CONCERNING MR JOSEPH GOBBITT, CAPTAIN BASIL HAYLE, AND THE HEAD OF ALBERT DUNK

Mr Joseph Gobbitt was tall and stout, and possessed a pair of
side-whiskers of which he was distinctly proud; consequently, though he
certainly did appear impressive when carrying the bag–he was vicar’s
churchwarden in a suburban church–he looked almost ridiculous when
he landed on the quay at Igut, attired in a very tight khaki suit,
with an immense khaki-coloured helmet on his head. At least, he
appeared ridiculous to Mrs Bush, who watched his arrival from the
balcony of her house, and, for the first time since Basil Hayle had
left, five weeks previously, her face lighted up with a smile.

Basil Hayle had not been dismissed in consequence of his crushing
defeat at the hands of Felizardo’s bolomen; in fact, greatly to his
surprise, he had not even been reprimanded. Commissioner Furber had
been quick to see that really he, himself, was to blame for having
sent the small force of Constabulary against the outlaws; and he was
not anxious to have Basil back in Manila, telling all men of what
had happened on the mountain-side. Consequently, he had sent Basil
fifty fresh men–from the Island of Samar, like those who had been
killed–and had ordered him to proceed to the northern side of the
range, and build a regular stockaded camp in the neighbourhood of
one of the villages; meanwhile, Captain Bush’s Scouts were to watch
the southern side of the range, learning the lay of the country,
endeavouring to obtain information concerning Felizardo and his band,
and, as far as possible, preparing the way for a large expedition,
which the Government intended to despatch in a few months’ time.

From first to last, Basil Hayle had only remained ten days in Igut,
but the time had sufficed to complete his infatuation for Mrs Bush, and
to confirm his detestation of her husband. At first by accident, then
by design, he had met Mrs Bush practically every day, whilst he had
barely spoken to Bush or his white associates. Old Don Juan Ramirez,
the Spanish merchant, had told him all about the lives they led–of
the mestiza girls at the other end of the town, and the drinking
bouts in the spirit shop at the corner of the plaza; with the result
that Basil had considered himself perfectly justified in taking the
part of Mrs Bush against all the others, in showing his respect for
her, and his scorn for them–which was very chivalrous in theory,
and very injudicious in practice, as he had realised the moment he
received orders to leave Igut. Still, in the end, his parting from
her had been admirably unemotional; and if she did cry for hours
after he had gone, and if his feelings did find vent in Language,
no one in Igut had been aware of these facts.

In Europe and America, where men and women are discreet, such things
do not happen–at least they are supposed not to happen–for fear of
the Law, or the Church, or of the Mightiest One of all, Mrs Grundy;
but in the Tropics, especially in the Philippines, and more especially
under the shadow of places like Felizardo’s mountains, where Death
is stalking by your side all day, squatting just outside the circle
of firelight at night, conventions are apt to lose much of their
force. Basil Hayle was in love with Mrs Bush. That would have been
very wicked elsewhere, possibly it was wicked in Igut; but what was
wholly admirable was that, in the circumstances, Basil Hayle did not
become an open convert to the Law of the Bolo, and deal with Captain
Bush according to that code. But this is a view of the case which few
could understand, unless they had lived with bolomen as the background
of their lives.

Basil Hayle had marched away up the valley to the end of Felizardo’s
range, over the pass which formed the boundary of the old outlaw’s
territory, and down into the rich hemp lands on the other side where,
near a village called Silang, he had built a stockaded post, after
the custom of the Islands–big nipa-covered shacks, surrounded at a
little distance by a high palisade, with a platform at a convenient
height, and little watch-towers at each corner; and then he had sat
down, and drilled his little brown men, and taught them to shoot,
and, incidentally, taught them to love him above everything else on
earth, and had waited patiently for the coming of Felizardo, or the
ladrones, or the head-hunters, or any one else who was in search of
trouble, being tired of looking for trouble for himself. Yet, all
the time, he was thinking of Mrs Bush, wishing he could write, but
not writing for fear of the letter going astray; though, had he but
known, she heard of him, of his safety and his continued good health,
every few days, and she concluded that the messages came from him,
never suspecting that the servant who delivered them received them
from a certain clerk in the Supervisor’s office, the same clerk who
had sent word concerning Basil and Mrs Bush to Felizardo; and whence
that clerk now obtained the messages it is not hard to guess. Old
Felizardo or Dolores Lasara could have told you….

When he landed at Igut and found that there was no hotel in the place,
Mr Joseph Gobbitt turned angrily to John Mackay. “Most scandalous
thing! You should have warned me about this. We may be here a day,
even two days. What are we going to do?”

The Scotchman answered without removing his cigar from his mouth–Mr
Gobbitt hated to see an employé, a mere paid person, smoking in his
presence, as Mackay had already divined. “I guess the Bushes will
put you up, whilst I shall go to old Don Juan’s,” he answered.

Mr Gobbitt snorted, not liking the casual disposal of himself, and his
temper was not improved when, without the slightest warning, he found
himself the centre of an unusually vigorous dog-and-pig fight, none
of the combatants in which was over-clean. “Most scandalous thing,”
he repeated, “most scandalous! I wonder what the police can be about to
allow it. I shall certainly summons the owners if I can…. I am sure
I see nothing to smile at, Mr Mackay,” he added with great dignity.

A moment later, Captain Bush lounged up, and nodded to Mackay. “Hullo,
John. What’s on now? Coming across soon?” indicating the spirit shop
with a jerk of his thumb. He was passing on, to see if there were any
mails on the launch, when Mackay stopped him. “Here, Captain. This
is Mr Joseph Gobbitt of London, who has a letter of introduction to
you from the Commission.”

Captain Bush pulled himself together. “Glad to meet you, sir. If
you’ll wait a moment, we might go up to the house together. It is
only a step. I suppose you’re not going on. No? Well, you must stay
with us. My wife will be delighted. Here, muchachos, take the Senor’s
luggage up to my house.”

Captain Bush was in an exceptionally good humour, having just won some
money off the Treasurer; but, in addition to that, he had understood
instantly that the stranger must be a man of position, probably a
wealthy English merchant and his own state of chronic insolvency made
it necessary for him to lose no chances.

Perhaps Mrs Bush was not favourably impressed with this
suddenly-arrived guest; certainly, he was not favourably impressed
with her, or at least he did not like her. Amongst men, even amongst
those of far better social position than himself, he was able to hold
his own by reason of a certain aggressive strength of character; but
when he found himself in the company of a lady, he was hopelessly at
a loss, and, as is the way of his kind, revenged himself by abusing
her afterwards.

Mrs Bush did not stay long in the room. “I see you have business to
discuss,” she said, “so I will leave you till dinner. Be sure and
look after Mr–Mr Gobbitt, John.”

At first, Mr Gobbitt was not very communicative, telling his host
little beyond what was contained in the letter of introduction; but
after a while, under the Scout officer’s skilful handling, he began
to thaw, and finally unfolded the whole of his scheme. After all,
he told himself, why not? This American had to give him active aid,
was bound to know everything very shortly, whilst his deposit of six
thousand dollars secured him against possible competitors.

Captain Bush was a little puzzled. He was an experienced soldier,
despite his recently-acquired habits; he knew the Islands well,
and therefore could see various weak points in the business; on the
other hand, this man Gobbitt obviously had capital, obviously had
the Government behind him; and it would be most unwise to venture
on any interference at that stage. Later on, perhaps, there might
be a chance of turning the affair to account; but at the moment it
was safer merely to provide the carriers and equipment for which Mr
Gumpertz asked, and detail half a dozen Scouts to go along with the
party and keep the carriers in order. Once the expedition was across
the pass, it would be Basil Hayle’s task to look after it, and Captain
Bush grinned to himself as he thought of the possible trouble which
this stout and pompous old man might cause the Constabulary officer.

At dinner, Mrs Bush made an attempt to talk to Mr Gobbitt, then,
finding they had no interests in common, relapsed into silence. When
she rose to leave the room, somehow she had to open the door for
herself, whereat she raised her eyebrows slightly. Mr Gobbitt, deep
in conversation with his host, never seemed to notice her go.

After a while, Captain Bush yawned. “It’s slow here. Ever seen a
Filipino town at night? No, I don’t suppose you have. Would you like
a walk round?”

They went first to the spirit shop, where the Englishman became almost
jovial. It may have been the sense of being free for once from his
frock-coat; it may have been the cocktails on which Captain Bush had
insisted before dinner; it may have been the native spirit which
the Supervisor suggested he should taste; but whatever the cause,
time seemed to pass very quickly indeed, and when, about midnight,
the school teacher suggested they should have a stroll down to the
lower end of the town, Mr Joseph Gobbitt, merchant and churchwarden,
had no objection to make.

When he awakened in the morning, in the big spare room which Mrs
Bush had prepared for him, he had rather a vague recollection of the
walk home. Other things were vague also, but of two things he was
certain–that he had a splitting headache, and that the beauty of the
mestizas was not overrated. When Captain Bush came in, the merchant
mentioned the former fact, whereat his host laughed, and went on to
refer to the latter, thereby making Mr Gobbitt rather uncomfortable.

Mrs Bush did not come down to breakfast that morning, and she did
not trouble to make any excuses. She had heard certain rumours from
her maid, which had sent her white with passion. She was used to
her husband’s ways–but her guest! It was absolutely abominable. Mr
Gobbitt, on his part, was thankful for her absence. He made no
reference to the fact, however, nor did his host; and as soon as
the meal was over, they went out together to make arrangements for
the carriers.

“There’s a road part of the way, twenty miles or so up the valley,
and you can ride so far in a bullock-cart”–Mr Gobbitt had declined the
offer of a horse–“but from there onwards it’ll be a case of walking,”
the Scout officer said.

The merchant sighed. He was not a good walker; then he thought of
the profits he would make out of the trip, and straightway became
reconciled to the idea.

