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The White Horse of Alih

The White Horse of Alih

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Published by jadesdummy
Author: Mig Alvarez Enriquez
Author: Mig Alvarez Enriquez

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Published by: jadesdummy on Aug 04, 2011
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Mig Alvarez Enriquez of Zarnboanga City has written two novels, The Devil Flower 1989 and House of Images (1983). He collected his short stories in The White Horse of Alih and Other Stories (1985). In this collection, "The White Horse of Al ih " (Philippine Free Press, 1984), was originally entitled "Dance of Death".

THE WHITE HORSE QF ALIH Mig Alvarez Enriquez 1


Alih moved along with the crowd which flowed like a river to the edge of the tOVIn where the big parade was to wind up. The town was made up of a hodge-podge of races - brown, yellow, and white, brown-yellow and brown-white; and its culture was a mixture of Malay, Chinese, and American. Alih was brown, but he did not feel he belonged in the town. He
walked its concrete sidewalks, strolled on its wooden-planked wharf, rode Its pony-drawn

rigs, drank the fermented coconut juice, the tuba, and ate pork in its resta ur an ts like a Christian: still, he Felt he did not belong. 2 Alih lived in the village across the river on the edge of the sea where the nipa-thatched houses were perched on posts above the water; where the women sat in rows on the bamboo cat-walks combing their long, glossy hair, chewing betel nuts, or gossiping; where the children played naked on the beach all day; where the men came home for the night smelling of fish frorn the open sea or the market place; for Alih was a Mora, a non-Christian, and today he felt all the more alien to the town b€causehe was there to kill! The day was the Fourth of July, the big American holiday that the town celebrated with a Huge parade followed by cockfighting, pony-racing, hog-catching, pole-climbing, and dandng in the streets. Nobody within reach of the town would miss the great spectacle. Nobody who could walk" ride, or crawl would be left out of the fun. Nobody cared about Alih Nobody knew he was in town, sworn to kill-e not the men who had wronged him and his brother Omar-but anyone and everyone he could until he was killed' As he rno ved with the crowd he felt pushed and pulled one way and another. It filled him with reserttrnent. but he locked his jaw and dammed his feeling. His time had not yet come. The heat beat down on him and drew the sweat from the pores of his lean hard body, soaking the light, white cotton shirt he wore. When he carne to an acacia tree spreading its branches across the ditch on the roadside, he broke out of the crowd and took refuge In Its shade. But soon after, hunger began pinching his stomach All week long he had p ravcd and fasted. From new moon tofull moon he had not catena gram of rice, nor drunk a drop of water under the watchful eye of the sun. What little he ate and drank he did under cover . of night. CclthC',·ing saliva In his mouth, he swallowed d gob of It to rc,ll('v(' his ins ides 163




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Bef~re the sun was up this morri~g,h~ had risen h~brother Omar and:~ogetherthey::",·, had slipped naked into the sea and washed their bodies dean of all impuritiesc-everi-ihe heady smell of the girl in Balete who had shared his mat and sheeL· He had gloried 'in. her. smell, but the memory of it all was necessary to urge his blood to thicken and.tus flesh to grip his bones with passion and give him courage to die-and live forever the arms of a woman!






As Omar and he were shaving the hairs off their groins preparing themselves for burial, he thought of nothing else but the beautiful maiden of undefiled body that Omar said would be his in paradise,


