Adventures in the Philippine Islands.
Translated from the French of
Paul P. de la Gironiere,
Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour.
Revised and extended by the author, Expressly for this edition.
London: Charles H. Clarke, 13, Paternoster Row.
On hearing a recital of some adventures which had occurred to me during my long voyages, many of my friends have frequently begged of me to publish a narrative of them, which might perhaps be interesting.
"Nothing can be more easy for you," they said, "as you have always kept a journal since your departure from France."
I hesitated, however, to follow their advice, or to yield to their wishes, when I was one day surprised to see my name in one of the feuilletons in the "Constitutionnel."
M. Alexandre Dumas was publishing, under the title of "The Thousand-and-One Phantoms," a romance, one of the principal personages of which, in a voyage to the Philippine Islands, must have known me when I was residing at Jala-Jala, in the colony that I founded there.
It must be evident that the lively romancist has ranked me in the category of his Thousand-and-One Phantoms; but, to prove to the public that I am really in existence, I have resolved to take up the pen, under an impression, that facts of the most scrupulous veracity, and which can be attested by some hundreds of persons, might possess some interest, and be read without ennui, by those especially who are desirous of learning the customs of the savage tribes amongst whom I have resided.
A Family Sketch—My Youthful Days—I Study for the Medical Profession—Obtain a Naval Surgeon's Diploma—Early Voyages—Sail for Manilla in the Cultivateur—Adventurous Habits—Cholera and Massacre at Manilla and Cavite—Captain Drouant's Rescue—Personal Dangers and Timely Escapes—How Business may make Friends of one's Enemies—An Unprincipled Captain—Tranquility restored at Manila—Pleasures of the Chase—The Cultivateur sails without me—First Embarrassments.
My father was born at Nantes, and held the rank of captain in the regiment of Auvergne. The Revolution caused him the loss of his commission and his fortune, and left him, as sole remaining resource, a little property called La Planche, belonging to my mother, and situated about two leagues from Nantes, in the parish of Vertoux.
At the commencement of the Empire he wished to enter the service again; but at that period his name was an obstacle, and he failed in every attempt to obtain even the rank of lieutenant. With scarcely the means of existence, he retired to La Planche with his family. There he lived for some years, suffering the grief and the many annoyances caused by the sudden change from opulence to want, and by the impossibility of supplying all the requirements of his numerous family. A short illness terminated his distressed existence, and his mortal remains were deposited in the cemetery of Vertoux. My mother, a pattern of courage and devotedness, remained a widow, with six children, two girls and four boys; she continued to reside in the country, imparting to us the first elements of instruction.
The free life of the fields, and the athletic exercises to which my elder brothers and I accustomed ourselves, tended to make me hardy, and rendered me capable of enduring every kind of fatigue and privation. This country life, with its liberty, and I may well say its happiness, passed too quickly away; and the period soon came when my education compelled me to pursue my daily studies in a school at Nantes. I had four leagues to walk, but I trudged the distance light-heartedly, and at night, when I returned home, I ever found awaiting me the kind solicitude of our dear mother, and the attentive cares of two sisters whom I tenderly loved.
It was decided that I should enter the medical profession. I studied several years at the Hotel-Dieu of Nantes, and I passed my examination for naval surgeon at an age when many a young man is shut up within the four walls of a college, still prosecuting his studies.
It would be difficult to form any idea of my joy when I saw myself in possession of my surgeon's diploma. Thenceforward I regarded myself as an important being, about to take my place among reasonable and industrious men; and what perhaps rendered me still more joyous was, that I could earn my own livelihood, and contribute to the comfort of my mother and my sisters.
I was also seized with a strong desire to travel abroad, and make myself acquainted with foreign countries.
Twenty-four hours after my nomination as surgeon I went and offered my services to a ship-owner who was about freighting a vessel to the East Indies. We were not long in arranging terms, and, at forty francs per month, I engaged myself for the voyage.
Within twelve months afterwards I returned home. Who can depict the sweet emotions which, as a young man, I felt on again beholding my native land? I stayed a month on shore, surrounded by the affectionate attentions of my mother and sisters. Despite their assiduities I was seized with ennui. I made a second and a third voyage; then, after having rounded the Cape of Good Hope half-a-dozen times, I undertook one which separated me from my country during twenty years.
On the 9th October, 1819, I embarked on board the Cultivateur, an old half-rotten three-masted vessel, commanded by an equally old captain, who, long ashore, had given up navigating for many years. An old captain with an old ship! Such were the conditions in which I undertook this voyage. I ought, however, to add, that I obtained an increase of pay.
We touched at Bourbon; we ran along the entire coast of Sumatra, a part of Java, the isles of Sonde, and that of Banca; and at last, towards the end of May, eight months after our departure from Nantes, we arrived in the magnificent bay of Manilla.
The Cultivateur anchored near the little town of Cavite. I obtained leave to reside on shore, and took lodgings in Cavite, which is situate about five or six leagues from Manilla.
To make up for my long inactivity on board ship, I eagerly engaged in my favourite exercises, exploring the country in all directions with my gun upon my shoulder. Taking for a guide the first Indian whom I met, I made long excursions, less occupied in shooting than in admiring the magnificent scenery. I knew a little Spanish, and soon acquired a few Tagaloc words. Whether it was for excitement's sake, or from a vague desire of braving danger, I know not, but I was particularly fond of wandering in remote places, said to be frequented by robbers. With these I occasionally fell in, but the sight of my gun kept them in check. I may say, with truth, that at that period of my life I had so little sense of danger, that I was always ready to put myself forward when there was an enemy to fight or a peril to be encountered.
I had only resided a short time at Cavite when that terrible scourge, the cholera, broke out at Manilla, in September, 1820, and quickly ravaged the whole island. Within a few days of its first appearance the epidemic spread rapidly; the Indians succumbed by thousands; at all hours of the day and of the night the streets were crowded with the dead-carts. Next to the fright occasioned by the epidemic, quickly succeeded rage and despair. The Indians said, one to another, that the strangers poisoned the rivers and the fountains, in order to destroy the native population and possess themselves of the Philippines.
On the 9th October, 1820, the anniversary of my departure from France, a dreadful massacre commenced at Manilla and at Cavite. Poor Dibard, the captain of the Cultivateur, was one of the first victims. Almost all the French who resided at Manilla were slain, and their houses pillaged and destroyed. The carnage only ceased when there were no longer any victims. One eye-witness escaped this butchery, namely, M. Gautrin, a captain of the merchant service, who, at the moment I am writing, happens to be residing in Paris. He saved his life by his courage and his muscular strength. After seeing one of his friends mercilessly cut to pieces, he precipitated himself into the midst of the assassins, with no other means of defence than his fists. He succeeded in fighting his way through the crowd, but shortly afterwards fell exhausted, having received three sabre-cuts upon his head, and a lance-thrust in his body. Fortunately, some soldiers happened to pass by at the time, who picked him up and carried him to a guard-house, where his wounds were quickly attended to.
I myself was dodged about Cavite, but I contrived to escape, and to reach a pirogue, into which I jumped, and took refuge on board the Cultivateur. I had scarcely been there ten minutes when I was requested to attend the mate of an American vessel, who had just been stabbed on board his ship by some custom-house guards. When I had finished dressing the wound, several officers, belonging to the different French vessels lying in the bay, acquainted me that one of their brethren, Captain Drouant, of Marseilles, was still ashore, and that there might yet be time to save him. There was not a moment to lose; night was approaching, and it was necessary to profit by the last half-hour of daylight. I set off in a cutter, and, on nearing the land, I directed my men to keep the boat afloat, in order to prevent a surprise on the part of the Indians, but yet to hug the shore sufficiently close to land promptly, in case the captain or myself signaled them. I then quickly set about searching for Drouant.
On reaching a small square, called Puerta Baga, I observed a group of three or four hundred Indians. I had a presentiment that it was in that direction I ought to prosecute my search. I approached, and beheld the unfortunate Drouant, pale as a corpse. A furious Indian was on the point of plunging his kreese into his breast. I threw myself between the captain and the poignard, violently pushing on either side the murderer and his victim, so as to separate them. "Run!" I cried in French; "a boat awaits you." So great was the stupefaction of the Indians that the captain escaped unpursued.
It was now time for me to get out of the dangerous situation in which I was involved. Four hundred Indians surrounded me; the only way of dealing with them was by audacity. I said in Tagaloc to the Indian who had attempted to stab the captain: "You are a scoundrel." The Indian sprang towards me; he raised his arm: I struck him on the head with a cane which I held in my hand; he waited in astonishment for a moment, and then returned towards his companions to excite them. Daggers were drawn on every side; the crowd formed a circle around me, which gradually concentrated. Mysterious influence of the white man over his coloured brother! Of all these four hundred Indians, not one dared attack me the first; they all wished to strike together. Suddenly a native soldier, armed with a musket, broke through the crowd; he struck down my adversary, took away his dagger, and holding his musket by the bayonet end, he swung it round and round his head, thus enlarging the circle at first, and then dispersing a portion of my enemies. "Fly, sir!" said my liberator; "now that I am here, no one will touch a hair of your head." In fact the crowd divided, and left me a free passage. I was saved, without knowing by whom, or for what reason, until the native soldier called after me: "You attended my wife who was sick, and you never asked payment of me. I now settle my debt."
As Captain Drouant had doubtless gone off in the cutter, it was impossible for me to return on board the Cultivateur. I directed my steps towards my lodgings, creeping along the walls, and taking advantage of the obscurity, when, on turning the corner of a street, I fell into the midst of a band of dockyard workmen, armed with axes, and about to proceed to the attack of the French vessels then in harbour. Here again I owed my preservation to an acquaintance, to whom I had rendered some service in the practice of my profession. A Metis, or half-breed, who had quickly pushed me into the entry of a house, and covered me with his body, said: "Stir not, Doctor Pablo!"  When the crowd had dispersed, my protector advised me to conceal myself, and, above all, not to go on board; he then started off to rejoin his comrades. But all was not yet over. I had scarcely entered my lodgings when I heard a knocking at the door.