The arrangements were quickly made, thanks to the help of the
Presidente, and Mr Gobbitt breathed more freely. He was anxious to
get away as soon as possible for various reasons, of which Mrs Bush
was one.

As they walked back to the house, the Englishman remembered a question
he had meant to ask before. “Did you ever meet a son of my late
partner, Dunk–Albert Dunk, who was our manager in Manila? He died
near Hippapad some months back.”

The Captain shook his head. “He never passed through here. Probably
he landed at Catarman, further round the bay. You might have gone in
that way, too. I wonder old Gumpertz didn’t suggest it…. No, very
little news of that sort drifts across the mountains to us. You see,
there’re so few white men on that side for a good many miles; then,
of course, you get plenty again.”

Meanwhile, John Mackay had strolled out of the town, carrying a small
switch as his sole weapon. About a mile past the last shack, he sat
down at the edge of the cocoa-nut grove, lit a cigar, and puffed away
contentedly. A few minutes later, a little man, clad in blue jean and
wearing two formidable-looking bolos, emerged from the bush some twenty
yards away, looked cautiously up and down the grove, then came forward.

“Good-morning, Senor,” he said.

John Mackay nodded. “Good-morning, Simon. Can a message go to the Senor
Felizardo? It is this–I am going round this side of his mountain and
across the pass with an Englishman. There will be six Scouts to look
after the carriers, that is all. He will leave us alone?”

The little man grinned. “Assuredly he will leave the Senor alone,
as always. Only he will ask–where does the Senor go there?”

“Down the northern valley. Not on to his mountains at all.”

“Very well, Senor. The message will go;” and the outlaw disappeared
as silently as he had come.

Felizardo said afterwards that John Mackay should have been more
explicit as to his exact destination, in which case the latter part
of this story would have been very different….

Mr Joseph Gobbitt did not like the twenty-mile ride in the cart,
which was drawn by a couple of water-buffalo, beasts for which he
seemed to entertain a most wholesome dread. He was absolutely shaken to
pieces, as he told John Mackay, with what that naturally-silent person
seemed to consider wearisome persistency; yet he liked the climb over
the pass still less; and when they reached the northern valley, he
insisted on a rest of two days, despite the protests of John Mackay,
who urged: “Why, it’s only some fifteen miles now to Hayle’s stockade
at Silang. He can put you up comfortably there, whilst I have a run
round and look at the land. From what I can see, it is all right. We
are at a fair elevation, even here, quite high enough above sea-level.”

But Mr Gobbitt was firm. “I will rest here, and then we will go
straight on. I see no reason for wasting time going to this stockade,
which appears to be well off our route.”

The Scotchman shrugged his shoulders, and rested too; then, on
the third morning, they moved down the valley slowly, cutting
across from one side to another, so as to get an accurate idea of
the whole area. On the fifth morning their task was practically
complete. Mackay’s verdict was wholly favourable. “It’s valuable
land,” he said–“as good as any I know, except, of course, that in
Samar. Only, it is curious no one has made use of it before. But I
suppose they were afraid of the ladrones or of old Felizardo.”

“Who is Felizardo?” the merchant demanded.

The Scotchman jerked his thumb in the direction of the mountains. “He’s
the chief up there. An outlaw.”

Mr Gobbitt flushed. “Rubbish! They assure me that all that sort of
thing has been put down, and I can see it now for myself.”

Mackay shrugged his shoulders. “Very well. I suppose you know best. You
are my employer, and I have come here merely to advise you on the
nature of the land;” and, from that point onwards, he declined to
discuss anything but hemp and hemp-growing.

The following morning they decided to turn back. Mr Gobbitt was
now in great good-humour. There was no question that, at the price
arranged, including the payment to Mr Gumpertz, or rather to Mr Hart
on behalf of Mr Gumpertz, he would be making an extra-ordinarily good
bargain. He forgot the trials of the journey, that horrible cart,
his sore feet and aching limbs; and thought only of what those trials
would bring him ultimately. They were then taking a route slightly
different from that by which they had come, and were just thinking
of making a halt for breakfast, when, to the surprise of every one,
they saw the roofs of some nipa-shacks through the trees.

The place proved to be the most miserable little village Mackay had
ever seen. There was not a soul in sight, and, as the carriers filed
in, they looked at one another with anxious, questioning faces.

John Mackay turned to the serjeant of the Scouts. “What is this?” he
asked. Then, as the man shook his head, a sudden thought struck the
Scotchman, and he clambered on to the veranda of the largest house,
a dilapidated place of some size, pulled aside the matting at the door
and went in, revolver in hand. Half a minute later he came out again,
a little pale. “As I thought,” he said. “Head-hunters.”

The natives looked at one another with wide-open eyes, whilst Mr
Gobbitt’s jaw dropped suddenly. “What … what do you mean?” he
quavered. “Head-hunters? What are they?”

“People who hunt heads–your head and mine, for instance.” The
Scotchman’s temper was up. “There’re a dozen heads hanging up inside,
if you want to see, including a white man’s. We must get out of this,
quick.”




However, it was already too late. As he spoke a score of practically
naked savages, armed with spears and primitive bolos, appeared on
the edge of the clearing. “Up here, all of you.” Mackay grasped
the situation instantly, but, even whilst the carriers and Scouts
were scrambling on to the platform of the shack, the enemy secured
two heads.

Mr Gobbitt was one of the last up; in fact, had not three carriers
assisted him, he would have been in a bad case, for the little ladder
had given way, and climbing was impossible for him.

Meanwhile, the Scouts had begun to blaze away, hitting no one, but
none the less preventing any rush; then Mackay himself took one of
the carbines, and dropped a head-hunter stone-dead–a lesson which
was not lost, for the rest promptly withdrew to cover.

“They will wait till evening now,” the serjeant remarked, “then they
will attack. They will not try and burn the place because of those,”
pointing towards the ghastly trophies hanging from the roof.

Mackay nodded, and went on with his task of making loopholes in the
walls, although, as he told himself, six carbines and a revolver
would not go very far as means of defence.

Mr Gobbitt was lying back against some of the hastily-thrown-down
packs, panting. He had lost his helmet, and both his coat and trousers
were torn. “It’s disgraceful,” he said, “absolutely disgraceful! I
shall report it to the Consul or to the Foreign Office. Why, I actually
saw them kill two of the men in my presence.”

He spoke to nobody in particular, but Mackay overheard him and smiled
grimly, thinking of the killing which was yet to come; but, in spite of
that, when the merchant had recovered sufficiently to ask questions,
he spoke hopefully, though he added: “You see now why no one has made
use of this hemp land, and why they offered it to you cheaply.”

Mr Gobbitt’s business instinct overmastered his fear, and he sat up
suddenly. “Do you mean that Mr Gumpertz knew?”

Once again the Scotchman shrugged his shoulders. “It is quite
possible,” he said dryly. “And if we had taken a slightly different
route, you would have bought it, not knowing.”

The merchant lay back again thinking of many things, of his present
danger, of his narrow escape from buying land having such undesirable
inhabitants, of his deposit which he might not return to claim. Then
he happened to glance upwards and received the greatest shock of
his life, for there, amongst those grisly treasures of the village,
was the head of Albert Dunk.

John Mackay looked round sharply at the cry, and hurried to his
employer’s side. As soon as the Scotchman could make sense out of the
other man’s almost incoherent utterance, he reached up and pulled
down the trophy, which he placed beneath a blanket in the corner;
then he gave Mr Gobbitt half a glass of neat brandy, the only liquid
they had, and strove, without much success, to calm him down.

“We shall get out of it all right, we shall get out of it,” he
repeated. “And then we’ll get Basil Hayle to come along, and clear
out this gang.”

“Can’t we go now?” the merchant asked feebly.

“And be cut to pieces before we’ve gone a quarter of a mile? No,
we must stay here, and chance beating them off when they attack
to-night. Then they’ll probably leave us alone altogether.”

It is always a weary job, waiting for savages to come and attempt
to kill you, but it becomes even more than a weariness when you are
half-mad with thirst, when you know there is water near by and you dare
not go to it. John Mackay found it long; and the Scouts and carriers
found it long; but it is doubtful whether Mr Joseph Gobbitt, lying in
the corner, was conscious of the passage of time. His thoughts were
just one long nightmare, in which Albert Dunk’s head, Commissioner
Gumpertz, two dead carriers outside, and a bearer cheque for six
thousand dollars played the principal parts. Once only was his mind
clear for a few minutes; and that was when he remembered Albert Dunk’s
bearer cheque for ten thousand pesos–five thousand dollars. That had
been cashed just as the drawer was starting for this same district. How
he wished that head could speak! Then he fell a-shuddering at the idea.

John Mackay watched the sun set with unusual interest, possibly because
he did not expect to see it rise again. “The attack will come soon
now,” he remarked to the serjeant, who was endeavouring to smoke,
despite his parched mouth.

The little man nodded. “Yes, Senor. I, for one, am glad I went to Mass
last Sunday. There was a girl who asked me to meet her afterwards”;
then, for the fiftieth time, he tried the action of his carbine….

“The head-hunters have them in the big shack. They will kill them all
soon after sunset.” There was a perfectly matter-of-fact ring in the
messenger’s voice.

Felizardo knit his brows. He had given certain orders to the
head-hunters, and he was not used to being disobeyed; moreover, he
had a very kindly feeling towards John Mackay, who had once done him
a good turn; consequently, he did not share the messenger’s cheerful
frame of mind.

“What are you at the outpost doing, that you allow this?” he
thundered. “You know the orders I have given to those savages, to
leave all Englishmen alone. I suppose they think that, because I left
them unpunished last time, I shall do the same again. Go down now,
at once, and tell Manuel to make them withdraw, and then go to the
Constabulario at Silang, and tell the Captain to come and fetch Senor
Mackay and the fat fool away. Of course, you will tell the Captain
you come from me. What else would you say? I can trust him.”

