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Adventures in the Philippine Islands
by Paul P. de La Gironiere
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"Master," he at length replied, with enthusiasm, presenting me his hand, and bending one knee to the ground: "I shall be faithful to you till death!"

His answer made me happy, but I did not let him see my satisfaction.

"Well and good," I replied; "to show you that I confide in you, take this weapon, and use it only against the enemy."

I gave him a Tagal sabre, which bore the following Spanish inscription, in large letters: "No me sacas sin rason, ni me envainas sin honor." "Never draw me unjustly, and never sheath me with dishonour."

I translated this legend into the Tagaloc language: Alila thought it sublime, and vowed never to deviate from it.

"When I go to Manilla," I added, "I shall procure you a handsome uniform, with epaulettes; but you must lose no time in assembling the soldiers you will have to command, and who are to form my guard. Conduct me to the house of one of your comrades whom you think most capable of obeying you as serjeant." We went some distance from his cabin to the hut of one of his friends, who almost always accompanied him in his piratical excursions. A few words like those I had spoken to my future lieutenant produced a similar influence on his comrade, and induced him to accept the rank I offered him. We occupied the day in recruiting amongst the various huts, and in the evening we had a guard of ten effective men, infantry and cavalry, a number I did not wish to exceed.

Of these I took the command as captain; and thus, as will be seen, I went promptly to work. The following day I assembled the population of the peninsula, and, surrounded by my extempore guard, I chose a situation where I wished to found a village, and a site on which I wished my own habitation to be built. I ordered the heads of families to construct their huts on an allotment which I indicated, and I directed my lieutenant to employ as many hands as possible, to quarry stones, to cut down timber for the wood-work, and to prepare everything in short for my house. Having issued my orders, I departed for Manilla, promising to return soon. When I reached home, I found them in a state of inquietude, for, as nothing had been heard of me, it was thought I had fallen a prey to the crocodiles, or a victim to the pirates. The recital of my journey, and the description I gave of Jala-Jala, far from disgusting my wife with the idea I had conceived of inhabiting that country, made her, on the contrary, impatient to visit our estate, and to establish herself there. It was, however, a farewell she was taking of the capital—of its fetes, its assemblies, and its pleasures.

I paid a visit to the governor. My resignation had been considered as null and void: he had preserved all my places for me. I was touched by this goodness. I sincerely thanked him, but told him that I was really in earnest, that my resolution was irrevocably fixed, and that he might otherwise dispose of my employments. I added, that I only asked him for one favour, that of commanding all the local gendarmerie of the province of La Lagune, with the privilege of having a personal guard, which I would form myself. This favour was instantly granted, and a few days after I received my commission. It was not ambition that suggested to me the idea of asking for this important post, but sound reason. My object was to establish an authority for myself at Jala-Jala, and to have in my own hands the power of punishing my Indians, without recurring to the justice of the alcaid, who lived ten leagues away from my dominions.

Wishing to be comfortably settled in my new residence, I drew out a plan of my house. It consisted of a first-floor, with five bed-chambers, a large hall, a spacious drawing-room, a terrace, and bathing rooms. I agreed with a master-mason and a master carpenter for the construction of it; and having obtained arms and uniforms for my guard, I set out again. On arriving I was received with joy by my Indians. My lieutenant had punctually executed my orders. A great quantity of material was prepared, and several Indian huts were already built.

This activity gave me pleasure, as it evinced a desire for my gratification. I immediately set my labourers to work, ordering them to clear away the surrounding wood, and I soon had the pleasure of laying the foundation of my residence; I then went to Manilla. The works lasted for eight months, during which time I passed backwards and forwards continually from Manilla to Jala-Jala, and from Jala-Jala to Manilla. I had some trouble, but I was well repaid for it when I saw a village rise from the earth. My Indians constructed their huts on the places I had indicated; they had reserved a site for a church, and, until this should be built, mass was to be celebrated in the vestibule of my mansion. At length, after many journeys to and fro, which gave great uneasiness to my wife, I was enabled to inform her that the castle of Jala-Jala was ready to receive its mistress. This was a pleasing piece of intelligence, for we were soon to be no longer separated.

I quickly sold my horses, my carriages, and useless furniture, and freighted a vessel to convey to Jala-Jala all that I required. Then, having taken leave of my friends, I quitted Manilla, with the intention of not returning to it but through absolute necessity. Our journey was prosperous, and on our arrival, we found my Indians on the shore, hailing with cries of joy the welcome advent of the "Queen of Jala-Jala," for it was thus they called my wife.

We devoted the first days after our arrival to installing ourselves in our new residence, which it was necessary to furnish, and make both useful and agreeable; this we accordingly effected. And now that years have elapsed, and I am far removed from that period of independence and perfect liberty, I reflect on the strangeness of my destiny. My wife and I were the only white and civilised persons in the midst of a bronzed and almost savage population, and yet I felt no apprehension. I relied on my arms, on my self-possession, and on the fidelity of my guards. Anna was only aware of a part of the dangers we incurred, and her confidence in me was so great, that when by my side she knew not what it was to fear. When I was well established in my house, I undertook a difficult and dangerous task, that of establishing order amongst my Indians, and organizing my little town according to the custom of the Philippine islands. The Spanish laws, with reference to the Indians, are altogether patriarchal. Every township is erected, so to speak, into a little republic. Every year a chief is elected, dependant for affairs of importance on the governor of the province, which latter, in his turn, depends on the governor of the Philippine islands. I confess that I have always considered the mode of government peculiar to the Philippines as the most convenient and best adapted for civilization. The Spaniards, at the period of their conquest, found it in full operation in the isle of Luzon.

I shall here enter into some details. Every Indian population is divided into two classes, the noble and the popular. The first is composed of all Indians who are, or have been cabessas de barangay, that is to say, collectors of taxes, which situation is honorary. The taxes established by the Spaniards are personal. Every Indian of more than twenty-one years of age pays, in four instalments, the annual sum of three francs; which tax is the same to the rich and the poor. At a certain period of the year, twelve of the cabessas de barangay become electors, and assembling together with some of the old inhabitants of the township, they elect, by ballot, three of their number, whose names are forwarded to the governor of the Philippines. The latter chooses from amongst these names whichever he pleases, and confides to him for one year the functions of gobernadorcillo, or deputy-governor. To distinguish him from the other Indians, the deputy-governor bears a gold-headed cane, with which he has a right to strike such of his fellow-citizens as may have committed slight faults. His functions partake at the same time of those of mayor, justice of the peace, and examining magistrate. He watches over good order and public tranquillity; he decides, without appeal, suits and differences of no higher importance than sixteen piasters (L3 6s. 8d.). He also institutes criminal suits of high importance, but there his power ceases. The documents connected with these suits are sent by him to the governor of the province, who, in his turn, transmits them to the royal court of Manilla. The court gives judgment, and the alcaid carries it into execution. When the election for deputy-governor takes place, the assembled electors choose all the officials who are to act under him. These are alguazils, whose number is proportioned to the population; two witnesses, or assistants, who are charged with the confirmation of the acts of the deputy-governor—for without their presence and sanction his acts would be considered null and void; a joues de palma, or palm judge, with the functions of rural guard; a vaccinator, bound to be always furnished with vaccine matter, for newborn children; and a schoolmaster, charged with public instruction; finally, a sort of gendarmerie, to watch banditti and the state of the roads within the precincts of the commune and the neighbouring lands. Men, grown up, and without employment, form a civic guard, who watch over the safety of the village. This guard indicates the hours of the night, by blows struck upon a large piece of hollow wood. There is in each town a parochial house, which is called Casa Real, where the deputy-governor resides. He is bound to afford hospitality to all travellers who pass through the town, which hospitality is like that of the Scotch mountaineers—it is given, but never sold. During two or three days, the traveller has a right to lodging, in which he is supplied with a mat, a pillow, salt, vinegar, wood, cooking vessels, and—paying for the same—all descriptions of food necessary for his subsistence. If, on his departure, he should even require horses and guides to continue his journey, they are procured for him. With respect to the prices of provisions, in order to prevent the abuses so frequent amongst us, a large placard is fixed up in every Casa Real, containing a tariff of the market prices of meat, poultry, fish, fruit, &c. In no case whatever can the deputy-governor exact any remuneration for the trouble he is at.

