HOW MR COMMISSIONER FURBER MET FELIZARDO

The night after the hanging of Juan Vagas, the insurrecto, who had
tried to raid Igut and carry off Mrs Bush, Basil Hayle dined at the
Military Club, where they made much of him, although, as a rule, the
Army regarded the Constabulary much as it regarded the Civil Service,
as being beneath its notice, which was quite unjust–so far as the
Constabulary was concerned.

It was well after midnight when Basil left the Club in the company
of old Major John Flint of the Infantry. They were both staying at
the same hotel, and their way back led through the narrow streets
of the Walled City, and thence across the Bridge of Spain, into
the newer part of Manila. They passed one or two native police
slouching along, looking what they really were, more like thieves
than thief-takers. With the exception of these, however, the streets
seemed to be absolutely deserted; consequently, when, from out of
a dark gateway, a couple of natives, or rather mestizos, armed with
knives, sprang at Basil and his companion, the white men were taken
absolutely unawares.

Basil dodged to one side as his assailant struck, and the knife merely
caught him a glancing blow on the ribs, doing little damage; then he
himself got a grip on the mestizo’s throat, lifted him bodily off
the ground with the other hand, and flung him at the man who was
attacking Major Flint. The second mestizo staggered, dropped his
knife, then took to his heels and fled down the street, right into
the arms of a gigantic Sikh watchman from a neighbouring Government
building–you can make your Little Brown Brother into a judge of the
High Court, but you cannot trust him to guard Government stores–who,
hearing shouts, had hurried up. The Sikh did not waste either time
or words. He took that mestizo by the collar of his coat with one
hand, and by his belt with the other hand, and forthwith dashed his
brains out on the pavement, then tossed the body into the middle of
the street, and began to wonder how he should purify himself after
having touched such an unclean thing.

Basil was binding his handkerchief round an ugly flesh wound in the
major’s forearm, and keeping his foot on the neck of the other mestizo,
when the Sikh came up and saluted.

“I have killed the one, Sahib,” the watchman said. “Shall I—-?” he
nodded expressively towards the other would-be murderer, who, hearing
the words, squirmed.

Basil smiled and shook his head. “I think not, serjeant. But I wish
you would look after him whilst we go along the street and see if we
can find some of the police. How about the other one?”

The Sikh saluted again. “I caught him trying to break into the
Government store-house. He attacked me with a knife, and in the
struggle I happened to kill him. So I shall report to-morrow, Sahib. It
will save trouble,” he added simply.

“Curious dearth of police,” Basil remarked to the major as they
walked up the street after leaving the Sikh in charge. “It rather
looks as if they didn’t want to be about. I shouldn’t have had much
of a show if I had been alone, as I suppose they expected me to
be. Hullo! what’s that building lighted up? The Manila Star, isn’t
it? We might go in and see Clancy, and get him to telephone for a
carromato for you. That hand of yours ought to be seen to at once;
and I expect he’s got a drink there.”

Clancy was just preparing to leave. He had just sent his paper to
press–he was his own chief sub-editor–but he went back to his room
when he saw his visitors.

“Hullo!” he exclaimed, “what’s this? You’ve got it in the hand, major;
and you seem to have got it in the ribs, Hayle,” pointing to a wet,
dull red patch on Basil’s tunic.

Basil looked down in surprise. “I didn’t even know the little beast
had got through my clothes,” he said. “It can only be a scratch. I
wish you would telephone to the livery stable for a carromato, and
then to the police.”

Whilst they were waiting, Basil gave the editor an outline of what
had occurred. Clancy groaned. “My luck. If it had been half an hour
earlier, it would have been a fine scoop for the paper. ‘Vengeance
for Vagas’–there’s a snorting good headline for you.”

They saw the major off to the hospital in the carromato, and
then Clancy walked down the street with Basil to the scene of the
attack. The Sikh was still on guard, having secured the prisoner with
his belt.

“Let’s have a look at this chap,” Clancy said, but when he had
scrutinised the mestizo’s features, he shook his head. “I don’t know
him at all;” then they went over to where the other lay, in the middle
of the road, and Clancy gave a low whistle. “This one I do know,
though. He is, or rather he was, in the Education Department, one of
Dr Charburn’s especial pets–in fact, I heard they were going to make
him headmaster of some Government school. There’ll be a vacancy now,
I guess.”

A few minutes later the police came along, three natives, and took
over the prisoner with an air of surly indifference to the whole
matter. Even the sight of the Constabulary officer’s uniform was
insufficient to make them outwardly civil and respectful. As they were
moving off, Basil caught the word “hangman,” and flushed crimson. Then
he called them back.

“When I come round to-morrow morning I shall report you for not
saluting. Do you hear? I will take no insolence from you. Now get
along quick, or there’ll be more trouble for you.”

Clancy smiled. “You needn’t worry to go to the station in the
morning. That prisoner will escape.”

He proved to be a true prophet. When Basil was shown into the police
captain’s room, the latter gave him a queer look. “Want me on business,
Captain Hayle?” he asked. “Or is this just a friendly social call?”

Basil understood. “Has he got away?”

The police captain nodded and pushed the box of cigars across to his
guest. “It never happened. Major Flint had an accident to his hand,
and you–well, your ribs don’t show. The night captain called up
Some One; and he said that, with the Vagas and Guiterrez business,
they had had about enough to be going on with for some time; so your
friend was let loose, and has probably bought a new knife by now.”

“Who was he?” Basil asked.

The captain mentioned the name of a well-known mestizo planter. “His
youngest son, just back from London, where they seem to allow any
fool-doctrine to be taught to coloured men. Pity the Sikh didn’t
finish him too whilst he was about it.”

“I’ll make sure myself next time,” Basil said grimly; “one gets tired
of this sort of business. What did they do with the other fellow?”

“That carrion?” The police captain was a man of plain speech. “The
night captain proposed to tie a stone to it and drop it over the Bridge
of Spain, into the Pasig; but he got orders to discover an accidental
death, a fall from an upper window–you understand?–and they’re going
to have a big funeral to-day, all the Education Department, wreaths,
speeches, flourishing career cut short, and so on. Makes you smile,
doesn’t it?”

Basil Hayle thought of the knife which had glanced along his ribs,
and the big gash in the old major’s hand, and the Sikh wondering
how he could purify himself after having touched such vermin, but
most of all he thought of the shame and the danger to his country,
and therefore he did not smile.

As he got up to leave, a sudden thought struck him. “Clancy knows,”
he said. “Clancy was on the spot a few minutes afterwards.”

The police captain nodded. “I’ve just seen him, and, as a favour to
the force, he is going to forget it. But he wouldn’t have done so for
Furber; no, sir. Awkward sort of an Irishman, unless you handle him
right. They’d have deported him long ago, if he had been an American
citizen. Well, so-long, Captain. I’d be careful, if I were you,
at nights. You might have a worse accident next time.”

“I’m leaving for Igut by the coastguard steamer this afternoon,”
Basil answered.

Commissioner Furber made no reference to the incident of the previous
night when Basil called on him to see if there were any further orders,
nor did the Captain himself allude to it.

“You will go back to your post at Silang,” the Commissioner said,
“and police that district, endeavouring to obtain as much information
as possible concerning Felizardo. One thing more–remember you are
posted on the northern side of the mountains, and there you are
to remain. We want no more of these theatrical marches, ending in
massacres of deluded peasants. I have had reports from the Presidente
and other local officials, as well as from some friends in Manila,
which go to prove that Igut was never in any real danger. I might add
that the Governor-General is extremely annoyed at your conduct. You
know his constant endeavour has been to gain the confidence and
good-will of our Little Brown Brothers.”

It was one of Mr Commissioner Furber’s customs never to look a man
in the face; consequently, he missed Basil’s expression, though,
perhaps, the way in which Basil strode out of the room may have told
him something.

Mr Furber sighed. “A most dangerous, insolent Southerner,” he
murmured. “And yet, whilst he is a hero in Manila it would be unsafe
to dismiss him. I could almost wish that those men last night—-”
He broke off suddenly, conscious that he was lapsing from those strict
Methodist principles in which he had been brought up.

Mr Commissioner Gumpertz, on the other hand, had fewer religious
scruples, having been in politics much longer than his colleague. “I
wish to blazes they had knifed the swine,” he said. “He’s put a stop
to the sale of that hemp land. I can’t get any one to go out and have a
look at it now. They just shake their heads, and say, ‘Head-hunters.'”

Mr William P. Hart, to whom he spoke, expectorated carefully at a
lizard on the window-sill. “Furber will give him plenty of chances of
getting his throat cut. Furber’s a bit pious, but he don’t forget all
the same, nor does Sharler. This Vagas business has hit ’em hard;
and Mrs Sharler, Vagas’s sister you know, has a tongue. It’s not
nice for a Chief Collector of Customs to have his brother-in-law
hanged publicly. Did you hear they burned the new gallows at Calocan
last night?”

Basil heard the same news as he was going aboard the coastguard
steamer, and laughed grimly. “A bit futile, isn’t it?” he remarked
to his informant. “They had served their purpose already.”

Basil only stayed a few hours at Igut, just long enough to see
Mrs Bush, and tell her what had occurred in Manila. She shuddered
a little when she heard how he had been ordered to superintend the
executions. “How horrible!” she said; “and what an abominable insult
to you. I wonder you did not refuse.”

He shook his head. “It was meant as an insult, I know; but I was glad
to do the job.”

“Why?” She looked at him in amazement, and he thought a little
coldly. “Why, Captain Hayle? You say you were glad to be a kind
of hangman!”

“I did not mean Juan Vagas to escape,” he answered. “I had sworn he
should die, if I had to go into the prison and shoot him myself.” And
there was a look on his face which showed her he meant what he
was saying.