The result was that dawn found the little garrison, half-dead with
thirst, but still awaiting the attack; and an hour after dawn John
Mackay caught sight of Captain Hayle’s tall figure coming through
the trees, with thirty of his men at his heels.

When Mr Gobbitt had swallowed a quart or so of water, followed by
some brandy, his courage began to revive. “I told you we should be
all right,” he said peevishly to Mackay; “I never thought they were in
earnest”; then he remembered the two carriers, slain in his presence,
and that ghastly head, and he went a little pale, though the shuddering
had ceased.

They buried the heads–a useless formality, for the head-hunters
unearthed them within a few hours–and then Basil Hayle escorted the
party back to his stockade, to rest for a day or two. That evening,
whilst Mr Gobbitt was having a much-needed wash and change, Mackay
turned suddenly to his host. “By the way, I’ve got a message for
you from Mrs Bush. She says she is very well, and hears of you often
through the natives.”

Basil did not look up from the cigar he was cutting. “Thanks very
much,” he said briefly.

Mr Gobbitt felt much better after the evening meal, so much better,
in fact, that he could discuss matters calmly. “And did you know
anything of the fate of my late partner’s son?” he asked.

“Of course I did,” Hayle answered promptly. “Didn’t they tell you in
Manila? It was before I came to this side of the range; but Lieutenant
Stott at Catarman told me, and I saw the copy of the report he sent
to the Commission. He asked permission to hunt those savages down,
but he never got any reply. Oh, all the Commissioners knew, and I
supposed it had been made public.”

The merchant got up suddenly and began to pace the rather rickety
floor. “I see it now,” he growled, “I see it all. Either I am to buy
this land which no one else will look at, because of these abominable
persons who tried to take my head; or else I shall not come back at
all, and they will keep the deposit. I will lay the matter before
the Consul–no, I will lay it before the Foreign Office. I will have
compensation. I–I—-” and he spluttered with rage.

Mackay winked at Basil, who smiled in return, unseen by the merchant,
who went on. “It is scandalous, an outrage. I can see how I have been
misled. They say the Islands are at peace; and yet two men are killed
actually in my presence, and no arrests are made. Whilst the head of
my late partner’s son is used as a trophy! Abominable! Even in Igut,
when I wished to summons the owners of those most offensive pigs,
they laughed at me. Which is my quickest way back to Manila?”

“Through Catarman,” Basil answered. “That is the route you should
have come, only in that case Stott would have told you of Mr Dunk’s
death. Do you see?”

Mr Gobbitt’s first visit in Manila was to the Consulate, when he
demanded to see the Acting-Consul instantly. The Consul received him
without effusion.

“Had a good time in the bush, Mr Gobbitt? You look a bit thinner–yes,
a lot thinner. What can I do for you?”

“It is a long story,” Mr Gobbitt began; whereupon the Acting-Consul
put his feet on the table, and selected an extra large cigar.

“Fire away,” he said; but before the merchant had got very far
the cigar had been allowed to go out, and the official was all
attention. When it was finished, he drew a deep breath. “You had a
lucky escape, a very lucky escape;” there was no levity in his voice
now. “But you must admit that I warned you against Gumpertz. And I
am afraid we can do nothing in the matter.”

“Why? What are you here for then, sir?” It was the voice of the
British tax-payer talking to his employé.

The Consul explained patiently. “As regards the negotiations. You were
alone, were you not? Yes, your word, the word of an unknown man–pardon
me, I mean unknown in America–against that of a high official. And I
take it–I must speak plainly–you offered something in the nature of
a bribe. You did? A present.” He smiled a little grimly. “The price
asked shows that, and it comes to the same thing. Graft, they call
it here. That fact destroys your case at once.”

Mr Gobbitt breathed heavily. “And how about my deposit of six thousand
dollars? The receipt is at the bank.”

“Then ask the bank to collect it,” answered the Consul; “they may
succeed.”

“May succeed, sir! They must succeed.” Again there was the British
tax-payer note.

The Consul smiled. “We will say we hope they succeed. Still, after
your other experiences—-”

“They’ve had the old boy this time, Blackiston,” the Consul said
to the Vice-Consul, when the visitor had departed. “Proper murder
trick. Seems to have shaken his nerves badly. It would have shaken
mine, too. Head-hunters–ugh!”

The Vice-Consul closed the letter-book wearily. “Serve him right. He
shouldn’t be so cock-sure and pompous.”

One of the senior clerks from the bank took the receipt of Commissioner
Gumpertz to the Palace, presently returning with a grave face. “They
know nothing about any such sum, sir; and it is neither a regular
official receipt, nor is it the Commissioner’s signature.”

Mr Gobbitt gasped. “Why, he gave it to me himself! There must be
some mistake.”

The clerk shook his head. “They are positive, sir.”

“Did you see him sign it?” the manager asked, a little coldly.

The merchant mopped the perspiration off his forehead. “No, I cannot
say I did. He went into another room. But your cashier can identify
the messenger–one of those belonging to the Palace.”

When the cashier came, he remembered the incident perfectly. “It was
a large sum, and I should not have handed it to a strange native;
but I knew the porter at the hotel was reliable.”

It was the last straw, so far as Mr Gobbitt was concerned. “They have
swindled me out of twelve hundred pounds,” he groaned, fanning himself
with his handkerchief the while; then a thought struck him. “You have
the numbers of the notes? You can trace them?”

The manager looked doubtful. “Some, perhaps. We will do our best. Come
in again to-morrow, Mr Gobbitt. Meanwhile, if I were you, I should
say nothing, and stay indoors. You need rest.”

In the morning, the merchant found the bank manager very cold and
distant in his manner. “We have traced several of the notes,”
he said. “In each case they have come from most questionable
places–places of no repute, in fact. I presume you have witnesses
to prove where you were that night.”

“I was in my room at the hotel. I went to bed very early, as I was
starting early next morning.”

“Ah!” There was no mistaking the tone. “So no one saw you after
dinner. That is a pity.”

Mr Gobbitt brought his hand down on the table with a thump. “Do you
mean to insinuate, sir, that I myself passed those notes at those
infamous places? Never in my life”–he had forgotten Igut–“never in
my life was I in one.”

“I mean to insinuate nothing,” the manager answered wearily. “Only
you cannot prove that you were not out, and, if you make a fuss,
the Commissioners will quickly prove that you were. They will get
police, native officials, and perhaps even a native judge or two,
to remember having met you. You can do nothing, and I can do nothing,
and, if you will excuse me, I am very busy. Good-morning.”

Basil Hayle spent several hours in drawing up a report concerning
Mr Gobbitt, the head-hunters, and Felizardo, then he read it through
again, and straightway destroyed it.

“The less said, the better,” he muttered. “They’ll never believe
anything to the old man’s credit, and they might shift me over it.”

So, instead of sending the report, he marched out by night to the
head-hunters’ village, hoping to catch them there; but only found
the ashes of the houses, and had one of his men wounded by a spear
thrown in the darkness. Then he went back to his stockade at Silang,
where he sat down, and thought of Felizardo and of Captain Bush,
and most of all of Mrs Bush, and cursed at the dreary inaction,
and prayed that the ladrones would come along and give him a fight.

Continue Reading

HOW MR COMMISSIONER GUMPERTZ AND MR JOSEPH GOBBITT TALKED OF HIGH FINANCE

When Mr Joseph Gobbitt’s friends heard that “Old Joe” himself was
going out to Manila to bring order into the chaos caused by the sudden
death of young Albert Dunk, they shook their heads gravely. It was
a foolish and unnecessary thing to do, they declared. The firm of
Gobbitt and Dunk had not a very large sum at stake in the Philippines,
and one of the other young Dunks, or even Pretty, the chief clerk,
would have been able to do all that was necessary. Mr Gobbitt,
however, knew his own mind, and, after only a week of preparation,
started overland, to catch the Hong Kong mail steamer.

It is curious how some people get the names which suit them
exactly. Joseph Gobbitt was a case in point. Inevitably, you expected
a man of East Anglian tradesman stock; and the moment you set eyes on
him, you felt you had been right. Hosea Gobbitt, his father, had been
mayor and pork-butcher in a small Suffolk town, having risen to wealth
and position by what he called “judicious trading.” “A little bit of
all sorts, for all sorts of people,” he used to say to his particular
friends at the Tradesmen’s Meetings–which meant that those customers
who were particular got meat for which he had to pay the farmers
what he considered a wholly outrageous price, showing a bare profit
of sixty per cent.; whilst those who were careless, or in his debt,
as well as those who ventured on sausages and similar mysteries, were
liable to get the product of those diseased swine which the inspector
was kind enough, and wise enough, to let him have for a few shillings
each. After all, what is the use of holding Municipal Office unless
you make something out of it to pay for your time? What tradesman in
England ever did–at least what tradesman of his, Hosea Gobbitt’s,
ability? Footman the ironmonger, and Woods the grocer–“Sandy” Woods
they used to call him amongst themselves, because of his sugar, not
because of his hair–did very well over contracts, and there was no
reason why he should not do well over pork. After all, the inspector
was their servant; they could discharge him at any moment.

Joseph Gobbitt learnt the rudiments of business in his father’s shop;
but he had no intention of spending his life in a country town;
consequently, at the age of eighteen he went to London, and obtained
a junior clerkship in a Mincing Lane house. When he was thirty, he
entered into partnership with Henry Dunk, and proceeded to turn the
knowledge he had secured to such good use that, within five years,
he had pretty well ruined his former employers. When he was sixty,
he was reckoned, if not amongst the biggest men of Mincing Lane,
at least amongst the bigger ones. He had several branches in the
East, including one at Manila, which had been under the charge of
Albert Dunk, son of his late partner. Taken all round, matters were
going very well when, just about the time that Basil Hayle began the
campaign against Felizardo, Albert Dunk died suddenly, and, to Mr
Gobbitt’s mind, mysteriously. Edward Dunk, the new junior partner,
Albert’s elder brother, had volunteered to go out; but, greatly to
his surprise, Mr Gobbitt had declared his intention of going himself.