Such were the measures that I wished to adopt, and which, it is true, possessed advantages and disadvantages. The greatest inconvenience attending them was undoubtedly that of placing myself in a state of dependence upon the deputy-governor, whose functions gave him a certain right, for I was his administrator. It is true that my rank, as commandant of all the gendarmerie of the province, shielded me from any injustice that might be contemplated against me. I knew very well that, beyond military service, I could inflict no punishment on my men without the intervention of the deputy-governor; but I had sufficiently studied the Indian character to know that I could only rule it by the most perfect justice and a well-understood severity. But whatever were the difficulties I foresaw, without any apprehension of the troubles and dangers of every description that I should have to surmount, I proceeded straightforward towards the object I had traced out for myself. The road was sterile and encumbered with rocks; but I entered upon it with courage, and I succeeded in obtaining over the Indians such an influence, that they ultimately obeyed my voice as they would that of a parent. The character of the Tagaloc is extremely difficult to define. Lavater and Gall would have been very much embarrassed by it; for both physiognomy and craniology would be, perhaps, equally at a loss amongst the Philippines.

The natural disposition of the Tagal Indian is a mixture of vices and virtues, of good and bad qualities. A worthy priest has said, when speaking of them: "They are great children and must be treated as if they were little ones."

It is really curious to trace, and still more so to read, the moral portrait of a native of the Philippine islands. The Indian keeps his word, and yet—will it be believed?—he is a liar. Anger he holds in horror, he compares it to madness; and even prefers drunkenness, which, however, he despises. He will not hesitate to use the dagger to avenge himself for injustice; but what he can least submit to is an insult, even when merited. When he has committed a fault, he may be punished with a flogging; this he receives without a murmur, but he cannot brook an insult. He is brave, generous, and a fatalist. The profession of a robber, which he willingly exercises, is agreeable to him, on account of the life of liberty and adventure it affords, and not because it may lead to riches. Generally speaking, the Tagalocs are good fathers and good husbands, both these qualities being inherent. Horribly jealous of their wives, but not in the least of the honour of their daughters; and it matters little if the women they marry have committed errors previous to their union. They never ask for a dowry, they themselves provide it, and make presents to the parents of their brides. They dislike cowards, but willingly attach themselves to the man who is brave enough to face danger. Play is their ruling passion, and they delight in the combats of animals, especially in cock-fighting. This is a brief compendium of the character of the people I was about to govern. My first care was to become master of myself. I made a firm resolution never to allow a gesture of impatience to escape me, in their presence, even in the most critical moments, and to preserve at all times unshaken calmness and sang-froid. I soon learned that it was dangerous to listen to the communications that were made to me, which might lead me to the commission of injustice, as had already happened under the following circumstances.

Two Indians came one day to lodge a complaint against one of their comrades, living at some leagues' distance from Jala-Jala. These informers accused him of having stolen cattle. After I had heard all they had to say, I set off with my guard to seize upon the accused, and brought him to my residence. There I endeavoured to make him confess his crime, but he denied it, and said he was innocent. It was in vain I promised him if he would tell the truth to grant him his pardon, for he persisted even in the presence of his accusers. Persuaded, however, that he was telling me falsehoods, and disgusted with his obstinacy in denying a fact which had been sworn to me, with every appearance of sincerity, I ordered him to be tied upon a bench, and receive a dozen strokes of a whip. My orders were executed; but the culprit denied the charge, as he had done before. This dogged perseverance irritated me, and I caused another correction to be administered to him the same as the first. The unfortunate man bore his punishment with unshaken courage: but in the midst of his sufferings he exclaimed, in penetrating accents: "Oh! sir, I swear to you that I am innocent; but, as you will not believe me, take me into your house. I will be a faithful servant, and you will soon have proofs that I am the victim of an infamous calumny." These words affected me. I reflected that this unfortunate man was, perhaps, not guilty after all. I began to fear I had been deceived, and had unknowingly committed an act of injustice. I felt that private enmity might have led these two witnesses to make a false declaration, and thus induce me to punish an innocent man. I ordered him to be untied. "The proof you demand," I said to him, "is easily tried. If you are an honest man, I shall be a father to you; but if you deceive me, do not expect any pity from me. From this moment you shall be one of my guard; my lieutenant will provide you with arms." He thanked me earnestly, and his countenance lit up with sudden joy. He was installed in my guard. Oh! human justice! how fragile, and how often unintelligible art thou! Some time after this event, I learnt that Bazilio de la Cruz—this was the name of the man—was innocent. The two wretches who had denounced him had fled, to avoid the chastisement they merited. Bazilio kept his promise, and during my residence at Jala-Jala he served me faithfully and without malice or ill-will. This fact made a lively impression on me; and I vowed that for the future I would inflict no punishment without being sure of the truth of the charge alleged. I have religiously kept this vow—at least I think so; for I have never since ordered a single application of the whip until after the culprit had confessed his crime.

I have before said that I had expressed a wish to have a church built in my village, not only from a religious feeling, but as a means of civilisation: I was particularly desirous of having a curate at Jala-Jala. With this view I requested Monseigneur Hilarion, the archbishop, whose physician I had been, and with whom I was on terms of friendship, to send me a clergyman of my acquaintance, and who was at that time unemployed. I had, however, much difficulty in obtaining this nomination. "Father Miguel de San-Francisco," the archbishop replied, "is a violent man, and very headstrong: you will never be able to live with him." I persisted, however; and as perseverance always produces some result, I at length succeeded in having him appointed curate at Jala-Jala. Father Miguel was of Japanese and Malay descent. He was young, strong, brave, and very capable of assisting me in the difficult circumstances that might occur; as, for example, if it were necessary to defend ourselves against banditti. Indeed I must say that, in spite of the anticipations, and I may add the prejudices, of my honourable friend the archbishop, I kept him with me during the whole time of my abode at Jala-Jala, and never had the slightest difference with him. I can only reproach him with one thing to be regretted, which is that he did not preach sufficiently to his flock. He gave them only one sermon annually, and then his discourse was always the same, and divided into two parts: the first was in Spanish, for our edification, and the second in Tagaloc, for the Indians. Ah! how many men have I since met with who might well imitate the worthy curate of Jala-Jala! To the observations I sometimes made he would reply: "Let me follow my own course, and fear nothing. So many words are not necessary to make a good Christian." Perhaps he was right. Since my departure from the place the good priest is dead, bearing with him to the tomb the regret of all his parishioners.

As may be seen, I was at the beginning of my labour of civilisation. Anna assisted me with all her heart, and with all her intelligence, and no fatigue disheartened her. She taught the young girls to love that virtue which she practised so well herself. She furnished them with clothes, for at this period the young girls from ten to twelve years of age were still as naked as savages. Father Miguel de San Francisco was charged with the mission more especially belonging to his sacred character. The more readily to disseminate through the colony that instruction which is the beneficent parent of civilisation, the young people were divided into squads of four at a time, and went by turns to pass a fortnight at the parsonage. There they learned a little Spanish, and were moulded to the customs of a world which had been hitherto unknown to them. I superintended everything in general. I occupied myself in works of agriculture, and giving proper instruction to the shepherds who kept the flocks I had purchased to make use of my pasturage. I was also the mediator of all the differences which arose amongst my colonists. They preferred rather to apply to me than to the deputy-governor; and I succeeded at last in obtaining over them the influence I desired. One portion of my time, and this was not the least busy, was occupied in driving the banditti from my residence and its vicinity. Sometimes I set off for this purpose before daybreak and did not return until night; and then I always found my wife good, affectionate, and devoted to me: her reception repaid me for the labours of the day. Oh, felicity almost perfect! I have never forgotten you! Happy period! which has left indelible traces in my memory, you are always present to my thoughts! I have grown old, but my heart has ever continued young in recollecting you.

In our long chit-chat of an evening we recounted to each other the labours of the day, and everything that occurred to us. This was the season of sweet mutual confidence. Hours too soon vanished, alas! Fugitive moments, you will never return! It was also the time when I gave audience; real bed of justice, imitated from St. Louis, and thrown open to my subjects. The door of my mansion admitted all the Indians who had anything to communicate to me. Seated with my wife at a great round table, I listened, as I took my tea, to all the requests that were made to me, all the claims that were laid before me. It was during these audiences that I issued my sentences. My guards brought the culprits before me, and, without departing from my ordinary calmness, I admonished them for the faults they had committed; but I always recollected the error I bad committed in my sentence against poor Bazilio, and I was, therefore, very circumspect. I first listened to the witnesses; but I never condemned until I heard the culprit say:

"What would you have, sir? It was my destiny. I could not prevent myself from doing what I did."

"Every fault merits chastisement," I would reply; "but choose between the deputy-governor and me—by which do you wish to be chastised?"

The reply was always the same.

"Kill me, if you will, master; but do not give me up to my own countrymen."

