HOW FELIZARDO WENT BACK TO SAN POLYCARPIO

One of the results of the new policy towards Felizardo was a decision
to abandon the post at Silang, which, never of any great value,
had now become quite useless.

“You will take over the command at Calocan,” Commissioner Furber
wrote to Captain Hayle. “The officer who is there now is going
to the Island of Leyte, and you will replace him. There are good
quarters in what used to be the barracks of the Guardia Civil. You
had better march overland, as we cannot spare a coastguard steamer
at the moment.”

Basil received the news joyfully. He was utterly weary of doing
nothing, and seeing nobody, at Silang; moreover, at Calocan he would
at least be in touch with Igut, where Mrs Bush was; whilst, most
important of all, the route overland to Calocan lay through Igut. His
men also were pleased. There were stores and spirit shops at Calocan,
institutions conspicuous by their absence at Silang, whilst some of
the company, at least, had already made an impression on the local
inhabitants of the new station, when they had acted as guard during
the hanging of Juan Vagas and his fellow-insurrectos, loading with
ball cartridge to keep the swaying crowd in order. They would be
able to swagger through the streets, and attract the attention of all
the prettiest girls, especially if, as seemed likely, their captain
succeeded in getting new uniforms issued to them.

“We had better burn the stockade, Senor,” the old serjeant said, when
he was told of the forthcoming move. “If we leave it, who knows but
that some ladrone band may use it as headquarters, and then it will
be no easy task to retake it.” So they collected brushwood and grass
and piled it high against the walls, and when the last man had left,
Basil himself set fire to it, greatly to the disgust of some of the
young men of Silang village, who had already decided to make the
place into a robbers’ castle.

Up on Felizardo’s mountains they saw the smoke, and reported the
fact to the old chief, who nodded and said: “I am glad. Silang was no
place for a brave man like that. Down at Calocan, which I know well,
he may find work to do. There are insurrectos in the town itself, and
ladrones in the bush, the two working hand in hand. Possibly, he may
build up the gallows again, for the third time. Who knows? There are
many in Calocan who need hanging, even as it used to be thirty-six
years ago, when I worked in the warehouse of Don José Ramirez. The
old corporal of the Guardia Civil kept order well in those days,
and I think this young captain of the Constabulario will keep order
too. They need a strong man. There should always be a gallows at
Calocan, as I, Felizardo, have reason to know.”

Basil halted for the night at Igut, staying with Don Juan Ramirez,
but he did not have a meal in Mrs Bush’s house, nor did she ask him
to stay for one, Captain Bush himself being away at San Francisco,
higher up the valley. Still, they had a long talk, sitting out on
the balcony, where all men might see them.

“I am glad you wrote,” he said suddenly. “I wanted to do so myself
often, but, somehow, I was afraid to begin. What made you do it?”

She looked away towards Felizardo’s mountains. “I had news for you,”
she said in a low voice, “the news of what had happened up on the
mountain-side, where my husband and Lieutenant Vigne went after
the outlaws.”

For a while neither of them spoke. Then “They are the only letters
I get,” he said abruptly. “There is no one else, there never was any
one else, and there never will be.”

Mrs Bush did not look round. It was the first time he had given any
hint of his feelings, at least in words, and she dare not let him see
her face, distrusting herself. When at last she did speak it was of her
husband. “I am sorry John is away,” she said; “you might have liked
to hear his account of the great and inglorious expedition against
Felizardo…. And so you are going to Calocan. It will not be so dull
there as at Silang. You will be much nearer Manila. Calocan–was not
that where they executed those insurrectos who tried to burn this
town? Yes, I thought so. You were going to tell me one day why you
were so bitter against that man Vagas.”

Basil muttered something inaudible, and got up suddenly, whereupon
Mrs Bush, feeling she had already punished him sufficiently for
his outburst, for which she was partially responsible, made him
sit down again, and from that point onwards they avoided dangerous
subjects. Only, when he got back to Don Juan’s, the old Spaniard’s
quick eyes saw that there was something wrong, and knowing
much concerning Captain Bush, was sorry for Mrs Bush and Basil
Hayle. Still, as he said to himself, it was a good thing that the
Constabulary officer was not quartered in Igut itself, for any man
with eyes in his head could see that, perhaps unknown to himself,
Basil Hayle had become a convert to the code of the Bolo, and that,
sooner or later, he would kill Captain Bush. His very quietness was
in itself a dangerous sign; or at least old Don Juan, who knew most
things connected with such matters, looked on it in that light.

Basil saw Mrs Bush once more, early on the following morning. He had
drawn his men up in the plaza, and was about to start, when he caught
sight of her in the doorway of her house. He told the old serjeant
to march the company off down the Calocan road, then himself went
across the square to say farewell.