Would she have blue-black eyes and a little mole on a comer of her mouth like Fermina, the. Christian girl who served drinks at the night market by the dock? Or would she have brown eyes and corn-silk hair like the wives of the Americans who lived in the big houses across the river? Ah, she must be lovelier by far. Hisbody had te be clean, very clean for her. He rubbed his skin with a small round stone until he almost bled, and then poured fragrant water where he had scraped the hairs off, Not a stubble of hair was on his arms; nor on his chest, nor on his loins. When he sallied into town he was as clean as an infant just out of the wornb, but now the sweat was running grimly down his armpits. He could feel it gathering crcund '~is -~V3!~! _3!ld trickiing down h_is crotch. t~ow his flesh was stinking like rcttihg dry fish, fou ler than the carrion of pork-eaters' 5:...cdenly little knots of cold began to €limb behind his knees. Would he falter and fail? ','-ouid fear overcome him! No! Hisscrotum was f'irmly bound at the roots and his genitals held fast with a white loin cloth against his groin. A man could not be afraid, Omar said, if his testicles could not withdraw inside the body. He was just a little tired. He could have drunk the strong tuba jabal to keep his body hot, but the drink would make his breath foul to his houri, ,and Omar would smell it too and think he had been afraid. Perhaps, he should have bound his legs and arms tightly with copper wires as Ornar said the sworn killer. or hurumentados, as the Christian called them, had done in ancient times to keep their flesh turgid and their blood thick. The man Sampang, a mountain warrior, had defied a whole squad of soldiers and had continued to kill with forty bullets in his body!

10 Alihs hand moved stealthily to the slit under the double folds of his wide silk pants which he wore wrapped around the waist under a heavy leather belt. His fingers closed around the hardwood handle of the sheathed long blade that was strapped-to the inside of his left leg. The feel of the weapon's handle in his gTasp sent the blood rushing back into his limbs' No, he ·.·.'<'1S no! afraid! He needed neither drink nor leg band! He 'wished he couid kill the men who had dispossessed. him and his brother of their goods, but he did not know who they were. Only killmg men of their kind, men of their faith; would atone for the cnme that had put them to shame, Their blood would wash off the resentment he felt and cleanse his spirit for hIS rewa rd In heaven!


11 The Imam, the village priest, had tried to dissuade him and his brother. "It is wrong tokill," ; ;!,~theoldman had,saldas·h~sat·f(l<0g··thei:TI·on. his prayer rug in the large boat whic~was his ,\'~ouSe:'His voice'ranginA1ih~s'earslike'ashell hom sending signals to the sailboats on the '" sea= fatrit.iunsteady. pleading.vnotcornpelling. i'The prophet did not teach it." But Or.nar had whispered in his ears, "He is gettirig old in the head. We cannot listen to him. 12 The shrill blast of a whistle somewhere down the .road jarred his thoughts and awoke his senses Two men wearing sun helmets started pushing the people to the sides of the road, AIlh's hand released his weapon. . 13 His blade was true, He had tested its edge on the nail of a thumb. He had worked on it all week long while.keeping the fast. His blade would not fail him. But it made him hungrier. He had had nothing to eat or drink since daybreak. During the week he had kept himself from thinking about food by working on his blade, by watching it grow keener, whiter and whiter. Now that he did not have to work on the blade, he was hungry, very hungry. His mind was accepting his death, but his body was rebelling. By Allah, he wanted to eat. His hunger was like an octopus in his middle, extending tentacles to his throat, to his limbs, to his brains. Struf,f,ling with his hunger, he leaned against the tree to stay on his feet. 14 The band going by made uproarious sounds like the rallLing of empty cans. The clangor p€rked him up momentariiy. A group ofVrls dressed in white arc! wearing veils with red crosses on their foreheads walked by talking loudly, beating paper flags in the air. When the band stopped playing, the clatter of the girl's wooden shoes rose maddeningly over the rattle of their flags and the sound of their voices. 15 Now was the time, Alih thought. It was torture to wait longer. But where was Ornar? He was to come from the village and join him here under this tree. They would make the attack together. They would be killed together, and together they would ride their white horses to heaven. 16 He pushed back the black round fez on his head and unbuttoned his shirt to the waist uncovering his hard-fleshed chest to the breeze. He must not look dangerous, he must not arouse suspicion in any way, Omar had cautioned him emphatically. 17 Wiping his low forehead and high cheekbones on the sleeves of his shirt, he leaned back against the acacia tree looking like one whose only concern was his physical comfort In the stifling weather. Nobody watching him would have known that underneath his cain. exterior his body was alive to their hair roots, and his mind was counting the seconds like a stopwatch. His disguise was perfect. The uncropped hair of his head that showed In wisps under the fez curled around his ears like a schoolboy's There was nothing uncommon about his face. He had not plucked off his eyebrows as the traditional sworn killers of old had dcne-Ornar had said that they did not have to wear the mask of death on their faces They had not tdkcn the oath to kill before a datu. The datu, .Ornar said, was bound bv law to notify the a u tho rn ios. and the authorities would post men with /~uns arid clubs all over the town wherever' reorle p,<1thercd -Ill schools, In markc-t p larr.s. III r hurr hcs. III r,lclZclS







