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Title: The Campaign of the Jungle - or, Under Lawton through Luzon
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
Language: English
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THE CAMPAIGN OF THE JUNGLE

by

Edward Stratemeyer


                  *       *       *       *       *


EDWARD STRATEMEYER'S BOOKS

Old Glory Series

  _Cloth  Illustrated  Price per volume $1.25._

  UNDER DEWEY AT MANILA  Or the War Fortunes of a Castaway.
  A YOUNG VOLUNTEER IN CUBA  Or Fighting for the Single Star.
  FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS  Or Under Schley on the Brooklyn.
  UNDER OTIS IN THE PHILIPPINES  Or a Young Officer in the Tropics.
  THE CAMPAIGN OF THE JUNGLE  Or Under Lawton through Luzon.


The Bound to Succeed Series

  _Three volumes  Cloth  Illustrated  Price per volume $1.25._

  RICHARD DARE'S VENTURE  Or Striking Out for Himself.
  OLIVER BRIGHT'S SEARCH  Or The Mystery of a Mine.
  TO ALASKA FOR GOLD  Or The Fortune Hunters of the Yukon.


The Ship and Shore Series

  _Three volumes  Cloth  Illustrated  Price per volume $1.25._

  THE LAST CRUISE OF THE SPITFIRE  Or Larry Foster's Strange Voyage.
  REUBEN STONE'S DISCOVERY  Or The Young Miller of Torrent Bend.
  TRUE TO HIMSELF  Or Roger Strong's Struggle for Place.


                  *       *       *       *       *



[Illustration: "You are from the Olympia, I believe?"--_Page 23._]


Old Glory Series

THE CAMPAIGN OF THE JUNGLE

Or
Under Lawton through Luzon

by

EDWARD STRATEMEYER

Author of "Under Dewey at Manila," "A Young Volunteer
in Cuba," "Fighting in Cuban Waters," "Under Otis
in the Philippines," "To Alaska for Gold"
"Richard Dare's Venture," "Oliver
Bright's Search," Etc.

Illustrated by A. B. Shute



Boston
Lee and Shepard Publishers
1900

Copyright, 1900, by Lee and Shepard.
All Rights Reserved.

The Campaign of the Jungle.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



PREFACE


"The Campaign of the Jungle" is a complete story in itself, but forms
the fifth volume of the "Old Glory Series," a line of tales depicting
life and adventure in our army and navy of to-day.

The heroes of these various stories are the three Russell brothers,
Larry, Walter, and Ben. In the first volume we told of Larry's
adventures while "Under Dewey at Manila," in the second and fourth we
followed Ben as "A Young Volunteer in Cuba" and during the opening
campaign "Under Otis in the Philippines," while in the third tale we
saw what Walter could do "Fighting in Cuban Waters."

In the present volume the reader is asked to follow the fortunes of
both Larry and Ben in two important expeditions of that gallant
soldier, General Henry W. Lawton, the first directed against Santa
Cruz on the Laguna de Bay, where the insurgents were left badly
scattered, and the second from Manila to San Isidro, a winding advance
of about one hundred and fifty miles through the jungle, which took
twenty days to complete, and during which time twenty-two battles were
fought and twenty-eight towns were captured, along with large
quantities of army stores and the like. This latter expedition was one
of the most daring of its kind, and could not have been pushed to
success had not the man at its head been what he was, a trained Indian
fighter of our own West, and one whose nerve and courage were almost
beyond comprehension. Small wonder it was that when, later on, General
Lawton was killed on the firing line, General Otis cabled, "Great loss
to us and to his country."

As in the previous volumes of this series, the author has endeavored
to be as accurate, historically, as possible, and for this reason has
examined the reports of the officers high in command, as well as
listened to many tales related by the returning soldiers themselves.
It is therefore hoped that if any errors have crept in they may not be
of sufficient magnitude to hurt the general usefulness of the work
from an historical standpoint. As a story of adventure, the writer
trusts it will find equal favor with those that have preceded it in
the series.

EDWARD STRATEMEYER.

    Newark, N. J.,
    March 1, 1900.



CONTENTS


       I. Dismaying News                                             1
      II. Something about the Situation at Malolos                  10
     III. An Adventure on the Pasig River                           20
      IV. The Gap in the Firing Line                                30
       V. An Encounter at the River                                 41
      VI. In which Luke Striker is Wounded                          52
     VII. The Retreat to the Rice-house                             61
    VIII. A Prisoner of the Filipinos                               70
      IX. The Advance into the Jungle                               81
       X. The Taking of Angat                                       91
      XI. The Crossing of the Rio Grande River                     101
     XII. Something about a Poisoned Well                          112
    XIII. In which a Flag of Truce is fired Upon                   122
     XIV. Surrounded by the Enemy                                  132
      XV. The Escape from the Burning House                        141
     XVI. News from Home                                           150
    XVII. In and out of a Strange Pitfall                          160
   XVIII. The Adventure at the Mill-house                          169
     XIX. News of Larry                                            179
      XX. The Advance upon Maasin                                  189
     XXI. Camping Over a Powder Magazine                           199
    XXII. The Result of an Ambush                                  208
   XXIII. The Tornado in the Cane-brake                            218
    XXIV. The Flight for Liberty                                   227
     XXV. The Caves under the Mountain                             235
    XXVI. Boxer the Scout                                          244
   XXVII. The Departure of the _Olympia_                           257
  XXVIII. The Advance upon San Isidro                              267
    XXIX. Larry is sentenced to be Shot                            280
     XXX. A Rescue under Difficulties                              292
    XXXI. The Fall of San Isidro--conclusion                       305



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  "'You are from the _Olympia_, I believe?'"              Frontispiece
                                                                  PAGE
  "'Alto!' came the sudden cry"                                     47
  "'Hullo, sailor, where did you come from?'"                       82
  "'The well is poisoned! don't drink! it will kill
      you!'"                                                       115
  "His sword kept the two Tagals back"                             146
  "'Can you hold on a few minutes longer?'"                        173
  "On they plodded, up an incline that seemed to have
      no end"                                                      236
  "Down went the sapling over the edge of the cliff"               281



THE CAMPAIGN OF THE JUNGLE



CHAPTER I

DISMAYING NEWS


"How are you feeling to-day, Ben?"

"Fairly good, Larry. If it wasn't for this awfully hot weather, the
wound wouldn't bother me at all. The doctor says that if I continue to
improve as I have, I can rejoin my company by the middle of next
week."

"You mustn't hurry matters. You did enough fighting at Caloocan,
Malabon, Polo, and here, to last you for some time. Let the other
fellows have a share of it." And Larry Russell smiled grimly as he
bent over his elder brother and grasped the hand that was thrust
forward.

"I am willing the other fellows should have their share of the
fighting, Larry. But you must remember that now Captain Larchmore is
dead, and Lieutenant Ross is down with the fever, there is nobody to
command our company but me--unless, of course, Sergeant Gilmore takes
charge."

"Then let Gilmore play captain for a while, while you take the rest
you have so well earned. Why, you've been working like a steam-engine
ever since you landed in Luzon. Gilbert Pennington says he never
dreamed there was so much fight in you, and predicts that you'll come
out a brigadier general by the time Aguinaldo and his army are
defeated."

"Well, I believe in pushing things," responded Ben Russell, smiling
more broadly than ever, as his mind wandered back to that fierce
attack on Malolos, where he had received the bullet wound in the side.
"If we can only keep the insurgents on the run, we'll soon make them
throw down their arms. But tell me about yourself, Larry. What have
you been doing since you were up here last?"

"Oh, I've been putting in most of my time on board the _Olympia_, as
usual," replied the young tar. "About all we are doing is to nose
around any strange vessels that come into the harbor. Since the
outbreak in Manila last February, the navy has had next to nothing to
do, and I'm thinking strongly of asking to be transferred to the
marines at Cavite, or elsewhere."

"I don't blame you." Ben Russell paused. "Have you heard anything more
about Braxton Bogg and that hundred and forty thousand dollars he said
he had left hidden in Benedicto Lupez's house in Manila?"

A shade of anxiety crossed Larry Russell's face. "Yes, I've heard a
good deal--more than I wanted to, Ben. But I wasn't going to speak of
it, for fear of adding to your worry and making you feel worse."

"Why, Larry, you don't mean-- Has Braxton Bogg escaped from jail and
got hold of the money again?"

"No, Braxton Bogg is still in prison at Manila, although the
Buffalo bank officials are about to have him returned to the
United States for trial. But the money has disappeared. The police
authorities at Manila went to Benedicto Lupez's house, to find it
locked up and deserted. They broke in and made a search, but they
couldn't find a dollar, either in Spanish or American money, although
they did find Braxton Bogg's valise and a dozen or more printed bands
of the Hearthstone Saving Institution--the kind of bands they put
around five-hundred-dollar and one-thousand-dollar packages of
bills."

"Then this Spaniard found where Bogg had hidden the money and made off
with it?"

"That is the supposition; and I reckon it's about right, too. Of
course, it may be possible that Braxton Bogg never left the stolen
money in Lupez's house, although he swears he did. He says Lupez was
an old friend of his and was going to have the bills changed into
Spanish money for him, so that Bogg could use the cash without being
suspected of any wrong-doing."

"It's too bad; and just as we thought our fifteen or sixteen thousand
dollars of the amount was safe. I wonder what the bank people at home
will say now."

"Of course, they won't like it. They would rather have the money than
their missing cashier; and I would rather have the money, too--not but
that Braxton Bogg ought to be punished for his crimes."

"Yes, Larry, Braxton Bogg deserves all the law can give him, for the
depositors in the Hearthstone Saving Institution were mostly poor,
hard-working persons, and the wrecking of the bank meant untold
hardships for them." The wounded brother sighed deeply. "If that money
isn't recovered, we'll be as badly off as we were when we first came
to Manila," he concluded.

Ben Russell was the eldest of three brothers, Walter coming next, and
Larry being the youngest. They were orphans, and at the death of their
widowed mother had been left in the care of their uncle, Job Dowling,
a miserly man whose chief aim in life had been to hoard money, no
matter at what cost, so long as his method was within the limit of the
law.

The boys were all sturdy and had been used to a good home, and Job
Cowling's harsh and dictatorial manner cut them to the quick. A clash
between guardian and wards had resulted in the running away of the
three youths, and the guardian had tried in vain to bring them back.
Larry had drifted to San Francisco and shipped on a merchantman bound
for China. He had become a castaway and been picked up by the Asiatic
Squadron of the United States Navy. This was just at the time of the
outbreak of the war with Spain, and how gallantly the young tar served
his country has already been told in detail in "Under Dewey at
Manila."

Ben had found his way to New York, and Walter had drifted to Boston.
After several adventures, the war fever had caught both, and Ben had
joined the army to become "A Young Volunteer in Cuba," as already
related in the volume of that name, while Walter had joined the
armored cruiser _Brooklyn_ and participated in the destruction of the
Spanish fleet in Santiago Bay, as told in "Fighting in Cuban Waters."

While the three boys were away from home, Job Dowling had overreached
himself by trying to sell some of the Russell heirlooms which it had
been willed the lads should keep. The heirlooms had been stolen by a
sharper, and it had cost the old man a neat sum of money to get them
back. The experience made him both a sadder and a wiser man, and from
that time on his manner changed, and when the boys returned from the
war they found that he had turned over a new leaf. In the future he
was perfectly willing that they should "do fer themselves," as he
expressed it.

After a brief stay in Buffalo, Walter had left, to rejoin the
_Brooklyn_, which was bound for a cruise to Jamaica and elsewhere.
At this time trouble began to break out between the United States
troops in the Philippines and the insurgents who had been fighting
the now-conquered Spaniards, and it looked as if another fair-sized
war was at hand. This being so, Ben lost no time in reënlisting in
the army, while Larry hastened to join Admiral Dewey's flagship
_Olympia_ once more. "If there's to be any more fighting, I want
to be right in it," was what the young tar said, and Ben agreed with
him. How they journeyed to Manila by way of the Mediterranean, the
Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean, has already been related in "Under
Otis in the Philippines." Ben was at this time second lieutenant
of Company D of his regiment. With the two boys went Gilbert
Pennington, Ben's old friend of the Rough Riders, who was now first
sergeant of Company B of the same regiment, and half a dozen others
who had fought with the young volunteer in Cuba. On arriving at
Manila Larry found matters, so far as it concerned his ship, very
quiet, but Ben was at once sent to the front, and participated with
much honor to himself in the campaign which led to the fall of
Malolos, a city that was at that time the rebel capital. As Company D,
with Ben at its head as acting captain, had rushed down the main
street of the place, an insurgent sharpshooter had hit the young
commander in the side, and he had fallen, to be picked up later and
placed in the temporary hospital which was opened up in Malolos as
soon as it was made certain that the rebels had been thoroughly
cleaned out. Fortunately for the young volunteer the wound, though
painful, was not serious.

Of the fifteen thousand to twenty thousand dollars coming to the
Russell brothers, more than three-quarters had been invested by Job
Dowling in the Heathstone Saving Institution, a Buffalo bank that had
promised the close-minded man a large rate of interest. The cashier of
this bank, Braxton Bogg, had absconded, taking with him all the
available cash which the institution possessed. Bogg had come to
Manila, and there Ben had fallen in with him several times and finally
accomplished his arrest. It was found that Braxton Bogg had very
little money on his person, and the guilty cashier finally admitted
that he had left his booty at the house of one Benedicto Lupez, a
Spaniard with whom he had boarded. As all the Spaniards in Manila were
being closely watched by the soldiers doing police duty in the
disturbed city, both Ben and Larry had supposed that there would be
no further trouble in getting possession of the missing money. But
Benedicto Lupez had slipped away unperceived, taking the stolen money
with him, and the Russell inheritance--or at least the larger portion
of it--was as far out of the reach of the boys as ever.



CHAPTER II

SOMETHING ABOUT THE SITUATION AT MALOLOS


"Do you know if the Manila authorities have any idea where this
Benedicto Lupez has gone to?" asked Ben, after partaking of some
delicacies which Larry had managed to obtain for him.

"They think he got on a small boat and went up the Pasig River. He is
supposed to have a brother living in Santa Cruz on the Laguna de Bay.
This brother is said to be in thorough sympathy with the insurgents."

"In that case he is out of our reach for the present, as the rebels,
so I understand, have a pretty good force in and around Santa Cruz.
But if this Lupez has the money, I can't understand how he would join
the rebels. They'll try to get the cash from him, if they need it."

"Perhaps he is foolish enough to think that they will win out in this
fight, Ben. You know how hot-headed some of these people are. They
haven't any idea of the real power of Uncle Sam. I believe if they
did know, they would submit without another encounter."

"It would be best if they did, Larry, for now that we are in this
fight we are bound to make them yield. Once they throw down their
arms, I feel certain our country will do what is fair and honest by
them."

"It's the leaders who are urging the ignorant common people on--I've
heard more than one of the officers say so. The leaders are well
educated and crafty, and they can make the masses believe almost
anything. Why, just before I came away from Manila I saw a dozen or
more Igorottes brought in--tall, strapping fellows, but as ignorant as
so many children. They seemed to be dazed when their wounds were cared
for and they were offered food. The interpreter said they thought they
would be massacred on the spot by the bloodthirsty _Americanos_, and
they had a lurking suspicion that they were being cared for just so
they could be sold into slavery."

At this juncture a tall, thoroughly browned soldier came in, wearing
the uniform of a first lieutenant.

"Well, Ben, how is it to-day," he said cheerily, as he extended his
hand. "And how are you, Larry?" And he likewise shook hands with the
young tar.

"I'm hoping to get out soon, Gilbert," answered Ben. "But what's
this--a lieutenant's uniform?"

"Yes, I've been promoted to first lieutenant of Company B," returned
Gilbert Pennington. "I tell you, we are all climbing up the ladder,
and Larry must look to his laurels. I understand you are to be made
permanent captain of Company D."

"But where is First Lieutenant Crunger of your company?"

"Disappeared," and the young Southerner's face took on a sober look.
"That's the only thing that mars my happiness over my promotion. After
the taking of Malolos, Jack Crunger disappeared utterly, and we
haven't been able to find hide nor hair of him, although half a dozen
scouting parties have been sent out and the stream has been dragged in
several places."

"Perhaps he was taken prisoner," suggested Larry. "I heard some of the
Kansas and Utah men were missing, too."

"We are afraid he is a prisoner, and if that is so, Aguinaldo's men
have probably taken him up to San Fernando, where the insurgents are
setting up their new capital."

"And what is going on at the firing line?" asked Ben, eagerly. "Are
they following up the rebels' retreat?"

"I'm sorry to say no. General MacArthur made a reconnaissance in the
direction of Calumpit, but it amounted to little."

"I understand that the _Charleston_ has sailed up the coast and is
going to shell Dagupan," put in Larry. "Dagupan, you know, is the
terminus of the railroad line."

"That's good," came from the sick brother. "If we can get a footing in
Dagupan, we can work the railroad territory from both ends." But this
was not to be, as coming events speedily proved, for the shelling of
the city by the warship amounted to but little.

Gilbert Pennington knew all about the Braxton Bogg affair and listened
with interest to what Larry had to relate.

"It's too bad," he declared. "I'd like to give you some hope, boys,
but I'm afraid you'll have to whistle for your fortune. That Spaniard
will keep out of the reach of the Americans, and if the worst comes
to the worst, he'll slip off to Spain or South America; you mark my
words."

Larry's leave of absence was for forty-eight hours only, and soon he
was forced to bid his brother and his friend good-by. "Now take good
care of yourself, Ben," he said, on parting. "And do stay here until
you are stronger. Remember that a wounded man can't stand this
broiling sun half as well as one who isn't wounded, and even the
strongest of them are suffering awfully from the heat."

"I'll make him stay," put in Gilbert, with mock severity. "Surgeon
Fallox won't give him clearance papers until I tell him, for he's a
great friend of mine."

"I'm going to have a word with Stummer before I go," added Larry, and
hurried to the ward in which the sturdy German volunteer had been
placed. He found the member of Ben's company propped up on some grass
pillows, smoking his favorite brier-root pipe.

"Sure, an' I vos glad to see you, Larry," cried Carl, his round face
broadening into a smile on beholding his visitor. "Yah, I vos doin'
putty goot, und I peen out on der firin' line next veek maype. But
say, I vos sorry I peen shot town pefore we got to Malolos. I vos dink
sure I help clean dose repels out."

"Never mind, you did your duty, Carl. I've heard they are going to
make you a corporal for your bravery."

"Sure, an' that's right," came in an Irish voice behind the pair, and
Dan Casey, another volunteer of Ben's company, appeared. "It's mesilf
as has the honor av saying it first, too, Carl. You are to be first
corporal, Carl, wid meself doin' juty as second corporal."

The German volunteer's face lit up for a second, then fell suspiciously.
"Say, Dan, vos dis a choke maype?" he said slowly.

"A joke, is it?" burst out Casey. "Sure, an' do ye think I'd be
afther playin' a joke on a wounded man, Carl? No, it's no joke.
We're raised to the dignity av officers be the forchunes av war an'
the recommendations av our superior, Actin' Captain Russell, which
same will soon be our captain be commission, Providence an' the
President willin'."

"Good for Ben!" exclaimed Larry. "You both deserve it." And after a
few words more he hurried off, leaving the two old soldiers to
congratulate themselves on their advancement and speculate upon how
high they might rise in the service before the rebellion should close.
Casey had his eye set on a captaincy, but Stummer said he would be
quite content if any commissioned office came his way, even if it was
but a second-lieutenancy.

Malolos had been captured on Friday, March 31, 1899, at a little after
ten o'clock in the morning, although the fighting kept up until nearly
nightfall. As soon as the rebels were thoroughly cleaned out, many of
the soldiers were called upon to do duty as firemen, for a large
portion of the town was in flames. While the fire was being put out,
other soldiers went about stopping the Chinese from looting the
deserted mansions. The coolies were at first made prisoners and put
under guard in the public park, but later on they were released and
set to work to clean the streets.

As Gilbert had said, the days immediately following the fall of
Malolos were not of special activity. The hard, running fight along
the railroad through Caloocan, Polo, and other places, had all but
exhausted the army under General MacArthur, and when the insurgents'
capital was taken, it was felt that the soldiers had earned a
well-needed rest. Moreover, many had been wounded and many more were
down, suffering from the heat and tropical fever, and these had to be
cared for in the temporary hospitals established at various points in
the neighborhood. In the meantime the railroad was repaired and
Malolos was made a new base for supplies. There were several
skirmishes in the neighborhood north and northeast of Malolos, and in
these the rebels were compelled to fall back still further, yet the
outbreaks amounted to but little.

In the meantime, the Philippine Commission of the United States issued
a proclamation, translated into the Spanish and Tagalog languages,
calling upon the insurgents to throw down their arms and promising
them good local government, the immediate opening of schools and
courts of law, the building of railroads, and a civil service
administration in which the native should participate. This
proclamation was widely distributed, yet it did little good; for the
common people of the islands were given to understand by their leaders
that the Americans did not mean what they said, but had come to their
country only to plunder them, and would in the end treat them even
worse than had the Spaniards.

It was no easy work to repair the railroad running from Manila to
Malolos Station, which was some distance from the town proper. All
tools and equipments had to be brought up from Manila and from Cavite,
and soon the engineering corps found themselves harassed by some
rebels in the vicinity of Marilao and Guiguinto. At once General
MacArthur sent out a force to clear the ground, and several sharp
attacks ensued, which resulted in the loss of twenty-three killed and
wounded on the American side, and double that number to the enemy. In
the end the rebels fled to the mountains to the eastward and to
Calumpit on the north.

"We are going out to-morrow," said Gilbert, as he came to see Ben on
the day following the engagements just mentioned. "General Wheaton
says he is going to drive the rebels straight into the mountains--and
I reckon he'll keep his word."

Ben was at once anxious to go along, but this was not yet to be, and
he was forced to sit at a window of the hospital and see his regiment
march by with colors flying gayly and all "the boys" eager for
another contest. The members of his own company gave him a cheer as
they passed. "You'll soon be with us again, captain," cried one. "We
won't forget you! Hurrah!" and on they marched, with a lieutenant from
Company A leading them, and with Gilbert and Major Morris and many old
friends with the regiment. Ben watched them out of sight, and heaved a
long sigh over the fact that he was not of their number. But there was
still plenty of fighting in store for the young captain, and many
thrilling and bitter experiences in the bargain.



CHAPTER III

AN ADVENTURE ON THE PASIG RIVER


"Hurrah, Luke! I reckon I am going to see a bit of fighting at last."

It was Larry who spoke, as he rushed up to his old friend, Luke
Striker, now one of the gun captains on board the _Olympia_. It was
the day after the young tar had paid the visit to Ben.

"Fighting? where?" demanded the Yankee gunner. "Do you mean to say as
how the _Olympia_ is goin' to do some scoutin' alongshore, lad?"

"No, the ship is going to remain right where she is. But General
Lawton is going to take an expedition up the Pasig River from San
Pedro Macati to the Laguna de Bay, and some of the sailors are going
along to help manage the cascos and other boats. I just applied for a
place, along with Jack Biddle, and we both got in."

"And why can't I get in?" returned Luke, eagerly. "This here
everlastin' sitting still, doin' nuthin', is jest a-killin' of me."

"You might apply, although there are already more volunteers than they
want," answered Larry. He told his old friend how to make the
necessary application, and soon Luke had joined the expedition; and
the three friends hastened ashore and on board a shallow river
transport, which was to take them and a number of others up to San
Pedro Macati.

The brief journey to the latter-named village was without incident.
Here Larry found assembled a body of about thirteen hundred soldiers,
infantry and cavalry, and with them two hundred picked sharpshooters,
and two guns manned by members of the regular artillery. Owing to the
sickness of the commanding general, General Lawton took personal
charge of the expedition.

No man was better fitted for fighting in the Philippines than Major
General Henry W. Lawton, who had but lately arrived in the islands,
and who was destined to die the death of a hero upon the firing line.
Of commanding appearance, being six feet three inches in height and
weighing over two hundred pounds, he was a soldier by nature and a
natural leader among leaders. He had fought all through the great
Civil War with much credit to himself, and it was he who, during the
great Apache Indian uprising, followed the crafty Geronimo through
mountain and over desert for a distance of nearly fourteen hundred
miles, and at last caused him to surrender. For this, it is said, the
Indians called him "Man-who-gets-up-in-the-night-to-fight," and they
respected him as they respected few others.

With the outbreak of the war with Spain General Lawton was in his
element, and when the army of occupation sailed for Santiago he was
with them; and it was this same Lawton who stormed El Caney and
captured it, as related in "A Young Volunteer in Cuba." When General
Shafter wanted to call Lawton away from El Caney, after the troops had
been fighting many hours, Lawton sent him word, "I can't stop--I've
got to fight," and went forward again; and in less than an hour the
Spanish flag at the top of the hill was down, and Old Glory had taken
its place.

General Lawton was addressing several members of his staff when Larry
first saw him at San Pedro Macati. He stood, war map in hand, in front
of the river landing, a conspicuous figure among the half-dozen that
surrounded him.

"He's a fighter--you can see that," whispered Larry to Luke, who stood
beside him. "Just look at that square-set jaw. He won't let up on the
rebels an inch."

"Jest the kind we're a-wantin' out here," responded the Yankee gunner.
"The more they force the fightin' the sooner the war will come to an
end. He's coming toward us," he added, as General Lawton stepped from
out of the circle around him.

"You are from the _Olympia_, I believe?" he said, addressing Luke.

"Yes, general," replied the old gunner, touching his forelock, while
Larry also saluted. "We volunteered for this expedition."

"You look all right, but--" General Lawton turned to Larry. "I'm
afraid you are rather young for this sort of thing, my lad," he went
on.

"I hope not, sir," cried Larry, quickly. "I've seen fighting before."

"He was in the thickest of it when we knocked out Admiral Montojo,
general," interposed Luke. "You can trust him to do his full share,
come what may."

"Oh, if he was in that fight I guess he'll be all right," responded
General Lawton, with a grim sort of a smile. And he turned away to
overlook the shipping of some ammunition on one of the tinclad
gunboats which was to form part of the expedition.

The troops were speedily on the cascos, which were to be towed by
several steam launches and escorted by three tinclads. Although Larry
and his friends did not know it till several hours later, the
destination was Santa Cruz, a pretty town, situated on a slight hill
overlooking the placid waters of the Laguna de Bay. The general's plan
was to reach the lake by nightfall, and steal over the silent waters
in the dark until the vicinity of Santa Cruz was gained, in hopes that
the garrison might be caught "napping," as it is called.

For the time being the sailors were separated one from another, each
being put in charge of a casco, the shallow rowboats being joined
together in strings of four to six each, and pulled along with many a
jerk and twist by the puffing little launches, which at times came
almost to a standstill.

"We won't reach the lake by sunrise, and I know it," remarked one of
the soldiers to Larry, who stood in the bow of the casco with an oar,
ready to do whatever seemed best for the craft. "We've a good many
miles to go yet."

At that instant the casco ahead ran aground in the shallow river, and
Larry had all he could do to keep his craft from running into it. As
the two boats came stem to stern one of the soldiers in the craft
ahead called out to those behind:--

"Say, Idaho, do you know where we are bound?"

"Bound for Santa Cruz, so I heard our captain remark," answered one of
the soldiers in Larry's boat. "Got any tobacco, North Dakota?"

"Nary a pipeful, wuss luck," was the response; and then the line
straightened out as the casco ahead cleared herself from the mud, and
the two boats moved apart once more.

"Are we really going to Santa Cruz?" questioned Larry, as soon as he
got the chance. "I thought we were bound for the north shore of the
lake."

"I can only tell you what I heard the captain say," answered the
soldier, with a shrug of his shoulder. "General Lawton ain't blowing
his plans through a trumpet, you know."

"I hope we do go to Santa Cruz," mused Larry, as he thought of what
had been said of Benedicto Lupez. "And if we take the town I hope we
take that rascal, too."

The best laid plans are often upset by incidents trifling in
themselves. It was the dry season of the year, and the Pasig River,
usually broad and turbulent, was now nothing better than a muddy,
shallow creek, winding and treacherous to the last degree. As night
came on the expedition found itself still in the stream and many miles
from the lake, and here cascos and launches ran aground and a general
mix-up ensued.

"Hullo, what have we run up against now?" growled the lieutenant in
charge of the soldiers in Larry's boat. "Can't you keep out of the
mud, Jackie?"

"I'm doing my best," panted the youth, as he shoved off for at least
the fourth time. "With the lines forward and aft pulling one way and
another it's rather difficult to keep to the channel, especially in
the dark."

"Oh, you're only a boy and don't understand the trick," growled the
lieutenant, who was in a bad humor generally. "I don't see why they
let you come along."

"Our boat is doing about as well as any of them," answered Larry,
bound to defend himself. "Two boats are aground to our left and three
behind us."

"See here, don't talk back to me! You tend to business and keep us out
of the mud," roared the lieutenant, in worse humor than before.

An angry retort arose to Larry's lips, but he checked it. "A quarrel
won't do any good," he thought. "But what a bulldog that fellow is--as
bad as Quartermaster Yarrow, who caused me so much trouble on the trip
out here."

On went the cascos once more, around a tortuous bend and past a bank
fringed with bushes and reeds. The mosquitoes were numerous, likewise
the flies, and everybody began to wish the journey at an end.

"We'd better make a charge on the insects," growled one old soldier.
"They are worse nor the rebels ten times over," and, just then, many
were inclined to agree with him. Tobacco was scarce or smoking would
have been far more plentiful than it was.

Midnight came and went, and found the expedition still some distance
from the lake. A few of the soldiers were sleeping, but the majority
remained wide awake, fighting off the marshland pests, and aiding in
keeping the cascos and launches from running high and dry in the mud.
Had it not been for the tinclads it is doubtful if the Laguna de Bay
would have been gained at all by more than half of the craft composing
the turnout. But they came to the rescue time and again, and so the
expedition crawled along, until, at four o'clock, the clear sheet of
water beyond was sighted.

They were making the last turn before the lake was gained when the
casco ahead of that steered by Larry went aground once more, dragging
Larry's craft behind it. The youth did all he could to back water, but
in vain, and once more they heard the unwelcome slish of mud under
their bottom.

"Now you've done it again!" howled the lieutenant, leaping up from his
seat. "You numskull! give me that oar." And he tried to wrench the
blade from Larry's hand.

"It was not my fault," began the youth, when the officer forced the
blade from him and hurled him back on one of the soldiers. Then the
lieutenant tried to do some poling for himself, and got the oar stuck
so tightly in the mud that he could not loosen it.

Burning with indignation, Larry felt himself go down in a heap, and
at once tried to get up again. At the same time the soldier beneath
him gave him a shove which pitched him several feet forward. He landed
up against the lieutenant with considerable force, and in a twinkle
the officer went overboard, head first, into the water and mud where
the casco had stuck fast.



CHAPTER IV

THE GAP IN THE FIRING LINE


"Hullo, Lieutenant Horitz has fallen overboard!"

"Pull him out of the mud, before he smothers or drowns!"

Such were some of the cries which arose among the soldiers that filled
the casco. Then Larry was shoved back, and two of them caught hold of
the legs of the man who had disappeared, as for an instant they showed
themselves. There was a "long pull, a strong pull, and a pull
altogether," and up came the lieutenant, minus his hat and with his
face and neck well plastered with the black ooze of the river bottom.

For a moment after he sank on the seat that was vacated to receive him,
he could not speak. One of the soldiers handed him a handkerchief, and
with this he proceeded to clear his eyes and ears, at the same time
puffing vainly to get back his breath. At last he cleared his throat
and glared angrily at Larry.

"You--you young whelp!" he fumed. "You--you knocked me over on
purpose!"

"No, sir, I did not," answered the young tar, promptly. "One of the
soldiers shoved me up against you."

"I don't believe you," roared the unreasonable one, as he continued to
clean himself off. "You shall pay dearly for this assault, mark me!"

"Didn't you shove me?" asked Larry, appealing to one of the soldiers.

"I shoved you off of my neck, yes," answered the enlisted man. "But I
didn't throw you into Lieutenant Horitz. You did that yourself."

"Of course he did it himself," said another soldier, who did not wish
to see his tent-mate get into trouble. "You had it in for the
lieutenant ever since he first spoke to you."

"I shall report you the first chance I get," growled Lieutenant
Horitz. "I reckon you'll find that General Lawton won't allow any such
disgraceful conduct while he is in command."

"What's the row back there?" came out of the darkness. "Hurry up and
get afloat, or we'll cut the rope and leave you to shift for
yourselves."

"Our officer was just shoved overboard," answered Snapper, the
soldier who had given Larry the unlucky push. "And we've lost our
oar."

"No, I have the oar," put in Larry, making a clutch into the water for
the article just as it was about to float out of reach. He leaped into
the bow once more, and began to work vigorously, and in a few seconds
they were again afloat.

Fortunately for the lieutenant the night was warm, so he suffered no
inconvenience so far as his wet clothing was concerned. But it was no
mean task to clean both himself and his uniform, and what to do for
another hat he did not know. He would have taken Larry's headgear had
that article been anyway suitable, but it was not.

It must be confessed that Larry felt thoroughly ill at ease. That
there was trouble ahead went without saying, and he half wished
himself safe back on the _Olympia_. "He'll make out the worst case he
can against me," he thought. "And his men will back him up in all he
says." Yet he felt that he was guilty of no intentional wrong-doing,
and resolved to stand up for himself to the best of his ability.

The lieutenant had learned one lesson--that he knew no more about
handling the casco than did Larry, if as much, and, consequently, he
offered no more suggestions as to how to run the craft. But he kept
muttering under his breath at the youth, and Larry felt that he was
aching to "get square."

It was early dawn when the casco turned into the lake proper. As the
sun came up it shed its light on one of the prettiest sheets of water
Larry had ever beheld. The lake was as smooth as a millpond, and
surrounded with long stretches of marshland and heavy thickets of
tropical growth. Fish were plentiful, as could be seen by gazing into
the clear depths below, and overhead circled innumerable birds.
Villages dotted the lake shore at various points, but these the
expedition gave a wide berth, setting out directly for Santa Cruz,
still several miles distant, behind the hill previously mentioned.

If it had been General Lawton's intention to attack the town from in
front in the dark, that plan had now to be changed, and the expedition
turned toward shore at a point at least three miles from the town
proper.

But even here the rebels could be seen to be on the alert, and a
rapid-firing gun was put into action and directed along the lake
front. The gun was manned by some men from the _Napadan_, and did such
wonderful execution that soon the insurgent sentries were seen to be
fleeing toward the town at utmost speed. Then a small detachment from
some brush also retreated, and the coast was clear.

It was no easy matter to land, as the water here was shallow and the
cascos had to be poled along over the soft mud. The sharpshooters were
the first ashore, and they soon cleared a spot for the others. But a
few of the rebels were "game," and as a result one man was wounded,
although not seriously. The cavalry remained on the boats, to land
closer to the hill later on.

The landing had consumed much valuable time, and it was now after
noon. A hasty meal was had, and then the column moved off, spreading
out in fan shape as it advanced, the sharpshooters to the front and
the rear, and a number of special scouts on the alert to give the
first warning of danger. Soon the scouts in front came back with the
news that the insurgents were forming in front of our troops and that
Santa Cruz and its garrison seemed thoroughly aroused to the danger
which threatened.

