A Sailor Boy with Dewey/Chapter 13
MY FIRST ADVENTURE IN MANILA.
"Oliver Raymond, is it possible!" exclaimed the first mate of the Dart, as he leaped ashore and almost embraced me.
"Tom Dawson!" I ejaculated, and wrung his hand over and over again. "And how did you get on that craft out there?
"It's a long story, lad. But where have you been these five or six days? You don't mean to say you left our party on purpose? Or did those rascally natives capture you?"
"Neither, Tom. After I left you I walked up the canyon to where there was a high cliff, and there Captain Kenny tried to do me to death." I gave him a few of the particulars. "Where is the captain now? If he's on that vessel I'll soon have him up before the court at the first civilized seaport comes to hand."
"I reckon Captain Kenny has got his deserts, Oliver. After you left us the Tagals made an unexpected attack, and Captain Kenny, Watt Brown, and Ah Sid were captured, while I and Matt Gory escaped to the boat. We didn't make any more landings until we reached this port and rowed to the Starlight."
"Was Watt Brown killed or injured?"
"He was wounded, but how badly I can't say. Captain Kenny gave himself up instead of fighting, and so did that Chinaman."
"I wish it had been Captain Kenny who had been wounded," I said bluntly.
"So does somebody else," went on Dawson, and a smile flitted over his face. "Come on board, and you'll find a surprise awaiting you."
I gladly accepted the offer to come on board of the Starlight, which was seconded by Captain Mason, who was in charge of the jolly-boat. The row was a short one, and I was just mounting the rope ladder to the deck when a voice as from the grave hailed me.
"Is it possible that it is you, Oliver?"
"Dan!" I gasped, and stumbled over the rail. "I—I thought you were dead—drowned!"
The next moment I was in Dan Holbrook's arms and we were hugging each other like a couple of schoolgirls, while Tom Dawson and Matt Gory looked on, well pleased. The Irishman soon after shook hands.
"But, Dan, how came you here?" I questioned, when I could recover from my amazement. "Weren't you lost overboard from that small boat?"
"To be sure I was, and I came pretty close to drowning, too," answered Dan. "But I floated around and a high wave landed me right back on board of the Dart and there I remained, satisfied that it was as good a place as any so long as the schooner floated."
"And were you on her when the Dart was carried ashore?"
"I was, and what is more I did what I could toward steering her into the river mouth, where she now lies. The steering gear was all right, and I thought I might be able to save her from becoming a total wreck."
"But—but, didn't Captain Kenny attack you?"
"Did he? Indeed he did and tried to kill me by throwing me into the sea. But a Tagal saved me and made me a prisoner. I was kept in custody two days, when the Tagals had a fight with some Spanish soldiers, and I escaped in the confusion and struck out for Manila. I thought I was completely lost, when I ran across a scouting party from the Starlight and was taken on board by them. I had some little tropical fever, and I'm not very well yet."
This was the outline of Dan's story, which he later on told in all of its details. The story proved two things: that Captain Kenny was even a worse villain than I had supposed him to be, and that affairs in the Philippines were more than interesting.
"The excitement at Manila is growing every day," said the captain of the Starlight. "I feel certain there will be a bloody war there before many months are over. I don't see how you can do any business there at present."
"I must look to some matters," I answered, and Dan said the same.
The Starlight was bound for Manila with a mixed cargo consigned to a Spanish firm, so Captain Mason considered himself fairly safe for the time being, as the Spaniards were strong in the town and had thus far kept the insurgents at bay. He readily agreed to take us with him, knowing the firm to which my father belonged very well.
We soon learned that both Tom Dawson and Matt Gory had shipped temporarily on the schooner, the captain being somewhat short of hands, several being sick with scurvy. An hour after I was on board the Starlight was moving down the coast to Manila Bay, and I was taking it easy in a hammock, satisfied that, for a few days, at least, my troubles were at an end.
