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The Law of the Bolo written by Stanley Portal Hyatt who was an English explorer, hunter, and writer. This book is one of many works by him. It has already Published in 1910. Now republish in ebook format. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book.
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The Law of the Bolo
Stanley Portal Hyatt
CHAPTER I. HOW FELIZARDO TOOK TO THE HILLS
CHAPTER II. HOW THE CORPORAL WENT BACK TO SPAIN
CHAPTER III. HOW CAPTAIN BASIL HAYLE WENT TO THE MOUNTAINS
CHAPTER IV. HOW MRS BUSH HEARD OF THE LAW OF THE BOLO
CHAPTER V. HOW MR COMMISSIONER GUMPERTZ AND MR JOSEPH GOBBITT TALKED OF HIGH FINANCE
CHAPTER VI. CONCERNING MR JOSEPH GOBBITT, CAPTAIN BASIL HAYLE, AND THE HEAD OF ALBERT DUNK
CHAPTER VII. HOW THEY REBUILT THE GALLOWS AT CALOCAN
CHAPTER VIII. HOW MR COMMISSIONER FURBER MET FELIZARDO
CHAPTER IX. HOW MR COMMISSIONER GUMPERTZ OFFERED A REWARD
CHAPTER X. HOW FELIZARDO WENT BACK TO SAN POLYCARPIO
CHAPTER XI. HOW THE BOLO OF FELIZARDO CUT A KNOT
CHAPTER XII. HOW FELIZARDO MADE PEACE
The Law of the Bolo, which runs throughout the Philippine Islands, has the crowning merit of simplicity. Unlike the codes of other countries, with their folios of verbiage, their precedents, decisions, and interpretations, their hair-splitting subtleties and refinements of phrase, their hidden dangers for the unwary and unfortunate, the Law of the Bolo, of the terrible two-foot-long knife, with which a Filipino can cleave his enemy from collar-bone to the waist, has but one clause—that the spoil shall go to the man with the longest reach. Possibly the process is crude, but, at least, it is speedy and final. Judge, jury, counsel, the Bolo takes the place of all these; and there is no appeal, at any rate in this life.
The Law of the Bolo has also the merit of antiquity. It was in force when the Spaniards annexed the Archipelago; it is in force there to-day, under the American successors of the Spaniards; and probably it will still be in force when, not only this generation, but half a dozen of its successors as well, have passed away—not because it is perfect, no law is, but because it is so admirably suited to local conditions.
Half the troubles in the Islands during the last century or so—a great many more than half, probably—have been due to the fact that white men would not recognise this elemental code. Mr. Commissioner Furber, the head of the department of Constabulary and Trade in Manila, regarded it as scandalous, as did also Mr. Dwight P. Sharler, the Chief Collector of Customs, and Mr. Joseph Gobbitt, of the British firm of Gobbitt & Dunk, Eastern merchants; but both old Felizardo, the ladrone leader, and Captain Basil Hayle of the Philippines Constabulary, understood it, and acted on that knowledge, thereby avoiding many mistakes, as this story will show ….
Felizardo was sixty years of age, a wizened little man, quiet of voice, emphatic of gesture, when the Americans displaced the Spaniards, and began to preach the doctrines of Law and Order, coupled with those of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, as defined by the Declaration of Independence. In appearance, Felizardo was not unlike a Japanese, being purely Asiatic by descent; but, so far as essential characteristics, were concerned, he was a son of the Tropics, with the qualities of his kind.
For all practical purposes, Felizardo’s history begins thirty-five years before the coming of the Americans. Up till that point in his career, he had been an ordinary tao, one of the peasantry of a village some ten miles from Manila, outwardly apathetic and inoffensive, respecting, or at least fearing, the Law as represented by the Presidente and the Guardia Civil, and earning such money as he needed—which was not much—by an occasional day’s work in his hemp-patch up on the mountain-side. For the rest, he fished when he had sufficient energy, or was sufficiently hungry so to do, or gathered cocoa-nuts in the grove which stretched for a couple of miles along the sea-shore. Then, suddenly, Dolores Lasara came into his life, and his character developed.
Dolores was the daughter of Juan Lasara, the Teniente of San Polycarpio, the next village to that in which Felizardo had been born and bred. Rumour in the village, which possibly spoke the truth, declared that Juan was connected with the local band of ladrones, and, as that body enjoyed a degree of immunity unusual even in the Philippines, there may have been grounds for the suspicion.