"Forward, boys!" was the cry. "The more time we give them, the better
they will be prepared to meet us. Forward without delay!" And the
"boys" went forward with a wild hurrah, for everything promised well,
and they were much pleased to have General Lawton lead them, even
though they had no fault to find with their other commanders.

The first skirmish began on the extreme right. Some rebels had found
their way to a hill behind the town, and they began the attack from a
patch of wild plantains, thickly interlaced with tropical vines. Up
the hill after them dashed the right wing, and the sharp rattle of
musketry resounded upon both sides for the best part of half an hour.
Then the rebels broke and ran, and in their eagerness our troops
followed them until a point less than two miles from Santa Cruz was
gained. Here the insurgents scattered, and could not be rounded up,
and the right wing fell back, to unite with the main body of the
expedition. But the woods were thick, the ground new to the Americans,
and in the gathering darkness it was several hours before the firing
line was compact once more. Then the expedition rested for the night.

Larry had landed with the soldiers, and, as the other cascos came up,
he was speedily joined by Luke Striker and Jack Biddle.

"I wonder what part we air to take in this comin' mix-up?" queried
Luke.

"Like as not they will leave us here to mind the boats," replied
Larry. "I can tell you that I am rather sorry I came along," he added
soberly.

"Sorry!" ejaculated Jack Biddle. "Surely, Larry, ye ain't afraid--"

"No, I'm not afraid," interrupted the youth. And then he told of the
scene in the casco, and of what Lieutenant Horitz had said. When he
had finished, Jack cut a wry face and Luke uttered a low whistle.

"You've run up agin a rock fer sartin, Larry," remarked Luke. "I
reckon he can make things look putty bad for ye if he's of a mind to
do it."

"Keep quiet an' say nuthin', an' he may forgit all about it," was Jack
Biddle's advice.

The boats having been cared for, the sailors followed the soldiers
through the field and into the woods. All told there were twenty-five
jackies, and by common consent they formed themselves into a company
of their own, with a petty officer named Gordell at their head.
Gordell went to General Lawton for directions, and was told to follow
the volunteers until given further orders. Each sailor was armed with
a pistol and a ship's cutlass.

The march was a hot one, but Larry was now getting accustomed to the
tropics and hardly minded this. The little company advanced with
caution, nobody desiring to run into an ambush. Soon the firing on the
right reached their ears, and they knew that some sort of an
engagement was on. Then came a halt, and presently the darkness of
night fell over them; and they went into camp beside a tiny
watercourse flowing into a good-sized stream which separated the
expedition from the outskirts of Santa Cruz.

Supper disposed of, Larry and Luke Striker took a stroll forward, to
find out what the firing line was really doing and if the insurgents
were in front in force. "We may have a bigger fight on hand nor any of
us expect," suggested the old Yankee gunner.

"You can trust General Lawton not to run his head into the lion's
mouth," returned Larry. "A soldier who has whipped the Apache Indians
isn't going to suffer any surprise at the hands of these Tagals, no
matter how wily they are."

"Don't be too sure o' thet, Larry. The best on us make mistakes
sometimes," answered the Yankee, with a grave shake of his head. But
General Lawton made no mistake, as we shall speedily see.

As has been said, the right wing had become detached from the main
body of the expedition during the fight on the hill back of Santa
Cruz. The firing line of this wing had not yet united with the centre,
consequently there was a gap of over a quarter of a mile in the front.
Had the Tagalogs known of this they might have divided the expedition
and surrounded the right wing completely, but they did not know, so
the temporary separation did no damage to the soldiers. But that gap
brought a good bit of trouble to Larry and his friend.

On and on went the pair, down a narrow road lined on either side with
palms and plantains and sweet-smelling shrubs. From the hollows the
frogs croaked dismally, and here and there a night bird uttered its
lonely cry, but otherwise all was silent.

"Humph, they've pushed the firing line ahead further than I thought,"
remarked Luke, after half a mile had been covered. "Here's a small
river. Do ye reckon as how they went over thet, lad?"

"It must be so," answered the boy. "Certainly, we haven't been
challenged."

Crossing the rude bridge, they found that the road made a sharp turn
to the southward. Beyond was a nipa hut, back of which burnt a small
camp-fire. Both hut and fire seemed deserted.

"They have cleaned the rebels out from there," said Larry. "Come
ahead," and they continued on their way, little dreaming of the trap
into which they were walking.

The nipa hut passed, they came to a tall fence built of bamboo stalks,
sharpened at the tops and bound with native rope-vine. Farther on
still were a dozen shelters, and here could be seen several women and
children sitting in the doorways.

"Perhaps they can give us some information," said Larry, as they
approached the natives. As soon as they saw the Americans the children
shrieked dismally and rushed out of sight. But the women held their
ground, feeling that they would not be molested.

"See anything of our soldiers?" demanded Luke of the women, but one
and all shook their heads. "No Englees talk," mumbled one, meaning
they did not understand or speak our tongue.

The natives' manner made Larry suspicious, and he glanced around
hurriedly. As he did so there was a click of a trigger from behind
the bamboo fence.

"_Americanos_ surrender," came in bad English from back of the fence.
"Surrender quick, or we shoot both dead on the spot!"



CHAPTER V

AN ENCOUNTER AT THE RIVER


To say that both Larry and his old friend were surprised at the sudden
demand which had been made upon them would be to put the truth very
mildly. They had been of the firm belief that the insurgents had
retreated, and to find themselves in a "reg'lar hornet's nest," as
Luke afterward expressed it, dumfounded them.

"Do you surrender, or not?" came the words, after an awkward pause.

It was dark about the huts, yet not so dim but that they could see the
barrels of several Mauser rifles thrust toward them. The sight made
Larry shiver, for he had never before met the rebel soldiers at such
close quarters.

"We're in a box," muttered Luke. "Somethin' wrong somewhar--our
soldiers didn't come this way, ye kin reckon on thet."

"I move we run for it," whispered Larry. "If they take us prisoners--"
He did not finish, but his silence was more impressive than mere words
would have been. He had heard many stories of terrible cruelty
practised by the insurgents on their prisoners, and whether these
tales were true or not, they had had their full effect on both him
and his shipmates.

"Where are ye goin' to run to, lad? We don't want to run an' be shot
down in cold blood."

"Get in front of me and take to the woods opposite, Luke," was the
hurried reply. "Here goes! I don't think they'll fire now!"

As Larry concluded, he sprang to the side of one of the native women
standing nearest to him. Before the woman could resist, he had her in
his arms behind him and was running off as speedily as the weight of
his living load permitted. Seeing this, Luke scuttled off before, and
away they went for the woods, not twenty yards distant.

A howl arose on the night air, and one gun went off, but the bullet
did no damage. Then the leader of the rebels was heard, calling to his
men not to fire, for fear of killing the woman, who chanced, by good
luck, to be a close relative; for the soldiers behind the bamboo fence
were part of a home guard brought out that very afternoon to defend
the road and Santa Cruz.

The woman on Larry's back shrieked in terror and clawed at his neck
and hair, causing him considerable pain. But he held his burden tight
until the shelter of the trees was gained, when he let her slip to the
ground and darted after Luke, who was running with all the speed of
his lanky limbs.

It was pitch dark in the jungle, and the pair had not advanced more
than a hundred yards when they found themselves going down into a
hollow which both felt must lead to a dangerous swamp, or morass, for
the island of Luzon is full of such fever-breeding places.

"Go slow, lad," whispered Luke, as he caught Larry by the hand. "We
don't want to land out o' the fryin'-pan into the fire."

They both became silent and listened attentively. At a distance they
heard the insurgents coming on slowly and cautiously, spreading out as
they advanced. Probably they knew the topography of the country and
meant to surround the hollow completely.

"They are coming, that's sure," whispered Larry, and clutched his
pistol. "I wonder if we can't get away from them by climbing a tree."

"We can--if they ain't a-followin' the trail putty close," answered
his companion.

They began to search around for a tree, and in doing so came to
several large rocks, much over-grown with trailing vines. There was an
opening between two of the rocks, and Luke slipped into this, hauling
Larry after him.

"Jest as good as a tree, an' mebbe better," he whispered, as he
rearranged the vines over the opening.

The hiding-place was not a large one, and Larry felt very much like a
sardine in a box as he crouched close to his Yankee friend. The vines
covered the opening completely, yet they remained on guard, each with
his finger on the trigger of his weapon, resolved, if the worst came
to the worst, to fight the best they knew how before surrendering.

The Filipinos were evidently puzzled, for they had come to a halt and
made not the slightest noise. Possibly they were listening for some
sound from those they were pursuing, but if so, none came, for Luke
clapped his hand warningly over Larry's mouth, and the youth
understood and remained as motionless as a statue.

Five minutes went by--to the boy they seemed an age--and then the
rebels came on again, halting every few steps to make sure of their
ground. Three passed close to the rocks, so close in fact that Larry
and Luke could have shot them down without trouble. But this would
have given the alarm to the entire party, and neither the boy nor the
man wanted to shed blood unless it became absolutely necessary.

At last the Filipinos had left the rocks behind and were circling
around the swamp at the bottom of the hollow. "Now is the time to give
'em the slip," whispered Luke, and crawled once more into the open.
Larry followed, and both hurried away from the vicinity with all
possible speed. It was the last seen or heard of the party who had so
unexpectedly blockaded their progress on the highway.

The jungle at the top of the hill was as dense as that below, and the
pair had not proceeded far before they found themselves in a veritable
tangle of bushes and vines. The bushes were of the thorny kind
peculiar to this locality, and more than once Larry found himself
caught and held as if in a vice.

"My clothing will be in tatters if this keeps on," he panted, as he
cut himself loose with difficulty. "Did you ever see such a thicket!"

"We missed it when we started out to-night," returned Luke, gravely.
"We've gone astray o' the firm' line and everything else, to my way o'
lookin' at it."

Bad as was their situation, they felt it would be worse with the
coming of daylight. "We must get out of the enemy's territory before
the sun rises," said Larry. "If we don't, we'll have no show at all."

But getting out was not easy; indeed, the farther they advanced, the
more difficult did it seem to become, until both came to the
conclusion that they had missed their bearings entirely, and were
lost. "And can't even see the stars to read 'em," groaned Luke.
"Larry, we might as well make the best of it, and wait for daylight."

But the youth demurred and insisted on going ahead. "We're bound to
strike something soon," he said, and did, immediately afterward. It
was a log lying on the edge of an incline, and down he pitched, and
log and lad rolled over and over, with Luke following, to bring up
with a loud splash in the river below.

The force of their fall took them under the surface of the stream, and
in the struggle to save themselves both lost their cutlasses. But, as
old readers know, each could swim well, and they speedily came up and
struck out for the most available landing-place, which was on the
opposite bank.

"_Alto!_" came the sudden cry, in Spanish. "Halt!" And now a sentry
appeared from behind a pile of cord-wood lying but a short distance
away.

[Illustration: "Alto!" came the sudden cry.--_Page 47._]

"Discovered again," muttered Luke, and felt for his pistol. "Soaked!"
he muttered, in disgust.

The cry of the rebel on guard had given the alarm to several others,
and in a twinkling Larry and the old Yankee tar found themselves
confronted by an even more determined crowd than that encountered on
the road. With the water behind them, escape was out of the question,
for a jump back into the river would have courted a fire which must
have resulted in death.

"_Americanos!_" muttered one of the rebels, drawing closer. "And
sailors, not soldiers," he added, in his native tongue. "Where did you
come from?"

Larry and Luke shook their heads. "Talk United States and we'll speak
to you," said the old sailor.

"You gif up?" demanded an under officer, as he pushed his way forward,
with his pistol covering Larry's heart.

"Ain't nuthin' else to do, I reckon," replied Luke, before Larry could
answer. He was afraid the boy might be rash and try running away
again.

"Throw down de pistoles, den," muttered the Tagal, with an ugly
frown.

Down went the weapons on the ground, and then two of the rebels
advanced to search them. They found nothing of special value excepting
the pair's jack-knives, and these were confiscated and turned over to
the officer in command.

The prisoners were then told to march up the river shore to a road
leading into Santa Cruz. With their hands bound tightly behind them,
they were placed in charge of a detail of four Filipinos, who were
instructed to take them without delay before the general in charge of
the city's defences.

"They may hold information of importance," said the under officer.
"Do not delay a minute;" and off went the crowd, the soldiers prodding
the prisoners with their bayonets whenever Larry and Luke did not walk
fast enough to suit them.

The course taken was through a narrow and exceedingly dirty street. It
was after midnight, yet the expected attack of the Americans had kept
all the inhabitants awake. The prisoners were jeered at repeatedly,
and at one point were covered with a shower of mud and stale
vegetables. The onslaught might have been more serious had not the
soldiers interfered.

"Get back, you dogs," shouted the leader, a little Tagal scarcely five
feet in height, but with an air of magnificent importance. "These men
are to go before the general, and at once!" And much abashed the
natives fell back, and the prisoners were molested no further.

It would naturally be supposed that the general in command would be
found at the front at such a time, when an attack on the city was but
a matter of a few hours. Instead, however, General Bamodo was found at
one of the government buildings, calmly smoking a cigar, and
conversing with several native business men.

"Spies, eh?" he queried, when the guard had told him about the
prisoners. "Bring them in immediately."

Larry and Luke were told to enter the room, and did so, their still
wet clothing forming little puddles at their feet. The guards stood
beside and behind them. General Bamodo eyed them critically. He spoke
no English, and so called in an interpreter.

"Where are you from?" demanded the interpreter, presently, after a few
words with his superior.

"We are from the warship _Olympia_," answered Luke, briefly.

"You were sent here by General Otis as spies, not so?"

"No, sir, we are jest plain, everyday sailors."

"Then what brought you here?" demanded the interpreter, after
translating their words to General Bamodo.

"We missed our way on the road," put in Larry, before Luke could
answer. He thought it best not to say anything about accompanying
General Lawton's expedition.

"You must have missed it very much, General Bamodo says," growled the
interpreter, after another consultation with his superior. "Santa
Cruz is a good many miles from Manila harbor."

To this Larry remained silent, and another talk in Spanish followed.
Then a sudden shot from a distance caused General Bamodo to leap to
his feet and dash down his cigar.

"Take them to the prison--I will examine them later on," he said, in
Spanish, and hurried away.

A few minutes later Larry and his Yankee friend were marched off, this
time to a stone building several squares away. Here they were taken
inside, thrust into a cell, the iron-barred door was locked upon them,
and they were left to their fate.



CHAPTER VI

IN WHICH LUKE STRIKER IS WOUNDED


The plan to surprise Santa Cruz had failed, yet General Lawton's
command was just as eager as ever to press forward and do battle with
the native garrison, of which the town on the Laguna de Bay boasted.
It was thought the Filipino command could not be a strong one, and
even if it had been the Americans would have gone ahead just the same,
so accustomed were they to victory over their misguided foes.

It was arranged that the centre and left wing of the infantry should
move directly upon the town, while the right wing should swing around,
to cut off the Filipinos' retreat, should they start such a movement.
In the meantime, protected by a cross fire from the tinclads, _Laguna_
and _Oeste_, the cavalry landed on the hill overlooking the bay, and
began to do battle with the enemy's force in that territory, cutting
its way over field and brush to the left wing as it swung closer to
the river already mentioned several times. The cavalry developed a
strong resistance which lasted for over an hour; but in the end the
Filipinos were glad enough to fall back into the town proper.

Out on the main road leading to the principal bridge over the river
the sun was boiling hot, and many a soldier felt more like seeking
shelter and resting than like pushing forward with his heavy gun and
other equipments. But General Lawton was here and there, encouraging
every one, and they pushed on until a sharp fire between the enemy and
the advance guard told that a running fight, and perhaps a regular
battle, would soon be at hand.

"At them, my men!" cried the various commanders. "They'll run, no
doubt of it. They haven't stood up against us yet!" And away went the
long skirmishing line, and soon there was a steady crack and pop of
guns and pistols as the Americans pushed on, catching many a poor
Filipino who was too late in either running or throwing down his arms.
A number surrendered, and these were promptly sent to the rear.

Presently the river was gained, and here the Americans came to an
unexpected halt. There was a long bridge to cross, and beyond was a
barricade of stone and wood. Were the insurgents massed behind that
barricade? If they were, to cross the bridge in column of fours or
otherwise would mean a terrible slaughter.

"Here goes!" sang out one petty officer, and made a dash forward,
which was as reckless as it was daring. As he moved along the bridge
several held their breath, expecting to see him go down at any
instant. But then came a rush of first half a dozen, then a score, and
then whole companies, and it was speedily seen that the barricade was
practically deserted. The insurgents were hurrying into the town as
hard as they could, with Uncle Sam's men after them, both sides
keeping up a steady firing as they ran.

In the meantime, soaked to the skin and utterly miserable over their
capture, Larry and his Yankee friend had been thrust into the prison
cell and left to themselves. After the door was locked and the jailer
walked away, the youth uttered a long-drawn sigh.

"Luke, we're in a pickle, this trip," he groaned. "What do you suppose
they will do with us?"

"Heaven alone knows, my lad," responded the old tar. "Bein' as how
they ain't cannibals, I don't reckon they'll eat us up," and he smiled
grimly.

"They think we are spies."

"Thet's so."

"Do you know that they shoot spies--and do it in short order, too?"

"And why shouldn't I know it, Larry? I've heard tell on it often
enough. But they have got to prove we air spies first, ain't they?"

"They'll do what they please. I believe half of these Filipinos think
the Americans are nothing but cut-throats. They can't conceive that we
should want to come here and govern them for their own good."

"Because they would rather govern themselves, even if they made a mess
of it, than be under anybody's thumb nail, Larry. Howsomever, thet
ain't the p'int jest now. The p'int is, kin we git out o' here before
they settle to do wuss with us?"

"Get out? You mean break jail?"

"Exactly. We don't want to stay here if we kin git out, do we?"

"To be sure not." Larry leaped up from the bench upon which he had
been resting and ran to the door. At this Luke smiled glumly and
shook his head.

"Ye won't go it thet way, lad--the guard locked it, I seen him do
it,--and the lock is a strong one, too."

Luke was right, as a brief examination proved. Then the boy turned to
the window, an affair less than a foot square, having over it several
iron bars set firmly into the stones. "No thoroughfare there," was his
comment.

The two next examined the floor, to find it of brick, and as solid as
the walls. "Only the ceilin' left now," said Luke. "I reckon we might
as well give it up. Even if we do git out, more'n likely a guard
outside will shoot us down."

But Larry was determined to test the ceiling, which was but a couple
of feet over their heads. So he had his companion hold him for that
purpose.

"There is a loose board up there," he cried, as he was feeling his way
along. "Hold me a little higher, Luke, and perhaps I can shove it
up."

The old sailor did as requested, and with a strong push Larry shifted
one end of the plank above, so that it left an opening ten inches wide
and several feet long. Catching a good hold he pulled himself to the
apartment above, to find it stored with boxes and barrels containing
old military uniforms and other army equipments, relics of Spanish
rule.

"Any way out up thar?" queried Luke. "If there is, we don't want to
waste any time, ye know."

"I'll tell you in a minute," replied Larry, in a low voice, and ran
first to one end window of the storeroom and then the other. In front
was the street, fast filling with soldiers. In the rear was a stable
which just now seemed deserted. The several windows of the storeroom
were all barred, but here the bars were screwed fast to wood instead
of being set in stone.

"I think there is a chance here," said the boy, coming back to the
opening. "Here, give me your hand, and I'll help you up," and he bent
down; and soon Luke stood beside him.

"Think we can git out thet way, eh!" said the Yankee tar, surveying
the prospect in the rear. "Well, I reckon it's worth workin' for,
Larry. But the drop from the window, even if we pull away the bars--"

"Here is a rope--we can use that," answered the boy, pointing out the
article around several small boxes. While Luke pried away the bars of
one of the rear windows he possessed himself of the rope, and tied it
fast to a bar which was not disturbed. As soon as the opening was
sufficiently large to admit of the passage of each one's body, Luke
swung himself over the window-sill.

"Come on," he cried softly, and slipped from view. Never had he gone
down a ship's rope quicker, and never had Larry followed his friend
with such alacrity. Both felt that life or death depended upon the
rapidity of their movements.

The ground was hardly touched by Luke when a Filipino boy appeared at
the entrance to the stable. For an instant the youth stared in
opened-mouthed astonishment, then he uttered a yell that would have
done credit to an Indian on the war-path.

"The jig's up!" cried the Yankee tar. "Come, Larry, our legs have got
to save us, if we're to be saved at all."

He leaped across the yard and for the corner of the stable, where he
collided with a Tagal soldier, who was coming forward to learn what
the yelling meant. Down went both the sailor and the guard; but the
rebel got the worse of it, for he lay half stunned, while Luke was up
in a trice. As the soldier fell, his gun flew from his hands, and
Larry tarried just long enough to pick the weapon up.

Behind the stable was a narrow, winding street, lined on either side
with huts and other native dwellings, with here and there a barnlike
warehouse. Into this street darted our two friends, and there paused,
not knowing whether to move toward the wharves or in the opposite
direction.

"Look out!" suddenly yelled Larry, and dropped flat, followed by the
Yankee tar. A sharp report rang out, and a bullet whistled over their
heads, coming from the prison yard. On the instant Larry fired in
return, and the prison guard disappeared as if by magic. Long
afterward, Larry learned that he had hit the Tagal in the arm.

There was now a general alarm throughout the prison, and the two
escaped prisoners felt that any other locality would be better for
them than the one they now occupied. "Let us try to find our
soldiers," said Luke, and once again they started to run, this time up
the road where, far away, they could make out a forest of some sort.
Then came a second report, and Luke Striker staggered back, hit in the
shoulder.

"Luke! Luke, you are struck!" gasped Larry. His heart seemed to leap
into his throat. What if his dearest friend had been mortally
wounded?

"I--I--reckon it--it ain't much!" came with a shiver. The sailor
straightened himself up and started to run again. "They are after us
hot-like, ain't they?"

A turn in the road soon took them out of sight of the prison, and they
breathed a bit more freely. But the strain was beginning to tell upon
Luke, and watching him, Larry saw that he was growing deathly pale.

"You can't keep this up, Luke," he said, and put out his arm to aid
his friend. As he did so, the Yankee tar gave a short groan, threw up
both hands, and then sank down in a heap at the boy's feet.



CHAPTER VII

THE RETREAT TO THE RICE-HOUSE


Larry was greatly alarmed, not knowing but that his companion was
about to die on his hands. Quickly he knelt at the Yankee's side, to
learn that Luke had fainted away from loss of blood. The shoulder of
his shirt and jacket were saturated through and through.

"What shall I do?" the boy asked himself, and gazed hurriedly at the
surroundings. To one side of the road were several nipa huts, to the
other a long, rambling warehouse. The doorways of all the buildings
stood open, and no one seemed to be in sight.

As quickly as he could the youth took up his friend and staggered with
his heavy burden to the warehouse, which was about half filled with
rice. Entering the structure, he passed to a small apartment somewhat
in the rear. Here there was a quantity of old sacking in a heap, and
upon this rude couch Larry placed the unconscious form.

The boy had been taught on shipboard just what to do in case of such
an emergency, and now he worked as he never had before, for Luke was
very dear to him, and the thought that his friend might die was
horrible to contemplate. He prayed to Heaven that the old gunner's
life might be spared to him.

The wound was an ugly one; yet even to Larry's inexperienced eye it
did not look as if it could be fatal, and the boy breathed a long sigh
of relief as he bound it up. Then he went in search of water, and
finding a well back of the warehouse brought a bucketful in and began
to bathe Luke. Soon the sufferer stirred and opened his honest eyes
wonderingly.

"Why--er--how's this?" he stammered. "Did I--oh, I remember now!" And
he sank back again.

"Keep quiet," whispered the boy. He had heard voices coming toward the
warehouse. "If you make a sound, it may be all up with both of us."

The old tar breathed heavily and nodded. Throwing some sacking over
the prostrate form, Larry slipped back into the main apartment of the
warehouse. He still held the gun, but it was empty and could be used
only as a club.

Two men were approaching the warehouse, both tall, slim, and evidently
of Spanish extraction. They were talking loudly and excitedly to one
another; but as Larry understood but few words of Spanish, what they
were saying was lost upon the boy.

"I don't believe they are after us," thought the lad, when the
strangers came to a halt just outside the warehouse. As they did so a
long volley of rifle shots came from a distance, followed by another
and then another. The shooting came from the centre of the town and
made Larry's heart beat fast. "Our soldiers must be coming in," he
thought. "Oh, I hope they make the town ours!"

The shots appeared to disturb the two Spaniards greatly, for both
clutched each other by the arm and looked thoroughly frightened.

Presently an old woman came running out of one of the huts. She yelled
at the two Spaniards in her own tongue and pointed at the warehouse.
Evidently she had seen Larry and Luke, but had been afraid to expose
herself.

The strangers listened to the old woman with interest, then began to
talk to each other. "Perhaps we can get some information, José," said
one, in Spanish.

"Perhaps we shall get a bullet," answered his companion, grimly.
Nevertheless, he consented to enter the building, and both passed
through the great doorway of the warehouse.

Hardly knowing how to receive the newcomers, Larry stepped for a
moment behind a bin of rice. But then, as the pair moved toward where
Luke lay, he raised his gun threateningly.

"Halt!" he called, as sternly as he could. "Halt, or I shall fire!"

"We are betrayed!" roared one of the Spaniards, in his native tongue.
"No shoot! no shoot!" he added, in broken English. "We mean you no
harm."

"Up with your hands, then," went on Larry, resolved to make the most
of the situation, even though the gun was empty; and four hands went
promptly into the air, for the two men before him were as cowardly as
they were unprincipled.

There was an awkward silence for several seconds, while boy and men
surveyed each other. Larry lowered the gun slightly, but still kept
his finger on the trigger. He noted that the newcomers appeared to be
unarmed, although they had both knives and pistols hidden upon their
persons.

"You are an _Americano_ sailor, not so?" asked one of the Spaniards.

"I am," was Larry's prompt reply. "Are you one of Aguinaldo's
rebels?"

"No, no! We are no rebels--we are peaceful Spanish gentlemen," put in
the second Spaniard.

"Do you belong here?"

"I belong here," said the man who had first spoken. "My brother, he
belongs at Manila."

The brother mentioned shot an angry glance at the speaker. "Yes, I
come from Manila," he said. "But I belong truly in Spain, being a
merchant of Madrid."

"Well, our war with you folks is over," said Larry, slowly, hardly
knowing how to proceed. "If you are not going to help the rebels, you
ought to help us. We are doing all we can for your prisoners out
here," he added, meaning the Spaniards that were being held by the
forces under General Aguinaldo--soldiers who were captured during the
struggle between Spain and her Philippine colonies.

"We can do but little," came with a shrug of the shoulders. "We are
not armed, and if we help the _Americanos_, Aguinaldo says he will
behead all the Spanish prisoners he is holding." Such a threat was
actually made, but it is doubtful if the Filipinos would have been
base enough to carry it out.

"We came in here not to make trouble," went on the second Spaniard.
"We came to learn what the firing means. Are the _Americanos_ coming
here in force?"

"They are."

"Then Santa Cruz is doomed," groaned the Spaniard. He dropped his
hands and began to pace the warehouse floor. "I shall lose much if the
city falls. The rebels will burn all my property, for they hate me."

"I trust not," answered Larry, his fear of the pair gradually leaving
him. "Hark to that!" he added, as the rattle of guns was again heard.
"Our men must be coming in fast, and orders are to save everything
that can be saved. If the rebels--"

He broke off short as a cry from Luke reached him. Running to the
Yankee sailor he found Luke kicking out vigorously with his foot.

"I couldn't keep still no longer, nohow!" burst out the old tar. "A
plagued rat came right up and wanted to nibble my leg, hang him. Who's
them air fellows out thar?"

But the Spaniards had already followed Larry, and were now gazing at
Luke in wonder. "Wounded, not so?" said one. "You were in the fight,
then."

"No, we escaped from the prison," answered Larry, simply. "We were
captured during last night. I wish I was sure we'd be safe here until
our soldiers come along." He turned to the old sailor again. "How do
you feel now?"

"Better, Larry, a heap better. But I ain't ready fer no more foot
races jest yet."

"Then we'll have to remain here. Or perhaps you had better remain here
while I go scouting around and see if I can find some of our soldiers,
or the ambulance corps."

"An' what o' these gentlemen?"

"We shall go, too," said one of the Spaniards. "Your friend will be
safe here--if he keeps hidden under the sacks," he added.

Waiting for the strangers to move first, Larry came behind them, still
holding the gun as though the weapon were ready for use. The men had
spoken fairly enough, yet there was that about them which did not
please Larry in the least. "They are regular rascals, or else I miss
my guess," thought the youth.

The roadway still seemed deserted. But far off they could see the
natives flying in several directions. Then from a distance came a
cheer which Larry knew could only come from American throats.

"Our soldiers must be over there," he said to the Spaniards. "Will you
come with me?"

The men hesitated, and consulted together in their native tongue. "I
do not know what to say," said one, slowly, and began to follow Larry
along the highway. Seeing this, the other came, too.

Suddenly a loud shout came to them from a thicket back of some nipa
huts, and instantly a band of insurgents burst into view, armed with
guns and bolos. They were firing as they retreated, and made a stand
on the opposite side of the road.

"José Lupez!" cried one of the officers of the rebels, addressing one
of the two Spaniards. "What do you here?"

"And have I no right here?" asked the Spaniard, sharply.

"Who is that with you?"

"My brother, Benedicto, from Manila, who was visiting me."

"He has betrayed us into the hands of the _Americanos_! If he--"

The rest of the sentence was drown out in a volley of musketry, and
two rebels were seen to fall. Some started to run, but others held
their ground.

Larry listened in amazement. He had heard the names José Lupez and
Benedicto, and knew that the two Spaniards were brothers. Could this
Spaniard, Benedicto Lupez, be the man who had made off with the money
Braxton Bogg had stolen from the Hearthstone Saving Institution?



CHAPTER VIII

A PRISONER OF THE FILIPINOS


Larry had retreated to a small nipa hut standing close to the roadway,
feeling that if the Americans were coming in that direction, they
would soon be at hand to give Luke and himself aid.

While the insurgents and the Spaniards were conversing, the latter had
approached the hut, and now both followed the young sailor inside.

"Is your name Benedicto Lupez?" demanded Larry, approaching the taller
of the pair.

"Yes," was the short response.

"Then you are from Manila--you ran away from there about two weeks
ago?"

"Ha! what do you know of that?" demanded the Spaniard, eying Larry
darkly.

"I know a good deal about you," answered the youth, boldly. "After
Braxton Bogg was arrested you made off with the money he had left at
your residence."

"'Tis false!" roared the Spaniard, but his face blanched even as he
spoke. "I know nothing of that man or his money. I--I was deceived in
him."

"If that is so, why did you leave Manila in such a hurry?"

"I--I wanted to help my brother, who was in trouble. I have not seen a
dollar of Bogg's money. 'Tis he who still owes me for his board, black
wretch that he was!" roared Benedicto Lupez, savagely.

At these words Larry was startled. Was Lupez really telling the
truth, and if so, where was the money that had wrecked the saving
institution?

"He didn't even pay his board?"

"Not one piaster, boy,--nothing. And I thought him honest, or I would
not have taken him in."

"But his valise is gone, and the bands around the money--"

"Were as he left them. I can swear I touched absolutely nothing,"
answered Benedicto Lupez, earnestly.

Larry was nonplussed. Had the Spaniard looked less of a villain, the
young sailor would have been inclined to believe him. But that face
was so crafty and calculating that he still hesitated.

"Well, if you are innocent, you will not object to helping me rejoin
our soldiers," he ventured.

"I want nothing to do with the _Americanos_,--they mean to get me into
trouble, even though I am innocent," growled Benedicto Lupez. "Come,
José, we will go," he added to his brother, in their native language.

His brother was already at the doorway. The shouting and firing
outside was increasing. Leaping forward, Larry caught Benedicto Lupez
by the arm.

"You'll stay here," he began, when the Spaniard let out a heavy blow
which hurled the young sailor flat.

"I will not be held by a boy!" cried the man. "Let go, do you hear?"
For Larry had caught him by the foot. The boy's hold was good, and in
a trice Benedicto Lupez lay flat on his back. Then he rolled over and
over and a fierce tussle ensued, which came to a sudden end when José
Lupez leaped forward and kicked Larry in the head, rendering him
partly unconscious.

What followed was more like a dream than reality to the bruised youth.
He heard a confused murmur of voices and a dozen or more shots, and
then, as Benedicto Lupez and his brother ran off, several rebels
swarmed into the hut, one stumbling over the lad's form and pitching
headlong. This insurgent was about to knife Larry when he saw that the
young sailor's eyes were closed, and that he was bleeding about the
head.

"_Un Americano_, and wounded," he said, speaking in the Tagalog
dialect. "If he lives, he may make us a useful prisoner;" and a few
minutes later Larry felt himself picked up and borne away, first in a
man's arms and then on horseback. He tried to "locate" himself, but
when he opened his eyes all went swimming before them, and he was glad
enough to sink back once more and shut out the swirling sight.

On and on, and still on went the rebels, some on foot and a few on
their steeds. In front were a few wagons and caribao carts piled high
with camping outfits, and also one or two light guns--all that had
been saved from the garrison. General Lawton's attack had been a
brilliant success, and Santa Cruz itself had surrendered with hardly
the loss of a man to the Americans. The troops coming in did their
best to round up the insurgents, but they had scattered in all
directions and only a few were caught, and these swore that they were
_amigos_, or friends, and had to be given their liberty. This
pretending to be friends after they were routed was a great trick with
thousands of the natives. They would come into the American camp under
the pretext that they had just escaped from the insurgents who had
threatened to kill them if they would not join Aguinaldo's forces.
What to do with such people was one of the most difficult problems of
the rebellion. They could not be placed under arrest, and yet that is
what nine out of ten deserved.

When Larry was once more himself he found that it was night. He was in
a heap in a large casco which several Tagals were propelling with all
speed across the Laguna de Bay. There were several other cascos in
front and behind, all filled with natives with guns. The entire
procession moved along in almost utter silence.

The youth wanted to know where he was being taken, but no sooner did
he open his mouth than one of the soldiers clapped a dirty hand over
it and commanded him to be silent. As the soldier carried a bolo in
his hand, Larry considered "discretion the better part of valor," and
for the time being, held his peace.

A swarm of mosquitoes soon told the boy that they were approaching a
marsh, and presently the casco ran in between the reeds and under some
high, overhanging tropical bushes. Then those on board leaped ashore,
and the youth was made to follow them.

A weary tramp over the marsh and then up a high hill followed. The
hill was covered with wild plantains, monstrous ferns, and a species
of cedar tree, all thickly interlaced with the ever present tropical
vines, which crossed and recrossed the tortuous path the party was
following. Overhead the stars shone down dimly, while the forest was
filled with the cries of the birds, the chattering of an occasional
monkey, and the constant drone and chirp of the innumerable insects.
The path was uneven, and more than once Larry pitched into a hollow
along with the Tagal who accompanied him and who never let go his hold
on the youthful prisoner.

At last they came to a halt before a series of rocks. Here there was a
rude cave, partly concealed by bushes. As the party halted, several
natives came from the cave to give them welcome. There was no doubt
but that this was a rendezvous well known to the insurgents.