“But I don’t quite understand why you should have been so bitter
against him personally. What was the reason?”

Basil was staring out of the window. “I can’t explain now; perhaps I
will, some day, later on.” And with that she had to be content for the
moment, though, by dint of questioning her maid, who in turn questioned
others in the town, she got some clue to the truth a few days later,
and found much food for thought therein. She began to understand what
had kept Basil going through that terrible march from Silang.

Captain Bush came in just before Basil left. The Scout officer was
grateful for what the other had not said in his report, and expressed
his thanks with what was for him almost heartiness.

“Going to stay to-night?” he added. “We can put you up.”

“Sorry it can’t be managed,” Basil answered. “I brought my ten men
back with me, and I want to get across to Silang as soon as I can. No,
I must go.” He stared out of the window again.

Mrs Bush, watching him, understood what an effort it was costing him
to say those words, and honoured him in her heart accordingly.

“I am going to have a try at Felizardo. They are sending Vigne’s
company of Scouts round to co-operate with mine.” Bush’s voice recalled
Basil suddenly. “We are going to try and show you Constabulary how
to do things.”

Basil gripped the arm of his chair at the thought which immediately
flashed through his mind. “Bush is going up to Felizardo’s
mountains. Would Bush ever come back?” He, Basil Hayle, knew only
too well what the dangers of the expedition would be.

For an instant Basil thought of saying nothing, of letting the other
go to his fate; then he remembered that, though Bush might be a man
he loathed, Bush was also, and above all things, an officer in the
service of the United States, so he spoke very gravely. “I have been
up there, Bush, and I know what it means. Two companies of Scouts
are utterly useless for the job. You will be able to do practically
nothing, and you’ll be lucky if you don’t get cut to pieces as soon
as you are well into the jungle. It is sheer lunacy sending you up.”

Bush flushed crimson. “When I want your advice—-” he began, then
checked himself. “Thanks for the information,” he went on more quietly;
“but Scouts are not Constabulary.”

Unconsciously, perhaps, Basil glanced towards Mrs Bush. She was leaning
forward, with her chin resting on her hand, and he thought he read an
appeal in the look she gave him. He got up at once. “No,” he said,
“Scouts are not Constabulary, so you may have different luck from
what I had. I hope so.” Bush, ashamed of his outburst, muttered some
thanks, but Mrs Bush, pondering over it afterwards, was not quite
sure whether he had understood the other man’s meaning aright, for
had not Basil been up the mountains, and come back, unharmed?…

Basil Hayle found the stockade at Silang in perfect order. The five
sick men he had left in it when he made the forced march to Igut
were all well again, and back at duty. No one had interfered with
them during the days when they had formed the sole garrison; rather
otherwise, in fact, for a party of Felizardo’s men had actually come
down and made a camp a few hundred yards away, thus preventing
any possibility of attack from a wandering band of ladrones,
or from those abominable head-hunters. For the first few hours,
the five had been distinctly alarmed, then some of the outlaws
had come forward and explained matters. After that, everything had
gone very smoothly. Felizardo’s men had plenty of fresh meat, the
Constabulary had some especially choice cigarettes; consequently,
it was no difficult matter to do a deal. On the second morning,
three of the soldiers were actually guests in the outlaws’ camp,
but a return invitation was declined. The chief had given definite
orders on that point. Then, suddenly, there had come the news of the
killing at Igut–wonderful, splendid news, which had made the five
rejoice greatly one moment, and the next moment gnash their teeth with
envy of their comrades who had been in the fight. The fact that they,
themselves, must inevitably have fallen out long before the column
had reached the head of the pass was entirely forgotten. Half an
hour before the serjeant and the other men had returned, a boudjon
had sounded a mile or so away, and when, a few minutes later, one
of the five had glanced towards the outlaws’ camp, not a trace of
Felizardo’s men was to be seen. Their special mission was concluded.

From that time onwards, matters had gone very smoothly. Possibly,
the serjeant’s rule had been a little lax, but, none the less, it had
been effective, and, even if the tao of Silang had seen a good deal
of the Constabularios, more perhaps than they wanted, guards had been
mounted regularly, and every man had slept within the stockade.

The little men were unaffectedly glad to see their officer back, and
Basil, on his part, was by no means sorry to settle down again. So
much had happened since he had left Silang that the prospect of a
rest was not unwelcome, even though it entailed being practically
cut off from the outer world, which, to his mind, now meant from
Mrs Bush. Unfortunately, however, his contentment did not last very
long. Before he had been at Silang a week, he had begun to hunger for
news from the other side of the mountain range, especially for news of
the Scout expedition against Felizardo, which was due to start about
that time. Yet, though he sent messenger after messenger to his brother
officer, Lieutenant Stott, at Catarman, he learned nothing definite.




“Vigne’s Scouts haven’t turned up yet at Igut,” was all that Stott
could report, whereat Basil had raged, knowing that every day of
delay must make disaster more certain. Then suddenly a messenger had
come in from Catarman, bringing news, not only of the starting of
the expedition, but also of its return….

Mrs Bush had watched the Scouts march out dry-eyed. The parting between
her husband and herself had been unmarked even by the formality of
a hand-shake, for she had heard already of another parting which had
taken place in the lower end of the town an hour previously, and he had
divined that she knew. Still, there had been something almost wistful
in the man’s eyes, some hint of the lover which had been, and a word,
the right word, would have changed everything. She had thought,
too, that she was giving him a chance to say it when she pleaded:
“Do be careful, John, won’t you? Don’t do anything rash. Remember
how they cut Captain Hayle’s force to pieces.”

The mistake had lain in mentioning Basil, as she realised
immediately. Bush’s face had grown dark at once, and he had muttered a
curse on the Constabulary in general, and Basil Hayle in particular;
then with a curt “Good-bye” he had stalked out into the plaza, where
Lieutenant Vigne was awaiting him. Mrs Bush had kept her tears back
until they were out of sight, then she had hurried to her room,
wondering why people were allowed to be so wretched.

It was a cargadore, one of Bush’s carriers, who brought in the first
news. He arrived about noon on the following day, breathless, in rags,
with a slight bolo-cut in his shoulder. He was the sole survivor,
he declared to old Don Juan Ramirez, who cross-examined him. Was he
quite sure of that? They gave him a much-needed glass of spirits and
a cigarette, and then asked him again. Was he still sure there were
none others? No, now he came to think of it there were some left,
a little group, which, with Bush as its rear guard, was retreating
down the hillside, fighting all the way, when he himself managed to
dive into the jungle. There were many wounded too, very many, and
the other officer was dead. He, Pedro, had actually seen his head
cut off with a bolo. On that point he was certain.

Don Juan had heard enough. He sighed, put on the black silk jacket he
kept for ceremonial occasions, and went to pay one of his rare visits
to Mrs Bush, whom he admired as much as he loathed her husband. She
came down to meet him, white-faced and trembling, having seen the
cargadore arrive. “They are coming back,” Don Juan said.

She drew a deep breath. “Ah! And Captain Bush?”

Don José prided himself on his knowledge of womankind, but he could
not decide what her tone meant. “Captain Bush is bringing them back. I
hear, though, that there are many wounded. I have told them to clear
out my big warehouse to serve as a hospital. Perhaps you would honour
me by coming to see to the arrangements?”

She clutched eagerly at the chance of having something to do, and
when, just before sundown, the remnant of the column crawled in, with
half a dozen badly wounded on rough stretchers, and only fifteen
unwounded out of the forty-eight survivors, it found everything
ready. The surgeon, who had come up with Lieutenant Vigne, and had
himself escaped untouched, forgot half his weariness when he glanced
round. “Thank God!” he said. “I was afraid there might be nothing,
not even hot water. Do you think you could help me, Mrs Bush? Can
you stand the sight of it? Very well.” Then he stripped off his coat,
rolled up his sleeves, and barely said a word till midnight, when he
straightened himself up, and after that staggered a little. “That is
all, Mrs Bush. Now, could you give me a drink?”

She brought him the bottle and a glass. He poured out nearly half
a tumblerful of brandy, and drank it off like water. “You can do
that when you’ve been through Hell, Mrs Bush,” he said, noticing her
look. “I think I’ll have a sleep now,” and he rolled his jacket up
for a pillow, and put it in one of the corners.

She laid her hand on his sleeve. “But you can’t do that, doctor. You
must come to the house. I have a room ready for you.”

He bent down and kissed her hand, being overwrought. “One of those
men will certainly die before dawn, two others are just on the border
line. If I am here, I may save them. The orderlies will call me when
the crises come.”

Mrs Bush went out, returning a couple of minutes later. The doctor
was already asleep, so she took a blanket from a pile behind the
door, and covered him over very gently; then she went back to the
house to look for her husband, whom, so far, she had only seen for
a moment–just long enough to make sure that he was unwounded. But
Captain Bush was not to be found.

“He went out with the Treasurer and the Supervisor, Senora,” a very
sleepy muchacho informed her.

Like the doctor, Mrs Bush was deadly tired, and yet it was almost
dawn before she went to sleep; this was the final, the most abominable
insult of all. Next morning she took a definite step, writing a long
letter to Captain Basil Hayle, giving him an account of the expedition
as she had heard it from the doctor, in itself a perfectly harmless
letter, and yet one the sending of which amounted to a repudiation
of her husband’s right to control her. He had his friends; she would
have hers.

The story of the fight had been the story of Basil’s defeat of two
or three months previously over again; only, this time, no boudjons
had given warning; and the attack had begun with a volley poured in
at twenty yards range by riflemen hidden amongst the undergrowth. The
Scouts, winded by the long climb up the muddy hillside, had been able
to put up no effective resistance against the bolomen, who came in
under cover of the smoke. Those who did escape, leaving some seventy
of their comrades, including Lieutenant Vigne, dead in the jungle,
owed their safety to the fact that they had been able to keep together
in a bunch; but, even then, it had been a running fight all the way
back to the level ground, a fight in which Bush had showed a savage,
dogged courage, being himself the last man the whole time.