Juan Lasara was a mestizo, a half-caste, and Dolores herself showed strong traces of her white ancestry. Felizardo, on the other hand, was a native pure and simple, and, unlike most of his kind, prided himself on the fact.
Dolores and Felizardo first met after a fiesta, the feast of the patron saint of San Polycarpio. The girl, clad all in white, was walking in the procession round the plaza, following closely in the wake of the stout priest and the gaudily-painted image, when the man, lounging against the timbers of the crude belfry, smoking the eternal cigarette, suddenly awakened to the fact that there were other things in life besides tobacco and native spirits and game-cocks. He did not follow Dolores into the church—that would have involved abstention from several cigarettes, and would, to his mind, have served no useful purpose—but he waited outside patiently, and, when she emerged, followed her home, where he made the acquaintance of her father, whom he knew well by sight.
Juan Lasara, the Teniente of San Polycarpio, was a very able man, as his hidden store of greasy Bank of Spain notes would have told you, if you had been able to unearth them from the hiding-place up on the mountain-side; and, being able, he realised that there were latent possibilities in the rather shy young tao who was so obviously taken with Dolores; consequently, he was perfectly ready to let the girl accompany Felizardo down to the cockpit to see the fights, which, as every Filipino knows, are the most important part of a religious festival.
The Teniente saw the young people off from the veranda of his house, the only stone-built one in San Polycarpio; then he went back to his office, where presently there came to him Father Pablo, the parish priest, also a mestizo, and Cinicio Dagujob, a fierce little man, with two bolos strapped on his waist. The last-named had come in, unostentatiously, from the jungle behind the house, after the two Guardia Civil, who had been sent to attend the fiesta, had gone off to keep order at the cockpit; and even now he did not seem quite at ease, knowing that those dreaded Spanish gens d’armes were still in the village. “There might be trouble at the cockpit, and they might bring their prisoners here,” he muttered.
Juan Lasara laughed. “If there were trouble, they would only beat the causes of it with the flat of their sabres. That is their way—with the tao. It is only you and your kind that they take as prisoners, or kill.”
Cinicio’s beady eyes flashed. “And how about you and the reverend father?” he snarled.
Once more Lasara laughed. “He is the priest of San Polycarpio, and I am the Teniente. If they came—which they would not do without warning—you would be Dagujob, the ladrone chief, whom we had lured here, in order that he might be taken and hanged on the new gallows at Calocan. You understand, Cinicio?”
A sudden movement of his hand to his side showed that the robber did comprehend; then the half-drawn bolo was thrust back into its wooden sheath, contemptuously. “Bah!” its owner growled, “you dare not. I should talk, and there is room on that gallows for three of us, even when one is a fat priest. And now—what is the business we are to discuss?”
Father Pablo blew out a cloud of smoke and watched it curling upwards. “Don José Ramirez will be receiving three thousand pesos next month to pay for the new hemp land he is buying from the Friars,” he said.
Cinicio Dagujob leaned forward. “Don José, the Spanish merchant at Calocan?” he asked.
The priest nodded, whilst the Teniente added with a grin: “His place is opposite the new gallows, which they have put up for you and your kind, Cinicio.”
The ladrone ignored the last remark; this was now a purely professional matter.
“How are we to get in?” he demanded. “The house is of stone, well shuttered; and, if we tried force, the noise would bring down the Guardia Civil, who are only a quarter of a mile away.”
Father Pablo had gone to the window, and was staring out. He preferred not to listen to such discussions, which accorded ill with his calling; but the Teniente had no such scruples. “You must have some one inside, to open the door, then when Don José comes down——” He finished with a suggestive motion.
“That is easy to say,” growled the ladrone—“very easy to say; but whom can you get? Our own men are”—he shrugged his shoulders expressively—“suspected; and they might not like to be so near your gallows; whilst your people here are fools, every one—just common tao. Then a man from Manila would get in one of his own hands. It is rubbish. I know Don José Ramirez of old. He will keep his pesos safe until he hands them over to the Friars; and then, of course, one cannot rob the Church.”
Father Pablo, standing with his back to them, seemed to have missed everything else, but he heard those last words, and nodded his head, apparently in approval of the sentiment; though possibly, could the others have seen it, the smile on his face might have explained various things to them.