I awarded the punishment, and it was inflicted by my guards. When this was over, I presented the Indian with a cigar, as a token of pardon, I uttered a few kind words to him to induce him not to commit any fresh faults, and he went away without hearing any malice to his judge. I had, perhaps, been severe, but I had been just; that was enough. The order and discipline I had established were a great support for me in the minds of the Indians; they gave me a positive influence over them. My calmness, my firmness, and my justice—those three great qualities without which no government is possible—easily satisfied these natures, still untrained and unsophisticated. But one thing, however, disquieted them. Was I brave? This is what they were ignorant of, and frequently asked of one another. They spurned the idea of being commanded by a man who might not be intrepid in the face of danger. I had indeed made several expeditions against banditti, but they had produced no result, and would not serve as proofs of my bravery in the eyes of the Indians. I very well knew that they would form their definite opinion upon me from my conduct in the first perilous extremity we should encounter together. I was therefore determined to undertake anything, that I might show myself at least equal to the best and bravest of all my Indians: everything was comprised in that. I felt the imperious necessity of showing myself not only equal but superior in the struggle, by preserving my self-possession.

An opportunity at length offered.

The Indians look upon buffalo hunting as the most dangerous of all their wild sports, and my guards often said they would rather stand naked at twenty paces from the muzzle of a carbine than at the same distance from a wild buffalo. The difference they said is this, that the ball of a carbine may only wound, but the horn of a buffalo is sure to kill. I took advantage of the terror they had of this animal, and one day declared, with the utmost possible coolness, my intention to hunt one. They then made use of all their eloquence to turn me from my project; they gave me a very picturesque, but a very discouraging description of the dangers and difficulties I should have to encounter, especially as I was not accustomed to that sort of warfare,—and such a combat is, in fact, a struggle for life or death. But I would listen to nothing. I had spoken the word: I would not discuss the point, and I looked upon all their counsels as null and void. My decision was right; for these kind counsels, these frightful pictures of the dangers I was about to incur, had no other object than to entrap me; they had concerted amongst themselves to judge of my courage by my acceptance or refusal of the combat. My only answer was to give orders for the hunt. I took great care that my wife should not be informed of our excursion, and I set off, accompanied by half a score Indians, nearly all of whom were armed with muskets. Buffalo hunting is different in the mountains from what it is in the plains. On the plain one only requires a good horse, with address and agility in throwing the lasso; but in the mountains it requires something more: and, above all, the most extraordinary coolness and self-possession are essentially necessary.

This is the way in which it is done: the hunter takes a gun on which he can depend, and places himself in such a position that the buffalo must see him on issuing from the wood. The moment the animal sees him, he rushes on him with the utmost velocity, breaking, rending, and trampling under foot every obstacle to the fury of his charge; he rushes on as if about to crush the enemy, then stops within some paces for a few seconds, and presents his sharp and threatening horns. This is the moment that the hunter should fire, and lodge his ball in the forehead of the foe. If unfortunately his gun misses fire, or if his coolness fails him, if his hand trembles, or his aim is bad, he is lost—Providence alone can save him! This was, perhaps, the fate that awaited me; but I was resolved to tempt this cruel proof, and I went forward with intrepidity—perhaps to death. We at length arrived on the skirts of an extensive wood, in which we felt assured there were buffaloes, and here we halted. I was sure of my gun, and I conceived I was equally so of my self-possession; I therefore determined that the hunt should be conducted as if I had been a simple Indian. I placed myself at the spot where it was fully expected that the animal would come out, and I forbade anyone to remain near me. I ordered everyone to his proper place, and I then stood alone on the open ground, about two hundred paces from the borders of the forest, to await an enemy that would show me no mercy if I missed him. It is, I confess, a solemn moment, when one stands between life and death by the more or less certainty of a gun, or the greater or less steadiness of the arm that holds it. I was, however, perfectly tranquil. When all were at their posts two hunters entered the forest, having first thrown off some of their clothing, the more readily to climb up trees in case of danger: they had no other arms than a cutlass, and were accompanied by the dogs. A dead silence continued for upwards of half-an-hour; everyone listening for the slightest noise, but nothing was heard. The buffalo continues a long time frequently without betraying his lair; but at the end of the half-hour we heard the repeated barking of the dogs, and the shouts of the hunters: the animal was aroused from his cover. He defended himself for some time against the dogs, till at length, becoming furious, he sprang forward with a bound towards the skirts of the forest. In a few minutes after, I heard the crashing of the branches and the young trees that the buffalo rent asunder in the terrible velocity of his course. His advance could only be compared to the galloping of several horses—to the rushing noise of some frightful monster—or, I might almost say, of some furious and diabolical being. Down he came like an avalanche; and at this moment, I confess, I experienced such lively emotions that my heart beat with extraordinary rapidity. Was it not death—aye, and frightful death—that was perhaps approaching me? Suddenly the buffalo made his appearance. He stopped for an instant; gazed, as if frightened, around him; sniffed up the air of the plain which extended in the distance; then, with distended nostrils, head bent, and horns projected, he rushed towards me, terrible and furious. The moment was come. If I had longed for an opportunity of showing off my courage and sang-froid to the Indians, these two precious qualities were now put to a severe test. There I was, face to face with the peril I had courted; the dilemma was one of the most decided and unavoidable that could possibly be: conqueror or conquered, there must be a victim—the buffalo or me, and we were both equally disposed to defend ourselves.

It would be difficult for me to state exactly what was passing in my mind, during the brief period which the buffalo took in clearing the distance that lay between us. My heart, so vividly agitated while the ferocious animal was rushing through the forest, now beat no longer. My eyes were fixed upon him, my gaze was rivetted on his forehead in such a manner that I could see nothing else. My mind was concentrated on one object alone, in which I was so absorbed, that I could actually hear nothing, though the dogs were still barking at a short distance, as they followed their prey. At length, the buffalo lowered his head, presented his sharp-pointed horns, stopped for a moment, then, with a sudden plunge, he rushed upon me, and I fired. My ball pierced his skull, and I was half saved. The animal fell within a pace of me, like a mass of rock, so loud, and so heavy. I planted my foot between his two horns, and was preparing to fire my second barrel, when a long and hollow bellowing indicated that my victory was complete—the monster had breathed his last sigh. My Indians then came up. Their joy was succeeded by admiration; they were in ecstasy; I was everything they could wish for. All their doubts had vanished with the smoke of my rifle, when, with steady aim, I had shot the buffalo. I was brave; I had won their confidence; I had stood the test. My victim was cut up in pieces, and borne in triumph to the village. As the victor, I took his horns; they were six feet long. I have since deposited them in the museum of Nantes. The Indians, those imaginative beings, called me thenceforward, "Malamit Oulou," Tagal words, which signify "cool head."

I must confess, without vanity, that the proof to which my Indians had subjected me was sufficiently serious to give them a decided opinion of my courage, and to satisfy them that a Frenchman was as brave as themselves. The habit I subsequently acquired of hunting convinced me that but little danger is really incurred when the weapon is a good one, and the self-possession does not fail. Once every month I indulged in this exercise, which imparts such lively sensations; and I recognised the facility with which one may lodge a ball in a plain surface, a few inches in diameter, and at a few paces distance. But it is no less true that our first huntings were very dangerous. Once only I permitted a Spaniard named Ocampo to accompany us. I had taken the precaution to station two Indians at his side; but when I quitted them to take up my own post, he imprudently sent them away, and soon after, the buffalo started from the wood, and rushed upon him. He fired both his barrels, and missed the animal; we heard the reports and ran towards him, but it was too late! Ocampo was no longer in existence. The buffalo had gored him through and through, and his body was ploughed up with frightful wounds. But no such accident ever took place again; for when strangers came to witness our buffalo hunts, I made them get up in a tree, or on the crest of a mountain, where they might remain as spectators of the combat, without taking any part in it, or being exposed to any danger.

And now that I have described buffalo hunting in the mountains, I must return to my colonising labours.



CHAPTER V.

Description of my House at Jala-Jala—Storms, Gales, and Earthquakes—Reforming the Banditti—Card-playing—Tagal Cock-fighting—Skirmishes with Robbers—Courage of my Wife—Our Domestic Happiness—Visits from Europeans—Their Astonishment at our Civilisation—Visit to a Sick Friend at Manilla—Tour through the Provinces of the Ilocos and Pangasinan Indians—My Reception by the Tinguians—Their Appearance and Habits—Manners and Customs—Indian Fete at Laganguilan y Madalag—Horrible Ceremonies to Celebrate a Victory—Songs and Dances—Our Night-watch—We Explore our Cabin—Discovery of a Secret Well—Tomb of the Tinguian Indians.