The Philippine Scouts though often, as in this case, loaned to the
Civil Government, form part of the United States Army; consequently,
it was impossible for the Commission to do as it had done in the case
of Basil Hayle’s disaster, suppress news of the whole affair. The Army
had the best of reasons for despising and detesting the politicians
at the Palace, so it was not long before all Manila was in possession
of the facts.

Mr Commissioner Furber waxed exceeding wroth, and proceeded to make
matters much worse for his colleagues and himself by attempting to
blame the Scouts.

“Felizardo has only some fifty followers in all,” he declared to a
representative of the leading mestizo paper, which reproduced his
remarks. “We have that on the best authority. It seems amazing that
the Scouts should have retreated before such a small body, leaving
so many dead behind them. The Governor-General is most perturbed
about the affair, fearing that people at home may imagine that the
culprits are some of our Little Brown Brothers, instead of being a
gang of thieves and murderers.”

During the following months, expedition after expedition was dispatched
against Felizardo, each larger and more costly than the last; yet
each came back with a story of hardship and disaster. If Felizardo
did allow it to get above the jungle on to the open mountain-side,
it was sniped at, every foot of the way, by unseen riflemen, until
its nerve was gone, and it decided to return to the cover of the bush,
where the bolomen speedily got to work on it. No trace of a permanent
camp was ever found, the enemy was never seen, save when he himself
had chosen the time and place. It was inglorious, nerve-shattering,
futile; and when the last expedition, which had consisted of some four
hundred Scouts and Constabulary, returned with twenty men short and
nearly fifty wounded, there was a very general feeling that Felizardo
should be left alone for the future.

“After all,” as the General in command of Manila said to the Governor,
“what harm does the old man do to us? I understand that, from the
first, he has only asked to be left alone. I know he hanged some of
your Brown Brothers–a good thing too. I wish he had hanged every
insurrecto. They all deserved it.”

Whereupon, the Governor, who had never been in the war, and knew
his Brown Brother only as a useful pawn in a certain political game
in the United States, grew angry, and as soon as the plain-spoken
General had gone, sent for Mr Commissioner Furber and one or two
distinguished officials who had held great positions under the
insurrecto Government, and with these he took counsel, and, after
much discussion and deliberation, there was evolved a great scheme,
which seemed certain to succeed.

“I will go out myself,” Mr Furber said, “then I shall know that no
chance of escape is being allowed to the old villain.”

The scheme, like that of the late Juan Vagas, took a little time to
prepare. “We must get some source of information from within,” the
Commissioner declared, and, with that end in view, he gave two of his
mestizo assistants a free hand to buy the help of one, or, if possible,
more of Felizardo’s men. The first pair of mestizos drew five thousand
pesos for a start, then, probably in a fit of mental aberration,
wandered aboard the Hong Kong steamer, and were seen no more in the
Philippine Islands. The second pair were more successful; in fact,
possibly because they were escorted as far as Igut, the men did their
work extremely well. Mr Furber never enquired into the means employed,
and no explanation was volunteered. Still, as the reports which came
in showed, two of the band had unquestionably turned traitors. The
Commissioner was well pleased; it was a good start.

Then, from all parts of the Islands, native troops, Scouts and
Constabulary, every man who could be spared from his district, began
to come in to Manila, until there were fully three thousand of them
ready, if not exactly eager, to start on the great rounding up of the
outlaws. Only Basil Hayle and his company seemed to have been left out.

“There is always trouble where that man goes,” the Commissioner said
to the Governor-General. “We had better let him stay at Silang. He
must be pretty weary of the place by now, and he may resign. I hope
so,” a view with which the other, who had no fondness for soldiers
and men of action, agreed.

They made a base camp at Igut, greatly to the astonishment and profit
of the people of the place. Mr Commissioner Furber stayed with the
Presidente, and was not introduced to Mrs Bush, although he had
expressed a desire to meet her.

“Tell him,” Mrs Bush said to a mutual acquaintance who mentioned the
matter to her, “tell him that if he chooses to stay in a native’s
house, he can remain with the natives. I have a prejudice in favour
of my own colour,” words which, when repeated to Mr Furber, tended
to confirm his prejudice against women from the South. He, in turn,
repeated the words to the Presidente, who thereupon made a remark
about Mrs Bush and Captain Hayle which would have caused most white
men to throw him out of the window, and would inevitably have made
Basil Hayle kill him. But Mr Commissioner Furber, being of the Brown
Brother school, listened to it all, and congratulated himself on
having got a new weapon against the Constabulary officer.

They distributed a thousand men along the northern side of the range,
and a thousand along the southern side, whilst a thousand more went up
on to the pass which you crossed going to Silang, and started to sweep
the upper heights, whilst the others closed in gradually. They were
going to drive the outlaws into that same patch of jungle where Basil
had met with defeat, at the seaward end of the range, near Katubig.

Mr Furber himself took up his quarters near the site of the latter
place, whither the Presidente of Igut accompanied him, rather
reluctantly, feeling, perhaps, that he was going rather too near
to Felizardo’s country, though he did not like to say so much to
the Commissioner.

It is one thing to order troops to sweep the heights of a mountain
range, and then yourself to go down to the coast and wait for results;
it is quite another matter for the troops themselves, especially
when none of the men happen to be mountaineers by birth. Still, the
little fellows did their best, despite the constant loss from snipers,
who never save a chance of a shot in reply; and the officers were
satisfied that none of the outlaws had slipped through the line.

The men on the northern slope met with no resistance, although,
when the roll was called, it was obvious that, somehow or other, the
head-hunters had secured twenty-four fresh trophies from stragglers;
whilst the party on the south side never even fired a shot.

On the fourth morning, they reported to Mr Furber that they must have
driven the outlaws down on to the seaward slope, and that it was
now only a case of closing in and capturing, or slaying, the whole
band. The message had hardly been delivered when another came in, this
time from one of those two traitors in Felizardo’s own camp. The band
had broken up suddenly the previous night. The outlaws, feeling the
game was hopeless, had gone, each his own way, slipping through the
cordon of troops in the darkness, singly, and leaving old Felizardo
alone with the two traitors. The three were now hiding in a small
patch of jungle, almost on the same spot where Basil had his fight,
and, if the troops closed in quickly, they would be certain to get
the old chief.

Mr Furber’s heart rejoiced, whilst a load of anxiety seemed to slip
from the shoulders of the Presidente.

“Let them close in at once,” Mr Furber said. “They must lose no time,
and when they have him, let them bring him down here, to Katubig. I
have had a set of irons brought. As for the two–the two men who
have been aiding us”–traitor is an ugly word–“see that they are
not injured in the excitement.”

The troops moved quickly. They were utterly weary of their task,
believing in their own minds that it must prove futile, but the
unexpected news passed out by the traitors put fresh heart into
them. They were going to capture the great Felizardo, after all;
and each man would be able to declare to the girls in his village
that it was he who had done the deed. They surrounded that stretch
of jungle on every side, and they drew in the cordon until the men
were almost touching one another, hand to hand; and yet there was
never a sign of life from inside the ring.

A queer nervousness ran through them all, white officers and natives
alike. Was he still there, the terrible little old man? Was he really
going to be captured at last, after nearly thirty-six years? What was
he doing now? What would he do? What—- And then Felizardo himself
answered all the questions.

A grey horse seemed to spring from nowhere, and the look on the face
of his rider was like nothing else any of them had ever seen. It was
before that look that they cowered, rather than before the revolver in
the outstretched hand. The horse went through the line as if no one
were there, though one of its hoofs cracked the skull of a serjeant
of Constabulary, who was standing, open-mouthed, in its course.

From first to last, it was a matter of seconds, twenty yards of open
jungle at the outside, and both the grey and its rider were out of
sight before the belated volley rattled harmlessly after them. They
passed the word round the cordon, and the white officers sat down and
mopped their foreheads, and wondered what Commissioner Furber would
say. Then a thought struck one of them. “Where are those two spies
of Furber’s? I wonder whether—-” He did not finish the sentence,
but took half a company and went to investigate for himself. After
a while, he found them both, hanging from the branch of a tree, with
the torn fragments of the banknotes which had been the price of their
treason scattered over the ground beneath them.

The officer exchanged glances with his serjeant. “He has done it,
single-handed,” he said in an awestruck voice.

The serjeant drew a deep breath. “It is ill work to betray Felizardo,
Senor.”

Mr Commissioner Furber and the Presidente of Igut were sitting in
the cool, nipa-thatched shack which served them as headquarters,
waiting for news of the capture of Felizardo, when one of the
half-dozen members of the Igut police, who were serving as escort,
suddenly tumbled up the little ladder into the shack, and tried to
hide himself in a corner. “There are bolomen,” he gasped. “They have
taken the others prisoners.”

The Presidente of Igut sat rigid, apparently glued to his chair,
staring through the doorway at a little man on a grey horse, who
had just ridden into the clearing, followed by a score of bolomen;
but Commissioner Furber stood up to face the danger, like a white
man should. It was, in a sense, the supreme moment of his life, and
the good blood which was in him proved stronger than the effects of
the evil training he had been given.

He had left his revolver hanging on one of the posts of the little
veranda, which was fortunate for him; otherwise, he would have started
to shoot, and they would have had to kill him.

Felizardo brought his horse right up to the foot of the little ladder,
and then he spoke. “You are the Senor Furber? Good! I am Felizardo. I
was told you wished to see me, so I have come. What is it you would
say, Senor?”

For the first time for many years, Commissioner Furber was at a loss
for words. “I … you”–he stammered a little–“you are at war with
the Government, and it is my duty to have you captured.”