“You can manage here by yourself, Edward,” he said; “I have every
confidence in you, every confidence. The sea-trip will do me good,
and possibly there may be complications in Manila which we have
not foreseen.”

Edward Dunk, not unnaturally, took the latter sentence as a slur on his
brother’s memory, as foreshadowing unpleasant discoveries, and he laid
his plans accordingly, with a view to repaying Mr Gobbitt in kind. As a
matter of fact, however, it was a chance conversation with an American
consular official which had determined the senior partner to go to
the East. “It’s money they want out in the Islands,” the American had
said. “There’s lots of good things to be got cheap–concessions, hemp
lands, Church lands even; though our own people hold back, not knowing
if we shall stay out there, whilst the British banks and financiers
are too fastidious–won’t grease the Commissioners’ palms. There’s
a fortune, sir, for the man who will risk his dollars. And it isn’t
much risk, anyway. We are bound to stay in the Islands, now we’ve
been chuckleheads enough to take them.”

Mr Joseph Gobbitt pondered deeply over these words during the long
journey to Hong Kong, where, from his own manager, he obtained a
certain degree of confirmation; but before he had been in Manila
two days, he knew that they were true. He called officially on
Mr Commissioner Gumpertz, head of the Departments of Lands and
Registration, in the hope of obtaining full particulars concerning the
end of Albert Dunk, who had met his death somewhere near Hippapad,
which, of course, is on the other side of Felizardo’s mountains,
a full ten miles–more, perhaps–to the north of the range.

“The report was that he died of fever,” the official said. “They
buried him where he died. Violence? Murder? My dear sir, no. The
Islands are pacified now. You could go from end to end of them
unarmed. Pay no heed to the wild stories you will hear, stories
circulated deliberately by our political enemies, and by the Army,
which is jealous of our success. You are sure to hear them all, perhaps
more than I hear.” Unconsciously he slipped some blank sheets of paper
over a copy of Captain Basil Hayle’s report, which he had just been
studying anew–the grim record of forty-seven men out of sixty-five
slaughtered on Felizardo’s mountains by Felizardo’s bolomen. “You will
hear them because you are the type of man, a broad-minded capitalist,
whom they are specially anxious to keep out.”

His words gave Mr Gobbitt his cue, and a few minutes later they were no
longer talking officially, but privately, about a railway concession
and a copra concession, but most of all about some hemp lands. Mr
Gobbitt was essentially a business man, and he put his finger on the
weak spot, or what seemed the weak spot, at once. “Why,” he asked,
“if there is all this splendid hemp land vacant, have not people,
the natives for instance, or the Spaniards, made use of it?” And he
leaned back in his chair, twirling his gold-rimmed glasses.

The Commissioner met his objections with an easy smile. “You know what
the Spaniards were. Did they make use of anything? Moreover, in their
days there were large bands of ladrones in the neighbourhood.” Mr
Gobbitt knit his forehead, and was making a mental note of the
drawback, when the Commissioner went on: “But there are none now. We
have cleared them all out, all; and we have a company of Constabulary
under a most energetic officer, Captain Hayle, quartered permanently
in the district. Then, as to your other point, is it likely we should
allow any unauthorised person to seize this land?”

Mr Joseph Gobbitt got up. He divined that, at the first interview with
a high official, it would hardly be diplomatic to talk of business,
of the sort of business which was obviously intended. “I will think
it over,” he said. “Possibly I may hear from you.”

The Commissioner rose, too. “Very possibly some friends of mine might
call,” he answered.

Down at the Consulate, the Vice-Consul received Mr Gobbitt with what
that pillar of finance considered most unbecoming levity. “Got anything
out of old Gumpertz?” he asked. “I suppose you had a long lecture on
Liberty and Brown Brothers. No? You are lucky, then. He’s not what you
might call inspired, unless it’s on a question of dollars. He got his
job because he kept some big city solid for the Party, they say. He
owned, or bought up, all the bars in the place, lost his money over
it, and so, to keep him quiet and give him a chance to retrieve his
fortune, they sent him out here. He is retrieving fast, but he’s really
still what he was by birth, a petty, huckstering tradesman. They say
that his father used to be a pork-butcher in the Happy Fatherland.”

Had it not been for the last few words, Mr Gobbitt might have paid
some attention to the rest; but those decided him. Obviously, the
whole thing was rank prejudice. He got up, waving aside a proffered
cigar. “Thank you. I do not smoke. Is the Consul in?”

The Vice-Consul got up wearily. “Shan’t I do? Oh, very well. I’ll
see. He was having an extra siesta; didn’t feel quite the thing after
tiffin. I’d be careful of the Club whisky, if I were you. Rotten
brand they’ve got on tap now;” and, without noticing Mr Gobbitt’s
indignant looks, he lounged into the inner office.

The Consul, or rather Acting-Consul, the regular Consul-General being
on leave, did not seem exactly delighted to see Mr Gobbitt.

“Well, did you hear anything new from Gumpertz?” he asked.

Mr Gobbitt shook his head. “He says Mr Dunk died of fever and was
buried in the jungle. That is all they know.”

The Consul yawned. “It’s about their mark. The Army would have sent
out to see quick, and so would the Guardia Civil. Those people get
in a fluster if a native is killed, and don’t worry about a white
man. Is that all? Find your books all right?”

The visitor flushed. He did not like this man any better than he
liked the Vice-Consul. “They were correct,” he said severely. “The
books of our firm always are. But there is one curious thing–the day
before he left Manila Mr Dunk drew ten thousand pesos from the bank;
and we cannot trace to whom he paid it.”

“Whew! Ten thousand pesos, eh?” The Consul whistled in what struck
Mr Gobbitt as a most undignified manner. “A big sum that. Was he–do
you think he was mixed up in any sort of graft here–corruption,
you’d call it–with the officials?”

There was wrath on Mr Gobbitt’s face as he got up from his chair. “Sir,
members of our firm are not mixed up in such things…. No, sir,
I do not smoke; nor will I have a whisky-and-soda. I, myself, drink
only at meals.”

When he had gone, with such dignity as a large and perspiring man,
who wears a frock-coat in the Tropics, can command, the Acting-Consul
yawned again. “Queer old chap. Isn’t he in a paddy-whack!” Then he
went to the door and called the Vice-Consul. “I say, Blackiston,
come and drink the whisky-and-soda our heavy friend refused. Did he
slam the door as he went out?”

Mr Joseph Gobbitt did not go to the English Club that night, partly
because he was unwilling to run the risk of further shocks to his
dignity, but chiefly because he thought it possible that some friends
of Mr Commissioner Gumpertz might chance to call on him. The latter
supposition proved to be correct. He had just finished dinner, and was
waiting on the veranda of the hotel for his coffee, when the waiter
announced two gentlemen, who introduced themselves as Mr William
P. Hart and Senor de Vega, the latter being a mestizo. Mr Gobbitt
received them graciously, scenting business, and it only needed two
liqueurs to produce a definite proposition. Mr William P. Hart was
not shy, whilst Senor de Vega backed him loyally in all he had to
say. There was this splendid stretch of hemp-growing land on the north
of the range of mountains, which Mr Gobbitt had doubtless noticed. Mr
Commissioner Gumpertz had the selling of it, and the Commissioner’s
price would be so much for himself–or rather for himself, Mr Hart,
and Senor de Vega–and so much for the Government. There was no
useless beating about the bush, a feature which Mr Gobbitt rather
appreciated. It was, after all, a plain matter of business, and, as it
was shorn of all pretence and shams, a business man could discuss it.

They came to terms, provisionally. Mr Gobbitt had made careful
enquiries as to the value of really good hemp land in that part of
the island, and he knew that, if he bought at the figure named, he
would be making an amazingly good bargain. Unfortunately, however,
he did not know good hemp land from bad–or, for that matter, from
any other sort of land; and much though he respected the cleverness,
the money-making genius, of Commissioner Gumpertz, he was not going
to take that gentleman’s word for anything which involved financial
risk to himself.

“I must inspect this land first, of course,” he said. “That is only
a matter of common sense. I will find some reliable person who can
give me an expert opinion on it, and then, if he reports favourably,
I will come to terms with … with your Government.”

“And the Commissioner?” Mr Hart asked, with a leer.

The merchant bowed gravely. “And the Commissioner, of course. That
is understood.”

“Can’t be done without him.” Mr Hart was inclined to frankness.

“It is quite unnecessary to tell me that.” Mr Gobbitt spoke
severely. “I am accustomed to business.”

“There is one thing more.” Mr Hart laid a hand which was none too
clean on his host’s knee. “The Commissioner wants a deposit, so that
he has something to show the Government, in case another buyer happens
along. He wants six thousand dollars, gold, down; to be refunded if
you do not wish to complete the purchase at the end of three months.”

Mr Gobbitt frowned. It was a large sum; but then the value of the
land would be enormous. “Six thousand dollars. Humph! Twelve hundred
pounds–a great deal of money. If I considered the proposal–I do not
say I shall–I should require the proper receipt of the Department,
not the mere private receipt of the Commissioner.”

The readiness with which Mr Hart assented dissipated the other’s
suspicions. “Certainly, sir, it would be an official receipt; and
any time you wished to call off you could get your money back. It
is proposed just in your interest, to give you a free run with no
competition.”