As I have previously said, my house possessed every comfort that could possibly be desired. It was built of hewn stone, so that in case of an attack it could serve as a small fortress. The front overlooked the lake, which bathed with its clear and limpid waters the verdant shore within a hundred steps from my dwelling; the back part looked upon woods and hills, where the vegetation was rich and plentiful. From our windows we could gaze upon those grand majestic scenes which a beautiful tropical sky so frequently affords. At times, on a dark night, the summits of the hills suddenly shone with a weak faint light, which increased by degrees; then the bright moon gradually appeared, and illuminated the tops of the mountains, as large beacon-fires would have done; then again, calm, peaceful, and serene, she reflected her soft poetic light over the bosom of the lake, as tranquil and unruffled as herself. It was indeed an imposing sight. Towards evening, Nature at times showed herself in all her commanding splendour, infusing a secret terror into the very soul. Everything bore evidence of the sacred influence of the Divine Creator. At a short distance from our house we could perceive a mountain, the base of which was in the lake and the summit in the clouds. This mountain served as a lightning conductor to Jala-Jala: it attracted the thunder. Frequently heavy black clouds, charged with electricity, gathered over this elevated point, looking like other mountains trying to overturn it; then a storm began, the thunder roared tremendously, the rain fell in torrents; every minute frightful claps were heard, and the total darkness was scarcely broken by the lightning that flashed in long streams of fire, dashing from the top and sides of the mountain enormous blocks of rock, that were hurled into the lake with a fearful crash. It was an admirable exemplification of the power of the Almighty! Soon the calm was restored, the rain ceased, the clouds disappeared, the fragrant air bore on its yet damp wings the perfume of the flowers and aromatic plants, and Nature resumed her ordinary stillness. Hereafter I shall have occasion to speak of other events that happened at certain periods, and were still more alarming, for they lasted twelve hours. These were gales of wind, called in the Chinese seas Tay-Foung. At several periods of the year, particularly at the moment of the change of the monsoon, [3] we beheld still more terrifying phenomena than our storms—I allude to the earthquakes. These fearful convulsions of nature present a very different aspect in the country from what they do in cities. If in towns the earth begins to quake, everywhere we hear a terrible noise; the edifices give way, and are ready to fall down; the inhabitants rush out of their houses, run along the streets, which they encumber, and try to escape. The screams of frightened children and women bathed in tears are blended with those of the distracted men; all are on their knees, with clasped hands, their looks raised to Heaven, imploring its mercy with sobbing voices. Everything totters, is agitated; all dread death, and terror becomes general. In the country it is totally different, and a hundred times more imposing and terrific. For instance, in Jala-Jala, at the approach of one of these phenomena, a profound, even mournful stillness pervades nature. The wind no longer blows; not a breeze nor even a gentle zephyr is perceptible. The sun, though cloudless, darkens, and spreads around a sepulchral light. The atmosphere is burdened with heavy and sultry vapours. The earth is in labour. The frightened animals quietly seek shelter from the catastrophe they foresee. The ground shakes; soon it trembles under their feet. The trees move, the mountains quake upon their foundations, and their summits appear ready to tumble down. The waters of the lake quit their bed, and inundate the country. Still louder roaring than that produced by the thunder is heard: the earth quivers; everywhere its motion is simultaneously felt. But after this the convulsion ceases, everything revives. The mountains are again firm upon their foundations, and become motionless; the waters of the lake return by degrees to their proper reservoir; the heavens are purified and resume their brilliant light, and the soft breeze fans the air; the wild buffaloes again scour the plain, and other animals quit the dens in which they had concealed themselves; the earth has resumed her stillness, and nature recovered her accustomed imposing calm.

I have not sought to enter upon those minute descriptions, too tedious generally for the reader; I only wished to give an idea of the various panoramas that were unfolded to our eyes whilst at Jala-Jala.

I now return to the details of my ordinary life.

As I had killed a wild buffalo when hunting, I had given sufficient proofs of my skill, and my Indians were devoted to me, because they had confidence in me. Nothing more now pre-occupied me, and I spent my time in superintending some necessary alterations. Shortly the woods and forests adjoining my domain were cut down, and replaced by extensive fields of indigo and rice. I stocked the hills with horned cattle, and a fine troop of horses with delicate limbs and haughty mien; I also succeeded in dispersing the banditti from Jala-Jala. I must say a great many of them abandoned their wandering sinful lives; I received them on my land, and made good husbandmen of them. How was it that I had collected such a number of recruits? In a strange manner, I will admit, and worthy of relating, as it will show how an Indian allows himself to be influenced and guided, when he has confidence in a man whom he looks upon as his superior. I frequently walked in the forests alone, with my gun under my arm. Suddenly a bandit would spring out, as if by enchantment, from behind a tree, armed from top to toe, and advance towards me.

"Master," said he to me, putting one knee to the ground, "I will be an honest man; take me under your protection!"

I asked him his name; if he had been marked out by the high court of justice, I would answer him severely:

"Withdraw, and never present yourself again before me; I cannot forgive you, and if I meet you again, I must do my duty."

If he was unknown to me, I would kindly say to him:

"Follow me."

I would take him home, and then tell him to lay down his arms; and after having preached to him, and exhorted him to persist in his resolution, I would point out to him the spot in the village where he might build his cabin, and, in order to encourage him, I would advance him some money to support himself until he became transformed from a bandit into an agriculturist. I congratulated myself each day on having left an open door to repentance, since by my cares I restored to an honest and laborious life, people who had gone astray and been perverted. I endeavoured also to persuade the Indians to abandon their vicious wild customs, without being too severe towards them; to obtain much from them I knew it was necessary to give way a little. The Indians are passionately fond of cards and cock-fighting, as I have said before; therefore, in order not to debar them entirely from these pleasures, I allowed them to play at cards three times a year—the day of the village festival, upon my wife's birthday, and upon my own. Woe to the one who was caught playing out of the times prescribed above; he was severely punished. As to the cock-fights, I allowed them on Sundays and holidays, after Divine service. For this purpose I had public arenas built. In these arenas, in presence of two judges, whose decrees were without appeal, the spectators laid heavy wagers. There is nothing more curious than to witness a cock-fight. The two proud animals, purposely chosen and trained for the day of the contest, come upon the battle-field armed with long, sharp, steel spurs. They bear themselves erect; their deportment is bold and warlike; they raise their heads, and beat their sides with their wings, the feathers of which spread in the form of the proud peacock's fan. They pace the arena haughtily, raising their armed legs cautiously, and darting angry looks at each other, like two old warriors in armour ready to fight before the eyes of an assembled court. Their impatience is violent, their courage impetuous; shortly the two adversaries fall upon and attack each other with equal fury; the sharp weapons they wear inflict dreadful wounds, but these intrepid combatants appear not to feel the cruel effects. Blood flows; the champions only appear the more animated. The one that is getting weak raises his courage at the idea of victory; if he draw back, it is only to recruit his strength, to rush with more ardour than ever upon the enemy he wishes to subdue. At length when their fate is decided, when one of the heroes, covered with blood and wounds, falls a victim, or runs away, he is declared vanquished, and the battle is ended.

The Indians assist with a sort of ferocious joy at this amusement. Their attention is so captivated by it that they do not utter a word, but follow with particular care the most minute details of the conflict. Almost all of them train up a cock, and treat him for several years with comical tenderness, when one reflects that this animal, taken as much care of as a child, is destined by its master to perish the first day it fights. I also found that it was necessary to provide some amusement compatible with the tastes, manners, and habits of my former bandits, who had led for so long a space of time such a wandering vagabond life. For this purpose I allowed hunting on all parts of my estate, conditionally, however, that I should take beforehand, as tithe, a quarter of any stag or wild boar they should kill. I do not think that ever a sportsman—one of those men reclaimed from the paths of vice to those of virtue—failed in this engagement, or endeavoured to steal any game. I have often received seven or eight haunches of venison in a day, and those who brought them were delighted to be able to offer them to me.

The church I had laid the foundation of was progressing rapidly; the population of the township was daily increasing: and everything succeeded according to my wishes. I had still occasional difficulties with the hardened robbers who surrounded me; but I pursued them without intermission, for it was to my interest to remove them from the neighbourhood of my residence. Frequently they annoyed me by the alarms that they gave us. These resolute, determined men arrived in gangs to besiege our house. My guards surrounded me, and we occasionally fought skirmishes, which always terminated in our favour. Providence has unfathomable secrets. I was never struck by a ball from a bandit. I bear the scars of seventeen wounds; but these wounds were made with naked blades. It could be said of me, as in I know not which Scotch ballad: "Did not the Devil's soldiers pass through the balls, instead of the balls passing through them." Yet I have often been fired at; sometimes the barrel of a gun has been pointed at my chest, and that at a few paces from me. My clothes have been torn by the bullet, but my body has always escaped harm.