"Doctor Pablo," said a voice, which was not unknown to me.
I opened, and I saw, as pale as death, a Chinese, who kept a tea-store on the ground-floor of the same house.
"What's the matter, Yang-Po?"
"Save yourself, Doctor!"
"Because the Indians will attack you this very night; they have decided upon it!"
"Is it not your apprehension on account of your shop, Yang-Po?"
"Oh, no! do not treat this matter lightly. If you remain here you are doomed; you have struck an Indian, and his friends cry aloud for vengeance."
The fears of Yang-Po were, I saw, too well-founded; but what could I do? To shut my door and await was the safest plan.
"Thank you," said I to the Chinese; "thank you for your kind advice, but I shall remain here."
"Remain here, Signor Doctor! Can you think of so doing?"
"Now, Yang-Po, a service: go and say to these Indians that I have, at their service, a brace of pistols and a double-barreled gun, which I know how to use."
The Chinese departed sighing deeply, from a notion that the attack upon the Doctor might end in the pillage of his wares. I barricaded my door with the furniture of the room; I then loaded my weapons, and put out the lights.
It was now eight o'clock in the evening. The least noise made me think that the moment had arrived when Providence alone could save me. I was so fatigued that, despite the anxiety natural to my position, I had frequently to struggle against an inclination to sleep. Towards eleven o'clock some one knocked at my door. I seized my pistols, and listened attentively. At a second summons, I approached the door on tip-toe.
"Who's there?" I demanded.
A voice replied to me: "We come to save you. Lose not an instant. Get out on the roof, and climb over to the other side, where we will await you, in the street of the Campanario." Then two or three persons descended the stairs rapidly. I had recognised the voice of a Metis, whose good feelings on my behalf were beyond doubt. There was now no time to be lost, for at the moment I got out of a window which served to light the staircase, and led on to the roof, the Indians had arrived in front of the house, and in a few minutes were breaking and plundering the little I possessed. I quickly traversed the roof, and descended into the street of the Campanario, where my new preservers awaited me. They conducted me to their dwelling: there, a profound sleep caused me quickly to forget the dangers I had passed through.
The following day my friends prepared a small pirogue to convey me on board the Cultivateur, where, apparently, I should be in greater security than on shore. I was about to embark when one of my preservers handed me a letter which he had just received. It was addressed to me, and bore the signatures of all the captains whose vessels were lying in the harbour, and it informed me that, seeing themselves exposed every moment to an attack by the Indians, they were decided to raise anchor and seek a wider offing; but that two among them, Drouant and Perroux, had been compelled to leave on shore a portion of their possessions, and all their sails and fresh water. They entreated me to lend them my assistance, and had arranged that a skiff should be placed at my command. I communicated this letter to my friends, and declared that I would not return on board without endeavouring to satisfy the wishes of my countrymen; it was a question of saving the lives of the crews of two vessels, and hesitation was impossible. They used every effort to shake my resolution. "If you show yourself in any part of the town," said they, "you are lost; even supposing the Indians were not to kill you, they would not fail to steal every object intrusted to them." I remained immovable, and pointed out to them that it was a question of honour and humanity. "Go alone, then!" exclaimed that Metis who had contributed the most to my escape; "not one of us will follow you; we would not have it said that we assisted in your destruction."
I thanked my friends, and, after shaking hands with them, passed on through the streets of Cavite, my pistols in my belt, and my thoughts occupied as to the best means of extricating myself from my perilous position. However, I already knew sufficient of the Indian character to be aware that boldness would conciliate, rather than enrage them. I went towards the same landing-place where once before I had escaped a great danger. The shore was covered with Indians, watching the ships at anchor. As I advanced, all turned their looks upon me; but, as I had foreseen, the countenances of these men, whose feelings had become calmed during the night that had intervened, expressed more astonishment than anger.
"Will you earn money?" I cried. "To those who work with me I will give a dollar at the end of the day."
A moment's silence followed this proposition; then one of them said: "You do not fear us!"
"Judge if I am alarmed," I replied, showing him my pistols; "with these I could take two lives for one—the advantage is on my side."
My words had a magical effect, and my questioner replied:
"Put up your weapons; you have a brave heart, and deserve to be safe amongst us. Speak! what do you require? We will follow you." I saw these men, who but yesterday would have killed me, now willing to bear me in triumph. I then explained to them that I wished to take some articles which had been left on shore to my comrades, and to those who assisted me in this object I would give the promised recompense. I told the one who had addressed me to select two hundred men, nearly double the number necessary; during the time he made up his party I signaled a skiff to approach the shore, and wrote a few words in pencil, in order that the boats from the French vessels might be in readiness to receive the stores as soon as they were brought to the water's edge. I then marched at the head of my Indian troop of two hundred men, and by their aid the sails, provisions, biscuits, and wines, were soon on board the boats. That which most embarrassed me was the transport of a large sum of money belonging to Captain Drouant. If the Indians had conceived the least suspicion of this wealth, they would no longer have kept faith with me. I therefore determined to fill my own pockets with the gold, and to traverse the distance between the house and the boats as many times as was necessary to embark it. There, concealed by the sailors, I deposited piece after piece as quietly as possible. In carrying the sails belonging to Captain Perroux, a circumstance occurred which might have been fatal to me. A few days before the massacre, a French sailor, who was working as sail maker, had died of the cholera. His alarmed companions wrapped the body in a sail, and then hurried on board their ships. My Indians now discovered the corpse, which was already in a state of putrefaction. Terrified at first, their terror soon changed to fury; for an instant I feared they would fall upon me.
"Your friends," they cried, "have left this body here purposely, that it might poison the air and increase the violence of the epidemic."
"What! you are afraid of a poor devil dead of the cholera!" I said to them, affecting to be as tranquil as possible; "never fear, I will soon rid you of him;" and, despite the aversion I felt, I covered the body with a small sail, and carried it down to the beach. There I made a rude grave, in which I placed it; and two pieces of wood, in the shape of a cross, for some days indicated the spot where lay the unhappy one, who probably had no prayers save mine.
It had been a busy and agitating day, but towards the evening I finished my task, and everything was embarked. I paid the Indians, and in addition gave them a barrel of spirits.
I did not fear their intoxication, being the only Frenchman there, and when it was dark I got into a boat, and towed a dozen casks of fresh water at her stern. Since the previous day I had not eaten; I felt worn out by fatigue and want of food, and threw myself down to rest upon the seats of the boat. Ere long a mortal chilliness passed through my veins, and I became insensible. In this state I remained more than an hour. At last I reached the Cultivateur, and was taken on board, and, by the aid of friction, brandy, and other remedies, was restored to consciousness. Food and rest quickly renovated my powers of mind and body, and the next day I was calm as usual among my comrades. I thought of my personal position; the events of the two last days made the review extremely simple. I had lost everything. A small venture of merchandise, in which I invested the savings of my previous voyages, had been intrusted to the captain for sale at Manilla. These goods were destroyed, together with all I possessed, at Cavite. There remained to me but the clothes I had on—a few old things I could wear only on board ship—and thirty-two dollars. I was but a little richer than Bias. Unfortunately I recollected that an English captain—whose ship I had seen in the roads—owed me something like a hundred dollars. In my present circumstances this sum appeared a fortune. The captain in question, from fear of the Indians, had dropped down as far as Maribele, at the entrance of the bay, ten leagues from Cavite. To obtain payment it was necessary I should go on board his vessel. I borrowed a boat, and the services of four sailors, from Captain Perroux, and departed. I reached the ship at dusk. The unprincipled captain, who knew himself to be in deep water and safe from pursuit, replied that he did not understand what I was saying to him. I insisted upon being paid, and he laughed in my face. I was treated as a cheat. He threatened to have me thrown into the sea; in short, after a useless discussion, and at the moment when the captain called five or six of his sailors to execute his threat, I retreated to my boat. The night was dark, and as a violent and contrary wind had sprung up, it was impossible to regain the ship, so we passed the night floating upon the waves, ignorant as to the direction we were going. In the morning I discovered our efforts had been thrown away; Cavite was far behind us. The wind becoming calmer, we again commenced rowing, and two hours after noon reached the ship.
Meanwhile tranquillity was restored at Cavite and Manilla. The Spanish authorities took measures to prevent a recurrence of the frightful scenes I have detailed, and the priests of Cavite launched a public excommunication against all those who had attempted my life. I attributed this solicitude to the character of my profession, being in fact the only AEsculapius in the place. When I left the town the sick were obliged to content themselves with the hazardous presumptions of Indian sorcerers. One morning, I had almost decided upon returning to land, when an Indian, in a smartly decorated pirogue, came alongside the Cultivateur. I had met this man in some of my shooting excursions, and he now proposed that I should go with him to his house, situated ten leagues from Cavite, near the mountains of Marigondon. The prospect of some good sport soon decided me to accept this offer. Taking with me my thirty-two dollars and double-barreled gun—in fact, my whole fortune—I intrusted myself to this friend, whose acquaintance I had just made. His little habitation was delightfully situated, in the cool shadow of the palm and yang-yang—immense trees, whose flowers spread around a delicious perfume. Two charming Indian girls were the Eves of this paradise. My good friend kept the promises he had made me on leaving the vessel; I was treated both by himself and family with every attention and kindness.