The old man smiled. “But no, Senor. The Americanos make war on me,
which is very different. I am the Chief of these mountains. All I
wish is to be left alone, as I have said many times.”

Greatly to his own surprise, Mr Furber felt a keen desire to argue
the point with this outlaw and Enemy of the Sovereign People. “It is
impossible,” he said. “The whole island must be under our law.”

“There is only one law here,” the other retorted, “the Law of the
Bolo. Will you carry that word back to Manila?” Furber flushed
slightly; so his life was to be spared. “You are in my power. Your
troops cannot be here for at least an hour, time enough in which to
kill many men; but I will let you go, because, after all, I want
peace. Will you take my message to your people?” And Mr Furber
promised.

Felizardo beckoned to a couple of his men, then turned to the
Commissioner again. “There is justice to be done, though, on the
Presidente of Igut. He was in league with the band of Juan Vagas. Read
that, Senor,” and he handed a letter to the white man, who, after
having read it, looked very sternly at the trembling magistrate of
Igut. Somehow, Mr Furber’s views had changed greatly during the last
few minutes. He turned to Felizardo again. “I will deal with him,
Senor, on my honour,” he said, and for a moment there was a spark of
hope in the Presidente’s heart.

But Felizardo said: “He is my prisoner, Senor Furber. Besides, it will
save time and trouble.” Then he nodded to his two men, who dragged
the Presidente out of the shack. The shivering wretch caught hold
of Furber’s leg as he was hauled past, but the Commissioner shook
himself free, and went inside, so that he should not see what they
were going to do.

It was, as Felizardo had predicted, an hour later when the first of
the troops came back. Whilst the men were cutting down the body of
the Presidente, the officer in command hurried to the shack, where
he found the Commissioner sitting at the table with his head buried
in his hands. He looked wearily up as the other came in.

“We have lost him, after all, sir,” the officer reported.

He had expected an outburst of wrath, but instead of that the
Commissioner said, very quietly: “I know. Felizardo himself has been
here to tell me.”

Continue Reading

HOW THEY REBUILT THE GALLOWS AT CALOCAN

During the two months following Mr Gobbitt’s adventure, things
were very quiet in the neighbourhood of Felizardo’s mountains. The
old outlaw kept to his policy of trying to avoid trouble by acting
strictly on the defensive; and, as neither Captain Bush nor Captain
Hayle received orders to make an attack, during the whole of that time
not a shot was fired in anger, and Captain Bush’s Scouts grew so fat
and soft, and got so completely out of hand, that they were hardly fit
to do even one day’s work in the field–unlike Hayle’s Constabulary
at Silang, who had much less to eat and were given much more to do,
which was good, both for them and for the service.

In Manila, however, neither Commissioner Furber nor the late members
of the Provisional Government had forgotten Felizardo. The Commissioner
was smarting over the failure of his plans. The ex-insurrecto generals
and colonels had not forgiven the old chief, who, besides refusing help
at a critical juncture, had also hanged ignominiously an envoy of the
Sovereign People. Consequently, having the ear of the Commissioner,
they lost no opportunity of relating the evil deeds of Felizardo;
and when their imaginations failed them, they ascribed to him some of
their own abominable doings during the rebellion. Mr Furber believed
it all–were they not his Little Brown Brothers?–and he found an
ally in Commissioner Gumpertz, who also had reason for feeling sore
against Felizardo; but one or two of the other Commissioners shook
their heads. “What harm does the old man do?” they asked. “As it is, we
have to waste enough money on active ladrones, and a small war of this
kind would not leave much balance”–which, being interpreted, meant
“much to be divided amongst the faithful supporters of the Party.”

So Commissioner Furber had to give way, for a time at least; and
the ex-generals and colonels gnashed their teeth with rage, for,
in addition to the old scores, they had one or two new plans, the
preliminaries to a fresh insurrection, which might be nipped in the
bud if Felizardo came to hear of them, as he probably would do. So
they put their heads together, smoking many cigarettes and drinking
much spirit during secret conclaves in closely-shuttered old houses
in the Walled City–which is the name for Old Manila–and at last
they evolved a scheme which seemed to them excellent.

“It will set the Americanos against Felizardo,” they said. “Nothing
enrages them so much as to have their women carried off. Then there
will be a long and expensive war in the mountains, with the loss of
many men; and our doings will not be noticed–until we are ready.”

So they appointed a committee, including, amongst others, Senor
Guiterrez, Mr Furber’s secretary, and Senor Vagas, an assistant
collector of Customs, brother-in-law to Chief Collector Sharler,
and Senor Talibat, the judge; and, after that, they dispersed, in
great good-humour, feeling sure that, before many months had passed,
they would once more be wearing large red epaulettes and large red
sashes, and trailing huge cavalry sabres behind them.

However, you cannot arrange matters of such grave national importance
in a few days; consequently, weeks went by before anything could be
attempted in the Islands themselves. There were funds to be collected
and sent to other Brown Brothers in Hong Kong, who, after taking
as much as they thought would not be noticed–patriots are never
greedy–handed the balance to certain discreet Chinamen, wherewith
to purchase certain articles, which, packed in small and convenient
cases and crates, were presently put on board the German steamer
Bertha Helwig and dispatched to Manila.

Chief Collector Sharler was a young man with a clean-shaven face,
gold-rimmed spectacles, and ideas. It is the latter only which
are really important so far as this story is concerned. His
appearance certainly suited his theories; but had he been gross
and sensual-looking like Mr Gumpertz, or lean and wolfish like Mr
Furber, and still held those same theories, the result would have
been the same.

The Chief Collector had come out from the United States full of ardour
for the cause of the Filipino victims of Spanish tyranny. When I
said he had ideas, perhaps I was wrong; certainly, I understated
the case. He had obsessions, the chief of which was the doctrine
of Racial Equality, which may be quite harmless when practised in
a small American city, where there is no native problem, but becomes
positively and actively dangerous when preached in the Tropics. Another
obsession of his, a very strange one in the eyes of his colleagues,
was his objection to all forms of corruption, a doctrine which is
admirable everywhere, and practised in very few places.

Mr Sharler had not been in the Islands long before he showed his
faith in the first of his theories by marrying a mestiza, the sister
of Enrique Vagas, then one of the junior clerks in his office. It
cannot be said that this practical demonstration of his principles
was welcome, even to those other heads of the Civil Service who had
been the loudest in their praise of the “Little Brown Brother” policy
of the Governor-General. It made things awkward with their own wives,
they said; whilst, as for the Army, orders were given to the porters
of the Military Club that no one was to be permitted to bring Mr
Sharler into the building again as a guest. The result of all this
was that the Chief Collector went more and more into the society of
his wife’s own people, and became more and more rabid on the subject
of Racial Equality, discovering in his new relatives virtues which
they themselves, even in their wildest moments, had never imagined
they possessed–such as truthfulness, for instance.

The other white members of the Customs staff encouraged their Chief
in his obsession, and all those who had not actually got their white
wives on the spot went through forms of marriage with mestizas;
moreover, the Chief’s earnestness on this question left him less
time for translating his other theory, his objection to graft, into
practice, so for a time things went very smoothly, and bank balances
grew at a most pleasant rate. Then, one day, Enrique Vagas, having
been soundly and deservedly kicked by an irate white chief assistant,
suddenly remembered many instances of corruption, and straightway
related them to his brother-in-law and superior officer. After the
enquiry, there was a considerable number of vacancies, and what was
more natural and fitting than that Enrique Vagas, and those other
incorruptible Brown Brothers who had helped him track the offenders,
should be promoted to the posts? From that time onwards, whatever
the importers might say, matters went smoothly in the office. The
Chief Collector heard not a single rumour of graft now, save from
interested parties outside, and, so convinced was he of the integrity
and loyalty of everybody, that more than once, at the suggestion of
Vagas, he attempted to secure the withdrawal of those officious and
useless military detectives who were detailed to watch for smuggled
arms. But on that point he failed signally. “We have had some before,”
the General answered curtly. “Good-morning.”

By a curious coincidence, the Bertha Helwig happened to arrive early
on the morning of a public holiday. It was equally curious that Senor
Vagas had arranged an outing for that day. One of the large Customs
launches was to convey a party, of which the Chief Collector was
to be a member, to a charming spot some fifteen miles away, where
everybody would land and have lunch, and afterwards talk of Equality
and the Rights of the People.

When the other guests assembled on the quay, they found Senor Vagas
in the highest spirits. “Congratulate me,” he said. “My fiancée
has returned on that steamer, the Bertha Helwig. We will fetch her,
and some other friends of mine who are aboard, and take them with us.”

The Chief Collector beamed through his glasses. “It was a good idea,”
he said, and ordered the launch to go alongside the German steamer. As
they went out–the Bertha Helwig was some distance from the shore–they
passed close to the police boat, whose captain, seeing the Chief
Collector in the other craft, paid no more attention to her and her
doings, as was but natural, and very convenient for Senor Vagas,
who would have been watched had he been alone, and would have been
stopped had he headed away up the bay when he left the Bertha Helwig.

As it was, there was plenty of time to transfer all those cases
and crates, which the discreet Chinaman in Hong Kong had shipped,
from the steamer to the launch, whilst the Chief Collector was in the
little saloon, going through a series of introductions, and drinking
the beer of the Fatherland with the skipper. By the time he came on
deck again, everything had been stowed out of sight on the launch,
which then made her way to the appointed landing place. The next
transfer of those cases took place a couple of hours later, whilst
the party was lunching in a charming little banana grove, about
half a mile away. This transhipment, like the other, did not take
long. Two large dug-outs appeared from out of what was apparently an
impenetrable mangrove swamp, took the cases aboard, and in the space
of a few minutes had vanished again down the narrow passage from which
they had emerged. Later on, when their crews opened those cases and
crates in the moonlight, they unpacked a hundred small-bore rifles,
and many thousands of rounds of ammunition, a fact which goes to prove
the statement that Mr Sharler’s views were a danger to the community.