One morning I was cautioned to put myself on my guard, because some banditti had met together at a few leagues from my house, and intended attacking it. Hearing this, I armed my people, and set out to meet the band that was coming to assail me, so as to anticipate their attack. At the place that had been indicated to me I found nobody, and passed the day in exploring the neighbourhood, in hopes of meeting the bandits, but my search was useless. Suddenly the thought struck me that a secret enemy had imposed upon me, and that, at the moment I was going to face imaginary danger, perhaps my house I had left would be suddenly attacked. I trembled—I shivered all over. I gallopped off, and reached home in the middle of the night. My fears were but too well-founded. I had fallen into a snare. I found my servants armed, watching, with my wife at their head. "What are you doing here?" I exclaimed, going up to her. "I am keeping watch," she replied, with great presence of mind; "I was told that the advice given to you was false; that you would not find the robbers where you expected, and that, during your absence, they would come here." This act of heroism proved to me what courage and energy God had given to a woman apparently so delicate. The banditti did not attack us: was there not some guardian angel watching over my dwelling?

We were more than a year at Jala-Jala without seeing a European. One would have thought that we had withdrawn ourselves entirely from the civilised world, and that we were going to live for ever with the Indians. Our mountains had so bad a reputation, that nobody dared expose themselves to the thousand dangers they feared to encounter in the locality. We were therefore alone, yet still very happy. It was, perhaps, the most pleasant time I spent in my life. I was living with a beloved and loving wife; the good work I had undertaken was performed under my eyes; the comfort and happiness, the natural results of such good work, spread themselves among my vassals, who daily became more and more devoted to me. How could I have regretted quitting the pleasures and entertainments of a town, where those diversions and pleasures are bought by lies, hypocrisy, and deceit—those three vices of civilised society? However, the terror spread around by the banditti was not great enough to keep away the Europeans entirely; and one morning some people, [4] mad enough to dare to visit a mad man—such was the name given to me at Manilla, when I left to go and live in the country—came to see me, armed to their very teeth. The surprise of these venturesome visitors is impossible to be described, when they found us at Jala-Jala, calm, and in perfect safety. Their astonishment increased when they went entirely through our colony; and on their return to town they gave such an account of our retreat, and of the entertainments they found there, that shortly after we received more visits, and I had not only to give hospitality to friends, but likewise to strangers. If, now and then, our affairs compelled us to go to Manilla, we very soon came back to our mountains and forests, for there only Anna and myself were happy. Very great reasons alone could induce us to leave our pleasant abode; however, a slight event occurred that obliged us to quit it for a short time. I was informed that one of my friends, who had acted as witness to my marriage, was seriously ill. [5] What the greatest pleasure, the most heartfelt joy, the most splendid banquet, could not obtain from me, friendship exacted. At this sad intelligence I determined at once upon going to Manilla, to give my advice to the sick man, whose family had solicited my aid; and as my absence might be prolonged, I packed up my things, and we left, our hearts sadder than ever at having to quit Jala-Jala on so melancholy an errand. Upon my arrival there, I was told that my friend had been taken from Manilla to Boulacan, a province to the north of that town, where it was hoped the country air would hasten his recovery. I left Anna at her sister's, and went off to join Don Simon, whom I found convalescent; my presence was almost useless, and the journey I had made resulted in shaking affectionately my former comrade by the hand, whom I would not leave until convinced that he was entirely recovered.

In order to utilise my time, I decided upon making a tour to the north into the provinces of Ilocos and Pangasinan. I had my reasons for so doing: I wished, if possible, to make an excursion to the Tinguians and Igorrots, wild populations, who were much talked of, but little known. I wished to study them myself. I took the precaution not to confide this idea to anybody, for then, indeed, people would not have known what name to give my folly. I made my preparations, and set out with my faithful lieutenant, Alila, who never left me, and who was justly styled Mabouti-Tao. We were mounted upon good horses, that carried us along like gazelles to Vigan, the chief town of the province of South Ilocos, where we left the animals. From there we took a guide, who conducted us on foot to the east, close to a small river called Abra (opening). This river is the only issue by which we could penetrate to the Tinguians. It winds around high mountains of basalt; its sides are steep; its bed is encumbered with immense blocks of rock, fallen from the sides of the mountains, which render it impossible to walk along its banks. To reach the Tinguians, it is necessary to have recourse to a slight skiff, that can easily pass through the current and the most shallow parts. My guide and my lieutenant soon contrived to make a small raft of bamboos; when it was finished we embarked, Alila and myself, our guide refusing to accompany us. After much trouble and fatigue, casting ourselves often into the water to draw our raft along, we at length got clear of the first range of mountains, and perceived, in a small plain, the first Tinguian village. When we reached there we got out, and went towards the huts we had distinguished in the distance. I allow it was acting rather foolishly to go and thus expose ourselves, in the midst of a colony of ferocious and cruel men whose language we did not know; but I relied upon my usual good fortune. I will add that I had taken divers objects with me to give as presents, trusting to meet some inhabitant speaking the Tagaloc language. I walked on, then, without troubling myself about what would become of us. In a few minutes we reached the nearest cabins, and the inhabitants gave us at first an unwelcome reception. Frightened at seeing us approach, they advanced towards us, armed with hatchets and spears; we waited for them without recoiling in the least. I spoke to them by signs, and showed them some necklaces of glass beads, to make them understand we were friendly disposed. They deliberated among themselves, and when they had held their consultation, they beckoned us to follow them. We obeyed. They led us to their chief, who was an old man. My generosity was greater towards him than it had been to his subjects. He appeared so delighted with my presents, that he immediately put us at our ease, by making us understand that we had nothing to fear, and that he took us under his special protection.

This pleasing reception encouraged us.

I then set about examining with attention the men, women, and children who surrounded us, and who seemed as much astonished as ourselves. My amazement was very great when I beheld tall men, slightly bronzed, with straight hair, regular features, aquiline noses, and really handsome, elegant women. Was I really among savages? I should rather have thought I was among the inhabitants of the south of France, had it not been for the costume and language. The only clothing the men wore was a sash, and a sort of a turban, made out of the bark of the fig tree. They were armed, as they always are, with a long spear, a small hatchet, and a shield. The women also wore a sash, and a small narrow apron that came down to their knees. Their heads were ornamented with pearls, coral beads, and pieces of gold, twisted among their hair; the upper parts of their hands were painted blue; their wrists adorned with interwoven bracelets, spangled with glass beads—these bracelets reached the elbow, and formed a kind of half-plaited sleeve. On this subject I learnt a remarkable fact. These interwoven bracelets squeeze the arm very much; they are put on when the women are quite young, and they prevent the development of the flesh to the advantage of the wrist and hand, which swell and become dreadfully big; this is a mark of beauty with the Tinguians, as a small foot is with the Chinese, and a small waist with the European ladies. I was quite astonished to find myself in the midst of this population, where there was no reason whatsoever to be alarmed. One thing only annoyed me; it was the odour that these people spread around them, which could be smelt even at a distance. However, the men and women are cleanly, for they are in the habit of bathing twice daily. I attributed the disagreeable smell to their sash and turban, which they never leave off, but allow to fall into rags. I remarked that the reception given me by the chief gained us the good-will of all the inhabitants, and I accepted, without hesitation, the hospitality proffered us. This was the only means of studying well the manners and customs of my new hosts.

The territory occupied by the Tinguians is situated about 17 degrees north latitude, and 27 degrees west longitude; it is divided into seventeen villages. Each family possesses two habitations, one for the day and the other for the night. The abode for the day is a small cabin, made of bamboos and straw, in the same style as most Indian huts; the one for the night is smaller, and perched upon great posts, or on the top of a tree, about sixty or eighty feet above the ground. This height surprised me, but I understood this precaution when I knew that thus, under shelter at night, the Tinguians are saved from the nocturnal attacks of the Guinanes, their mortal enemies, and defend themselves with the stones which they throw from the tops of the trees. [6] In the middle of each village there is a large shed, in which are held the assemblies, festivities, and public ceremonies. I had been already two days in the village of Palan (this was the name of the place where I stopped at), when the chiefs received a message from the small town of Laganguilan y Madalag, that lies far off to the east. By this message the chiefs were informed that the inhabitants of this district had fought a battle, and that they had been victorious.

