[Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an obvious error by the publisher is noted at the end of this ebook.]
A TALE OF THE HILL PEOPLE
BY CHARLES GOFF THOMSON
Late Lieut.-Colonel, U. S. Army. Formerly Assistant Director of Prisons for Philippine Government
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
All rights reserved
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and electrotyped. Published April, 1921
MR. E. J. B.
WHO HAS GIVEN OF HIS COUNSEL, SPIRIT AND SUBSTANCE TO NEEDY YOUNG MEN
The poem "Casey" used in Chapter IX was written by the late Arthur W. Ferguson, formerly Executive Secretary for the Philippine Government. It has been edited and amplified but is substantially as written by him. A man of unusual facility, Mr. Ferguson composed the verses under circumstances somewhat similar to those set down herein, and with like spontaneity.
I THE FOX 1 II TERRY DECIDES 18 III MINDANAO 33 IV THE FANATIC 52 V NEW FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY 66 VI THE LAND OF HEMP 80 VII THE PYTHON 98 VIII THE STRICKEN VILLAGE 111 IX MALABANAN STRIKES 126 X MALABANAN 141 XI INTO THE FORBIDDEN HILLS 157 XII THE MAJOR FOLLOWS 175 XIII THE HILL PEOPLE 198 XIV AHMA 211 XV THE SIGN 220 XVI CIVILIZATION DAWNS IN THE HILLS 239 XVII "SUS-MARIE-HOSEP!" 250 XVIII THE FOX SKIN 262
The frosty silence of the snow-mantled hills was rent by the vicious crack of a high-powered, small-calibered rifle. The hunter sprang from the thicket in which he had lain concealed and crossed the gully to a knoll where a black furry bundle had dropped to the snow after one convulsive leap.
Exultant, Terry bent down to examine the silky black coat.
"Right through the ear. Well, Mister Fox, you're mine—though you did lead me a merry chase for twelve days! You laughed at me till the snow came—knew I wouldn't bring you out of your hole with formalin, that it was a square game we played. But to-day everything broke against you, boy,—sun and wind and snow. And perhaps hunger."
The twinge of pain that stabs every true sportsman as he realizes that he has extinguished a spark of life shadowed Terry's thin, sensitive face. It was a face of singular appeal, dominated by a queer twist of upper lip that stamped his mouth with a permanent wistfulness. Even in the bracing cold of the winter morning his skin was white, but the clear pallor was belied by the swift energy with which he moved and the eager sparkle of his dark gray eyes. He picked up the fluffy bundle and stroked the sleek fur.
"Hard luck, old boy! But now you'll never be hungry again, or cold. And I haven't hunted you all this time just for the sake of the sport." His face lighted. "You're going to be a proud little fox. If foxes have souls—and I don't see why we should deny you what we lay selfish claims to for ourselves—yours will rejoice in the purpose of your end. Every night and every morning you—"
He broke off as the distant pealing of church bells came to his ears, carried faintly but clearly by the light wind that whispered over the snowy stretches of rolling meadowlands. For a long time Terry stood facing toward the invisible village, his face moody and inscrutable. As the sound of the bells died away he shook off the spell with conscious, humorous effort and picking up his rifle and the fox he went into the thicket to secure and adjust his snowshoes.
Ignoring paths and sleighroads he made his way toward the town. The crisp pine-laden air charged his muscles with exuberant excess of the fine energy of youth and he made his way swiftly across the sparkling snow that blanketed the gentle landscape, through the thickets of evergreens and across the tiny, ice-edged creeks that flowed in swift escape from winter's frozen grip.
Keen-eyed, he stopped a moment in study of a group of pheasants that huddled in a clump of underbrush. They played possum till he passed on. A rabbit, reared up in nervous-nosed inquiry, watched him furtively as he approached the rock behind which it had vainly sought concealment. Terry laughed at its ridiculous plight.
"You'd better improve your strategy, you young scamp, or you'll wind up in the pot of some one who hunts rabbits!"
He watched its jumpy flight into a distant copse of young pines, then went on swiftly. In an hour he paused at the top of a last steep grade. Lake Champlain stretched her flat-frozen bosom to the north and south of him. The more level timbered areas of the opposite shore were broken here and there by clearings in which white farm houses and red barns nestled like doll houses.
At the foot of the slope directly beneath him a village lay primly along the lake shore. It was a square-built town, its limits almost rectangular, its breadth and width checkered into exact squares by wide, straight streets. It was an old town: a score of its flat-roofed structures had been built while the Mohawks still guarded the Western Gate of the Long House, and many of the great, old-fashioned homes had stood when Ethan Allen strutted through its streets.
It was not a snug little town, there was no air of hospitality to encourage strangers to tarry within its gates, but seemed to promise "value received" for any who came, paid their way and attended strictly to their own affairs.
Thus Terry saw the town in which he had been born and had spent all of his twenty-six years except the four at Princeton. He tarried, his eyes fixed upon the cemetery which limited the eastern edge of the town, to which his father and mother had been carried when he was a boy of eleven.
He faced about in lingering appreciation of the blue-vaulted expanse, then descended toward the village. Whipping off his snowshoes at the border of the village he entered the main street, which ran straight through town to the lake front. No one was in sight on the broad thoroughfare and he found a measure of relief in its emptiness, for though he did not adhere to the rigid New England doctrine that governed his neighbors, he found no pleasure in wanton violation of their stiff code. Realizing that with snowshoes, gun and fox he jarred heavily upon the atmosphere of the quiet Sunday morning, he hurried down the street.
He encountered no one, but as he passed by the ice-incrusted watering trough at the central square and approached the block made up by Crampville's three churches, the big doors of his own church were flung open and the congregation emerged. As the decorous crowd filed out Terry hesitated a moment, then kept on his way.
The progress of the lone figure along the opposite side of the street was the topic of conversation at nearly every dinner table in Crampville that Sunday. It became a sort of small-town epic, so that they still tell how stern the elders looked, and how white Terry's face against the background of black fur which he had thrown across his shoulder in order to free his right hand that he might gravely raise his crimson hunting cap in respectful salutation of families he had known from childhood. And they still tell, too, how Deane Hunter, flushed with mortification at her father's frigid refusal to recognize Terry's greeting, checked the nudges and whisperings by calling out a cheerful "Good Morning, Dick." Her courageous voice still rang in his ears as he entered the iron-fenced yard that surrounded the home of his fathers.
Inside the great, high-ceilinged house Terry stood a while in somber reflection, then shrugged his trim shoulders and passed through the shadowy rooms out into the barn. In five minutes he had cleaned and oiled his rifle, but an hour passed while he carefully removed the pelt and tacked it taut upon a stretching board.
He was in the library, reading, when his sister and brother-in-law came downstairs in response to the dinner bell. Susan and her husband, Ellis Crofts, had lived in the old mansion since their marriage two years previously, rather against Ellis' desires. He had wished to set up an establishment of his own, but had yielded to Susan's pleadings and Terry's sincere letter from college asking him not to be instrumental in closing up a house that had been lived in continuously by the Terrys of four generations.
They had been among the last to emerge from church, but had come out in time to see Terry as he opened the gate, and had heard enough of the murmured comment to understand its significance. It had been difficult for them to control their emotions as they kept slow step with the throng down the broad sidewalk. Susan, mortified but loyal to the core, had set her face in defiant smile lest she burst into tears: Ellis, devoted to Terry but tickled by the situation, had smothered his snickers in protracted fits of coughing.
Terry threw aside a handbook on the curing of pelts and rose at their entrance, smiling:
"Well, do you good folks think you are safe in sitting at the same table with an unrepentant sinner?"
Susan had been crying. "Oh, Dick! Why did you do it? How do you do such things?"
He waved his hand in humorous deprecation. "Easy. It's the simplest thing I do. It isn't difficult if you have a knack for it."
"But, Dick, it's no joke. I saw the three elders of our church—Ballard, Remington and Van Slyke—talking about it, and they were very bitter. And you know they can expel any church member."
Terry made no answer save to put his arm around each and lead them into the dining room. But Susan was not content.
"Dick, I wish you would explain it to Ballard or Van Slyke. They are influential men and both are very religious."
Ellis took a hand: "Their religion is all right, so far as it goes—but they mix it up with their dyspepsia too much to suit me!"
As his wife turned rebuking eyes upon him he pursued doggedly: "Not that their dyspepsia and religion are always mixed; they have their dyspepsia seven days in the week!"
She joined in their laughter over Ellis' exaggerated defense, then turned again to her brother.
"What are you going to do with that nasty thing you shot, Dick?"
"Nasty?" broke in Ellis in quick alarm. "You didn't shoot a skunk, did you?"
She ignored her husband and persisted: "Tell me why you shot that fox, Dick. You have been out hunting nearly every day for two weeks and have shot nothing else, so I know you have a reason."
"I'm not going to help eat it!" Ellis broke in. "I've heard they are stringy—and a bit smelly."
"Ellis, will you stop being ridiculous? Dick, why have you hunted that fox so long?"
Ellis had seen that Terry was not to be pumped, that this was another of his queer quests. He tried again to shunt Susan away.
"Maybe it was a personal matter between him and the fox, Sue."
She turned on him a look she endeavored to make disdainful, but only succeeded in raising another laugh from both. But she was not to be deterred. Her eyes lit with sudden inspiration.
"I'll bet—I'll bet anything—" she began.
"Susan Terry Crofts! Even Dick would not bet on Sunday!"
"I will bet anything," she insisted, "that it is something for Deane—for Christmas!"