The Teniente of San Polycarpio did not answer at once, but lighted a fresh cigar very carefully, and got it drawing well; then, “I have the man,” he said quietly. “He came to me to-day, by chance, following my daughter, Dolores.” Father Pablo started slightly. “He is a tao, with brains. I know Don José wants a man to live in the house. If I send this young Felizardo to him, he will take him; and if I promise Felizardo that he shall marry Dolores, the door will be opened to you. I only met him to-day, but”—he laughed pleasantly—“I know men and women; and I saw how it was with those two, at once.”
There was no smile on Father Pablo’s face now, and one of his hands was gripping the window frame more tightly than a casual observer might have thought necessary; but the two other men were not watching him, being interested in the details of their plan.
It was sundown when Felizardo and Dolores came back, chattering gaily. On the road they passed the two Guardia Civil, in their gorgeous uniforms, with their clattering sabres and horse pistols in vast leather holsters. Felizardo received a friendly nod from them, being known as a decent young tao; but Father Pablo, whom they met a little further on, had no blessing to bestow, only a scowl.
“I do not like him,” the man said abruptly.
The girl shivered slightly. “Nor I. He is a priest, I know; but still——” She broke off significantly, and, for the first time in his life, Felizardo felt the instinct to kill awaken in him. Unconsciously, he became a convert to the Law of the Bolo; consciously, he decided that Father Pablo must be watched.
The Teniente of San Polycarpio was alone when the couple returned, and received Felizardo very graciously. He was interested in the young man, and asked him many questions, whilst Dolores was preparing some supper, a far more elaborate supper than usual.
“You ought to do better,” Lasara said kindly. “I see you are not like the majority; and there are careers for those who are ready to work. Look at myself”—he was a hemp-buyer—“I started to learn in a Spaniard’s store, and made all this myself. I should be a very happy man, if only I had a son. As it is, there is Dolores alone; and my ambition now is to see her married to an honourable man, a man of the people like myself, not a frothy agitator from Manila.”
Felizardo fumbled badly with the cigarette he was rolling; but before he could make any reply, his host had got up abruptly. “Come and see me again soon—the day after to-morrow, if you like. I believe I know of a post which might suit you.”
They make love quickly in the Tropics; consequently, it was not out of the natural order of things that, as he walked home through the cocoa-nut groves that night, Felizardo should feel sure both of his own feelings and of those of Dolores. Somehow, the world seemed to have grown a very different place. He had never noticed the moon quite so bright before, never realised how wonderfully beautiful was the effect of the light dancing on the waters. Then, suddenly, with a sense of shame, he remembered how he had wasted his life. He had eaten, smoked, and gambled on fighting-cocks—that was his whole record so far; but it should be different for the future. He turned into his little nipa-thatched house full of this good resolution, and awakened in the morning still of the same mind. There was a fiesta on in his own village that day, and he had saved five pesos in order to have an unusually large bet on his own favourite fighting-cock, hitherto the champion of the place; but, instead of doing so, he donned his working clothes, took his working bolo, and started off towards his hemp-patch, two miles away, up the hillside. One or two women he passed—the men rose late on fiesta-days—stared after him in astonishment; whilst a youth, who was taking a game-cock for its morning airing, hugging the over-fed bird closely in his arms, endeavoured to call him back; but Felizardo knew his own mind. That evening, just as the cock-fighting was over, he staggered down with the biggest load of hemp a man had ever brought into the village—one or two complained afterwards that he had cleaned up some of their hemp in addition to his own—took it into the Spanish hemp-buyers’ warehouse, and presently emerged with the best suit of white linen he could buy.
In after years they used to talk of the look which was on Felizardo’s face that last evening he spent in the village. They chaffed him, of course—who but a fool would clean up hemp on a fiesta-day?—but he walked past them all without appearing to notice them. He was not angry—there was no question of that; it was only that he seemed to have urgent, and very pleasant, business of his own on hand. He had become a man apart from them; and, though none could have foreseen it, he was to remain a man apart, in a very different sense.
By noon the following day, Felizardo was sitting on the broad, cool veranda of Juan Lasara’s house, talking to Dolores. There was no hurry about business, the Teniente said cheerfully. He himself was likely to be fully occupied until evening. Let the visitor stay the night, and on the morrow they would go over and interview Don José Ramirez, to whom he had already written—a proposal which suited both Dolores and Felizardo.