"A prisoner is it?" said one of the natives, coming forward and
holding up a torch of pitch. "A mere boy. Bah, Lanza, cannot you do
better?"

"He was with the soldiers who took Santa Cruz, and he wears the cap
from a warship," replied Lanza. "It may be we can get more out of him
than out of somebody older."

"Well, perhaps; but I would rather you had brought in a man," was the
brief response.

The conversation was in the Tagalog dialect, and consequently Larry
did not understand a word of it. The boy was made to march into the
cave, which he found to be much larger than he expected. It was fully
forty feet broad by sixty feet deep, and at the farther end a bright
fire was burning, the blaze mounting high up in a natural chimney and
rendering the surroundings as light almost as day.

On coming to his senses, the youth's hands had been bound behind him,
and now he was made to sit down with his back against a fair-sized
tree trunk which had been dragged into the cave for firewood. A rope
was passed around the log and this in turn was fastened to the cord
about his wrists, thus making him a close prisoner.

For several hours the rebels paid but scant attention to him, further
than to furnish him a bowl of rice "pap," from which he might sup
while it was held to his lips. They also gave him a drink of water,
and one young rebel considerately washed the wound on his head, on
which the blood had dried, presenting anything but a pleasant sight.

As the hours went by the rebels around the cave kept increasing in
numbers until there were several hundred all told. Those who came in
last told of the complete downfall of Santa Cruz, but none of them had
the least idea of what the Americans were going to do next. "Perhaps
they will follow us to here," said one, grimly.

"No, they know better than to follow us into the jungles and
mountains," said the leader, Fipile. "If they did that, we could shoot
them down like so many monkeys." They had still to learn the true
character of the tireless general who had now taken up their trail,
and who knew no such words as fear or failure.

It was well toward noon of the day following when Captain Fipile came
in to have a talk with Larry. He spoke English remarkably well, for he
had spent several years of his life in San Francisco, and in Hong Kong
among the English located at that port.

"Your name, my boy," he said, sitting down beside the young tar. And
when Larry had given it, he continued, "You were with the American
troops who carried Santa Cruz?"

"I was, sir, although I got into the city before they did."

"Indeed, and how was that?" questioned the Filipino leader, and Larry
told as much of his story as he deemed necessary.

To the tale Captain Fipile listened with interest, even smiling when
Larry told how he had broken out of the prison. "You did wonderfully
well for a boy," he remarked. "A man could not have done more. What
became of your friend?"

"I left him at the warehouse. I hope he rejoined the soldiers."

"And what of Señors Benedicto and José Lupez?"

"I don't know what became of them."

"I know this José Lupez fairly well, and I always thought him an
honest man." Captain Fipile stroked his chin thoughtfully. "We are
fighting you Americans, it is true, but we would not wish to shelter a
thief who had run away from among you. We are above that, even though
a good many of your countrymen will not give us credit for it."

"We know that some of the Filipinos are honest enough," said Larry,
hesitatingly. "What do you intend to do with me?" he went on, after a
pause.

"That remains to be seen. Would you like to join our army?"

"Me? No, sir!" cried the youth, promptly.

Captain Fipile laughed outright. "You are honest enough about it, I
must say. How about giving us a little information? Will you object to
that?"

"I have given you considerable information already."

"I mean military information."

"I haven't anything to say on that point."

"Can't I persuade you to tell me what you may happen to know?"

"No, sir."

"If I can get you to talk, it may go much easier with you while you
remain our prisoner," went on the captain, suggestively.

"I'm sorry, but I haven't anything to say."

"Very well, then, Master Russell, if you are rather harshly treated in
the future, remember you have only yourself to blame. As a general
rule, we take prisoners only for the purpose of squeezing what
information we can out of them."

And thus speaking, Captain Fipile arose and quitted the cave, leaving
Larry to his own reflections, which were more dismal than they were
encouraging.



CHAPTER IX

THE ADVANCE INTO THE JUNGLE


Santa Cruz had been taken, but there was still much to do around the
shores of the Laguna de Bay to make it safe territory for the
Americans to hold. From the city the rebels were pursued eastward, and
a number of cascos and larger boats were captured. Inside of a few
days Paete, Longos, Lumban, and several other villages, were visited
by detachments of General Lawton's command, and the insurgents fled in
each instance, leaving all behind them. Nearly a hundred who stopped
to fight were either killed or wounded, and victory was entirely upon
the side of the Americans.

But now it was learned that the forces under General Aguinaldo and
General Luna were concentrating once more to the north and east of
Malolos, and much as he regretted the necessity, General Otis was
compelled to order General Lawton and his command back to the
territory above Manila. No garrisons could be spared for Santa
Cruz, or the other places captured, so these settlements were
allowed to fall once more into the hands of the enemy, after all the
fortifications had been destroyed and the arms and munitions of war
confiscated. It seemed a pity to leave these towns and villages after
having once taken them, but to garrison them properly would, according
to General Lawton's estimate, have taken thousands of soldiers.

With the taking of Santa Cruz, the Americans marched through all the
streets and by-ways, looking for lurking rebels and hidden arms, and
in this search a squad of infantry came upon Luke Striker, who had
propped himself up on the sacking in the warehouse and was making
himself as comfortable as possible.

"Hullo, sailor," cried the sergeant in charge of the squad. "Where did
you come from?"

[Illustration: "Hullo, sailor, where did you come from?"--_Page 82._]

Luke's story was quickly told, and he begged the soldier to look for
Larry, fearing that serious harm had befallen the lad. At once two
soldiers were detailed to care for the old Yankee, while the rest went
on a hunt which lasted far into the night.

As we know, nothing was seen of Larry; but from a wounded and dying
Filipino, the soldiers learned that the boy had been taken a prisoner,
and must now be many miles away from the city. News of this reached
Luke while he was in the temporary hospital opened up after the first
fight, and the information made the old fellow feel as bad as did his
wound.

"If they've captured him, he's a goner, I'm afraid," he said to Jack
Biddle, who had come in to help look after his messmate. "Poor Larry!
What will his brother Ben say, when he hears of it?"

"Better not tell him right away," suggested Biddle. "Give him a chance
to get strong fust. Besides, Larry may give 'em the slip. He's putty
cute, ye know."

The news soon spread that Larry and several others were missing, and a
description of the absent ones was given out. The next day one of the
missing soldiers was found dead in the jungle, but nothing was learned
of the others.

"It serves the young sailor right," growled Lieutenant Horitz. "He
knew too much for his own good." He had not forgotten the disaster on
the river, and secretly he wished Larry all manner of ill-luck.
During the rush through the woods the Lieutenant had tumbled and
struck his nose on a stone. That member was much swollen and cut in
consequence, and this put him in a worse humor than ever before.

By the time the expedition was to return to Manila, Luke was able to
walk around again, and he was put on one of the larger boats and Jack
Biddle was detailed to look after him. The return to Manila was made
without special incident, and two days later found Luke on board the
_Olympia_ among all his old friends.

But the Yankee tar was thoroughly out of sorts. "I wouldn't care for
the wound at all, if only I knew Larry was safe," he was wont to say a
dozen times a day. Barrow, Castleton, and all the boy's old friends
were likewise troubled because of his strange disappearance.

It was Jack Biddle who got shore leave and travelled up to Malolos to
break the news to Ben. He found the acting captain of Company D just
preparing to take his place in the command once more.

"I'm glad to see you lookin' well, leftenant," he said, after shaking
hands warmly. "Ye look almost as healthy as ye did on the voyage from
Brooklyn to Manila."

"And I feel almost as well," replied Ben. "The rest has done me a
world of good. But what brought you up, Jack? Did Larry come with
you?"

"No, Larry didn't come," stammered the old tar, and looked down at the
floor. "Fact is, leftenant, Larry--he--he couldn't come."

"Couldn't come? Why, what's the matter?" cried Ben, quickly. "Is he
sick?"

"I reckon not--leas'wise, I don't know. Fact is, leftenant, none on us
know. Ye see, he went upon thet Santa Cruz expedition--"

"Yes, yes, I know that. And what of it? Was he--was he--" Ben could
not utter the words which came to his mind.

"No, he wasn't shot, thet is, so far as we know. But he's--well, he's
missin', an' we can't find hide nor hair o' him anywhere. I might ez
well tell ye fust ez last, though it cuts my heart to do it,
leftenant." And Jack Biddle shook his head dubiously.

It was a great shock to Ben, yet he stood it better than the old tar
had expected. He asked immediately for details, and though he drank in
every word his manner showed that his thoughts were far away.

"I wish I had been along," he said bitterly. "If he wasn't killed, the
Filipinos must have carried him off a pretty good distance. I wonder
if General Lawton tried to find out anything under a flag of truce."

"Everything that could be done was done--I have Captain Gaston's word
on that," answered Jack Biddle. Captain Gaston and Ben were well known
to each other.

Ben sank down on a bench, and for several minutes said not a word, but
the tears stood in his eyes, tears which he hastily dried that nobody
might see them. Then Gilbert Pennington came in, to tell him that the
regiment was ordered to move within the hour.

"It's too bad!" declared the young Southerner. "But brace up, Ben,
'While there is life there is hope,' and it's a pretty sure thing that
he wasn't killed." And with this ray of comfort Ben had to be
content.

During the days that General Lawton had been in the vicinity of the
Laguna de Bay, the regiment to which Ben and Gilbert belonged had not
been idle. With a number of other troops they started for the town of
Santa Maria, where they came upon the enemy and dislodged them with
shells. The town, already in flames, was allowed to burn, and the
Americans pursued the rebels quite a distance into the mountains, but
failed to catch them.

In the meantime the camp of the Third Artillery, situated some
distance to the west of Malolos, was attacked. A fierce engagement in
the swamps took place, and in the end the rebels were driven northward
and began then to concentrate at Tarlac, which soon became one of
their new capitals--they shifting the seat of government as often as
it suited their convenience.

It was now felt by General Otis and others in command that no time
should be lost in an endeavor to round up the insurgents to the north
of Malolos, who were the main support of the rebellion, although
scattering bands were still operating to the south and southeast. The
rainy season was but a few weeks off, and once this set in military
operations would be much retarded, if not stopped altogether, for,
taken as a whole, the roads throughout the Island of Luzon are bad,
and heavy rains render them well-nigh impassable.

In order to make the campaign against the rebels as effective as
possible, General Otis decided to send out two columns, one under
General MacArthur to strike out for Calumpit, and the second, under
General Lawton, to take a route to the eastward, along the base of the
hills leading to San Isidro. By this it was hoped, if the rebels at
Calumpit were defeated and tried to take to the mountains, they would
fall directly into Lawton's hands, and not only have to surrender but
also give up all their war supplies.

It was in the furtherance of this plan that General Lawton left Manila
with his brigade and struck out for Novaliches which was gained after
a small skirmish at Tuliahan River. From here the column moved to
Norzagaray to await reënforcements which were coming in from Malolos
and vicinity. To these reënforcements belonged the command to which
Ben and Gilbert were attached.

It had begun to rain, and those who understood tropical weather
predicted that the wet season was at hand. Yet it was very hot, and
the water which fell arose in clouds of steam on the road, rendering
marching anything but comfortable.

"Sure, an' it makes a man feel as if he was takin' a stame bath, so it
does," remarked Dan Casey, as he swung along on the route step. "I
don't know as I iver see it rain hot wather before, bedad," he added,
as he wiped the perspiration from his sadly freckled face.

During the day's march, which was trying to everybody, Ben was silent,
wondering what had become of Larry and if he would ever again see his
younger brother. When the command went into camp under the shelter of
a grove of tall trees, both Gilbert and Major Morris visited his tent
to comfort him.

"He is not the only one who is missing," remarked the major of the
first battalion. "So far I understand the warships have lost about a
dozen men who went ashore and failed to return. And you know there are
six men missing from our own regiment."

"That is true, major," was the acting captain's answer. "But it's only
when it's a close relative that the blow really comes home to one, you
know."

"I suppose that is true, captain. But don't be disheartened. It may
be that your brother is already back at Manila."

"I can't see what the rebels would do with him as a prisoner," said
Gilbert. "They have to move around so lively that I can't see what
they want with prisoners anyway."

And so the talk ran on until it came time to retire. That night Ben
slept but little, and it was not the rain or the aching of his wound
that kept him awake either. He was bound to think of Larry constantly
until something was heard of the missing lad.



CHAPTER X

THE TAKING OF ANGAT


"We are out for a fight to-day."

It was Sergeant Gilmore who spoke, and he addressed Ben. The sergeant
was still acting as first lieutenant of Company D, and it looked as if
he might hold the position permanently. As for Ben, it was settled
that he would be appointed permanent captain of the command as soon as
the necessary papers could be made out.

The regiment had joined General Lawton's command and was now in the
vicinity of Angat, a pretty town, full of quaint buildings, and a
place which, as yet, the rebellion had scarcely touched. But the
insurgents had been developed in force by the sharpshooters in front,
and now a constant rattle of musketry was heard, which made Ben's
blood tingle as of old, when the cry had been, "On to Santiago!" and
"On to Malolos!"

"Yes, you are right, Gilmore," answered the young captain. "And I am
not sorry. It will help us to forget the rain and our other
discomforts." Ben did not say it would help him to forget about Larry,
but that is what he meant.

The regiment was soon advancing on the double-quick. It was spread out
in skirmish order, and the route lay over what had once been a
rice-field, but which was but little more than a sheet of dirty water
four to eight inches deep. Here and there were holes, and into these
some of the soldiers would sometimes step, thus getting an involuntary
bath, much to their disgust.

"It ain't all a picnic," remarked one of the unfortunates, as he
leaped up out of a hole and shook himself like a big dog. "Folks at
home as just read the newspaper accounts of the war don't know
anything of what us fellows have to put up with. All they think we do
is to rush forward, kill the enemy, and cover ourselves with glory.
I'll wager some of 'em would put on a mighty sour face if they had to
tramp ten or twenty miles in the mud and wet, carry a gun and other
luggage, and hardly knowing when the next meal was going to turn up
and what it was going to amount to."

"Oh, you've got 'em bad, Bradner!" shouted a comrade. "Here, light my
pipe and take a smoke. It will dry off your nose if nothing else." And
Bradner took the pipe and was thankful that tobacco, at least, was
still forthcoming.

Half an hour later Ben received orders to take his company up to the
firing line, and away went the command on the double-quick, with the
young captain at the head. The rain had let up a bit, and the rebels
could be seen making a stand behind a grove of half-wild plantains,
where were located a score of nipa huts.

"Run them out, boys!" shouted Ben, as they drew closer. "If we go at
them with a rush we'll soon have them on the run!" And on swept the
company, with orders to fire at will. Soon there was a constant
cracking of rifles, and Ben and the other officers joined in with
their pistols. The insurgents fired in return, and one man of the
company fell back, hit in the arm.

Just before the grove was gained there was a brook to cross. This was
much swollen, and here a number of the soldiers came to a halt,
fearing that fording was out of the question.

"Don't stop!" came in a loud cry from Major Morris. "You can leap the
stream easily enough. Come, I'm going!" And over he went with a
bound, and a score of soldiers followed. A raking fire came from the
nipa huts, but now the rebels were seen to be fleeing. The Americans
answered the fire with volley after volley from their own guns, and
the huts were surrounded as quickly as possible.

"Captain Russell, you will take the trail to the left," said an
orderly, dashing up. "Major Morris will rejoin you at the fork in the
road."

"The trail to the left," repeated Ben, and turned to his company.
"Forward, boys,--left oblique!" he shouted, and on they went again,
past the nipa huts and down a trail leading along the edge of a rich
plantation. Several more huts were passed, but the inmates were
nothing but women and children, and offered no resistance. Then at a
distance could be seen a stone wall, as if the insurgents had
endeavored to construct a rude fortification in a great hurry.

The company was going at the stone wall pell-mell when Ben called a
sudden halt. "To the right, boys, and come at the end of the wall,"
were his orders, and the command swept around as desired.

Bang! The report was hardly expected, and with it half a dozen of the
stones composing the rude fortification gave way, disclosing a cannon
made of a bored-out tree-trunk, wound round and round with telegraph
wire stolen from the lines along the railroad. This wooden cannon had
been heavily charged with cartridges, old nails, and bits of iron, and
the first discharge rent the mouth into a dozen pieces.

"That was a narrow shave!" cried Gilmore, as he and Ben looked around,
to find all the company unharmed. "Who ever supposed the rascals would
put up such a job as that on us?"

"They'll do anything," replied the young captain. "But that isn't a
new idea. Wooden cannons were used in the Civil War, so I've been
told."

With the discharge of the wooden gun, the rebels concealed behind the
stone fortification had fled. The Americans now made after them, more
"hot-footed" than ever, and the incessant crack of firearms was
followed by many a groan and yell of pain as over a dozen Filipinos
went down, three to their death.

At the fork mentioned by Major Morris, Ben brought his company to a
halt. All were panting for breath, for the brush at close quarters had
put them on their mettle. The rest of the battalion soon came up, and
the other battalions followed, from another road, and then the
regiment, with the other troops, pushed on into Angat.

Much to the astonishment of all, the beautiful town, with its
century-old churches and quaint government buildings, was found
practically deserted. The only inhabitants left were a few women and a
handful of aged men, all of whom said they would do anything for the
_Americanos_ if they were spared their lives. These frightened people
were soon put at ease, and then an inspection of the captured place
was instituted.

In various places, such as the vaults of convents and government
buildings, huge quantities of _pilai_, that is, unhulled rice, were
found. Some of the rice was confiscated for army use, and a large
quantity was distributed to the natives who gradually drifted in,
saying they wanted to be friendly, and that they were starving.

"It may be that the rice we give away may go to the rebels," said the
general in command. "But we can't let these poor wretches starve, war
or no war;" and so the bags were given out until very little
remained.

It was not General Lawton's intention to quarter at Angat for any
length of time, and, having entered the town in the morning, he left
it in the afternoon, to begin an advance up the river the next day,
striking San Rafael on the right bank and Muronco on the left bank.

"Somebody has set Angat on fire!" exclaimed Ben, as the regiment
marched away. A thick column of smoke had suddenly risen from the
upper end of the town.

"I don't believe it was our men," answered Major Morris, who walked
beside the young captain. "They had strict orders not to loot or
burn."

The flames speedily increased, as one nipa hut after another caught,
and the warehouses added to the blaze. The Americans always thought
the rebels started this conflagration, while the insurgents laid the
crime at our door. However it was, Angat burned fiercely, and by
nightfall little remained of its many picturesque buildings.

The weather was beginning to tell upon the troops, and out of Ben's
regiment fully forty men were on the sick list, with either colds or
tropical fever, and these had to be sent back to a sick camp. The
balance of the command, it was decided, should join the troops that
were to attack San Rafael.

As before, the sharpshooters were in front, while the infantry were
escorted by Scott's battery, who, as soon as the enemy's firing line
was located, began to pour in a hot fire of shrapnel, much to the
latter's discomfiture. Then Ben's regiment went into action once more,
the young captain's company on the edge of some heavy brush.

The sharp clip, clip of Mauser bullets made unpleasant music as the
soldier boys rushed through the thickets, to surprise not a few
Filipinos who were in hiding, and who imagined that the Americans
would pass them by unnoticed. Once Ben came upon a man lying on his
face in a mass of tall grass, every part of his body concealed but his
back.

"Can he be dead?" thought the young captain, when of a sudden the
native leaped up like lightning and darted behind the nearest bushes
before anybody could stop him. Half a dozen soldiers fired on him, and
he fired in return, but none of the shots took effect; and Ben could
not but think that the poor creature had earned his escape. "For ten
chances to one he doesn't know what he is fighting about," he said to
Gilmore.

"Right you are," answered the lieutenant. "I believe if we could
corral the whole crowd and explain the true situation to them, they
would throw down their arms without hesitation. It is only the leaders
who are keeping this rebellion alive."

Over near the battery just mentioned stood General Lawton, tall and
erect, directing every movement, without a single thought of personal
danger. Many a shot was directed at him, but he seemed to bear a
charmed life.

"San Rafael will soon be ours," said one of the officers of the staff.
"See, the enemy are retreating!" he cried enthusiastically.

At that moment an orderly dashed up, carrying an order from General
Otis. The order read that the column must rest at Angat until supplies
could be forwarded from Malolos. A shadow fell over the commando's
face. Another victory was at hand--but orders were orders, and must be
obeyed. Slowly the retreat was sounded, and the insurgents were left
in possession of the field. They thought the Americans were being
forced back on account of a heavy loss, and went almost wild with
delight, proclaiming the encounter a great victory for the Filipino
cause.



CHAPTER XI

THE CROSSING OF THE RIO GRANDE RIVER


"For gracious' sake, what did we want to retreat for?" demanded Ben,
as soon as the command halted and Major Morris had come within
speaking distance. The young captain had been at the very front of the
firing line, and had seen that complete victory was only the work of a
quarter of an hour or less.

"Orders from general headquarters," replied the major, in a low tone.
"I fancy the staff is pretty angry, too," he added.

"We could have whipped them with ease."

"So we could, captain, but--" And Major Morris finished with a shrug
of his shoulders which meant a good deal.

"I don't believe General Otis would have given such an order had he
been here to see what was going on," continued Ben, earnestly.

"Well, we're ordered back to Angat, and that is all there is to it.
The army must have supplies, you know."

"Hang the supplies!" muttered Gilmore, but under his breath. "We can
get all the supplies we want as we go along." And Ben was rather
inclined to agree with him.

There was no help, however, for the turn in the situation; and with
crestfallen faces the soldiers moved still further back and went into
temporary camp. Only a few had suffered, and the wounded ones were
promptly cared for by the hospital corps.

"And how do you feel?" asked Gilbert, as he came up to see Ben. "Does
the wound hurt still?"

"It itches, that's all," answered Ben. "But this retreat--"

"Makes one feel sore all over, doesn't it?" finished the young
Southerner. "I must say I don't understand it at all. If we are going
to round up any of these rebels, we can't do it by falling back and
waiting for supplies."

Impatient as they were, however, the troops had to wait for two days
before another movement was made. During this time supplies were
hurried forward in large quantities, that there might be no more
delays in the future.

In the meantime the troops under General MacArthur were by no means
idle. They consisted of two brigades, that of General Hale on the
right wing, and that of General Wheaton on the left wing. Of these
troops the first advance was by some men of the Fourth Cavalry, who
went forward to reconnoitre the enemy's position near Quingua. The
start was made during the early morning, and before long the
insurgents opened a heavy fire which the Americans returned with
difficulty, as the rebels were well concealed by the tall grass and
their intrenchments. To aid the cavalry a number of other troops were
hurried forward, also several field-pieces; and in the end the
Filipinos were forced from their position, with a heavy loss. In this
battle the Americans lost six killed and forty wounded. Among the
killed was Colonel Stotsenburg, commanding the First Nebraska
Volunteers, who, after most gallantly leading his men, was shot down
in the final rush upon the enemy's earthworks.

From Quingua the whole of General Hale's brigade moved down the
Quingua River to Pulilan. Here no resistance was encountered, and
after a brief rest the brigade pushed on toward Logundi. That town
was not yet reached when the advance guard reported a breastwork
across the main road, running to the river on the west and into the
jungle on the east.

"Never mind, we'll go ahead anyhow!" shouted the soldiers of the
Nebraska regiment; and go ahead they did, with the South Dakota and
Iowa troops beside them, and several guns of the Sixth Artillery
protecting their advance. The fight at the earthworks was a fierce
one, some of the Filipinos refusing to surrender even when they knew
they were beaten; and as a consequence many of them were slain whose
lives might otherwise have been spared to them.

A short distance to the northwest of Logundi, the Quingua and the
Bagbag rivers join in flowing into the Calumpit. The railroad crosses
the Bagbag but a short distance away, and at this point General Hale's
command reunited with that of General Wheaton, which had come up along
the tracks from Malolos without difficulty. General Wheaton had with
him the troops from Montana and Kansas, some Utah artillery, and one
or two other commands, along with two armored cars, fitted out with
Gatling and Hotchkiss guns and six-pounders.

It was soon discovered that the rebels had built strong breastworks in
a semicircle along the north bank of the Bagbag and the western bank
of the Calumpit Rivers, and had injured the railroad track for a
distance of several hundred yards, and also the bridge spanning the
river. As the approach to both rivers was largely an open one, how to
dislodge the Filipinos became a serious problem.

"Forward with the armored cars!" was the cry, and they were rushed
ahead as far as the torn-up condition of the railroad tracks admitted.
A cannonading lasting for half an hour followed, in which one of the
batteries on the highway also took part. The aim of the gunners was
good, and soon the insurgents were seen to be pouring from the
trenches, which were getting too hot to hold them. Yet a fair number
held their ground, and when the troops on foot advanced they opened a
blistering fire which laid not a few Americans low. But the victory
was ours, and soon the followers of Old Glory were wading or swimming
the river, while the engineering corps set to work to repair the
damage done to railroad and bridge, so that the armored and baggage
cars might pass through.

The cry was now, "On to Calumpit!" which town lies on the Calumpit
River, and is divided into two parts by another stream, called the Rio
Grande. It was found that the insurgents had practically deserted the
lower half of the town, but had intrenchments on the upper bank of the
Rio Grande which were even more formidable than those taken on the
Bagbag. Here the rebels had also a Maxim and other guns, and it seemed
as if for once the advance of the Americans was thoroughly blocked.
Numerous good positions along the south bank of the river were held by
our troops, but it looked as if they could not get over the stream
without a tremendous loss of life.

It is said that the opportunity makes the man, and in this instance
the saying proved a true one. With the soldiers under General Wheaton
were the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, who had already made a record
for themselves at Malolos and elsewhere, as related in a previous
volume of this series. They were commanded by Colonel Frederick
Funston, a man comparatively young in years and small in stature, but
one who was daring to the last degree, and who had seen much of
fighting and hardships during his adventurous existence. In Cuba,
Funston had fought most valiantly under Garcia for Cuban liberty long
before any interference by the United States.

To Colonel, afterward Brigadier General, Funston belongs the honor of
the passage of the Rio Grande, for it was he who planned what was
done, and he and a score of his fighting Kansans who carried it out.
The daring of the scheme is one which will live long in American
history.

As before mentioned, the bridge was partly broken, but enough
remained for the passage of soldiers who could climb from one iron
cross-section to another. At first it was hoped that a body might go
over the bridge in the dark, raise a great commotion, and cause
the Filipinos a panic. This scheme was tried, but it failed; for the
enemy was on strict guard, and would have shot down the men as
rapidly as they appeared on the bridge.

Colonel Funston then proposed to go down the river bank for a
considerable distance, build rafts, and, by means of a stout rope,
ferry some of the best of his men across the stream in the dark. The
landing of the men was to be covered by the heaviest possible fire
from the American side, and, as soon as they were safe ashore, the
Kansas soldiers were to secure some position where they might enfilade
the enemy's trenches, that is, fire through them from one end, so
that the Filipinos might no longer find them safe. In the meantime
more troops were to come over with all possible speed.

On the way down the stream the Kansas soldiers demolished several
huts, selecting the best of the timber with which to build their
rafts. The moon was under a cloud, and it looked as if they might get
across the river without serious trouble.

But as the crowd were constructing their rafts and getting their ferry
rope ready for use, the moon came out brightly; and very soon the
insurgents became suspicious and fired on the Americans, who were
forced to retreat to the nearest shelter. The firing kept up the
greater part of two hours, and at last the plan to cross over that
night was abandoned.

But the Kansas colonel and his gallant men had determined to be the
first into the enemy's camp, and once again they went to the spot
previously selected, but this time in the broad daylight, when they
might clearly see the shore opposite. No insurgents were in sight;
and, after having made three rafts all right and tight, the rope was
brought forth, and two men, named White and Trembly, were asked to
carry it across the stream. The soldiers plunged into the water
without delay, being watched by hundreds of their comrades left
behind. The men were without their uniforms or weapons of any kind.

Slowly the pair swam the turbulent waters of the stream, and hardly
had they gotten fifty feet from shore when the rebels opened fire upon
them, at first a few scattering shots and then a perfect volley. That
the swimmers escaped is little short of a miracle. But they remained
untouched, and, gaining the opposite bank, they ran forward and tied
the rope's end to a tree-stump. In the meantime two other soldiers
started over the Rio Grande in a dugout, but this upset and let the
men into the water, and they had to swim as had the others. But they
landed with their guns intact, and at once opened fire at the nearest
natives that showed themselves.

All this had happened with great rapidity, and now the first raft was
coming across the river, loaded with Kansas soldiers officered by
Colonel Funston himself. The raft became the target for the hottest
kind of fire, and as the ferrying had to be done by the soldiers
pulling along the rope stretched from shore to shore, the passage was
as slow as it was dangerous. But the soldiers on the craft went over
in safety, and soon more followed, until over fifty were on the beach
fronting the enemy's intrenchments. Then, with a wild yelling, to give
the rebels the impression that a large body had come over, they pushed
forward to enfilade the enemy's trenches as first proposed.

But now another difficulty arose. There was a small stream flowing
into the Rio Grande near this spot, and this had to be crossed before
the fire of the Americans could be made effective. How to get across
was a problem, as the insurgents had a machine gun trained on the
spot. This worked for a while and then stopped; and in the lull
Colonel Funston secured a rowboat and went over with some of his men,
and the others soon followed.

The Filipinos were now thoroughly frightened, for the Americans were
making a great outcry down by the railroad bridge, and they imagined
that they were to be attacked from several points at once. Some
started to run, and as soon as Colonel Funston's men began to rain
their bullets into the long trenches, more followed, until the enemy
was in a panic. Then the Americans began to cross the bridge and
stream in great numbers, and the Filipinos, although reënforced by a
body of Macabebes just at this time, could not make an effective
stand. Calumpit was left behind, and a running fight ensued which
ended at Apalit, when a violent tropical thunderstorm put an end to
the day's operations. It was thought that the rebels' headquarters
would be found at Apalit; but this had, at the last moment, been
removed to San Isidro, toward which General Lawton was now advancing.



CHAPTER XII

SOMETHING ABOUT A POISONED WELL


After the rest at Angat, the taking of San Rafael by General Lawton's
troops was an easy matter, and on May 1--the anniversary of Admiral
Dewey's great victory in Manila Bay--the soldiers set out for the town
of Baliuag, five miles to the northward.

In spite of the recent rain, the road was hard and even dusty in
spots. The heat was still as great as ever, and Ben was glad to take
the benefit of any shade that afforded itself as he marched along at
the head of his command. The date made him think of the battle just
mentioned, and this brought him around to Larry once more, and he
began to wonder if his brother would ever turn up again.

"I suppose I'll have to write to Walter and to Uncle Job about this,"
he muttered dismally. "But I hate to do it, especially if Larry does
turn up, for I know it will worry both of them greatly."

The road was thick with palms and plantains and trailing plants, the
latter of gorgeous colorings. Nipa huts and bamboo cottages were
numerous, but the inmates kept themselves well hidden as the little
army passed by. In the distance were paddy-fields and cane-brakes, and
along the road were numerous mud-holes, some of which had to be
bridged over before the artillery could pass in safety. More than once
horses and cannon got stuck, and many a shoulder had to be put to the
pieces to budge them.

"If there was no war, this would be a delightful spot in which to
spend a vacation," remarked Gilbert, who had come up for a little
talk, as was his habit when they were pushing ahead in irregular
formation. "I reckon the natives take solid comfort in their homes."

"I suppose it puts you in mind of the South at home," returned Ben,
with a smile, "It is nice, certainly. But I fancy this continual heat
would make one mighty lazy in time."

"Well, the natives are lazy, you can easily see that," laughed the
young Southerner. "I wish I could get a good drink of water," he
added, a minute later.

They soon came to a pretty dwelling, set in a perfect wilderness of
flowers and shrubs. Toward the side they made out a well, and ran
forward to fill their canteens.

The pair were at the well when a shrill cry from one of the side rooms
of the house attracted their attention. Looking up, they saw a native
girl waving her hand frantically at them. The girl was nicely dressed
and evidently belonged to the better classes.

"We only want a drink!" shouted Ben, thinking that the maiden might
imagine they had come into the garden to steal.

But the girl shouted more loudly than ever, and waved them away from
the well. "Bad! bad!" she cried.

"Oh, no, we are not so bad as you think," Gilbert shouted back; and
was about to take a drink from a cocoanut-shell dipper which hung
handy, when the girl came out of the cottage on a run and dashed the
dipper to the ground. At the same time an evil-looking Filipino
appeared at the doorway, shook his fist at the girl, and then suddenly
ran for the barns behind the dwelling and disappeared.

"I want a drink and I'm going to have it," began Gilbert, sternly, for
he did not like the manner in which the water had been spilt over his
clothing. "If you--"

"The well is poisoned; don't drink, it will kill you!" gasped the
girl, in Spanish.

[Illustration: "The well is poisoned! don't drink! it will kill
you!"--_Page 115._]

As old readers know, Gilbert understood a little of the language,
having picked it up while on a trip to Cuba, and also while serving as
a Rough Rider in that island. He started back and caught the maiden by
the arm.

"Poisoned! you are certain?" he cried.

"Yes, señor; my uncle put the poison in only yesterday. He lost much
at Angat, and he is very angry at the _Americanos_ in consequence. He
knew the soldiers were coming this way, and he wanted to poison as
many as he could. He put a water-barrel down on the road full of the
poisoned water, too."

"Who is your uncle, the man who just ran off?"

"Yes, señor. But, oh, do not go after him, I pray you!" cried the
girl, in high alarm. "I would not have spoken, but I could not see you
poisoned before my very eyes; no, not that!"

As quickly as he could, Gilbert translated her words to Ben, who
listened in amazement.

"The villain!" ejaculated the young captain. "I've heard of this sort
of thing being done before. I wonder where that barrel is that she
spoke about? We must find it and empty it of its contents."

Gilbert put the question to the girl, who announced that the barrel
was on another road back of the plantation. Whether any of the
soldiers had reached it or not was a question.

As quickly as he could Ben reported the situation to his superior, and
received orders to divide his company, leaving a part to guard the
poisoned well so that no Americans might drink from it, while the rest
should go and hunt up the water-barrel. Gilbert was detailed to
accompany Ben, and the girl was given to understand that she must take
the soldiers to where the barrel had been set up.

At first the maiden demurred; but there was no help for it, and the
kind smiles which Gilbert and Ben gave her were an assurance that no
harm was about to befall her. Yet she was afraid that when the
reckoning came her uncle would deal harshly with her, and trembled
violently as she moved through the rice-fields with the two young
officers beside her.

The little command had nearly reached the back road when the report of
a gun rang out, coming from the direction of a wood behind the
rice-fields. The bullet sped past Ben's shoulder, to bury itself in
the fleshy part of one of his private's arms.

"'Tis my uncle!" cried the girl. "Oh, he will kill us all, I am sure
of it!" And she became so agitated that she sank down and could not go
another step.

Without hesitation, Ben ordered his men forward on the run, and away
went the detachment for the spot from whence the unexpected shot had
come. As the soldiers neared the wood they beheld a Filipino in the
act of running across a small opening.

"That's him, the rascal!" roared Dan Casey, and taking a hasty aim he
fired, and the rebel was seen to plunge forward on his face. When the
party came up they found that the man had been hit in the hip, and
that the wound, while not necessarily dangerous, was serious, and
would put the fellow out of the contest for several months.

