THE CASE OF JUAN DE LA CRUZ
Four of the five actors or victims in the tragedy were well known to me, and I learned all the particulars at first hand and at the time, from those who took steps to deliver over the culprit to justice.
The decked steam launch Laguimanoc belonged to Gustav Brown, a ship carpenter, and was hired by the Varadero, or Slipway Company of Canacao, near Cavite, to keep up communication with Manila, whilst the slip was being constructed.
I was consulting engineer to the company, and Mr. J. L. Houston was the resident engineer in charge of the work. Both of us made frequent voyages in this launch between Canacao and Manila. The crew consisted of a patron (coxswain) named Juan de la Cruz, an engine-driver, a stoker, and a boy, all Tagals.
Juan de la Cruz was an elderly man with grey hair, and in figure thin and wiry. He was a good man at his duty, one of the silent Indians whom I have always found to be the best. A thorough sailor, he had served under many a flag, and sailed o'er many a sea, both in tropic and in northern climes.
The engine-driver and the stoker were brothers, strong and well-built young fellows, and smart at their work. The boy was an active lad, quite pleased to be employed on a steam-boat.
One day, the stoker, going through the blacksmith's shop, saw a piece of square steel, which had been cut off a long bar, lying on the floor, and it struck him that it would be better than a hammer for breaking coal. So he annexed it without leave, and got one end drawn out and rounded so that he could easily hold it. This made a very efficient coal-breaker, the sharp edges divided the lumps with great ease. It was about eighteen inches long, and one and three-quarter inches square. The patron was married, and his wife lived in Manila, but, sailor-like, he had provided himself with a sweetheart, at the other end of his run, where he spent more time than in the Pasig, and had become intimate with a damsel of San Roque, a village between the Varadero and Cavite. Things went on apparently all right for some time ; the launch making almost daily trips between Canacao and Manila, and the elderly patron alternating between the conjugal domicile and the dwelling of his mistress. She was young, and, as native girls go, a pretty woman. Come of a strange and