Hunting was my principal amusement, and, above all, the chase of the stag, which involves violent exercise. I was still ignorant of wild-buffalo hunting, of which, however, I shall have to speak later in my narrative; and I often requested my host to give me a taste of this sport, but he always refused, saying it was too dangerous. For three weeks I lived with the Indian family without receiving any news from Manilla, when one morning, a letter came from the first mate—who, on the death of the unfortunate Dibard, had taken the command of the Cultivateur—telling me he was about to sail, and that I must go on board at once if I wished to leave a country which had been so fatal to all of us. This summons was already several days old, and despite the reluctance I felt to quit the Indian's pleasant retreat, it was necessary that I should prepare to start. I presented my gun to my kind host, but had nothing to give his daughters, for to have offered them money would have been an insult. The next day I arrived at Manilla, still thinking of the cool shade of the palm and the perfumed flowers of the yang-yang. My first impulse was to go to the quay; but, alas! the Cultivateur had sailed, and I had the misery of beholding her already far away in the horizon, moving sluggishly before a gentle breeze towards the mouth of the bay. I asked some Indian boatmen to take me to the ship; they replied that it might be practicable if the wind did not freshen, but demanded twelve dollars to make the attempt. I had but twenty-five remaining. I considered for a few moments, should I not reach the vessel, what would become of me in a remote colony, where I knew no one, and my stock of money reduced to thirteen dollars, and with no articles of dress than those I had on—a white jacket, trousers, and striped shirt. A sudden thought crossed my mind: what if I were to remain at Manilla, and practise my profession? Young and inexperienced, I ventured to think myself the cleverest physician in the Philippine Islands. Who has not felt this self-confidence so natural to youth? I turned my back upon the ship, and walked briskly into Manilla.
Before continuing this recital, let me describe the capital of the Philippines.
Description of Manilla—The two Towns—Gaiety of Binondoc—Dances—Gaming—Beauty of the Women—Their Fascinating Costume—Male Costume—The Military Town—Personal Adventures—My First Patient—His Generous Confidence—Commencement of my Practice—The Artificial Eye—Brilliant Success—The Charming Widow—Auspicious Introduction—My Marriage—Treachery and Fate of Iturbide—Our Loss of Fortune—Return to France postponed.
Manilla and its suburbs contain a population of about one hundred and fifty thousand souls, of which Spaniards and Creoles hardly constitute the tenth part; the remainder is composed of Tagalocs, or Indians, Metis, and Chinese. The city is divided into two sections—the military and the mercantile—the latter of which is the suburb. The former, surrounded by lofty walls, is bounded by the sea on one side, and upon another by an extensive plain, where the troops are exercised, and where of an evening the indolent Creoles, lazily extended in their carriages, repair to exhibit their elegant dresses and to inhale the sea-breezes. This public promenade—where intrepid horsemen and horsewomen, and European vehicles, cross each other in every direction—may be styled the Champs-Elysees, or the Hyde Park, of the Indian Archipelago. On a third side, the military town is separated from the trading town by the river Pasig, upon which are seen all the day boats laden with merchandize, and charming gondolas conveying idlers to different parts of the suburbs, or to visit the ships in the bay.
The military town communicates by the bridge of Binondoc with the mercantile town, inhabited principally by the Spaniards engaged in public affairs; its aspect is dull and monotonous; all the streets, perfectly straight, are bordered by wide granite footpaths. In general, the highways are macadamised, and kept in good condition. Such is the effeminacy of the people, they could not endure the noise of carriages upon pavement. The houses—large and spacious, palaces in appearance—are built in a particular manner, calculated to withstand the earthquakes and hurricanes so frequent in this part of the world. They have all one story, with a ground-floor; the upper part, generally occupied by the family, is surrounded by a wide gallery, opened or shut by means of large sliding panels, the panes of which are thin mother-of-pearl. The mother-of-pearl permits the passage of light to the apartments, and excludes the heat of the sun. In the military town are all the monasteries and convents, the archbishopric, the courts of justice, the custom-house, the hospital, the governor's palace, and the citadel, which overlooks both towns. There are three principal entrances to Manilla—Puerta Santa Lucia, Puerto Real, and Puerta Parian.
At one o'clock the drawbridges are raised, and the gates pitilessly closed, when the tardy resident must seek his night's lodging in the suburb, or mercantile town, called Binondoc. This portion of Manilla wears a much gayer and more lively aspect than the military section. There is less regularity in the streets, and the buildings are not so fine as those in what may be called Manilla proper; but in Binondoc all is movement, all is life. Numerous canals, crowded with pirogues, gondolas, and boats of various kinds, intersect the suburb, where reside the rich merchants—Spanish, English, Indian, Chinese, and Metis. The newest and most elegant houses are built upon the banks of the river Pasig. Simple in exterior, they contain the most costly inventions of English and Indian luxury. Precious vases from China, Japan ware, gold, silver, and rich silks, dazzle the eyes on entering these unpretending habitations. Each house has a landing-place from the river, and little bamboo palaces, serving as bathing-houses, to which the residents resort several times daily, to relieve the fatigue caused by the intense heat of the climate. The cigar manufactory, which affords employment continually to from fifteen to twenty thousand workmen and other assistants, is situated in Binondoc; also the Chinese custom-house, and all the large working establishments of Manilla. During the day, the Spanish ladies, richly dressed in the transparent muslins of India and China, lounge about from store to store, and sorely test the patience of the Chinese salesman, who unfolds uncomplainingly, and without showing the least ill-humour, thousands of pieces of goods before his customers, which are frequently examined simply for amusement, and not half a yard purchased. The balls and entertainments, given by the half-breeds of Binondoc to their friends, are celebrated throughout the Philippines. The quadrilles of Europe are succeeded by the dances of India, and while the young people execute the fandango, the bolero, the cachucha, or the lascivious movements of the bayaderes, the enterprising half-breed, the indolent Spaniard, and the sedate Chinese, retire to the gaming saloons, to try their fortune at cards and dice. The passion for play is carried to such an extent, that the traders lose or gain in one night sums of 50,000 piasters (L10,000 sterling). The half-breeds, Indians, and Chinese, have also a great passion for cock-fighting; these combats take place in a large arena. I have seen L1,500 betted upon a cock which had cost L150; in a few minutes this costly champion fell, struck dead by his antagonist. In fine, if Binondoc be exclusively the city of pleasure, luxury, and activity, it is also that of amorous intrigues and gallant adventures. In the evening, Spaniards, English, and French, go to the promenades to ogle the beautiful and facile half-breed women, whose transparent robes reveal their splendid figures. That which distinguishes the female half-breeds (Spanish-Tagals, or Chinese-Tagals) is a singularly intelligent and expressive physiognomy. Their hair, drawn back from the face, and sustained by long golden pins, is of marvellous luxuriance. They wear upon the head a kerchief, transparent like a veil, made of the pine fibre, finer than our finest cambric; the neck is ornamented by a string of large coral beads, fastened by a gold medallion. A transparent chemisette, of the same stuff as the head-dress, descends as far as the waist, covering, but not concealing, a bosom that has never been imprisoned in stays. Below, and two or three inches from the edge of the chemisette, is attached a variously coloured petticoat of very bright hues. Over this garment, a large and costly silk sash closely encircles the figure, and shows its outline from the waist to the knee. The small and white feet, always naked, are thrust into embroidered slippers, which cover but the extremities. Nothing can be more charming, coquettish, and fascinating, than this costume, which excites in the highest degree the admiration of strangers. The half-breed and Chinese Tagals know so well the effect it produces on the Europeans, that nothing would induce them to alter it.
While on the subject of dress, that of the men is also worthy of remark. The Indian and the half-breed wear upon the head a large straw hat, black or white, or a sort of Chinese covering, called a salacote; upon the shoulders, the pine fibre kerchief embroidered; and round the neck, a rosary of coral beads; their shirts are also made from the fibres of the pine, or of vegetable silk; trousers of coloured silk, with embroidery near the bottom, and a girdle of red China crape, complete their costume. The feet, without stockings, are covered with European shoes.
The military town, so quiet during the day, assumes a more lively appearance towards the evening, when the inhabitants ride out in their very magnificent carriages, which are invariably conducted by postilions; they then mix with the walking population of Binondoc. Afterwards visits, balls, and the more intimate reunions take place. At the latter they talk, smoke the cigars of Manilla, and chew the betel,  drink glasses of iced eau sucree, and eat innumerable sweetmeats; towards midnight those guests retire who do not stay supper with the family, which is always served luxuriously, and generally prolonged until two o'clock in the morning. Such is the life spent by the wealthy classes under these skies so favoured by Heaven. But there exists, as in Europe, and even to a greater extent, the most abject misery, of which I shall speak hereafter, throwing a shade over this brilliant picture.
I shall now return to my personal adventures. While I spoke with the Indians upon the shore, I had noticed a young European standing not many paces from me; I again met him on the road I took towards Manilla, and I thought I would address him. This young man was a surgeon, about returning to Europe. I partly told him the plans I wished to form, and asked him for some information respecting the city where I purposed locating myself. He readily satisfied my inquiries, and encouraged me in the resolution to exercise my profession in the Philippine Islands. He had himself, he said, conceived the same project, but family affairs obliged him to return to his country. I did not conceal the misfortune of my position, and observed that it would be almost impossible to pay visits in the costume, worse than plain, which I then wore.
"That is of no consequence," he replied; "I have all you would require: a coat almost new, and six capital lancets. I will sell you these things for their cost price in France; they will be a great bargain." The affair was soon concluded. He took me to his hotel, and I shortly left it encased in a garment sufficiently good, but much too large and too long for me. Nevertheless, it was some time since I had seen myself so well clad, and I could not help admiring my new acquisition.