In the slight flush that rose in her brother's face Susan learned that she had hit the mark. But she was instantly sorry that she had pressed the issue, as she had learned long before to respect what was to her his queer reticence.
Ellis hurried into the breach: "Wonder what Bruce will give Deane this Christmas? He is about due to present her with something really worth while—like a patent mop!"
Even Terry laughed. The struggle for Deane's favor between Bruce Ballard and Terry had been in progress nearly ten years and had become one of the town's institutions. The first formal offerings tendered by the two boys on the occasion of her graduation from high school typified the contrasting characters of the rivals: Terry, idealistic, impressionable, reserved, had sent her a beautiful copy of the "Love Letters of a Musician," while Bruce, sincere, obvious and practical, had given her a hat-pin.
On her succeeding birthday Terry, after a six-hour climb, had won for her a box of trailing arbutus from Mount Defiance's cool top; Bruce had sent her candy. From his medical college at Baltimore Bruce had sent, as succeeding Christmas gifts, an ivory toilet set, a thermos bottle, a reading lamp and a chafing dish.
Terry's offerings on those occasions had been a Japanese kimono embroidered with her favorite flower—a wondrous thing secured by correspondence with the American consul at Kobe: a pair of Siamese kittens which he named Cat-Nip and Cat-Nap: a sandal-wood fan out of India; and a little, triple-chinned, ebony god of Mirth, its impish eyes rolled back in merriment, mouth wrinkled with utter joy of the world.
The rivalry had divided the town into two camps. The pro-Bruce faction, composed largely of men folk, claimed for their protege a splendid common sense in selection of his gifts: but the women and girls, who made up the other group, envied Deane not only the gifts Terry gave her, but also—and more so—the rarefied romantic spirit of the youth who conceived and offered them.
Deane realized that both Bruce and Terry stayed on in the dull old town principally to be near her. This was true of Bruce particularly, as he was a young surgeon of such promise that he had twice been invited into junior association with Albany's greatest specialist. She had strongly urged him to embrace the increased opportunity for service and profit which the city afforded.
But Terry was only six months out of college, a six months spent in futile effort to adjust himself to the theme of the village, to find appropriate outlet for that urgent desire to be of use in the world which dominated his character. As the Terrys were of those families termed "comfortable" in Crampville, he felt no need of devoting himself to adding to an already ample estate. At his sister's request, he had undertaken to manage a shoe store that represented one of their holdings but at the end of a couple of months had given it up—also in accord with her wishes. Higgins, their old clerk, had come to her with tearful warnings that Terry's unwillingness to refuse credit to any one who came in with a tale of hard-luck was ruining the business: and Terry had lost the custom of several good families by declining to humor their crotchety unreasonableness.
But Higgins did not know how they came to lose the trade of the Hunter family. At the end of a trying day of insistent demand for smaller shoes than feminine feet could accommodate, of viewing bunions and flat arches and wry-jointed toes, he had written Deane:
I used to think that the true glory of Trilby rested in the wondrous mesmeric voice—but after a month in the shoe business I know better. Between perfect vocal cords and perfect feet, give me the feet.
The word "shoe" used to bring to my mind thoughts of calfskin, kid, patent leather. But no more! Now I think of—well, many things.
I am glad that your family is not among those who favor this establishment with its patronage. I am very happy in this, as it is good to think that your dear shoes are but a part of you, are incidental to your being, and not a consequence of drear barter and "fitting."
I will not be over to-night. But I will be thinking of you.
A bit puzzled, she had shown the note to her father. Irate, he had issued a mandate that produced the effect Terry had asked. Mr. Hunter was acutely sensitive about twin corns which had been a part of his toes so long that he honestly thought them congenital.
After quitting the store Terry had turned his attention to their farm properties but, as a careful investigation covering three months had demonstrated them to be in capable hands, he had returned them to the full management of the old tenants at the end of the harvest. He had then studied the possibilities of enlarging their only other business, a small pulp plant, but after satisfying himself that the meager water power was being fully utilized and that the location of the mill at Crampville precluded competition with those more favorably located that were operated with steam power, he had abandoned the project. For a month he had been seeking outlet for his restless energy.
Deane, anxiously watching his endeavor to fit himself into one of Crampville's narrow grooves and vaguely understanding his unvoiced craving for wider horizons, dreaded the break she knew would take him away. Susan, studying him with the uneasy solicitude of an older sister, saw in Deane an anchor which would hold him to the town. Ellis had been less concerned, as he had recognized that Terry's intolerance of the village was but the outcropping of a sane young spirit that gauged the peaks and sought real service. He had been trying lately to prepare his wife for Terry's departure to other fields, as he thought it inevitable. It was a word to this effect that had precipitated the tears with which she had greeted her brother before dinner.
Ellis plagued Susan throughout the leisurely meal, Terry adding an occasional word whenever the flow of affectionate badgering lagged. Fanny, who had served them since they were children, bustled in and out, redfaced, wholesome, fruitlessly trying to press upon Terry an excess of the over-ample dinner. It was a sort of unwritten law in Crampville that the Sunday dinner should be sufficiently heavy to drive the menfolk to a long digestive nap.
Ellis lingered at the table after Terry had excused himself and gone out into the barn again. Susan helped Fanny clear the old mahogany table, then sank into a chair beside her abstracted husband.
"Sue," he said finally, "Dick hasn't said anything lately about accepting that position in the Philippines, has he?"
A worried look crept into her smooth face: "No. I supposed he had decided against it."
He patted her hand consolingly: "Don't be too confident about his staying home, Sue. He wants to see things—do things! There isn't much in this town to hold one of his nature."
"There's—Deane," she said, hopefully.
"Sue, don't be so sure of that, either. You know that you and I hold different theories about that. Don't bank too heavily on yours." He drummed the polished table a moment before continuing: "He received another telegram from Washington yesterday—I thought he might have mentioned it to you."
"No," she quavered.
"Nor to me. Guess he doesn't want to worry you."
She was close to tears again: "I wish he had never met that young Bronner in college—he gave Dick all these crazy ideas about going to those horrid islands where his brother is!"
"Well, Sue, he made me feel the same way—and I'm a fat married man! I enjoyed his stories of his brother's experiences with the wild people over there. It must be an interesting life."
"You don't talk like that to Dick, do you?" she implored.
"Of course not. But I think you've been too sure that he would stay on here indefinitely—I think it will take very little to tip the scales the other way."
He yawned prodigiously, rousing Susan to an ire that stemmed the flow of tears which had threatened to overflow her blue eyes. Then, content with his tactics, he went upstairs for his traditional nap.
* * * * *
Later, Terry came into the big living room and stood in front of the fireplace a long time, his lean face grave and thoughtful. Decision made, he wrote a note of sincere apology to Doctor Mather, his pastor. He also wrote Deane that he would not be over in the evening but would see her during the week, and made the delivery of the notes an excuse to get the faithful Fanny out into the crisp December afternoon.
The light in the Terry library burned long after Crampville's other lights had winked out. He had been picked up by Stevenson and carried by that pathetic master into the far places of the earth.
* * * * *
The next morning he was in the barn, his gay mood revealed by the running talk addressed to the pelt on which he worked.
"Well, old boy, only four days to get you into shape for your dedication, but the book says it can be done. So you might as well soften up now—"he vigorously rubbed the dried bare side with some oily preparation—"as later."
"What a destiny, old chap! Surely no other fox ever born to lady-fox can be as happy as you're going to be!" He rubbed industriously. "You're not for me, you know. No, sir! I wouldn't bring you out of the hills into this burg—where they kill ambition by preaching content with your lot, where the hoarders of pennies are venerated and the pluggers canonized—I wouldn't bring you here just for me. For I'm not worthy of you. No, sir-ree! Don't you know I'm no good—didn't you see that yesterday? Why, Old Samuel Terwilliger said I'm an atheist because I quoted Ingersoll's graveside oration—said no Christian would repeat anything that man ever said, even if his watch is a bargain at a dollar!... Samuel likes bargains."
Working rapidly, with no lost motions, he rambled on, congratulatory, reproachful, whimsical. Having carried the curing to a point where a twenty-four-hour time process was the next essential factor, he carefully pegged the skin to the barn door.
* * * * *
That evening Susan came running home excitedly, having learned that one of the elders had asked that a meeting be called to consider Dick's case, and that the young pastor had very promptly and very emphatically vetoed the proceeding. It seemed that Bruce had heard of the move and persuaded his father not to support it, after a stormy scene in which he had threatened to resign his own membership if they moved against Terry.
Ellis looked long at Terry: "Nothing small about Bruce, Dick. Some fellows, under the circumstances—all the circumstances—might have let you have it to the hilt."
Terry smiled gravely. "Good old Bruce," he said.
He left the room, slowly, and sat alone in the library. It had struck deep, that even one God-fearing but not God-loving old man should think him unfit to sit in the church in which his father and mother had been married, from which they had been carried side by side for their long rest. It was midnight when he went up the broad staircase to his room.
The following afternoon he dropped in to see Father Jennings, the gentle little priest who had been beloved by two generations of all denominations—and those of none. Terry loved the old study, which in forty years had taken on something of the priest's character. It was a comfortable room; cheerful in its wide windows, warm with a bright hearthfire, and well worn with long years of service.
Terry had found friendship and counsel here since his boyhood, had been one of the procession that passed through the door in search of wisdom and cheer. All the gossip of the town came to the priest: he knew of Terry's hunting trip and of the climax which had scandalized the sterner factions of the community. He was of those who knew Terry best, and entertained no misgivings about the state of his immortal soul.