"It serves him right," said Ben. "Poisoning drinking water is not fair
fighting."

The girl soon came up, crying bitterly. She wished to remain by her
uncle, but Ben made her understand that she must point out the
water-barrel first, and after that he would have two soldiers remove
the wounded man to the cottage.

Ten minutes later the rear road was gained, and here the water-barrel
was found, set up on end, with the top knocked out. It was
three-quarters full of water, and a dozen or more soldiers were
drinking and filling their canteens.

"Stop drinking!" ordered Ben, when still at a distance. "That water
has been doctored and will make you sick." He refrained from saying
the water was poisoned for fear of creating a panic.

The water was at once poured out on the ground and the barrel smashed
up. Then a surgeon was found, to whom Ben related the facts of the
case. A canteen of the water was examined, and the surgeon decided to
give the man who had drunk the stuff an emetic. A few of the soldiers
were taken with cramps inside of an hour afterward, and two of them
were seriously sick for a week; but no lives were lost. But if the
soldiers could have got at the Filipino who had poisoned the water,
they would have shot him on the spot.

As soon as the danger was over, Ben returned to the wood, and had two
men carry the wounded man back to the cottage, where he was left in
charge of his wife and his niece. Through Gilbert it was learned that
the wife had also remonstrated against using the poison, so it was
fair to suppose that the aunt would protect her niece to a certain
degree. "But she'll have a hard time of it for doing us a service,
I'm afraid," said the young Southerner, as he and Ben resumed the
march.

The scouts, under Chief Young, were in advance, and now a steady
firing from the front told that another battle was at hand. Soon
General Lawton came dashing through the crowd on the road, followed by
his staff.

"Forward, boys!" was the cry, and then Ben's command left the road and
took to the rice-fields on the outskirts of Baliuag. The line was a
long one, with the Oregon and Minnesota soldiers forming the
skirmishing end, and Scott's battery in a paddy-field on the extreme
right. So far the insurgents had kept well hidden; but as the
Americans drew closer to the town they could be seen running in half a
dozen directions, as if undecided whether to fight or to flee.

The townspeople themselves were in a panic, and down the streets ran
Filipinos and Chinese, some with their household effects piled high on
their backs. They had heard of the coming of the _Americanos_, but had
hoped almost against hope that their beloved town would be passed by
unmolested.

Ben's regiment was moving along rapidly when they came to a ditch
which seemed to divide the rice-field in half. A short pause followed,
when along came the cry of "Down!" and every man dropped, and none too
soon, for the insurgents had opened up unexpectedly from a cane-brake
behind the rice-field.

"We must take that cane-brake," came the order from the colonel, and
the word was passed along quickly, and away went the companies with a
ringing cheer, firing as they ran, and reloading with all possible
speed.

Ben was now truly in his element, and, waving his sword, he urged
Company D well to the front, so that the cane was soon reached. But
the rebels were not game for a hand-to-hand encounter and fled once
more, through the cane and over a field of heavy grass leading to the
very outskirts of the town beyond.

"They are running away!" was the cry. "On we go, boys, and the town
will be ours in less than half an hour."

But now a halt was ordered, on the edge of the cane-brake. From the
outskirts of the town appeared a Filipino waving a white rag over his
head.

"Flag of truce!" cried the American general. "Cease firing!" And the
order was instantly obeyed. "Major Morris, you can select a detail of
three men and find out what they want."

"I will, general," answered the major of the first battalion, and
saluted. He had soon chosen his men, one of whom was Gilbert
Pennington, and, waving a white flag before them, the party of four
advanced into the open field.



CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH A FLAG OF TRUCE IS FIRED UPON


Major Morris well knew the wiliness of the Filipinos, yet he did not
doubt but that they would pay due respect to a flag of truce which
they had themselves invited. Accordingly he advanced boldly with his
little party, until the four had covered fully one-half of the
distance which separated the American troops from the point where the
rebels had taken a stand.

"He is thrustin' thim a whole lot!" groaned Dan Casey, who was the
closest man in the ranks to Ben. "If he gits plugged--"

"They won't dare to fire, Dan," said a companion. "If they did--"

The speech was cut short by the pop of a Mauser rifle, followed by two
more pops, and the private who carried the white flag was seen to
fling the banner down and fall headlong. In the meantime, the
Filipinos who had appeared with the white rag were running back to
their own ranks with all possible speed.

"They have fired on the flag of truce!" The cry arose from a hundred
throats, and then a scattering volley rang out. At the same time the
Filipinos opened up in a body, and Major Morris, Gilbert, and the
third man were seen to pitch into the tall grass in such a manner that
they were almost hidden from view.

"Gilbert is shot! And Major Morris too!" Such was the painful thought
which ran through Ben's brain. He looked at the colonel pleadingly.

"Advance at once, Captain Russell, with the first battalion, to the
rescue of the flag of truce," ordered the colonel, understanding him
fully. "After this, give the enemy no quarter."

"Forward, men, to the rescue!" shouted the young captain, almost
before his superior had finished. "Deploy to the left and fire at
will. And make every shot tell!" he added bitterly.

"Forward it is!" shouted Dan Casey. "Down wid the haythins that don't
know the manin' av honor!" And he led in the rush over the long
grass.

The whole line was soon advancing, but Ben's company was in front, and
kept there until within a hundred feet of where the four men had gone
down. Then, to his amazement, the young captain saw Major Morris leap
up, followed by Gilbert and the third soldier, and run with all speed
toward the American line.

"Not shot!" cried Ben, joyfully. "Heaven be thanked for that!" And he
almost felt like embracing his two friends. Only the flag-bearer had
been struck, and he not seriously. The others had gone down in the
long grass to destroy the enemy's aim. The wounded flag-carrier was
taken to the rear, and then the whole line pushed on with a yell which
was as savage as it was loud and long. The incident, short as it was,
was not forgotten, and when one end of the American line closed in on
the retreating insurgents the latter fought to the last, knowing only
too well that little quarter would be given to them because of their
perfidy.

The long American line had swung toward Baliuag in a semicircle, and
now, when the insurgents tried to flee by way of the north, they found
themselves confronted front and rear. This put them in more of a
panic than ever; and had General Lawton had a thousand additional
troops, it is more than likely he could have surrounded the rebels
completely and compelled every one in that territory to throw down his
arms.

But he had not the extra men, nor could he get them. Moreover, he had
hardly a decent map of the territory, while the enemy knew every
field, every road, and every stream. They could not make a stand at
Baliuag, nor could they run in the direction of San Rafael, so their
only course was to take to the rice-fields, the cane-brakes, and the
jungle, and this they did in short order.

By the time the outskirts of the town was gained Ben's command was
almost exhausted; yet the colonel of the regiment felt that now was no
time to rest, and company after company was sent out in the hope that
some of the scattering bands of insurgents might be rounded up.

"Major Morris, you will take your four companies up yonder road," said
the colonel, after receiving orders from General Lawton's orderly, and
the head of the regiment pointed out the road in question. Soon the
battalion was off on the double-quick, the major more than eager to
wipe out the treachery which had been shown to him and his companions
but an hour or two before.

The road which the battalion followed was a winding one, lined with
cottages of the better sort, showing that this was a fashionable
outskirt of the town. Only a few people showed themselves, and nothing
was seen or heard of the insurgents until a quarter of a mile had been
covered, and the best of the habitations had been left behind. Then
came an unexpected fire from a cane-brake, and out dashed fully two
hundred savage-looking Tagals armed with guns and bolos.

"Halt! Fire!" came the commands, and the Americans obeyed as quickly
as possible. Several of our men had been hit, one seriously, and now
half a dozen Filipinos went down. For several minutes the fighting was
at close quarters, and it looked as if the battalion had run into an
ambush and were about to be slaughtered.

"To the shelter of the trees!" shouted Ben, and was about to guide his
men when a fierce-looking rebel officer leaped before him with drawn
sword. His own blade met that of the enemy, and both flashed fire. But
the Tagal was a fine swordsman and kept at his work, feeling certain
that he could run the _Americano_ through and through. Clack! clack!
went the blades, up and down, side to side, and straight forward.

"Take care there!" came from Major Morris, and just then the Tagal's
sword pricked Ben's arm. The young captain leaped back a step, then
came forward, and as quick as lightning his sword found the Tagal's
ribs. At the same time Dan Casey fired at the enemy, and the officer
went down flat on his back, shot through the breast.

"I had to do it," cried the Irish volunteer. "I thought he was afther
stickin' ye like a pig!"

"It was a close shave," murmured Ben, as he passed on. "He handled his
sword like an expert. I shan't forget you for that, Casey."

"Sure, an' that's all right, captain," answered the soldier, quickly.
"Is your arm hurted much?"

"I guess not. Come, we've got them on the run again." And away the
pair went, into the cane-brake, through which the rebels were crashing
like so many wild cattle.

The day had been full of excitement, but much more was to follow. The
cane-brakes were heavy, and soon Ben and Casey found themselves
separated from the main body of the battalion and out of sight of
their own company. Then several Filipinos confronted them and called
upon them to surrender.

"We ain't surrenderin' just yit, we ain't!" howled the Irish soldier,
and let drive at the nearest rebel, while Ben discharged his pistol.
Two of the enemy were wounded, and in an instant the others took to
their heels, evidently convinced that such fighters were "too many"
for them.

The encounter, however, had taken time, and now Ben called upon his
companion to stop running. "We want to know where we are running to
first," he said. "Listen."

They listened and made out a distant firing to both the right and the
left. "I'm afther thinkin' our b'ys is to the right," said Dan Casey.

"I believe you are right, Casey; although both of us may be mistaken,"
rejoined the young captain of Company D. "We will try that direction,
anyway."

They continued on their way through the cane-brake until they reached
a small stream. Here the ground was soft and full of treacherous
bog-holes, and both looked at each other in dismay.

"Sure, an' this is more than we bargained fer, eh, captain?" remarked
Casey, as he pulled himself out of a hole into which he had gone
almost to his knees. "If we don't look out we'll git stuck so tight
there'll be no budgin' av us."

"The ground to the right seems to be firmer," replied Ben. "Come, we
will move in that direction."

But to get out of the soft spot was not easy, and soon they found
themselves between the tall cane and up to their knees in a muck that
seemed to stick worse than glue.

"Sure, an' this is fightin' wid a vengeance," said the Irish
volunteer, smiling grimly. "It's sthuck we are like flies on a fly
paper, eh, Captain Russell?"

"We've got to get out somehow, Casey," answered Ben, half desperately.
"Our command is marching farther and farther away, and we'll have all
we can do to get up to them."

"Sure thin, an' Major Morris betther send a detail back wid a long
rope to pull us out. We couldn't fly from the inimy now if we thried,
could we?"

"This is no joke, Casey."

"Joke, bedad? No, captain, I'm afther thinkin' it's a mighty sarious
difficulty. But there's no use av cryin', no matther how bad it is,"
finished the Irish soldier, philosophically.

A moment of reflection convinced Ben that the best thing he could do
was to go back part of the distance they had come, and make an
endeavor to cross the little stream at another point.

They retreated with difficulty, first one sinking into some
treacherous hole and then the other. Once Casey went flat on his back,
and gave a loud yell of dismay when he found himself covered with a
mud that was more like a paste than anything else.

"Sure, an' I'll not go in such a cane-field again, bedad," he
muttered, as he started to pick up the gun he had dropped. As he did
so a cracking of cane-stalks near them caused both to straighten up in
alarm.

"Who comes?" cried Ben, and drew the pistol he had shoved into his
belt.

There was no answer and he repeated the demand. "Are you Americans?"
he added.

Still there was no reply. But the cracking of the stalks continued,
and the sounds seemed to move around the pair in something of a
circle. Then came a soft command in the Tagalog dialect. At once Dan
Casey clutched Ben by the arm.

"They be afther surroundin' us, captain," he whispered. "Be the noises
there must be tin or a dozen av thim. Phwat shall we do, fight or run
fer it?"



CHAPTER XIV

SURROUNDED BY THE ENEMY


For the moment after Dan Casey spoke Ben was silent, not knowing
himself what was best to do. That the Filipinos were surrounding them
there could be no doubt, since those approaching would have answered
the young captain of Company D had they been Americans.

The position of the pair was dangerous in the extreme, for the tall
cane-stalks surrounded them upon all sides, giving shelter to the
enemy, while the Tagals could see the volunteers with ease.

"Keep quiet, Casey," whispered Ben, as the soldier started to speak
again. "They may not know how many there are of us here and sneak off,
fearing an ambush."

The Irish volunteer nodded to show that he understood. He was holding
his gun before him, ready to shoot whenever it appeared necessary.

Presently there was another whispered command, coming from directly in
front of our friends. A slight movement in the cane-brake followed,
and then all became silent once more.

"Come!" whispered Ben. "Don't fire until you see me do so."

Thus speaking, the young captain moved slowly and cautiously from the
spot they had occupied for five minutes or more. He picked his steps,
and they fell as silently as those of a cat after a bird. Casey was at
his heels, almost holding his breath, and his small eyes glistening
with expectancy. Both knew that they were carrying their lives in
their hands.

Two rods had been covered, and still nothing was seen of the
Filipinos. Was it possible that they had withdrawn? But no, there was
another cracking of cane-stalks and another command in the Tagalog
language, coming now from their left. Then of a sudden a Mauser rang
out, and a bullet whistled back of Ben's head and across Casey's
face.

The report had not yet died out when Ben fired, straight for the flash
of fire of which he had caught a momentary glimpse. That his shot
reached its mark was proven by the wild yell of pain which followed.

"The jig is up!" cried Dan Casey. "We must run fer it, captain!" And
as a Tagal came into view before them he fired point-blank at the
fellow, hitting him in the breast and killing him on the spot.

As luck would have it, the Filipino whom Casey had killed was a petty
officer and the leader of the detachment, and his sudden taking-off
disconcerted the insurgents for a minute, who yelled one to another
that their leader was shot. Taking advantage of the confusion, our
friends rushed headlong through the cane-brake, firing several times
as they ran. A dozen shots answered them, but none of these took
effect.

"I think the road is yonder," said Ben, pointing with his pistol as
they progressed. "Hark!"

From a distance came a scattering volley, proving that the fighting
was not yet over. It came from the direction in which they were
running. But now those left behind were after them, shooting and
shouting with vigor, for they were ten to two, and were determined
that the wicked _Americanos_ should not escape their clutches.

At last the cane-brake was left behind. Beyond was a small part of a
rice-field, and close by a cottage which appeared deserted.

"Sure, captain, an' we'll be shot down like dogs if we show ourselves
in th' open," panted Casey, who was almost out of breath.

"Get behind the house," answered Ben. "It is our one chance," and he
started in advance. Again the Filipinos fired on them, and this time a
bullet touched the young captain's side, cutting a straight hole
through his clothing.

They were yet a hundred feet from the cottage when two American
soldiers came rushing forth, guns in hand. The strangers took in the
situation at a glance, and let drive with such good aim that two of
the enemy fell back wounded. The others paused, not knowing how many
Americans might be concealed in the building, and in another minute
Ben and Casey were for the time being safe.

"By gum, ef it ain't Captain Russell!" cried one of the soldiers, as
he faced Ben. "I'm right glad to be yere to help ye, cap'n," and he
smiled broadly.

"Ralph Sorrel!" returned Ben, as he recognized the tall Tennesseean
who had once accompanied him on a search for Gilbert when the young
Southerner was missing. "What are you doing here?"

"Jeming an' me hev got a wounded man with us--Sergeant Kaser o' our
company. We war takin' him back o' the lines, when he got so bad we
brung him in yere to rest a spell. But you--"

"Thim rebels is comin' agin!" announced Dan Casey. "Six, eight, nine
av thim, wid wan limpin'. How many av us are there here?" he asked, as
he looked around.

"Four," answered Ben. "Load up, boys, and when you shoot--"

"We'll make every shot tell," answered Jeming, a hardy-looking
soldier, almost as tall as his companion.

"I don't believe they will come very close," continued Ben. "They know
that we have the advantage of them, even if we are but four to nine."

The young captain was right. The Filipinos had showed themselves only
for a few seconds. Now, as Sorrel raised his gun, they lost no time in
darting behind cover.

The cottage consisted of four rooms, all on the ground floor, and a
low loft upstairs. It was well built and fairly furnished in native
fashion. On the single bed it contained lay the wounded soldier,
Sergeant Kaser, whom Ben had met several times. He was hit in the
neck, and looked as if he could last but a few hours at the most.

"Sorry we can't git ye back to camp, sergeant," said Sorrel, as he did
what he could to ease the wounded one's pain. "The house is surrounded
by the enemy. I reckon we kin keep 'em out, but I reckon likewise thet
they kin keep us in--at least fer a while."

"It--don't--matter," gasped Sergeant Kaser. "I am not--not--long for
this world. What a terrible thing war is! I never thought I was going
to be shot down like this!" And he gave another gasp. His eyes were
staring from his head, for he was suffering severe pain.

Ben looked around the cottage for something which might be given to
the sufferer to ease him. But the dwelling had been stripped of all
small things, and nothing in the way of food, drink, or medicine
remained. Sorrel had already bound a handkerchief soaked in cold water
around the wounded neck, so nothing more could be done, excepting to
raise the sufferer up to a sitting position, at his request. "I don't
know as thet is best fer him," whispered the tall Tennesseean to Ben.
"But he ain't long fer this world, as he says, an' he might as well
hev his wish as not."

In the meantime Casey and Jeming were on guard, one watching to the
front and right, the other to the left and rear. The nearest building
to the cottage was a hundred and fifty feet away, but bushes and small
trees were numerous, and the Americans were afraid the rebels might
try to sneak up behind these and surprise them.

"Something is moving over there," announced Jeming, after watching
several of the bushes for a short spell. "Can't make out, though, if
it's man or beast."

"Have you plenty of ammunition?" asked Ben, who, as an officer, felt
in charge of the party.

"Seventeen rounds, captain."

"And how about you, Casey?"

"Fifteen rounds," returned the Irish volunteer, after counting up the
contents of his belt.

"I have twelve rounds, captain," came from Sorrel. "But I reckon you
know how I shoot, an' Jeming's jest as good, mebbe better."

"I think the supply is sufficient," said Ben, "so don't run any
chances. If you think that is an enemy give him a shot. But don't hit
one of our fellows by mistake," he added, by way of caution.

"It's a Tagal!" cried Jeming, while the young captain was yet beside
him. The gun was levelled like a flash, a report followed, and the
Filipino fell behind the bushes and was seen no more.

"Thet will teach 'em to keep their distance," was Sorrel's comment.
"Perhaps they'll clear out soon, bein' afeered some more o' our troops
will come this way."

But the natives were "game," as Ben expressed it; and instead of
withdrawing, they began to come closer, using every bush, tree, and
outbuilding to the best advantage. Some of their fellows had joined
them, so that the attacking party now numbered fifteen, and each well
armed. They had seen that Ben wore the uniform of a captain, and felt
that the capture of such an officer would be much to their credit.

Sergeant Kaser was now groaning so that he could be heard even outside
of the building, and as the rebels had fired through the windows
several times, they concluded that they had wounded one of the four
men they knew to be inside. If this was so, but three _Americanos_
were now left, and they felt that victory would soon be within their
grasp.

"Surrendor, or we kill eferyboddy!" cried one of the number, in
English that could scarcely be understood. "We haf dreety mens
outside."

"We ain't surrenderin', not by a jugful!" answered Sorrel. "What in
thunder does he mean by 'dreety mens'?" he added, to his companions.

"I think he means thirty," answered Ben. "But I don't believe there
are that many."

"Yes, but there are more than there was," announced Casey, quickly.
"I'm just afther seein' 'em pass yonder bushes." He had pointed his
gun, but the Filipinos had been too quick for him.

"Do you surrendor?" demanded the voice again. "We shall begin to shoot
if you no gif up."

"No surrender," answered Ben, firmly.

Hardly had he spoken when something came rolling toward the cottage
and stopped close to the porch. It was a rude ball made of sugar-cane
husks and over a foot in diameter. The ball was ablaze and burning
fiercely, as if covered with pitch.



CHAPTER XV

THE ESCAPE FROM THE BURNING HOUSE


"Hullo, that's a new wrinkle!" exclaimed Ben. "They are going to try
burning us out."

"Sure, an' thim haythins is up to all sorts av dodges," cried Dan
Casey. "It's meself as would like to git a squint at th' feller that
threw that."

"I've got him, I reckon," whispered Sorrel, taking a ready aim at a
thin hedge to the left of the house. The report of his gun was
followed by a shriek of pain, and a Filipino fell into view, the blood
flowing freely from a wound in his neck. Soon his companions caught
him by the legs and dragged him back into cover.

After this brief exchange of "compliments," as the tall Tennesseean
called it, there came a lull. Evidently the natives were disconcerted
by the unexpected fall of the man who had thrown the fire-ball and
knew not what to do.

"Do you suppose they have quitted the vicinity?" questioned Jeming,
after listening vainly for some sound from without. From a distance
came a scattering fire, but around the native house was the silence of
death, for the man who had been shot by Sorrel had fainted from loss
of blood.

"They are up to something, you can be certain of that," answered Ben.
"The Filipino is at his worst when he is silent."

"Right ye air, cap'n," put in Sorrel. "Yere she comes agin--an' a
scorcher, too!"

From over the bushes came a huge fire-ball, blazing brightly. It
struck the thatch of the cottage close to the edge of the roof, and
before it fell to the ground had set fire to the abode, which began to
burn as though no shower had wet it for a month.

"That settles it!" came from Jeming. "We've got to get out, or we'll
be burnt up like rats in a corn-crib."

"But the sergeant--" began Sorrel, when a low moan issued from the
corner.

"Never--mind--me, boys," came, with several gasps. "I'm--I'm going!
Good--good--bye--to--to-- Tell mother--"

He said no more, but fell back exhausted. All rushed to him, but ere
anybody could raise his form again he was gone from this earth
forever.

Tears stood in the eyes of Ralph Sorrel, and Jeming was scarcely less
affected, for both had known the sergeant intimately. "Another
victim," murmured the tall Tennesseean. "How long is this yere blamed
war goin' ter last, anyhow?"

"Not much longer, I hope," answered Ben, in a low voice. "I, for one,
have seen enough of bloodshed." Then the young captain straightened
up, for fear he might break down. "But we must attend to our duty, and
get away if we can. See, the flames are eating in at the window."

"All right, cap'n, I'm ready," said Sorrel. "But we must carry this
yere body outside fust. We can't let it be burnt up, nohow."

He nodded to Jeming, who understood, and covering the form of the dead
man with a blanket, they marched to the door with the stiffening form.
The coast seemed clear, and they darted out and deposited their
grewsome burden on the grass. They were just returning to the shelter
of the doorway when two shots rang out, but neither was effective.

By this time the cottage was burning so fiercely that to remain
inside longer would have proved highly dangerous. Accordingly, Ben
called a council of war.

"I think we had best strike out for the grove of trees on the right,"
he announced. "The distance is shorter than to the other shelters, and
the grass is so high that perhaps we can get some benefit by stooping
down as we run."

"Right ye air, cap'n," answered Sorrel, and Casey and Jeming nodded.

"Surrendor, you _Americanos_!" came in a shout from without.
"Surrendor, you beasts!"

"Let them burn up, they deserve it!" came in Spanish.

"All ready?" asked Ben, and receiving a nod, he hurried to a side
window. Below was a small bush, and in a moment he had dropped to the
ground. As he started through the long grass, Casey and the others
followed him.

A wild yell speedily showed that this new movement had been
discovered, and a dozen shots rang out. But the Filipinos were too
excited to shoot straight, and the bullets merely clipped their way
through the mango and other trees, or buried themselves in the side of
the burning building.

At first Ben thought to fire in return. But to find shelter was the
prime consideration, and on he went, holding his pistol in readiness,
but without pulling the trigger. Here and there a Filipino could be
seen flitting from bush to tree, but these glimpses were short and far
from satisfactory.

"They are coming!" came from Dan Casey, just as the nearest of the
trees was gained. "Back, ye rascals!" he shouted, and fired as quickly
as he could. Casey was right; the Tagals were surrounding them, and
now they had to fight back to back, in as hot a contest as the young
captain had ever seen. They were clearly outnumbered, but retreat was
impossible, for the Filipinos surrounded them upon every side.

What happened during the next five minutes is almost impossible to
describe, for every movement was executed with lightning-like
rapidity, the Filipinos bound to kill or capture the Americans, and at
the same time afraid that they would slip like eels through their
fingers. After a score of shots taken at a distance, they closed in,
and Ben found himself confronted by two fierce-looking men, one armed
with a Mauser rifle and the other with a wicked-looking bolo. The
Mauser was empty, and its owner evidently out of ammunition, for as
he advanced he used the weapon as a club.

Ben was hard pressed, for his pistol was now empty, and there was no
chance to reload it. But his sword kept the two Tagals back, and had
it not been for his gun, one of the enemy would have had his head
split open from the blade. But now the rascal with the bolo tried to
attack the young captain from one side, while he with the gun swung
around to the other.

[Illustration: "His sword kept the two Tagals back."--_Page 147._]

Ben could expect no aid from his companions, for all were as hotly
engaged as himself; indeed, Sorrel more so, for he was fighting three
men, while Jeming and Dan Casey, side by side, and with their backs
against a heavy thorn-bush, were fighting the balance of the
detachment.

The young captain felt that he could do little or nothing more, and
expected each instant to have his assailants hurl themselves directly
upon him, when a shout came from Sorrel which gave all of our friends
hope.

"Some soldiers air comin'!" sang out the Tennesseean. "This way, boys,
this way, an' be quick about it!"

"What's the matter?" came in a hoarse growl from the roadway, and in
a few seconds a whole company of the North Dakota troops burst into
view. Their captain, a short, fat man, but one who was an excellent
fighter, took in the situation at a glance, and ordered the Filipinos
surrounded.

Taken by surprise, the Tagals were dumfounded, and for half a minute
knew not what to do. Then they started to run, but this movement came
too late, and four went down at the first volley from the newly
arrived men. The others, realizing their helplessness, threw down
their arms and surrendered.

"Had it hot, eh, captain," said the North Dakota man to Ben as he came
up with a quizzical smile on his round face, from which the
perspiration was pouring in a stream.

"Yes," panted Ben. "You came up in the nick of time, and I must thank
you for--"

"That's all right, captain--no more than you would do for me, and I
know it." The North Dakota man shook hands. "It's been a long running
fight to-day," he added. "Where is your command?"

"That remains to be found out," answered Ben. "Have you seen any of
them during the last two hours? I and one of my men became separated
from them in the cane-brakes."

"I guess you'll find them up near Baliuag. Most of the troops are up
there. But I wouldn't try going around by this road, for the rebels
are scattered in small bands all over this territory. You'll find the
main road all right."

"What will you do with these prisoners?"

"Take them up to the main road and send to the colonel for orders."

"Then I will go with you," said Ben, and spoke to the others about it.
Soon the whole party was on the way, Sorrel and Jeming carrying the
dead form of Sergeant Kaser between them, with Casey trudging near to
give them a lift whenever necessary.

It was now growing dark, and looked as if a thunderstorm was at
hand. Seeing this, the detachment pushed forward rapidly, until at
last the main road was gained. Here, from one of the drivers of a
quartermaster's turnout, they learned that Ben's regiment had gone
into temporary camp on the outskirts of the town of Baliuag, which was
a mile further on. A number of Americans were missing, having
become lost in a manner similar to Ben and Casey.

The young captain now lost no time in marching forward once more, and
reached his regiment in less than half an hour. He found his company
in charge of Gilmore. Many had given him up for dead, and they were
delighted at his reappearance.

"We can't do without you," said the acting first lieutenant. And as he
shook hands his honest face showed that he meant what he said.

"And I don't know that I can do without my company," replied Ben.
"Anyway, I'm awfully glad to be back. In the future, I must be a
little more careful about keeping the boys in sight."



CHAPTER XVI

NEWS FROM HOME


It was evident that the majority of the insurgents had now had enough
of fighting, for while the engagement just mentioned was taking place,
General Luna of the Filipinos sent forward his chief of staff to
General MacArthur, with a request that hostilities cease, pending a
conference of Americans and Filipinos looking toward a settlement of
existing difficulties.

But our leaders knew only too well what delay meant, and refused to
enter into any compact unless the natives first threw down their arms.
The Filipinos wanted their freedom, but events had now so shaped
themselves that absolute freedom for them appeared to be out of the
question. So the conference practically amounted to nothing. And while
this was taking place, General Hale began to move eastward to join
General Lawton's command on its march toward San Isidro. It was the
policy of all the American commanders to give the Filipinos no rest
during the short time left to them before the heaviest of the rainy
season set in.

A rest of two days did Ben's company a world of good. Communications
with Malolos were now opened, and supplies were coming forward
rapidly. With the supply wagons came Carl Stummer, just from the
hospital and still somewhat "shaky," but eager to be again on the
firing line.

"I could not dink me of stayin' any longer," he said, as he shook
hands all around. "Der docther say, 'You vos besser here,' und I say,
'I ton't gits me no besser bis I schmell dot powder purning vonce more
alretty!'"

"Well, it's powdher ye'll be afther shmellin' soon," put in Dan Casey.
"It's forward we go to-morrow, so th' colonel is afther sayin'."

"Goot!" said Carl. Then he added with a faint smile. "You see, Tan, I
vos afraid you kill all dem Filibenos off pefore I could git here."

"Sure an' I saved a couple fer ye, Carl," replied his chum. "Ye'll not
be wantin' fer a scrap, I'll warrant!" And then he related his own and
Ben's adventures, to which the German volunteer listened with much
interest.

The wagon train had brought in the mail, and this included the usual
letters for Ben--one from Walter and the other from Uncle Job Dowling.
Ben breathed a long sigh as he opened the communications.

  "I'm going to spring a surprise on you," so wrote Walter. "I've
  been reading the newspapers, and it makes me weary to think that I
  am just cruising around with our squadron doing nothing, while you
  and Larry are right in it, head and heels. I've applied for a
  transfer to one of the warships in Manila waters, and it may be
  that before this reaches you I will be on the bounding Pacific on
  my way to join you and Larry in our fight with Aguinaldo and his
  supporters. Si Doring, my old Yankee chum, has applied with me, so
  we'll probably come on together, and when we get there you and
  Larry will have to look to your laurels, that's all."

"Dear Walter!" murmured Ben, after reading the letter twice. "What
will he say when he hears that Larry is missing? If Larry doesn't show
up, it will break his heart, and it will break mine, too!" And he
brushed away the tears that sprang up in spite of his efforts to keep
them down. Then he turned to the heavy, twisted scrawl from his Uncle
Job.

  "It's rare good news you have sent, Ben," wrote the old man, after
  stating that he was in good health, "and the news comes none too
  soon, for the party who took a mortgage on my house wants his
  money, and where I am going to get it I don't know, with money so
  tight and interest and bonus so high. I've told him that Braxton
  Bogg is captured,--and he saw it in the newspaper, too,--and he is
  about of a mind to wait for his money now until the bank gets back
  what was stolen, and settles up. For myself, I can't hardly wait
  till that time comes; and after this you can be sure I'll be
  mighty careful where I put my cash and what's coming to you three
  boys, too. You won that thousand dollars' reward fairly, and I
  hope you and Larry won't squander it like most soldiers would. I
  thought that war would end soon, but it appears like it would go
  on forever. Tell Larry to take good care of himself, and mind that
  you don't get shot."

"Poor Uncle Job--he'll be in a hole again," murmured Ben. "Evidently
he wrote this right after I sent word Braxton Bogg was caught, and he
doesn't know anything of my being shot and getting over it, and of
Benedicto Lupez skipping out with what Bogg stole. Hang the luck, but
everything seems to be going wrong." And Ben grated his teeth, in a
mood hard to explain.

"What's up, Ben?" The question came from Gilbert, who had just come up
to watch the young captain, in considerable surprise.

Ben showed the two communications. "I'm just thinking of what I had
best write to my Uncle Job," he returned. "I'm afraid it will break
the old fellow's heart to learn that the money is gone--and after he
is trying to turn over a new leaf, too."

"And the news about Larry will cause him pain, too, I reckon."

"No doubt, but--but--well, between you and me, Gilbert, I'm afraid the
money will hurt the worst--Uncle Job always did set such a store by a
few dollars. As for me, I'd give all I'll ever be worth if only I knew
Larry was safe," concluded the young captain, arising from a seat
under a palm tree as Major Morris came forward to speak to him.

"Captain, I'm ordered to the front to-night, to do a little
reconnoitring," said the major of the first battalion. "I thought
perhaps you would like to go out with me. Possibly we can again get on
the track of that Bogg fortune;" and he smiled faintly, for he had
been with Ben on the night Braxton Bogg had been first made a
prisoner.

"I'll go out with you gladly," answered the young captain, promptly.
"But I doubt if that money is ever found--or my brother Larry,
either," he added, with bitterness.

"Oh, cheer up, captain, you are blue to-night. Come, a little danger
will put you on your mettle once more, and you'll forget all about
this thing--although I'll allow it's enough to make anybody
heart-sick."

Supper was served, and the sun had long since sunk to rest over the
vast plain and ocean to the westward, when Ben and Major Morris set
out, taking with them an ample supply of ammunition and likewise a
day's rations, for they were to move directly into the heart of the
enemy's country and might be absent for a day or longer. The object
of their going was to find out if a certain Lieutenant Caspard, who
had deserted the American ranks, was with the rebels now gathering at
Maasin, and if so, whether or not he was acting as an officer of the
Filipino forces. If they could catch the deserter and bring him back,
they were to be well rewarded. Strange to say, the orders were not to
shoot him if it could be avoided.

"It's a strange mission," said Major Morris, as they set out. "But
such are Colonel Darcy's orders, and he is backed up in them by the
general. Between you and me, I think this Caspard has been playing a
double game between our forces and those of the Filipinos, and those
at headquarters want to find out just what it means. One man told me
that this Caspard was out of his head, and had an idea that he could
stop the war by telling the rebels we would grant them everything they
want if only they would throw down their arms."

"Would the rebels swallow such a yarn?"

"Some of the more ignorant might. But that isn't the point; Caspard
may have given them some military information of vast importance. You
must remember we are in a territory that may be full of pitfalls for
us," concluded the major.

Ben thought but little of the ending of this speech at the time, but
had good cause to remember it before midnight. On they pushed past the
picket guard and on to a side road which it was said would bring them
around to the north side of Maasin. Both were in fairly good humor by
this time, and the major told many an anecdote of army life which made
Ben laugh outright. The major saw that his companion was indeed
"blue," and was bound to dispel the blues if it could be done.

"And that story puts me in mind of one on General Grant," he continued
presently. "Grant was sitting in his tent one night when--"

"Hush!" interrupted Ben, and caught his companion by the shoulder.
Then he pointed into the semi-darkness ahead. "Are those rebels, or
friends?"

The road they were pursuing was, for the most part, a winding one. But
they had now gained a straight stretch, the farther end of which was
somewhat in the open. Looking in that direction Ben had discerned six
or seven figures stealing silently along, guns on shoulders and packs
on their backs.

Major Morris came to a halt and surveyed the figures attentively. "I
don't believe they are our men," he whispered. "None of the troops
came as far as this--so the general stated."