The inhabitants of Palan hearing this news screamed with joy; it was quite a tumult when they heard that a fete would be given in commemoration of the success at Laganguilan y Madalag. All wished to be present—men, women, children; all desired to go to it. But the chiefs chose a certain number of warriors, some women, and a great many young girls: they made their preparations and set out. It was too favourable an opportunity for me not to avail myself of it, and I earnestly begged my hosts to allow me to accompany them. They consented, and the same night we set out on our journey, being in all thirty in number. The men wore their arms, which are composed of a hatchet, that they call aligua, a sharp-pointed spear of bamboo, and a shield; the women were muffled up in their finest ornaments. I remarked that these garments were cotton materials, of showy colours. We walked one behind another, according to the custom of the savages. We went through many villages, the inhabitants of which were also going to the fete; we crossed over mountains, forests, torrents, and at last, at break of day, we reached Laganguilan y Madalag. This small town was the scene of much rejoicing. On all sides the sound of the gong and tom-tom were heard. The first of these instruments is of a Chinese shape; the second is in the form of a sharp cone, covered over at the bottom with a deer's skin.

Towards eleven o'clock, the chiefs of the town, followed by all the population, directed their steps towards the large shed. There everyone took his place on the ground, each party, headed by its chiefs, occupying a place marked out for it beforehand. In the middle of a circle formed by the chiefs of the warriors were large vessels, full of basi, a beverage made with the fermented juice of the sugar-cane; and four hideous heads of Guinans entirely disfigured—these were the trophies of the victory. When all the assistants had taken their places, a champion of Laganguilan y Madalag took one of the heads and presented it to the chiefs of the town, who showed it to all the assistants, making a long speech comprehending many praises for the conquerors. This discourse being over, the warrior took up the head, divided it with strokes of his hatchet, and took out the brains. During this operation, so unpleasant to witness, another champion got a second head, and handed it to the chiefs, the same speech was delivered, then he broke the skull to pieces in like manner, and took out the brains. The same was done with the four bleeding skulls of the subdued enemies. When the brains were taken out, the young girls pounded them with their hands into the vases containing the liquor of the fermented sugar-cane; they stirred the mixture round, and then the vases were taken to the chiefs, who dipped in their small osier goblets, through the fissures of which the liquid part ran out, and the solid part that remained at the bottom they drank with ecstatic sensuality. I felt quite sick at this scene, so entirely new to me. After the chieftains' turn came the turn of the champions. The vases were presented to them, and each one sipped with delight this frightful drink, to the noise of wild songs. There was really something infernal in this sacrifice to victory.

We sat in a circle and these vases were carried round. I well understood that we were about undergoing a disgusting test. Alas! I had not long to wait for it. The warriors planted themselves before me, and presented me with the basi and the frightful cup. All eyes were fixed upon me. The invitation was so direct, to refuse it would perhaps be exposing myself to death! It is impossible to describe the interior conflict that passed within me. I would rather have preferred the carbine of a bandit five paces from my chest; or await, as I had already done, the impetuous attack of the wild buffalo. What a perplexity! I shall never forget that awful moment. It struck me with terror and disgust; however, I contained myself, nothing betraying my emotion. I imitated the savages, and, dipping the osier goblet into the drink, I approached it to my lips, and passed it to the unfortunate Alila, who could not avoid this infernal beverage. The sacrifice was complete; the libations were over, but not the songs. The basi is a very spirituous and inebriating liquor, and the assistants, who had partaken rather too freely of this horrible drink, sang louder to the noise of the tom-tom and the gong, while the champions divided the human skulls into small pieces destined to be sent as presents to all their friends. The distribution was made during the sitting, after which, the chiefs declared the ceremony over. They then danced. The savages divided themselves into two lines, and howling, as if they were furious madmen or terribly provoked, they jumped about, laying their right hand upon the shoulder of their partners, and changing places with them. These dances continued all day; at last night came on, each inhabitant retired with his family and some few guests to his aerial abode, and soon afterwards tranquillity was restored.

We cannot help feeling astonished, when we are in Europe—in a good bed, under a warm eider-down coverlet, the head luxuriously reclining upon good pillows—when we reflect on the singular homes of the savages in the woods. How often have I represented to myself these families—roosting eighty feet above ground, upon the tops of trees. However, I know that they sleep as quietly in those retreats, open to every wind, as I in my well-closed and quiet room. Are they not like the birds who repose at their sides upon the branches? Have they not Nature for a mother, that admirable guardian of all she has made, and do they not also close their eyelids under the tutelary looks of the Supreme Father of the universe?

My faithful Alila retired with me into one of the low-storied cabins to pass the night, as we had been in the habit of doing while staying with the Tinguians. For our better security we were accustomed to watch one another alternately; we never both slept at the same time. Without being timid, ought we not to be prudent? This night it was my turn to go to sleep the first. I went to bed, but the impressions of the day had been too strong: I felt no inclination to sleep. I therefore offered to relieve my lieutenant of his watch; the poor fellow was like myself—the heads of the Guinans kept dancing before his eyes. He beheld them pale, bloody, hideous; then torn, pounded, broken to pieces; then the shocking beverage of the brains, that he also so courageously swallowed, came back to his mind, and he suffered sufficiently to make him repent our visit. "Master," said he to me, looking very much grieved, "why did we come among these devils? Ah! it would have been much better had we remained in our good country of Jala-Jala." He was not perhaps in the wrong, but my desire to see extraordinary things gave me a courage and a will he did not partake of. I answered him thus: "Man must know all, and see all it is possible to see. As we cannot sleep, and that we are masters here, let us make a night visit; perhaps we shall find things that are unknown to us. Light the fire and follow me, Alila." The poor lieutenant obeyed without answering a word. He rubbed two pieces of bamboo one against the other, and I heard him muttering between his teeth:

"What cursed idea has the master now? What shall we see in this miserable cabin—with the exception of the Tic-balan, [7] or Assuan? [8] We shall find nothing else." During the Indian's reflections the fire burnt up. I lit, without saying a word, a cotton wick, plastered over with elemi gum, that I always carried with me in my travels, and I began exploring. I went all through the inside of the habitation without finding anything, not even the Tic-balan, or Assuan, as my lieutenant imagined. I was beginning to think my search fruitless, when the idea struck me to go down to the ground-floor of the cabin, for all the cabins are raised about eight or ten feet above ground, and the under part of the floor, closed with bamboos, is used as a store: I descended. Anyone who could have seen me—a white man, a European, the child of another hemisphere—wander by night, with a taper in my hand, about the hut of a Tinguian Indian, would have been really surprised at my audacity, and I may almost say, my obstinacy, in seeking out danger while pursuing the wonderful and unknown. But I went on, without reflecting on the strangeness of my conduct: as the Indians say: "I was following my destiny." When I had reached the ground, I perceived in the middle of a square, inclosed with bamboos, a sort of trap, and I stopped quite pleased. Alila looked at me with astonishment. I lifted up the trap, and saw a rather deep well; I looked into it with my light, but could not discover the bottom of it. Upon the sides only, at a depth of about six or seven yards, I thought I distinguished some openings that I took for entrances into sub terraneous galleries. What had I now discovered? Was I, like Gil Blas, about to penetrate into the midst of an assemblage of banditti, living in the internal parts of the earth; or should I find, as in the tales of the "Arabian Nights," some beautiful young girls, prisoners of some wicked magician? Indeed, my curiosity increased in proportion to my discoveries. "There is something strange here," said I to my lieutenant; "light a second match, I will go down to the bottom of the well." Hearing this order, my faithful Alila shrunk back in dismay, and ventured to say to me, in a frightfully dismal tone:

"Why, master, you are not content to see what is upon the earth, you must also see what is inside of it!"

This simple observation made me smile. He continued: "You wish to leave me alone here; and if the souls of the Guinans whose brains I have just drank come to fetch me, what will become of me? You will not be here to defend me!"

My lieutenant would not have been frightened at twenty banditti, he would have struggled against every one of them until death; but his legs trembled, his voice faltered, he was terrified at the idea of remaining alone in this cabin, exposed to the view of the spirit of a Guinan, which would come and ask him to restore his brains! Whilst he addressed me these complaints, I had leant my back against one side of the well, my knees were applied against the other, and down I went. I had already descended about four yards, when I felt some rubbish falling upon me. I raised my head, and saw Alila coming down too. The poor fellow would not remain alone. "Well done," said I to him, "you are becoming curious too; you will be rewarded, believe me, for we shall see fine sights." And I continued my under-ground research. After proceeding six or seven yards I reached the opening I had remarked from above, and stopped. I placed my light before me, and espied a corner, where sat the dried black corpse of a Tinguian in the same state as a mummy. I said nothing; I waited for my lieutenant, anxious as I was to enjoy his surprise. When he was aside of me: "Look, look," I exclaimed; "what is that?" He was stupified. "Master," said he at last, "I entreat of you to leave this place; let us get out of this cursed hole! Take me to fight against the Tinguians of the village—I am quite willing to do that—but do not remain among the dead! What should we do with our arms, if they suddenly appeared to ask us why we are here?" "Be quiet," I answered him; "we shall go no farther." I felt satisfied that this well was a tomb, and that lower down I should see some more Tinguians in a state of preservation. I respected the abode of the dead, and came up, to Alila'a great satisfaction. We put everything in its place, and returned to the upper story of the cabin. I soon fell asleep, but my lieutenant could not: the thoughts of the mummy and horrible beverage kept him awake.



