The first of the three at that moment was the "tulisane" leader, and him, in thirty seconds, they had driven six lances through. His partner, with a scream of terror, dashed into the trackless forest and disappeared. He need not.
Another thing which was unfortunate; that he could not know the nature of the man from whom he bought the "banca," any better than he could know the nature of the river, and so did not suspect that he was dealing with a "tulisane," to whom the little bag of money which the officer had shown when he had paid for the boat had looked like boundless wealth, to see which was to plan to possess.
Although he did not find it best to come to town himself, in general, he never had any trouble finding men to go there for him, and bring him news, or carry messages. No bandit leader who promptly carves an ear off the man who does his errands grudgingly is half so feared as a Filipino "tulisane" whom his fellows know to be the possessor of a powerful "anting-anting."
If anything was to happen to this man that is if he was to disappear, and still not be dead, and the officer in the white tent should know of it the leader of the white soldiers would no doubt pay much money to have his man brought safely back. Consequently the man in the brown clothes, with the fat money purse, should be made to disappear. That was the way the "tulisane" reasoned.
This man would have stabbed the American soldier when he stooped to step cautiously into the slippery boat, and taken the purse from his dead body, had he not been far-sighted enough to see that the purse might be had, and much more money beside. The "tulisane" knew that the American soldiers were at Pasi.
The demand for a sacrifice was appeased, and the men who had killed the "tulisane" cared as little for his companion as they did for the white man who had been his prisoner. All they wanted, now, was to get back to the Montese country, and to the new huts which their women would have been building in their absence.
A "tulisane" is to the Philippine Islands what a brigand is to Italy, a bandit to Spain, a highwayman to England, and a train-robber to America; a man who lives by his wits, and stops at no means to gain his object. The "banca," by the way, was stolen property.
The natives who heard it said, "The trees are talking," meaning that some one was making them talk. To the "tulisane" the sounds meant that he was bringing his partner to help him, just as at night the far-off, long-drawn cry of a panther calls the creature's mate to share the prey.
And this man's "anting-anting" was famous for the wonders which it had done. The "tulisane" knew that the American soldiers were at Pasi; and that the man who led them lived in one of the white tents they had set up there.
They knew, in the first place, that I had the authority of the Spanish government to do about what I chose in Palawan, and although they cared not one ripple of the Sulu Sea for the authority of Spain when it could not be enforced by force of arms, they did respect my arsenal of weapons and the skill with which I one day shot down a crazy "tulisane" of their tribe who had started to run amuck, and by the shot saved the lives of no one knew how many of them.