They talked all that afternoon and all that evening—the Teniente was wonderfully discreet in keeping out of the way—and when, on the following day, Felizardo took a reluctant farewell, they were perfectly sure they understood one another. Other people of their ages have made up their minds, temporarily at least, just as quickly, even under colder skies than those of the Philippines.
As the two men were going down to the beach—Calocan lay round a headland, a long stretch of mangrove swamp, and you had to reach it by canoe—they met Father Pablo, apparently going to the Teniente’s. The Teniente stopped a minute and spoke to the priest in a low voice, then rejoined Felizardo, whilst the Father continued on his way.
Felizardo thought of Dolores, alone in the house, with only a couple of servants working in the courtyard, thought of the fat, sensual face, the self-assertive swagger, and once more that instinct to kill, which is one of the elemental corollaries of love, came back to him, stronger than ever. For a moment he hesitated, half inclined to go back; but he had not yet felt the full strength of that instinct; and so in the end he went on, reluctantly. Juan Lasara, thinking deeply over the priest’s words—“It will be five thousand pesos now. Don José has bought a second hemp-patch from the Friars”—did not notice his hesitation, and might not have understood it in any case, having got over his days of love, or at least of the love of woman. He worshipped the peso only.
Don José, white-haired and courtly, was gravely polite to the Teniente, as a white gentleman must be to a half-caste; but he was almost cordial to Felizardo.
“I have already asked the Guardia Civil, and they speak well of you,” he said; then, as if fearing his words might seem slighting to Juan Lasara, he hastened to add: “Of course, in any case, the recommendation of Senor Lasara would suffice. Still, in these days there are so many ladrones—you see my shutters and bars? You can read and write? Yes, the good Friars taught you? Well, then it is arranged. Good!”
So Felizardo became warehouseman, and, in a humble way, junior clerk, to Don José Ramirez, to live in the house, and, if need arose, to fire at ladrones with a musket through one of the loopholes of those same shutters, an arrangement satisfactory to himself, to the Spaniard, and perhaps most of all to his patron, the Teniente of San Polycarpio. There was no mistaking the cordiality of the latter’s farewell. “Come and see us the first holiday,” he said; “I shall be pleased, and”—he smiled meaningfully—“so will Dolores.”
If there had been no woman in the case, Felizardo would not have stayed two days in the warehouse. True, on the rare occasions when he did see Don José, the old man was kindness personified; but the merchant spent his time in his private office, whilst the other clerks, all mestizos, looked on what they called “a wild tao” as a fitting subject for jests and practical jokes. But Felizardo thought of Dolores, who could only be won by his success in that warehouse; moreover, he was wiry and strong as a leopard, as the practical jokers soon learned; consequently, at the end of the first week he had not only decided to stay, but had also made a definite position for himself.
“A good boy, a very good boy,” Don José remarked to the corporal of the Guardia Civil.
The latter nodded. “Yes, but watch him. They all want watching, these Filipinos. I say it with all respect—but what has the Holy Church done for them, save teach them our secrets and make them more dangerous than ever.” He sighed heavily, and twirled his huge, dyed moustache. “Thirty years I have been out here, Don José, thirty years, and only home to Spain once, and I still look on them as savages, who will get my head in the end. I shall never see Spain again.”
Don José took him by the arm; it was Sunday, and they were standing on the veranda. “Come inside,” he said; “I have some choice wine which came in the other day, wine of Spain; and some cigars such as you could not get elsewhere, even in Spain. Come inside, corporal, and drink to the day when we both return to Spain.”
Meanwhile, Felizardo had borrowed a dug-out canoe, and paddled round the long headland to San Polycarpio. Dolores was waiting for him. “I knew you would come,” she said simply, “because Don José always closes his warehouse on Sunday.”
The implied assurance in her words made him the happiest man in the Islands; and as he sat talking to the Teniente that afternoon, he was very full of the possibilities of a commercial career, and very severe on the subject of ladrones and the injury they did to trade, which was perhaps not very pleasant hearing to his host, for after the guest had gone—this time Dolores accompanied him down to the beach—Lasara remarked to the priest: “He will not open the door of the warehouse, even if I ask him. He is a fool, after all.”
The priest shook his head. “He will open it, because he is a special fool on one point.”
“What is that?” demanded the other.
