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.”