They talked fitfully, as intimate friends do. The old man knew that it was worry over the town's harsh reaction to the Sunday fox hunt that had brought Terry to him. He broached the subject.
"Dick, I have wanted to see you since Sunday morning. I had a question to ask you nobody else could answer."
As Terry turned to him with somber mien he concluded, his eyes twinkling: "I wanted to know if it was the best fox ever!"
And that was all, though Terry stayed to sup with him. Till nine o'clock they sat before the fire, the priest in a worn rocker drawn up close to the hearth: the single log burning glorified his fine old face as he placidly rocked and pondered.
He had spent the morning among his foreign parishioners, who lived in the squalid section of the town, across the river. A frugal, law-abiding lot, they furnished the brawn needed in the three pulp factories and lived a life apart from the balance of the towns-people, bitterly but voicelessly resenting the villagers' careless ostracism of all who came under the easy classification of the term "wop." There existed a tacit agreement among property owners that no house north of the river should be sold or leased to a foreigner, and that no garlic might taint the atmosphere their children breathed in school, they had erected a small schoolhouse upon the southside. So, sequestered six days in the week in a settlement that was entirely foreign, communicating their thoughts in the tongues of the Mediterranean and the Balkans, the southsiders mingled with Americans only during the brief hours of Sunday worship.
In his morning visit Father Jennings had again met with several evidences of Terry's curious influence over the foreigners. Terry understood them instinctively, grasped their viewpoints and ideals, and was the only layman on the northside in whom they confided, called in to settle knotty problems and to partake of the hospitality they lavished upon appropriate occasions of weddings, christenings and the neverending procession of days of patron saints. Subtle, romantic, circumscribed by alien environment, they recognized in him a kindred spirit and opened their hearts wide to him. Terry, his ardent young pastor—Dr. Mather—and Father Jennings were the only northsiders whom they called friends. None of the three had been named on the town's "Committee on Americanization." ...
The priest roused from his revery and for a long time contemplated the quiet, thoughtful lad who sat beside him. Gradually a deep concern spread across his comfortably aged features, a presentiment of impending loss shadowed his pleasant eyes. He reached out to lay his hand on Terry's forearm.
"Dick," he said, "there is plenty for you to do right here in Crampville—what is this I hear about your going to the Philippines?"
Christmas Eve, the large snowflakes drifted slowly down out of a windless sky. The dusk was cheerful with the sound of sleigh bells that announced the arrival or departure of last-hour shoppers.
Terry, at his desk in the great living room, surveyed the finished trophy happily. It was an unusually black and lustrous pelt. He buried his face in the silky mat a moment, then drew out paper and pen, and wrote:
Some three years ago a mother fox suffered that this one might be born: denied herself food that he might satisfy his urgent little appetite as he grew bigger and stronger. When he was big enough he left her and forgot her—she may have suffered then, too.
He lived as foxes do. Things died that he might eat; rabbits, pheasants, chickens, field-mice. He stalked all things less strong and clever than himself. A cruel cycle, but it is the law of the wild, something that you and I cannot alter.
He enjoyed the summers best, with their longer days, fuller larders, sweet wood odors, long naps in the cool shadows of the thicket. But winter came, with its hardships and its cold, a cold that little foxes feel the same as you and I. But it was this cold that stimulated and silkened his fur, made it this wondrous, prized thing.
Then I came, and he ceased to be what he was—a hunter of smaller, weaker things—and became what you see here: a finer thing—a token. Your kind heart need find no cruelty in a merciful shot that spelled no pain and that by stopping him assured that gentler, weaker things will live on and on.
And he will be glad, too, as not only is he forever freed from cold and hunger and stark fear, but his is to be a tender office.
Will you lay it at your bedside, that each night it may cushion your last step at slumbertime, and each morning soften the first contact between the vistas of dreamland and the less yielding surfaces of life to which we wake.
So even the things of the wild are made to serve. To serve—is that not the law of man?
My part in it? But little: none other than I will have touched it till it reaches your dear hands. I shaped it, wrought to preserve its beauties that it might give you pleasure.
To give pleasure—is that not the law of love?
A very, very Merry Christmas!
He sent his gift, at about nine o'clock. In gay mood, he wandered about the great house: entered the kitchen where Fanny was singeing the Christmas turkey: returned to the living room to throw a fresh log in the wide fireplace. His mood was too expansive for indoors. He donned short coat and thick cap, but as he passed out of the gate a scared little lad, a foreigner, rushed up breathlessly and begged him to come—trouble was brewing on the southside.
His questions elicited meager information. Excited, the lad relapsed so often into his native tongue that Terry could make nothing of his tale.
Hand in hand they hurried through the village, crossed the dark bridge and approached a ramshackle house from which a babble of voices rose in strident argument. The excited chorus abated at Terry's sharp knock and the door was thrown open to disclose the belligerent figure of Tony Ricorro, the leader of the Italian colony. Recognizing the reefered figure that smiled up at him through the falling flakes, Tony's dark scowl faded as he reached out his powerful hands and with a joyous shout fairly lifted Terry into the house.
Terry laughed as the gaudily dressed occupants of the room crowded around him, and greeted most of the score of swarthy men and women by name. Tony masterfully stripped him of his overcoat and cap and placed them in the kitchen from which emanated odors of strange things cooking. The room was stifling with heat and with smells—beer, garlic, tobacco, perfumes, kerosene.
Tony charged in from the kitchen with a bottle of beer but Terry shook his head. Tony was hospitably insistent, "What! No beer?"
"No thanks, Tony."
"What's matt'? Bad stomach?"
"Yes," smiled Terry, "call it that."
He plunged into the business in hand. "Tony, what's the trouble here to-night?"
Tony's first word of explanation was instantly submerged beneath a chorus of voices; the excited crowd surged around Terry, as voluble of gesture as of tongue. Pandemonium descended.
Terry finally silenced the din by standing on his chair and pantomiming his desire to be heard. "Now, listen to me," he began, after quiet was restored, "I'm going to ask you all to keep silent, and to promise me that no one will speak except those I call by name." They all promised—each one not once but in a series of lengthy assurances which he had to raise his hand to cut short.
"Now, Tony, you first. What's the matter?"
Tony's face registered his utter disgust. "What'sa matt'? What'sa matt'? Evra teeng 'sa matt'! Tommor' we christen our bab' and evra' bod' want a name heem!" He glared at the restless circle which ringed them.
The odd wistful twist at the corner of Terry's mouth disappeared for a moment in his slow smile; this was so like these people, who bore big troubles stoically and reacted powerfully to inconsequentials.
He called on several others. All were relatives of Tony or of his wife; sisters, brothers, several "in-laws," Tony's father, two uncles. Each had his or her name for the child, and sound reasons for the choice.
"Tony, where is Felice?" he asked, noting that Tony's wife was not in the crowded dining room.
Tony took him into a dimly lighted room, where his wife lay in bed; the guiltless cause of all this dissension, obviously inured to clamor, was asleep in her arm. She smiled up at Terry as he sat down on the edge of the bed and took her hand.
Tony stood looking down at Felice and their first-born, his heart in his eyes.
"Tony, what does Felice wish to name your son?" Terry asked suddenly.
Receiving no answer, he looked up at Tony and read in the agonized contrition of Tony's dark face that she had not yet been consulted. Tears glistened in the forgiving eyes Felice turned on Tony, and as he flung himself down at the side of the bed and buried his face in her pillow, Terry tiptoed out of the room and softly closed the door.
In a few minutes Tony flung the door open and strode into the room, unashamed of the tears that shone on his rough cheeks.
"You all a go to hell-a with your a-names! Felice, she name-a our boy and to-morrow we go Padre Jenneeng. She a name heem"—he paused with true Latin sense of the value of suspense—"She a name heem—Reechar' Terree—Ricorro!"
A moment of hesitation, of assimilation, and then a hubbub of delighted acceptance and acclaim. Terry stayed but a few minutes, realizing that much as they liked him, there would be more spontaneity at the fiesta if there were none but their own people at the table.
He went in and thanked Felice gravely for the honor she had conferred upon him, wished for them all a merry Christmas, and passed out amid a medley of thanks and benedictions.
The snowfall had ceased. He crossed to the North Side and hastened up Main Street, and though it lacked but an hour of midnight, he found Judd's jewelry store still open. He went in and found young Judd about to close up.
Judd, hollow eyed with the fatigue of the long day, studied his old friend's beaming face: "Hello, Sir Galahad!" he said.
Terry eyed him scornfully: "Hello, Rut!" He drew himself up proudly. "Behold in me a new dignity—I am now a god-father!"
Having in mind the parents' love for the elaborate, he gayly selected an ornate silver cup for the infant.
"I'll engrave it for you after the holidays," Judd offered.
"Good old boy, Judd! The initials will be R—T—R."
He buttoned his coat and went to the door: Judd was musing over the monogram: "Richard—Terry—what's the 'R' stand for, Dick?"
Terry grinned as he called back through the open door.
"Why,—Romance, of course!"
* * * * *
He tramped far out the north road through the new fallen snow, his whole being glowing. The stars sparkled through the clear cold air in myriad chorus of the message of hope that one in the East had heralded to a sadder world on another Christmas eve. The snow-flung star beams illuminated the peaceful countryside: there was no moon, no light save the great glow of the heavens, no shadows under gaunt oaks or huddled evergreens.