Father Pablo smiled grimly. “You will see. Leave it to me.” And with that promise the Teniente of San Polycarpio had to be content, though, knowing the priest well, he was not really uneasy in his own mind. Certainly, they would eventually share those five thousand pesos of Don José’s, and if, as was probable, Don José himself were eliminated during the process of removal, so much the better. The disappearance of a rival is never felt very keenly by a good business man.
The pesos for the purchase of the Friars’ hemp lands came on the appointed day, and Felizardo helped to carry them into the warehouse, wondering greatly at the amount, and envying the man who possessed so much wealth. He was still thinking over the matter at closing time, when a strange youth hurried up, thrust a note into his hand, and disappeared as suddenly as he had come. Felizardo read the letter slowly, and forthwith forgot all about the pesos; for Dolores was in trouble; Dolores had fled from her father’s house, fearing a forced marriage with a wealthy cousin, who had unexpectedly re-appeared after years of absence; and, what was most important of all, Dolores was coming to him for shelter and protection. At eleven o’clock that very night, she would be outside the small door at the back of the warehouse, where he must join her, and take her somewhere for safety.
Felizardo sat down on a pile of cases in the corner of the warehouse, where he smoked innumerable cigarettes, and tried to think out the situation. For a moment, he was inclined to consult Don José, then dismissed the idea as impossible. It seemed like treason to Dolores. Above everything, no one must know that she had come to him secretly, in the dead of night—no one, that is, except the person who actually gave her shelter until he could marry her openly, in the light of day. Yet who would give her shelter? Who would not talk? He racked his brains for an answer, and then it came to him—the good Sisters at the little convent on the far-side of the plaza. It was only a few moments’ walk, and when he took Dolores there, and she knocked, and told her story, and showed the letter she had written him—the first line he had ever received from her—there would be no question of her welcome or her safety. All the Tenientes in the Islands would be powerless to wrest her from the Sisters.
Felizardo waited with almost savage impatience for eleven o’clock. If she missed her way, if by any chance she were overtaken, if some one should be watching outside to see if she were coming to him! Full of the latter thought, he slipped into the warehouse again and searched for a bolo, a particularly fine and keen weapon, which, only that afternoon, one of his fellow-clerks had bought from a hill-man. Felizardo found it, strapped it round his waist, saw that it was loose in its sheath, crept cautiously to the little back door, unlocked it, taking the key so as to be able to lock it again from the outside, took down the heavy bars, opened the door cautiously—and saw a dozen figures crouching on the ground, ready to spring at him.
Then he understood. Like a flash his bolo was out, and, with his back to the door, he was facing them, shouting, “The ladrones, the ladrones!” whilst unconsciously he crumpled up, and dropped, that forged letter.
It was his first fight. An old man, telling Captain Basil Hayle of it thirty-five years later, declared that it was his greatest fight; and Felizardo had then been in hundreds. Be that as it may, the fact remains that he had killed two ladrones, and mortally wounded two more, himself receiving only a gash across the forehead, before help came, in the form of the Guardia Civil from without, and Don José and his five men from within.
Of the twelve ladrones, only four escaped, crawling away wounded. Four they killed out of hand, and four more, including Cinicio Dagujob himself, they hanged on that new gallows opposite Don José’s warehouse, as a warning to all men.
Felizardo staggered back against the wall, half-blinded by the blood from his forehead, trembling, as a man does after his first fight; then, without the slightest premeditation, he made the mistake of his life. He slipped away in the darkness, down to the beach, launched a canoe, and began frenziedly to paddle towards San Polycarpio. He had remembered Dolores and her possible peril, and forgotten all else—Don José, the Guardia Civil, the questions he would be expected to answer.
The corporal asked one of those same questions of Don José half an hour later, after the prisoners had been safely locked in the cells.
“Who gave the alarm?” he demanded.
“Felizardo,” the merchant answered. “He was fighting in the doorway when we rushed down, fighting like a dozen devils.”
The corporal frowned. “Then he must have opened the door himself. Why? Where is he now?”
Don José poured himself out another glass of wine with a rather shaky hand. He was an old man, and his nerves were upset. “Felizardo is gone, they tell me. They have searched, thinking he might be lying wounded, but they cannot find a trace anywhere.”
Once more the corporal frowned, and drummed on the table with his fingers. He was not very brilliant, and he was trying to construct a theory. At last, “Let them search again,” he said severely.