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The town would be awake at all hours, and the men would carry weaponsstrapped to their 'waists when they went out in the streets. They, would keep the women and thecQ,ilp,r,eD in ,";' their houses and would be ready to jump upon any suspicious-looking Moro .at.the.barking . of a dog or the slamming of a door. Once, when a dog had fought withanother.overa hone, an innocent Moro was clubbed to death. A sworn killer today wouldn't stand a 'chance to ki]! if he followed the ritual of the past. No, neither he nor his brother Omar would De caught and thrown into jail before they could use their blades. By the sun, the all-seeing eye, they would not be outwitted this time!


18 A clatter of hooves shook the crisp noon air. A horse came galloping down the road. The horseman wore polished boots that reached to his knees. His shirt was tight on his body, and across his chest was a band of glittering ornaments like the metal caps of beer bottles. The man sat on his horse like the Son of Zorro, whom hehad seen many times in the movies. Shouting orders to a group of boy scouts to help the policemen push the crowd back, the man spurred his horse ahead of the parade in the direction of the plaza. 19 Alih's eyes followed the horse with feverish intensity. Soon he would be on a horse himself And his horse would have wings like the horse on the billboard at the gas station near the ice plant just outside the town. It would have a silver mane and a silky f1o~ing tail, its body and legs as white as milk fresh from the udder. Omar had said that was what the prophpt had pron nsed the fdltl~lful-a white horse to ride to hea ven.vand a::; r:1~ny chaste damsels or houris as the number of infidel heads he could lay before Allah. 20 The harsh voices of women shouting invectives at the boy scouts who were pushing them back and the ang-ry shrieks of children who had falien into the muddy ditch along the road failed to claim his attention. A barefoot boy peddling lee cream in a box ringing a bell close to his face did not succeed either. Fer Alih'sfancy had captured his white horse and already he was covering it with a caparison of gold making ready to set off on his journey. Would he look as good on his stallion as the man on his? "Your body bends in long segments, and you are full of sinews," Omar had told him. "You are like a beautiful colt yourself!" 21 Omar knew all about horses. He had worked at the stables of the village and had even driven a calesa. He, Alih, had never even gone close to a horse. "Stay away," Omar had shouted at h irn every time he came close to a horse. "It will kick you, it will kick you!" 22 If he had only learned to mount! All he had ever ridden was a wooden horse on a rnerrv-goround. An expression of joy admixed with pain swept across his face. He had ridden beside Lucy! 23 Lucy was the little girl in the reservation across the river where the Americans lived. She was all white and pink and gold, like the doll sin the cardboard boxes on the shelves in the Japanese toy stores In town. He had come upon her one morning in the guava bush where she was playing with some shells.




24 He was in first grade in schoolthen, learning to read and .write. He remembered he had. tToublewi'thlittle:bJack bugscalledwords. He couldnot.makewith hismouth the strange'" sounds that matchedthe words the little red book-He had not wanted to gato school, but a policeman had come to the village and had spoken to the datu, and the datu of the village had told Omar that his little brother would have to go to school.



25 The school was across the river on the other side of town. There was no bridge spanning

the river. The Moros were not allowed to set foot on the reservation. To go into town they had to use their vintas and anchor behind the stone breakwater at the foot of the government dock. Paddling was very tiresome for a little boy like Alih, so he would swim across the river to the stone steps behind the gray house with the wire nets on the windows.

