyes were full of firm resolution none could understand.
"You are good, but my life is worth nothing, now she has gone. See, this poor babe will soon follow her mother. Garcia I leave to you; he is too young to realize his loss; but never let him know his father's sin!" he exclaimed hoarsely; and, after pressing his boy tightly to his breast, kissed the dying child; then softly lifting Lianor in his arms, he first pressed his lips reverently on her pale brow, and, before any one could prevent him, or realize what he was about to do, he had sprang from the rock into the deep torrent, and disappeared with his precious burden from their view.
A cry of horror burst from the lips of all present, and many efforts were made to find their bodies; but in vain.
With saddened hearts the people turned away, and continued their journey, praying they might ere long find help and shelter.
Before the day had closed another soul had winged its flight to Heaven, and the tiny waxen form of Lianor's baby-girl left in its last resting-place in the golden sand.
A small wooden house, surrounded by sweet-scented flowers of brightest hue, amongst which a beautiful, dark-eyed woman was softly gliding, culling large clusters of the delicate blossoms.
As she stopped to gather a few rich carnations, singing in a low, musical voice, a man, young and handsome, slipped from beneath the pretty porch, and walking noiselessly behind her, suddenly lifted her in his strong arms, pressing the slight form tenderly to his breast.
"Take care, Diniz," she cried, warningly, a ring of deepest joy thrilling her clear voice. "You will spoil all my flowers!"
"Except the fairest of all--yourself. Ah, Miriam, my darling! how happy we have been since that day when you so generously saved me from a felon's doom!" rapturously kissing the beautiful, dark face so near his own.
Their bliss was broken by a crowd of brown-skinned people, moving toward the cottage, seemingly acting under some emotion.
"What has happened? What is it?" husband and wife cried simultaneously.
"We have seen a party of white men, doubtlessly shipwrecked on the coast, coming in this direction. They are even now in sight," one man said quickly,
Diniz flushed, and his eyes grew bright with suppressed joy.
"Perhaps some of our countrymen, Miriam. Let us hasten forward to welcome them," he cried eagerly; and leading his wife, while the crowd followed curiously behind, Sampayo hurried in the direction from whence the strangers were coming.
It was not long before they met the tired crew, now dwindled to about twenty, many having perished on the way.
As Diniz stepped towards the first stranger, on whose arm leaned a young and beautiful woman, a low cry burst from his lips.
"Panteleone!" he gasped, "is it really you?"
"What, Diniz!" and the two friends, separated for so long a time, warmly clasped hands.
"But how comes it that you are like this?"
Panteleone briefly related their voyage from India, and the disastrous end. Tears shone in his eyes when he recounted the sad death of Lianor and her husband.
"Poor, poor girl! How sorry I am!" Diniz said mournfully, while Miriam, scarcely able to repress her sobs, drew Lianor's orphan boy in her arms, and bore him to their pretty home.
"You are welcome--all!" Sampayo said gently, turning to the haggard- looking seamen. "Come."
A few days later a grand old ship, bound for Portugal, started from that coast, bearing the wrecked crew to their former destination.
Amongst those on board were Diniz and his wife (Phenee had long since joined his forefathers), who, now his innocence was made known, had no longer the fear of being imprisoned, and could return in safety to his native land.
Panteleone's father received Savitre with almost paternal love, and some months after their arrival, when their mourning for poor Lianor was lessened, the two faithful hearts became one.
Little Garcia, Tonza's son, was tenderly nurtured in their tranquil home, and the aunt he loved so dearly became a second mother, replacing the one he had lost.
No shadow of his father's sin darkened his young life; he lived unconscious of the sad fate of his mother, who, won by crime, by her death avenged Luiz Falcam, for, through her, Manuel Tonza had atoned for all.
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