When they had gone, Mr Gobbitt sat for a long time deep in
thought. This was the sort of business he had come out hoping to do,
and therefore he was prepared to make certain allowances for the
weakness of those with whom he was dealing. When one is about to reap
huge profits, one cannot be over-censorious concerning those who are
assisting one. He thought the whole scheme out before he went to bed
that night, the sum he would expend on it–it would be his private
venture, nothing to do with the firm of Gobbitt & Dunk–the sum for
which he would float it as soon as he had got it into working order,
and the profits which he himself would make out of the flotation. It
was all very simple and straightforward. There was always a demand for
hemp, always would be a demand for it. No crop paid better to raise,
no crop, so far as he knew, involved less capital expenditure on
clearing the land and planting. As for security of title, he would make
certain on that point before he parted with any of the purchase-money,
whilst he was shrewd enough to see that there was no prospect of
the Americans withdrawing from the Islands for many years to come,
until long after he had floated his company.

The matter of the deposit did not trouble him greatly. After all,
the sum was not a large one to him; he ran no risk of losing it; and
it would be a distinct advantage to have what would amount to a three
months’ option. It was a cheap option, after all, a very cheap one;
and the more he thought of it, the more convinced he became that,
in the end, he would be able to get the better of Mr Gumpertz in
many ways. He, himself, would have insisted on a payment outright,
in addition to the deposit.

In the morning, Mr Gobbitt set out to find a reliable man to advise him
on the question of the hemp lands. It was rather a delicate matter. He
did not want to advertise the fact that he had any business of the
kind in contemplation, yet, at the same time, he was anxious to
secure some one who would be thoroughly trustworthy. It would not do
to go to the new manager of the Manila branch of Gobbitt & Dunk, for
this was his personal affair–the Dunk family had done well enough
out of him already, even though old Dunk had found the capital in
the first instance–and he did not fancy the idea of consulting the
Acting-Consul. In the end, he decided to call on the bank manager,
to whom he could speak in confidence.




The bank manager looked dubious. “Yes, I can get you a good
man–several, if you like, men you can trust. There’s John Mackay,
a Scotchman, and Lucio Morales, a Spaniard–either would do well;
and I would take the opinion of either as final. Only, let me warn
you, Mr Gobbitt, that this is a risky form of speculation. Hemp pays
well enough until the insurrectos, or the pulajanes, or the ladrones
come along and burn your place and cut your men’s throats. It’s all
very well for Furber and Gumpertz and the rest to say the Islands are
at peace. Gumpertz may know all about pork-chops and public-houses,
but it doesn’t follow he understands these things.”

The son of Hosea Gobbitt, pork-butcher and mayor, flushed. It was
only too clear that Mr Gumpertz had been right when he talked about
unreasoning prejudice and a desire to injure the Government.

“I think I am fully aware of the conditions,” he said severely. “I
have made the most exhaustive enquiries from those who should
know.” Unconsciously he emphasised the last five words. “And now, if
you would give me the addresses of these two men, Mackay and Morales,
I will ask them to call on me.”

Senor Morales was the first to make his appearance at the hotel,
a grave young Spaniard, whose rather elaborate courtesy disconcerted
Mr Gobbitt somewhat; but when the proposition was put to him bluntly,
as such things should be put, he shook his head. “No, Senor. It is
impossible that I go. These Americans have got the country into such
a state, that—-” He spread out his hands expressively, and rose
to leave.

Mr Gobbitt rose too, a little annoyed at the waste of his time. “You
don’t like the Americans?” he said, with what he took for sternness,
and the other for rudeness.

The Spaniard laughed gently. “Why, no, Senor. Why should I, a
Spaniard, like them?” And he went out, leaving Mr Gobbitt more than
ever convinced of the intense prejudice against the administration.

Mr John Mackay, who did not arrive till late in the afternoon, proved
to be more suitable. He was middle-aged and hard-faced, at least
when he was talking business, and he went to the root of the matter
at once–the question of his professional fee, which was finally
settled more to his own satisfaction than to that of Mr Gobbitt, who
had a distinct aversion to giving mere employés a chance to imitate
the late Jeshurun, of whom the one recorded fact is that “he waxed
fat and kicked.” Still, John Mackay knew what he himself wanted,
and he had the knowledge which Mr Gobbitt wanted, so, for once in
his life at least, the merchant agreed to pay a fair wage.

“And where are we going to?” John Mackay asked.

Mr Gobbitt hesitated. “Well, I must tell you, I suppose; but it is
in confidence, the strictest confidence.”

The Scotchman gave a quick little nod; he was not prone to unnecessary
speech.

“We land at a place called Igut, and from there make our way round
the end of that large range of mountains to some land on the northern
side. They tell me–Commissioner Gumpertz tells me–that the journey
will not be a difficult one. We keep in the valley for some twenty-five
miles, then cross at an easy pass.”

“Taking any escort?” the Scotchman asked.

The merchant shook his head. “I am informed it is quite unnecessary;
though some of the native soldiers–Scouts, I think they are
called–will come along to help us with transport arrangements.”

John Mackay stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Well, at least they all
know me well enough–Felizardo, and the others as well. I myself can
go anywhere;” a saying which gave food for thought to Mr Gobbitt,
who could not decide whether it was to be construed as encouraging
or otherwise.

Commissioner Gumpertz received Mr Gobbitt very graciously when that
gentleman came to pay the deposit. “I am delighted, sir,” he said,
“flattered to think you are taking my advice, which was given in
the interests of these Islands and their people, and proves, most
fortunately, to be in your interest as well. I might tell you, in
confidence, that there will be a bill before Congress next session
forbidding these large sales of land–a most unfortunate proposal;
but your business will be through long before then.”

When, however, Mr Gobbitt handed him a cheque, crossed, for the
deposit, the Commissioner looked doubtful. “I am afraid, sir, I
cannot take this–my dear sir, I mean no slight on yourself–but
the rules of the Department are very strict. No cheques taken, they
say. Still, would you write another one, a bearer cheque, and I will
send a messenger down to the bank with it. That will only take ten
minutes, and we can fix up the matter at once. If you will excuse me,
I will get the secretary to make out the receipt.”

He came back, a few minutes later, with the receipt which his
secretary, whose name was William P. Hart, had made out in due
form. It was already signed, and, as he handed it to his visitor,
the Commissioner for Lands and Registration remarked jocularly: “Now,
Mr Gobbitt, you have my receipt before I have the money. You have
only to stop the messenger on the way, and you can make six thousand
dollars out of the Department, or rather out of me, for they would
hold me responsible.”

Mr Gobbitt, who had assured himself at a glance that the receipt
was in due form, laughed too. “I don’t think in my firm we do
things like that,” he said. “We rather pride ourselves on being
old-fashioned–almost straight-laced, perhaps. My father always
impressed on me that honesty paid in the long run, and I have found
that he was right. I have no doubt your experience has been the same.”

The Commissioner nodded. This was a most admirable and tactful man
of business. It is always pleasant to keep affairs of this sort on a
certain high plane. If you talk of the Welfare of the People, or the
Will of the Multitude, or the Moral Aspect, you can make infinitely
more money than if you adopt a crudely-commercial tone, especially
if you have a William P. Hart in the background.

The messenger returned with the package of notes, which he handed
to Mr Gobbitt, who in turn handed them to Mr Commissioner Gumpertz;
and then the two men parted.

“The launch will be ready for you early to-morrow,” the official
said. “I will send you down letters of introduction from Commissioner
Furber–you must meet him on your return–to Captain Bush at Igut,
and Captain Basil Hayle, who has a camp somewhere on the edge of
the jungle. Captain Bush will arrange all your equipment for you,
or at least he will get the local officials to do so. Now, good-bye,
Mr Gobbitt, and good luck. I shall look forward to your early return.”

Mr Joseph Gobbitt was an experienced business man. He prided himself
on the fact that there was little he did not know about certain forms
of finance; yet, had he learnt that, instead of being paid into the
account of the Government, those notes of his were, that very night,
distributed, at a slight discount, through some of the most shady,
and even improper, quarters in Manila, he might have found food for
much speculation and thought.

Continue Reading

HOW MRS BUSH HEARD OF THE LAW OF THE BOLO

After he received the letter from Felizardo, thanking him for returning
his daughter, promising to repay the service when an opportunity
occurred, and threatening him with the Law of the Bolo if he dared
to come, as an American officer, on to his mountains, Captain Basil
Hayle spent three days in Katubig, resting his men, and preparing
to do the very thing which Felizardo had forbidden. His duty was to
destroy the community of outlaws in the mountains; yet, though at the
first encounter he had scored an easy victory, he was by no means
sure that he could repeat the process. It is one thing for troops
armed with carbines to surprise bolomen in the open, quite another
thing when the bolomen jump out on the troops in the dense jungle,
where you hardly have time to bring your carbine to your shoulder once,
much less have time to reload, before they are right on you, slashing
and jabbing with their hateful knives, under cover of the smoke.

So far, Basil Hayle had had practically no experience of jungle
fighting, but he had a very shrewd notion of what it would be like;
and, whilst his little Constabulary soldiers were full of confidence
and ardour, as a result of their first victory, he looked forward
with a certain amount of misgiving, not because he was afraid–he
was physically incapable of fear–but because, having started the
hunting of Felizardo, he was anxious to see the job through to the end.

He heard a good deal of Felizardo during those three days; for on the
night of his return a curious little tramp steamer wheezed into the
bay, and put ashore an equally curious old Spaniard, a hemp-buyer;
and from him Basil Hayle learned many things; for the newcomer had
known Don José Ramirez and the corporal of the Guardia Civil, and could
remember the building of what was then the new gallows at Calocan, on
which they had hanged Cinicio Dagujob the ladrone thirty-five years
before. Consequently, he was able to tell Basil, who was only too
ready to hear, all about how Felizardo had slain Pablo the priest,
and had run off with Dolores Lasara, and had taken to the mountains,
of which he was now the ruler.