He was in harmony with the night. He followed the sleigh-rutted highway for several miles, then swung back to town along a woodcutter's trail that edged the lakeshore, winding through the new growths of pine and balsam whose night-black branches were outlined by the white fall.
He loved the open: there was no loneliness here.... Magic-wrought, Deane's phantom figure kept apace, matched step with step along the shore trail through the hushed woods, across the white sheen of open spaces. Ever, when summoned thus, she came to share the hours and the places that he loved best.
Love surged hot through his veins: love of friends, of living, of youth, love of a woman ... probably his gift lay at her bedside now, as she slept....
Unconsciously he slowed his pace and lifted his fine, pale face upward: his low, clear baritone flooded the broken woods, carried far out across the silent frozen lake, unechoed; it was vibrant with the very spirit of yuletide—love of man and woman.
Love, to share again those winged scented days, Those starry skies: To see once more your joyous face, Your tender eyes: Just to know that years so fair might come again, Awhile: Oh! To thrill again to your dear voice— Your smile!
It was long past midnight when he reached town, his mood chilling indefinably at sight of its dark houses.
"You're a queer old town," he muttered. "You go to bed on this night of nights—yes, and you batten your windows tight against this glorious air—and all of the other glorious things."
Passing the suspicious village constable, he penetrated even his callous heart with the most gladsome Christmas greeting he had heard in many a year.
Home, he stirred the dying logs into flame and sank into a deep cushioned chair drawn up before the glowing embers. The long day had taken no toll of his lithe frame: sleepless, he sat long in pleasant retrospection of the day, which had brought him opportunities to contribute to the sum of peace on earth and to give pleasure to those whom he loved.
His gift to Deane had approached even his exacting criterion of what was fit for her. He envied the skin its rapturous reception, the sparkle of bright eyes its beauty would invoke. It was characteristic that his vision did not carry him to the daily contact of pink toes he had assigned as its function. And it was characteristic of him, too, that he did not think of the gifts which had come for him.
He would see the elders, he mused, and apologize for what must have seemed to them a deliberate flaunting of their standards ... he had been a little careless, lately ... he would remedy that ... it was a good town—his failure to settle down had been a fault ... he would find something to do, worth doing—and do it.... Deane's friendship might ripen into something mellower, and then....
He reached into an inner pocket and withdrew a telegram, bending nearer the fireplace to read it.
Washington, D. C.
Richard Terry, Crampville, Vermont.
Wire will you accept commission second lieutenant Philippine Constabulary period immediate decision essential period if you accept wire date you will be able to sail from San Francisco
Wilson Insular Bureau
The glow from the fire which ruddied his face revealed the struggle of the minute before decision came. With an expression curiously mingled of renunciation and relief he tossed the paper among the glowing embers. He rose as the sheet took fire and in the brief flash of light which marked the consumption of the telegram he saw a familiar-looking package on the library table in the shadow cast by his big chair. He carried it to the now fainter glow of the hearth and saw that it was addressed to him in Deane's trim hand. He opened it eagerly, to see what form her remembrance had taken.
It was the fox-skin, returned. Vague, trouble-eyed, he read the inclosed note.
I am sending you back your present. Father insists, because you secured it on Sunday.
It hurts me, Dick, dreadfully, but you know how he feels about such things.
It is the loveliest present I ever received—and it makes me want to cry, sometimes, when I think of your doing such things for me and thinking about me as you do. I AM crying, now, Dick.
Though I can not have it, your present will always be mine—I can never forget that you were good enough to wish me to have it.
And will you accept my very best wishes that your Christmas may be a very merry one.
He sank back into the chair again, sickened.... "That your Christmas may be a very merry one."
* * * * *
Susan, first down in the morning, raised the curtains to the brilliant Christmas morning, and turned to find him sitting in the chilled room before the dead fire. Shocked by the haggard face, she hurried to him.
"Dick, are you sick?" As she sank by the side of his chair her hand brushed against the rich fur which lay across his knees, and she understood. She placed a pitying arm about his shoulders.
"I feared it, Dick—I feared it! You know how he is—her father. I'll never speak to him again as long as—" She burst into tears.
Gently he withdrew her arm and took her hand in his.
"It's all right, Sue, it's—all—right."
Through her tears she read the pain that lurked in his eyes, the agony that betrayed the patient smile. She sobbed convulsively, heartsick in her helplessness to ease this young brother to whom she had been half mother.
"That's what you always say—about everything: 'it will be all right.' When you were a boy it was always the same—'it's all right.'"
He comforted her with quiet words till the storm abated. Then, "I'm going to miss you, Sue-sister," he said.
She stood up, comprehension dawning in her wide eyes.
"You're going away!"
He nodded gravely.
Slowly, fearfully, she asked, "When?"
"Way off to—those—Philippines?"
He nodded, then unable to bear longer the hurt in her tremulous face, he sought refuge in the ridiculous; he struck an attitude.
"I'm going in quest of adventure—riches—romance! I'm going to sail the Spanish Main—seek golden doubloons—maids in distress—the Fountain of Youth! I'm going to cross strange waters—travel untraveled forest ... see unseen peoples ... know unknown hills...."
An odd light flickered in his eyes, as if he half believed what he spoke. Fanny appeared at the kitchen door and with her cheery call of "Merry Christmas," the light faded from his face as he turned in quick response.
He turned to his sister in mock reproof: "Shure and it's ye that has not yet wished me aven a dacent top o' the marnin', let alone the gratin's of the sason! Shame on ye—ye heartless, thoughtless, loveless—"
He broke off, laughing at her bewilderment: she never could keep apace with his quick moods. Noting a tear still glistening he took her cheeks between his hands and kissed the wet eyes, then asked her to get word to Deane that he would be over some time during the evening.
Surprised and pleased that he should ask her to participate in his affair with Deane, she hurried to the desk set in a deep bay window.
Ellis, sleepy-eyed, came down with his hearty greetings of the day, and was surprised to find Sue bent earnestly over her writing.
"Say," he said, "can't you wait till after breakfast to thank everybody for their presents? What's the rush? Say, Dick, did you hear yet what Bruce gave to the lady of his heart? No? Well, he out-Bruced Bruce this time! He gave her a patented, electric foot-warmer!"
Terry smiled his appreciation of Ellis' chuckling loyalty and escaped upstairs to his room. Ellis wandered aimlessly over to the Christmas table and noted the number of unopened packages marked with Terry's name, then called up from the foot of the stairs:
"Come right down here, you ungrateful Non-christian, and see what Santa Claus brought you! You got more than any of us and—"
He desisted as he suddenly became aware of his wife's frantic signals, and reading the grievous trouble in her twitching face, he went to her.
* * * * *
Susan, entering Terry's room at dusk, found him standing at the window staring out into the evening, watching the shadows paint out one by one the landmarks he had known from boyhood. Two large leather bags, packed but still open, stood at the side of the bed. The two frames which had held the pictures of his father and mother lay upon the table, empty, beside letters addressed to Father Jennings, Doctor Mather, and Tony Ricorro.
He did not hear her but continued at the window, his relaxed shoulders giving an unwonted aspect of frailty to his body. She tiptoed out of the room, crept back again to look through brimming eyes at the lonely figure silhouetted against the darkening window, then stumbled into her own room and closed the door.
* * * * *
Terry returned to Deane in the sitting room after bidding her father and mother a courteously friendly farewell. Mr. Hunter, vaguely disturbed, had followed his wife upstairs reluctantly; he was not quite confident that his decision regarding the fox skin had been justified, and would have been glad had Terry given him opportunity to discuss it. In a moment his voice sounded down to them as he defended himself against his irate spouse.
"I don't care what you say, Marthy, he's got to settle down and—"
Then their door closed.
For a long time Deane and Terry stood voiceless, each leaden with a dull misery. The shock of his announcement had paled her and she stared hopelessly at him out of wide blue eyes, her full red lips aquiver at the hurt she read in the gray eyes and the queer wistful mouth.
She broke the pulsing silence: "I never understand you, Dick,—quite. Is it because of the fox skin?"
He shook his head uncertainly, barely conscious of her words in a last rapt gaze at her, vaguely aware that this was the picture of her that he would carry in his mind through the years to come. Rounded, long of lines, apart from him she looked as tall as he, though there was a two inch discrepancy; the wide eyes and generous, curved mouth indicated her infinite capacity for affection. The shadow of a dimple flickered high on her left cheek: the quickened beat of heart pulsed in the white column of her throat.
"Is it because you hate the town, Dick?" she asked tremulously.
Again he shook his head slowly: "No, Deane, it is not that. The town is all right—it is not that."
He paused, brooding, then went on: "Last night I did not sleep—much—thinking about it. It's all my fault.... I do not fit. So I am going away, going to try to find my own place, somehow."
Tortured by his patient smile, she followed him out into the dim hall, half blinded by her burning tears. She sobbed unrestrainedly as he slipped into his overcoat.
He came to her, his hand outstretched, his voice husky.
"Good-by, Deane-girl," he said.
Taking his hand she stepped close to him, misty-eyed, atremble.
"Good-by, Di—Oh, Dick! Don't go! Don't go way over to those awful Islands!"
He steadied her with an arm about the shaking shoulders. She leaned full against him and in the soft contact his pulses leaped. He fought to resist the temptation to take advantage of her mood, knew that for the moment she was his if he but pressed his claim.
Suddenly she looked up at him, glorious in her grief and surrender.
"Shall I—do you want me to—to—wait?"