Neither Basil Hayle nor Captain Bush had any system of Intelligence
worth mentioning; and, as their official reports were the only source
of information the authorities had, it follows that the latter knew
as little, less perhaps, than they did of what was happening in that
part of the Island. True, each of the officers did his best according
to his lights–rather dim lights in the case of Captain Bush–but the
results obtained were quite out of proportion to the trouble taken,
because nineteen statements out of every twenty collected were untrue,
and the twentieth was usually valueless. Practically every native in
the district was in sympathy with the old insurrecto party, or else
was one of Felizardo’s agents; consequently, it was absurd to blame
either of the officers for not hearing of the landing of the guns,
or for not being forewarned concerning the schemes of Senor Vagas
and his fellow-patriots.

On the other hand, Felizardo heard about the guns, and sent fifty
of his best bolomen to try and borrow them; but they were just
too late, for when they reached the town of San Francisco, which
is some fifteen miles inland from Igut, the weapons were already
stored in the house of the Presidente, who was a former member of the
Provisional Government, and a cousin of the wife of Chief Collector
Sharler. Felizardo had forbidden his men to make an attack on any of
the towns, so they were compelled to leave the guns alone; but they had
a little compensation, for they came on two ex-members of the band,
who had deserted to the insurrectos, and these they hanged during
the night, on the great timber belfry in the middle of the plaza,
facing the Presidente’s house.

Felizardo paid well for information, and he usually eliminated those
who played him false; consequently, he was not long in obtaining an
insight into the plans of the patriots. Men of his, who had been with
him for years, said they had never before seen him so angry. Even
Dolores Lasara was unable to calm him down. For half a day he sat
alone, smoking innumerable cigarettes, and thinking out schemes of
revenge; then suddenly he came back to the camp, apparently calm, and
gave his orders. There were to be outposts all round San Francisco
and its neighbourhood, and a chain of boudjon-blowers to pass any
alarm back to the mountains, and another chain across the pass, up
to Basil Hayle’s stockade at Silang, where the last man was to have
a letter ready to deliver to the Constabulary officer as soon as he
heard the warning notes on the horns. Then the old chief himself,
with fifty of his best men, all of whom had rifles as well as bolos,
shifted down to the outpost nearest to Igut, and waited patiently for
the maturing of the scheme of Senor Vagas of the Customs, and Senor
Guiterrez the secretary to Mr Furber, and Senor Talibat the judge,
each of whom would probably have taken the first steamer to Hong Kong,
had he known of the plans of this Enemy of the Sovereign People.

Basil Hayle was sitting in his quarters within the stockade, reading,
when he caught the sound of a boudjon–faint, two miles away perhaps,
but perfectly distinct. He put his book down quickly, and went out on
to the platform of the stockade, where he found the Serjeant of the
guard listening intently. A minute later, another boudjon sounded,
very loud and clear, within a few hundred yards this time, evidently
answering the other.

Basil and the Serjeant exchanged glances. This was the first hint
of anything in the nature of hostilities they had received since Mr
Gobbitt’s adventure with the head-hunters.

“Pretty close, that,” the Captain said.

The serjeant nodded. “Yes, Senor. But it does not mean an attack. They
would not warn us beforehand in that way. Possibly, it means a
message. We shall see.”

A quarter of an hour later, his prediction was justified, for a
native, an ordinary tao by his dress, strolled up to the gate of the
stockade, announced that he had a letter for the Senor in command of
the Constabulario, delivered the envelope to the corporal of the guard,
then, without another word, strolled back into the bush.

The corporal lingered a few moments, until the expression on Basil’s
face told him what he wanted to know. “The cooks might hurry on the
dinner,” he said, as he got back to the little guard-house; “we shall
be going out. It was from Felizardo. I recognised the messenger. He
was in the fight on the hillside.” And, having the first information,
he set to work to borrow as many cigarettes as possible, so as to be
well supplied for the march.

Basil read the note once, rapidly; then re-read it very carefully,
and immediately made up his mind. It ran:–

“The Senor Felizardo, Chief of the Mountains, sends a greeting to
the Chief of the Constabulario. This morning a band of a hundred
men, all formerly of the foolish insurrecto army, started from
the neighbourhood of San Francisco. At dawn to-morrow morning
they will burn Igut. They wish it to be thought in Manila that
the Senor Felizardo has done this thing, so that the Government
will send an army against him, and, meanwhile, they will be able
to prepare another rebellion, unobserved.

“If the Captain of the Constabulario marches quickly, he may
take them in the rear. His stockade at Silang will be safe,
on the word of Felizardo.

“They wish to kill all at Igut, save the Senora, who is promised
to one Juan Vagas, the leader, brother to Enrique Vagas in the
Customs.”

Then followed a brief supplementary note on the way in which the
rifles had been introduced.

Basil Hayle did not hesitate. Had it been his first experience
of Felizardo, he would have feared a trap. As it was, however, no
suspicion of that kind entered his mind. All he thought about now was
to be in time, to take those insurrectos in the rear, just as they were
attacking, and himself to kill Juan Vagas. He was more like a wild
beast than a man when he thought of what Felizardo really meant–but
a dangerously quiet wild beast, one which means to kill. The Law of
the Bolo had come into his life now, fully, absolutely displacing
all other rules of conduct. There was to be no quarter this time,
as he told the serjeant, who grinned in great appreciation.

In little over twenty minutes the column had started, leaving only
five sick men in the stockade. So far as the latter was concerned,
Basil trusted to Felizardo’s word. He could not spare enough men to
defend it, so he decided, very wisely, to leave it undefended.

They wasted no time on the road, and before sundown they were across
the pass, where they found a solitary boloman seated on a large rock,
apparently awaiting them.

“I am the guide,” he said briefly. “There is a short cut. The ladrones
passed down two hours ago.”

Most men would have called Basil Hayle a rash fool when he nodded and
said: “Very well. Lead on;” but it was a question of taking risks,
or of allowing the promise to Juan Vagas to be kept.

They halted once, and once only, during the night, and then it was
at the suggestion of the guide. “We shall be in time,” he said;
“the soldiers might rest a little.”

The men threw themselves down, and smoked and chattered in undertones
about the great killing they were going to do; but Captain Basil
Hayle stalked up and down, chewing fiercely on the end of his cigar.

After a while, the guide spoke again. “We should be going now. One
thing first, though. Tell your soldiers that the ladrones all
have rifles, and are dressed in blue, like Felizardo’s men usually
are. Possibly, however, there will be bolomen dressed in white come
out of the jungle to help you. Tell your men, so that they will know.”

The little soldiers grinned, understanding who those bolomen would
be. “He, the old chief, might be there himself,” they whispered to
one another. “Who knows? We might even see him.”

Half a mile from Igut, the guide brought them back into the main
road. “They have passed already,” he said, pointing to the spoor.

They went on very cautiously then, for there was just the faintest
hint of dawn in the east, and they knew it was only a question of a
few minutes before the attack would begin; in fact, had the patriots
been bolomen, it would have begun already, but it is different when
you have rifles.

The enemy had no rear guard, partially because they had no thought
of being attacked, partially because each man was so anxious for his
share of the glory and of the loot. Consequently, Basil Hayle was
quite close behind them when they entered the plaza and slew the
sleeping Scout sentry–so close, in fact, that his men managed to
get a most telling volley into the crowd of patriots bunched in the
gateway of the barracks.

After that, it did not take very long. True, half a dozen Scouts
were killed before the rest could awaken and start shooting; but the
sudden attack from behind had paralysed the patriots, and, after the
second volley from Hayle’s little men, they broke and fled. It was
then that those bolomen in white appeared, seemingly from nowhere,
at the corners of the plaza, and got to work quietly.

Basil Hayle stood in the middle of the plaza, repeating shot-gun in
hand, wondering whether by any chance Juan Vagas had been trapped in
the barracks. He had no orders to give his men–he had given the only
one necessary immediately after the last volley–“No quarter”–and he
knew that the fight, if fight it could be called, had passed clean out
of his control. It was getting light now, and he looked round towards
the Bushes’ house–the house he had saved–and saw a white-clad figure
standing on the balcony, watching him.

Instantly, he forgot everything, even Juan Vagas, and ran across the
plaza. Mrs Bush gripped the balcony to steady herself. “You!” she
cried. “You! Thank God! What is it all? Oh, what is it?”

He told her in a few brief sentences. “I was only just in time,”
he added.

They were still killing patriots at the lower end of the plaza,
Constabulary and Felizardo’s men in white working together. She gave
one glance in that direction, then covered her face.

“Who are those in white, and the man on the grey horse?”

It was light enough now to see fairly distinctly, and Basil realised
at once who the little horseman, calmly smoking a cigarette, watching
the killing, must be.

“It is Felizardo himself,” he said; then, thinking the other was
looking, he raised his hand in salute. Instantly, the broad-brimmed
hat was swept off in reply. Captain Hayle turned round quickly;
they had seen one another now, as friends; and he must not know
officially that the outlaw was there. When he looked round again,
the killing was finished; the Constabulary were collecting together
the weapons of the fallen; and both grey horse and white-clad bolomen
had disappeared as suddenly as they had come.

“Captain Hayle, have you seen my husband?”

Basil started. “No, I never thought–Oh, there he is,” as the Scout
officer came hurrying up one of the streets, accompanied by three
more breathless white men.

Hayle went to meet them. “Mighty close shave, Captain,” he said.

Bush looked at him with wild eyes. “What is it all? What’s
happened? What are you doing here? I was in the Treasurer’s–we had
been playing cards late–when we heard the shooting, and saw the
streets full of bolomen. I suppose this is Felizardo’s doing.”

