MoboReader > Literature > Uncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops / Or, Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche

   Chapter 24 CONCLUSION

Uncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops / Or, Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 22561

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Have your men fix their bayonets, Lieutenant Prescott!" commanded Captain Freeman. "Fall in, men! We'll take the datto on the rush!"

As the Moros, reinforced by two score more who had rushed to the aid of their leader, drew up for a last desperate stand before the house, the door opened.

A stream of light from inside illuminated the scene.

Out bounded a man past middle age and of imposing appearance. Not even his rich costume and flashing jewels were needed to proclaim that this man was the datto himself.

Behind Hakkut came another and younger man, the datto's sword-bearer.

Hakkut was carrying his own heavy, straight-edged sword. For a moment or two he stood blinking upon the scene of carnage and death below him as he halted on his porch. Then his gaze swept to the regulars behind the machine gun, standing alert with bayonets fixed, ready for that solitary word "charge!"

Instantly the datto turned and shouted something to the younger man with him.

In another moment the datto had placed the hilt of his sword against the flooring of the porch, the point of the weapon up. The younger man knelt swiftly, holding the sword in this position. Drawing back, the Datto Hakkut hurled himself forward with great force, falling upon the point. Then he tottered sideways, tumbling to the floor of the porch. The younger man without hesitation drove a needle-pointed creese three times into his ruler's breast. Withdrawing the knife, the sword-bearer then killed himself.

"Charge, Lieutenant Prescott!" called Captain Freeman.

"Charge!" repeated the lieutenant. The line of bayonets swept forward, but news of the death of the datto had already reached his would-be defenders. The regulars swept through, meeting little resistance, for hope had left the Moros with the passing of their savage prince.

In a twinkling the datto's house was in the hands of the regulars. Now a corporal's guard could have held it, for the Moros inside the fort who were still capable of fighting were throwing down their weapons in despair.

"Round the prisoners up, Lieutenant Prescott," commanded Captain Freeman. "I'll take some of your men and the Gatling to the gate to help Lieutenant Holmes."

In truth the Gatling was now sadly needed at the gate, for Lieutenant Holmes was having the fight of his life. Swarms of fanatic Moros were attempting to rush the small party of regulars.

The Gatling, placed in a position commanding the gate and sweeping all in front of it, soon checked the desperate attack at this point. The Moros could yet swarm the walls on all sides, however. The fight was far from won.

There was a chance still to close the huge wooden gate, and this Captain Freeman, with a few of his men, succeeded in doing just as the Gatling was withdrawn.

Suddenly it occurred to Captain Freeman that the night was passing and that the first dull light of day was creeping over the scene.

At the commanding officer's side Sergeant Hal Overton reported, saluting and saying:

"Sir, I have a suggestion to offer."

"State it, Sergeant."

"It seems like an almost dastardly thing to do, sir, but the death of the datto stopped the fighting inside. Wouldn't it be a good plan, sir, since the datto is assuredly dead, to have his body placed upon the top of the wall and hurled over to the Moros outside? When they behold that sight they may feel that their cause is gone."

"That is the best suggestion that could be made. You attend to it, Sergeant."

"Very good, sir."

Lieutenant Prescott paused for a moment in the shelter of the datto's porch. It had been warm work, and the young West Pointer was mopping his face with his handkerchief.

At this juncture Hal appeared with four men.

"Pardon me, sir," he said, saluting the lieutenant, "I am acting by Captain Freeman's orders."

With that the young sergeant pointed to the datto's body. The four men lifted it, carrying it from the porch. Prescott asked no question, but watched with interest what followed.

Across the yard Hal's squad bore the datto's body, to a point of the walls where the regulars were making their fiercest fight to repulse the Moros outside.

"Two of you climb up on the wall," Hal ordered. "The other two pass the body up."

This was done.

"Over with it," Sergeant Hal commanded, and the body was hurled to the ground outside.

An instant later there was a shout that was soon changed to a wail. In the growing daylight several of the Moro fighters had recognized the grisly message that had been hurled to them. Half a dozen fighting men dropped their weapons, picked up the datto's body and hurried off with it to a grove beyond.

Within two minutes the fighting had stopped. The Moros had fled to the grove, from which a loud, nerve-racking wailing now ascended.

Captain Freeman climbed to the top of the wall.

"We could wipe them out by the hundreds with the Gatling now," he remarked grimly. "However, I fancy it won't be necessary."