I had hidden my poor little white jacket in my hat, and I strode along the causeway of Manilla more proud than Artaban himself. I was the owner of a coat and six lancets; but there remained, for all my fortune, the sum of one dollar only; this consideration slightly tempered the joy that I felt in gazing on my brilliant costume. I thought of where I could pass the night, and subsist on the morrow and the following days, if the sick were not ready for me.
Reflecting thus I slowly wandered from Binondoc to the military town, and from the military town back to Binondoc,—when, suddenly, a bright idea shot across my brain. At Cavite I had heard spoken of a Spanish captain, by name Don Juan Porras, whom an accident had rendered almost blind. I resolved to seek him, and offer my services; it remained but to find his residence. I addressed a hundred persons, but each replied that he did not know, and passed on his way. An Indian who kept a small shop, and to whom I spoke, relieved my trouble: "If the senor is a captain," he said, "your excellency would obtain his address at the first barrack on your road." I thanked him, and eagerly followed his counsel. At the infantry barracks, where I presented myself, the officer on duty sent a soldier to guide me to the captain's dwelling: it was time, the night had already fallen. Don Juan Porras was an Andalusian, a good man, and of an extremely cheerful disposition. I found him with his head wrapped in a Madras handkerchief, busied in completely covering his eyes with two enormous poultices.
"Senor Captain," I said, "I am a physician, and a skilful oculist. I have come hither to take care of you, and I am fully convinced that I shall cure you."
"Basta" (enough is said), was his answer; "all the physicians in Manilla are asses."
This more than sceptical reply did not discourage me. I resolved to turn it to account. "My opinion is precisely the same as yours," I promptly answered; "and it is because I am strongly convinced of the ignorance of the native doctors, that I have made up my mind to come and practise in the Philippines."
"Of what nation are you, sir?"
"I am a Frenchman."
"A French physician!" cried Don Juan; "Ah! that is quite another matter. I ask your pardon for having spoken so irreverently of men of your profession. A French physician! I put myself entirely into your hands. Take my eyes, Senor Medico, and do what you will with them!"
The conversation was taking a favourable turn: I hastened to broach the principal question:
"Your eyes are very bad, Senor Captain," said I; "to accomplish a speedy cure, it is absolutely necessary that I should never quit you for a moment."
"Would you consent to come and pass some time with me, doctor?"
Here was the principal consideration settled.
"I consent," replied I, "but on one condition; namely, that I shall pay you for my board and lodging."
"That shall not part us—you are free to do so," said the worthy man; "and so the matter is settled. I have a nice room, and a good bed, all ready; there is nothing to do but to send for your baggage. I will call my servant."
The terrible word, "baggage," sounded in my ears like a knell. I cast a melancholy look at the crown of my hat—my only portmanteau—within which were deposited all my clothes—consisting of my little white jacket; and I feared Don Juan would take me for some runaway sailor trying to dupe him. There was no retreat; so I mustered my courage, and briefly related my sad position, adding that I could not pay for my board and lodging until the end of the month—if I was so fortunate as to find patients. Don Juan Porras listened to me very quietly. When my tale was told he burst into a loud laugh, which made me shiver from head to foot.
"Well," cried he, "I am well pleased it should be so; you are poor; you will have more time to devote to my malady, and a greater interest in curing me. What think you of the syllogism?"
"It is excellent, Senor Captain, and before long you will find, I hope, that I am not the man to compromise so distinguished a logician as yourself. To-morrow morning I will examine your eyes, and I will not leave you till I have radically cured them."
We talked for some time longer in this joyous strain, after which I retired to my chamber, where the most delightful dreams visited my pillow.
The next day I rose early, put on my doctoral coat, and entered the chamber of my host. I examined his eyes; they were in a dreadful state. The sight of one was not only destroyed, but threatened the life of the sufferer. A cancer had formed, and the enormous size it had attained rendered the result of an operation doubtful. The left eye contained many fibres, but there was hope of saving it. I frankly acquainted Don Juan with my fears and hopes, and insisted upon the entire removal of the right eye. The Captain, at first astonished, decided courageously upon submitting to the operation, which I accomplished on the following day with complete success. Shortly afterwards the inflammatory symptoms disappeared, and I could assure my host of a safe recovery. I then bestowed all my attention upon the left eye. I desired the more ardently to restore to Don Juan his vision, from the good effect I was convinced his case would produce at Manilla. For me it would be fortune and reputation. Besides, I had already acquired, in the few days, some slight patronage, and was in a position to pay for my board and lodging at the end of the month. After six weeks' careful treatment Don Juan was perfectly cured, and could use his eye as well as he did previous to his accident. Nevertheless, to my great regret, the Captain still continued to immure himself; his re-appearance in society, which he had forsaken for more than a year, would have produced an immense sensation, and I should have been considered the first doctor in the Philippines. One day I touched upon this delicate topic.
"Senor Captain," said I, "what are you thinking about, to remain thus shut up between four walls, and why do you not resume your old habits? You must go and visit your friends, your acquaintances."
"Doctor," interrupted Don Juan, "how can I show myself in public with an eye the less? When I pass along the street all the women would say: 'There goes Don Juan the One-eyed!' No, no; before I leave the house you must get me an artificial eye from Paris."
"You don't mean that? It would be eighteen months before the eye arrived."
"Then here goes for eighteen months' seclusion," said Don Juan.
I persisted for upwards of an hour, but the Captain would not listen to reason. He carried his coquetry so far that, although I had covered the empty orbit with black silk, he had his shutters closed whenever visitors came; so that, as they always found him in the dark, none would credit his cure. I was very anxious to thwart Don Juan's obstinacy, as may well be imagined; I had not the time to waste, during eighteen months, in dancing attendance at fortune's door; therefore I determined to make this eye myself, without which the coquetish captain would not be seen. I took some pieces of glass, a tube, and set to work. After many fruitless attempts, I at last succeeded in obtaining the perfect form of an eye; but this was not all—it must be coloured to resemble nature. I sent for a poor carriage-painter, who managed to imitate tolerably well the left eye of Don Juan. It was necessary to preserve this painting from contact with the tears, which would soon have destroyed it. To accomplish this I had made by a jeweller a silver globe, smaller than the glass eye, inside which I united it by means of sealing-wax. I carefully polished the edges upon a stone, and after eight days' labour I obtained a satisfactory result. The eye which I had succeeded in producing was really not so bad after all. I was anxious to place it within the vacant orbit. It somewhat inconvenienced the Senor Don Juan, but I persuaded him that he would soon become accustomed to it. Placing across his nose a pair of spectacles, he examined himself in the looking-glass, and was so satisfied with his appearance that he decided on commencing his visits the following day.
As I had anticipated, the re-appearance in the world of Captain Juan Porras made a great sensation, and soon the consequence was, that Senor Don Pablo, the eminent French physician—most especially the clever oculist—was much spoken of. From all quarters patients came to me. Notwithstanding my youth and inexperience, my first success gave me such confidence that I performed several operations upon persons afflicted with cataracts, which succeeded most fortunately. I no longer sufficed to my large connection, and in a few days, from the greatest distress, I attained perfect opulence: I had a carriage-and-four in my stables. I could not, however, notwithstanding this change of fortune, resign myself to leave Don Juan's house, out of gratitude for the hospitality he so generously offered me. In my leisure hours he kept me company, and amused me with the recital of his battle stories and personal adventures. I had already spent nearly six months with him, when a circumstance, which forms an epoch in my life, changed my existence, and compelled me to quit the lively captain. One of my American friends often called my attention in our walks towards a young lady in mourning, who passed for one of the prettiest senoras of the town. Each time we met her my American friend never failed to praise the beauty of the Marquesa de Las Salinas. She was about eighteen or nineteen years of age; her features were both regular and placid; she had beautiful black hair, and large expressive eyes; she was the widow of a colonel in the guards, who married her when almost a child. The sight of this young lady produced so lively an impression upon me, that I explored all the saloons at Binondoc, to endeavour to meet her elsewhere than in my walks. Fruitless attempts! The young widow saw nobody. I almost despaired of finding an opportunity of speaking to her, when one morning an Indian came to request me to visit his master. I got into the carriage and set off, without informing myself of the name of the sick person. The carriage stopped before the door of one of the finest houses in the Faubourg of Santa-Crux. Having examined the patient, and conversed a few minutes with him, I went to the table to write a prescription; suddenly I heard the rustling of a silk dress; I turned round—the pen fell from my hand. Before me stood the very lady I had so long sought after—appearing to me as in a dream! My amazement was so great that I muttered a few unintelligible words, and bowed with such awkwardness that she smiled. She simply addressed me to inquire the state of her nephew's health, and withdrew almost immediately. As to myself, instead of making my ordinary calls, I returned home; questioned Don Juan minutely about Madame de Las Salinas: he entirely satisfied my curiosity. He was acquainted with all the family of this youthful widow, and they were highly respected in the colony. The next morning, and following days, I returned to this charming widow, who graciously condescended to receive me with favour. These details being so completely personal, I pass them over. Six months after my first interview with Madame de Las Salinas, I asked her hand, and obtained it. I had therefore found, at more than five thousand leagues from my country, both happiness and wealth. I agreed that we should go to France as soon as my wife's property, the greater part of which lay in Mexico, should be realised. In the meantime my house was the rendezvous of foreigners, particularly of the French, who were already rather numerous at Manilla. At this period the Spanish government named me Surgeon-Major of the 1st Light Regiment, and of the first battalion of the militia of Panjanga. Having been so successful in so short a time, I never once doubted but that fortune would continue to bestow her smiling favours upon me. I had already prepared everything for my return to France; for we hourly expected the arrival of the galleons that plied from Acapulco to Manilla, which were to bring my wife's fortune. Her fortune was no less than 700,000 francs (L28,000 sterling).