Basil Hayle asked many questions, and with each answer he grew
to have more respect for the power of the wizened little man whom
he was to hunt down–if he could. Of Dolores Lasara the Spaniard
could tell him little. “I saw her once, and–I was very young then,
younger than you are now–I thought her the most beautiful mestiza in
the Islands. Perhaps she was; at any rate, many men have died because
Felizardo loved her so well. She is still alive, they say; and I hear
there is a daughter.” Basil coloured involuntarily. “How do I hear all
these things? Oh, now that they no longer have reason to fear us, we
Spaniards can go anywhere, just as the English have always done. The
Law of the Bolo is for other Filipinos, and for you Americanos”–he
laughed gently–“you will learn that law by and by. So far, you have
hardly begun to know it. If we had taken those insurrectos, those
generals and colonels and majors, we should have hanged them, and
finished all the foolishness. You create them judges and governors,
and make it worse. This same Felizardo knows better than that, even
though he may have been born a tao and have killed a priest.”

Just as the Constabulary were starting out on the fourth morning,
the old Spaniard gave their officer one last word of advice. “I say
you are mad to go on Felizardo’s mountains at all–what harm does the
old man do to your American politicians in Manila?–but you will be
more than mad if you go round on the northern slopes.”

“Why?” Hayle demanded.

The Spaniard smiled. “Head-hunters–hundreds of them they say, more
dangerous than any bolomen. I have never been there to see. No, Senor;
but I have heard often. What are they, Senor? How much you Americanos
have to learn about these Islands! Why, just savages–quite different
from the Filipinos–nearly naked. Their pleasure in life is to collect
heads, just as your great men collect millions of dollars.”

“What a pleasant notion!” Hayle’s voice was quite cheerful. “No, Senor,
I am not going the head-hunters’ direction this time; but I may do
so soon. Still, if I do, I shall come back to tell you all about it.”

The old man shook his head rather sadly as he walked away. “Perhaps,”
he muttered, “perhaps–but first old Felizardo, then the head-hunters,
and only sixty half-trained Samar tao as his troops. They are rash,
very rash, these young Americans. A nice lad, too.” He sighed heavily,
and went back to the weighing of his hemp.

Captain Hayle had decided to explore the seaward end of the range,
where the mountains ran almost down to the shore of the great bay;
consequently, from Katubig he followed the coast until he came to
what looked like a suitable place for beginning his climb. Up to that
point, he had not seen a sign of any human being, not heard a sound,
save that of the waves breaking on the shore, and the wind murmuring
through the cocoa-nut palms; but no sooner had he started to force his
way into the jungle on the lower slopes, than a deep note boomed out,
apparently from the tree-tops a few hundred yards away; a moment later,
it was repeated, higher up the hill, and then again and yet again, in
a dozen places, until every native for miles round must have heard it.

Basil stopped abruptly. “What is that?” he demanded of his serjeant.

The man made an expressive gesture. “The Boudjon, Senor,
the alarm-horn. Now, every one of these ladrones knows we are
coming. Either we shall see none at all, or we shall see too many.”

Basil muttered an oath, then, “Come on,” he said. “The quicker we
move, the better our chances;” but already his own hopes of another
successful fight had vanished. Obviously, Felizardo’s men were not
to be caught asleep a second time.

It had been raining all night, and as a result the slope, bad enough
at any time by reason of its horrible steepness, was now trebly bad
on account of the slippery red clay underfoot. There was no trail of
any sort; it was just a matter of forcing one’s way through the dense,
soaking undergrowth, of fighting one’s way upwards, half-blinded with
perspiration all the time, of dragging one’s boots, which now seemed
to weigh a hundred pounds each, out of that horrible mire at every
step, and then sliding back half the distance one had advanced. It
was impossible to keep in any sort of order so as to be ready to meet
an attack. There were always stragglers, those who got tangled up in
the vines, or had their boots wrenched off by the mud. Basil Hayle
went ahead, and trusted that his men, who were born to the jungle,
were keeping up with him, for at no time could he actually see them
all, on account of the dense bush.

They had gone, perhaps, half a mile up the hillside when he was
suddenly convinced that men were watching him, that in the jungle
ahead, and on both sides too, there were bolomen closing in. He paused
and looked round, and saw nothing; looked round again and caught a
glimpse of something white behind a bush. At the same moment, the
serjeant, who was just behind him, saw it too, and gave a shout. The
Constabulary tried to close up, but the last man was a full hundred
yards behind, down the slope, and it was too late. The bolomen broke
cover–a couple of hundred of them at least–whilst the Constabulary
were still a helpless rabble, and the ragged volley which the plucky
little Samar men let off only made matters worse. Possibly, it injured
some of the trees and bushes; certainly, one bullet did get a boloman
square in the throat; but under cover of the smoke, which hung like
a pall in that breathless atmosphere, the outlaws rushed in.

The Constabulary died game. They were from Samar, Visayans by race,
and the outlaws were natives of Luzon, Tagalogs; and between Visayan
and Tagalog there is a never-dying blood-feud. Those who had bolos
dropped their carbines, and set to work in their national fashion;
those who had no bolos clubbed their carbines, and did their best
that way. All died standing up, and almost every Visayan killed or
wounded a Tagalog before he himself went down. They upheld the honour
of Samar that day on the slopes of Felizardo’s mountains, when the
Tagalog outlaws were three to one, and had the additional advantage
of surprising a winded column.

Basil found himself with a little group of some fifteen men. The
bolomen were in between him and the rest of his party, and so thick
was the smoke–for, despite his orders, those round him continued to
blaze away wildly–that he could see nothing of what was occurring
below. Only, knowing that the outlaws were in overwhelming force,
and hearing no more shots from the rest of his column, he could guess
with a fair degree of certainty.

There were no bolomen above him now, so far as he could make out,
and when at last the smoke cleared away, he could see none on the
slope below. Nor could he see any of his other men, at least until
he went down to look for them. Then he found them, and every one he
saw was dead, usually with a dead outlaw somewhere near him.

He did not stay to count the bodies; he did not even go through what
would have been the perfectly useless formality of ascertaining if
any were still alive. For some inexplicable reason the outlaws had
disappeared–they had not even made an attempt against him and his own
little group–but they might be back at any moment, and his first duty
was to get his pitiful handful of survivors into a place of safety.

As they hurried down the hillside, Basil blamed himself savagely
for his folly. He had gone on blindly, in face of the warning of
the alarm-horn, in face of Felizardo’s warning, taking his brave
little fellows to certain death; and then, in the end, he had escaped
without even one single boloman having attempted his life. Moreover,
he had remained where he was, whilst his men were being cut to pieces
below him. At first, this latter thought was the most bitter of all;
then suddenly he understood, with a great sense of relief–Felizardo
had ordered his life to be spared, and if he had led those last
fifteen through the smoke they, too, would have been sacrificed
uselessly. Still, it was galling to feel you owed your life to the
clemency of an old outlaw, whom you had been sent out to catch.

He wondered what they would say in Manila. They would get his first
message, telling how he had surprised the outpost on the slope of the
volcano; and now he would have to send a second message–a message
of a very different character–reporting that he had lost fifty men
and fifty carbines, that the outlaws had scored a victory, the news
of which would carry hope and encouragement to the hearts of all the
criminal and all the disloyal elements in the Islands.

He wondered too what his men would think of him. They were keeping
very close at his heels, expecting another attack any moment. He
glanced back over his shoulder, half-fearing to meet with scornful or
reproachful looks; but they were loyal little fellows, being simple
tao, and, in their half-savage way, they were very sorry for him. The
serjeant, a grizzled veteran who had received his first training at
Calocan, under the successor of the old corporal of the Guardia Civil,
tried to comfort him. “It is Fate, Senor. Why worry? Last time we had
the luck; to-day the luck is with those accursed ladrones. Doubtless,
next time we shall have our chance again. We could not help it. If we
had charged, instead of keeping where we were, they would have had
us too, and there would have been none to avenge our comrades. They
were three to one all the time; and they were fresh, whilst we were
exhausted with the climbing and the mud. It was their day to-day,
Senor; to-morrow, it will be ours!”

The little men following behind grunted approval, which eased Basil’s
mind considerably, knowing, as he did, that they were reliable judges.

They saw no trace of the outlaws as they made their way down to the
beach, though three of the men whom they had reckoned dead, scrambled
through the jungle to rejoin them. Basil breathed more freely when
he found himself back in the cocoa-nut grove, off Felizardo’s ground,
where, at least, one had a chance to shoot.

“We will get to Katubig as quickly as possible,” he said to the
serjeant. “I don’t think they will follow us there; but, even if they
do, we can put up a fight in one of the houses.”

Five minutes later, however, he began to think his confidence had
not been justified; for one of the men, happening to look back,
caught sight of a figure moving along the edge of the jungle, where
the bush ended and the cocoa-nut grove began, and then they caught
fleeting glimpses of many, though all the time there was nothing at
which to shoot.

Basil did the right thing. He led his men on to the beach itself,
where the boloman has to come within range of the carbines long before
he reaches you, and there is always sufficient breeze to clear away
the smoke.

They marched quickly, or rather they hurried along–as Basil Hayle
told himself bitterly, they were the remnant of a defeated force
in full retreat–and all the time they were aware that the bolomen
were following just at the edge of the jungle; then, suddenly, they
rounded the point by Katubig, when you come in sight of the village,
and for a moment they forgot even the bolomen, for Katubig was in
flames. Half the nipa and bamboo houses, including that in which
the Constabulary supplies were stored, had already collapsed, whilst
another five minutes would see the rest practically gutted.

Captain Hayle groaned. “Well, of all the infernal luck—-” he began;
then he noticed that there was not a single native in sight, not a
single canoe left on the beach, and straightway he understood. Katubig
was practically one of Felizardo’s villages–he was a fool not to
have thought of that before–and the old chief no longer intended it
to be used as a base for operations against himself.