In half an hour the wailing of the Moros had ceased. They had gone farther away, and the regulars were content to remain behind the walls. While half of the effective troops were left on the walls, the other half prepared and ate their breakfast from the abundant food supplies found in the fort. After that the other half breakfasted.

That forenoon Lieutenant Holmes was sent out with a scouting force of thirty men. Two hours later he returned, stating that he had been unable to find any signs of the enemy.

In the afternoon Lieutenant Prescott and thirty men marched back to camp. There they found the transport wagons and horses uninjured, and returned with them to the fort after having set the half dozen native prisoners free.

"I fancy the cruel war is over, gentlemen," remarked Captain Freeman that evening to his two younger officers. "These Moros, like other semi-savages, fight with heart only when they have a great leader. In this way, the Datto Hakkut was a great man. For ten years he has been the scourge of northern Mindanao, but now we shall have a rest from him. He will never again disturb the peace of the island."

Early the following morning Lieutenant Prescott was sent out at the head of forty men, Hal and Noll accompanying him. Unless attacked by superior force this detachment was to remain out all day, scouting through the country for signs of the enemy.

In the morning two native villages were found close to the principal road through the mountains. As the natives appeared to have no weapons, and offered no trouble, they were not molested.

"You may be sure, though, Sergeant Overton," remarked Lieutenant Prescott, "that very nearly all of the men we have seen so far to-day served lately under the datto. However, if they have learned a lesson, and are now bent on peace, we won't molest them."

In the afternoon, as the detachment, moving at route step, reached the crest of a hill those in advance came upon a party of Moros camped in a grove by the road. These men, perhaps fifty in number, were preparing a meal. They displayed no weapons.

"These men were undoubtedly recent fighters, too," remarked Lieutenant Prescott. "However, we'll look them over to make sure that they have no weapons now."

Hardly had the two sergeants started on their tour of inspection when one man leaped suddenly from his seat on the ground and made off on a run.

"There's the man we want!" yelled Hal. "Vicente Tomba, I call upon you to halt and surrender!"

But Tomba, for it was he, continued to run fleetly.

"Bring that man down, if he won't stop!" commanded Lieutenant Prescott sternly.

"Halt, Tomba, or we fire!" shouted Hal. "Ready, men! Aim! fire!"

Seven rifles spoke, almost in unison. Vicente Tomba pitched forward, then fell. When examined he was found to have received four bullet wounds. As he was dead, the soldiers buried him then and there.

"Men who are found in Tomba's company are subjects for suspicion," remarked Lieutenant Prescott dryly. "Though we've found no weapons with this crowd we'll round 'em up and take 'em in."

This was done. Captain Freeman decided to read these natives a lesson and then let them go.

"Why not make the rascals most humbly salute the Flag, sir?" suggested Sergeant Overton respectfully. "I still have the Flag that the Moros insulted."

"A good idea," nodded the commanding officer. "Get the Flag, Sergeant."

Over the late datto's fort the Stars and Stripes soon fluttered. The troops were paraded to do the emblem honor. Then the Moro prisoners were forced to pay it humble reverence, after which they were allowed, on their hands and knees, to crawl out of the fort and find their liberty outside.

"I'm sorry the datto didn't live a little longer," murmured Sergeant Hal to his chum. "I'd have enjoyed seeing him salute the Flag fifty times and then crawl away on his knees."

The following morning Captain Freeman marched his column back over the many miles that lay between them and Bantoc. On a later morning of the march the dusty column passed Draney's plantation. That adventurer boldly hailed the officers as the troops marched by.

"I hear you've killed the datto," was the planter's greeting.

"Yes," responded Captain Freeman dryly. "There are a few others, though, who deserve the same fate."

"We'll mix it up with that scoundrel yet," muttered Hal to his chum.

Back in Bantoc all was quiet again. Cerverra had been released with a reprimand that he was not likely to forget. Now that the datto was gone, the spirit was lacking for insurrection, and that part of Mindanao settled down to quiet.

For how long? Undoubtedly the reader will discover in the next volume of this series-a volume that will be filled with the lively doings of our Army in the Philippines. This great tale will be published under the title, "Uncle Sam's Boys on Their Mettle; Or, A Chance to Win Officers' Commissions." In this forthcoming narrative the reader will meet several old friends and will renew their acquaintance in the most startling situations.

The End

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