The run to Manila proved without incident worthy of mention. The weather was ideal and two days after leaving Subig Bay we sailed past the grim fortress on Corregidor Island, through the narrow channel up to the strip of land upon which is built Fort Cavité, and dropped anchor before Manila proper.
We had hardly taken our place in the shipping before a Spanish revenue cutter came dashing up, and a dark-skinned Castilian came aboard and examined our papers and made a tour of inspection about the schooner. Then we received passes to visit the city.
"Not much of a town," remarked Dan to me, as he surveyed the long line of tumble-down wharves which met our eyes, but as we got closer we beheld a good-sized city back of the wharves.
We had anchored near the mouth of the Pasig River, which divides Manila into two parts. To the south side of the river is the old town, now almost abandoned, saving for some Spanish government buildings and the like.
To the north side of the river are two districts called Binondo and Tondo, and here is where the business is done and where all of the best homes and clubs are located.
My father's firm had its offices on Escolta Street, one of the main thoroughfares of Manila, and to this we now directed our footsteps.
Our walk took us past many quaint shops, not unlike those I had seen in Hong Kong and in the Chinatown districts of San Francisco, some of which were so small that the trading had to be done out on the sidewalk. Many of the shopkeepers were Spanish, but there were a fair sprinkling of Germans and Englishmen, intermixed with a large number of Chinese and Japanese and native Filipinos. At this time the city had a population of something less than a hundred thousand, and of these less than five thousand were Europeans and less than five hundred Americans.
The streets were filled with Spanish soldiers who eyed us sharply as we passed them.
"It doesn't look peaceful-like, does it?" remarked Dan, as we hurried along.
"Not much!" I returned. "It looks as if everybody was waiting for somebody else to knock the chip off of his shoulder, so to speak."
"If the natives were thoroughly organized in this rebellion they could wipe the Spaniards out in no time, to my way of thinking," I said. "I reckon they don't know their power."
"You are right, Oliver, the Tagals can whip the Spaniards, I am sure of that. And I think they ought to be free."
"So do I. The islands belong to them."
"Yes, and——" Dan broke off short. "Hurry up, it looks as if it was going to rain," and he caught me by the arm.
I understood perfectly well why he had so quickly changed the subject. Both of us had noted that a villainous-looking Spaniard was following us and drinking in every word we said. His face showed that he understood English and now he clung to us closer than ever, as we turned a corner and came to the long, low building in which were situated the offices of Raymond, Holbrook & Smith.
"Dan Holbrook, how do you do!" cried a tall young man as he rushed forward and caught my companion by the hand. "Why, I thought you had gone down with the wreck of the Dart."
The clerk of our firm, for such he proved to be, was named Harry Longley, and I was speedily introduced to him, and both Dan and I told our stories. Longley had heard of the wrecking of the Dart twenty-four hours before.
"It's too bad you lost your money and those documents," he said to me. "We ought to have those papers, they will settle a case over some land which has been in litigation here for two years. You see, these Spaniards are trying to squeeze us out if they possibly can."
"But what of this rebellion here?" I questioned.
"We haven't felt much of it so far, but I expect we will before long. All of our time has been taken up in our difficulties with the Spaniards, who are trying to force us out of business. They are taxing us in a way that is outrageous."
"But where is Mr. Cass?" asked Dan, referring to the manager at Manila.
"He has gone to one of the other islands on business."
Our talk on business and other matters lasted for fully an hour. My main concern was for the papers and money left on board of the Dart, but Harry Longley could give me no advice as to how I might get them back.
"The Spaniards cannot control the natives up the coast," he said. "And the only thing I can see is for Captain Kenny to organize a large body of men and take the vessel away by force."
At that instant the door to the office opened, and the Spaniard who had followed us up from the wharf came in, followed by four soldiers.
"There they are," he said in Spanish, pointing to Dan and me. "Arrest them as rebel sympathizers!"
And then the four soldiers advanced upon my companion and me to make us prisoners.