One evening, as we were taking tea, we were informed that the vessels from Acapulco had been telegraphed, and that the next morning they would be in; our piasters were to be on board; I leave you to guess if our wishes were not gratified. But, alas! how our hopes were frustrated: the vessels did not bring us a single piaster. This is what occurred: five or six millions were sent by land from Mexico to San Blas, the place of embarkation, and the Mexican government had the van escorted by a regiment of the line, commanded by Colonel Iturbide. On the journey he took possession of the van, and fled with his regiment into the independent states. It is well known that later Iturbide was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico, then dethroned, and at last shot, after an expedition that offers more than one analogy with that of Murat. The very day of the arrival of the vessels we learnt that our fortune was entirely lost, without even hopes of regaining the smallest part. My wife and self supported this event with tolerable philosophy. It was not the loss of our piasters that distressed us the most, but the necessity we were in to abandon, or at least to postpone, our journey to France.
Continued Prosperity in Practice—Attempted Political Revolution—Desperate Street Engagement—Subjugation of the Insurgents—The Emperor of a Day—Dreadful Executions—Illness and Insanity of my Wife—Her Recovery and Relapse—Removal to the Country—Beneficial Results—Dangerous Neighbours—Repentant Banditti—Fortunate Escape—The Anonymous Friend—A Confiding Wife—Her Final Recovery, and our Domestic Happiness Restored.
Despite the misfortune I have alluded to, I kept up my house in the same style as before. My connection, and the different posts I occupied, permitted me to lead the life of a grandee belonging to the Spanish colonies; and probably I should have made my fortune in a few years, if I had continued in the medical profession, but the wish for unlimited liberty caused me to abandon all these advantages for a life of peril and anxiety. At the same time do not let us anticipate too suddenly, and let the reader patiently peruse a few more pages about Manilla, and various events wherein I figured, either as actor or witness, before taking leave of a sybarite citizen's life.
I was, as I said before, surgeon-major of the 1st Light Regiment of the line, and on intimate terms with the staff, and more particularly with Captain Novales, a Creole by birth, possessing a courageous and venturesome disposition. He was suspected of endeavouring to excite his regiment to rebel in behalf of the Independence. An inquiry was consequently instituted, which ended without proof of the captain's culpability; nevertheless, as the governor still maintained his suspicions, he gave orders for him to be sent to one of the southern provinces, under the inspection of an alcaide. Novales came to see me the morning of his departure, and complained bitterly of the injustice of the governor towards him, and added that those who had no confidence in his honour would repent, and that he would soon be back. I endeavoured to pacify him: we shook hands, and in the evening he went on board the vessel commissioned to take him to his destination. The night after Novales departure, I was startled out of my sleep by the report of fire-arms. I immediately dressed myself in my uniform, and hastened to the barracks of my regiment. The streets were deserted; sentinels were stationed at about fifty paces apart. I understood that an extraordinary event had occurred in some part of the town. When I reached the barracks I was no little astonished to find the gates wide open, the sentry's box vacant, and not a soldier within. I went into the infirmary, set apart for the special service of the cholera patients, and there a serjeant told me that the bad weather had compelled the vessel that was taking Novales into exile to return into the port; that about one o'clock in the morning, Novales, accompanied by Lieutenant Ruiz, came to the barracks, and having made himself certain of the votes of the Creole non-commissioned officers, put the regiment under arms, took possession of the gates, and proclaimed himself Emperor of the Philippines.
This extraordinary intelligence caused me some anxiety. My regiment had openly revolted; if I joined it, and were defeated, I should be considered a traitor, and, as such, shot; if, on the contrary, I fought against it, and the rebels proved victorious, I knew Novales sufficiently well to be convinced that he would not spare me. Nevertheless I could not hesitate: duty bound me to the Spanish government, by which I had been so well treated. I left the barracks, rambling where chance might lead me. I shortly found myself at the head-quarters of the artillery; an officer behind the gate stood observing me. I went up to him, and asked him whether he was for Spain. Upon his answering me in the affirmative, I begged him to open the gate, declaring that I wished to join his party, and would willingly offer my services as surgeon to them. I went in, and took the commander's orders, which soon showed me how matters stood. During the night Ruiz went, in the name of Novales, to General Folgueras, the commander during the absence of Governor Martines, who was detained at his country house, a short distance from Manilla. He took the guard unawares, and seized the keys of the town, after having stabbed Folgueras; from thence he went to the prisons, set the prisoners at liberty, and put in their places the principal men of the public offices belonging to the colony. The 1st Regiment was on Government Place, ready to engage in battle; twice it attempted to fall unexpectedly upon the artillery and citadel, but was driven back. Many expected assistance from without, and orders from General Martines to attack the rebels. Very soon we heard a discharge of artillery: it was General Martines, who, at the head of the Queen's Regiment, broke open Saint Lucy's Gate, and advanced into the besieged town. The body of the artillery joined the governor-general, and we marched towards Government Place. The insurgents placed two cannons at the corner of each street. Scarcely had we approached the palace, than we were exposed to a violent discharge of loaded muskets. The head chaplain of the regiment was the first victim. We were then engaged in a street, by the side of the fortifications, and from which it was impossible to attack the enemy with advantage. General Martines changed the position of the attack, and in this condition we came back by the street of Saint Isabelle. The troops in two lines followed both sides of the street, and left the road free; in the meantime the Panpangas regiment, crossing the bridge, reached us by one of the opposite streets: the rebels were then exposed to the opposite attacks. They nevertheless defended themselves furiously, and their sharpshooters did us some harm. Novales was everywhere, encouraging his soldiers by words, exploits, and example, while Lieutenant Ruiz was busy pointing one of the cannons, that swept the middle of the street we were coming up. At length, after three hours' contest, the rebels succumbed. The troops fell upon everything they found, and Novales was taken prisoner to the governor's. As to Ruiz, although he had received a blow on his arm from a ball, he was fortunate enough to jump over the fortifications, and succeeded, for the time, in escaping; three days afterwards he was taken. The conflict was scarcely over, than a court-martial was held. Novales was tried the first. At midnight he was outlawed; at two o'clock in the morning proclaimed Emperor; and at five in the evening shot. Such changes in fortune are not uncommon in Spanish colonies.
The court-martial, without adjourning, tried, until the middle of the following day, all the prisoners arrested with arms. The tenth part of the regiment was sent to the hulks, and all the non-commissioned officers were condemned to death. I received orders to be at Government Place by four o'clock, on which spot the executions were to take place; two companies of each battalion of the garrison, and all the staff, were to be present.
Towards five the doors of the town-hall opened, and between a double file of soldiers advanced seventeen non-commissioned officers, each one assisted by two monks of the order of Misericordia. Mournful silence prevailed, interrupted every now and then by the doleful beating of the drums, and the prayers of the agonising, chanted by the monks. The procession moved slowly on, and after some time reached the palace; the seventeen non-commissioned officers were ordered to kneel, their faces turned towards the wall. After a lengthened beating of the drums the monks left their victims, and at a second beating a discharge of muskets resounded: the seventeen young men fell prostrate on the ground. One, however, was not dead; he had fallen with the others, and seemed apparently motionless. A few minutes after the monks threw their black veils upon the victims: they now belonged to Divine justice. I witnessed all that had just happened. I stood a few steps from him who feigned death so well, and my heart beat with force enough to burst through my chest. Would that it had been in my power to lead one of the monks towards this unfortunate young man who must have experienced such mortal anguish; but, alas! after having been so miraculously spared, at the moment the black veil was about to cover him, an officer informed the commander that a guilty man had escaped being punished; the monks were arrested in their pious ministry, and two soldiers received orders to approach and fire upon the poor fellow.
I was indignant at this. I advanced towards the informer and reproached him for his cruelty; he wished to reply; I treated him as a coward, and turned my back to him. Express orders from my colonel compelled me to leave my house, to assist at this frightful execution; still, deep anxiety ought to have prevented me from so doing, as I will explain. On the eve when the battle was over, and the insurgents routed, the distress of my dear Anna came across my mind. It was now one o'clock in the afternoon, and she had received no tidings from me since three in the morning; might she not think me dead, or in the midst of the rebellion? Ah! if duty could make me forget for a moment she whom I loved more than life, now all danger was over her charming image returned to my mind. Dearest Anna! I beheld her pale, agitated; asking herself at each report of the cannon whether it rendered her a widow; when my mind became so agitated that I ran home to calm her fears. Having reached my house I went quickly up stairs, my heart beating violently; I paused for a moment at her door, then summoning a little courage I entered. Anna was kneeling down praying; hearing my footsteps she raised her head, and threw herself into my arms without uttering a word. At first I attributed this silence to emotion, but, alas! upon examining her lovely face, I saw her eyes looked wild, her features contracted: I started back. I discovered in her all the symptoms of congestion of the brain. I dreaded lest my wife had lost her senses, and this fear alarmed me greatly. How fortunate it was that it lay in my power to relieve her. I had her placed in bed, and ministered myself to her wants. She was tolerably composed; the few words she uttered were inconsistent; she seemed to think that somebody was going to poison or kill her. All her confidence was placed in me. During three days the remedies I prescribed and administered were useless; the poor creature derived no benefit from them. I therefore determined to consult the doctors in Manilla, although I had no great opinion of their skill. They advised some insignificant drugs, and declared to me that there were no hopes, adding, as a philosophical mode of consolation, that death was preferable to the loss of reason. I did not agree on this point with these gentlemen: I would have preferred insanity to death, for I hoped that her madness would die away by degrees, and eventually disappear altogether. How many mad people are cured, what numbers daily recover, yet death is the last word of humanity; and, as a young poet has truly said, is "the stone of the tomb."