For a few moments it seemed that he had not heard the low voice.
Then: "Don't wait, Deane-girl,—don't wait."
Then the arm was gone from about her shoulder.
"But I will, Dick, I will!" she sobbed, but as the words fell from her lips she heard the door close and felt the gust of cold air that chilled the hall.
* * * * *
She was still awake when the midnight accommodation whistled its impending arrival from the north. She listened, tense, as the train came to a stop in the town. A brief halt, then it sounded its underway, the pistons accelerated their chugging beat and it passed out of Crampville into the south.
She stood, still-breathed, dry-eyed, till the last grinding rumble died out of the frosty night, then as a full realization of her loss came home, she dropped to the side of the bed and buried her face in the coverlid.
The floor where she knelt seemed cold and hard.
The old Francesca, directed by a nervous and none too competent Tagalog captain, maneuvered in the six-mile tidal current which swept west through the Straits making Zamboanga a nightmare to all the native skippers who called at that port. Crab-like, she crawled obliquely to within a few hundred feet of the low-lying town, then the screw churned up a furious wake as the anxious Tagalog on the bridge swung her back into the Straits to circle in a new attempt. Carried by the tidal rush the old tub circled in a great ellipse.
Alone at the rail on the dingy promenade Terry stood enjoying his first glimpse of Mindanao. Seven months in Luzon had brought him countless tales of this uncertain southland—tales of pirates, of insolent, murderous datos defiant behind their cotta fortresses, of kris and barong wielded by fanatic Moros gone amok; of pearls as large as robins' eggs, of nuggets tossed as playthings by naked children of the forests, of mysterious tribes who inhabited the fastnesses of inaccessible hills.
He wore the service uniform of the Constabulary, the field uniform of khaki blouse and breeches, tan shoes and leggings, and stiff-brimmed cavalry Stetson. The smart uniform set his erect figure off trimly and added to the impression of alertness conveyed by his steady gray eyes.
In the two wide swings back into midstream that ensued before the steamer approached near enough land to get ropes to the little brown stevedores who waited on the dock, Terry had ample opportunity for study of the tropic panorama. The sea was dotted with Moro vintas, swiftest of all Malayan sailing craft; tide and wind borne, some scurried at tremendous pace toward the fishing grounds of the Sulu Sea, others tacked painfully into the Celebes. A Government launch, its starred and striped flag brilliant against the green sea in the morning light, left its jetty and headed south toward the dim coastline of Basilan. A score of gulls, that had followed the ship down from Sorsogon, fattening on the waste thrown overboard after each meal, circled around the ship aimlessly, uttering unpleasant cries. The young sun mounted swiftly in a cloudless sky, hot on the trail of the cool morning breezes, white in its threat of blistering punishment of all who dared its shafts.
The hawser snubbed, the drum of the rusty winch rattled and banged on worn bearings to a tune of escaping steam, laboriously warping the smelly hull alongside the dock. Terry watched the sturdy little Moros spring into agile life as the vessel slowly neared the pier, then he turned to look over the town which was built flush with the edge of the narrow beach, extending each way from the shore end of the pier. The galvanized-iron roofs of the taller buildings—church, convent, club, a few more pretentious dwellings,—were visible above the low foliage and between the tall acacias and firetrees which jagged the skyline. A heavily laden breeze identified unmistakably several long buildings as copra warehouses.
It seemed a busy town, as towns near the equator go. In the street into which the pier opened a thin stream of pedestrians passed by in brief review before the watcher: Moros, a few Filipinos, a Chino staggering under a heavy balanced pinga, two white-clad Americans, while several rickshaws, Moro drawn, jogged by with patrons concealed under raised tops. Then a big foreign touring car turned the corner and drew up in front of the government building to deposit a middle aged American, immaculate in fresh pongee.
Terry, observing him idly from where he stood at the rail, saw a larger, uniformed American swing the corner with vigorous stride and after saluting the older man accompany him respectfully to the entrance to the big building, where they stood a moment in conversation. Terry's interest quickened as he recognized the big American as a member of his own service; he watched him approach the ship through the crowd of half-nude sweating Moros who now swarmed the dock.
Terry, hastening down the ship's ladder, met the tall officer as he reached the end of the pier.
He was a loosely knit, raw-boned man of about thirty-five, of serious but pleasant mien. As he stepped to meet Terry, Terry saw that he wore the leaves of a Major.
"Lieutenant Terry?" he asked, responding with friendly informality to Terry's stiff salute.
"I'm Bronner. Mighty glad to know you. We've been looking for you ever since receiving a copy of the Headquarters Bulletin ordering you down here. Have a good trip?"
"Well, Major, the Francesca is no Empress liner but we got along all right. I am very glad to know you, Major. Your brother and I were roommates at college—he used to tell me of your experiences with the head hunters—"
"Huh!" the Major interrupted. "Guess he stretched things some. Fine boy. Wants to come over when he graduates this June, but his mother says one son over here is enough. And she's right."
Terry liked the big irregular features. In the steady eyes he saw something that forced instant credence to the stories told of the Major's resourceful bravery under difficult situations, a bravery which had made the name of Bronner famous in a service made up of intrepid men.
"Welcome to Moroland," the Major continued. "I hope you like it down here—I think you will. If I didn't I wouldn't have requested your transfer. You are assigned to the most interesting of the Moro provinces,—Davao. You go there to command a Macabebe company. Your baggage still aboard?"
"Forget the 'sir'! Leave your stuff on board—the Francesca sails at daylight to-morrow, and you go on to Davao with her. Had breakfast? I thought not. Pack a bag with what you will need for a day ashore—put on a white uniform for to-night. My orderly will take you to my quarters where you can get a shower and some breakfast. Join me at the Service Club for lunch."
Throughout the abrupt discourse Terry had endured the frank appraisal of the shrewd black eyes. He experienced a pleasant reaction when the Major again extended his broad hand.
"Lieutenant, I said a minute ago that I was glad to know you. Let me repeat it—I mean it. Adios, till lunch time."
He pushed his way good-naturedly through the throng of Moros who were handling the bales and boxes unloaded from the roach-ridden hull and walked off the pier, disappearing into the government building. Terry boarded the vessel, warmed by the friendliness of his new chief, and by the time the orderly arrived had thrown a few things into his bag and was ready to go ashore.
He followed the soldier down the main street, a dusty thoroughfare lined with the usual assortment of structures which adorn Philippine provincial towns: adobe, tile-roofed business houses honeycombed with little box-like shops in which the Chinese merchants displayed their wares: square wooden houses set high on stone understructures: scores of bamboo shacks stilted on crooked timbers, unkempt, wry, powdered with the dust risen since the last rains.
Though it was not yet nine o'clock, they sought the shaded side of the street with the habit which becomes instinctive near the equator, and welcomed the coolness of Bronner's low house.
The cook and the houseboy looked after him with the unobtrusive perfection of service found only in the East. A good breakfast cheered a stomach outraged by the greasy mess perpetrated upon native boats in the name of Spanish cookery, and a cool shower bath eliminated the stench of stale copra which had clung to his nostrils if not to his clothing. An hour before noon he left the house and strolled about the scorching town, regardless of where he went so long as he found shaded walks on which to tread.
* * * * *
Most Philippine towns are coast towns, and most coast towns are flat and uninteresting unless you are interested in their peoples—and you are not interested in them unless they are of a different tribe than you have known previously.
Take a couple of dusty—or muddy—streets, unroll them along some freshwater stream just above a line of palmed beach: place an immense, deserted-looking softstone church in an unkept square flanked with a few straggled acacias and a big convent in which a native priest lives in weary and squalid detachment from a world he knows nothing about: line the two streets with an assortment of rusty bamboo and mixed-material houses which impress one as never having been built but as always having stood there: sprinkle a few naked, pot-bellied, brown children staring at each other in pathetic, Malay ignorance of the manner and spirit of play: set a few brown manikins in the open windows—women who let life fly by in dull wonder of what it is all about: add a few carabaos lying in neck-deep content in mudwallows, and a score of emaciated curs which snarl at each other in habitual, gnawing hunger and which greet their masters with terrified whines: spread over it all a pall of still moist heat and a sky arched by a molten sun. Contrive all this, then imbue every object—human and creature, animate and inanimate,—with an air of hopelessness, of the futility of effort, and you will have a typical Malay town as the Americans found them.
But not so where the American has set his impious foot—impious of the dogma that you can not change the East, nor hurry it. He enjoyed the finesse of the phrase, quoted it, then jumped in to hustle the East. The old timers,—Spaniards and Britishers for the greater part—shrugged at each other over their heavy tiffins and nine o'clock dinners; these crazy Americans would soon learn! But the crazy, enthusiastic Americans, engineers, health officers, executives, school teachers, Constabulary, labored on in the glory of service: eradicated cholera, built roads and bridges, brought six hundred thousand children into school that two score tribes might find a common tongue, fought the devastating cattle plagues, wiped out brigandage and piracy, brought order and first semblance of prosperity to eight millions of people.
Young men did it all. The old-timers suddenly found that they were living in new times, in clean, healthful towns: found that business was increasing by leaps and bounds as the natives fell in behind the young Americans with a quicker stride than Orientals had ever known. And they are the reasons—those few thousands of smooth-faced Americans who laughingly threw themselves at the wall of immemorial sloth and apathy—why Kipling's phrase is seldom quoted east of India, and now not often there. And they are the reasons, those carefully chosen, confident young men of whom too many are buried over there, that we have so much of which to be proud in what has been done in our name for a backward, unfortunate people.