“Is it au revoir again?” he asked.

Mrs Bush nodded. “Of course. It is always au revoir–with you.”

“Will you send to me if anything happens? I can get over in a few
hours by boat,” he said suddenly.

Mrs Bush tried to smile. “What should happen? And yet,” her eyes
grew suspiciously soft, “you came once before, when I had not sent,
on the morning of the great fight in the plaza here, and saved us all.”

Basil flushed. “So you will send?” he persisted.

She held out her hand. “Yes, I will send–if necessary.”

Then he hurried after his men, and in due course marched them into
Calocan, where he took possession of the old barracks of the Guardia
Civil, in which the Spanish corporal had lived for many years. The
people of Calocan had hewn down and burned the new gallows, which
he had caused to be erected a few months before; and when he made
his first tour of inspection round the town, the men shambled
away, cursing under their breath, whilst some of the women shouted
“Hangman.” But Basil did not trouble, remembering who it was he had
hanged–Juan Vagas, whose share of the plunder of Igut was to have
been Mrs Bush. His men, on the other hand, did not take matters so
quietly, and there were many bruised heads and sore backs in Calocan
before an understanding was reached.

Before Basil had been at Calocan a week, the old Spanish priest died,
and there came to replace him a young American, Father Doyle. As the
latter was the only other white man in the place–unless one included,
as no sane man would do, Messrs Lippmann & Klosky, who now occupied old
Don José’s premises, opposite the site of the gallows–there presently
sprang up a great friendship between the Constabulary officer and the
padre, and, although they were of different creeds, the priest soon
learnt of the great secret, or rather the great sorrow, in the other’s
life, and, being broad-minded, sympathised with him deeply, which,
possibly, like Basil’s infatuation itself, was most wrong and improper.

Father Doyle had been in Calocan a couple of months when the chance of
his lifetime came. Probably most men, nine out of ten perhaps, have one
great chance, sooner or later; and yet it is doubtful whether one in
ten realises when that chance has come, and whether one in a hundred
profits by it to the full. Some are so amazed that they rush off to
discuss it with their friends, or stay at home and ponder over it,
until the psychological moment has passed; others are too dull, or too
heart-broken, to understand that it has come at all, having often got
beyond the stage when hope is a living thing; whilst yet others are
suddenly filled with a blind self-confidence which ruins everything.

Father Doyle’s chance came in the form of a message from Felizardo,
brought to Calocan by no less a person than old Don Juan Ramirez,
the nephew of that Don José Ramirez whose junior clerk Felizardo had
once been. Dolores Lasara was dying, and Felizardo wanted a priest–a
white priest, not a mestizo like the padre at Igut, or like Father
Pablo, whom Felizardo himself had slain in the house of the Teniente
of San Polycarpio.

Don Juan found Father Doyle in the old barracks, dining with Basil
Hayle, and delivered his message at once, adding: “I have a launch
waiting to take you as far as Katubig. A Scotchman, John Mackay,
a hemp-planter, will be waiting there to go up with us.”

Father Doyle, who had risen from his seat, looked from Don Juan to
Basil Hayle, a question in his eyes. “But this Felizardo—-” he began.

“The old chief’s word can be trusted. He will not harm you,” Basil
said, and then was sorry he had spoken, for that was not the question
at all.

“I was not thinking of that. It never occurred to me,” the priest
answered simply. “I was thinking that this man had killed a priest,
and was outside the Church.”

Don Juan, understanding the momentary confusion in the other’s mind,
laid a hand on his arm. “Dolores Lasara never killed a priest, Father,”
he said, “and it is Dolores who is dying.”

Ten minutes later the launch was on its way to Katubig. Basil went
down to the beach to see them off. He was longing to ask Don Juan
about Mrs Bush; but, somehow, he could not get the words out, and the
old Spaniard, being fully occupied with the matter in hand, forgot to
mention the Scout officer’s wife; although he had intended to tell
the Constabulary officer how, on hearing that Dolores Lasara was
at the point of death, Mrs Bush had volunteered herself to go up to
the mountains and nurse her, knowing, as she did, of the great love
there had been between Felizardo and the daughter of the Teniente
of San Polycarpio. But if Don Juan did not tell Basil Hayle then,
he told Felizardo himself later, and the old chief did not forget,
as he proved afterwards.

At Katubig, which was now being rebuilt, they found John Mackay,
who had been Mr Joseph Gobbitt’s companion in the adventure of the
head-hunters. Also, they found half a dozen of Felizardo’s men and
three horses.




“It is not far,” the leader of the outlaws said. “If the Reverend
Father and the other Senors do not mind travelling in the dark, we
shall be there in two hours. The road is easy enough for horses–when
one knows it.”