Between the world and God a curtain falls! I determined to wage a war against death, and to save my Anna by having recourse to the most indisputable resources of science. I looked now upon my brotherhood with more contempt than ever, and, confident in my love and zealous will, I began my struggle with a destiny, tinged indeed with gloomy clouds. I shut myself up in the sick-chamber, and never left my wife. I had great difficulty in getting her to take the medicaments I trusted she would derive so much benefit from; I was obliged to call to my assistance all the influence I had over her, in order to persuade her that the draughts I presented to her were not poisoned. She did not sleep, but appeared very drowsy; these symptoms denoted very clearly great disorder of the brain. For nine days she remained in this dreadful state; during which time I scarcely knew whether she was dead or alive; at every moment I besought the Almighty to work a miracle in her behalf. One morning the poor creature closed her eyes. I cannot describe my feelings of anguish. Would she ever awake again? I leant over her; I heard her breathing gently, without apparent effort; I felt her pulse, it beat calmer and more regular; she was evidently better. I stood by her in deep anxiety. She still remained in a calm sleep, and at the end of half-an-hour I felt convinced that this satisfactory crisis would restore my invalid to life and reason. I sat down by her bed-side, and stayed there eighteen hours, watching her slightest movements. At length, after such cruel suspense, my patient awoke, as if out of a dream.
"Have you been long watching?" she said, giving me her hand: "Have I, then, been very ill? What care you have taken of me! Luckily you may rest now, for I feel I am recovered."
I think I have during my life been a sharer of the strongest emotions of joy or of sadness man can feel; but never had I experienced such real, heartfelt joy as when I heard Anna's words. It is easy to imagine the state of my mind in recollecting the bitter grief I was in for ten days; then can be understood the mental anguish I felt. Having witnessed such strange scenes for a considerable time, it would not have been surprising had I lost my senses. I was an actor in a furious battle; I had seen the wounded falling around me, and heard the death-rattle. After the frightful execution, I went home, and there still deeper grief awaited me. I had watched by the bed-side of a beloved wife, knowing not whether I should lose her for ever, or see her spared to me deprived of reason; when all at once, as if by a miracle, this dear companion of my life, restored to health, threw herself into my arms. I wept with her; my burning eyes, aching for want of rest, found at last some tears, but they were tears of joy and gladness. Soon we became more composed; we related to each other all that we had suffered. Oh! the sympathy of loving hearts! Our sorrows bad been the same, we had shared the same fears, she for me and I for her. Anna's rapid recovery, after her renovating slumber, enabled her to get up; she dressed herself as usual, and the people who saw her could not believe she had passed ten days struggling between death and insanity—two gulphs, from which love and faith had preserved us.
I was happy; my deep sadness was speedily changed to gladness, even visible on my features. Alas! this joy was transitory, like all happiness; man here below is a continual prey to misfortune! My wife, at the end of a month, relapsed into her former sickly state; the same symptoms showed themselves again, with similar prospects, during the same space of time. I remained again nine days at her bed-side, and on the tenth a refreshing sleep brought her to her senses. But this time, guided by experience, that pitiless mistress, who gives us lessons we should ever remember, I did not rejoice as I had done the month before. I feared lest this sudden cure might only be a temporary recovery, and that every month my poor invalid would relapse, until her brain becoming weaker and weaker, she would be deranged for life. This sad idea wounded my heart, and caused me such grief that I could not even dissimulate it before her who inspired it. I exhausted all the resources of medicine; all these expedients proved unavailable. I thought that perhaps, if I removed my poor invalid from the spot where the events had occurred that caused her disorder, her cure might be more easily effected; that perhaps bathing and country walks in the fine weather would contribute to hasten her recovery; therefore I invited one of her relations to accompany us, and we set out for Tierra-Alta, a delightful spot, a real oasis, where all things were assembled that could endear one to life. The first days of our settling there were full of joy, hope, and happiness. Anna got better and better every day, and her health very much improved. We walked in beautiful gardens, under the shade of orange-trees; they were so thick that even during the most intense heat we were cool under their shade. A lovely river of blue and limpid water ran through our orchard; I had some Indian baths erected there. We went out in a pretty, light, open carriage, drawn by four good horses, through beautiful avenues, lined on each side with the pliant bamboo, and sown with all the various flowers of the tropics. I leave you to judge, by this short account, that nothing that can be wished for in the country was wanting in Tierra-Alta. For an invalid it was a Paradise; but those are right who say there is no perfect happiness here below. I had a wife I adored, and who loved me with all the sincerity of a pure young heart. We lived in an Eden, away from the world, from the noise and bustle of a city, and far, too, from the jealous and envious. We breathed a fragrant air; the pure and limpid waters that bathed our feet reflecting, by turns a sunny sky, and one spangled with twinkling stars. Anna's health was improving: it pleased me to see her so happy. What, then, was there to trouble us in our lovely retreat? A troop of banditti! These robbers were distributed around the suburbs of Tierra-Alta, and spread desolation over the country and neighbourhood by the robberies and murders they committed. There was a regiment in search of them; this they little cared about. They were numerous, clever, and audacious; and, notwithstanding the vigilance of the government, the band continued their highway robberies and assassinations. In the house where I then resided, and which I afterwards left, Aguilar, the commander of the cavalry, who had replaced me as occupant, was fallen upon unexpectedly, and stabbed. Several years after this period, the government was obliged to come to some terms with these bandits, and one day twenty men, all armed with carbines and swords, entered Manilla. Their chieftain led them; they walked with their heads upright, their carriage was proud and manly; in this order they went to the governor, who made them a speech, ordered them to lay down their arms, and sent them to the archbishop that he might exhort them. The archbishop in a religious discourse implored of them to repent of their crimes, and become honest citizens, and to return to their villages. These men, who had bathed their hands in the blood of their fellow-creatures, and who had sought in crime—or rather, in every crime—the gold they coveted, listened attentively to God's minister, changed completely their conduct, and became, in the end, good and quiet husbandmen.
Now let us return to my residence at Tierra-Alta, at the period when the bandits were not converted, and might have disturbed my peaceful abode and security. Nevertheless, whether it was carelessness, or the confidence I had in my Indian, with whom I spent some time after the ravages occasioned with the cholera, and with whose influence I was acquainted, I did not fear the bandits at all. This Indian lived a few leagues off from Tierra-Alta; he came often to see me, and said to me on different occasions: "Fear nothing from the robbers, Senor Doctor Pablo; they know we are friends, and that alone would suffice to prevent them attacking you, for they would dread to displease me, and to make me their enemy." These words put an end to my fears, and I soon had an opportunity of seeing that the Indian had taken me under his protection.
If any of my readers for whom I write these souvenirs feel the same desire as I experienced to visit the cascades of Tierra-Alta, let them go to a place called Yang-Yang; it was near this spot where my Indian protector resided. At this part the river, obstructed in its course by the narrowness of its channel, falls from only one waterspout, about thirty or forty feet high, into an immense basin, out of which the water calmly flows onwards, to form, lower down, three other waterfalls, not so lofty, but extending over the breadth of the river, thereby making three sheets of water, clear and transparent as crystal. What beautiful sights are offered to the eyes of man by the all-powerful hands of the Creator! And how often have I remarked that the works of nature are far superior to those that men tire themselves to erect and invent!
As we went one morning to the cascades we were about to alight at Yang-Yang, when all at once our carriage was surrounded with brigands, flying from the soldiers of the line. The chief—for we supposed him to be so at first—said to his companions, not paying the slightest attention to us, nor even addressing us: "We must kill the horses!" By this I saw he feared lest their enemies should make use of our horses to pursue them. With a presence of mind which fortunately never abandons me in difficult or perilous circumstances, I said to him: "Do not fear; my horses shall not be used by your enemies to pursue you: rely upon my word." The chief put his hand to his cap, and thus addressed his comrades: "If such be the case, the Spanish soldiers will do us no harm to-day, neither let us do any. Follow me!" They marched off, and I instantly drove rapidly away in quite an opposite direction from the soldiers. The bandits looked after me; my good faith in keeping my word was successful. I not only lived a few months in safety at Tierra-Alta, but many years after, when, I resided in Jala-Jala, and, in my quality of commander of the territorial horse-guards of the province of Lagune, was naturally a declared enemy of the bandits, I received the following note:
"Sir,—Beware of Pedro Tumbaga; we are invited by him to go to your house and to take you by surprise; we remember the morning we spoke to you at the cascades, and the sincerity of your word. You are an honourable man. If we find ourselves face to face with you, and it be necessary, we will fight, but faithfully, and never after having laid a snare. Keep, therefore, on your guard; beware of Pedro Tumbaga; he is cowardly enough to hide himself in order to shoot you."
Everybody must acknowledge I had to do with most polite robbers.
I answered them thus:
"You are brave fellows. I thank you for your advice, but I do not fear Pedro Tumbaga. I cannot conceive how it is you keep among you a man capable of hiding himself to kill his enemy; if I had a soldier like him, I would soon let him have justice, and without consulting the law."
A fortnight after my answer, Tumbaga was no more; a bandit's bullet disembarrassed me of him.