CHAPTER VI.

Visit to Manabo—Conversation with my Guide—Religion of the Tinguians—Their Marriage Ceremony—Funereal Rites—Mode of Warfare—I take leave of the Tinguians—Journey to the Igorrots—Description of them—Their Dwellings—A Fortunate Escape—Alila and the Bandits—Recollections of Home—A Majestic Fig-tree—Superstition of Alila—Interview with an Igorrot—The Human Hand—Nocturnal Adventure—Consternation of Alila—Probable Origin of the Tinguians and Igorrots.

The following morning, before dawn, our hosts began to descend from their high regions, and we left our temporary abode, to make preparations for our departure. I had resided long enough at Laganguilan y Madalag; I was desirous of visiting Manabo, a large village, situated at a short distance from Laganguilan. I availed myself of the presence of the inhabitants of Manabo, who had come to assist at the Brain Feast—this was the appellation I had given to this savage fete—and I set out with them. Among the troop there was one who had spent some time among the Tagalocs; he spoke their language a little, and I knew it tolerably well. I profited by this fortunate occurrence, and during the whole of the way I conversed with this savage, and questioned him upon the habits, customs, and manners of his fellow-countrymen. One point particularly pre-occupied me. I was unacquainted with the religion of these people, so very curious to study. Until then I had seen no temple; nothing that bore resemblance to an idol; I knew not what God they worshipped. My guide, chatty for an Indian, gave me quickly every information necessary. He told me that the Tinguians have no veneration for the stars; they neither adore the sun, nor moon, nor the constellations; they believe in the existence of a soul, and pretend that after death it quits the body, and remains in the family. As to the god that they adore, it varies and changes form according to chance and circumstances. And here is the reason: When a Tinguian chief has found in the country a rock, or a trunk of a tree, of a strange shape—I mean to say, representing tolerably well either a dog, cow, or buffalo—he informs the inhabitants of the village of his discovery, and the rock, or trunk of a tree, is immediately considered as a divinity—that is to say, as something superior to man. Then all the Indians repair to the appointed spot, carrying with them provisions and live hogs. When they have reached their destination they raise a straw roof above the new idol, to cover it, and make a sacrifice by roasting hogs; then, at the sound of instruments, they eat, drink, and dance until they have no provisions left. When all is eaten and drank, they set fire to the thatched roof, and the idol is forgotten until the chief, having discovered another one, commands a new ceremony.

With regard to the morals of the Tinguians, my guide informed me that the Tinguian has generally one legitimate wife, and many mistresses; but the legitimate wife alone inhabits the conjugal house, and the mistresses have each of them a separate cabin. The marriage is a contract between the two families of the married couple. The day of the ceremony, the man and wife bring their dowry in goods and chattels; the marriage portion is composed of china vases, glass, coral beads, and sometimes a little gold powder. It is of no profit to the married couple, for they distribute it to their relations. This custom, my guide observed to me, has been established to prevent a divorce, which could only take place in entirely restituting all the objects that were contributed at the marriage by the party asking for divorce—a rather skilful expedient for savages, and worthy of being the invention of civilised people. The relatives thus become much interested in preventing the separation, as they would be obliged to restitute the presents received; and, if one of the couple persisted in requesting it, they would prevent him or her by making away with one of the objects furnished, such as a coral necklace, or a china vase. Without this wise measure, it is to be supposed that a husband, with mistresses, would very often endeavour to obtain a divorce. My fellow-traveller enlightened me upon all the points that I wished to investigate. The government, said he to me, after resting himself for a few minutes, is very patriarchal. It is the oldest man who commands.—As at Lacedaemonia, thought I, for there old age was honoured.—The laws are perpetuated by tradition, as the Tinguians have no idea of writing. In some instances they apply the punishment of death. When the fatal sentence has been pronounced, the Tinguian who has merited it must escape, if he wishes to avoid it, and go and live in the forests; for, the old men having spoken, all the inhabitants are bound to perform their orders. Society is divided into two classes, as with the Tagalocs, the chiefs and the commonalty. Whoever possesses and can exhibit to the public a certain number of china vases is considered a chief. These jars constitute all the wealth of the Tinguians. We were still conversing about the natives of the country when we reached Manabo. My guide had scarcely ceased talking all the way from Laganguilan.

My attention was now attracted by some flames that were issuing from under a cabin, where a large fire was burning. Around it many people were sitting, howling like wolves.

"Ah! ah!" said my guide, seemingly very pleased; "here is a funeral. I did not tell you anything about these ceremonies; but you will judge for yourself of what they are. It will be time enough to-morrow. You must be tired. I will take you to my day-cabin, and you may repose yourself without any danger of the Guinans, for a funeral compels a great many people to be on the watch all night."

I accepted the offer made to me, and we took possession of the Tinguian cabin. It was my turn to take the first watch, and my poor Alila, a little more at his ease, fell into a sound sleep. I followed his example, after my watch, and we did not wake up until it was broad daylight.

We had scarcely finished our morning repast, composed of kidney-potatoes, palms, and dried venison, when my guide of the preceding day came to conduct me to the spot where the funeral of the deceased was about to take place. I followed him, and placing ourselves a few steps from the cortege, we assisted at a strange sight. The deceased sat in the middle of his cabin upon a stool; underneath him, and at his side, fires were burning in enormous chafing-dishes; at a short distance about thirty assistants were seated in a circle. Ten or twelve women formed another circle; they were seated nearer to the corpse, close by which the widow was also placed, and who was distinguished by a white veil, that covered her from head to foot. The women brought some cotton, with which they wiped off the moisture that the fire caused to exude from the corpse, which was roasting by degrees. From time to time one of the Tinguians spoke, and pronounced, in a slow, harmonious tone of voice, a speech, which he concluded by a sort of laugh, that was imitated by all the assistants; after which they stood up, ate some pieces of dried meat, and drank some basi; they then repeated the last words of the orator, and danced.

I endured—such is the word—this sight for an hour; but I did not feel courage enough to remain in the cabin any longer. The odour that exhaled from the corpse was unbearable. I went out, and breathed the fresh air; my guide followed me, and I begged him to tell me what had occurred from the beginning of the illness of the deceased.

"Willingly," he answered me.

Delighted to breathe freely, I listened with interest to the following recital:

"When Dalayapo," said the narrator, "fell sick, they took him to the grand square, to apply severe remedies to him; that is to say, all the men of the village came in arms, and, to the sound of the gong and the tom-tom, they danced around the sick man from the rising to the setting of the sun. But this grand remedy had no effect—his illness was incurable. At the setting of the sun they placed our friend in his house, and no more heed was paid to him: his death was certain, as he would not dance with his fellow-countrymen."

I smiled at the remedy and the reasoning, but I did not interrupt the narrator.

"For two days Dalayapo was in a state of suffering; then, at the end of these two days, he breathed no more; and, when that was perceived, they immediately put him on the bench where we saw him just now. Then the provisions that he possessed were gathered together to feed the assistants, who paid him all due honours. Each one made a speech in his praise: his nearest relations began the first, and his body was surrounded with fire to dry it up. When the provisions are consumed, the strangers will leave the cabin, and only the widow and a few relations will wait until the body is thoroughly dried. In a fortnight's time he will be placed in a large hole that is dug under his house. He will be put in a niche, or aperture, in the wall, where already his deceased relatives' remains are deposited, and then all is over."

This hole, thought I, must be similar to the one I went into the other night at Laganguilan.

The explanation that I had just received completely satisfied me, and I did not request to be present again at the ceremony. I resolved, since I was very comfortably seated, under the shade of a balete, upon availing myself of the obliging disposition of my guide, to ask him to inform me, suddenly changing the conversation all the while, how his tribe managed to wage war on the Guinans, their mortal enemies.

"The Guinans," said he to me, without drawing in any way on my patience, "wear the same arms as we do. They are neither stronger, nor more skilful, nor more vigorous. We have two modes of fighting them. Sometimes we give them a grand battle at mid-day, and then we meet them face to face, under a burning sun; at other times, during some dark night, we creep in silence to their dwelling-places, and if we be able to surprise any of them we cut off their heads, which we take away with us, and then we get up a feast, such as you have already witnessed."

