HOW MRS BUSH HEARD OF THE LAW OF THE BOLO

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” Hayle demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And the others?” She leaned forward anxiously.

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

“And the wounded?” she asked gently.

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

“And then?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Was he–was he as usual?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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