I will now return to the recital I have just interrupted. When I had left the bandits at Yang-Yang, I pulled up my horses and bethought me of Anna. I was anxious to know what impression had been produced on her mind from this unpleasant encounter. Fortunately my fears were unfounded; my wife had not been at all alarmed, and when I asked her if she was frightened, she replied: "Frightened, indeed! am I not with you?" Subsequently I had good proofs that she told me the truth, for in many perilous circumstances she always presented the same presence of mind. When I thought there was no longer any danger we retraced our steps and went home, satisfied with the conduct of the bandits towards us, for their manner of acting clearly showed us that they intended us no harm. I mentally thanked my Indian friend, for to him I attributed the peace our turbulent neighbours allowed us to enjoy. The fatal time was drawing near when my wife would again be suffering from another attack of that frightful malady brought on by Novales revolt. I had hoped that the country air, the baths, and amusements of every kind would cure my poor invalid; my hopes were deceived, and, as in the preceding month, I had the grief once more to assist at a period of physical and mental suffering. I despaired: I knew not what course to pursue. I decided, however, upon remaining at Tierra-Alta. My dear companion was happy there on the days her health was better, and on the other days I never left her, endeavouring by every means that art and imagination could invent to fight against this fatal malady. At length my care, attempts, and efforts were successful, and at the periods the symptoms usually returned I had the happiness not to observe them, and believed in the certainty of a final cure. I then felt the joy one experiences after having for a long time been on the point of losing a very dear friend, who suddenly recovers. I now gave myself up without fear to the various pleasures Tierra-Alta offers.
Hunting the Stag—Indian Mode of Chasing the Wild Buffalo: its Ferocity—Dangerous Sport—Capture of a Buffalo—Narrow Escape of an Indian Hunter—Return to Manilla—Injustice of the Governor—My Resignation of Office—I Purchase Property at Jala-Jala—Retire from Manilla to Take Possession of my Domains—Chinese Legend—Festival of St Nicholas—Quinaboutasan—Description of Jala-Jala—Interview with a Bandit Chief—Formation of a Guard—Preparations for Building—Visit to Manilla, and Return to Jala-Jala—Completion of my House—Reception of my Wife by the Natives—The Government of the Philippines—Character of the Tagaloc Indians—Unmerited Chastisement—A Curate Appointed—Our Labours at Civilisation—My Hall of Justice—Buffalo Hunting Expedition.
Naturally fond of hunting, I often went to the home of my Indian friend in the Marigondon mountains. Together we chased the stag, and killed the various kinds of birds which abound in these regions to such an extent that one may always choose between fifteen or twenty different species of pigeons, wild ducks, and fowl, and it frequently happened that I brought down five or six at a shot. The manner of killing wild fowl (a sort of pheasant) much amused me. We rode across the large plains, strewed with young wood, on good and beautiful horses, broken in for the purpose; the dogs raised the game, and, armed with whips, we endeavoured to knock the birds down at a single blow, which is not so difficult as might be imagined. When a number of the frightened flocks left the shelter of the wood we put our steeds to the gallop, and it became a veritable steeple-chase, such as amateur jockeys would much delight in. I also hunted the stag with the lance, on horseback; this sport is likewise very amusing, but, unfortunately, often attended with accidents. This is how they occur:—The horses employed are so well trained to the sport, that as soon as they perceive the stag it is no longer necessary, neither is it possible, to guide them; they pursue the animal at the top of their speed, and leap over every obstruction before them. The horseman carries a lance seven or eight feet long, which he holds in readiness to cast as soon as he thinks himself within reach of the stag. If he misses his aim the lance sticks in the ground, and it then requires great skill to avoid coming in contact with the opposite end, which often wounds either the hunter or the horse. I speak not of the falls to which one is liable from going at a furious gallop along unknown and uneven roads. I had already enjoyed this sport during my first sojourn at the Indian's, but, well as I acquitted myself, I was never able to gain his permission that I should assist at a chase far more dangerous, and which I might almost call a combat—that of the wild buffalo. To all my questions my host had replied: "In this sport there is much to fear: I would not expose you to the risk." He avoided, also, taking me near that part of the plain touching upon the mountains of Marigondon, where these animals could generally be found. However, after repeated solicitation, I managed to obtain what I so ardently desired; the Indian only wished to know whether I was a good horseman, if I possessed dexterity; and when he had satisfied himself on these two points, we started one fine morning, accompanied by nine huntsmen and a small pack of dogs. In this part of the Philippines the buffalo is hunted on horseback, and taken with the lasso, the Indians not being much accustomed to the use of guns. In other parts fire-arms are used, as I shall have occasion to recount in another part of my narrative; but, in whichever case, there is little difference in the danger, for the one requires good riding and great skill, the other much presence of mind and a good gun.
The wild buffalo is quite different from the domesticated animal; it is a terrible creature, pursuing the hunter as soon as it gets sight of him, and, should he transfix him with its terrible horns, he would promptly expiate his rashness. My faithful Indian was much more anxious about my safety than his own. He objected to my taking a gun; he had little confidence in my skill with the lasso, and preferred that I should merely sit on horseback, unarmed and unencumbered in my movements; accordingly I set out, with a dagger for my sole weapon. We divided our party by threes, and rode gently about the plains, taking care to keep at a distance from the edge of the wood, lest we should be surprised by the animal we were seeking.
After riding for about an hour, we at last heard the baying of the dogs, and understood that the enemy was forced from its forest retreat. We watched with the deepest attention the spot where we expected him to break forth. He required a great deal of coaxing before he would show; at last there was a sudden crashing noise in the wood; branches were broken, young trees overthrown, and a superb buffalo showed himself, at about one hundred and fifty paces' distance. He was of a beautiful black, and his horns were of very large dimensions. He carried his head high, and snuffed the air as though scenting his enemies. Suddenly starting off at a speed incredible in so bulky an animal, he made for one of our groups, composed of three Indians, who immediately put their horses to a gallop, and distributed themselves in the form of a triangle. The buffalo selected one of them, and impetuously charged him. As he did so, another of the Indians, whom he passed in his furious career, wheeled his horse and threw the lasso he held ready in his hand; but he was not expert, and missed his aim. Thereupon the buffalo changed his course, and pursued the imprudent man who had thus attacked him, and who now rode right in our direction. A second detachment of three hunters went to meet the brute; one of them passed near him at a gallop, and threw his lasso, but was as unsuccessful as his comrade. Three other hunters made the attempt; not one of them succeeded. I, as a mere spectator, looked on with admiration at this combat—at those evolutions, flights, and pursuits, executed with such order and courage, and with a precision that was truly extraordinary.
I had often witnessed bull-fights, and often had I shuddered at seeing the toreadors adopt a similar method in order to turn the furious animal from the pursuit of the picador. But what comparison could possibly be established between a combat in an enclosed arena and this one in the open plain—between the most terrible of bulls and a wild buffalo? Fiery and hot-blooded Spaniards, proud Castilians, eager for perilous spectacles, go, hunt the buffalo in the plains of the Marigondon! After much flight and pursuit, hard riding, and imminent peril, a dexterous hunter encircled the animal's horns with his lasso. The buffalo slackened his speed, and shook and tossed his head, stopping now and then to try to get rid of the obstacle which impeded his career. Another Indian, not less skilful than his predecessor, threw his lasso with a like rapidity and success. The furious beast now ploughed the earth with his horns, making the soil fly around him, as if anxious to display his strength, and to show what havoc he would have made with any of us who had allowed themselves to be surprised by him. With much care and precaution the Indians conveyed their prize into a neighbouring thicket. The hunters uttered a shout of joy; for my part I could not repress a cry of admiration. The animal was vanquished; it needed but a few precautions to master him completely. I was much surprised to see the Indians excite him with voice and gesture until he resumed the offensive, and bounded from the ground with fury. What would have been our fate had he succeeded in shaking off or breaking the lassos! Fortunately, there was no danger of this. An Indian dismounted, and, with great agility, attached to the trunk of a solid tree the two lassos that retained the savage beast; then he gave the signal that his office was accomplished, and retired. Two hunters approached, threw their lassos over the animal, and fixed the ends to the ground with stakes; and now our prey was thoroughly subdued, and reduced to immobility, so that we could approach him with impunity. With blows of their cutlasses the Indians hacked off his horns, which would so well have revenged him had he been free to use them; then, with a pointed bamboo, they pierced the membranes that separate the nostrils, and passed through them a cane twisted in the form of a ring. In this state of martyrdom they fastened him securely behind two tame buffaloes, and led him to the next village.
Here the animal was killed, and the hunters divided the carcass, the flesh of which is equal in flavour to beef. I had been fortunate in my first essay, for such encounters with these shaggy sovereigns of the plain do not always end so easily. A few days afterwards we renewed the sport, which, alas! terminated with an accident of too frequent occurrence. An Indian was surprised by a buffalo, at the moment the animal issued from the wood. With one blow from his horns the horse was impaled and cast to the earth, while his Indian rider fell near to him. The inequality of the ground offered some chance of the man escaping the notice of his redoubtable foe, until the latter, by a sudden movement of his head, turned the horse over upon his rider, and inflicted several blows with his horns, either of which would have proved fatal, but from the force becoming diminished in traversing the carcass of the horse. Fortunately some of the other sportsmen succeeded in turning the animal, and compelled him to abandon his victim. It was indeed time, for we found the poor Indian half dead, and terribly gored by the horns of the buffalo. We succeeded in stopping the blood which flowed copiously from his wounds, and carried him to the village upon a hastily constructed litter. It was only by considerable care and attention that his care was eventually effected, and my friend the Indian strongly opposed my assisting at such dangerous sport for the future.
Anna's health was now completely re-established. I no longer dreaded the return of her fearful malady. During the space of several months I had enjoyed all the pleasures that Tierra-Alta afforded, and my affairs now requiring my presence at Manilla we set out for that city. Immediately after my arrival I was compelled, much to my regret, to resume my ordinary occupation; that is, to visit the sick from morning to night, and from night to morning. My profession did not well accord with my natural character, for I was not sufficiently philosophic to witness, without pain, the sufferings I was incapable of alleviating, and, above all, to watch the death-beds of fathers, of mothers, and of dearly loved children. In a word, I did not act professionally, for I never sent in my bills; my patients paid me when and how they could. To their honour, I am bound to say that I rarely had to complain of forgetfulness. Besides, my appointments permitted me to live sumptuously, to have eight horses in my stables, and to keep open house to my friends and the strangers who visited Manilla. Soon, however, what my friends designated a coup-de-tete caused me to lose all these advantages.