26 One day he came upon the little girl. He was so frightened that he dropped his clothes which he had held in a bundle above his head and leapt back into the river. 111e little girl picked up his clothes and ran to the stone steps holding them out to him. She called to him like a datu's daughter, and he found himself doing her bidding. Cupping himself with one hand, he swam close and stretched out the other hand for his bundle.
27 \Nhen he came back that day, he wandered along the beach and picked the prernest he could fmd. He Stldllg them together and left them on the stone steps of the house.

shells Whu. he returned in the afternoon, the shells were gone. But the little girl was never there again. One afternoon, though, many days. later, he saw her with her maid, a Christian girl, at the fair. He had been blacking boots earlier in the day and his pocket was heavy with Cains. He emptied his pocket to the man seated o'n a crate at the gate and then climbed on the horse next to the girL He looked at the girl only from the comers of his eyes. He was afraid the maid would move her another horse if he showed any interest in her. But the little girl had recognized him and began to talk to him. He did not understand a word she said, but he pretended he did by laughing. He felt very proud riding beside her. He wished everybodv could see them laughrng together. They went round and round to the rhythm of cymbals and the measured beats of a drum. When he was up, she was down. When he was down, she was uv He felt very light -like a piece of cotton in the air. The servant girl who stood behind the little girl holding her to the horse had called her Lucy!

28 In the evening he had no money to show Omar for his work during the day. Ornar made him drop his pants and lie on his stomach on the floor. "This will teach vou not to spend your money foolishly," he said as he gave him three lashes with his leather belt He could only squat to eat his supperthatnight. His flesh felt raw, but hewas strangely h<1I'I'\ 20 .A. company of khaki-clad men were \valking down the road, their hr-a vv lca tho r sho(><; pounding the macadam pavement In urusori. The rifles on their shoulders held Ilaf.:c(i stcvl blades that ghnted in th('sunl~ght As they swung past him they looked to h im li l«: skeletcll fingers, markill?, him for death 1115 hand instinctively sought til(' h.uid lr- of the lV(,cl~'llll between his legs again

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He raised himself on his toes and looked over the heads of the crowd. Hecou ldnotseeOrnar anywhere. Suddenly he felt the little. knots ~f.cold behind .his knees ag~iri .:He knew that Ornarwas reckless and without fear.' Omar was quick with his fists when 'the little scar on his right eyebrow turned livid, But where was he? Had he betrayed hiniself and been taken? Omarwould not be taken without a fight. He had warrior blood in him although he had lived like a sea rover and fished for a living. Omar had been with their father and uncles in the big fight at the cottas in the mountains of )010 a long time ago.

30 Their

father had been accused of killing a man he had not killed and the men who were working for the American governor had wanted to put him in prison. Their father had sent word that he had not killed the man, but the soldiers would not honor his word Thev haci had no respect for him although he had been to Metca and was a hadji of hIS village The. had wanted him to submit to the judgment of the Americans. Their father had taken hIS farruly to 'the old stone fort that their grandfather had taken from Ole Spaniards and [here made his stand. Ornar had helped to dig pits at the foot of the hill around the fort The', drove sharp stakes in the ground and, covered them with vines in the same way that thev trapped the wild boar that came to eat the root crops in the clearIng at the outskirts of the village. of pins when he told him the story. toid Al iri, his w o rd s soufldlllfS ""'" seen how the government soldiers on the spit [hat the Christians roast did not see what happened because

11 The black of Ornars eyes had closed tD points like heads "Everyone perished except our mother and me," he had pebbles dropping from his mouth. "But you should have were killed." Omar had exalted. "They looked like pigs to eat in their fiestas: You were there, too, Alih, but you you were asleep in the body of our mother." 32