There was practically only one course open to Basil, and he
decided instantly to take it. He had no axes, no tools of any sort;
consequently, there was no possibility of making anything in the
way of a stockade, whilst to remain in the open with only eighteen
men was to invite a further and final disaster. No, he must cover
the ten or twelve miles to Igut, where there was a company of the
Philippine Scouts quartered. There he would be safe, and from there
he could send a report of his defeat to Manila. It was not a pleasant
prospect. The Constabulary and the Scouts did not love one another
overmuch, and it was humiliating to have to seek refuge with the
rival force. Still, he could see no alternative. Even as he decided,
he could catch glimpses of Felizardo’s bolomen in the background,
dodging from bush to bush, never giving a chance for a shot, but
still driving him back from Felizardo’s mountains. He glanced at
the sun. It was about one o’clock–Heavens, how much seemed to have
happened since sunrise!–if he went straight on, and there was no
sense in going into the burning village itself, he would be at Igut
by sunset, provided the path were not unusually bad.

The men heaved sighs of relief when they learned their
destination. They had had enough of the mountains to last them for
a day or two; it was going to pour with rain again that night; and
the prospect of sleeping, or rather of trying to sleep, in the open
with Felizardo’s bolomen prowling round, just outside the circle of
firelight, was not an exhilarating one. Consequently, they started off
for Igut very cheerfully. True, they had lost most of their comrades,
and had been badly beaten by the accursed Tagalog outlaws; but, after
all, what matter? They themselves were all right. They had plenty
of cigarettes for the march: they could buy plenty more in Igut,
in addition to spirits; whilst, doubtless, the Scouts would have
money to lose at monte; moreover, next time they met Felizardo’s men,
the fight would go the other way–of that they felt sure….

Somehow, Igut seemed well-named. The word might mean anything, but the
sound expressed the town itself, at least to Western ears. The place
might appear picturesque, almost fascinating, to a chance visitor,
who knew that he was going to leave it in a few hours; but when you
had to live there, you quickly came to see it in a very different
light, as Mrs Bush, the wife of Captain Bush of the Philippine Scouts,
who had not been out of it for a whole year, could have told you.

From the balcony of her house at the corner of the plaza, Mrs Bush
could survey the whole scene; and, as time hung very heavily on her
hands, she used to spend many an hour lying back in her long bamboo
chair, watching the view with languid disfavour, striving hard not
to resent the fate which had led her to bury her bright young life
in such a spot.

There was so little worth looking at, when you got to know it. The same
tao were always asleep under the shade of the huge timber belfry in the
middle of the plaza, the same hungry dogs were always nosing round for
stray pieces of offal, the same shrill-voiced women wrangling with the
Chinaman who kept the general store at the far corner. The priest would
come out at a certain hour, meet the Presidente, and they would then
make their way together to the spirit shop next to the Chinaman’s. A
little later, the Supervisor and the school teacher–white officials
these–would come round the corner and follow the others to the
same place, where presently her own husband would join them. Then,
just at sundown, a squad of Scouts would loaf across the plaza to
perform what they called mounting guard at the gaol. With that, the
day’s activities would end, and the long, sweltering, breathless night,
when the mosquitoes and the heat, and perhaps, as in her case, your own
mental torment, would not allow you an hour’s real sleep. On Sundays
the only difference was that every small boy in the place was allowed
to jangle those terrible bells in the plaza to his heart’s content,
and the white officials went to the spirit shop earlier in the day.

So much for the town. If you looked seawards–and from that balcony
you had an almost uninterrupted view–it was equally monotonous. The
palm-fringed bay, with its multicoloured coral bottom, and the vast
expanses of mangrove swamp, which, almost closing its entrance,
rendered it a safe anchorage, even when the monsoon was booming in
its fiercest, always seemed the same. True, every now and then, at
irregular intervals, a Government launch would come in with mails
or stores. More rarely still, a trading steamer, with rust-streaked
funnel and sides, a veritable maritime curiosity which would have been
condemned to the scrap-heap anywhere else, would wheeze and cough her
way up to the rickety wooden jetty in quest of a cargo of hemp; but
save on these occasions, the waters were disturbed only by the dug-outs
of native fishermen, who seemed to put to sea merely for the sake of
avoiding the flies on shore; at any rate, they always dozed off to
sleep the moment they had dropped the stones which served as anchors.

Mrs Bush knew it all so well, and hated it as well as she knew it. Over
a year ago–twelve months and three weeks, to be correct–she had
left Manila; and, though the capital was only a few hours’ steam away,
she had never been back, never spoken to a woman of her own race–for
her husband had been told pointedly by the general in command that his
only chance of retaining his commission was to remain at his station,
and get his men in hand again. Captain Bush had left the capital,
raging, and stayed at Igut, sulking; whilst his wife had been too
proud to suggest a trip for herself, and he had been too indifferent
to all that concerned her to offer it.

There was not even male society, for the Treasurer, the Supervisor,
and the two school teachers, mere political nominees of small mental
attainments, had long since sunk to the point of mixing socially
with the natives, a thing from which her Southern blood recoiled
in horror. Once, and once only, had she turned on her husband,
and that was on the occasion when he brought the Supervisor and the
Presidente–the latter a mestizo–in to dinner. The experiment was
never repeated; possibly because Bush was really frightened at the
storm he had aroused, possibly because she frightened the guests
themselves; though in the end the latter had their revenge, or what
passed with them as revenge, by vilifying her on every possible
occasion, and rendering the breach between her and her husband
absolutely uncrossable.




On the day of Basil Hayle’s defeat on the mountain-side, Igut had been
panting and perspiring as only towns amongst the mangrove swamps can
perspire and pant. On the plaza nothing had stirred. The women in the
Chinaman’s store had quickly grown weary of wrangling, and had settled
down to sleep in the doorway; even the dogs and the wolfish-looking
pigs had ceased to quarrel amongst themselves on the quayside.

Evening brought little or no relief. Every few minutes, Mrs Bush
glanced towards the setting sun, longing for it to disappear behind the
line of mangroves, when there might be some chance of a slight breeze.

She was, as usual, on the veranda, behind the light matting blind,
when an unwonted commotion made her start up quickly. The dogs
had awakened to fresh life, and were barking noisily. A native,
who had spread his net across the roadway that morning, with the
intention of repairing it, and had then gone to sleep over his task,
came to his senses suddenly, and began to gather in his property,
as a small party of native soldiers, headed by a white officer,
swung down the street. Mrs Bush lay back in her chair, and watched
through the blind with languid interest. There was something in the
manner of the officer which she liked. He seemed to know his own mind,
and when half a dozen natives gathered in his path, apparently with
the object of making the white man give way to them, and so raising
a snigger at his expense, he brushed them aside like so many flies.

“He is from the South,” she said to herself, and, almost unconsciously,
came to the rail of the balcony in order to see more easily.

As soon as he reached the dusty patch of grass in the centre of the
plaza, Captain Hayle dismissed his men, who, after piling their arms
against the timbers of the belfry, threw themselves down on the ground
and produced the inevitable cigarettes. From the barracks at the upper
end of the plaza, a score of Scouts emerged, and regarded the newcomers
with marked disfavour, commenting on their torn, mud-stained uniforms,
and their generally-ragged appearance.

“Only dam’ Constabularios,” sneered a serjeant, who prided himself
on his knowledge of English; but, despite the insults, Hayle’s men
smoked on unconcernedly. Had they not great things to relate when
the women came round; whilst these Scouts, mere Tagalogs after all,
had never even set foot on Felizardo’s mountains.

Mrs Bush remained at the rail of the balcony. The evening breeze had
just begun to blow, and, moreover, she felt vaguely that she would like
to get a nearer view of the newly-arrived white man. A minute later,
her wish was gratified, for, after asking a question of one of the
Scouts, who came forward rather sullenly, Basil Hayle started to cross
the plaza towards her house. He was a little weary, his walk showed
that; but when he chanced to look up and their eyes met, he seemed
to pull himself together; then, probably because he had not expected
to see a white woman in Igut, he raised his well-worn felt hat.

At the door, Basil found a sleepy muchacho, who, in reply to his
questions, answered that Captain Bush was out, adding gratuitously,
“As usual.” Nor did he know where the Scout officer was, or when
he would be in. He was not at the barracks, nor at the spirit store
across the plaza. Still, the Senora might know; he would call her.

From the glimpse he had obtained of her, Hayle had formed the
impression that Mrs Bush was pretty. When she came in, he saw that
he had been mistaken, if one judged by recognised codes, as no sane
man does judge, either of faces or of character, or–I say it even
with the fear of the Outer Darkness of the Podsnaps before me–of
morals. There are no rules in these matters, there can be no rules when
you are dealing with such infinitely complex subjects as human form
and human character. What is beauty in one woman is mere drabness in
another, for beauty is three parts soul and one part form to any one
but an animal-man, and animal-men should not count for anything–in
fact they should be eliminated whenever possible. The same applies to
morals. How can you lay down hard and fast rules when the Magdalen
is a Christian saint, and whilst those who revere her as such, and
dedicate churches to her, fall over themselves in their anxiety to
cast the first stone at her latter-day successors? But this is all
beside the scope of this story, which deals with the crude code of
the Bolo, the law with one clause only.

“I am sorry I kept you,” Mrs Bush said, with a soft Southern
drawl. “But I get so few visitors I am never ready to receive them.”

Basil flushed. “I only came to see Captain Bush on business. It wasn’t
fair to worry you. I wanted to get him to lend me some food and kit
for my men–Felizardo’s people burnt all theirs to-day–and I was
going to ask him about sending a dispatch into Manila. The boy said
you would know where to find him.”

Mrs Bush’s face hardened momentarily, and she looked away quickly,
then, “No,” she replied, “I don’t know where–at least, I mean you
cannot find him now. But, if you don’t mind waiting, he is sure to
be in soon. Perhaps you would like to come up on the balcony; it is
cooler there.”