But we, you and I, do not know very much about it all: it is so far away and we are so busy with our affairs, our politics, our—
... You know ... we are just too busy to bother about those Tagalogs and headhunters who live over there where Dewey licked Cervera, and Aguinaldo was king of the Igorotes or something, and Pershing rose from a captain to a general: why, I heard one of those Filipinos make a speech about independence and he was so smart and bright—he had been sent to our congress or something and was handsome and polished and....
Yes, he doubtless was. That is why he was sent: but he bore about the same mental relation to the race he is supposed to represent as a Supreme Court Justice bears to a Georgia cracker!
* * * * *
Terry had thoroughly assimilated the atmosphere of the Luzon provinces in his seven months in the Islands, so he found a real pleasure in studying a Moro town which had been under the energizing influence of the Army for nearly two decades. He wandered slowly through the native quarter, cutting down clean cross streets lined with neat nipa huts inclosed behind latticed bamboo fences, enjoying the novelty of a community different from any he had known. Every detail of the well kept streets testified to the strictness of the standards set by the white men who governed the town. The few Moros whom he encountered on the noon-deserted streets passed him silently and with averted eyes, wary, secretive, entirely alien. One looked him square in the eye, leaving him uncomfortable with the antipathy unveiled, the cold, everlasting contempt of the Mohammedan for the unbeliever whom he does not know.
He walked with lids half-closed against the white glare and the heat waves which danced above the tortured roads and roofs: by the hour set for his luncheon engagement he had covered the town thoroughly, including the beautiful post which had been turned over to Scouts when the Army at last finished its tedious Moro project.
He found the Major waiting him at the Club, a large, single-story building set in a grove of tall palms at the edge of the beach and cooled by the breezes from the Straits. He followed him out on the wide veranda built over the water's edge, passing through a friendly, incurious group of young Americans who sat at little round tables in groups of three and four. Major Bronner responded to a dozen greetings as they crossed to a table set for two at the edge of the veranda. In a moment the deft tableboy had their service under way.
"Well," began the Major, "you will have a busy time of it during the rest of your stay—I wish it were to be longer. This afternoon I want you to come to the office with me—there are lots of things to talk over about your work down there. The Governor will see you about five o'clock. How do you like Zamboanga?"
"It's clean, and interesting, Major."
"'Clean and interesting!' That is a boost! Though we can't take much credit for the 'interesting'—the Moros furnish that!"
The white-smocked servants moved noiselessly about the cool veranda, serving the score of Americans with that perfect impersonal care found nowhere except among Oriental servitors: the subdued clatter of silver against dish and the tinkle of iced drinks was often drowned in outbursts of merriment from one or other of the little tables. Most of the Americans were mere youths, though two were evidently in their forties. Bronner noted Terry's study of a group of three who sat nearby, heavily tanned men evidently not quite at home in the club.
"Davao planters," he explained. "Hemp planters: you will know them. Three good men: they're going down on your boat."
Lunch finished, coffee and cigars furnished excuse for the white-clad crowd to linger on the darkened porch: scraps of shop talk reached Terry's ears, a jargon of strangely twisted English and Spanish words. Bridges, appropriations, rinderpest, lack of labor, artesian wells, cholera—such was their table talk, as such was their life.
The breeze freshened, gently stirring the potted plants which flanked each row of tables; the hot stillness of the noon gave way to the sibilant murmur of the cocoanut palms whose bases were lapped by the quickening ripples. The breaking of the withering calm was the signal for departure to office and field. The veranda cleared rapidly. Bronner, watching the three planters, interrupted their departure.
"Lindsey—just a minute."
He took Terry to their table and introduced him.
"Lieutenant Terry, gentlemen: Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Casey. Lieutenant Terry goes to Davao to-morrow as Senior Inspector. You will be able to help him, till he learns his way down there—and later he may be able to help you."
Terry shook hands with the three in turn. All were out-doors men, bronzed, diffident with the social shyness of men who live their lives alone or among none but alien people. Lindsey and Cochran were square-set, serious young men: Casey, older, but of eager, enthusiastic mien.
The Major discussed them as he and Terry left the club.
"They're three of the best planters in the Gulf. You'll have no trouble with them. But you may with some others, those who have a fancied grievance against the government just now. I had better start at the beginning.
"You know the best hemp in the world grows down there—soil, climate, rainfall all combine wonderfully to make it the one ideal spot for hemp production. In another twenty years it will probably rate as the richest single agricultural area on the globe—that's why those little fellows over there"—he indicated a pair of Japanese passing on the opposite side of the street—"are piling into Davao so fast these days.
"The world needs hemp—and areas where it can be cultivated are rare. Three years ago a little stampede occurred into Davao; the pioneers are a mixed lot—about sixty Americans, a few Britishers, a scattering of Moros and Filipinos and nearly two hundred Japs. The Japs are quiet—you will seldom see them: they stay on their places and 'saw wood'; they're backed by some syndicate—probably their government. But the others are lone handers, working on their own 'shoe-strings' or financed by the contributions of optimistic shareholders in Manila.
"They are good men, these planters. You will like them. They went into the fastnesses of Mindanao, braved the wild tribes, cleared their land, planted hemp, working largely with their own hands—and in a climate where they say the white man shall labor only with his head. You will hear all about their troubles and difficulties—you won't hear much else down there but hemp—hemp and wild tribes! Hemp and wildmen—that's Davao!
"About their grievance. They cleared and planted rapidly and have raised fabulous crops, but when it came time to strip the hemp for market they found that the wildmen upon whom they had banked as potential labor would not work. A few came and stayed, but most of them quit after earning a few pesos. So the hemp rotted in the field. Desperate, facing ruin, some of the planters went after labor too strongly, frightened and browbeat the Bogobos into working. The scheme worked, so a condition approximating peonage was developed upon several of the plantations.
"We ordered it stopped. Those planters are very sore, looking for trouble. That's the story—and the condition you must face, and overcome. You've got to hold down that class of planter, but at the same time encourage the Bogobos to work for them. It means prosperity for the planters, and money and comfort for the Bogobos—and it will keep them out of the hills: we want the Bogobos near the coast, under civilizing influences. They are newly won to us and apt to fade away into the foothills on the least provocation."
* * * * *
Crossing the acacia-shaded lawns of the beautiful plaza he stopped in front of the artistic concrete bandstand, jerking a big thumb at the dedication inscribed upon the ivy-covered facade.
"Pershing Plaza," he read aloud. "He was the last military Governor, you remember. I knew him: a good man. No genius—just a good man, hard worker: has two traits that will carry him a long way if he gets the chance—common sense and industry. Wants to know everything about everything, and never quits working. Surrounds himself with workers: gives his men their jobs and doesn't bother them while they do them—just wants results.
"'Make good or make way!' Some slogan! Pershing, Wood, Scott, Carpenter,—America has sent some of her best into Mindanao. I'm glad to be here—aren't you?"
At the sudden question Terry turned to him.
"Yes," he said. "I hope to be—useful."
They had reached the entrance to the government building: the Major paused at the foot of the mahogany staircase to conclude earnestly: "It is fashionable just now in Manila to decry this effort to institute civil government among the Moros—but I know you are not of the type to be influenced. Governor Mason is making good: you will see that after you have been here a month. He is a wonder, Terry,—probably the only man who could handle this situation with a few Constabulary. Study, patience, and square-dealing, backed by occasional use of troops, prepared the Moros for this experiment, and Governor Mason is carrying it forward almost alone—opposing the backward tendencies of Sululand with little else save personality, inspiration and a wonderful knowledge of Malay character.
"You're going to like it down here," he wound up suddenly, confused by his own unaccustomed oratory.
Mounting the polished stairway, they passed down the tall concrete corridors and into the Major's office. He drew up a chair for Terry and seated himself behind a desk whose orderly array of accessories bespoke his methodical bachelor habits. The walls were covered with large-scale maps of Moroland showing location of various tribes, scattered settlements and district boundaries, with great blank areas eloquent of the unknown character of unexplored fastnesses. The crosses which indicated the distribution of Constabulary forces controlled from his office dotted every sizable island: pins bearing the names of government agents showed into what remote regions our trail-breakers had penetrated. One purple-flagged pin showed a veterinarian warring against a cattle plague in Jolo: a blue flag thrust into one of the blank spaces of Mindanao indicated the whereabouts of a fearless ethnologist from the Field Museum: a red sticker bore the name of an engineer who had been out of touch for six weeks, running the line of a new trail across the great bulk of Mindanao. The map was symbolic of the Constabulary, whose duty it is to know all, to protect all.
Leaving Terry to his study of the maps the Major spent an unapologetic fifteen minutes clearing the mass of papers that had accumulated during the lunch hour, then turned to him. For an hour he outlined the salient problems which would confront the young officer in his new assignment. He was all business, curt, concise, definite. He touched upon the ordinary service activities of drill, patrol, secret service, supply and report, then took up those phases which required delicate and original handling.
"Now, Lieutenant, we did not pull you down here to handle an ordinary job—you know it means something these days to get a Mindanao assignment."
Terry did know it. Only men who had demonstrated unusual ability in their line had been sent to Moroland under Governor Mason. As the months went by the northern provinces were being stripped of their crack men for assignment to the southern experiment, so that detail there had become a mark of distinction. He had been as surprised as pleased at his summons from Sorsogon, a poor, colorless province where he had spent seven months in uneventful, and as he thought, inconspicuous service.