So they rode into the darkness, up the mountain-side by an easy
trail, the existence of which no man would have suspected, and at
last they came to Felizardo’s own dwelling, a large cave with an
entrance screened by great boulders. Inside, a number of rooms were
partitioned off, and in the largest of these Dolores Lasara lay dying.

Felizardo himself met them outside, looking as an old man does look
when the greatest sorrow of his life is coming upon him; but his
eyes brightened when he saw the priest. “I thank you, my friends,”
he said to Don Juan and John Mackay. Then he saluted the priest. “You
are an American, Father?” he asked.

Father Doyle nodded. “I am an American, yes; but first I am a priest
of the Holy Church.”

“I am glad”–the old man spoke almost dreamily–“I am glad, because
the Americans are a strong people, who will rule these Islands well
in the end, when they have learnt—-” Then suddenly he pulled himself
together. “I have sent for you to marry me, Father,” he said.

Don Juan and John Mackay exchanged looks of utter surprise; but the
priest kept his composure.

“How can I?” he said. “You are at war with the Holy Church. How can
I give you absolution after you have killed a priest?” His voice was
very low, and full of pity and a bitter sorrow.

Felizardo’s tone also was low when he answered: “I will confess,
Father, and when you have heard all you will give me absolution. I
swore, when I slew Father Pablo, that I would never have aught to
do with priests again; but now it is for the sake of Dolores, and
that alters everything.” For the first time since he had taken to the
hills, Felizardo’s voice broke a little; then, after a pause, he went
on proudly, almost defiantly: “But first I will ask some questions
of these Senors, who, as you know, would not lie, even though I,
Felizardo the outlaw, might do so.”

Father Doyle sat down on one of the boulders, and rested his chin
on his hand. He, at least, was amongst those who know when a great
chance has come, and he listened with almost breathless anxiety for
the questions and the answers. He was a judge of men, as a priest
should be, and he realised that, as Felizardo had said, neither the
Scotchman nor the Spaniard would lie. Curiously enough, the fact
that they were in the outlaw’s own camp, with probably hundreds of
bolomen within call, struck none of them. They never gave a thought
to the idea of treachery on the part of Felizardo.

“What happened in Calocan, Senor, the night I left there? You were
young then, very young, but perhaps you remember.” Felizardo looked
at Don Juan as he spoke, and the old Spaniard in turn looked towards
the priest when he replied.

“You fought the ladrones, Cinicio Dagujob’s band, fought them
single-handed, and saved the life and the money of my uncle, Don
José Ramirez.”

“And when I slew Father Pablo, the priest of San Polycarpio, whom did I
slay also?” There was a note of fierceness in the old man’s voice now.

The answer came at once, spoken slowly and deliberately, so that each
word should tell. “You slew a man who, besides being a priest, was
also one of the leaders of the band of Cinicio Dagujob, the ladrone,
who sought to put shame on Dolores Lasara.”

“And since I have been on the hills have I ever harmed the tao? Even
in the first years did I not only levy tribute on those who were
oppressing the people?”

Don Juan nodded. “That is so;” and John Mackay nodded too.

Father Doyle rose. “It is enough,” he said; and he went into the cave
with Felizardo, and, having heard his confession, gave him absolution,
being a man who, having no other interest in life save the service
of his Master, was not afraid of what other men might say concerning
him. So, at last, after thirty-six years, Dolores Lasara was married
to Felizardo by Father Doyle, the American priest, in the presence of
old Don Juan Ramirez the Spaniard, and John Mackay the Scotchman. Then
the two latter went outside, and sat by a fire in the open, and waited
for dawn, when Father Doyle came out and told them that the gentle,
faithful soul of the wife of Felizardo had gone to its own place.

Presently Felizardo came out also, looking a very old man for
his years, and saw to their wants with a grave courtesy, making no
mention of his loss until he had arranged everything for them; then,
“I shall bury my wife at San Polycarpio, where she was born,” he said
very quietly.

Don Juan gave an exclamation of surprise, foreseeing the difficulties,
but Father Doyle nodded sympathetically, whilst John Mackay rose
from his seat at once. “Then I had better see Basil Hayle,” he
said. “Calocan is but a mile or two by water from San Polycarpio.”

“And how about the Scouts at Igut?” Don Juan’s voice was full
of anxiety. “If they heard and made an attack, what would happen
then? Why not tell Captain Bush also?”

Felizardo shook his head. “They will not hear. We shall pass Igut in
the night; and even if they did attack–well, there will be bolomen,
though I want peace above all things, if only for this journey. You
say, ‘Tell Captain Bush,’ Senor. No, he is not like the Captain of
the Constabulary. He could not understand, treating his own wife as
he does. I know, Senor, even about that.”