“No, it isn’t,” Basil answered curtly; he had detected the lie. “It
was the old insurrecto gang. If I had been ten minutes later they
would have wiped out Igut;” and he gave the other a brief outline of
what had occurred, omitting all mention of Felizardo.

Bush flushed. “I reckon my men would have put up a fight,” he said
ungraciously, whereupon Basil turned on his heel and left him. Already,
the serjeant had reported that, though there were five dead insurrectos
in the barracks, there were six dead Scouts, not including the sentry;
though the Constabulary had only lost one man, and Felizardo had
lost none.

Whilst Bush was going up to the barracks, Basil glanced towards
the balcony again; but Mrs Bush had disappeared. Still, he had the
knowledge that he had saved her, and, what was better still, he had
the memory of her grateful look.

Suddenly, it struck him that he was deadly weary. They had been
marching since midday the previous day, and it was now about six in
the morning, doing a forced march through jungle, without stopping to
cook food. He leaned against the timbers of the belfry and beckoned to
the serjeant, who was examining a small-bore rifle he had captured. “I
don’t see the bugler anywhere, serjeant; but get the men together,
and tell them all to pile their arms here and dismiss. They must be
hungry and tired, and the Scouts can do the rest.”

The serjeant grinned. “We have left no ‘rest’ for them to do, Senor.”

It was not very dignified to be leaning against one of the posts of
the belfry, so Basil tried to stand up erect, whilst waiting for his
men; but the sudden relaxation of the strain had left him a little
dazed, and, almost unconsciously, he sat down on the ground, with
his shot-gun across his knees and his head forward. The thought which
had kept him up so far, the memory of Mrs Bush’s look, had now been
replaced by another, which drummed through his brain with maddening
persistency–“Why had Bush himself been allowed to escape?” A stray
shot, a chance slash with a bolo, and—-

“Captain Hayle, what do you mean by this? Come into the house at
once. You must be absolutely done up after that awful march from
Silang.” Basil felt a hand laid gently on his shoulder, and scrambled
to his feet at once.

“Mrs Bush! Oh, I’m all right, really, but tired, you know.” Even
her touch had not quite cleared his mind yet, then, with an effort,
he pulled himself together. “I am waiting for my men, and I am afraid
I was almost asleep. No, I don’t think I will come in. Captain Bush
seemed a little annoyed, you know.”

Mrs Bush looked him square in the eyes. “Captain Hayle, I ask whom
I think fit into my house. You will come now. You know your men can
look after themselves. I have already sent word to Ah Lung to let
them have what they want. The Scouts can guard Igut–now.”

He followed her in without a word. First she brought him brandy
and soda water; and then she glanced at his torn and muddy uniform,
and his soaking boots, one of which was minus a heel.

“I like you in those,” she said suddenly. “They tell me–they tell
me–many things. Only, you must change. I will put some other clothes
in the spare room for you.”

When he came out again, dressed in a white suit of Captain Bush’s,
she had some breakfast ready for him, but he could not touch it for
sheer weariness; whereupon she made a couch for him on one of the
long cane sofas in the drawing-room, and then she left him. Within
a couple of minutes he was fast asleep. Mrs Bush opened the door
quietly, looked in, went on tiptoe to his side, and, stooping down,
kissed his hair lightly.

“I know you did it for me, dearest,” she murmured; then she went
out, just as her husband came into the house, accompanied by the
Treasurer and the Supervisor. They were talking loudly, and did not
appear to notice Mrs Bush until she spoke. “Please be more quiet,”
she said. “Captain Hayle is asleep in the drawing-room.”

The Treasurer and the Supervisor exchanged sheepish glances, but Bush
flushed. “I never asked him in here.” Then he was sorry he had spoken,
for her answer came, cutting like a lash: “I asked him. But for him,
none of us would be asking any one anywhere now.”

“There were the Scouts—-” her husband began, but she did not let
him finish.

“The Scouts! And where was the Scout officer, and the other white
heroes, who would have saved Igut?” She turned away scornfully and
swept upstairs.

“I say, Bush, we had better get out; we aren’t exactly welcome. The
Virginian seems to be first favourite.” The Supervisor was already
moving towards the door, when Captain Bush stopped him.

“You stay here. This is my house, and if I want to ask you in for a
drink, I will.”

But both the others declined. “We’d sooner not. She may come back. And
the spirit shop’s open now.” So, in the end, Bush had to give way;
and, instead of seeing to his wounded, and investigating the whole
affair, sat drinking himself into a sodden state, and listening to
the vile insinuations of his civilian friends. There was no gratitude
to Basil Hayle for having saved the lives of all of them, only bitter
jealousy and resentment, coupled with a little fear, at least on the
part of the civil officials, who, on the occasion of his former visit,
had heard his candid opinion concerning the lives they led.

Meanwhile, out on the plaza the serjeant and half a dozen men were
keeping guard over four prisoners. The rest of the Constabulary were
scattered. Some were still feeding in Ah Lung’s store, some were
sitting in the shade of the belfry smoking, but most had drifted away
in search of sleeping places. But the serjeant and his little guard
remained, for they had received those four prisoners from no less
a person than Felizardo himself, who had handed them over with the
words: “Tell your captain these must be hanged.” And the serjeant,
who had been in the Spanish Service, had saluted, and had taken his
prizes to the plaza, and trussed them up securely, and then had sat
down to wait until it should please his captain to reappear. He knew
who those prisoners were. One was Juan Vagas himself, whilst the
other three had been majors in the insurrecto army.

Presently there came along the Presidente and many tao, with carts
drawn by water-buffalo, and started collecting the dead. Eighty-one
they found out of the hundred who had come in–which, as the serjeant
said, was a good killing. And when that task was finished the
Presidente chanced to notice those four trussed-up prisoners beside
the belfry, and came to inspect them; but when he saw their faces he
seemed to shiver a little, and a quick glance passed between him and
Juan Vagas. Then he spoke in the voice which had so often made the
tao themselves shiver, and pay fines without asking for receipts.

“What are you doing with those men? If they are prisoners, why have
you not handed them over to me, so that I can put them in gaol? I
will send my police for them at once.”

But the serjeant cared for no Presidentes; moreover, he had seen that
glance of recognition between Juan Vagas and the official. “These
are the prisoners of the Constabulary,” he said. “They remain here
until I receive orders from my captain.”

The Presidente used unofficial language. “I will send my police for
them,” he retorted, and departed, storming.

When the serjeant saw a dozen or so ragged civil police approaching,
he nodded to his men. “Load,” he said curtly, and the police halted
forthwith.

Once more, the Presidente came forward; it was a matter of absolutely
vital importance for him to get possession of those prisoners, even if,
as was possible, they did happen to escape during the night. “Where
is your captain?” he demanded.

The serjeant pointed with his revolver towards the Bushes’ house. “In
there,” he said.

The Presidente bit his lip. He was not really anxious to meet
Basil Hayle, and he was much less anxious to meet Mrs Bush; so, as
a compromise, he went to the spirit shop to consult Captain Bush,
who did not receive him cordially.

“What have I got to do with it?” the Scout growled. “I’m a soldier,
not a forsaken police-man like Hayle. If I had taken them, I should
have shot them out of hand, to save the trouble of hanging them. Are
they friends or relatives of yours?” Usually he and the Presidente
were on very good terms, but to-day his nerves were shaken. He knew he
deserved, and might possibly get, his dismissal from the Service–that
is, if Basil Hayle told the whole truth.

He had got to go to Basil Hayle and ask his forbearance–that was the
most bitter thought of all. He was completely in the hands of this
Constabulary officer, whom, perhaps, he hated more than any other man
living. They could not blame him for not knowing that the attack was
coming, but they could, and would, blame him for not being prepared
for an attack; whilst, if they learnt that he had been one of the
last men on the scene—- He made a grimace at the thought.

It was midday when Basil awakened, wondering at first where he could
be; then, as he looked round, he remembered suddenly. A few minutes
later Mrs Bush came in. “You look better now,” she said. “You were
dreadfully tired this morning. You ought to have something to eat,
though, before you go out. One of your serjeants has been asking for
you; and I have been watching the Presidente stalking up and down in
front of the house like a maniac.”

Basil shrugged his shoulders. “They can wait,” he said. “I really am
hungry now.”




Whilst he was eating, he gave her a few more details of the night’s
adventure. “It was Felizardo who really saved you,” he said, whereat
she shook her head. “Yes, it was,” he went on. “But for him, I should
still have been at that dreary hole, Silang.”

“Was it very dreary?” she asked.

He looked away. “Of course it was. I never hated a place so much in
my life. You see—-” He broke off suddenly, and for a few minutes
there was silence; then he got up rather abruptly. “If you’ll excuse
me now, I must see what the serjeant wants.”

As he went out, the Presidente stopped him.

“May I speak to you a moment, Captain?” the official began, but Basil
cut him short.

“Yes, in a few minutes. I must see to my men first. I’ll come to your
office, if you like.”

The serjeant grinned as he saluted. “I wanted to see you about those,
Senor,” jerking his thumb in the direction of his prisoners. “I
received them from–from the Chief of the Mountains himself. He said
they must be hanged. One is Juan Vagas, and the other three are his
chief lieutenants.”

Basil drew a quick breath. Juan Vagas! So he had him, after all. He
strode over to them, and, when Juan Vagas saw the look in his face,
he knew that there would be no escape this time.