The Major detected something of what was passing in his mind: "You were selected because of your understanding of native character, your sympathy with them: that, and your faculty for learning dialects. By the way, what is your method of studying these languages—your record of three dialects in half a year is remarkable."
"There was little else to do—and I like to study them."
The Major noted the slight flush of embarrassment. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a card, scanning it carefully before continuing:
"Your qualification card indicates that you are an unusual pistol shot: it reads 'Pistol rating—two-handed expert, extraordinary in accuracy and rapidity.'"
Disregarding Terry's increased embarrassment he pushed the question: "How did you acquire such skill?"
"Well, as I had to carry a sidearm, I thought to make it useful—it is not much of an ornament. After I became really interested it cost me about fifty dollars a month for ammunition."
"Well, things happen down here! Some day you may be glad you spent the money—your skill may come in handy!"
"On—men?" It was the one aspect of the service from which Terry shrank.
"Well, I hope not. It seldom comes to that. But a number of hard characters have been concentrating recently in the Davao Gulf, a batch of discharged convicts who served long terms for brigandage and murder. We have been watching them, but nothing significant transpired till last month."
The muscles of his heavy jaw tightened as he went on: "You have heard of Malabanan, haven't you?"
"The ladrone leader?"
"Yes, he. He was released from Bilibid prison last summer and came through here last month. One of our operatives uncovered him on the boat—traveling as an ordinary steerage passenger. He went to Davao, and I fear it means trouble. I think he gathered that tough crew together to operate in Davao, thinking to test us out now that the Army is gone."
His face was grim as he snapped: "Terry, watch him! And if he makes a single move—smash him! Make no false starts, do not arrest him unless you are sure that your evidence will convict in the courts. Give him plenty of rope—but if he breaks loose ... smash him hard! Understand?"
Terry nodded quietly, but something in his competent face contented his chief. He repeated his warning against premature action:
"Be sure you can get him before you move—he is slippery and has friends in high native circles. We do not want to be turned down in the courts at this stage of the game, and it may be he intends to play the game square—plant hemp, for instance. But if he wants a showdown—smash him good and plenty!"
He briefly reviewed the substance of his instructions: "You can see that your work is going to call for a good deal of tact and patience: patience with the angry planters, with the wild people. Everybody is scared and jumpy down there just now, and we want to restore their confidence."
Terry had listened attentively throughout the interview, speaking only to answer questions. He broke the silence which followed:
"Major, I have heard a great deal about the Hill People of Davao: will I be near them?"
The Major eyed him queerly for a moment before answering: "About thirty miles as the bird flies," he said, "but about a million to all intents and purposes! No living man has been among them—those who have tried have left their bones rotting in the dark forest. They kill all who attempt to reach them, expeditions in force find nothing as the Hillmen simply fade away before their approach.
"I don't want you to attempt to go among them—in fact I expressly forbid it, as it means certain death. But some day we hope to open the Hills up, to win among them: it is one of the Governor's cherished ambitions. So learn what you can about them from the old Bogobos who live in the foothills, and report any interesting traditions you may hear. Pieced together, the tales may make a helpful contribution—may help solve the riddle of how to get to them peaceably. Not that you or I are likely to live long enough to see it done—they are too confounded wild, too inaccessible behind their jungled hills."
He shrugged his broad shoulders in eloquent dismissal of a vain hope, and rose: "I want you to meet the Governor. I'll see if we can get to him yet."
He strode out of the office, returning immediately to inform Terry that the Governor was closeted with the two Moro datos whom he had fetched to the capitol by launch.
"They haven't promised to be good boys yet," he chuckled, "but they will before he finishes with them! His Secretary says that he expects you and me to go down to San Ramon with him to-night at seven sharp, to dine with Wade, the prison superintendent. You're in luck, Lieutenant. It will be an evening you won't soon forget."
So it proved to be.
Terry, refreshed by a shower and change to formal white uniform, was listening to the Major's grave summing up of the Moro problem when the arrival of the governor's car took them both down to join him. As Governor Mason alighted to meet him Terry felt the magnetism of the man who had been selected to attempt the difficult Moro venture. Governor Mason had grown up in the island service, had been identified with the inner government circle since the days of the First Commission, and had been retained and promoted by each succeeding administration. Far-sighted, patient, wary, suave, he was the most consummate master of Island policy developed under the American regime. A press bitterly hostile to the idea of giving the Moros civil government had attested to his proven capacity by moderating its criticism following the announcement that he would head the new government.
Terry was welcomed with a graceful simplicity that made him feel at home. Immediately he fell under the spell of this man whose spirit enthused the small band of whites who were redeeming a people from their prehistoric lethargy. He was fit to lead; the sweep of line from temple through jaw bespoke an uncompromising force of character, but was gentled by the deep cleft of chin: something in the poise of head gave him the manner best described as aristocratic but it was toned down by the mischievous gleam which flickered, often without obvious reason, in the thoughtful eyes.
The big car bore them swiftly through the cooling evening over smooth coral roads which were laid down like ribbons on the green tableland over which they sped: they shot under groves of tall cocoanut trees, past clumps of feathery bamboo which flanked the highway. Dusk was near when they entered the reservation and drew up in front of a red-roofed bungalow set on a great lawn facing the prison inclosure.
Superintendent Wade rose from the wide veranda and came down to meet them, a tall, smooth-faced man of young middle-age, evidently on most intimate terms with the Governor and the Major. While expressing his pleasure in being privileged to entertain Terry, he bent upon him the searching look of appraisal which is instinctive in the Orient, where the masses are controlled by the white man's prestige, a prestige which may suffer through attitude or actions of each newcomer.
Terry halted a moment at the curb, rapt in appreciation of the spot. Acres of lawn, splashed with flaming red and yellow canna beds, swept from roadway to edge of sea: wide shell roads, smooth as planks, wound in great curves into the dark groves of cocoanut palms which surrounded the inclosure on three sides and extended back a thousand acres in symmetrical rows of towering trunks which created endless shaded glades: turning slowly, he saw the immaculately policed prison inclosure showing through the steel grillwork which an intelligent mind had substituted for grim and stuffy prison walls. It seemed less prison than sanctuary.
The development of the prison farm, the development of its Moro inmates, was Wade's life. "Lieutenant, I am glad you like it," he said simply. "It is home to me."
The Governor had strolled out on the lawn for a lingering look around him. Returning to the veranda he eyed Wade and Bronner quizzically.
"Each of you has too fine an establishment for the barren needs of bachelors. I wish you had more confidence in the blissful state of matrimony!"
Wade shook his head decisively. The Major snorted.
"Huh! No petticoats for mine!"
A stolid Moro servant padded up with a tray bearing four cocktails: in a moment carried them kitchen-ward, rejected.
The Governor laughed: "Not one in four! An unusual showing, Wade." He turned to Terry: "You never drink?"
"I—I don't care for it, Governor."
A pause, and he added, flushing slightly: "That was not quite honest, sir. I have never tried it."
As they moved to the table the Governor exchanged a glance of delighted approval with the Major over the nice amend.
The steady breeze off the Straits that blew across the veranda where they sat at dinner roused the sea into a little confusion of beach sounds. They ate leisurely, talking of the strange things of Sululand, talked as men do who find surpassing interest in the little and the big things of their work; and Terry listened as they deliberately drew him within their circle.
It was a dinner deserving of the time given up to it. Following a vegetable soup the Moro bore in a great lapu-lapu, fresh from the Straits: if you have never tasted the flaky substance of a lapu-lapu,—don't! For once you do, you will be forever impatient of the quality of all other fish. Roast duck followed, with sweet corn, camotes, tart roselle sauce, a papaya salad, an ice, and pili nuts; all perfectly prepared, and flawlessly served by the expressionless Moro boy who moved noiselessly about the snowy table.
"I want to brag a little, Governor," Wade said as he and the Major lighted cigars over a second cup of black coffee. "Everything we ate to-night—with the exception of such things as salt and pepper and cream,—was the product of this farm. You will be able to report at the end of the year that we are eighty per cent self-supporting."
Pressed by the Governor, Wade explained to Terry his system of handling the six hundred Moro inmates. He stopped midway in a graphic account of three prisoners whom he had sent out with instructions to fetch in a runaway convict dead or alive.
"I didn't ask you down here to talk you to death!" he apologized.
"But what happened?" insisted the Major. "Did the three skip too?"
Wade glared at him. "Skip? My trusties? I guess not! They came in last night after dark, after being gone in the interior for three weeks, carrying a gunnysack. I was sitting out here, so they came right up and without a word emptied the sack on the veranda floor. They had stayed out till they got him—his head rolled out of the sack and landed right under where you're sitting, Major. Then the three walked over to the prison gate and reported in."
A moment later the Major moved his chair.
The Governor had been quietly studying Terry. "How did the Philippines first impress you?" he asked. "About as you anticipated?"
Terry hesitated, then responded to the authority of the kindly eyes: "No, sir. I had read enough typical stories of the tropics to absorb an atmosphere, but I did not find it. You know what I mean, sir: all that stuff about dulce far niente, manana, gin-soaked beach-combers,—that sort of thing. But I don't find it, sir. I find a spirit of hustle, of getting things done despite obstacles, a spirit which the natives seem to be absorbing,—though rather slowly."
The Governor was frankly interested: "You doubtless have formed some opinion regarding the Filipinos—their fitness for independence?"