Alih had often wished he had not been asleep in the body of their mother when it happened. He had never been in a rCdl fight, and he did not h a vo the cm;rage that his brother had. Often he was afraid - but nfraid to show that he was afr aid -ltke nov. .vith ~he little knots of cold growing behind his kn::<s Sometimes he felt OmJr'S eyes r'I\11lr',i'tC' him. They picked the very pores of his body. Crnars eyes ~~;ad["lcie him do thtngs f'lls c\,cs had made him do what he did one night at a beer garden ,It ih, (~ock, Allh had Just corne In for a smoke, and to watch Ferrnma. the \J,H lllr.id She was prettv ,1f~d good to wa tr h. Besides the mole on the corners of her mouth her '2\'€S were big arid iiliv'C' And when she smiled, her teeth showed while like coconut meat. He had not, meant to bother her, but Omar was at a table in a corner looking at him through nr.gs of SfT\(1f..:2, across npiie of bottles and glasses. He d id not jo:n Omar hut he felt his eves fc)llowlng him. He tC".<·,'ll,·lIhcr table dnd l(llic',~) ;()~ elnd more be'cr' He d rank quicklv that the ug"-' l""l' '\i'u:c1 not std" IOllg;! )-;', m o u t h H,' (ll'fLi'l'd }l1S fist u ndcr the table tll keep hls I,li ""I,:I,t v-h il« b' did:,k \::,; soon he' :'('\',,111 tr Icc'l elll man Om,H held Si11d th(' hra\i.' ,\101(' " .i-: ~i'" \1,..;(1,', h,l"'Uld i!l,!f, p,hses "t ''-hrlstl.lli ~Irls, vv hen Forrrun> r a me hdCk to po ur i:!!l: ,J!l,:;tiWr' dr!l,f, he r;rc;!'ii".i hCI' to': tile \';r're;( Jnd drew her to him. "Just or«: kiSS," 11t' b.', ',,':,: l'J"d\e1._" !l'C'[ (1',,' 0,,""







"Let me go, let me go," the girl cfied, pulling




36 Alih flung


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an arm around her waist and pulled herdown to hislap __The'girl S'-'YA~'~:'\the:'.· pitcher of beer at him. He tried to reach her mouth with his, hut-a stream of saliva shotat his: face. The girl wrenched herself free and ran behind the counter. Mocking laughter broke from Ornar. and Alih felt the roof of the house falling on his head. The light went out of his mind, and he began tearing the place apartupsetting tables, smashing chairs, breakin s; glasses ... Later he was put to work on the road, digging ditches and carrying loads. But worse than the hot eye of the sun upon his bare back during his punishment were the eyes of Ornar on his nape, and the ring of his laughter In his ears on that fateful night parade was passing r a pid l y by: a group of barefoot laborers beanng placards in bamboo frames; tv ..o rCHVS of women in pina cloth blouses and long skirts, shading their f a ces with Japanese raper f a n s: young girls four abreast b a la nc in g themselves all high-heeled shoes, carrying flowers in their arms ... Soon there wo u ld be only the 101:g r o w-, of cars and jeeps arid calesas trailing the parade. Soon Alih would be on the outer fringe of the crowd, not in the middle of it There would not be many within reach to kill. Where was Ornar? This was his p lan! He had said-"Lik~ the w~y we d ro p sticks cf dvnu nute in c school of fish, Ahh, rIght in the middle-" He could not kill alone. He must not be killed alone. He did not know about horses' a terrible if there thought like a big wave when the sea was furious were no horses! What if the village priest was right

37 He was thrown

in jail for six months.