"Then, if they are rebels, what have they been doing?" went on Ben.
"See, they have picks and shovels and axes."

"Perhaps it's an engineering corps," and the major laughed softly at
what he considered his little joke. "These Tagals are bound to be
up-to-date, you know."

"Well, if they are an engineering corps, what have they been doing?"
demanded the young captain, who felt by no means satisfied at his
companion's words.

"I'll give it up--no, I won't, I'll go forward and investigate," came
from the major. "There they go, around the turn, and walking just as
fast as they can. If we want to catch up to them, we will have to
hurry."

"We don't want to get too close, major. They are not the game we are
after, remember."

"True, captain, but it won't do any harm to find out what we can of
them. We may be doing General Lawton a great service by such an
action."

The night was cloudy, and as they pushed forward to the bend in the
road it became darker than ever, until they could see hardly anything
of what was ahead of them. The way was evidently little used, for the
grass grew thickly even in the centre of the highway.

The pair were going on, side by side, and with eyes strained to catch
sight of those who had gone before, when suddenly Major Morris felt
the ground giving way beneath him. "My gracious!" he ejaculated, and
caught Ben by the arm. At the same instant the young captain uttered a
cry, and also felt himself going down. Then came the snapping of
slender bamboo poles, and the scattering of some loose grass, and down
into darkness and space shot the pair, swallowed up utterly by a hole
which had unexpectedly opened to receive them.



CHAPTER XVII

IN AND OUT OF A STRANGE PITFALL


Major Morris and Ben had fallen into a pit dug by the Filipinos for
the purpose of catching their enemies. It was an old trick, and one
which had been used quite extensively at the opening of the rebellion,
but which was now falling into disuse, for the reason that few
Americans were ever caught by the device.

The method was to dig a square hole in the centre of some trail or
road which the Americans would probably use in their advance. At the
bottom of this hole would be planted upright a number of sharp bamboo
sticks, and then the top would be covered over with slender bamboo
sticks and loose grass or palm leaves. If one or more persons stepped
upon the top sticks, they would break at once, and the unfortunates
would fall upon the sharp points below, which were certain to inflict
more or less serious injury.

Fortunately, however, for the young captain and his companion, the
hole into which they had tumbled was not provided with the sharp
sticks mentioned. The natives had just finished the opening when an
officer had called upon them to leave the vicinity as it was getting
dangerous, owing to the rapid advances made by the Americans. So the
trap had been set with its most dangerous element lacking.

Yet the fall was by no means a pleasant one, and for a brief instant
the young captain of Company D thought that the bottom had dropped out
of everything, and that he would surely be killed. He tried to catch
hold of something, but all he could reach was the major's shoulder,
and then both landed with a thud on the soft dirt left at the bottom
of the hole.

Ben was the first on his feet, which was not saying much, since the
bottom of the opening was not level, and he stood in the soft loam up
to his ankles. Shaking himself to find that no bones were broken, he
drew a long breath.

"Major, are you all right?" he asked.

"No--no--I'm not all--all right," came with a gasp. "I've had my
wi--wind knocked ou--out of me."

"Any bones broken?"

"I gue--guess not. But wh--who ever heard of such a con--founded
trick?"

"I've heard of it several times, major. But we are not as bad off as
we might have been had the rebels put some sharp sticks down here to
spit us with."

"True." Major Morris gave a grunt, and wiped the dirt from his eyes.
"Well, I reckon we've learned what their engineering corps was up
to."

This was said so dryly that in spite of his discomfiture Ben was
compelled to laugh.

"Yes, we've learned. The question is, now we are down here, how are we
going to get out?"

"Better make a light and see how deep the hole is first," replied the
commander of the first battalion.

Fortunately Ben had plenty of matches with him, and striking one, he
lit a bamboo stalk and held it up as a torch. By the flickering light
thus afforded they saw that the hole was about eight feet wide and
twice as long. The level of the road above was fully eight feet over
their heads.

"Looks as if we were in a box, eh, captain?" said the major, grimly.

"We're certainly in a hole," responded Ben. "But I think we can get
out without much trouble. I wish we had a spade."

"Well, wishing won't bring one, and there is nothing here to take the
place of one, either."

"Nothing but our hands. Here, if you'll hold the light, I'll see what
I can do."

"Here is a bit of a flat stick, try that," rejoined Major Morris; and
taking the article mentioned, Ben set to work with vigor, attacking
one end of the hole by loosening the dirt so that a large portion of
it soon fell at their feet. Standing upon the fallen portion he
continued his operations, and presently more of the dirt fell, leaving
an incline up which both began to scramble on hands and knees. It was
not a very dignified thing to do, but it was far better than to remain
in the hole, and besides, there was nobody at hand to comment on the
want of dignity in the movement.

"We are well out of that," began Major Morris, brushing off his
clothing as he spoke. "In the future--"

"Hold on, major, somebody is coming," interrupted Ben, and pulled his
companion back. He had seen a faint light advancing toward them, from
a side road which joined the main road at a point but a few yards
distant. Soon he made out a heavy cart approaching, drawn by a pair of
caribaos, or water buffaloes. On the seat of the cart sat two
sleepy-looking natives.

"We must stop that cart," was the major's comment. "If we don't, there
will be a bad smash-up."

"I don't think it's a good plan to expose ourselves," replied Ben.

"But do you want those chaps to break their necks?" demanded the
commander of the first battalion. "More than likely they are
_amigos_."

"I've got a plan for warning them, major."

As Ben spoke he picked up some of the driest of the grass and palm
leaves and applied a match to the stuff. It blazed up readily, and he
threw the mass in with the other stuff about the edge of the hole.

"There, if they can't see that they must be blind," he said. "Come,
let us get out," and off they ran for the thicket close at hand. From
here they watched the cart and saw it come to a halt near the hole and
knew that the turnout was safe.

"I shouldn't think the rebels would care to leave those holes about,"
was Major Morris' comment, as they pushed on once more. "They are as
dangerous to their own people as they are to us."

"I suppose they tell their own people about them."

"Those men on the buffalo cart evidently knew nothing."

"The rebels don't care for the _amigos_. Their idea is, if a native is
not with them, he is against them, and must suffer with the
Americans."

To play the part of spies in such a country as this was not easy, for
the Americans were easily distinguished from the natives. Had Ben and
the major spoken Spanish fluently, they might have passed for
Spaniards, as each was tanned from constant exposure to the strong
sun. But this could not be, and so they had to go ahead and trust to
luck to see them through with their dangerous errand.

At length they felt that they must be close to the enemy's picket
line, and paused to consider the situation. Before them was a gentle
slope, terminating at a small but deep stream which flowed into the
Rio Grande River.

"I think some of the rebels are over there," said the major, pointing
to a hill, from the top of which could be seen a faint glow. "There is
certainly a camp-fire back there."

"There is a house just below us," returned Ben. "Or is it a mill?"

"A mill most likely. They wouldn't build an ordinary dwelling right at
the water's edge."

"Perhaps the rebels are using the mill as a sort of headquarters. What
do you say if we investigate?"

The major agreed, and they began to pick their way along the stream.
Soon they reached a rude bridge, and were on the point of crossing,
when a sharp cry rang out from the building they were approaching.

"Hullo, that's a woman's voice!" exclaimed Ben. "Somebody is in
trouble."

"Help! thief! murderer!" came in Spanish. "Oh, help, for the love of
kind Heaven, help!"

"It's a woman, true enough!" ejaculated the major. "I wonder what the
trouble is?"

"I'm going to find out," answered Ben. The cry for aid appealed to his
heart, and he bounded toward the mill-house, for such the building
proved to be, without further hesitation. Nor was Major Morris far
behind him.

As they came closer they saw that the structure was dark, saving for a
faint light that came from one of the rooms built over the mill
stream. It was in this room, evidently, that some sort of struggle was
going on, for now both heard the cry for help repeated, followed by
the overturning of a table. Then came the voices of two men, and the
cry came to a sudden end.

"Two men are misusing some woman," cried Ben, "come on!" and rushing
around to the front of the building, he found the rickety stairs
leading to the house floor, and bounded upward. The door at the top
stood ajar and he pushed it in, with Major Morris at his heels. The
room at hand was dark, the struggle was going on in the apartment next
to it.

Ben paused long enough to see that his pistol had not sustained any
injury in the tumble into the hole, and was ready for use, and then
threw open the door before him.

The light in the room was not very bright, but coming out of the
darkness Ben could see but little, for a few seconds. The room was
thick with the smoke of cigarettes, and through the haze the young
captain made out two men standing beside an overturned table, one with
a knife in his hand. To his intense surprise the men were Americans
and dressed in the uniforms of regulars.

"What does this mean?" he demanded. "What are you--"

And then Ben got no further, for a swift look around the room told him
that the two men were alone--that the woman he had heard crying for
help was not there.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE ADVENTURE AT THE MILL-HOUSE


For the moment it must be confessed that Ben was absolutely
dumfounded, and Major Morris also. They had fully expected to see a
woman in the hands of the regulars before them, and they could
scarcely believe the evidence of their own senses.

But if the officers were astonished, the men they confronted were
likewise taken back, and stared in amazement, which quickly gave way
to consternation.

"What do you want?" demanded one, as soon as he could speak. And then
he glanced over their shoulders to see if the newcomers were alone.

"We thought we heard a woman in trouble," answered Ben, slowly.

"And we did hear a woman," put in the major. "Where is she?"

The two regulars exchanged unsteady glances, for each was somewhat the
worse for liquor. "There ain't no woman here," answered one of them,
sullenly.

"Then who was crying for help?" persisted the young captain.

"See here, cap'n, you are on the wrong trail," came from the older of
the regulars. "Me and Bill's jest been having a little rumpus between
ourselves. We meant no harm by it."

"I don't believe you," came from Major Morris, promptly. "There is
some mystery here, and as sure as you're born I'm going to find out
what it is!" he went on.

The major had scarcely finished when Ben's eyes fell to the floor, and
he saw the outline of a trap-door under one of the regular's feet. One
edge of the door was raised about half an inch above the floor proper,
as if the door had been opened and not put back evenly into place.

"Major, look at that trap-door!" he cried. "I'll wager they used it
while we were coming up the outside stairs."

"You must be right, captain. If you'll--"

"We didn't use no trap-door," shouted the younger of the regulars, but
he appeared much disconcerted over the discovery Ben had made.

"Captain, I have them covered," came from Major Morris, as he brought
out the two pistols with which he had wisely provided himself.
"Perhaps you had better investigate."

"I will," returned the young captain, and backed out of the room. The
regulars wanted to stop him, but aiming his weapons at them the major
told them to hold their peace.

"If everything is all right, you won't be harmed," he said. "But it
doesn't look right to me. You have no business here, for one thing."

"And what business have you here?" demanded the older regular. And
then he changed his manner. "We were captured in the fight of last
week, and were just trying to get back to our lines again."

"We'll talk about that when my friend the captain gets back, my man.
If we are treating you unjustly, I'll apologize and do the handsome
thing by you," he added.

In the meantime Ben was making his way down to the bank of the stream,
under the mill, with all possible speed. It was extremely dark, and he
had to pick his way with caution for fear of tumbling into some ugly
hollow. Below the mill was a fall of water, and here the stream ran
between a series of sharp rocks.

Ben had just gained the bank of the stream when a low moan reached
his ears. At first he could not locate the sound, but presently
discovered that it came from the vicinity of the rocks. Feeling his
way along he managed, but not without great difficulty, to gain the
top of the rocks. Here he saw the water foaming and boiling twenty
feet below.

"That woman must be down there," he muttered. Then he raised his
voice. "Where are you?"

"Down here, by the rocks!" came back faintly. "Help! please help me!"

Locating the voice as well as he was able, the young captain began
crawling down from one rock to another. This was difficult work, and
he had to move with extreme care for fear of a tumble, which would
land him directly into the boiling stream. At last, however, he found
himself perched on a bit of a shelf, with the water less than two feet
away.

From this point of view he beheld the sufferer, who was swinging in
the water, with her arms tightly clutching a sharp stone which reared
its point just above the surface of the stream. He saw that she was
evidently a Spanish woman, well along in years, and that her dress was
sadly torn, and her long hair was floating loosely over her neck and
face.

It must be confessed that the young captain was perplexed over the
situation that confronted him. The sufferer was just beyond his reach,
and he felt that to plunge into the water after her would be to take a
big risk, for if the stream at this point was over his waist, the
force of the current would carry him off in an instant.

"Can you hold on a few minutes longer?" he called out.

[Illustration: "Can you hold on a few minutes longer?"--_Page 173._]

"No! no! I am too weak," came more faintly than ever. "Help me
quickly, and Heaven will reward you!"

"I will do what I can--but you must hold tight for a minute," answered
Ben.

Just above his head a number of bushes were growing, and among these
he had espied a long, stout-looking shoot. Clambering to this, he
pulled out his pocket-knife and cut it off. Then he leaped down once
more, and holding tight to the rocks with one hand, shoved out the
branch with the other. "Catch hold, if you can," he cried.

The woman understood and gave up the rock for the stick, and Ben
pulled her toward him. It was no easy task, and once it looked as if
she would lose her hold and be swept away. But in a minute the danger
was past, and the young captain was hauling her up to where he stood.
She was thoroughly exhausted, and no sooner did he have her in his
arms than she fainted.

One difficulty had been overcome, but another still remained, and that
was to get up to the safe ground above the rocks. But once again the
bushes growing out of the crevices came into play, and, hauling
himself from one to another, Ben at last found himself safe, with his
burden resting heavily over his shoulder.

It was now that the young captain found the woman was suffering
from a blow over the left temple, from which the blood was slowly
trickling. Laying the form down, he brought out his handkerchief and
bound up the wound as well as he was able. This had just been
accomplished when the sufferer came again to her senses and stared
around her in bewilderment.

"You--you--am I safe?" she asked, in broken English, but in a sweet
voice which went straight to Ben's heart.

"Yes, madam, you are safe," he answered. "Did those two men throw you
into the stream?"

"Yes, yes! Oh, they are villains, señor--great villains."

"I must say they look it, even if they are of our troops," replied the
young captain. "Come, do you think you can walk back to the mill with
me?"

The woman said she would try, and he assisted her to her feet. She was
still very weak, and readily consented to lean on his arm; and thus
they moved slowly back the way the captain of Company D had come.

During all this time Ben had not heard a sound from the house, and he
was anxious to know how Major Morris was faring, although feeling
positive that the major was fully capable of taking care of himself.
Now, as they came closer, he heard loud talking.

"We ain't goin' to stay, major,--an' it ain't right fer you to ask us
to," the older of the regulars was saying.

"You will stay, and that's the end of it," came in the major's
clean-cut tones. "If you attempt to pass through that doorway, I'll
put a bullet through you."

"But we are friends, major, and--"

"I don't know that I am a friend to you. It depends upon what my
companion the captain will have to report when he gets back."

"He won't have nuthin' to report, so far as we are concerned," put in
the younger regular. "We ain't done any wrong, 'ceptin' to quarrel a
bit between us. Everybody has a set-to once in a while, you know."

By this time Ben was tramping up the outside stairs, supporting the
woman as before. Now he pushed his way into the outer room of the
mill-house, the woman following with some hesitancy. At the appearance
of their late victim the regulars fell back as though struck a blow.

"Nice sort of chaps you are," exclaimed Ben, hotly. "You don't deserve
to wear Uncle Sam's uniform. A set of prison stripes would suit both
of you much better."

"Hullo, you've found the lady," cried the major. "Sit down, madam, and
tell us what this means."

A bench was handy, and the sufferer dropped heavily upon it. The
regulars looked as if they wished themselves anywhere but in their
present situation, yet they did not dare to budge, for Major Morris
still held "the drop" upon them, and the commander of the first
battalion looked as if he would stand no nonsense.

"These men came here to rob me," said the woman, slowly. "They are of
your kind, but they are not honest."

"Then they are not of our kind," answered Ben, promptly. "We do not
allow our soldiers to rob anybody."

"We didn't come to steal--" began the older regular, when Major Morris
stopped him.

"Silence! Not another word until the lady has finished her story."

There was a second of painful silence, and the lady continued: "I am
staying at the mill alone, for my husband has gone to the Laguna de
Bay on business. Several hours ago, these two soldiers came in and
demanded that I serve them with a hot supper. Not wishing to have
trouble I gave them the best I had. But they were not satisfied, and
broke into my husband's wine closet and drank two bottles of his
choicest wine, and smoked his best cigarettes, package after package.
Then, after drinking much wine, they demanded that I give them money,
and that man," pointing to the older prisoner, "told his companion
that I must have money hidden somewhere, as all the Spanish
mill-owners in Luzon were rich, while the truth is, we are very poor,
as the war has taken away everything. Then the men drank more, and at
last they caught hold of me and threatened me with great violence if I
did not give up what I had hidden away. I gave them the little silver
I had, but they were not satisfied, and when I tried to run away, one
hit me over the head with this bench. Then they plotted to get me out
of the way entirely and go on a hunt for money themselves. I cried
louder than ever, and then you started to come in. One of the men had
opened that trap leading to the river, and as you came up the outer
stairs both dropped me down, no doubt to drown me. I was swept down to
the rocks at the falls, and there the _capitan_ saved me, God bless
him for it."



CHAPTER XIX

NEWS OF LARRY


For a minute after the Spanish woman finished, nobody in the
mill-house spoke. Her tale had impressed both Ben and the major
deeply, and they looked with cold contempt at the two regulars who had
so disgraced the uniform they wore.

"This is a fine doings, truly," said Major Morris, at length. "I
wonder what your commander will say when he hears of it."

"If you please, they have deserted the American army," put in the
woman. "They said as much while they were drinking my husband's
wine."

"It ain't so!" burst out the older regular, fiercely. "And that woman
has told you a string of--"

"Shut up!" interrupted the major, sternly. "I will take this lady's
word against yours every time--after what I have witnessed of both of
you. Your name, please?"

"I ain't telling my name jest now," was the sullen response.

"Aren't you?" Up came the major's pistol again. "Your name, I said."

"Jack Rodgrew."

"And what is yours?" went on the commander of the first battalion,
turning to the younger regular.

The man hesitated for a second. "My name is Jerry Crossing."

"Indeed! How is it your mate called you Bill awhile ago?"

"Why--er--er--"

"I don't believe either of the names is correct," went on the major.

"He is called Bill, and the other is Yadder," put in the Spanish
woman. "I heard the names many times."

"Then that will answer, since I also have your company and regiment.
Now, then, throw down your cartridge belts."

"Throw 'em down?" howled the regular called Bill.

"That is what I said. Throw them down at once."

"But see here, major--"

"I won't stop to argue with you. Throw the belts down, or take the
consequences."

"And what will the consequences be?" questioned Yadder.

"The consequences will be that I will form myself into a court-martial,
find you guilty of desertion, and shoot you down where you stand.
Come, do those belts go down or not?"

"I reckon they go down," grumbled Yadder; and unloosening the article,
he allowed it to slip to the floor, seeing which, his companion
followed suit.

"Now both of you hold your hands over your heads, while Captain
Russell searches you for concealed weapons."

"We ain't got no concealed weapons."

"I didn't ask you to talk, I told you to hold up your hands."

With exceeding bad grace the two deserters, for such they really
proved to be, held up their arms. Approaching them, Ben went through
one pocket after another and felt in their bosoms. Each had a long
native knife, such as are usually used in the rice-fields.

"I suppose you do not call those concealed weapons," was Major
Morris's comment, as Ben came over to him with the knives and the
cartridge belts. The rascals' guns stood back of the door behind the
commander of the first battalion.

"It ain't fair to take everything away from us," began Yadder, when
two shots, fired in rapid succession, cut him short. The shots came
from up the stream and not over fifty yards from the mill-house. Soon
followed a shouting of voices, and all in the place knew that a band
of rebels were approaching.

"They are after somebody!" exclaimed Ben. "They are coming--"

The young captain got no further, for just then there sounded a
clatter on the outer steps, and a second later an American soldier
burst into the mill-house. He was in tatters, and his left arm hung
limply by his side, for he had been shot in the shoulder.

"Americans!" he gasped, as he cast a hurried glance about. "Thank God
for that! The rebels are after me, half a dozen strong."

"He went up into the house!" came from without, in the Tagalog
dialect.

"After him, men, the _Americano_ must not escape us!"

And then footsteps were heard around the house and on the stairs. Ben
and the major looked at each other questioningly. What was to be
done?

"The trap," whispered the young captain. "If they come up here, we can
escape through that."

There was no time to say more, for already the rebels were coming up
the stairs, shouting loudly for the escaped _Americano_ to give
himself up. They advanced in a body, evidently not caring to separate
in the darkness, and thinking to find the man alone.

With quick wit Ben ran and placed the table against the door, and on
this piled the bench.

"Now the trap, and be quick!" he whispered, and Major Morris
understood. Flinging open the door in the floor he looked down, to
behold the stream flowing beneath.

"Follow me--it's the best way out," he said to the escaped prisoner.
Then he dropped down, holding his pistols over his head, that they
might not get wet.

The wounded man was in a desperate humor and lost no time in
following. By this time the rebels were hammering lustily on the door
which Ben was holding shut.

"What are we to do?" demanded the older of the deserters. "Are you--"

"You can take care of yourselves," answered the young captain, and
rushing over to the trap-door he let himself through, closing the trap
after him. Then came a plunge into the water, but the stream here was
less than four feet deep, and he followed Major Morris and the wounded
man to the bank without difficulty. A loud shouting came from
overhead, followed by a storm of words from both rebels and deserters,
and also from the Spanish woman. Fortunately for the woman, among the
rebels was a nephew, who at once came to her aid, and had the two
deserters from the American army made prisoners.

"We had better put a little distance between ourselves and that mill,"
suggested Major Morris, as all three shook the water from their lower
garments.

"How is it? are you badly wounded?" asked Ben, turning to their newly
made companion.

"Oh, I can go ahead," said the soldier. "It's rather painful,
though."

"We'll take care of it for you at the first chance we get," added Ben;
and then the three set off at a brisk pace along the stream and over
the rocks to a grove in which they felt they would be comparatively
safe until daylight, if no longer.

As the mill-house was left behind, all became quiet, and in the grove
nothing disturbed them but the hum of the insects and the occasional
cry of some night bird.

Lighting a match, Ben examined the man's wound and bound it up with
the major's handkerchief, his own having been left behind with the
Spanish woman. The stranger said that his name was Barton Brownell.

"I have been a prisoner of the insurgents for some time," he said,
when asked to tell his story. "I was captured just before our troops
took Malolos. They had six prisoners all told, and they took us to a
place called Guinalo, which is probably forty miles from here, and up
in the mountains."

"While you were a prisoner did you see or hear anything of a
Lieutenant Caspard?" asked Major Morris, quickly.

"To be sure I did!" burst out Barton Brownell. "He came to see me
several times. He has joined hands with the insurgents, and he wanted
me to join them, too. But I told him I would rot first," added the
wounded man, and his firmness showed that he meant what he said.

"And was Caspard in the field with the rebels?"

"Yes. He was hand in glove with General Luna and the other rebel
leaders, and I think he had turned over some messages from General
Otis's headquarters to the rebels. But, candidly speaking, I think
Lieutenant Caspard is somewhat off in his head. Once he came to me and
said that if only I and the other prisoners would join him, we could
end this shedding of blood inside of a week."

"He must be crazy, to join the rebels," put in Ben. "Does he hold any
position under them?"

"They call him _capitan_, but if he has such a position, it is merely
a nominal one. I think the natives are beginning to suspect that he is
not quite right in his mind. But still they love to hear him praise
them, and they swallow a good bit of what he says, like so many
children."

For the moment Major Morris was silent. Then he turned to Ben. "Our
mission seems to have come to a sudden end," he said. "Brownell can
tell Colonel Darcy all he wants to know." And he related to the
escaped prisoner the reason for their coming beyond the American
lines.

"Yes, I reckon I can tell the colonel well enough," answered Barton
Brownell. "For I saw Caspard often, as I mentioned before, and he
never knew what it was to keep his tongue from wagging."

"And how did you escape?" asked Ben, with interest.

"In a very funny way," and the soldier laughed. "As I said before, we
were kept up in the mountains, in a large cave. There were six of our
troop, but all told the prisoners numbered twenty-eight. There was a
guard of four rebels to keep us from escaping, and an old woman called
Mother Beautiful, because she was so ugly, used to cook our food for
us--and the food was mighty scanty, I can tell you that.

"Well, one day two of the guards went off, leaving the old woman and
the other two guards in sole charge. There had been a raid of some
kind the day before, and the guards had some fiery liquor which made
them about half drunk. The old woman got mad over this, and she was
more angry than ever when one of the guards refused to get her a pail
of water from a neighboring spring. 'I'll get the water, mother,' says
I, bowing low to her, and would you believe it, she made the two
guards let me out, just to get her the water."

"And the water hasn't arrived yet," said Major Morris, laughing.

"No, the water hasn't arrived yet," answered Barton Brownell. "As soon
as I reached the spring I dropped the pail and ran for all I was
worth, and hid in the brush along the mountain side. I stayed there
two days and nearly starved to death. Then they hunted me out, and I
received this wound. But I escaped them and made my way through the
jungle and over the rice-fields to here, and here I am."

"You say there were twenty-eight prisoners all told," cried Ben. "Did
you ever hear anything of my brother, Larry Russell?"

"Larry Russell?" repeated Barton Brownell, thoughtfully. "To be sure I
did. He is a sailor from the _Olympia_, isn't he?"

"Yes! yes! And was he with you?"

"He was, at first. But he wasn't when I left. They moved some of the
prisoners away, and he was among them. So he was your brother? That
beats all, doesn't it--to think I should fall in with you in such a
place as this!"



CHAPTER XX

THE ADVANCE UPON MAASIN


Ben was much surprised and also delighted to learn that Barton
Brownell had met Larry, and he lost no time in questioning the escaped
soldier regarding his missing brother.

"Yes, your brother was with me about two weeks," said Barton Brownell.
"He came up with a detachment of rebels from the Laguna de Bay, after
General Lawton left that territory."

"And was he well, or had he been wounded?"

"He was suffering from a cut in the head. A Spaniard had kicked
him--and, yes, he told me it was a Spaniard that you and he were after
for having robbed a bank of some money."

"Benedicto Lupez!" ejaculated Ben, more astonished than ever.

"That's the name. Your brother had run across that man and his brother
at Santa Cruz, and he was trying to make this Benedicto Lupez a
prisoner, when the brother kicked him in the head, and then both of
them ran away, and when your brother realized what was going on again
he found himself a prisoner. He was taken to a camp near the north
shore of the Laguna de Bay, and afterward transferred to the cave
where I was held."

"I am thankful that he is alive," murmured the young captain, and
breathed silent thanks to God for His mercy. "Do you know where they
took Larry to?"

"I can't say exactly, but I know that a great many of the rebels are
retreating to the mountains back of San Isidro. I wouldn't be
surprised to hear of Aguinaldo making his final stand there."

"I would give all I am worth to gain my brother his liberty."

"And I reckon he would give all he is worth to escape," rejoined
Brownell. "The boys hate to be kept prisoners, and try all sorts of
devices to get away. One fellow had some gold hidden on his person and
tried to bribe a guard with it. But the guard only laughed at him and
stole the money."

"Of course you do not know what became of Benedicto Lupez and his
brother."

"No, your brother knew nothing further than that they ran off after
the assault on him," concluded Brownell.

The talking had somewhat exhausted the wounded man and Ben forbore to
question him further just then. While Barton Brownell rested easily on
some moss, the young captain turned to the commander of the first
battalion.

"What shall we do next, major?"

"I think we had better be getting back," was the ready answer. "The
sooner we report to the colonel the better he will be pleased."

"I feel like pushing right through to San Isidro, on a hunt for my
brother."

"It would be a foolish movement, captain, for, unless I am greatly
mistaken, the insurgents have a large force in front of us, and to
attempt breaking through would be taking a big risk. Be thankful that
your brother is safe thus far. As long as he remains quiet I don't
think the rebels will harm him."

Ben could not but believe that this was good advice, and he agreed to
do as the major thought best. It was now three o'clock in the morning,
and half an hour later they started, thinking to rejoin their command
before daylight.

It was an exhausting tramp, the more so because Brownell had to be
assisted by one or the other for the entire distance.

"I'm a great drag," sighed the wounded soldier. "Perhaps you had
better push on and let me shift for myself." But the major and the
captain would not hear of this.

They had one little brush with two of the Filipino pickets before
getting into the American lines, but the rebels were young men and not
very courageous and let them slip by without great trouble.

It was Major Morris who made the report to the colonel, taking Ben and
Brownell with him. Colonel Darcy was greatly interested.

"It is, then, as I supposed," he said. "This information will be of
great value to us, Major Morris," and he thanked the major and Ben for
what they had done. Brownell's report was also received with close
consideration by General Lawton himself.

"If the prisoners have been taken to San Isidro, we must try our best
to liberate them," said the general. "I am so glad to learn, though,
that the rebels are not ill-treating them, as I had supposed."

It was Ben, assisted by Casey, who saw Brownell to the hospital and
had the wounded soldier given every attention. When they parted,
Brownell, although now so exhausted that he could scarcely speak,
shook the young captain's hand warmly.

"I hope you find your brother soon," he said. "I can imagine how bad
it makes you feel to know that he is a prisoner."

The advance of General Lawton's command was now directed at Maasin, a
few miles beyond Baliuag. It was led by Colonel Summers, who took with
him some Oregon, Dakota, and Third Infantry troops and a battery of
the Utah Light Artillery, with other troops following, including Ben's
battalion with Major Morris at its head. As before, the advance was
along the main road and through the rice-fields, cane-brakes, and the
jungle, with the air so oppressive that it felt as though coming out
of a steaming oven.

"I dink me I vos right in it from der start, alretty!" exclaimed Carl
Stummer, as he plodded along. "Dis vos vorse as der march on Malolos,
eh, Tan?"

"Sure, an' it's no picnic," replied the Irish volunteer. "But thin,
Carl, me b'y, ye must remimber, we didn't come out here fer fun. We
kem out fer to show thim haythins how to behave thimselves an' grow
up into useful an' ornamental citizens av the greatest republic that
iver brathed th' breath av life."

"Chust so," returned the German volunteer. "But it vos uphill vork,
ennahow," and he sighed deeply. Carl could fight as well as any
old-time trooper, but the long tramps through the jungle always
disgusted him.

There was the river to cross upon which the mill-house was located,
and Ben could not help but wonder if the Spanish woman was still at
the structure, and how the American deserters had fared. But the
mill-house was too far away to visit, and now the battalion was
ordered into action on the upper side of the stream.

"Gangway for General Lawton!" was the cry that reached Ben's ears a
few minutes later, and then came a crashing of horses' hoofs, and the
tall general rode through their open ranks, followed by several
members of his staff. As was usual, the general was bound for the
firing line, to personally direct the movements of the men under him.
Many were the times that the members of his staff urged him not to
make a target of himself. He would not listen; and in the end this
daring exposure cost the gallant leader his life.

But now all was excitement, for a large force of rebels had been
uncovered and there was no telling but what the jungle ahead concealed
even more. "We are up against it, fellows!" shouted one of the
sergeants. "Let us rush 'em for keeps!" And on swept the battalion,
until the steady pop-pop of Mausers and the crack of the Springfields
could be heard upon every side.

Ben's company was no longer as large as it had been, for death and
disease had sadly depleted the ranks. Yet the forty-six men in the
command were now thoroughly seasoned fighters, and all loved their
young and dashing leader and would have followed him anywhere.

Presently an orderly dashed up to Major Morris.

"Major, Colonel Darcy wishes you to take your command up yonder hill.
The rebels have a battery up there, as you can see. If you can rush
the position, he will send another battalion to your support."

"Tell Colonel Darcy I will obey the order," answered Major Morris.
Then he turned to the four companies. "Boys, we are ordered to take
yonder hill and the two field-pieces perched on top of it. Come on,
and I will lead you!"

He waved his sword and away went the first battalion on the double
quick, two companies to the front. There was first a slight hollow to
cross, and then came a thicket of brambles where many a uniform was
reduced to rags. The battery at the top of the hill saw them coming
and directed a heavy fire at their advance.

"Hot work!" cried the major, as he ranged up alongside of Ben. "I am
afraid the carrying out of this order will cost us dear."

"If you'll allow me to make a suggestion, major--" began Ben.

"Make a dozen, captain."

"Why not take a course to the left then."

"For what reason?"

"There is a big rock on that side, on the very top of the hill."

"But we can't climb that rock."

"No, and neither can the rebels fire over it with their field-pieces.
When we get up to the rock we can march around it."

"Well spoken, Russell--you're a born strategist," cried the major, who
was too generous to have any ill feeling because somebody offered him
a suggestion. "We'll go that way." And he immediately gave necessary
orders.

But the advance was by no means easy, and soon the battalion found
itself under such a galling fire that the men were glad enough to seek
the shelter of every rock and bush which came handy. The battery could
not do everything, and afraid of having his pieces taken from him, the
captain had called upon several companies of the Filipinos to assist
him in maintaining his position.

"Down!" suddenly shouted Gilbert Pennington, and down went the men,
and the next instant a shell burst directly over their heads.

"This is hot and no mistake," murmured Ben. Then he turned to his
command. "Forward, men, the sooner we take that position the better it
will be for us." And up the hill he dashed, with Casey, Stummer, and
the rest following as best they could, for the way was steep and
uncertain. At last the very edge of the big rock was gained, and
Company D poured around its left side, to find themselves suddenly
confronted by a body of Tagalos fully a hundred strong. In the
meantime the other companies under Major Morris were coming up on the
opposite side of the rock. Ben was on the point of shouting some
additional words of encouragement to his men, when he found himself
face to face with a mighty Igorrote warrior, who with his long lance
seemed determined to pierce the young captain through and through.



CHAPTER XXI

CAMPING OVER A POWDER MAGAZINE


Bang!

It was the report of Ben's pistol, and the weapon was aimed directly
for the Igorrote's head, for the young captain had learned the value
of aiming and firing quickly.

But the Filipino "had been there before," and as the trigger went down
he dropped to the ground with the rapidity of lightning, and the
bullet intended for him struck a man some distance in the rear. Then
up leaped the Igorrote once more and bounded onward, the lance point
aimed directly for Ben's throat!

The young captain's pistol was now empty, the other shots having been
discharged during the climb up the hill. His sword was out, but the
lance was three times the length of the blade, so he was still at a
disadvantage. Yet he aimed a blow at the barbed point and thus turned
it aside.

"Ha!" hissed the Filipino, and drew back. Then he struck again at
Ben, and instantly both slipped on the moist grass and fell directly
into each other's clutches. The Igorrote was a powerful warrior, and
grasped Ben's throat with the tightness of a steel band.

Ben tried to cry out, but not a sound could he make. His eyes bulged
from their sockets, and he felt his breath leaving him. A second
Igorrote leaped forward to hit him on the head with a war club, such
as some of the Igorrote still insisted upon carrying. Of the use of
rifles this tribe of the Filipinos knew little or nothing.

"Back, ye nager!" came in Dan Casey's voice, and there followed a
sickening thud, and down went the enemy with the club, his head split
open by a blow from the Irish volunteer's gun-stock. Casey then aimed
a second blow at the rebel who had hold of Ben, but not wishing to
receive such a dose as had been meted out to his companion, the other
Igorrote sprang up, butted Casey in the stomach with his head, thus
landing the Irishman on his back, and then ran for his life toward the
nearest shelter of brush.