Every month I summoned a council of revision in the regiment to which I belonged. One day I brought forward a young soldier for rejection; all went well; but a native surgeon, long jealous of my reputation, was nominated by the governor to make inquiry and check my declaration. He naturally inserted in his report that I was deceived; that the malady of which I spoke was imaginary; and he succeeded in all this so well that the governor, enraged, condemned me in a penalty of six piasters. The following month I again brought forward the same soldier, as being incapable of performing his duties; a commission of eight surgeons was nominated; their decision was unanimous in my favour, and the soldier was accordingly discharged. This reparation not quite satisfying me, I presented an appeal to the governor, who would not receive it, upon the strange pretext that the decision of the medical committee could not annul his. I confess that I did not understand this argument. This method of reasoning, if reasoning it was, appeared to me specious in the extreme. Why allow the innocent to suffer, and the ignorant practitioner, who had contradicted my opinions and deceived himself, to escape? This injustice revolted me. I am a Breton, and I have lived with Indians—two natures which love only right and justice. I was so much annoyed by the governor's conduct towards me that I went to him, not to make another reclamation, but to tender my resignation of the important offices which I held. He received me with a specious smile, and told me that after a little reflection I should change my mind. The poor governor, however, was deceived, for, on leaving his palace, I went direct to the minister of finance and purchased the property of Jala-Jala. My course was marked out, my resolution unshakable. Although my resignation was not yet duly accepted, I began to act as though I was completely free. I had at the beginning informed Anna of the matter, and had asked her if she would reside at Jala-Jala. "With you I should be happy anywhere." Such was her answer. I was free, then, to act as I pleased, and could go wherever my destiny might lead me. I forthwith decided upon visiting the land that I had purchased.
For the execution of this project it was necessary to find a faithful Indian upon whom I could rely. From among my domestics I chose the coachman, a brave and discreet man, who was devoted to me. I took some arms, ammunition, and provisions. At Lapindan, a small village near the town of Santa Anna, I freighted a small boat worked by three Indians: and one morning, without making my project known to my friends, and without inquiring whether the governor had replaced me, I set out to take possession of my domains, respiring the vivifying and pure air of liberty. I ascended in my pirogue—which skimmed along the surface of the waters like a sea-gull—the pretty river Pasig, which issues from the lake of Bay, and traverses, on its way to the sea, the suburbs of Manilla. The banks of this river are planted with thickets of bamboo, and studded with pretty Indian habitations; above the large town of Pasig it receives the waters of the river St. Mateo, at the spot where that river unites itself with that of the Pasig. Upon the left bank are still seen the ruins of the chapel and parsonage of St. Nicholas, built by the Chinese, as the legend I am about to relate informs us.
At an unknown epoch, a Chinese who was once sailing in a canoe, either upon the river Pasig, or that of St. Mateo, suddenly perceived an alligator making for his frail bark, which it immediately capsized. On his finding himself thus plunged in the water, the unfortunate Chinese whose only prospect was that of making a meal for the ferocious animal, invoked the aid of St. Nicholas. You, perhaps, would not have done so, nor I either; and we should have been wrong, for the idea was a good one. The good St. Nicholas listened to the cries of the unhappy castaway, appeared to his wondering eyes, and with a stroke of a wand, like some benevolent fairy, changed the threatening crocodile into a rock, and the Chinese was saved. But do not imagine that the legend ends here; the Chinese are not an ungrateful people—China is the land of porcelain, of tea, and of gratitude. The Chinese who had thus escaped from the cruel fate that awaited him, felt desirous of consecrating the memory of the miracle; and, in concert with his brethren of Manilla, he built a pretty chapel and parsonage in honour of the good St. Nicholas. This chapel was for a long time officiated in by a bonze; and every year, at the festival of the saint, the rich Chinese of Manilla assembled there in thousands, to give a series of fetes which lasted for fifteen days. But it happened that an archbishop of Manilla, looking upon this worship offered up by Chinese gratitude as nothing but paganism, caused both the chapel and parsonage to be unroofed. These harsh measures had no other result than to admit the rain into the buildings; but the worship due to St. Nicholas still continued, and remains to this day. Perhaps this arises from the attempt to suppress it!
At present, at the period when this festival takes place—that is, about the 6th of November every year—a delightful view presents itself. During the night large vessels may be seen, upon which are built palaces actually several stories high, terminating in pyramids, and lit up from the base to the summit. All these lights are reflected in the placid waters of the river, and seem to augment the number of the stars, whose tremulous images dance on the surface of the waters: it is an extemporised Venice! In these palaces they give themselves up to play, to smoking opium, and to the pleasures of music. The pevete, a species of Chinese incense, is burning everywhere and at all times in honour of St. Nicholas, who is invoked every morning by throwing into the river small square pieces of paper of various colours. St. Nicholas, however, does not make his appearance; but the fete continues for a fortnight, at the termination of which the faithful retire till the year following.
And now that the reader is acquainted with the legend of the crocodile, of the Chinese, and of the good St. Nicholas, I will resume my voyage.
I sailed on peaceably upon the Pasig, proceeding to the conquest of my new dominions, and indulging in golden dreams. I gazed on the light smoke of my cigarette, without reflecting that my dreams, my castles in the air, must evaporate like it! I soon found myself in the lake of Bay. The lake occupies an extent of thirty leagues, and I greatly admired this fine sheet of water, bounded in the distance by mountains of fantastic forms. At length I arrived at Quinaboutasan—this is a Tagal word, which signifies "that which is perforated." Quinaboutasan is situated on a strait, which separates the island of Talem from the continent. We stopped for an hour in the only Indian hut there was in the place, to cook some rice and take our repast. This hut was inhabited by a very old fisherman and his wife. They were still, however, able to supply their wants by fishing. At a later period I shall have occasion to speak of old Relempago, or the "Thunderer," and to recount his history. When I was in the centre of the sheet of water which separates Talem from Jala-Jala, I came in sight of the new domain which I had so easily acquired, and I could form some opinion of my acquisition at a glance. Jala-Jala is a long peninsula, extending from north to south, in the middle of the lake of Bay. This peninsula is divided longitudinally for the space of three leagues by a chain of mountains, which diminish gradually in height till they become mere hillocks. These mountains, are easy of access, and generally covered on one side with forests, and on the other with fine pasturage, abounding with waving and flexible grass, three or four feet high, which, agitated by the breeze, resembles the waves of the sea when in motion. It is impossible to find more splendid vegetation, which is watered by pure and limpid springs that gush from the mountain heights, and roll in a meandering course to join the waters of the lake. These pasture grounds constitute Jala-Jala the greatest game preserve in the island: wild boars, deer, buffaloes, fowls, quail, snipe, pigeons of fifteen or twenty different varieties, parrots—in short all sorts of birds abound in them. The lake is equally well supplied with aquatic birds, and particularly wild ducks. Notwithstanding its extent, the island produces neither noxious nor carnivorous animals; the only things to be apprehended are the civet cat, which only preys upon birds, and the monkeys, which issue in troops from the forests to ravage the fields of maize and sugar-cane. The lake, which abounds with excellent fish, is less favoured in this respect than the land, for it contains numerous crocodiles and alligators, of such immense size that in a few moments one of them can tear a horse to pieces, and swallow it in its monstrous stomach. The accidents they occasion are frequent and terrible, and I have seen many Indians become their victims, as I shall subsequently relate. I ought, doubtless, to have begun by speaking of the human beings who inhabited the forests of Jala-Jala, but I am a sportsman, and must therefore be excused for beginning with the game.
At the time I purchased it Jala-Jala was inhabited by some Malay Indians, who lived in the woods, and cultivated a few spots of ground. During the night they carried on the trade of piracy, and gave shelter to all the banditti of the neighbouring provinces. At Manilla this country had been described to me in the most gloomy colours. According to the citizens of that place it would not be long before I fell a victim to these robbers. My adventurous disposition, however, only made all these predictions, instead of frightening me, increase my desire to visit these men, who lived in an almost savage state. As soon as I had purchased Jala-Jala, I had laid down a line of conduct for myself, the object of which was to attach to me such of the inhabitants as were the most to be dreaded. I resolved to become the friend of these banditti, and for this purpose I knew that I must go amongst them, not like a sordid and exacting landlord but like a father. For the execution of my enterprise, everything depended on the first impression that I should make on these Indians, who had become my vassals. When I had landed, I directed my steps along the borders of the lake, towards a little hamlet composed of a few cabins. I was accompanied by my faithful coachman; we were both armed with a good double-barreled gun, a brace of pistols, and a sabre. I had taken the precaution of ascertaining from some fishermen the name of the Indian to whom I should especially address myself. This man, who was the most respected amongst his countrymen, was called in the Tagal language, "Mabutiu-Tajo," which may be translated the "bravest of the brave" he was a thorough-paced robber, a real piratical chief; a fellow that would not hesitate to commit five or six murders in one expedition; but he was brave, and with a primitive people bravery is a quality before which they bow with respect. My conference with Mabutiu-Tajo was not long. A few words were enough to win me his favour, and to make him my faithful servant during the whole time I remained at Jala-Jala. This is the manner in which I spoke to him: "You are a great villain," I said; "I am the lord of Jala-Jala. I insist on your changing your conduct; if you refuse, I shall punish you for all your misdeeds. I have occasion for a guard: will you pledge me your honour to become an honest man, and I will make you my lieutenant?"
After these few words, Alila (this was the name of the robber) continued silent for a few moments, while his countenance displayed the marks of profound reflection. I awaited his answer with considerable anxiety and doubt as to what it would be.