The serjeant, who was standing beside Captain Hayle, nodded with a
kind of grim satisfaction. “Doubtless they will rebuild the gallows
at Calocan now, Senor. You do not remember the old ones on which
they hanged Cinicio Dagujob and his friends many years ago, when I
first came to this island from Samar. I was only a little boy then,
but I can recall how this same Felizardo, who is now in the mountains,
fought the ladrones behind old Don José’s warehouse, and how the old
corporal of the Guardia Civil had to hurry on the hanging of those
Felizardo had wounded. Without question, these ladrones here will meet
Cinicio in purgatory, somewhere near the big fire.” Then he drew his
officer to one side and spoke very gravely. “Senor, the Presidente
has been trying to get the prisoners. I had to tell the men to load
with ball cartridge. That Vagas is a friend of the Presidente’s,
and if they got them into the gaol there would be an escape to-night.”

“I understand,” Basil nodded; he realised now that this attack on Igut
was only a part of a widespread conspiracy against American rule, and
the moment he had seen the prisoners he had decided himself to take
them into Manila, and fight the question out there. “I understand,
serjeant,” he repeated. “They are to be delivered to no one without
my orders. Where is Serjeant Reyes? Tell him to get ten men and take
the prisoners into that shed at the back of Ah Lung’s store. You and
these other men had better go and get some rest now. I will see the
Presidente myself.”

The Presidente was pacing up and down his room when Basil entered. The
Constabulary officer wasted no words. “I hear you have demanded those
prisoners, Senor. By what authority do you threaten my men?”

The official stuttered a little. “I–I represent the civil arm, Senor,
and these–these ladrones should be lodged in gaol.”

Basil laughed in a rather disconcerting fashion. “I, too, represent
the Civil Government,” he retorted; “and I am going to take those
prisoners into Manila. I have heard of escapes from Igut Gaol.” His
tone suddenly became severe, almost fierce. “Take care, Senor. Be
very careful. I am inclined to carry you along with me as a prisoner
too. Probably I shall come for you later, unless you can clear yourself
meanwhile. And now you will send to the gaol for four sets of irons,
and have them delivered, without delay, to Serjeant Reyes, in the
shed at the back of Ah Lung’s store.”

The Presidente gave the order with shivering reluctance; then Basil
seated himself at the table, in the official’s own chair. “Have you
a return of the dead found this morning? Let me see it.” But the
moment he set eyes on the document, he tore it across. “You head it
‘List of Felizardo’s brigands killed by the Town Police, the Scouts,
and the Constabulary’!” he stormed. “How dare you! You know as
well as I do that they were insurrectos, and nothing whatever to do
with Felizardo. As for your Town Police and Scouts—-” He laughed
scornfully. “And now make me out a proper return and sign it.”

When, half an hour later, Captain Hayle took his leave, he left a sad
and perspiring Presidente behind him, one who had reached the point
of wondering whether it would not be wiser, after all, to retire
to Hong Kong. In the end, however, the official decided to stay,
mainly because he knew that the next coastguard steamer, that which
was expected in during the course of the afternoon, would inevitably
have as passengers Basil Hayle and Juan Vagas.

Basil went down to Ah Lung’s store and saw his prisoners safely ironed,
then ordered from the Chinaman sufficient stores to last his men for
three days, and sufficient cigarettes for a month, and after that sent
for the old serjeant. “Serjeant,” he said, “I am going into Manila,
taking Serjeant Reyes and ten men as guard for the prisoners. You
will take command of the rest, and start at dawn for the stockade
at Silang. Ah Lung will give you supplies for the journey. Also some
cigarettes. Have the ‘Assembly’ sounded. I want to speak to the men.”

Perhaps it was not entirely by accident that they fell in opposite the
Bushes’ house, though for that the old serjeant was responsible. Mrs
Bush, sitting as usual on the balcony, behind the matting blind, could
hear every word of his short speech, a little broken when he came to
thank them for their loyal devotion of the night before, but ringing
out clearly when he expressed his conviction that, during his absence,
they would take every order the old serjeant gave as coming direct
from himself. Two months previously, when they were just raw tao from
Samar, they would have ended by breaking ranks and clustering round
him; now there was nothing more than a murmur, which swept along the
line, and was infinitely grateful both to him, and to the woman who,
unknown to him, was listening from the balcony behind.

This time, there were no Scouts clustering in the gateway of the
barracks, making disparaging remarks on “dam’ Constabulario.” They were
all inside, wondering how they would explain matters to the girls of
Igut. There was to be a fiesta, and, of course, a cock-fight on the
following day, which meant that many questions, awkward to answer,
would be asked.

As Basil dismissed his men, the expected coastguard steamer came in
sight round the point, greatly to his relief. True, she would not
go out until the morning, but, once his prisoners were aboard, he
knew they would be safe. He waited on the quay until she had come to
an anchor, then went off to her, calmly taking the Presidente’s own
boat, and explained matters to her skipper. Half an hour later the
Presidente, watching from his window, saw Juan Vagas and his comrades
marched down to the quay, bundled, none too gently, into a boat, and
taken aboard the coastguard. He drew his hand across his forehead,
and found it damp with a cold sweat. If one of those four, young
Pablo for instance, turned informer to save his own neck, how many
other necks would be in danger?

After seeing his prisoners aboard, Basil walked back slowly to the
Bushes’ house. He had to say good-bye to Mrs Bush, and, for all he
knew, it might be many months before he saw her again. At the back of
his mind there was still that haunting sense of resentment against
Fate for allowing Bush to escape. The ethical side of the question,
the morality or immorality of it, never occurred to him, as was but
natural in a district where the Law of the Bolo was the only code
which had any force. He hated the Scout officer because he knew what
sort of man he was, and he would have welcomed Bush’s death, because
he believed it would take a load of misery and humiliation off Mrs
Bush’s shoulders; but, in justice to him, it must be said that he had
never thought of gaining any personal advantage from the disappearance
of the Captain. Mrs Bush had never given him any reason to suppose
that she regarded him otherwise than as a chance acquaintance, whom
the accidents of life, as represented by the insurrectos, had raised
to the level of a friend.

Rather to his surprise, he met Bush himself at the doorway of the
house; and, even more to his surprise, the Scout officer treated him
with rather sheepish cordiality. “Come in, Hayle,” he said. “Glad you
called back before you went. I hear you sent your prisoners aboard the
coastguard. You’re a wise man. The Presidente wanted me to rescue them
for him, and I told him to go somewhere hotter…. Have a drink? My
wife will be down in a few minutes.” After he had mixed the cocktails
and finished his at a gulp, he seemed to get a fresh grip on his
own nerves. “I’m sorry if I was a bit short this morning,” he said,
“but the thing upset me, the suddenness of it; and I thought at first
that you might have sent me warning. Now, I hear that there was no
time for anything of that sort. Eighteen hours from Silang, most of
it in the darkness! It was a thundering good march.” For a moment,
the soldier in him–and he had been a soldier of no mean quality–got
the upper hand of his more recently-acquired personality. “I wish I
had had the chance, and I wish I had been in the fight.” For a space
he stared out through the window, then he faced round again. “Look
here, Hayle, what are you going to tell them in Manila about me?”

Basil flushed. It was an awkward question, one not to be answered
off-hand. Had he believed that Bush’s absence was due to anything in
the nature of cowardice he would have spared him nothing; but, so far
as that point was concerned, he had gauged the man accurately. Sober
or drunk, Bush was brave enough. And the real reason was ugly,
horribly ugly; moreover, if it came out, it would give the natives
just cause for scoffing at the white man, and, what was of infinitely
greater importance in his eyes, it would deal a deadly blow to Mrs
Bush’s pride.

“I shall report what my men did,” he said at last, “and say that
your Scouts were fully occupied with those who tried to rush the
barracks. If they ask me concerning you, I shall merely say I had
no time to speak to you until it was over. On the other hand, I want
you to make a deal. If I do that for you, you are to say nothing of
Felizardo being here.”

Captain Bush stared at him with wide-open eyes. “Felizardo! Felizardo
here! What do you mean, man?”

“Felizardo was at the lower corner of the plaza this morning. It was
he who sent word to me at Silang, his men who cut up the insurrectos
as they fled. We’ve got to thank him, and no one else, that Igut wasn’t
burned.” But Captain Hayle said nothing of Mrs Bush and the promise to
Juan Vagas. He himself was going to see to the settling of that score.

Captain Bush mopped his forehead. “Old Felizardo himself here, in
Igut!” he repeated; then a thought struck him. “Why didn’t he send
me warning?” he demanded, with sudden suspicion.

Basil looked out of the window at the Presidente, who was just crossing
the plaza. “If you had shown a sign of being prepared, the insurrectos
would have become suspicious, and would not have come in. As it was,
my fellows never entered into their calculations at all.”

The explanation satisfied Bush. “It sounds all right,” he began,
then he was cut short by the entrance of Mrs Bush.

For a while, they talked on indifferent subjects, then Basil rose to
leave. “I think I shall go aboard now,” he said–he had arranged for
his men to spend the night in the Scout barracks. “I haven’t got over
my long march yet, and the coastguard is sailing at dawn.”

Both Captain Bush and his wife accompanied their guest to the door. “We
shall see you again?” Mrs Bush asked.

Basil nodded. “Yes, I am sure to call in here on my way back; and very
possibly I shall go through to Silang this route. It is as short as the
other way, through Catarman”–a statement which was not strictly true.

Mrs Bush smiled. “So it’s only au revoir?”

“Yes, only au revoir,” he answered….

The coastguard steamer entered Manila, flying a signal for the police
launch, which presently arrived in a great hurry. Basil went aboard
her at once.

“I want to speak to you, Jimmy,” he said to the captain, who had
been one of his fellow-non-commissioned officers in the Garrison
Artillery. When they were in the little cabin, “Is there any special
news in Manila?” he demanded.

“A story about a big fight at Igut,” the other responded promptly,
“or rather a lot of stories. The first was that old Felizardo had
burned the place, massacred every one, except the Scout officer’s
wife, whom he had carried off. Now they say he was beaten, after
all. Do you know anything?”