"Oh, be gracious! To look at that now!" spluttered the Irishman as he
arose. "But I got wan av thim, anyhow, captain," he added, with a
jerk of his thumb toward the Igorrote, who lay with a broken head.

"Yes, Casey; and you saved me, too," returned Ben, earnestly. "You are
worth two ordinary men;" and then captain and private drifted apart,
as the tide of battle rolled forward.

The top of the hill was gained, but for once the insurgents did not
know when they were whipped, and held to their guns until more than
half of their number were either killed or wounded. The contest raged
to the right and the left of the battery, and this was fortunate, for
seeing they could not hold the pieces, some of the rebels overcharged
one of the guns and set it off, blowing it into a thousand pieces.
Then the main body retreated into the jungle, carrying a few of their
wounded with them.

By this time it was raining again, and the downpour on the top of the
hill was so great that little could be seen of the condition of
affairs at a distance. Sending word that the hill was taken and one
old-fashioned Spanish field-piece captured, Major Morris rallied his
battalion around him and stood on the defensive. But the rebels had
had enough of fighting for the present, and once again took up the
retreat in the direction of San Isidro.

"I reckon that was hot enough for anybody," said the major, as he
stalked up to Ben and the other captains under him. "I wonder if
anybody was killed by the explosion of that old cannon?"

"Nobody was killed, but several were wounded," answered one of the
captains. "The rebel who charged her up and then fired her had lots of
nerve," he added.

Word soon came back from General Lawton that the battalion should hold
the hill until further orders. The situation was not a pleasant one,
but orders must be obeyed, and the various companies proceeded to make
themselves as comfortable as possible, which was not saying much,
since the top of the hill afforded little or no shelter. One company
was detailed to do picket duty, but a little scouting soon proved that
the rebels were a mile or more distant.

When the main body of the troops under General Lawton marched into
Maasin, they found the pretty little town all but deserted. In a few
of the huts the inhabitants remained, having hung out dirty white
rags to show that they were _amigos_. Here were also numerous "Chinos"
or Chinese, some of mixed blood, and all ready to do anything for the
American soldiers, provided they were paid for it. Natives and
"Chinos" went about bared to the waist, casting fearful eyes at those
who had so suddenly disturbed the peace of their homesteads, for the
inhabitants of Maasin were peaceably inclined, and took but little
interest in the war Aguinaldo and his followers had instituted.

"Well, we are one step nearer to San Isidro," remarked Gilbert, when
he got the chance to talk to Ben. "I suppose we can't get there any
too quick for you."

"I don't know, Gilbert. You must remember that while Larry may be near
San Isidro now, he may be miles off when we reach there. These
Filipinos change their capital and their prisons as quickly as a flea
jumps."

"Never mind, we'll keep them on the jump until they drop," answered
the young Southerner. "They can't stand up before us forever."

"To my way of thinking, I don't believe this war will come to definite
end, Gilbert."

"What do you mean, Ben? They have got to stop sometime--or else we
have got to stop."

"These Filipinos are not pulling together--on the contrary, they are
split up into half a dozen factions. If we defeat one faction, the
others will still keep on, and, besides that, the worst of the rebels
are of Malayan blood, pirates and bandits. I believe after we have
whipped them as an army they will still keep on fighting in small
bodies, somewhat after the order of the brigands in Mexico and
northern Africa. With the mountains to fly to, such brigands could
keep on worrying an American army for years."

"Possibly; but when the main body of the natives see what we want
to do for them, they'll be as anxious as we to wipe out such
brigands, and with their own people after them, life will be pretty
uncomfortable, I'll wager. To be sure, there will always be
robbers, just as there are outlaws and train-wreckers in the western
states of our own country."

Some of the men had found a small opening between the rocks, and over
this had hung their tents, making a rude shelter which Ben and Gilbert
were glad to share with them. In the crowd were Casey and Stummer, and
the latter busied himself in trying to make a cup of hot chocolate
over a handful of dry twigs found in the shelter. The attempt was
hardly a success, yet the drink was better for the convalescent than
either water or liquor would have been.

"Sure, an' if this shtorm kapes up, we'll all be dhrowned out," was
Casey's comment, as he shifted his feet to keep them out of a rising
puddle. "Now who would think the water would rise on the top av a
hill. Things do be mighty peculiar in Luzon, an' that's a fact."

"Never mind, Casey, you'll get back home some day," put in another
soldier. "And in years to come you'll be telling your grandchildren
what a mighty fighter you were out in the state of Luzon, recently
annexed to the United States, along with the state of Hawaii." And a
laugh went up over the conceit.

"Sure an' you ton't haf nodding to grumble ofer of you ton't git
shot," said Stummer.

"Or don't get taken down with disease," put in another. "My, but I
pity the fellows with fever and chills and malaria, and the other
things that are just as bad. I believe about one-fifth of the army is
now on the sick list."

"Some of the boys are going to send a petition to General Otis for
relief. They say they can't stand it much longer."

So the talk went on, both Ben and Gilbert saying but little. Presently
Major Morris poked his nose into the opening.

"I think you boys had better come out of there," he said shortly.

"Why, major--" began several.

"Are we to advance?" asked others.

"No, we are not going to advance, unless it's skyward," continued the
major. "Either come out of that, or else put out that fire, and be
mighty careful about it."

"The fire ain't doing no harm," grumbled a private, under his breath.

"I don't believe the enemy can see the smoke in this rain," suggested
another, thinking that this was the cause of their being disturbed.

"I'm not thinking of the enemy, boys, I'm thinking of you. Better come
out, and then we'll put out that fire as carefully as we can."

Seeing that something unusual was in the wind, one after another of
the officers and privates came forth from the hollow, Stummer giving
the fire a kick as he passed. As soon as they were outside they
surrounded the commander of the first battalion.

"Now, boys, do you know why I called you out?" asked Major Morris,
with just the suspicion of a twinkle in his clear eyes.

"No, why was it?" came from a dozen voices.

"Because I wanted to save your lives," was the quiet response.

"Save our lives, major? You must be joking."

"No, I am not joking. We have just captured one of the rebel gunners,
who was in command of the piece that was blown to atoms. He says that
this hollow, where you had your camp-fire, was their powder magazine,
and that they left all of a hundred and fifty pounds of powder stored
there, hidden under the moss and dead leaves."



CHAPTER XXII

THE RESULT OF AN AMBUSH


"Good gracious, do you mean to say we have been camping over a powder
magazine?" gasped Gilbert, as soon as he could speak.

"Sure, an' it's a wondher we wasn't all blowed to hivin!" came from
Dan Casey.

"Und I boil mine chocolate so calmly as you blease," put in Carl
Stummer, with a shudder. "Py chiminy, I ton't vos build no fire no
more bis I vos sure of mine ground."

For several minutes the excitement was intense, and all of the
soldiers retreated to a considerable distance from the hollow which
had proved such a comfortable shelter.

Presently, however, Ben, Gilbert, and several others mustered up
courage enough to go back and haul down the coverings put up. Then
came another heavy downpour of rain, which speedily extinguished the
fire; and the danger of an explosion was past.

An examination under the rocks proved that the Filipino gunner had
told the truth. The powder was there, in big cans bearing the old
Spanish stamp. Some was marked 1876, and was so old as to be
practically worthless.

"They ought to have shot that off in honor of our centennial,"
remarked the young captain. "I don't wonder the rebels can't hit
anything. This powder has no carrying power left to it."

Nevertheless the powder was carted off and added to the American
stock. Then General Lawton rode up and Major Morris told in detail
what had been accomplished.

With the fall of Maasin came another day of much-needed rest for the
majority of the troops under General Lawton. In the meantime, while
these soldiers were advancing from Angat upon San Isidro, the command
under General MacArthur was far from idle. The Filipino commissioners
wanted a three months' armistice, in order that the terms of a peace
might be discussed, but to this the Americans would not listen, as
they felt the enemy wished mainly to gain time in which to reorganize
their shattered forces.

MacArthur's command was now in possession of Calumpit on the
railroad, and Apalit, just above, on the Rio Grande; while the rebels
in this territory began to mass at St. Tomas and at San Fernando,
still further northward on the railroad. On May the 4th MacArthur's
division set out from Apalit, with Hale's command on the right wing
and Wheaton's on the left.

It was not supposed that the rebels would make a serious stand short
of San Fernando, but at St. Tomas they were developed in force, and a
running fight ensued, lasting several hours, but without great loss to
the Americans. Finding they could not hold St. Tomas, the Filipinos
set fire to the town and fled. They were pursued with vigor, and
attempted to burn San Fernando late that night, but failed to do so.

Early in the morning the fighting was renewed, and near San Fernando
another battle took place. But the rebels were disheartened by the
defeat at St. Tomas, and were soon on the run, and General Hale drove
them a mile beyond San Fernando. In taking possession of the town it
was found that several of the public buildings were in ruins. The
defensive works here were very strong, and had the Filipinos stood up
to their work like real fighters, they might have held the position
for a long time.

On Saturday, May the 6th, Ben's command moved forward again, down the
hill into Maasin, now patrolled by Americans, and then to the main
road beyond.

"I don't believe we are in for much of a fight to-day," remarked
the young captain to Gilmore, who had now been appointed first
lieutenant.

"I reckon you are right," answered Gilmore. "The scouts haven't found
any rebels within a mile."

"It would almost seem as if we could march straight through to San
Isidro," went on Ben, thoughtfully. "I must say I never heard of such
a campaign."

"They say General Lawton puts it down as a regular Indian campaign.
But then the rebels don't do much fighting in the dark."

"They are sick of it, Gilmore. I believe they would give up in a
minute if the leaders were only assured that they would come out
whole, as the saying goes."

"Well, they've gone too far to come out whole, captain. General
Aguinaldo may mean well, but he never went at this thing right. He
ought to know that he isn't dealing with some third-rate power."

On went the regiment, about four hundred and fifty strong now, for
men were dropping out every day on account of fever and other tropical
troubles. Ben had had a little fever himself, but had dosed himself
with quinine before it had a chance to permeate his system and bring
him down on his back.

The advance led the regiment along a small stream lined with fading
flowers and wild plantains and the ever present thorns and trailing
vines. Birds were numerous, and here and there a sporting soldier
could not resist the temptation to bring one of the feathered tribe
down, to be cooked at the next resting place. Once the regiment
stirred up a flock of wild turkeys, and a charge was made to capture
the prizes, a charge that was as enthusing as one on the rebels.
Soldiers are but human and must have their fun, no matter under what
difficulties.

"It's a fine turkey dinner we'll be afther havin' to-day," remarked
Dan Casey, as he hung one of the birds over his shoulder. He had
scarcely spoken, when pop-pop went several Mausers in a thicket
beyond, the bullets singing their strange tune in the leaves over the
advancers' heads.

"Forward!" shouted Major Morris, who was in temporary command of the
regiment, and away they went once more, to suddenly find themselves
on spongy soil which speedily let them down to their ankles. In the
meantime the insurgents' fire became thicker than ever, and it looked
as if they were caught in an ambush.

"Fire at will!" came the order. "To the left, boys, and make every
shot tell!"

A roar of musketry drowned out the words, and immediately Ben's
company found itself all but surrounded. To go into this quagmire had
certainly been a grave error, but all leaders make mistakes sometimes;
and Major Morris was suffering as greatly as his men.

The next half hour was one Ben never forgot. The rebels evidently
thought they had the Americans at their mercy and pushed in closer and
closer, until more than half of the contestants were fighting hand to
hand. Many had exhausted their ammunition, and were using their
bayonets or else handling their guns as clubs.

"Die!" cried one tall Tagal, as he flashed up before Ben with a bloody
bolo. "Die!" he repeated in bad English, and made a lunge at the young
captain. But Gilmore had his eye on the man, and the lieutenant's
sword cut the bolo from the rebel's grasp.

"Good for you!" cried Ben. Then he drew a long breath, to think of the
narrow escape he had had. The native, his hand flowing with blood,
retreated as suddenly as he had approached.

The tide of the battle was now taking Americans and insurgents toward
a cane-brake. The rebels still fought desperately, but they were
beginning to lose confidence, for the Americans were pushing them
hard.

But now came a cheer from the rear, and Company B rushed up to the aid
of Ben's command. To the young captain's astonishment, Gilbert was in
command, all the upper officers being either killed or wounded.

"Gilbert!" he called, but had no time to say more. But the young
Southerner heard and waved the sword he had picked up. Soon the two
companies were fighting shoulder to shoulder, and the enemy were
driven out into the cane-field, and then into a meadow. Here they
tried to make a stand, around an old rice-house, and it took another
half hour to dislodge them. But when they did retreat at last, they
went in great haste, many leaving their weapons and outfits behind
them.

The fighting over, Ben started to find the major. Gilbert accompanied
him. Their first hunt for the commander, however, was unsuccessful.

"It's queer," was Ben's comment. "I trust he isn't dead in the
bushes."

The hunt gradually brought them to a trail through the jungle, and
presently Gilbert heard a faint moan for help. Running in the
direction, they found a soldier of Company C lying on some moss, his
knee shattered from a Mauser bullet.

"Oh, the pain!" groaned the poor fellow. "Help me, won't you?"

"We'll do all we can for you," answered Ben, and while he went to
work, Gilbert ran back to bring up the hospital corps with a
stretcher.

"You want to go after Major Morris," said the wounded soldier, as soon
as he felt comfortable enough to talk.

"We are looking for Major Morris," replied Ben, much astonished.
"Where is he?"

"He was knocked over by one of the Dagos, and then three of 'em
carried him away."

This was certainly news, and Ben waited impatiently for Gilbert to get
back. As soon as the young Southerner returned, both asked the
wounded soldier in what direction the captured major had been taken.

"They went through the cane-brake," was the answer. "You'll find the
trail easily enough, I think, if you look for it. One of the rebs wore
boots with high heels, so you can't miss 'em."

The wounded man did his best to point out the right direction, and was
then taken back to the hospital tent. Without delay Ben called Ralph
Sorrel and half a dozen others to his aid.

"We must go after Major Morris, and at once," he said. "Are you ready
to undertake the work? It may be a dangerous proceeding."

"We're with yer, cap'n," answered Sorrel, and his sentiment was that
of all of the others.

The trail into the cane-brake was followed without much difficulty,
and the party of eight advanced as rapidly as the nature of the ground
permitted. The storm had cleared off the night before, and the sun
shone down hotly, making the air in the brake suffocating.

"This yere is a putty big cane-brake, an' no error," remarked Sorrel,
after a quarter of a mile had been covered. "Cap'n, it won't do fer us
to turn ourselves about an' git lost."

"We'll stick to the one trail," answered Ben. "As yet I've seen no
side trails, although I've been watching every foot of the ground that
we crossed."

"Nor I, cap'n,--an' don't wan't to, neither," added the tall
mountaineer.

A little further on was a clearing, in the centre of which stood a
small cane-house. Halting on the edge of the opening, they beheld
several Filipinos on guard outside the house. In the doorway, with his
back to the opening, stood Major Morris, his hands bound behind him.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE TORNADO IN THE CANE-BRAKE


"I reckon we have got 'em tight, cap'n," came from Sorrel, as the
party of Americans came to a halt and surveyed the scene before them.

"It depends upon how many of them there are," answered Ben. "Sorrel,
supposing you skirt the clearing and try to count noses."

The Tennesseean was willing, and started off, taking Gilbert with him.
He was gone probably ten minutes.

"Not more than ten at the most," he reported. "And of that number two
are wounded and have their arms in slings."

"Any other prisoners besides Major Morris?"

"Not that we could see," came from Gilbert. "We could rush them easily
enough if it wasn't for the major," he added.

"We don't want any harm to befall Major Morris," said Ben, thoughtfully.
"If we-- The rebels have discovered us, look out!"

Ben had scarcely finished when a report rang out and a bullet whizzed
over their heads. One of the soldiers outside of the cane-house had
seen two of the Americans and had fired upon them.

The discharge of the firearm caused Major Morris to turn around, and
as he did so Ben waved his cap at his commander, and was recognized.
Then two of the insurgents hurried the major out of sight.

The Americans were not slow to return the fire; and, although nobody
was struck, the insurgents lost no time in disappearing from view. A
lull followed, as both sides tried to determine what was best to be
done next.

"Here comes a flag of truce," said Gilbert, presently, as a rebel
appeared, holding up a white rag. "If I were you, I wouldn't honor
it."

"I would like to hear what they have to say," replied Ben, quietly.

"But remember how they fired on the other flag of truce," insisted the
young Southerner. "You'll be running your head into a lion's mouth."

"Sorrel, keep that man covered," said Ben. "I won't move out any
further than he does."

"If you go, I'll go with you," said Gilbert, promptly.

He would not be put off, and together Ben and he moved into the
opening, Ben holding up a new handkerchief as he walked. The rebel at
once halted, as if expecting them to come over to where he stood.

"You come over here!" cried Gilbert, and waved his hand.

There was a full minute's delay, and then of a sudden the rebel threw
down his white flag and sped toward the house. At the same time three
reports rang out, and Gilbert fell back, struck in the shoulder.

"What did I tell you!" he gasped. "They are treacherous to the last
degree!" And then the young Southerner fainted.

As just mentioned, three reports had rung out, but only two had come
from the house. The third came from Ralph Sorrel's weapon, and the man
who had carried the pretended flag of truce fell dead in his tracks.

The dastardly attack angered Ben beyond endurance, and leaving Gilbert
resting comfortably on some cut cane, he leaped to the front. "Come,
boys, we will root them out!" he cried, and ran on toward the house as
fast as he could, firing as he went. Sorrel was at his heels, and the
others fired, each "red-hot" as they afterward expressed it.

The insurgents saw them coming and fired several shots, but nobody was
struck, and in a trice the house was surrounded. Then Major Morris
came bounding through a window, and it was Ben who cut his bonds with
a pocket-knife.

"I saw it all," exclaimed the major. "Go for them, men, every one of
the rascals deserves death!" And stooping over the dead rebel, he took
from his bosom a bolo and joined in the attack. "They are a pack of
cowards--a mere set of camp followers."

The major was right; the rebels in the house were no regularly
organized body, and at the first sign of real peril they fled by the
back way, over a ditch and straight for the nearest jungle. But our
friends were determined that they should not escape thus easily, and
pursued them for nearly half a mile, killing one more and wounding
three others. Long afterward they learned that those who had thus
forfeited their lives were bandits from the mountains back of San
Isidro. They had joined the forces under General Aguinaldo, merely for
the booty to be picked up in the towns through which the rebel army
passed.

As soon as the contest had come to an end, Ben hurried back to where
he had left Gilbert. The wound from which the young Southerner was
suffering was painful, but not dangerous. Yet it was likely to put
Gilbert in the hospital for the best part of a month.

"It's too bad--I thought I could see the thing through to the end,"
said Gilbert, shaking his head dolefully.

"You'll have to take your dose as I did," answered Ben. "I am glad it
is not serious. Our regiment couldn't afford to lose such a brave
fellow as you."

"Brave? Didn't I hang back until you proposed to go out alone, Ben? If
anybody was brave, it was you," and then Gilbert turned his face away
to conceal the pain that was coming on.

The hospital corps was so busy that Gilbert could not be carried back
of the firing line for some time. Feeling that there would be no more
fighting that day, Ben decided to remain by his old chum, and
requested Sorrel to do likewise, leaving the others to accompany Major
Morris back to the command proper. In the meantime, a skirmish line
was stretched to the north of the cane-brake, that the insurgents
might not regain any of the lost territory.

It was frightfully hot, but scarcely had Major Morris left with his
party than a faint breeze sprang up which gradually increased to a
fair-sized wind. Making Gilbert as comfortable as possible under some
of the tallest of the cane, Ben and Sorrel sat down beside him to do
what they could to help him forget his pain.

The three had been sitting in the shade for the best part of half an
hour, and Sorrel was sharpening his knife on the side leather of his
shoe, when, glancing up, Ben noticed a peculiar cloud in the sky
overhead.

"That looks rather queer," he remarked. "Does that denote a
wind-storm, Sorrel?"

"It denotes something, that's sartin," responded the mountaineer,
surveying the cloud with care. "It's something I ain't seed out yere
yit," and he leaped to his feet.

The cloud was about as large as a barrel in appearance, and of a deep
black color. It seemed to be whirling around and around, and as it
came forward began to expand. Then it shot off to the southward, but
not out of sight.

"I'm glad it's gone," said Gilbert, who had roused up to watch the
strange thing. "I don't want to get caught in a western cyclone--and
that cloud looks like those I have heard described."

"The rainy season is coming on here, and I presume we are bound to
have more or less tornadoes," answered Ben. "They say that last year
they were something awful along the seacoast."

The cloud was circling around the southern horizon, but now it turned
once again and came slowly toward them. While it was yet quarter of a
mile away, it shot down to earth and a strange humming sound reached
their ears, followed by a whistling that caused each of them to
shiver.

"It's a whirlwind!" yelled Sorrel. "Come into yonder hollow, cap'n!"
and he caught hold of Gilbert and lifted him up. The hollow he
mentioned was less than fifty feet away, yet to reach it in time was
almost impossible, so swiftly did the tornado approach them. The air
became black as night and was filled with cane, grass, and branches of
trees. It struck the house in the clearing, and with a single mighty
crash the structure went up into the air, to fall with another crash a
hundred yards beyond.

Running with the tall Tennesseean, Ben pitched into the hollow just
as the first of the tornado hurled itself at them. Down came the
mountaineer, but taking good care that Gilbert should not be hurt by
his quick leap. Then all fell flat, with their faces to earth.

It was like some horrible nightmare to Ben,--the whistling wind and
the strange humming, the blackness, and the whirling cane and tree
limbs. In some places the ground was furrowed up as by a plough, and
down on their heads came dirt and grass, and then a shower of stalks
that buried them completely. And still the wind kept up, in a madder
gallop than ever. Ben felt as if every moment was going to be his
last.

The time was an age; yet by the watch it was not yet five minutes when
the tornado had departed, leaving its track of ruin behind. But still
the party of three under the cane-stalks lay still, wondering if it
was safe to get up.

"Do yer calkerlate it's over, cap'n?" came from Sorrel, after a
painful pause.

"It appears to be, but there is no telling what such a thing will do
next," answered the young captain, as he pressed on the stalks over
him, and got up. "Gilbert, are you hurt?"

"No," came with a gasp. "But, Ben, that was--was a terror, wasn't
it?"

"It was, Gilbert, and something I never want to witness again."

By this time Sorrel was also on his feet and hauling Gilbert into
daylight. The cloud was gone, and the sun shone as brightly as ever.
But at a great distance they saw the tornado sweeping up into the
mountains.

"We are well out of it," was Ben's comment, as they watched the cloud
until it was out of sight. "That played sad havoc here. I wonder what
it will do in the mountains?"

No one could answer that question, and no one tried. Ben would have
been very much surprised had anybody told him that the same tornado
which had visited him was also to visit his brother Larry. But so it
proved, as we shall speedily see.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE FLIGHT FOR LIBERTY


"Well, this is getting too monotonous for anything."

It was Larry who spoke, and he sat on the stump of a tree at the mouth
of a wide cave, gazing disconsolately at a fire which several
insurgents were trying to build.

The place was on the top of a high hill, backed up by still higher
mountains. On every hand were sharp rocks and trees, with a tangle of
thorns. Small wonder, then, that Aguinaldo and his cohorts considered
these fastnesses inaccessible for American troops. No regular body
could have gotten to such a place, and to forward supplies hither was
totally out of the question.

The rebels numbered fifteen, all mountaineers and strong. At General
Luna's request they had brought ten prisoners to the spot, and the
other prisoners were to come up some time later. Why the Filipinos
thus divided the men they had taken is not definitely known, yet
divided they were, until some escaped and others died or were given
up.

Since Larry had been captured he had passed through half a dozen
different hands. It must be said he had been treated fairly well,
better, perhaps, than many of my readers may suppose. To be sure, his
clothing was in rags and his shoes were almost minus their soles, but
in these respects he was no worse off than those who kept him captive.
Then, too, the food given him was very plain, but the rebels ate the
same, and to complain, therefore, would have been worse than useless.

Larry had missed Barton Brownell, for the pair had been fairly
friendly, as we know. With the transferal to new quarters the young
sailor had struck up an acquaintanceship with Dan Leroy, one of the
_Yorktown's_ men, also a prisoner. A number of the sailors from the
_Yorktown_--in fact, a boatload, had been captured, but Leroy had
become separated from his messmates at the very start.

"Yes, it is monotonous, lad," said Leroy, who was resting at Larry's
feet. "But, as I've said a hundred times afore, we can't help
ourselves, consequently, make the best on it. Ain't that sound
argyment, lad?"

"I reckon so, Leroy, but--but--"

"When ye git as old as I am you'll see things in a different light. We
can't complain o' the treatment here, lad."

"But I would like to know how the war is going, and if my brother
knows I am alive."

"Reckon the war is goin' agin the Tagals, or they wouldn't be
a-pushing back into the mountains like this."

"It's a wonder they don't try to exchange us."

At this Dan Leroy smiled grimly. "Might be as how they consider us too
vallyble," he suggested. He was a short, stout fellow, much given to
joking, and rarely out of good humor.

It was about the middle of the afternoon, and from a long distance
came the sounds of firing. But the booming came from big field-pieces,
so Larry knew it must be far away, and so it gave him small hope.

The rebels had just brought in some fresh meat, procured from the town
at the foot of the long hill, and they speedily proceeded to make a
beef stew with rice and yams. The smell was appetizing, and as nobody
had had a square meal that day, Larry brightened over the prospect.

The cave in the hillside was irregular in shape, running back to a
series of openings which nobody had ever yet explored. In this cave
the insurgents kept some of their supplies, brought up from San
Fernando, San Isidro, and other places. It was a fact that Aguinaldo
hardly knew where to "jump" next.

Before nightfall the dinner was ready, and the chief of the rebels had
the prisoners supplied with bowls of the stew. "Eat all of eet," he
said, with a grin. "For maybe no geet such t'ings to-morrow."

"Thanks, we'll fill up then," responded Larry, and set to with a will,
as did all the other prisoners.

The captives were unarmed, and though the rebels watched them, they
were allowed more or less of the freedom of the camp. Finishing his
bowl of stew, Larry leaned over to where Leroy sat.

"Leroy, if we can manage to get a kettle of that stew, I'll be for
trying to get away to-night," he whispered.

"And how are ye going to get it, lad?" asked the sailor.

"Wait and you will see," was the answer, and Larry arose and sauntered
over toward the fire.

"I spilt some of the stew on the ground," he said, which was true,
although the amount had not been large. "Can I have more?"

"Yes, take what you will," returned the insurgent chief, who felt in
good humor, through having obtained a leave of absence, to start on
the morning following. "And give some to your friends. We'll fill up
for once."

"Thank you," answered Larry, and hurried to the other prisoners with
the big pot from over the fire. The prisoners had a large tin kettle
for water, fitted with a cover so that bugs might be kept out, and
this he filled to the brim, and also gave the others all they wished.

"Going to eat all of that?" queried one of the men, with a short
laugh.

"Sometime--not now," answered Larry. Then he took the pot back to the
fire and carried his bowl and the kettle into the cave. At once Leroy
followed him.

"And now, what's this nonsense you're talkin' about running away?"
demanded the _Yorktown_ sailor, as soon as they were alone.

"I'm going to try my luck to-night, Leroy. If you don't want to go,
you can stay with the others."

"But how are you going? There's a guard around the foot of the hill,
and they will shoot you on sight."

"I'm not going to try the foot of the hill--at least, not this side of
it."

"Well, you can't get to the other, for that cliff over this cave is in
the way."

"I'm going to explore the caves back of this. They must lead to
somewhere."

The old sailor shook his head. "More'n likely they lead to the bowels
of the earth. You'll fall into some pitfall, and that will be the end
of you."

"I'll light a torch as soon as I am out of sight of this place, and
I'll be very careful where I step."

"This cave may be as big as the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. You'll get
lost in one of the chambers and never find your way out."

"I'll have to risk that. But I'm bound to try it--if they give me the
chance."

"You're foolish. Why, confound it, I've half of a mind to report the
scheme."

"Oh, Leroy, surely you won't do that."

"I mean just to save you from yourself, Larry."

"I don't intend to remain a prisoner until I am baldheaded, Leroy.
I'm going to try to escape--and that's the end of it."

"Will you take any of the others along?"

"If they want to go."

"There won't a soul go--and I know it," responded the stout sailor, in
positive tones.

When the other prisoners came in, he told them of Larry's plan. One
and all of them agreed it was foolhardy.

"I don't believe there is any opening," said one. "Or if there is,
it's so high up in the mountains that you'll never reach it."

"And what are you going to do for eating? That kettle of stew won't
last forever," said another.

So the talk ran on, but the more he was opposed, the more headstrong
did Larry become--and that, as old readers know, was very much like
him.

"I shall go, and good-bye to all of you," he said, in conclusion. And
then he shook hands with one after another, Leroy last of all. The
_Yorktown's_ man was trembling.

"I hate ter see ye do it, lad," he said. "It seems like going to
death, but--but--hang it, I'll go along, so there!"

"But you needn't if you don't wish to," protested the youth. "I am not
afraid to go alone."

"But I am a-going, and we'll sink or swim together, Larry. Who else
goes?"

Dan Leroy, looked from one face to the next. But not another prisoner
spoke, for each had taken a short walk to the rear caves and seen
quite enough of them. Then a guard came in, and the strange meeting
broke up immediately.

The prisoners lay down to rest, but not one of them could go to sleep.
All of the others were waiting for Larry and Leroy's departure. At
last, satisfied that all was right for the night, the guard went
outside, to join several of his companions around the camp-fire.

"Now, then," whispered Larry, and arose, to be followed immediately by
Dan Leroy. The kettle secured, they hurried for the rear of the outer
cave, without so much as looking at the others, who raised up to watch
their shadowy disappearance.

The flight for liberty had begun. Would it succeed or fail?



CHAPTER XXV

THE CAVES UNDER THE MOUNTAIN


For a distance of five hundred feet the way was known to both Larry
and his sailor friend, and the pair passed along swiftly, guided in
part by the flickering rays from the camp-fire outside of the main
cave.

"Have a care now, lad," whispered Leroy, as they reached a narrow
passage, which turned first to the left and then upward. "The roof is
low, and you don't want for to dash your brains out on the rocks."

"Never fear but I'll be as careful as I can," responded the youth,
feeling his way along. "Better keep close, Leroy, that we don't become
separated."

The turn made, it was no easy matter to ascend the sloping floor, with
here and there a rough bowlder to cross, or a hollow in which one
might fall and break a leg without half trying, as the _Yorktown_
sailor said. Presently Leroy called a halt.

"Better light the torch now, Larry."

"I was going to save it," was the reply. "There is no telling how long
we may have to depend upon it."

"That is true; but it's no longer safe to walk in this pitchy
darkness."

Leroy was provided with matches, used in smoking his pipe, which had
not been denied him, and striking one he set fire to an end of the dry
cedar branch which Larry had laid away over a week before, when the
thought of running away had first crossed his mind. At the start the
branch spluttered wofully and threatened to go out, but by coaxing it
remained lit, and presently burst into a flame that was sufficient to
see by for a circle of twenty or thirty feet.

On they plodded, up an incline that seemed to have no end, and then
around another turn. Here the chamber widened out, and beyond there
were branches, two to the left and one to the right.

[Illustration: On they plodded, up an incline that seemed to have no
end.--_Page 236._]

"This is as far as I've ever been," said the boy. "The passages beyond
seemed to lead downward for part of the way, and it's impossible to
judge which is the best to take. But I was of a mind to try that one
on the right."

"Well, I reckon as how the right ought to be right," laughed Leroy.
"If it ain't, all we can do is to come back to here an' try over
again, eh?"

"We haven't got time to waste in experimenting, Leroy. This is a
serious business. We are liable now to be shot on sight."

"An' nobody knows thet better nor Dan Leroy, your humble servant. An'
if you say try one o' the other passages, I'm jes' as willin'."

"No, we'll take that on the right," returned the youth, and started
onward without further delay.

The passage was a crooked one, not over ten feet wide in any one part,
and but little over the height of a man. At one place a great rock
blocked the way, and over this they went on their hands and knees.

"Kind o' a tight squeeze," remarked Leroy. "If that rock war a bit
bigger, we wouldn't be able to git over it at all."

"Hark!" cried Larry, coming to a halt. "What is that, somebody
calling?"

They listened, and from a distance ahead made out a low murmur of some
kind. "It's water running over the rocks," cried Leroy. "I hope it's
a river leading to the outer world."

"Oh, so do I!" ejaculated the boy, and both started onward eagerly.
Long before the fall of water was gained they found themselves
splashing in an underground stream up to their ankles. The waterfall
was underground, coming from the rocks overhead and running into the
stream, which, in turn, sank out of sight some distance further on.

"Nothing in that," muttered Leroy, his face falling.

Nevertheless, they stopped for a drink, for the tramp through the
caves had made them thirsty. The old sailor held the torch, while
Larry carried the kettle. It was well that the top of the kettle was
on tight, otherwise the contents would have been spilled long before
this.

Beyond the waterfall the cave opened out once more in fan shape, the
roof running upward to a high arch, from which hung stupendous
stalactites of white and brown. Here the water dripped down in the
form of a fine rain.

"We're in a shower, lad, even though we are underground," remarked
Leroy. "I must say I hope this don't last. If it does, we'll soon be
wet to the skin." The vaulted cave soon came to an end, however, and
now they found themselves in an opening cut up into a hundred
different chambers, like a coal mine supported by arches. Each looked
at the other in perplexity.

"We can easily miss the way here," said Larry, soberly. "We had better
lay out a course and stick to it."

"Right you are, lad." Leroy pointed with his hand. "This seems as good
a trail as any. Shall we follow it?"

"Yes." And forward it was again. Presently they came to another
chamber, and here the slope was again upward, much to their
satisfaction. "If we keep on going upward, we are bound to get out at
the top, sometime," was the way Larry calculated.

Climbing now became difficult, and in a number of places each had to
help the other along. Then came a wall twelve feet high, and here they
were compelled to halt.

"It looks as if we were blocked," remarked the _Yorktown_ sailor after
an examination.

"I'm not going to give up yet," answered the boy. "If we can't get up
any other way, we can build a stairs with those loose stones we just
passed."

"Hurrah! you've solved the difficulty!" exclaimed the old sailor, and
they set to work with a will. But rolling and lifting the stones into
place was no mean job, and when at last they were able to pull
themselves to the passageway above, both were utterly worn out and
glad enough to sit down. The rest lasted longer than either had
intended, for Leroy, who had not slept well the night before, dozed
off, and Larry was not of a heart to wake him up. So the boy went to
sleep too, and neither awakened until early morning.

"Hullo! what's this?" cried Leroy, the first to open his eyes. All was
so dark about him--Larry having extinguished the torch--that for the
minute he could not collect his senses. Putting out his hand he
touched the youth on the face, and Larry awoke instantly.

They were both hungry, and lighting the torch again, warmed up the
kettle of stew, and then ate about one-third of the stuff. "Touches
the spot," cried Leroy, smacking his lips. He could have eaten much
more, but knew it was best to be careful of their supply until the
outer world was gained.