A few minutes later, one of the clerks came back with a crumpled slip of paper in his hand. “We have found this, Senor,” he said.
The corporal handed it to Don José—despite that huge, dyed moustache and his straight back, his eyes were growing old, and one does not take spectacles when one is on service. “Will you read it, Don José, read it aloud slowly?” he asked with dignity, then turned a fierce gaze on the knot of clerks gathered in the doorway, who fled hurriedly.
When the merchant had finished, the corporal brought his hand down on the table with a thump which made all the wine-glasses dance. “A love affair, as I think I said, or rather a false assignation. He has got frightened at his mistake, and gone to the hills.”
Don José sighed. “I liked him. He is a good, sensible boy, and I hope he will come back.”
The corporal shook his head. “He will never come back. Thirty years I have been here, in this service, only going home to Spain once, and I should know that they are only savages, after all. I think I have said before that the Holy Church makes a mistake in trying to tame them. Let them be brought to hear Mass every Sunday—that would be only fitting, and would doubtless save their souls, if they have any—but books and learning are not for them. When I get back to Spain I shall make a journey to Rome to tell his Holiness these things. Doubtless, he will listen to an old soldier of Spain …. No, Don José, your Felizardo will never come back here. Yet”—he sighed regretfully—“he is a fine fighter. He was the only one on our side with a bolo, and two have been killed with the bolo, and two wounded so badly that we must hurry on the hanging of them. A fine fighter—but what will you——? They are all savages at heart, as I hope to tell his Holiness one day.” He stood up abruptly, saluted, and stalked out with his hand on the hilt of his great sabre.
There was only one light showing in San Polycarpio when Felizardo beached his canoe on the shingle by the palm grove; and only one mangy dog, which relapsed into silence after the first stone, noted his arrival. On the other hand, the light was in the Teniente’s house, which made things easier for the newcomer.
Felizardo had bandaged his forehead with a strip torn off his shirt, and as soon as he came to the stream of fresh water which ran down the one long street, he bathed the blood from his face carefully. He did not want to alarm Dolores—about himself. Then, bolo in hand, he made his way to the house, clambered cautiously on to the veranda, and peered in through a tiny hole in the matting blind. He could see very little—only Dolores standing, pale and trembling, against the further wall, and the heads of Lasara and Father Pablo, who were seated at the table. But he could hear, and that was almost better than seeing.
The voices were a little thick—it had been a weary task waiting for the return of the messenger Cinicio Dagujob was to send, and the native spirit had been very strong—but the priest, at least, knew what he wanted.
“You must let her come to me as housekeeper,” he was saying. “You would like that, wouldn’t you, girl”—he turned towards Dolores—“to keep house for your parish priest? I would get rid of the other. Answer me, Juan Lasara. Will you agree, or shall I denounce you as Cinicio’s partner?” There was a snarl in his voice. “After to-night’s work there will be a hue-and-cry; and you remember the new gallows at Calocan. Answer me, you ladrone Teniente of San Polycarpio.”
But the reply did not come from Juan Lasara. With one cut of his bolo Felizardo cleared away the matting, and was in the room. Dolores gave a scream and fainted; Lasara fumbled drunkenly for his knife, and, failing to find it, seized a bottle; but the priest stood back unarmed—trembling, perhaps, but still apparently secure in the protection of his cloth.
“You dare not touch me,” he said. And for answer Felizardo slew him with a single slash of that terrible bolo. Then he dealt with Lasara, whom he maimed for life; and after that he gathered together the remains of the food and the wine—he was looking ahead even then—put out the lamp, took the insensible girl in his arms, and made his way to the jungle.
So in the one night Felizardo killed two ladrones and a priest who was worse than a ladrone, secured the hanging of two others, and then, possibly because, as the corporal said, he was a savage at heart, took Dolores Lasara with him to the hills, and became a ladrone himself.
For six months the tao of the district talked of Felizardo, the man who had slain a priest; then, as nothing more had been heard of the outlaw, and a new band of ladrones had been formed in the neighbourhood of Calocan, the centre of interest shifted, and the crime at San Polycarpio, if not forgotten, at least ceased to be discussed.
The tao knew nothing about Father Pablo’s connection with the band of the late Cinicio Dagujob—the Church had seen to that fact being suppressed—but the corporal knew, in fact he had been the first to suspect it, and he took the information across to Don José Ramirez.