Captain Hayle smiled. “A little. It was my fight,” then, in the
briefest terms, he outlined the story. “And now,” he added, “you
had better get ashore ahead of us, and telephone up to have these
fellows, Enrique Vagas and the others, watched right away. And tell
them to send down a strong guard for my prisoners. I don’t want to
march through the streets with every one staring at me; besides,
my little chaps are in rags. We’ll give you half an hour’s start.”

It did not take long for the news to travel round Manila. Commissioner
Furber heard it by telephone from the police, and was dumbfounded. “Do
you think it can be true?” he asked of Senor Guiterrez, his secretary,
who had gone deadly pale.

“Shall I go and find out more details? I might go down to the
coastguard, and tell Captain Hayle to come up at once,” the secretary
murmured, and, barely waiting for a reply, he hurried away, though
not in the direction of the coastguard quay. He took a carromato,
which is the local libel on a cab; but, on looking back, he saw that
another carromato was following his. He told the driver to take a
sharp turn into the Walled City, and found the other vehicle took
the same turn; then, realising that the game was up, he took a very
small revolver out of his hip-pocket, and shot himself dead.

Down at the Custom House, Senor Enrique Vagas heard the news,
and suddenly discovered that he had left some papers aboard the
Hong Kong mail steamer, which was just leaving. He slipped out of a
side entrance, of the existence of which the detective, who had just
arrived, did not know, got aboard the mail-boat unperceived, and from
that point onwards he disappears from the story. Senor Simeon Talibat,
the judge, heard the news, and merely smiled, knowing well that they
dare not indict him.

Commissioner Furber was sitting very grim and silent when Basil Hayle
was shown in. This was, without exception, the worst blow the Civil
Government had received, and in the first outburst of bitterness he
felt he would sooner that Igut had been destroyed, so that the blame
could have fallen on Felizardo, rather than have had this exposure of
the treachery of his Little Brown Brothers. Any sort of concealment was
practically impossible now, in view of the suicide of his secretary,
of which he had just heard. The whole city had heard of it too, and
had put its own construction on it. Consequently, he did not feel
kindly towards Captain Basil Hayle, and showed so by his manner. The
wonderful forced march from Silang, over the pass to Igut, the sudden,
paralysing attack, the relentless justice meted out to the insurrectos,
were, he knew, things which would appeal to the mob; but they left
him and his colleagues cold. They were contrary to the interests of
the Party–and of themselves.

The interview with Basil was a brief one. Basil himself had come
intending to say nothing of Felizardo’s intervention, feeling certain
that, by mentioning it, he would only increase the bitterness against
the old chief, and lay himself open to suspicion, which would result
in his removal from the district. He had ample proof that it was
the insurrectos who had made the attack–proofs, in the form of
certain papers found on the prisoners, which he did not mention to
the Commissioner.

“Make out a formal report, and let me have it as soon as possible,”
the Commissioner said, after Basil had given him an outline of what
had occurred.

Basil got up. “And the prisoners?” he asked.

“They will be brought to trial, of course,” the other snapped. “I
presume you have good evidence.”

“We took them red-handed,” Basil answered grimly, and prepared to
go out.

The Commissioner called him back for a parting shot. “How many did
you kill?” he asked.

“We found eighty-one dead out of a hundred.”

“It is abominable!” Mr Furber’s voice shook with indignation. “You
should have taken them prisoners. Probably, most of them were poor
misguided peasants, who thought they were serving their country. You
must have had a carnival of bloodshed. It is monstrous.”

Basil did not trouble whether the door banged behind him or no.

Half the non-official white population of Manila seemed to be out
in the street waiting for him–the captain of the coastguard steamer
had been talking freely, as had also the Constabulary soldiers–and Mr
Commissioner Furber could hear the cheers, even after he had closed the
windows of his office. When Clancy of the Manila Star, and Johnson of
the Herald, and Hurd of the Record, ran Basil to earth in his hotel,
he found that they knew as much, or more, of the story than he did–in
fact he begged them to delete certain portions relating to himself;
but one point he did ask them to emphasise–that, if successful,
the raid would have been ascribed to Felizardo.

“Where did they get the guns?” Clancy asked suddenly. “They say they
were all new small-bores.”

But Basil would not tell him. “Wait for the trial,” was all they
could get from him.

When the trial came, however, that point, and a great many others
as well, did not come out. Juan Vagas and his comrades were tried as
ordinary ladrones. No reference was made to any political conspiracy,
and the evidence was merely of a formal nature. It was a matter of
common knowledge that tremendous efforts had been made to save the
accused at any cost, on account of their family connections; but,
though the Commission would have given way gladly enough, it dare
not face the storm of indignation which would have been aroused
amongst the white population. So, in the end, Juan Vagas and the
three ex-majors were condemned to be hanged by the neck as common
highway robbers–which they were not.

Still, the subterfuge did not prevent people from talking; because
there were the suicide of Mr Furber’s secretary, and the disappearance
of Chief Collector Sharler’s brother-in-law to be explained; also
that matter of the smuggling of the rifles, and one or two other
little things. But the Commissioners were true to the Party, and to
themselves, all through. The Chief Collector continued collecting and
preaching Racial Equality; Senor Simeon Talibat continued judging,
and often sentencing, honourable men, some of whom were white; and
the only unfortunate thing was that Vagas and his friends had to be
hanged. Moreover, it had been hinted unmistakably that they must be
hanged publicly, so that all men might be sure of their death.

It was over that execution that Commissioner Furber sought to have
his revenge on Captain Basil Hayle for the trouble he had caused. “You
brought them in. They are your prisoners. You shall have the hanging of
them,” he snarled, looking to see the Virginian flush with rage. But
therein he was disappointed, not knowing of the score against Juan
Vagas.

“Where shall I have them hanged?” Basil asked calmly. “On the Luneta,
in front of the band-stand? All Manila could see there.”

Again Mr Furber snarled. “Of course not. Take them out to Calocan;
and do it very early one morning. I’ll leave it all to you, as you
seem ready enough to do the job.”

Basil Hayle looked him squarely in the face, which was a thing
the Commissioner himself never did to a man. “I would hang them,
and a dozen more, some insurrectos, some white men who are traitors
to their race, if I could,” he said very quietly. Then he went to
Calocan, and arranged for the building of a new gallows on the site
of the old one, opposite what had once been Don José Ramirez’s store,
and was now the store of Lippmann and Klosky, American citizens.

No man except Basil Hayle and the prison officials knew where the
prisoners were spending the night before the execution. As a matter of
fact, however, they were on board a large launch, which was moored a
mile from the shore, and the party of patriots, who were in ambush
on the road, with the idea of rescuing their brethren, merely got
wet and cramped as a reward for their devotion. Still, there was a
crowd of two or three hundred on the plaza, of whom at least half
were wearing bolos.

Basil’s total force consisted of his own ten men, with twenty more
Manila Constabulary under a lieutenant, and even this reinforcement
had been granted to him grudgingly.

“There are the local police,” the Commissioner had said, to which
Basil had replied in practical fashion by taking all the rifles away
from those police on the night previous to the execution. Still,
despite this precaution, matters looked dangerous when they marched
the prisoners ashore. They had roped in a space over night, and in
that space Basil posted the Constabulary, in front of the new gallows,
facing the crowd, and told them to load with ball, so that all men
might be warned; but he noticed one, at least, of the Manila men slip
in a blank cartridge, which made him feel more uneasy than ever.

“We’re in for it, properly,” he whispered to the lieutenant; then he
went to the two ex-soldiers who had volunteered to act as hangman,
the insurrectos having roasted some of their chums to death during
the war. “Be as quick as you can,” he said. “And if we haven’t time
to hang them, shoot them. I’ll take all responsibility.”

He had hardly spoken the words before he caught the flash of a bolo
being drawn in the crowd. Vagas was then at the foot of the gallows,
and Basil was by his side in a moment, pressing the muzzle of his
revolver against his head. “Go up the ladder,” he said; then he saw
another bolo being drawn, and another, and yet another. The crowd was
swaying now. “Steady! steady!” he called to his men. “If they break
the ropes or cut them, fire at once.”

Those in front, against the ropes, heard his words, and seeing the
revolver at Juan Vagas’s head, tried to draw back, knowing that
they would have been the sufferers from the one volley which the
Constabulary could have hoped to get off. But those behind, the
mass of the crowd, having no such fears, struggled and fought to get
forward, or to force the others forward. There were a hundred drawn
bolos now. A few seconds more, and the ropes would have been down,
when a boudjon brayed out with startling suddenness from the line
of bush which formed the top end of the little plaza, and, as men
looked round in astonishment, they saw what seemed to be innumerable
white-clad bolomen, jumping up out of the long grass into which they
had crawled from the jungle, whilst, in the background, was a little
old man on a grey horse.

Twice more the boudjon sounded, and then the word passed from man to
man in the crowd. “Felizardo! Felizardo himself! He has sworn they
shall be hanged, because of what they had planned to do.” Before the
third blast had died away, every bolo had been sheathed, and every
man was standing still, shivering a little.

Basil Hayle thrust his revolver into his holster again, and came back
to his place in front of his men, where he stood very still whilst
they did justice on Juan Vagas and his fellows. Then, when it was
over, for the second time in his life, he raised his hand in salute
to the little old man on the grey horse, and also for the second time
Felizardo lifted his hat. A moment later the bush had swallowed up
him and his men.

There were three reporters at the execution, and the copy they handed
in rejoiced exceedingly the hearts of their respective editors. But Mr
Commissioner Furber and Mr Commissioner Gumpertz and one or two other
Commissioners used violent language. “The scoundrel’s impertinence
must be stopped at once,” they said; whilst, in the Walled City, the
ex-generals and colonels and majors of the patriot forces gnashed their
teeth with fury, and began to evolve new schemes against Felizardo.

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