38 The

39 Suddenly
head, Whilt horses! 40


him on the there were no

"The white horse as a reward for killing, my sons, is an illusion conjured by fanatics In their attempt to give reason to their behavior. The prophet never taught It. He was a man ot peace. You will not find favor with him if you do this!" the Imam had told them. t\lih remembered the aid mans fdce in the wavering light of the oil lamp. HIS sunken cheeks were spectra l, but the tears in his eyes and the sadness of his voice had made him feel sorrier for him than for themselves over what had happened to them months ClgO Omar had dcc.dcd they should venture out as merchants They solei their house, their boats and fishing nets, even their rare cloths and their mother's pearls ,-\ nClghbor, \\o'ho was now prosperous enough to keep a radio in his house. had told them thaI forclp;n goods were cheap In Sandakan In British North Borneo clnd could be sold tor twice ,15 much 'll IC1\\,ll (}mar and .'\Iih had set to sea in a small ku rupit With d motor c1l1d outriggers Thr-v held bC)l!f,ht French pcrfu mcs. English soaps and r'OIll(Hi('s, :\l1lerICclll ('-lgdl"('>\lCS, 1>"I'Sldl1 rll~>, (ln~i na t rvo cloths Lim Chin? ... the nch Chinese merchant, held i~ll!el1 theln ';"\":'lIt,>{'I' t',l ~1·('lsof crude Oil for tll"I' motor, three bales, of dried fish and d s.ul, 01 lice (1) t l i.-r r . ~O"'):~II\'.' [(1<;(,11 the ,: ponds to no \,[1(, but him. "You wil] sell t,,) I~~'." [:11; Chilli' held Sdll.1 .


42 Several








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43 The trip, had been without danger. The rough sea did not tum their stomachs and the winds, ,::" the sun,',anctlherain 'were'not~nkindto theirbodies~ Theylaugh(;d at thetd~st0uard:',:t boats that went' past them as they hid in little island coves during the day> and as"they', ' drifted by themwith a dead motor without a hghtduringthe night But when they arrived' at Curuan, a village so far out of town that the roads did not reach it,.a group of men with straw hats pulled low over their ears, hiding their faces behind masks, had come from the coconut ~oves with guns and clubs, and had taken all they had except their boat and food. 44 The bitterness in their hearts was like a drink that was too strong for the stomach to hold down. They went hack to sea and stayed there a long time. And when they had eaten all their food and had drunk all the rain water in their earthen jar, Omar spoke about killing and dying .

"; :, "

45 "Only by killing, Alih, can we wash away our shame .... " he said, staring prow of their boat.

into space from the


46 Alih's heart had almost stopped beating. He leaned back and stretched himself full length on the long narrow deck, and watched the vaulted sky lower itself about him. A cloud floating above spread a white mourning sheet across it-arid he listened to his heart beating over the graveyard silence of the sea. But the little winds were astir and tingled the bare flesh of his sensitive body. Gr:pping theedge of his straw mat to still a trembling witlun him. he said, "Omar, r am not afraid to kill, but r am too young to die. r have not yet slept with a woman!" 47 "That is true," Omar said. "It is time you-knew a woman. r shall take you to a girl in Baiete who can sleep with you, Then you will have your hour in paradise." '
48 A burst

of hand-clapping and boisterous cheering turned Alihs attention towards a slow, lumbering truck corning down the road. The truck was hung with colored ribbons. paper flowers, and the yellow fronds of coconut palms. The American and Ph ilippui« flags were spread overits chassis side by Side. Mounted on the vehicle was a globe covered with \j(lnila paper. Crudely paintedin watercolors on the globe were the ma~ls of the two Amerir as and the Philippines, Holding on to a pole on the globe stood a beautiful girL l n her right hand she held uplifted a gift torch hung with long cellophane streamers that caught the sunlight In splinters. at the gl!'llike a man Just come out of his blindness Her graz-cfuliy upl:ftt?d llmh was long and 'full and the s k in of her undcr arrns which the ,Darted sleeves of her »own ,> =xr. •. lsed was of ,1 ;:\;11<. and \\ hlte hue-ld..:e the 1[,slde of a shell. ll o.«: sot: ,;I:d s'ur,,:e h(-, body must be under that gilUZ:y dress that caught the '-\'Ind like the SJiI :,' little vm t a, h.· Ihou,l:h t.