So no word went down to Igut concerning the death of Dolores and
Felizardo’s intention of burying her in her own birthplace, San
Polycarpio; but John Mackay hastened to Calocan, and saw Basil Hayle,
to whom he told the whole matter.

Basil stroked his moustache thoughtfully. “I shall be there myself,”
he said at last, “and I will take those of my men who escaped from the
fight on the hillside, when Felizardo cut my company to pieces. They
will go, not as guard to me, but as a guard of honour to the body of
Felizardo’s wife.”

John Mackay looked at him curiously. Somehow, he had never suspected
Captain Hayle of being sentimental, but at that time he had heard
nothing concerning the friendship between Mrs Bush and his host;
otherwise, he would have known that any man who honoured his own wife
was Basil Hayle’s friend, just as Captain Bush was his enemy.

It was late in the afternoon when they started down the mountain-side
with the body of Dolores, and it was already dark when they skirted
round Igut town. There were nearly a hundred bolomen in the procession
when it left the mountains, and ten more joined it from Katubig,
and twenty from Igut itself, greatly to the surprise of old Don Juan,
who recognised two of his own warehousemen amongst them. The Spaniard
was going through to San Polycarpio, because Felizardo was an old
acquaintance, almost an old friend, because Felizardo and Dolores
Lasara had, somehow, always been in the background of his life,
and because now he felt that a definite factor had gone out of his
life. He sighed heavily as he thought of it. Like Felizardo, he was
growing old. It was time he went back to Spain. He had one advantage
over the outlaw, he told himself, in that he had no wife whose death
would make the rest of his existence a mere waiting for death, in the
hope of reunion. Then suddenly it struck him that, after all, Felizardo
was more fortunate, for he had a child, whilst Don Juan Ramirez of Igut
was the last of the family. All those things the Spaniard thought of,
as he rode by Father Doyle’s side through the long night.

Father Doyle went with the procession because it was his duty. It
was therefore a matter of total indifference to him whether or no
the Government learnt of his action and showed its annoyance. He was
not responsible to the Philippine Commission for what he did in his
capacity as priest. He owed allegiance to a very different Power. As
for his actions of the previous night, his mind was at rest on that
point. He had acted according to his own conscience, and he told
himself with a sigh that if he could have given absolution to the
Commissioners themselves with as little hesitation as he had given
it to Felizardo the outlaw, it would have been a good augury for the
future of the Islands.

It was three o’clock in the morning when they reached San
Polycarpio. Felizardo drew a deep breath, possibly to choke back a
sob, as he looked round in the moonlight. He had not been there for
thirty-six years, not since he had fled to the bush, carrying Dolores
Lasara in his arms, after having slain Father Pablo, the parish
priest and ladrone. It still looked the same. It had been just such
another moonlight night on that occasion. There seemed to be no new
buildings; no more bush had been cleared. The village was sleeping
as it had slept that night, whilst he was doing the deed which was
to make him an outlaw. Nothing had changed in San Polycarpio–only
he was an old man, and Dolores his wife was dead. That was all.

They had brought spades and pickaxes to dig a grave, but when they
arrived at the burial-ground, lo, there was one ready, on a rise,
under a big tree, with its foot towards Felizardo’s own mountains,
behind which the sun would rise.

A tall man and a short, stout priest were standing near the grave,
whilst in the background were some fifteen native soldiers, who
saluted as the body went by.

Felizardo dismounted and came forward. The priest began to tremble,
having heard of what had happened to a certain predecessor of his when
Felizardo was last in San Polycarpio; but Basil Hayle held out his
hand, and he and the outlaw actually met at last, yet, even now, there
was no word spoken, though they walked side by side to the church.

Then Basil fell behind and whispered to Father Doyle: “I made the
parish priest come out–he was half-dead with fear–because I was
not sure if you would be here.”

Father Doyle nodded. “It was his duty in any case. This is his parish,
not mine.”

So they buried Dolores, the wife of Felizardo, in the graveyard of San
Polycarpio, with her face towards the mountains where her womanhood had
been passed. Dawn was just breaking when they had finished, and then
they all drew back, and left the old chief kneeling beside the grave,
where he remained until the first ray of sunlight came from behind the
mountains and struck the newly-turned earth, when he got up and came
towards them, and they saw that there was a look of peace on his face.

Then he shook hands with Father Doyle and with Don Juan and with
Basil Hayle, and disappeared with his men into the bush, taking a
circuitous route back to the mountains, which was fortunate, for
Captain Bush, having heard a rumour of his going to San Polycarpio,
and being still sore over his own defeat, had arranged an ambush for
him, of which Felizardo heard in due course, and did not forget.