That word "feast" recalled to my mind the sanguinary orgie, or carousing, I had been present at, and particularly the share I had taken in it, so that I felt I was blushing and growing pale by turns. The Indian took no heed of it, and went on thus:

"In the grand battles all the men belonging to a village are compelled to take up arms, and to march against the foe. It is generally in the midst of a wood that the two armies meet. As soon as they come in sight of each other they set up crying and howling on both sides. Each man then rushes upon his enemy, and upon this shock depends the fate of the victory; for one of the armies is always panic-struck, and scampers away; then it is that the other pursues it, and kills as many as possible, taking care to preserve the heads, which they bring home with them." [9]

"Why it is a hide-and-seek fight, the consequences of which are, however, very cruel," I said. My Indian was of the same opinion, and rejoined:

"In general the conquerors are ever those who are cleverest in concealing themselves, in order to surprise their enemies, and who then dash on them bawling and howling."

Here my guide stopped short, the fight having no longer any interest for him; and then, perceiving I questioned him no longer, he left me to myself, when I returned to my habitation and Alila, who was sick enough of Manabo. For my own part I had seen enough of the Tinguians, and besides I thought I had observed that they seemed not too well pleased with the long stay I had made among them. I passed over in my mind the brain feast, so I resolved upon leaving. I therefore went to take leave of the elders. Unfortunately I had nothing to offer them, but I promised them many presents, when I should get back among the Christians—and then I left them.

The satisfaction of my faithful lieutenant was at its height when we started for home. Not being disposed to go back by the same way I had come, I determined upon keeping more to the east, crossing over the mountains, and upon taking the sun as my guide. This road seemed preferable to me, inasmuch as I was about to traverse a country inhabited by a few Igorrots, that other species of the savage tribe I was not acquainted with. The mountains we crossed over were crowned with magnificent forests. Now and then we perceived lovely fertile valleys below our feet, and the grass was so high and thick-set, that it was with great difficulty we could pass through it. During our journey, my lieutenant kept a sharp look-out, wishing to kill some game for our support. As for myself, I was indeed far from thinking of the pleasure of shooting, so great was my contemplation of the admirable panoramic views that we met with every moment; and I was too much enraptured with the virgin and fruitful soil that spread itself so incommensurately around us to think even of eating. But my faithful Alila was less an enthusiast than I was myself: however, in return, he was more prudent. At the close of the day on which we started he killed a stag; so we halted on the brink of a stream, cut off some palm-tree strips, in guise of rice and bread, and set about eating the roasted liver of the animal. Our repast was truly a copious one. Ah! how often since that time, when seated before a richly served table—having before me delicious and recherche viands, and that in dining-rooms where the atmosphere was balmy and perfumed by the aroma arising from the highly flavoured dishes—how often, I say, have I regretted the supper I partook of with Alila in the forest, after a day's ramble on the mountains! Nay, what mortal could forget such hours—such places?

Our repast over, we made our bed of some branches we lopped off from the trees, and which we joined together on the very moist soil in the interior of the vast forest, and there we slept soundly till the morrow, without fear, and particularly without having any sombre or disagreeable dreams. At the dawn of day we were on foot again, all Nature seeming to wake up with ourselves. Oh! how fine and calm did she appear to us! The vapours that arose from her breast covered her all over with a veil, like a young virgin at her waking; and then this veil by degrees would break up into pieces, which pieces, gently balanced on the morning breeze, would disappear, and be lost on the tops of the trees or the summits of the rocks. On we walked for a long time, till at last, towards the middle of the day, we came to a small plain inhabited by the Igorrots. We found, in all, three cabins, or huts, so that the population was far from being large. At the door of one of these cabins I saw a man, of about sixty years of age, and a few women. As we had arrived from behind the huts we took the savages by surprise, so that they had no time to fly at our approach: we were in the midst of them.

I assumed the line of conduct I had pursued on arriving at Palan, but as I had no more coral beads or coloured glass, I presented them with a part of our stag, making them understand at the same time that we came with the most friendly intentions. From that moment there was established between us a very curious sort of mimic conversation, during which I was able to examine at my ease the new race of beings I saw around me. I perceived that the costume of the Igorrots was pretty nearly the same as that of the Tinguians, the ornaments excepted, but their features and physiognomy were quite different. The men were smaller, their breasts being exceedingly broad, their heads immensely big, their limbs developed, their strength herculean; their shape was not so handsome as that of the savages I had just left; their colour of a dark bronze, very dark indeed; their noses are less aquiline, their eyes yellow and fully open—a la Chinoise. The women's shape was also very protuberant, their complexion dark, their hair long, and combed up—a la Chinoise. Unfortunately it was impossible for me, with all my mimicry, to obtain the information I wished for, so I was obliged to content myself with visiting the cabin, which was a real hut, having but the ground-floor. The surrounding parts were closed in by very thick piles, covered with a roof in the form of a bee-hive. There was but one issue, through which it was impossible to have either egress or ingress, except in crawling on all-fours. In spite of this difficulty I would see the interior of this Indian dwelling; so, having made a sign to my lieutenant to keep watch, I penetrated into the hut. The Igorrots seemed quite surprised at my so doing, but they made no opposition to it. I found myself within an obnoxious hole, or hovel, through a small opening in the summit of which the daylight peeped in and the smoke crept out. The floor was thickly covered with dust, and it was upon such a soft couch that the whole family laid down to rest. In one of the corners I perceived some bamboo lances, a few cocoa-nuts divided into two parts, so as to serve as cups, a heap of good-sized round pebbles, that were used in case of attack, and a few pieces of wood, of very common workmanship, that served as pillows.

I soon got out of such a den, from which I was driven by the nauseous smell it contained in its every part, but I had been able to see everything in it. I then inquired, by signs, of the Igorrot, the way I should go, in order to join the Christians. He fully understood me, showed me the road with his finger, and we then proceeded on our journey. As I journeyed on, I remarked here and there fields of patates and sugar-cane, which of course must have been the only husbandry of those miserable savages. After about an hour's journey we were near running into a very great danger. On entering into a vast plain we saw an Igorrot, flying away as quickly as possible. He had remarked us, and I attributed his flight to fear, when suddenly I heard the sound of the tom-tom and gong, and saw, at the same time, twenty men armed with lances, rapidly advancing towards us. I felt that a fight was about to ensue, so I told my lieutenant to fire at the group, so as to injure none of them.

Alila fired: his bullet passed over the heads of the savages, who were so astonished at the detonation that they suddenly halted, and examined us attentively. I prudently took advantage of their surprise, and an immense forest presenting itself on our right, we entered it, leaving the village on our left, but the savages did not follow us into it.

During the whole of this scene my lieutenant did not utter a word. I had already remarked that when in presence of danger he became dumb, but when he had lost sight of the Igorrots his speech and loquacity returned to him.

"Master," said he to me, in a very dissatisfied tone, "how I do regret not having fired directly into the middle of those miscreants!"

"And why so?" asked I.

"Because I am certain I should have killed one of them at least."

"Well?"

"Well, master, our journey would not have terminated without our sending at least one soul of a savage to the devil."

"Ah! Alila," said I; "so you have become wicked and naughty, have you?"

"No, no, no, master," replied he; "but I cannot conceive why you are so kind and compassionate to that infernal race. You, who pursue and persecute the Tulisans, [10] who are a hundred times better than these wretches are, and who are Christians besides."

"What!" cried I; "brigands, robbers, and assassins better than poor primitive beings, who have no one to guide and conduct them to the path of virtue!"

"Oh, master!" replied my lieutenant, and most sententiously this time; "Oh! the brigands, as it pleases you to call them, are in nowise what you think them. The Tulisan is not an assassin. When he takes away life it is only when he is compelled, in defence of his own, and if he do kill, why it is always de bon coeur."

"Oh! oh!" said I; "and the robberies—how do you explain them?"

"If he rob, why it is only to get possession of a little of the superfluity of the rich, and that he divides among the poor—that's all. Now, master, do you know what use the Tulisan makes of his plunder?"

"No, indeed, master Alila," answered I, smilingly.

"Well, he keeps nothing of it for himself," said my lieutenant, with great pride; "in the first place he gives a part of it to the priest, to have masses said for him."

"Indeed! it is mighty edifying—go on."

"And then he gives another part of it to his mistress, or bonne amie, because he loves her, and likes to see her finely dressed out; and as for the remainder, why, faith! he spends it among his friends. You may therefore see, master, that the Tulisan possesses himself of the superfluity of one person to satisfy several other persons with it. [11] Oh! but he is far, very far indeed, from being so wicked as those savages, who kill you without saying a word to you, and then eat up your brains—fie!" And here Alila heaved a deep sigh, for the brain feast was ever present to his mind. His conversation so interested me, his system was so curious, and he himself so frank in drawing it out, that I almost forgot the Igorrots in listening to him.

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