“This Pablo was a mestizo,” he said. “You knew him, I suppose. No? A big scoundrel, gross and burly. I wonder why the Church will allow natives to be priests. I am sure the Holy Father cannot know. Some day, perhaps, I may have the chance of telling him, if I get back to Spain. A villain, that Pablo; but still your Felizardo was wrong to kill him. Nothing can save him now. I told you that night, even after we found how splendidly he had boloed those ladrones, that he would not come back. I was right, of course. Have I not been thirty years in these accursed Islands, and if I do not know the Filipinos, who should know them, Senor? A fine fighter, that Felizardo. Had he been in our native troops, he would have risen high. And now, because he is a savage at heart, he has become a ladrone.”
Don José sighed—there had been a romance and a tragedy in his own life, many years before, in Spain. “No, corporal. He went because he loved one woman too well to leave her to some one else.”
The corporal twisted his moustache. “Therein he was a savage, as I said before. He got one idea in his mind, and he could not forget it, not having room for two. I have loved women, Senor, and women have loved me, many of them; but as for turning highwayman, or at least outlaw, for the sake of one—pouf!” He shook his head with a great assumption of scorn.
“I see.” Don José smiled. They had been friends for many years, these two, and he knew the story of the girl in Spain whom the other had gone back to marry—and found dead; therefore, he always listened patiently to those stories of subsequent love affairs, none of which ever had the slightest foundation in fact. “I see,” he repeated. “Then you think a man should have as many wives as he can get, like a Moor or a Chino?”
“No, no”—the corporal frowned—“the Church would not allow that, only—well,” he got up rather hastily. “I was forgetting the time. I must be off. After thirty years’ service in these accursed Islands, one must not begin to neglect one’s duty, Senor.” At the door he stopped and looked back. “Think no more of your Felizardo, Don José. He will never return; and, if he did, we should have to hang him. A fine fighter, certainly—but, to kill a priest!”
“But you say the priest was also a ladrone,” the merchant objected.
The corporal shook his head. “A priest is a priest, and the Church will not forgive, or admit excuses. How can she, when she has the souls of all these savages to save? Still, if I ever get the chance of seeing the Holy Father, and explaining——” and he went out, still frowning and shaking his head.
Don José helped himself slowly to another glass of wine, and sighed. “We shall never go back to Spain, he and I. It is getting too late now, and so”—he smiled sadly—“the Holy Father will lose much useful information.”
When Felizardo slew Pablo the priest, and took to the bush, carrying Dolores Lasara in his arms, he had no definite aim, save that of gaining a temporary hiding-place; but the moment he had found this, and even whilst he was bringing the girl round with some of the wine he had taken from her father’s table—the bottle itself was sticky with her father’s blood—his mind became busy with the problem of the future.
He was an outlaw for life. He had killed a priest—had offended far beyond the offence of the ordinary ladrone, who only kills ordinary men, and tortures women and children. True, the priest was a ladrone, even worse than a ladrone, but it was the cloth, and not the man beneath it, which mattered. Felizardo faced the issue squarely. Somehow, it seemed as though he had learned many things during that night. He had taken up the bolo, and thenceforth the Law of the Bolo must be his only code. A few hours before, no one had less desire to be an outlaw than he; now, he had become an outlaw, despite himself; but he did not rail against Fate, because he was an Asiatic, and also because, after all, he had got Dolores.
Still, there was one trouble, which would be greater for her than for him. He put it to her very gently after he had told her of the end of Father Pablo.
“We cannot be married now, dear one,” he said. “No priest would do it, even though I captured him, and threatened him with death.”
She looked at him with shining eyes. “What matter? I shall have you, all the same.”
He turned away. “It is not too late for you to go back, even now. The good Sisters at the convent would take you.”
For answer, she kissed him, the first kiss she had ever given him, and they said no more of that matter.
From Felizardo’s own village, from every village for miles round in fact, you can see a great range of mountains, rugged and forbidding, beginning practically at the shore of a huge bay and running inland for many miles. The lower slopes of the range are covered with dense jungle; but when you have climbed a thousand feet or so, you leave all this behind, and find bald rock, and lava-beds, and ashes, for there are half a dozen active volcanoes there, as well as many which are merely quiescent, and hot springs, and geysers, and other dangers to life and peace of mind.
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