Much refreshed by their sleep, but somewhat stiff from the dampness
and the unaccustomed work of the evening before, they proceed on their
way, still climbing upward and still in a darkness, that was only
partly dispelled by the feeble glare of the torch, which was now
growing alarmingly small.

"The light won't last more than a couple o' hours," said Leroy.
"Perhaps we had better split the stick in two." This was done, and
thus the feeble light was reduced one-half.

Would the caves never come to an end? Such was the question Larry
asked himself over and over again. Was it possible that they were to
journey so far only to find themselves trapped at last? The thought
made him shiver, and he pushed on faster than ever.

"Do you know what I think?" said Leroy, an hour later. "I think we are
moving around in a circle?"

"A circle?"

"Ay, lad. Don't you notice how the passageway keeps turning to the
right?"

Larry had noticed it. "But we are going upward," he said.

"True; but who knows but what we'll be going downward presently."

Still they kept on, but now Larry's heart began to fail him. They had
progressed so far, had made so many turns, that to get back would
probably be impossible. The caves were so vast one might wander about
in them forever--if one's food did not give out. Larry shivered again
and clutched the precious kettle of stew tighter than ever. He was
once more hungry, but resolved to wait until the pangs of hunger
increased before reducing the stock of food.

The passageway was now level for a considerable distance, with here
and there a rock to be climbed over or a crack to cross. Both had just
made a leap over an opening several feet wide when Leroy set up a
shout.

"What is it?" asked Larry, eagerly.

"Put the torch behind ye, lad, an' look ahead. Perhaps my eyes deceive
me," answered the old sailor.

Larry did as requested, and gave a searching look up the passageway.
No, there was no mistaking it--there was a faint glimmer of light
coming from what appeared to be a bend. He, too, gave a shout, and
both set off on a run.

As they sped onward the light became brighter and brighter, until the
torch was hardly needed. They were running side by side, each trying
to gain the outer air first.

"Look out!" suddenly yelled Leroy, and caught Larry by the arm. The
old sailor could hardly stop, and had to throw himself flat, dragging
the boy down on top of him.

A few feet beyond was an opening twelve to fifteen feet wide, running
from side to side of the passageway. The walls of the opening were
perpendicular, and the hole was so deep that when a stone was dropped
into it they could scarcely hear the thing strike bottom.

"Here's a how-d'ye-do!" cried Leroy, gazing into the pit. "We can't
jump across that, nohow!"

"A real good jumper might," answered Larry. "But I shouldn't want to
try it. The other side seems to slope down toward the hole. What's to
be done?"

Ah, that was the question. It looked as if their advance in that
direction was cut off completely.



CHAPTER XXVI

BOXER THE SCOUT


Much chagrined, man and boy stood on the brink of the chasm before
them and gazed at the other side. It was sloping, as Larry had said,
and wet, which was worse. A jump, even for a trained athlete, would
have been perilous in the extreme.

"Looks like we were stumped," remarked Leroy, laconically.

"And just as we were so near to yonder opening!" cried Larry, vexed
beyond endurance. "If we only had a plank, or something."

He looked around, but nothing was at hand but the bare stone walls,
with here and there a patch of dirt and a loose stone. He walked to
one end of the hole.

"A fellow might climb along yonder shelf if he were a cat," he said
dismally. "But I don't believe a human being could do it."

"No, and don't you go for to try it," put in the old sailor. "If you
do, you'll break your neck, sure as guns is guns."

"Well, we've got to do something, Leroy."

"So we have; an' I move we sit down an' eat a bite o' the stew. Maybe
eatin' will put some new ideas into our heads."

"I'd rather wait until we gain the open air."

"But we can't make it--yet--so be content, lad. It's something to know
thet the blue sky is beyond."

They sat down, and soon finished one-half of what remained of the mess
in the kettle. Never had anything tasted sweeter, and it was only by
the exercise of the greatest self-control that they kept back a
portion of the food.

"Perhaps we'll have to go back, remember that," said Leroy, as he put
the cover on the kettle once more.

"Go back? No, no, Leroy! I'll try jumping over first."

"I don't think I shall. Thet hole-- What's that?"

A sound had reached the old sailor's ears, coming from some distance
ahead. It was the sound of footsteps approaching.

"Somebody is coming!" whispered Larry, and crouched down. Then a man
put in an appearance, coming from the opposite end of the passageway.
He was an American soldier, hatless and almost in tatters.

"Hullo there!" cried Larry, leaping up. "Oh, but I'm glad you came!"

At the cry the soldier stopped short in amazement. Larry's words
echoed and reëchoed throughout the passage. He looked toward the pair
at the chasm, but could make out little saving the torch which Leroy
was holding.

"Who calls?" he asked at last.

"I called," answered the boy. "Can't you see us? We are two lost
sailors, and we can't get over this beastly hole. Come this way, but
be careful of where you step."

"You must be Americans by your voices. Am I right?"

"Yes; and you are an American, too," said Larry, as the soldier came
closer. Soon he stood facing them, with a look of wonder on his
bronzed features.

"How did you get here?" he demanded.

"It's a long story," answered Leroy. "We escaped from some rebels at
the other end of this cave, and we've been wandering around since
last night. Are you alone, or are our forces outside of this hole?"

"General Lawton's troops are a good many miles from here," answered
the soldier. "I am one of his scouts, and I became separated from our
command and got up here to escape being hunted down by the crowd of
Filipinos that was after me. They are in the woods just outside of
this hole."

"Then you are all alone?" said Larry, his face falling a little.

"Yes, although I think a couple of our men must be in this vicinity.
We are pressing the rebels pretty hard, you know."

The scout's name was George Boxer, and he was one of the best marksmen
in Chief Young's command. He listened to their story with interest,
and at once agreed to do what he could for them. They noted with
satisfaction that he was provided with both a rifle and a pistol, and
also a belt well filled with ammunition.

It was an easy matter for Boxer to make his way into the open air and
find a fallen tree limb of sufficient thickness to throw over the
chasm as a make-shift bridge. As soon as the limb was secure, Larry
and Leroy came over, and then the party of three made their way to the
mouth of the cave.

It was a welcome sight to see the sky again and the sunshine, and
Larry's eyes sparkled as he gazed down the mountain-side and at the
vast panorama spread out before him. At their feet was a heavy jungle,
and beyond a plain and a small hill, where a large body of insurgents
were encamping.

"It's good to be in the fresh air again, eh, lad?" observed Leroy.
"But I'm afraid we'll have a good bit o' trouble gettin' past them
rebels," he added to George Boxer.

"We can't get past them in the daytime," answered the scout; "but I
think we can make it after the sun goes down. And it will take us till
sundown to get to the bottom of this mountain, if I am not mistaken."

Now they were in the open, it was decided to discard the kettle; and
the three ate up what remained of the stew, along with the single
ration which Boxer carried. Then they began the descent of the
mountain-side, slipping over rocks and dirt as best they could, and
finding their way around many an ugly pitfall.

"I suppose you think it's queer I came up so far," said Boxer, as they
hurried downward. "The truth is I was so closely pursued I didn't
realize how far I was going. Those rebels can climb the mountains like
so many wildcats. I'm afraid we'll never clean them out if they take a
stand up here."

It was hot, and now Leroy gazed from time to time at the sky. "A storm
or something is coming," he said.

"Yes, something is coming," added Boxer. "I can tell it by the way the
birds are flying about. They seem to be troubled."

"I see a cloud away off to the southward," put in Larry. "It's not
large, but it's mighty black."

No more was said just then upon the subject; and they continued their
journey down the mountain-side until they came to a fair-sized stream,
where they quenched their thirst and took a wash. They were about to
go on again when Boxer held up his hand as a warning.

"Great gophers, boys, we are running right into a nest of the
rebels!" he whispered. "Back with you, before it is too late."

They looked ahead and saw that the scout was right. They started to go
back; and as they turned, a Mauser rang out and a bullet clipped the
bushes beside them.

"Discovered!" came from Leroy's lips. "Larry, I'm afraid the jig is
up. Those Filipi--"

Crack! It was Boxer's rifle that rang out, and as the scout was a
sharpshooter, it may be taken for granted that he brought down his
man. Then the three set off on a run along the side of the mountain to
where a slight rise of ground promised better hiding.

"We can't do much against such a crowd," said the scout. "But in a
good spot we can hold out awhile, provided one of you can use my
pistol."

"I can fire tolerably straight," answered Leroy, and took the weapon.
Soon the rise was gained, and they plunged in behind a tangle of
pines. The Filipinos were following them, although taking good care
not to expose themselves needlessly to the fire of such a crack
marksman as Boxer had proved himself to be.

From behind the tangle of growth, the three Americans watched the
skilful advance of the enemy with dismay. "They are trying to surround
us!" whispered Boxer. Then like a flash his rifle went up. The report
was followed by a yell of pain, and a Filipino fell into view from
behind a tree less than fifty yards distant. The poor fellow was hit
in the side, but managed to crawl back into cover again, groaning
dismally.

Leroy also fired, a second later, aiming at a tall Tagal who was
crossing a clearing to their left. If he hit his mark, the rebel gave
no sign, but the man disappeared in a great hurry. Then came a
crashing through the bushes below and to the left, proving that the
Filipinos were massing in those directions.

"Perhaps we had better try to crawl away from this--" began Larry,
when a humming sound caught his ear. At the same time the sky grew
black.

"Look! look!" yelled Leroy. "What is this--the end of the world?"

All looked up. The humming had increased to a whistle, and now came a
crashing of trees and brush mingled with the wild cries of the
Filipinos as they rushed away toward a near-by mountain stream. They
knew what was coming, even if our friends did not.

And then the tornado was almost upon them. I say almost, for, thanks
to an all-ruling Providence, it did not strike them fairly, but rushed
to one side, where the Filipinos had been gathering. The light of day
seemed to die out utterly, and the air was filled with flying débris
and screaming birds and wild animals made homeless on the instant. The
very earth seemed to quake with the violence of the trees uprooted,
and branches and dirt flew all over the Americans, until they were
buried as completely as Ben and his companions had been. Larry thought
it was indeed the end of the world, and breathed a silent prayer that
God might watch over him and those he loved.

At last the rushing wind ceased, and the crashing was lost in the
distance. But the birds kept up their wild cries, and for several
seconds neither Larry nor those with him moved, wondering if that was
the end of the tornado, or if worse was to follow. But it was the end,
and gradually they came forth one after another, to gaze on the mighty
wreckage about them. It was Leroy who raised his hand solemnly to
heaven.

"I thank God that we have been spared," he said, and Larry and the
scout uttered an amen.

Whether or not to leave the vicinity was a question. At last, seeing
no more of the enemy, they plucked up courage enough to move down the
mountain-side once more. But the tornado had made the passage more
difficult than ever, and several times they had to turn back.
Nightfall found them still some distance from the plain, with yet
another jungle to pass before the open would be gained.

"We might as well make a night of it here," said Boxer, and footsore
and weary Larry and Leroy agreed with him. It was not long before all
dropped asleep, too tired to stand guard, and hardly deeming that one
was necessary.

The tornado had killed numerous birds and small animals, and it was
easy to pick up a plentiful breakfast.

"I don't know about making a fire," said Leroy. "Those rebels may spot
us before we are aware."

Yet they were too hungry to go without eating, and in the end they
built a fire of the driest wood they could find, and while Boxer
cooked the birds, Larry and the old sailor scattered the smoke with
their jackets, so that it might not go up in a cloud, and also kept
their eyes open for the possible appearance of the rebels. But the
tornado had scared the insurgents as much as it had anybody, and not
one showed himself.

By eight o'clock they were once more on the way, Boxer leading with
his gun ready for use, Larry in the centre, and Leroy bringing up the
rear with the pistol.

They were just entering the jungle at the foot of the mountain when a
strange moaning reached their ears and all halted. There was a
silence, and then the moaning started up again.

"What is that?" questioned Larry. "It can't be a human being."

"I think I know what it is," returned the scout. "Wait here till I
make sure," and he glided ahead and was soon lost to sight under a
clump of tall trees which grew in somewhat of a clearing. Soon they
heard him shouting for them to come on.

It was a water buffalo that was moaning. The beast had become caught
under a partly fallen tree and could not release itself. It was a
handsome animal and weighed a good many hundred pounds.

"Here's meat and to spare!" cried Boxer, and drawing forth a hunting
knife, he put the caribao out of his misery in short order. "This is
some more work of that tornado," he went on, as he proceeded to cut
out a choice steak. "We won't starve for the next forty-eight hours."

"I hope by that time we'll have reached the army," answered Larry, and
took the portion of meat handed to him. It was not a dainty thing to
carry, but he had to shoulder it, since Boxer and Leroy were carrying
the weapons.

As they proceeded, the jungle appeared to become more dense, until it
was next to impossible to make any progress. Yet they felt that each
step was bringing them closer to the open plain and to a point where
few natives were likely to be congregated. "If we once get down to the
bottom, we'll be all right," said Boxer.

But the scout had not reckoned on the fact that there was a hollow at
the base of the mountain, and that the heavy rains had filled this
full to overflowing. It was Larry who first called attention to the
fact that the ground was growing damp. Then of a sudden the whole
party stepped into the water up to their ankles.

Here was a new dilemma to face, and each looked at the others in
anything but a happy mood. "Beats everything what luck we're having!"
cried Leroy, in deep disgust. "I'd give a year's pay to be safe on
board the _Yorktown_ agin, keelhaul me if I wouldn't!"

"I suppose the best thing we can do is to march around the swamp-hole,"
replied Larry. "What do you say, Boxer?"

"Let us try it a bit further," replied the scout, and they moved
forward with care. At first the ground appeared to grow better, but
then they went down again halfway to their knees and in a muck that
stuck to them like glue.

"It's no use, we'll have to go back," groaned Leroy, and turned about.
Silently the others followed him, wondering where the adventure would
end.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE DEPARTURE OF THE _OLYMPIA_


The advances of both General MacArthur and General Lawton had been so
far nothing but a series of successes, and so hard were the insurgents
pressed, that they scarcely knew what to do next. Again they sued for
peace, but as the Americans were not inclined to grant them anything
until they had surrendered unconditionally, the war went on, but in
more of a guerilla-fight fashion than ever.

Near San Fernando the rebels continued to tear up the railroad tracks,
and likewise attacked a train of supplies, killing and wounding
several who were on board. They also attacked several gunboats coming
up the San Fernando River, keeping themselves safely hidden, in the
meantime, behind high embankments thrown up along the stream. While
this was going on General Aguinaldo called a council of war, at San
Isidro, at which fifty-six of his main followers were present. By a
vote it was found that twenty were for peace, twenty for war, and
sixteen wished to negotiate with the United States for better terms.
This gathering gave rise to a rumor that the war would terminate
inside of forty-eight hours. Alas! it was still to drag on for many
months to come.

The day after the tornado found Ben safe in camp again, with Gilbert
in the hospital receiving every attention. It was Sunday, and a day of
rest for the majority of the troops. At a small tent a short service
was held, and Ben walked over, to hear a very good sermon on man's
duty toward God under any and all circumstances. The sermon was
followed by the singing of several hymns, and the soldiers remained at
the spot for an hour or more afterward, talking over the general
situation.

"It always takes me back home to hear the preachin'," remarked Ralph
Sorrel. "I'm mighty glad we have it. It shows we ain't no heathens,
even though we air livin' a kind o' hit-an'-miss life a-followin' up
these yere rebs."

On Monday the scouts went out to the front, and a small brush was
had with a number of the insurgents in the vicinity of San Miguel
de Mayumo. They reported that the Filipinos had a number of
intrenchments placed across the roads, but seemed to be retreating
toward San Isidro.

"If Aguinaldo makes a stand anywhere, it will be at San Isidro," said
Ben to Major Morris, as the two discussed the situation. "Oh, but I do
wish we could have one big battle and finish this campaign!"

"How about the big battle going against us?" demanded the major, but
with a twinkle in his eye.

"It would never go against us," answered the young captain, promptly,
"and the insurgents know it. That is why they keep their distance."

The scouts had brought in a dozen or more prisoners, and among them
were a Filipino and a Spaniard, both of whom could speak English quite
fluently. As soon as he could obtain permission, Ben hurried over to
have a talk with the prisoners.

He found that the Filipino had belonged to those having some of the
American prisoners in charge.

"And do you know anything of my brother?" he asked eagerly. "He is a
young sailor from the _Olympia_, and his name is Larry Russell."

"Yes, yes, I know him," answered the Filipino, nodding his head. "He
was at the cave where they have kept some of the prisoners for a long
time." And he described Larry so minutely that Ben felt there could
be no mistake about the matter.

"Is my brother well? How do they treat him? Please tell me the
truth."

"You may not believe it, but we treat our prisoners good," said the
Filipino. "And when I saw your brother last he was very well."

"And where is this prison cave?"

At this the insurgent shrugged his shoulder. "Now, _capitan_, you are
asking me too much. I am pleased to tell you that your brother is
safe. More than that I cannot tell, for it would not be right."

This was not encouraging, yet Ben could not help but admire the
prisoner's loyalty to his cause. "Very well," he said. "I am thankful
to know that my brother is well. I was afraid that prison life might
make him sick."

A little later the young captain got the chance to talk to the Spanish
prisoner, who was making an application for his release, claiming that
he was friendly to the United States and had never encouraged the
rebels. Seldom had the young captain met more of a gentleman than
Señor Romano proved to be.

"Ah, the war is terrible! terrible!" said the señor, after Ben had
introduced himself. "It is bloodshed, bloodshed, all the time. Where
it will end, Heaven alone knows--but I am afraid the Filipinos will be
beaten far worse than was my own country."

"I think you are right there," replied Ben. "But we can't do anything
for them now until they lay down their arms."

"The war has ruined hundreds of planters and merchants,--whole
fortunes have been swept away,--and the insurgents have levied taxes
which are beyond endurance. To some, Aguinaldo is their idol, but to
me he is a base schemer who wants everything, and only for his own
glory. But he cannot hold out much longer,--you are pressing him into
the very mountains,--and once away from the civilization of the towns,
his followers will become nothing but _banditti_--mark me if it is not
so."

"You are a resident of Luzon?" went on Ben.

"Hardly. I belong in Spain--but I have lived here for several years."

"Do you know one Benedicto Lupez, or his brother José."

At this question the brow of Señor Romano darkened.

"Do I know them? Ah, yes, I know them only too well. They are rascals,
villains, cheats of the worst order. I trust they are not your
friends."

"Hardly, although I should like first-rate to meet them, and
especially to meet Benedicto."

"And for what? Excuse my curiosity, but what can an American captain
and gentleman like you have in common with Benedicto Lupez?"

"I want to get hold of some bank money that he carried off," answered
the young captain, and told the story of the missing funds and the
part the Spaniard was supposed to have played in their disappearance.

"It is like Lupez," answered Señor Romano. "He is wanted in Cuba for
having swindled a rich aunt out of a small fortune; and in Manila you
will find a hundred people who will tell you that both brothers are
rascals to the last degree, although, so far, they have kept out of
the clutches of the law--through bribery, I think."

"Not during General Otis's term of office?"

"No; before the city fell into your hands. The government was very
corrupt and winked at Lupez's doings so long as he divided with
certain officials."

"And what did he work at?"

"Land schemes and loan companies. He once got me interested in a land
scheme, and his rascality cost me many dollars, and I came pretty near
to going to prison in the bargain." Señor Romano paused a moment. "If
your troops take San Isidro, you will have a good chance to catch both
of the brothers."

"What! do you mean to say they are at San Isidro?" exclaimed the young
captain.

"They are, or, at least, they were two or three days ago. How long
they will stay there, I cannot say. They were at the council of war
held by Aguinaldo's followers."

"I see." Ben mused for a moment. "Of course you do not know if they
had the stolen money with them?"

"They appeared to have some money, for both were offered positions in
the army, and that would not have happened had not they had funds to
buy the offices with. They appeared to be very thick with a general
named Porlar,--a tricky fellow of French-Malay blood. I believe the
three had some scheme they wished to put through."

"Well, I'd like to catch the pair. I wonder if Aguinaldo would keep
them around him, if he knew their real characters?"

At this Señor Romano laughed outright. "You do not know how bad are
some of the men around the arch rebel, _capitan_. He has some bad
advisers, I can tell you that. To some of the worst of the crowd,
Aguinaldo is but a figurehead."

The pair discussed the matter for half an hour; and during that time
Ben became convinced that Señor Romano had small sympathy for the
insurgents, and was certainly not of their number.

"I will do what I can for you, señor," he said, on parting. "I do not
believe you will be kept a prisoner long." And the young captain was
right on this score; the Spanish gentleman was released inside of
forty-eight hours, and journeyed to Manila in company with a
detachment bound for the capital of Luzon.

The two talks made Ben do a good deal of sober thinking. He now knew
to a certainty that Larry was alive and well, and he knew also that
Benedicto Lupez was at or near San Isidro, and more than likely had
the stolen money on his person. "I wish we could push ahead without
delay," he muttered. "I might make a splendid strike all around. I
know Larry is just aching to be at liberty once more."

But supplies were again slow in coming to the front, and General
Lawton did not feel like risking his men when the Filipinos might
surrender at any moment. So a delay of several days occurred, with
only a little skirmish here and there to break the monotony.

"Hullo, here's news!" cried Major Morris, as he rushed up to Ben's
quarters one morning. "Dewey is going to sail for the United States."

"With the _Olympia_?" queried the young captain.

"Yes. The warship leaves next Saturday, with all on board. Won't he
get a rousing reception when he arrives home?"

"Larry won't be with him," said Ben.

"By Jove, captain, that's so. It's too bad, isn't it? I suppose he
would like to go, too."

"I can't say as to that. Perhaps he would just as lief stay here and
join some command on land, or some other ship, especially if he knew
that my brother Walter was coming on. But I am sure he would like to
see his old messmates off," concluded Ben.

Admiral Dewey started for the United States at four o'clock in the
afternoon of Saturday, May 20. The departure proved a gala time, the
harbor and shipping being decorated, and the other warships firing a
salute. The bands played "Auld Lang Syne," "Home, Sweet Home," and
"America," and the jackies crowded the tops to get a last look at the
noble flagship as she slipped down the bay toward the China Sea, with
the admiral standing on the bridge, hat in hand, and waving them a
final adieu. In all the time he had been at Manila, Admiral Dewey had
served his country well, and his home-coming was indeed to be one of
grand triumph.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE ADVANCE UPON SAN ISIDRO


"Why, Luke Striker, is it possible! I thought you had sailed for the
United States on the _Olympia_."

"Well, ye hadn't no right to think that, captain," responded the old
gunner, as he shook hands warmly. "It might be that the others could
go away and leave Larry behind, but he's too much my boy for me to do
that--yes, sirree. When I hears as we were to set sail for the States,
I goes up to the admiral himself, an' says I: 'Admiral,' says I, 'do
you remember how Larry Russell an' yer humble servant comes on board
of the _Olympia_?' says I. 'Yes,' says he. 'I remember it well,' says
he. 'Well,' says I, 'Larry is ashore, a prisoner of the enemy,' says
I. 'I don't want to go for to leave him, nohow. Can't you leave me
behind,' says I. And he laughs and asks me all about Larry, and
finally says I can go ashore and report to Rear Admiral Watson--who
is comin' on--sometime later. And here I am, come to the front, to
find Larry, ef sech a thing is possible."

The old sailor's honest speech went straight to Ben's heart, and he
saw very plainly how deep was Luke's affection for his younger
brother. "You're a messmate worth having, Luke!" he exclaimed. "I
don't wonder Larry thought so much of you."

"Avast, I'm only a common sea-dog at the best, captain,--an ef I
remained behind to cast around fer the lad, ye mustn't think thet Jack
Biddle an' the others have forgotten Larry, fer they ain't, not by a
jugful. Every man jack o' them is his friend, an' was, almost from the
start."

Luke had come up to the camp by way of Malolos, accompanying a
pack-train of caribao carts carrying rations and army equipments. He
had left the _Olympia_ several days before, and had not waited to
witness the departure of the flagship.

As Luke wished to remain with Ben, the latter lost no time in
presenting the matter to Colonel Darcy and to Major Morris, and Luke
was taken into the regiment camp as a cook, for he had once been a
cook on a merchantman, years before. The position was largely an
honorary one, and the sailor was permitted to leave his pots and
kettles whenever he pleased.

"It's good news," he said, when the young captain had told him what
the prisoners had said about Larry and Benedicto Lupez. "I've an idee
we'll get to Larry soon, an' down thet tarnal Spaniard in the
bargain."

The conversation took place on Tuesday. On Wednesday orders came to
strike camp, and the march of the regiment was taken toward San Isidro
by way of Baluarte, a small village seven miles to the southeast of
the new rebel capital. In the meantime, although the Americans were
not aware of it, Aguinaldo was preparing to decamp, with his so-called
congress, into the mountain fastnesses, still further northward.

"We are in for another fight," said Major Morris, as he came to Ben
that afternoon. "And I've an idea it is going to be something to the
finish."

"That means, then, that we are bound for San Isidro!" cried the young
captain. "Hurrah! that's the best news I've heard in a week."

The regiment was soon on the road, spread out in proper battalion
form. The day was close, and it looked as if a thunderstorm was at
hand. The growth along the road was thick, and at certain points the
overhanging branches had to be cut off that the troops might pass. The
trail was bad, and often a gun, or wagon, had to stop so that a hole
might be bridged over with bamboo poles. Here and there they passed a
nipa hut, but these places were deserted, excepting in rare instances,
where an aged native would stand at the door, holding up a white rag
as a signal of surrender, or to show that he was an _amigo_, or
friend.

"It's pitiable," said Ben to Major Morris, as they trudged along side
by side. "I reckon some of these ignorant creatures have an idea that
we have come to annihilate them."

"You can be sure that Aguinaldo and his followers have taught them
something like that," replied the major. "Otherwise, they wouldn't
look so terrified."

At one point in the road, they came to a tumble-down hut, at the
doorway of which rested a woman and her three small children, all
watching the soldiers with eyes full of terror. Going up to the
woman, Ben spoke kindly to her, but she immediately fled into the
dilapidated structure, dragging her trio of offspring after her.

"You can't make friends that way," cried Major Morris. "They won't
trust you. I've tried it more than once."

There was now a hill to climb, thick with tropical trees and brush.
The regiment had scarcely covered a hundred feet of the ascent, when
there came a volley of shots from a ridge beyond, which wounded two
soldiers in the front rank.

"The rebels are in sight!" was the cry. "Come on, boys, let us drive
'em back! On to San Isidro!" And away went one battalion after
another, fatigued by a two miles' tramp, but eager to engage once more
in the fray. It was found that the insurgents had the ridge well
fortified, and General Lawton at once spread out his troops in a
semicircle, in the hope of surrounding the ridge and cutting off the
defenders from the main body of Aguinaldo's army.

Ben's regiment was coming, "head on," for the top of the ridge. The
way was over ground much broken by tree-stumps, rocks, and entangling
vines, that brought many a soldier flat.

"Sure, an' it's a rigular fish-net!" spluttered Dan Casey, as he tried
in vain to rise, with vines ensnaring both arms and legs. "I don't
know but phwat a fellow wants a wire-cutter here, just as they had 'em
in Cuby to cut the wire finces wid."

"Nefer mind, so long as we got by der dop of dot hill," answered Carl
Stummer, as he hauled his mate out of the entanglement. "Be dankful
dot you ain't parefooted by dem dorns." And on went both once more.
There was many a slip and a tumble, but very little grumbling.

"Down!" The cry came from the front, and down went Ben's company into
a little hollow, for the rebels had them in plain view now, and the
two lines were less than three hundred yards apart. A volley from the
insurgents followed, but nobody was struck.

"Forward twenty-five yards!" cried Ben, and up went the company for
another dash. It was a soul-trying moment, and none felt it more than
the young commander, who ran on ahead to inspire his men. He knew that
at any instant a bullet might hit him to lay him low forever. But his
"baptism of fire" had been complete, and he did not flinch.

"Hot work, this!" The words came from Gilmore as he came up the hill
close to Ben. "It's going to be no picnic taking that ridge."

"True, Gilmore; but it's got to be done," answered the young
commander. "Down!" he shouted, and again the company fell flat. Then
began a firing at will, which lasted the best part of ten minutes. The
insurgents, likewise, fired, and a corporal and a private were wounded
and had to be carried to the rear.

Looking around, Ben espied Luke Striker in the ranks of Company D. The
old sailor had provided himself with a rifle and an ammunition belt,
and was popping away at a lively rate.

"I couldn't help it," said Luke, when the young captain came up to
him. "It's the best fun I've had sence thet air muss in Manila Bay,
when we blowed old Montojo out o' the water, off Cavite. Say, but
we'll git to the top o' the hill afore long, jes' see ef we don't!"
And Luke blazed away again, and so Ben left him.

The rest of the battalion was now closing in, and soon another
advance was made, until the first line of the American troops was
less than a hundred and fifty yards away from the insurgents' outer
intrenchments. Then a yell came from a jungle on the left.

"What's that? more rebels?" cried Ben, and listened.

"No, no, the Filipinos are retreating!" came from a score of throats.
"See, they are scattering like sheep! Up the hill, fellows; the fight
is ours!" And a regular stampede occurred, each command trying to get
to the top of the ridge first. The rebels were indeed retreating into
a thicket behind the ridge. They went less than half a mile, however,
and then made another stand, this time on the upper side of a mountain
stream,--the very stream at which Larry and his companions had stopped
after the escape from the caves under the mountain.

To ford the stream would have been an easy matter under ordinary
circumstances, but with the rebels guarding the upper bank, it was
extremely hazardous, and the regiment came to a halt on the edge of
the brush overhanging the water.

"They are straight ahead, boys," said Major Morris, after his scouts
had reported to him. "We will make a detour to the right. Forward, and
on the double-quick!"

Every soldier felt that delay would mean a serious loss, and a rapid
rush was made through the jungle to a point where the stream became
rocky and winding. Here an excellent ford was found, and they went
over in column of fours. They could now enfilade the rebels' position,
and this they did so disastrously that the Filipinos speedily threw
down a large part of their arms and fled helter-skelter into the
mountain fastnesses still further to the northward.

The battle over, the battalion came to rest under the shade of the
trees lining the stream, many of the soldiers throwing themselves down
in a state bordering upon exhaustion, for the humidity in the air told
upon them greatly. There was not a breath of a breeze, and the water
hardly quenched the thirst that raged within them. As Major Morris
declared, 'It was the primest place to catch a fever in' he had ever
seen.

Ben was sitting at the foot of a tall tree talking to Gilmore, when he
saw the advance guards bringing in two Americans, one evidently a
sailor. At once he sprang to meet the sailor, thinking the man might
know something about Larry.

The two men proved to be Dan Leroy and Boxer, the scout, and when he
mentioned his brother's name to them, both were of course astonished.

"Do we know him!" cried Leroy. "Sure and didn't he and I run away
together from the rebels, and Boxer, here, helping us to get out of
the prison caves. Yes, yes, I know Larry well." And then Leroy told of
the escape from the caves, and of how all three of the party had
become lost in the swamp lands.

"We were in the swamps two days, and thought we would never get out,"
he continued. "Luckily, we had some caribao meat with us; otherwise we
should have starved to death. The swamps were full of mosquitoes and
lizards and lots of other things, and we were almost eaten up alive,
eh, Boxer?"

"So we were," replied the scout.

"But what of my brother?" asked Ben, impatiently.

At this the faces of both of the men fell.

"We can't say what became o' him," said the sailor from the
_Yorktown_. "You see, after we got out of the swamp, we determined to
stick to the high ground until we found a regular trail leading to
the south. Well, our walk took us up to a high cliff overlooking a
gorge filled with trees and bushes. We were walking ahead, with Larry
at our heels, as we thought, when Boxer chanced to look around, and
the boy was gone."

"Gone!" gasped Ben, in horror.

"Yes, gone! We couldn't understand it, and called to him, but he
didn't answer. Then we went back about quarter of a mile, past the
spot where we had seen him last, and fired the pistol as a signal. But
he had disappeared totally, and we couldn't find hide nor hair o' him,
try our level best."

The confession was a sickening one, and for several minutes Ben could
not trust himself to speak.

"And--and what do you think became of my brother?" he asked, at
length.

Both men shrugged their shoulders. "I'm afraid he fell over the
cliff," said Boxer. "You see, the footpath was narrow and mighty
slippery in spots."

At once Ben's mind went back to that scene in far-away Cuba, when
Gerald Holgait had fallen over a cliff. Had a similar fate overtaken
his brother? and if so, was he still alive or had he been dashed to
his death?

"How far is that spot from here?" he demanded abruptly.

"Not over a mile, cap'n," answered Boxer.

"I see you are a scout. Can you take me to the place?"

"Certainly--but--but--it's mighty risky, cap'n--so many rebs lurking
about."

"Never mind--I must find Larry, alive or dead. Take me to him, and
I'll pay you well for your services."

"I ain't asking a cent, cap'n--that ain't my style."

"Then you will take me?"

"I will," said Boxer, promptly. "Only I'll have to report first and
get official permission."

"Major Morris will arrange that for you, I feel certain," answered
Ben, turning to the major, who sat near, drinking in the conversation.

"Yes, I'll arrange that," said the major. "But I don't see how I am
going to do without you, captain."

"Would you keep me from looking for my brother?"

"No, no, go ahead, and Gilmore can take the company."

So it was arranged; and inside of quarter of an hour Ben and Boxer
were ready to depart.

"Captain, can't I go with ye?" It was Luke Striker who asked the
question. The anxious look on his face spoke more eloquently than
words, and Ben consented without argument.

And so the three set off on the search for Larry, little dreaming of
the strange happenings in store for them.



CHAPTER XXIX

LARRY IS SENTENCED TO BE SHOT


To go back to Larry, at the time mentioned by Dan Leroy, when the boy
had been following the old sailor and the scout along the cliff
overlooking the valley in which both the Filipino and the American
troops were encamped.

The adventures in the swamp had been exceedingly tiring, and the youth
could scarcely drag one foot after the other, as the party of three
hurried along over rocks and through thickets which at certain points
seemed almost impassible.

"O dear! I'll be glad when this day's tramp comes to an end," he
thought. "I wonder how far the American camp is from here?"

He tried to look across the valley, but there was a bluish vapor
hanging over trees and brush which shut off a larger portion of the
view. The party had been walking over a trail which now brought them
directly to the edge of the cliff. Here the footpath was scarcely two
feet wide, and was backed up by high rocks and thorn bushes, around
which it was difficult to climb without injury.

The men were as tired as the boy, and it must be confessed that for a
half hour or more they paid little attention to Larry. Gradually the
youth lagged behind, until those ahead were lost to view around a
sharp turn of the cliff.

And it was then that an accident happened which put Larry in great
peril all in an instant. In trying to make the turn, the boy got hold
of a slender tree by which to support himself. Leroy and Boxer had
grasped the same tree, and their swinging around had loosened its
frail hold on the rocks, and as Larry grasped it, down went the
sapling over the edge of the cliff, carrying the youth with it.

[Illustration: Down went the sapling over the edge of the cliff.--_Page
281._]

The boy had no time to cry out, and he clung fast, not knowing what
else to do, until the tree landed with a mighty crash on the top of
another tree at the foot of the cliff. The sudden stoppage caused
Larry to loose his hold, and he bumped from limb to limb in the tree
below until he struck the ground with a dull thud; and then for the
time being he knew no more.