49 Alih gazed

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. ' 51:Asthe float carne closer, Alih thought he sawa -little black mole on the:corner of the girl's ,....•. ',mou'th'::she':s-niifed " ';~hdi(-was athim";ne"sil!iled'~\ind it wass0eet.rf hecould only reach ,::J1er;mouth:v{'ith his'(Her':'hair tumbled ,d.o0n;hershoulders in wavesarrd-httle wisps, -."~touch'ing:hei'cheeks~'andiLV:'as like the silk of .corn when the ear is, young. Its pungent Cfragrance seemed to reachhim and fill his nostrils. Suddenly it climbed to his head -and it was like the smell of the girl in Balete who had shared his mat and sheet. The blood thickened in his veins and the muscle of his body gripped his bones with passion. 52 The head of the parade had now reached the big, monument to Rizal-the hero of the country - where the important men of the town were going to make speeches. The people pushed one another as they rushed to the stand, breaking up the group formations. With a loud spurting of the motor, the big float shook to astop not far from Alih. The boy who had been thrmving candies and cigarettes alighted and called to the girl on the float. Throvvinv the gilt torch to the boy below, the girl began to climb down the paper globe. \\,hen she reached the floor of the vehicle, the boy came to the side of the float and held out his cHIl15 to her. As the girl bentdown. Alih held his breath, The girl was holding out her a r ms to the hov but somehow it seemed the boy was he- Alih! , 53 It was then that a strong hand reached out from behind him and clapped h im on the ,shoulder. He turned around and a trembling-as if the e a rth v.... hen many guns were
firilif,-st'::-i:;.::ed hi!"!""!.!t was his brcihcr
. ,0

Ornar! H;s fu\:€- was dark arid shining

with svveat.


feet were unsteady, and on his breath was the unmistakable tuba, He had been drird..;in2:~

smell of the native drll1k the

54 His soul instinctively recoiled. Drunk! Ornar was d runk! He wh o hac! spoken of wh ite horses and houris was drunk! He who had defied the holy man of the village saying~"5hame, shamc,tvlan of i\lohammcd, your blood has turned to water or you would not put III the prophet the heart of a chicken" -was drunk and afraid! 55 "Now!" cried Omar as he leapt into thestreet blad e. drawing from the folds of his pants the fdtcll

56 The crowd screamed, Fear arid t',lnl( seized evervone. Shrieks of terror tore out cd m.u i. throats. The reor,le dispersed (rom Omar's path like childrell.ell ,1 tellr on the elr'prod,h "I d;' escaped elcphdnt or'tlger. The bov making readv to help the girl down turned a rour«: MII,i (oak to his hcels, The girl )umr>cd to the ground, fell, picked herself up arid stMtcci to 11IIl Bllt her long tlol\'lng robe taught on an edge of the bamboo frame of the nOelt ,md ht'id IH'I Frantica l!v she struggled to set herself frN', pulling and tedrlll?, at her skirt 1\'1111 her iIIW,t.'I',: To rr or. cold and stark. was on her face CIS she saw Omar coming towa rd s her S\Vln?,1:1~~lied! c
his naked blade.




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58 The screams struck Alih likE~blow's on the head. They jolted his m.emory. The girl was his, his-AIm's! And she was not to die. She was Fermina, the Christian maid he had wanted to kiss, the little American girl who had smiled at him and laughed with him, the woman of Balete who had shared his mat and sheet. .. she was not to die! 59 Drawing his blade from its sheath between his legs, he leaped after his brother like a horse gone wild. A savage cry sprang from his lips as he caught the sun in his razor-sharp blade and swung it down on his brother's back again and again, until a volley of hot lead ripped through his flesh, blowing up the fire in his veins that geysered up to the sky in spall ts of deep, dark red. ' 60 The town spoke ab'out the- strange tragedy for mapy days after. Sui nobody had known Alih, and nobody could figure out why he had turned against his brother. Some said th'lt the rigid fasting must have made him lose his head, others that, perhaps, he had always hated his brother; but I, who was not there, declare that-like many another man-:-:\iih, simply, did not love his white horse as he did his houri.

Wri A.

B. \





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