When they had sat down, Basil laughed rather awkwardly. “I forgot to
tell you my name; it is Hayle–Basil Hayle of the Constabulary.”

Mrs Bush nodded. “I guessed that, when you mentioned Felizardo. We
heard something of your fight up on the volcano, from an old Spaniard
who came in to-day; but he said you had gone back there.”

The man laughed bitterly, and glanced down at his torn and mud-stained
uniform. “So I did, but I have come back quickly.”

She looked at him with ready sympathy. “Do you mean they drove you
back? What hard luck, after starting so well! But did you go with
just that handful of men?”

Mrs Bush was sorry she had asked the question as soon as she saw the
look in his eyes. “No,” he answered, “I went out with sixty-five men
this morning.”

“And the others?” She leaned forward anxiously.

“The others are there still,” he replied, with a catch in his
voice. “The bolomen were three to one, and they got us on a muddy
hillside, you understand.” He was looking away, so he did not see
the pity in her eyes.

“And the wounded?” she asked gently.

Still, he did not face her. “Felizardo leaves no wounded.” Then,
suddenly, his pent-up feelings broke out, as was inevitable they
would do when he met one of his own race, one to whom he could speak
freely. “Oh, I feel such a hound for leaving them. I was at the head
of the column, and the bolomen cut us off from the rest; and whilst
we, a dozen men and myself, were waiting for it to come, they were
boloing the others.”

“And then?” she asked.

“Then? Then they just disappeared into the jungle, and we came back,
unharmed. They followed us almost to here, and they burned our stores
at Katubig–they burned Katubig itself in fact, but they never tried
to touch us. That’s what makes me feel so bad. To think they wiped out
three-quarters of my men, and then let the rest of us go. They–other
men, I mean–are sure to say we ran at the start.”

Mrs Bush shook her head. “I hardly think so. They will say you were
splendidly brave to go up at all, and splendidly clever to get any
of your men safely out of it.”

Basil thanked her with his eyes; but still he was not comforted. “It
looks bad,” he repeated. “And I can’t explain. They wouldn’t believe
the reason.”

“What was the reason?” she asked. “Tell me. I shall believe.”

He faced her now, fairly; and from that moment there was a new factor,
the All-important Factor, something infinitely greater than the Law
of the Bolo, in his life. In a flash, he understood how it was that
Felizardo had been ready to take to the hills for the sake of Dolores
Lasara. Then he told her of Felizardo’s daughter, and of Felizardo’s
letter.

“Of course I believe,” she said, when he had finished. “It is just
what one would expect of Felizardo…. Oh, we hear a great deal about
him here, from the servants. No, Captain Hayle, you must not worry,
really you must not. I know it is horrible, to lose your men in that
way; but you had to obey orders. Ninety-nine men out of a hundred
would have made an excuse for not going; but you are different.”

He did not answer her this time, but sat, staring out across the plaza,
thinking of his men, away there on Felizardo’s mountain-side; at last
her voice recalled him. “You are from the South, Captain Hayle?”

He clutched eagerly at the chance of changing the subject completely;
and from then, until her husband appeared, there was no more mention
of bolomen and their doings.

Captain Bush proved to be a big man, as tall as Hayle himself, though
much heavier–flabby, most people would have said–good-looking in a
way, though his eye was watery and his chin weak. You could see at
a glance why they had transferred him from the Regular Infantry to
the Scouts, and sent him to an out-station. They do not like heavy
drinkers in the American Service, any more than they like amateur
soldiers, or brigadier-generals appointed from the circle of the
President’s personal friends.

Captain Bush had already heard something of Hayle’s defeat, though
he did not explain how or where. Basil, on his part, did not trouble
to go into the story very fully. He had taken an immediate dislike
to Bush, and he felt that the latter was by no means grieved over
the disaster which had befallen the rival force. Still, the Scout
officer agreed readily enough to let him have the stores he needed,
and to allow the remnant of the Constabulary to occupy some vacant
quarters in the barracks. As soon as this was arranged, Hayle rose
to leave, but Mrs Bush detained him.

“Oh, Captain Hayle, you must stay to dinner now. Mustn’t he, John?”

Bush nodded assent, but Basil looked down at his dirty, torn
uniform. “I don’t think I can, really—-” he began; but his hostess
cut him short.

“You say they have burned all your kit, so how can you help that? And,
after all, one gets used to things in the Philippines. Where are you
going to stay in Igut? I wish we could put you up, but I’m afraid
it’s quite impossible.”

“There’s a Spaniard here I know,” he answered. “Don Juan Ramirez. I
promised I would stay with him, if I ever came to Igut, and I sent
one of my men to tell him as soon as I got in. I really ought to go
there now, but, still, he will forgive me, I expect, when I tell him
that you insisted.”

Mrs Bush nodded. “He’s a dear old man, quite different from—-”
She broke off abruptly, and turned to her husband, who was tugging
moodily at his moustache. “John, I expect Captain Hayle would like
a wash and a drink before dinner.”

Bush brightened up considerably after the second cocktail, and after
the fourth–his fourth, Basil was more careful–he was quite familiar
and sympathetic. “Shame to send you up there,” he said. “A rabble
like yours is no good. They ought to have sent a couple of companies
of Scouts. We should have cleaned them up, sure enough.”

Basil bit his lip, but did not reply. Afterwards, when he came to
look back on that dinner, it seemed to him one of the most miserable
experiences of his life. It was bad enough to sit down with a couple
who, as the husband made only too clear, had nothing in common;
but when that husband was also guilty of drinking far too much,
showing he had drunk too much, the position became unbearable. Still,
there was one redeeming feature–the way in which Mrs Bush tried
to make the best of the situation. She talked rapidly, nervously,
all the time, trying to avoid any topic which might possibly lead to
discussion; but Bush’s temporary burst of good-nature quickly changed
to aggressiveness, then to actual surliness, and some of the things
he said made Basil go white with rage. The Scout officer’s friends
had lost no opportunity of telling him that his wife’s Southern pride
was the cause of his domestic unhappiness, and when he found that the
guest was also from the South, he felt he had discovered a legitimate
source of grievance. Had they been alone, there would have been a
fight; but Basil glanced at Mrs Bush, sitting white-faced and rigid,
and remembered the duty he owed to his hostess.

At last the meal was over. Mrs Bush rose, and as Hayle opened the
door for her, “I think we had better go up on the balcony, Captain
Hayle. It will be pleasanter there,” she said.

Her husband got up too, then staggered, and went down on to his
knees. Basil turned to help him, but stopped when Mrs Bush laid a
restraining hand on his arm.

“I will see to him, Captain Hayle,” she said; “I was afraid he was not
very well to-night. Perhaps you had better go;” but she saw him out,
saying good-bye to him at the door, before she returned to the invalid,
who had got back into his chair and greeted her with a curse.

Don Juan Ramirez, who was very like what old Don José had been thirty
years previously, shook his head when Basil mentioned that he had
dined with the Bushes.

“Was he–was he as usual?” he asked.

Basil’s pent-up wrath broke out. “If being as usual means being a
foul-mouthed, drunken hog, with a wife a million times too good for
him, then he was!”

The Spaniard nodded. “He seldom dines at home. Perhaps she thought
that, with a guest there, he would–he would be moderate. Poor lady! He
drinks all day with the Presidente, a mestizo insurrecto, and with the
Supervisor and the school teacher who came from his own State. Then
there is worse. There is a mestiza girl–under his wife’s eyes.”

Basil Hayle walked up and down the room, raging, whilst the
old Spaniard watched him sympathetically, understanding, being a
worthy nephew of Don José of Calocan. Then, adroitly, he turned the
conversation on to the subject of that morning’s fight.

“You were rash,” he said, when Basil had finished. “But you were
lucky to escape yourself. Why, Felizardo must have three hundred
bolomen–five hundred perhaps, as well as many rifles. My uncle knew
him well before he took to the hills. Old Don José did not love the
Filipinos–who could?–but he used to say always that Felizardo was
a gentleman, even though he had killed a priest. Your Government will
never catch Felizardo, Senor, never. They will waste lives and money,
and they will find that, in the end, Felizardo will be stronger than
ever. Why, to-morrow, when the news of your ill-fortune is known,
there will be hundreds of fresh recruits clamouring to join his band.”

In the morning Basil wrote his report to Mr Commissioner Furber,
telling the truth, plainly and baldly; then he sent it off by a
launch which happened to come in, and sat down to wait for the reply,
half-hoping that the latter would take the form of his dismissal. He
wanted to get right away, he told himself, not because of Felizardo’s
bolomen, but because, as had been the case when Felizardo himself
had first met Father Pablo in San Polycarpio, the instinct to kill
had awakened in him. He had caught the spirit of the Islands, where
the Law of the Bolo is the natural code, and if he remained he knew
he should kill Captain Bush.

He told himself that he was a fool, that, after all, they were
strangers with whom he had no concern, that he would avoid them in
future; and then, seeing Mrs Bush walking across the plaza, he took
his hat and hurried after her, completing the mischief, so far as he
himself was concerned–possibly, too, so far as she was concerned.

The school teacher saw them out of the window of the spirit shop, and
winked at the Supervisor, who glanced out too, and then called to Bush.

“Say, Captain. The Virginian seems to have cottoned on to your
wife. Two Southerners, eh?”

Bush flushed, half-rose with the intention of having a look, then
resumed his seat; but he did not forget the words, thereby fulfilling
the intentions of his friends.

That night, a messenger left Igut with a letter for Felizardo,
written by no less a person than the Supervisor’s principal clerk,
who was also, in a sense, the Supervisor’s brother-in-law. In that
letter the clerk, who was no mean observer, made some pointed, and,
as it happened, perfectly true remarks concerning Captain Basil Hayle’s
feelings towards Mrs Bush–remarks which, as subsequent events proved,
Felizardo did not forget.

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