When the boy came to his senses, he found it was night and pitch dark
under the thick tree, through the branches of which he had fallen. He
rested on a bed of soft moss, and this cushionlike substance had most
likely saved him from fatal injury.

His first feeling was one of bewilderment, his next that his left foot
felt as if it was on fire, with a shooting pain that ran well up to
his knee. Catching hold of the foot, he felt that the ankle was much
swollen, and that his shoe-top was ready to burst with the pressure.
Scarcely realizing what he was doing, he loosened the shoe, at which
part of the pain left him.

"I suppose I ought to be thankful that I wasn't killed," he thought,
rather dismally. "I wonder where Leroy and that scout are? I don't
suppose it will do any good to call for them. The top of that cliff
must be a hundred feet from here."

The fall had almost finished what was left of Larry's already ragged
suit, and he found himself scratched in a dozen places, with a bad cut
over one eye and several splinters in his left hand. Feeling in his
pocket, he found several matches which Leroy had given him on leaving
the prison cave, and he lit one of these and set fire to a few dried
leaves which happened to be ready to hand.

The light afforded a little consolation, and by its rays the boy made
out a pool of water not far off, and to this he dragged himself, to
get a drink and then bathe the ankle. This member of his body had been
so badly wrenched that standing upon it was out of the question, as he
speedily discovered by a trial which made him scream with pain.

"I'm in for it now," he thought. "With such an ankle as this, I can't
go on, and what am I to do here, alone in the woods and with
absolutely nothing to eat? I'd be better off in a Filipino prison."

Slowly the night wore along, until a faint light in the east announced
the coming of day. During the darkness the jungle had been almost
silent, but now the birds began to tune up, and here and there Larry
heard the movements of small animals, although none of the latter
showed themselves.

It was more pleasant under the big tree than down by the pool, and
as daylight came on, Larry dragged himself back to his first
resting-place. As he came up to the tree he saw a broken branch
resting there and on it a bird's nest containing half a dozen speckled
eggs.

"Here's a little luck, anyway," he murmured, and taking some of the
tree limbs, he made a fire and cooked the eggs in the hot ashes. When
they were done, he broke off the shells and ate the eggs, and although
the flavor was by no means to be prized, yet they did much toward
relieving the hunger he had felt before taking the fall over the
cliff.

The day that followed was one which Larry says he will never forget,
and for good reason. Neither human being nor beast came near him, and
even the birds flying overhead seemed to give him a wide berth. Time
and again he cried out, but the only answer that came back was the
echo from the cliff, repeating his own words as if in mockery.
Occasionally he heard firing at a great distance, but toward nightfall
even this died out. He could scarcely move from his resting-place, and
it was not until darkness came on that the pain in his ankle subsided
sufficiently to allow of his sleeping in comfort.

The long sleep did the boy a world of good, and when he awakened he
found the swelling in his ankle gone down, along with much of the
pain, and on getting up he found that he could walk, but it must be
slowly and with care. He was again hungry, and his first effort was
to supply himself with something to eat.

To bring down even a small animal was out of the question, but he
thought he might possibly knock over a bird or two, and with this in
view cut himself several short, heavy sticks. The birds were coming
down to the pool to drink, and watching his chance he let fly with the
sticks and managed to bring down two of the creatures, and these
formed the sum total of his breakfast, although he could have eaten
twice as many. There were a number of berries to hand, but these he
refrained from touching, fearing they might be poisonous.

Larry felt he must now go on. To gain the top of the cliff was out of
the question, so he decided to strike out directly for the southwest,
feeling that this must sooner or later bring him into the American
lines. To be sure, he had first to pass the Filipinos, but this could
not be helped, and he felt that the best he could do would be to keep
his eyes and ears open and walk around any body of the enemy that he
might discover, instead of trying to steal his way straight through.
This would require many miles of walking, and on the sore foot, too,
but this hardship would have to be endured.

Half a mile was covered in a slow and painful fashion, when Larry
reached a small clearing, and here he sat down to rest on a fallen
tree and to examine the ankle, which he was afraid was again swelling.
He was engaged in looking at the wounded member, when a rough Tagalog
voice broke upon his ears.

"What do you here?" demanded a heavy-set native, in his own tongue, as
he strode forward, gun in hand, followed by several others.

Larry was startled and leaped up. In a twinkling he found himself
surrounded, and several Mausers were levelled at his head.

To resist would have been the height of foolishness, and Larry did not
try. The Tagals asked him a number of questions in their own tongue,
but he shook his head to show them that he did not understand. On
their part, not one could speak English, so neither party could
communicate with the other.

The natives, however, soon understood that he was alone, and when he
pointed to his ankle and limped, also understood that he had sprained
that member. One went into the bushes, and presently returned with
some leaves, which he crushed and packed inside of the boy's stocking.
The juice of the leaves proved very cooling, and presently much of
the pain from the sprain went away.

The Tagals were bound for the cliff, but by a route different from
that which Larry had travelled. As the boy was unarmed and could
scarcely hobble along, they did not take the trouble to bind him in
any way. He was made to march with half of the crowd before him and
the others behind; and thus they proceeded until the cliff was
reached, at a point where the jungle hid a series of rough steps
leading to the top. Beyond the top of these steps was a mountain
trail, which by nightfall brought them to a plateau where were
encamped at least three hundred Filipinos of all classes, the Tagals
predominating.

A shout went up as Larry appeared, and he was at once recognized as
one of the prisoners who had escaped from the caves, which were fully
four miles away.

"So they have caught you again?" remarked an under-officer, as he
strode up with a sinister smile on his swarthy countenance. "You did
not get very far."

"No, I had a bad fall and lamed my foot," replied Larry, as cheerfully
as he could. He was never one to "cry over spilt milk."

"A fall? Where?"

"I fell over the high cliff just below here."

"And you live to tell it? Impossible!"

"No, it is true. I fell into a large tree, and that broke my fall. But
I was badly scratched up, and my ankle was sprained."

"A rare fall truly, boy. It would have been better, though, if you had
been killed."

"Thank you; I like that!"

"I say it because you are a prisoner who has tried to escape from us.
Do you know the fate of all such?"

At these words Larry could not help but shiver. He knew what the
officer up at the cave prison had said,--that any prisoner trying to
escape would be shot at the first opportunity which presented itself.

"Surely, you would not kill me for trying to get away?" he cried
quickly.

The under-officer shrugged his shoulders. "It is not for me to change
our regulations of war, boy. Your words prove that you knew beforehand
the risk you were running."

"Yes, yes--but-- You would try to get away too, if our soldiers caught
you."

"Possibly--I understand you treat your prisoners very badly."

"Our prisoners are treated as well as yours. And we would not kill a
Filipino for having tried to escape,--unless, of course, he was shot
in the attempt."

"It is you who say that--I have heard vastly different stories; how
our men were starved and shot down without mercy,--not one man, but
hundreds of them. I have it from friends in Manila that your General
Otis is a monster who would rather kill than save at any time."

"Your friends have told you that which is not true!" exclaimed Larry,
warmly. "If anything, General Otis is too kind-hearted, especially
with those who have done their best to put the city in a state of
rebellion and those who have tried to burn it to the ground. I suppose
your friends had a purpose in telling you what was not true."

"I take my friends' words in preference to yours, boy," was the angry
answer. "Who are you that come to take our country away from us--the
country that we tried so hard to liberate from the iron grasp of
Spain? The land is ours, and no Americans shall govern us. We will
fight to the last,--from the cities to the towns, and from the towns
to the villages, and then to the mountains, from one island to
another,--and you shall never conquer us, no matter how large an army
you send from across the ocean. But, bah, I am talking to a mere boy,
when I might have better sense." And turning on his heel the
under-officer strode away, out of humor with himself as well as with
Larry.

The youth felt utterly crushed, and sitting down on a rock, with a
heart as heavy as lead, he wondered what was going to happen next.
Would they really shoot him? The thought was agony itself.

There were no other prisoners in the camp, so he was left for a long
time alone, although several soldiers kept their eyes upon him, that
he might not wander away. Soon supper was served, and one of the
Tagals brought him a bowl of rice and meat. It must be confessed that
he was now tremendously hungry, and ate all of what was given him,
despite his down-heartedness.

The meal finished, the Filipinos were sitting around their camp-fires,
when a certain General Drummo was announced. At once there was a
parade, which the general reviewed with satisfaction. The newcomer was
served with supper, and then Larry was brought before him.

The general had his head full of his plans for the morrow and gave the
boy but scant attention.

"You knew the risk you ran when you stole away," he said, in broken
English. "It is true you are but a boy, yet I'll wager you can use a
gun better than some of our own men. I cannot pardon you, for that
would be setting a bad example. So I hereby sentence you to be shot at
sunrise to-morrow,--and may your death be an example to others who are
thinking of escape."

Before Larry could say a word, if indeed he wanted to speak, he was
led away to a hollow back of the camp. Here he was tied fast to a
tree, and two soldiers were detailed to guard him until the hour for
his execution should arrive.



CHAPTER XXX

A RESCUE UNDER DIFFICULTIES


"Nothing here, cap'n."

It was Boxer the scout who spoke. For two hours he, Ben, and Luke
Striker had been examining the trail running along the cliff. They
could find footprints without number, but no trace of Larry.

"He must have gone somewhere," replied Ben, who could not bring
himself to give up the hunt. "He wasn't spirited away. I've a good
mind to make a hunt at the bottom of the cliff."

"As you will, cap'n. But, remember, this air side o' the valley is
full of rebs, and if they catch us--"

"We must be on our guard, Boxer."

"I've got my eyes wide open," put in Luke. "I reckon on it as how I
can see as far as any on 'em, too."

The walk to the cliff had not been accomplished without difficulty.
Twice had they come close to running into the Filipino pickets, and
once Luke had been almost certain they were being followed, but the
alarm proved false. A night had been spent in the jungle, and at a
point within half a mile of where Larry lay senseless under the big
tree!

The hunt had revealed to the party the series of rough steps mentioned
in the last chapter, and down these they now went and continued their
search at the base of the cliff.

"What's this?" came from the old sailor, presently, and he pointed to
the broken sapling hanging in the branches of the big tree. With the
sapling was a shred of a garment, fluttering in the breeze like a
signal of distress.

A close examination caused them to reach a conclusion which was, as we
already know, true; namely, that Larry had come down with the sapling
and landed in the big tree.

"And he wasn't killed, either," said Boxer. "For here is where he
built a fire and cooked some birds' eggs."

"And he visited the pool, too," added Ben, examining the tracks with
care. "Funny tracks these," he added, a second later.

"He was hopping on one foot," announced the scout, gravely. "That
looks as if he had one leg hurt."

It was an easy matter to follow the trail through the jungle, for the
ground was damp and covered with a moss which was torn with ease. Soon
they reached the clearing where Larry had stopped to examine his
ankle.

"Hullo, more footprints!" ejaculated Boxer, his face falling. "And
rebs, too, I'll wager a new hat. Cap'n, I'm afraid your brother has
run into worse trouble."

"It certainly looks like it," answered Ben. "Where do the footprints
lead to?"

Where but back to the very rocks down which they had come but a few
hours before! Soon they were back at the top of the cliff again.

Before leaving the valley Boxer studied the footprints closely, and
now, although there were other footprints above, he followed the party
having Larry in charge without making a single error. But it was slow
work, and the encampment of the Filipinos was not discovered until
nightfall.

"We've tracked 'em to a finish," announced Boxer. "Don't go any
further, cap'n--unless you are ready to do some tall shooting."

"I can do some shooting if it's necessary," answered Ben, with a
determined look on his face which was not to be mistaken. "I should
like to make sure my brother is here."

"We'll walk around the camp and see," said Boxer, and this they did,
slowly and cautiously, each with his weapons ready for immediate use.
But the Filipinos were busy eating their suppers and smoking
cigarettes, and did not discover them.

"There's Larry!" cried Luke, after a while. And he pointed to one side
of the camp. The guards were just taking the lad to the general to be
sentenced.

"Yes, yes!" answered Ben. He handled his pistol nervously. He could
hardly restrain himself from rushing forward and embracing the long
lost. Boxer saw what was in his mind and held him back.

"Don't be rash, cap'n," whispered the scout. "If you are, it may cost
all of us our lives."

"I will try to be careful," was the answer, with an effort. "But what
are they going to do with him?"

"They are taking him over to yonder tent."

Soon Larry disappeared inside the tent, and they crouched behind the
bushes to await developments. While waiting, Ben made a mental
calculation of the number of the enemy.

"A battalion, or more," he said to Boxer. "I wonder what they are
doing so far from the main body of the troops?"

"Oh, their army is becoming badly scattered, cap'n. General Lawton has
'em on the run, and there won't be any of 'em left when he gets
through with 'em."

As we know, the scene in the tent was a short one, and soon they saw
Larry come out again, and saw him tied to the tree. The two soldiers
detailed to guard him sat on either side of their prisoner, on rocks
about six or eight yards from the tree.

"He seems to be the only prisoner in the camp," whispered Ben. "I
wonder if I can't crawl up and cut him loose. I did that once for
Gilbert Pennington."

"No, no!" interposed Boxer. "Those guards are wide awake and will
shoot you in a minute. Wait till it gets darker--we may get a chance
to do something then."

Slowly the minutes drifted by, Ben watching Larry every instant. He
saw that his younger brother was exceedingly tired and held one foot
up as if in pain. The young sailor had asked if he might not lie down,
but this comfort had been denied him.

Both of the guards were puffing vigorously on their cigarettes, when
one chanced to throw down a lighted match close to the rock upon which
he was sitting. It set fire to some dry grass, but instead of putting
it out, the guard watched the tiny conflagration grow stronger.

"Playing with fire, eh?" said his mate, lightly.

"Yes," was the slow answer. "How I would like to see Manila go up like
that!"

"Yes, I would like to see that, too, Carlos, and the Americans in the
flames. Ah, but the day when we are to take the capital seems a long
way off now."

"Never mind; Aguinaldo says he is soon to have reënforcements from the
south. When they come, let the American dogs beware!"

The talk was carried on in the Tagalog dialect, so Larry understood
not a word. In the meantime, the fire crept up, making the guard's
seat anything but comfortable.

"That's too much," he observed, and was on the point of kicking the
fire out with his foot, when of a sudden he uttered a wild yell that
startled everybody near him. "A snake! a snake! Oh, what a long
creature!"

For from under the rock a huge reptile had glided, roused up by the
heat. It was a snake peculiar to those mountains, and all of ten feet
long and as thick as a man's arm. It struck the guard in the knee, and
then whipped around in increased anger, for its tail had come in
contact with the fire.

"A snake!" echoed the second guard, and fired his Mauser at the
reptile. But he was too excited to shoot straight, and the bullet
glanced along the rock and struck the first guard in the cheek,
inflicting a fairly serious wound.

The cries of the two guards' were taken up on all sides of the camp,
and especially in the vicinity of the rock from under which the
reptile had appeared. All the soldiers recognized the snake as a
dangerous enemy; and as the reptile moved about, first one and then
another ran to get out of its way, several in the meantime taking
hasty shots at it, but failing to do any serious damage. For several
minutes the prisoner was entirely forgotten.

It was Ben who saw the opportunity,--Ben and the ever-faithful
Luke,--and rushing up, they cut Larry's bonds and fairly hustled him
into the depth of the jungle behind the encampment. The young sailor
could hardly understand what was taking place, but when he recognized
his brother and his old messmate, he gave a shout of joy.

"You, Ben! and Luke! Oh, I must be dreaming!"

"No, you are not dreaming, Larry. We've been watching you for a long
while, trying to do something. Can you run?"

"No; I sprained my ankle, and it is still sore."

"I'll carry him," said Luke. "You lead the way, cap'n. And Boxer had
better bring up the rear guard."

"Right you are," came from the scout. "Have your weapons ready, cap'n.
We may catch it hot, in spite of the alarm over the snake. Those rebs
will be as mad as hornets when they find the lad is missing."

Away they went, Ben trying to find an easy path,--which was no small
thing to do in that utter darkness,--and Luke coming up behind,
breathing like a porpoise, but vowing he could carry Larry a mile were
it necessary. Boxer kept as far to the rear as he dared without
missing their trail, and the life of any Filipino who might have
appeared would not have been worth a moment's purchase at the scout's
hands.

They had covered but a few hundred yards when the shouting and firing
at the encampment ceased. "I guess the snake is dead," said Ben. "Now
they'll be after us."

The young captain was right; and soon they heard the enemy breaking
through the jungle in detachments of three or four men each, all
hot-footed to recapture the prisoner. They had observed the cut ropes
and wondered if it was possible that Larry had severed them without
assistance.

It was not long before Boxer got a good shot at the nearest of the
pursuers. His aim was true, and the Tagal went down without so
much as a groan. His companions stopped short, and then called
some other soldiers to the scene. "The boy is armed and shoots like
a sharpshooter," they told each other; and after that the search was
continued with extra care. Of course Boxer kept out of sight; and as
soon as he could, he joined Ben and the others.

"I think there must be a stream close at hand,--the one we crossed a
few days ago," said he. "If we can get to that, we'll have some chance
to hide."

"Let's get to it, then," gasped Luke, who felt that he could keep up
but a short while longer.

"I'll take Larry, Luke," put in Ben, and the transfer was made, in
spite of the old sailor's protests. Then Luke plunged ahead and soon
announced that he could see the river through the bushes to the right.
Soon they came out on some rocks. The stream was a mountain torrent, a
rod wide and from two to three feet deep. They plunged in without
delay.

As they could not walk against such a current, they followed the
stream on its downward course almost to the edge of the cliff, where
the torrent formed a pretty series of waterfalls. Then they crossed to
the other side, and climbed into a tree growing directly at the
water's edge,--a species of willow, with long, drooping branches.

"We ought to be safe here--at least for a while," said Boxer.

"It's hard to tell where one would be safe here," answered Ben. "The
whole country seems to be invested with scattered bands of the
insurgents."

He asked Larry about himself, and in a few words the younger brother
told his story. Then Boxer stopped the talk.

"In a situation like this, it's best to have only ears and eyes," he
said, and all saw at once the aptness of the remark.

But though they remained on guard the larger part of the night, nobody
came to disturb them, and the only sound that broke the stillness was
that of the water as it tumbled over the rocks below.

Ben was much worried over Larry's ankle, which had begun to swell
again through having stood so long on it while being tied to the tree.
He brought a canteen of water up from the stream and bathed it with
this. This moistened the mashed-up leaves once more, and then the
injured member felt better, and Larry caught a nap.

"I reckon we had better be moving again," said Boxer, while it wanted
yet an hour to daylight. "Those rebs may be waiting for to see us, you
know."

"Well, my brother can't run, so perhaps it will be just as well if
you take a scout around and see if the coast is clear," said Ben.

"Certainly, cap'n." And Boxer made off without delay, moving through
the jungle and along the stream as silently as some wild animal in
search of its prey.

Fifteen minutes and more passed, and they began to wonder when the
scout would come back, when a low whistle reached their ears.

"It's all right," came from Boxer.

"Nobody in sight?" questioned Ben.

"Nary a reb, cap'n."

"I'm glad of it," put in Larry, with a sigh of relief. "I never want
to fall in with them again!" And he shuddered. He would never forget
how close he had been to death at their hands.

They came down the tree, and after a drink from the stream, set out
again, this time following the watercourse over the rocks until the
cliff was left behind. Here they struck a bit of marsh and had to make
a detour, finally coming out, much to their surprise, on what appeared
to be a regular highway through the forest.

"Now, if we only knew where this leads to," cried Ben.

"I reckon it leads to San Isidro," came from Boxer. "But we may be a
good number of mil--"

"Look! look!" ejaculated Striker, pointing up the road. "The rebels,
as sure as you air born! An' they air comin' about a thousand strong,
too. Boys, we air lost!"



CHAPTER XXXI

THE FALL OF SAN ISIDRO--CONCLUSION


Luke Striker was right; a large force of Filipinos were sweeping down
the road at a rapid rate, bringing with them two old field-pieces and
a rapid-firing gun. They were commanded by several officers on
horseback, and presented a formidable appearance to the worn-out
Americans.

"Out of sight, quick!" The cry came from Ben. "It's our only chance to
escape."

The words had scarcely left his lips when the pop-pop of several
Mausers was heard, as the Filipino sharpshooters, who were in advance
of the main body, opened fire upon them. Their aim was excellent, and
both Striker and Boxer were hit, although neither seriously.

"They've caught me!" ejaculated the old sailor, and staggered up
against Ben. At the same time Boxer pitched headlong.

"Oh, Luke!" The call came from Larry, who was limping painfully.
"Where did they hit you? This is the worst of all!"

"I'm struck in the shoulder. But come, Ben is right. To the jungle!"
And Striker clutched Larry's hand in a death-like grip, bound to live
or die with his closest friend, as the case might be.

The pair started forward. Ben hesitated and looked at Boxer, and saw
the latter try to stagger up once more. "He's not dead," thought the
young captain, and picked the sharpshooter up. In a few seconds more
the whole party were in the jungle again.

But the Filipinos were not going to let them escape thus easily, and
coming up on the double-quick, a detachment began to search the
bushes, at the same time calling on the Americans to surrender if they
wanted to save their lives.

With Larry limping painfully, and both Luke and Boxer groaning in
spite of their efforts to keep silent, the Americans looked about for
some spot which might prove a safe hiding-place. But the ground here
was level and the jungle rather spare, and for those who were wounded
to climb trees was out of the question.

"We'll have to make a stand, I'm afraid," said Ben, looking to his
pistol to see if it was fully loaded. "They are coming-- Hark!"

The young captain broke off short, as a loud shouting from the road
interrupted him. Then came a volley of musketry, followed by a steady
stream of shots.

"We've got them this time, boys!" came in a ringing, English-speaking
voice. "Forward, and don't let a man of them escape. On to San
Isidro!"

"Our troops!" cried Larry. "Oh, God be praised that they are coming
this way!"

"Yes, yes, our troops!" ejaculated Ben. "And what is more, my
regiment!" The revulsion of feeling was so great that he felt like
dancing a jig.

The shouting and firing now increased, until it was almost upon them.
Then followed a rush into the woods, and the little party found itself
face to face with a score of Filipinos.

At first our friends were greatly alarmed, and Ben and Larry did their
best to defend themselves by firing as rapidly as possible at the
Tagals as they appeared. But the enemy was retreating, and gave the
little party scant attention. Then came a yell close at hand, and in
a few seconds a squad of American soldiers burst through the thicket.

"Dan Casey!" cried Ben, as he recognized the Irish volunteer.

"Sure, an' is it Captain Russell?" came from the soldier, joyfully.
"It is, the saints be praised! We've been a-wonderin' what had become
of yez!"

"Town mit dem Filibinos!" The call came from Carl Stummer, and soon he
also put in an appearance. "Dis vos von lucky tay," he said, when he
saw the party. "Ve haf dem repels on der run like neffer vos."

"Then send them a-flying, Stummer," answered Ben. "Where is our
camp?"

"Pack dere apout half a mile. Ve vos move up las' night und steal von
march on dem Filibinos."

There was no time to say more, excepting to stop several of the
soldiers, and assisted by these, the whole party moved to the rear,
through line after line of American troops now hurrying to the firing
line, for it was General Lawton's plan to give the Filipinos no rest
until San Isidro and the territory in its vicinity were captured.

Inside of half an hour, Ben had seen to it that Larry, Luke, and Boxer
were all made comfortable, and then, hastily swallowing a bowl of
coffee and some bread and meat, he hurried after his command, which
was threshing the jungle just outside of San Isidro for scattered
bands of the enemy such as the young captain and his party had met.
Soon Ben was on the firing line once more, and warmly greeted by Major
Morris, Gilmore, and his other friends.

The fighting was hot, for the rebels felt that if San Isidro was
taken, nothing would remain to them but the mountains. They had
constructed a high embankment just outside of their capital, and this
they were defending vigorously, many of their leading generals being
at the front to direct the movements.

But General Lawton was now in his element, and feeling that his troops
would do whatever he asked of them, he began to spread out to the
right and the left, thus enfilading the trenches behind the
embankment, which presently became so uncomfortable that the rebels
had to leave them. At the same time a centre column continued the
attack from the front--a centre column composed principally of
Minnesota troops and the regiment to which Ben belonged.

"They are leaving the trenches!" exclaimed Major Morris, who was
watching the progress of the battle through a field-glass. "Forward,
boys! They are on the run again!"

A rattle of rifle-shots followed, and the battalion carried the middle
of the embankment with a wild rush, planting Old Glory on the very top
a minute later. Then the regiment pushed on for San Isidro proper. A
hot skirmish was had on the main street of the town; but the Filipinos
had had enough of it, and by nightfall were making for the mountains
as rapidly as their demoralized condition would permit.

Señor Romano had told Ben where Benedicto Lupez and his brother José
had been stopping in San Isidro, and as soon as the young captain
could get the opportunity he hurried around to the place, which was a
large private boarding-house.

"There is a man here by the name of Lupez, I believe," he said, as he
presented himself, followed by a detachment of half a dozen of his
men.

The boarding-house keeper, who had just hung out a white flag, eyed
him suspiciously. "How do you know that Señor Lupez is here?" he
questioned slowly.

"I know it, and I want to see him at once," returned Ben, sharply.

"He is--is not here--he--he went away this morning," came with much
hesitation.

"Don't ye believe him, captain," put in Dan Casey, who was in the
detachment.

"I will search the house," said Ben, quietly.

The keeper of the boarding-place protested, but his protest was of no
avail. The house was searched from top to bottom, and in a back wing
they found Benedicto Lupez in bed, suffering from a badly injured leg,
the result of trying to ride a half-broken horse which the insurgents
had captured from the Americans. He greeted the visitors with a
villanous scowl.

At first he tried to deny his identity, but the Americans had been
furnished with his photograph, and a wart on his forehead proved a
clew that was conclusive. At once his effects were searched, and under
his pillow was found a leather bag containing fifty thousand dollars
in gold and in American bank bills.

"This is the money you stole from Braxton Bogg," said Ben, severely.
"You need not deny it. Where is the rest?"

At first Benedicto Lupez refused to talk, but with a long term in an
American prison in Manila staring him in the face, he confessed that
just previous to the fall of San Isidro, he had divided what was left
of the money with his brother José, who had now left for parts
unknown. This confession was afterward proved to be true, and, later
on, Ben learned that with five thousand dollars of the stolen funds
José Lupez had purchased himself a general's commission in the
insurgent army.

"Well, I suppose we are lucky to get back the fifty thousand dollars,"
said Ben, when he was telling Larry of how he had found Benedicto
Lupez. "A half-loaf is far better than no bread at all, you know."

"Yes," answered the young sailor. "And who knows but that we may run
across this José Lupez some day, and get the balance? Anyway, the
recovery of that fifty thousand dollars means at least eight or ten
thousand dollars in our pockets, as well as something for Uncle Job.
I'll wager uncle and Walter will be mighty glad to get the good news
we have to send them." And then he added enthusiastically, which was
just like Larry, "Hurrah, Ben, score one more victory for Young
America and Old Glory!"

                  *       *       *       *       *

Here we must bring to a close the adventures of Ben and Larry Russell
previous to and during "The Campaign of the Jungle" under gallant
General Lawton. The campaign had lasted three weeks, and during that
time the troops had covered about a hundred and fifty miles of
territory, fought twenty-two battles, captured twenty-eight towns, and
destroyed large quantities of army stores, including three hundred
thousand bushels of rice. The losses to the Americans had been about
fifty killed and wounded, while the losses to the Filipinos were
nearly ten times as great!

With the fall of San Isidro, General Aguinaldo and his followers
retreated to the mountains, twelve miles to the north of that town. At
the same time the rebels who had been opposing General MacArthur's
advance fell back to Tarlac, thirty miles beyond San Fernando. But the
Americans had not sufficient troops at hand with which to garrison
the many towns they had taken, and so it was not long before some of
the rebels came back to one place and another, to take what they could
get, and to harass those natives who had been friendly to our
soldiers. In the meantime the rainy season put a stop to further
activity on a large scale, and while the Filipinos sued again for
peace (but upon their own terms), General Otis sent for additional
troops, so that the next dry season might see the rebellion brought to
such a finish that its resurrection would be an impossibility. Many
Americans pitied the sad condition of the Tagalogs, but all felt that
as matters were now situated the supremacy of the United States
throughout the Philippines must be maintained. Once the insurgents
submitted to American authority, we would do the very best we could by
them.

Shortly after the fall of San Isidro, General Lawton's command marched
to join that of General MacArthur. In the meantime Larry and his
wounded friends were removed to the hospital at Manila, whither
Gilbert Pennington had already been taken, along with many others.
Here the sick were given every attention, and soon the majority of
our friends were on a speedy road to health.

Ben felt that there was no need to write to Walter, as his brother
would ere long be in the Philippines, but he wrote to his Uncle Job,
telling about the capture of Benedicto Lupez, and adding that the
prisoner had been sent to join Braxton Bogg, and that the recovered
money was safe in the United States bank at Manila, waiting to be
returned to Buffalo. He also told about Larry, and added that since
the _Olympia_ had sailed away without him, the young sailor was now
going to throw in his fortunes with the soldiers.

The letter brought great joy to Job Dowling, and he immediately wrote
back, stating how pleased he was, and adding that he hoped Ben would
catch José Lupez and recover what was still missing.

"That is easier said than done," said Ben to Larry, as the pair read
the letter together. "Still, if this José Lupez is now a general in
the rebel army, we may meet some day." Strange as it may seem, that
day was not far off, as will be related in a sixth and concluding
volume of this series, in which we shall meet all the Russell boys, as
well as Gilbert, Luke, and many of our other friends again, and see
what each did toward carrying our flag to a final and lasting victory
in the Philippines.

But now let us leave Ben and Larry, and also the others. All had done
well and richly deserved the rest that came to them. Many adventures
were still in store for them, but it is doubtful if any were to be
more thrilling than those encountered during "The Campaign of the
Jungle."



                  *       *       *       *       *



THE OLD GLORY SERIES.

By EDWARD STRATEMEYER,

_Author of "The Bound to Succeed Series," "The Ship and Shore Series,"
etc._

Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.25.

  UNDER DEWEY AT MANILA  Or the War Fortunes of a Castaway.
  A YOUNG VOLUNTEER IN CUBA  Or Fighting for the Single Star.
  FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS  Or Under Schley on the Brooklyn.
  UNDER OTIS IN THE PHILIPPINES  Or a Young Officer in the Tropics.
  THE CAMPAIGN OF THE JUNGLE  Or Under Lawton through Luzon.

PRESS NOTICES.

  "'Under Dewey at Manila' is a thoroughly timely book, in perfect
  sympathy with the patriotism of the day. Its title is conducive to
  its perusing, and its reading to anticipation. For the volume is
  but the first of the Old Glory Series, and the imprint is that of
  the famed firm of Lee and Shepard, whose name has been for so many
  years linked with the publications of Oliver Optic. As a matter of
  fact, the story is right in line with the productions of that
  gifted and most fascinating of authors, and certainly there is
  every cause for congratulation that the stirring events of our
  recent war are not to lose their value for instruction through
  that valuable school which the late William T. Adams made so
  individually distinctive.

  "Edward Stratemeyer, who is the author of the present work, has
  proved an extraordinarily apt scholar, and had the book appeared
  anonymously there could hardly have failed of a unanimous
  opinion that a miracle had enabled the writer of the famous
  Army and Navy and other series to resume his pen for the volume
  in hand. Mr. Stratemeyer has acquired in a wonderfully successful
  degree the knack of writing an interesting educational story which
  will appeal to the young people, and the plan of his trio of
  books as outlined cannot fail to prove both interesting and
  valuable."--_Boston Ideas._

  "Stratemeyer's style suits the boys."--John Terhune, _Supt. of
  Public Instruction, Bergen Co., New Jersey_.

  "'The Young Volunteer in Cuba,' the second of the Old Glory
  Series, is better than the first; perhaps it traverses more
  familiar ground. Ben Russell, the brother of Larry, who was 'with
  Dewey,' enlists with the volunteers and goes to Cuba, where he
  shares in the abundance of adventure and has a chance to show his
  courage and honesty and manliness, which win their reward. A good
  book for boys, giving a good deal of information in a most
  attractive form."--_Universalist Leader_

_For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, on receipt of price
by_

  LEE & SHEPARD, Publishers,
  BOSTON.



THE SHIP AND SHORE SERIES

By EDWARD STRATEMEYER.

Three Volumes. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.00.

  THE LAST CRUISE OF THE SPITFIRE  Or Luke Foster's Strange Voyage.
  REUBEN STONE'S DISCOVERY  Or The Young Miller of Torrent Bend.
  TRUE TO HIMSELF  Or Roger Strong's Struggle for Place.

PRESS OPINIONS OF EDWARD STRATEMEYER'S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

  "Mr. Edward Stratemeyer is in danger of becoming very popular
  among the young people of the country."--_Burlington_ (Iowa)
  _Hawk-eye_.

  "'The Last Cruise of the Spitfire' is of deep interest to the
  bounding heart of an enthusiastic boy. The book leaves a good
  impression on a boy's mind, as it teaches the triumph of noble
  deeds and true heroism."--_Kansas City_ (Mo.) _Times_.

  "Let us mention in passing two admirable books for boys, 'Reuben
  Stone's Discovery' and 'Oliver Bright's Search,' by Edward
  Stratemeyer, with whom we are all acquainted. This last bit of his
  work is especially good, and the boy who gets one of these volumes
  will become very popular among his fellows until the book is worn
  threadbare."--_N. Y. Herald._

  "A good sea-tale for boys is 'The Last Cruise of the Spitfire,' by
  Edward Stratemeyer. There is plenty of adventure in it, a
  shipwreck, a cruise on a raft, and other stirring perils of the
  deep."--_Detroit_ (Mich.) _Journal_.

  "In a simple, plain, straightforward manner, Mr. Edward
  Stratemeyer endeavors to show his boy readers what persistency,
  honesty, and willingness to work have accomplished for his young
  hero, and his moral is evident. Mr. Stratemeyer is very earnest
  and sincere in his portraiture of young character beginning to
  shape itself to weather against the future. A book of this sort is
  calculated to interest boys, to feed their ambition with hope, and
  to indicate how they must fortify themselves against the wiles of
  vice."--_Boston Herald._

_For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, on receipt of price
by_

  LEE & SHEPARD, Publishers,
  BOSTON.



                  *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

  Illustrations have been moved closer to their relevant paragraphs.

  The author's archaic and variable spelling and hyphenation are
  preserved.

  The author's punctuation style is preserved.

  Typographical problems that were changed are listed below.

     Page 13: Was 'reconnoissance' (General MacArthur made a
              =reconnaissance= in the direction of Calumpit)

     Page 42: Changed single quote mark to double quote mark ("Get in
              front of me and take to the woods opposite, =Luke,"= was
              the hurried reply.)

     Page 46: Changed single quote mark to double quote mark ("We must
              get out of the enemy's territory before the sun =rises,"=
              said Larry.)

     Page 177: Removed extra double quote mark ("=Silence!= Not another
               word until the lady has finished her story.")

     Page 212: Was 'acount' (for men were dropping out every day on
               =account= of fever and other tropical troubles.)





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