Terry felt the three pairs of eyes drilling him as he answered: "It seems to me, sir, that—disregarding such baffling obstacles to independence as their absolute defenselessness as a nation, the profound ignorance of the masses, lack of a common tongue, and all that,—I think that in view of the fact that under our guidance they have advanced further than under four hundred years of Spanish rule, it would be kinder if we waited decision until we see what a second or third generation of English-speaking natives are like."
He reflected a moment, serious, then added: "In short, sir, I think that it would be a great injustice to them to mistake our own driving force for their capacity."
"Sus-marie-hosep!" exclaimed the delighted Major, who had fidgeted while his protege was undergoing the Governor's test, "Don't mistake our driving force for—I'd like to hear the native demagogues argue on that thesis!"
The Governor surveyed Terry with added interest, but was non-committal.
They fell silent, listening to the dark sea, in its gentlest mood, caressing the beach: the wind flowed past them steadily, like a soft current, stirring the long fronds into purring contact. A sharp challenge from an alert native sentry rang clear, followed by the crunching sound of a heavy iron gate opening and closing with grating finality. The hourly call was sounded by a guard, who, unseen by them, paced the main entrance to the inclosure: "All's Well." It sounded six times from invisible lips. Terry pondered its ironic message to those who heard it from within those steel and concrete dormitories: "All's Well," sounding to those who had crime on their souls, and had left, somewhere, mothers, wives, children ... sweethearts.... It oppressed him heavily.
Then a roar of laughter rose from within the prison, the free and joyous expression of mirth from hundreds of throats, from men who found life good. Terry looked up to see Wade observing him closely, smiling.
"They're having 'movies' to-night," he explained. "They're crazy about Charlie Chaplin."
Then Terry understood better the spirit of the institution, and of its inmates. This was no dungeon, it was a school where men were being taught how to live at peace with their kind, how to work,—and how to laugh.
Vaguely conscious of being the object of intent scrutiny by some one stationed behind his chair, Terry turned, restlessly, to face the Moro servant, who stood just within the circle of light cast by the lamp, his smoldering eyes fixed upon him. Unabashed, inscrutable, he studied the white youth unblinkingly: then, as if decision had ripened, he entered the full glare of the lamp and faced Wade, his master.
Astounded at the extraordinary intrusion, Wade questioned him curtly in his dialect. The Moro responded at length, in a listless monotone that contrasted strangely with the determined gleam of his black eyes. Surprise flooded Wade's face, heightened to astonishment as the Moro continued; and as he concluded his story with an expressive gesture toward Terry, Wade struck his knee.
"Well, I'll be everlastingly consumed!" he prophesied. He searched Terry's thin face intently, then turned to the Governor.
"This boy, Matak," he pointed to the passive Moro, "adopted me over a year ago: just dropped in and said he was going to work for me. I didn't need him—you know I draw on the trusties for servants—but he would not accept refusal: he just stayed on. He is a fine servant, but a queer fish—I let him stay for both reasons! I've tried to persuade him to go to different friends who needed servants, but he looked them over and then refused. I don't know where he came from, don't know anything about his history: I only know that he is a very faithful boy, with some grievance against life that leaves him morose and silent.
"Now he coolly announces," he paused to again study Terry's countenance queerly, "now he says he is going with Lieutenant Terry!"
The small but powerfully built Moro calmly returned the stare of the four white men, his face passionless, his inert hands and thick bare feet curiously expressive of a primitiveness beyond conception. Evidently he had decided upon a course of action from which nothing would sway him, and he waited until the white men should adjust themselves to the fact. The Governor's face expressed his sympathy with the Moro as he turned to Wade and asked permission to address his servant.
"Matak, why do you wish to go with Lieutenant Terry?"
The Moro shifted his brooding eyes to Terry, then back to the Governor before he answered.
"Because I like him, sir."
"Why do you like him?"
"Because he understands, sir."
"Understands what, Matak?"
"He understands us, sir,—the unfortunate. Because he is lonely too, sir."
The Governor had been trying all evening to solve the strange appeal of Terry's countenance: the primitive Moro had understood. Gazing at the white youth, the Governor saw that Matak was right. The tone in which he addressed Terry was gentle, fatherly.
"Lieutenant, do you need a boy?"
The Major's quick sympathy had been enlisted: "Lieutenant, you will run your own mess down there," he interposed.
Meeting the black eyes turned upon him in confident expectation, Terry found their dull appeal irresistible.
"He may come with me," he said. "I will look after him."
Matak stood motionless a moment, then stepped to Wade and slipping to one knee pressed Wade's hand against his lips in token of gratitude and farewell. Then he rose and went silently into the house.
The Governor, the Major and Wade were busy men with large responsibilities: Terry found ample material for reverie in contemplation of what was opening up before him. The incident served to stifle further conversation. The four settled comfortably into the long rattan chairs drawn up near the railing, each content in the mere association with friends and occupied with his own problems.
The quiet intimacy of the group was jarred by the sudden jangle of a telephone. Wade jumped up with a muttered excuse but before he had crossed to the open door it rang again, insistent. They heard his murmured "hello," then an incredulous "What!" in higher pitch. He appeared at the door, pale, excited.
"Governor Mason," he exclaimed, "Captain Hornbecker reports that there is a juramentado loose between here and Zamboanga!"
At the startling intelligence the Governor's feet rapped to the floor: the Major jumped to his feet, astounded.
"Why," he protested, "who ever heard of a Moro running amuck at this time of night!"
"Hornbecker insists that it is true, nevertheless. He has sent a detachment out after him but was worried because the Governor and you might have started before he got word for you to wait."
The Governor shook his head decidedly: "We will not wait. Please call my car."
The Major's protest against the Executive's endangering himself died in his throat at a quiet look from the Governor. They hurried to the car, Wade delaying them a few seconds while he secured three heavy pistols, handing one to each of the two officers. They found Matak waiting in the seat beside the driver.
A sharp order from the Governor and the chauffeur shot them out of the reservation and into the provincial road. The big Renault roared through the night, the kilometer posts flitting by like specters, the headlights tunneling the cocoanut groves through which the white highway spun.
The four Americans crouched low in the tonneau to escape the blinding rush of air that eddied over the windshield. They shot over a bridge, tore through a dark village, rounded a corner at top speed and took the grassed shoulder of the road as the little chauffeur twisted the wheel to avoid a bewildered carabao which blocked the middle of the highway. A sickening skid, and they were back in the road. At the end of a roaring flight down a long straightaway they rounded a sharp curve into a short stretch terminating in a nipa village which seemed to leap toward the rushing car. As the powerful lights swung upon the widened road which formed the village street the alert driver saw that which brought foot and hand to the brakes in a frantic effort that brought the car to a grinding, sliding stop and tumbled the Americans to the floor of the tonneau.
Crouched in the middle of the road a Moro, gone amuck, darted fanatic glances in search of the Christians he had vowed to die killing, his eyes bloodshot with the self-inflicted torture of the juramentado rite. He balanced a great two-handed kris that gleamed like a row of stars where the headlight struck its polished corrugations.
A Filipino, unaware of the terrific figure behind him, had sauntered from the shadows into the path of light, curious, half-blinded by the glare he faced. As he reached the middle of the road the most terrifying of all cries issued from one of the dark windows.
At the cry his face turned sickly green in the glare. He wheeled, uncertain, then ran blindly toward the frenzied Moro who was creeping toward him.
It happened with the swiftness of nightmare. By the time the Americans had picked themselves up from the bottom of the car the Filipino's frantic burst had brought him within twenty feet of the black-clad fanatic. His flying feet lagged to a halt, he stood stock still in sheer horror till the Moro bounded toward him, then turned back toward the car—too late!
The four white men leaped out just as the Filipino turned back toward them with fear-leaden feet, and in the moment of discovery of the Mohammedan who leaped in his shadow, they saw the glistening blade rise above the Filipino's head and fall in a terrific sweep that seemed to end at the point where neck and shoulder join. Before their eyes the body opened like a book.
It seemed inconceivable, but the crazed face of the Moro showed through the cleft which widened as the victim fell.
"God!" sobbed the Governor.
Sighting the group of Americans the blood-crazed Mohammedan bounded toward them triumphantly, swinging a kris which no longer gleamed. Bronner had reached the road first and stood in front. His heavy pistol roared six times and at the last shot the leaping Moro spun clear around and fell heavily.
He staggered to his feet and with the same implacable hatred gleaming in his eyes came on toward them, still grasping the awful weapon. Then, as Matak stepped out to meet him, armed only with a hub wrench, Terry's right hand extended in swift gesture as he shot once. The Moro collapsed to the road, limply, like a wet stocking off a line.
His race was run, but he had taken one unbeliever with him to justify his claim to a choice seat in the Mohammedan heavens. There is a certain impressive earnestness about the followers of Mohammed.
The dismayed villagers poured out into the street, venting their frenzied fear by kicking the dead fanatic. Captain Hornbecker, a round-faced officer, arrived with his soldiers. As the chauffeur had emerged from his hiding place in the brush, the Governor turned matters over to the captain and the four drove on into Zamboanga. All had been sickened by the horror of the swift tragedy.
They stopped at Bronner's house to get Terry's bag, then drove him to the wharf. The Francesca was about to cast off, her dim-lit decks loud with the confusion of misdirected effort.
Terry sent Matak aboard, thanked the three warmly for their kindness to him; after a moment of hesitation he added something that was drowned in a sudden rumble of winch. Two waiting sailors threw off the hawser in response to a shouted signal from the bridge. The three Americans remained at the end of the pier till after Terry had mounted to the deck and the boat swung out into the current.