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him with his fists.He accompaniedevery blowwith a curse."I hope you die, youlittledemon,"he said between sobs, forhewas crying and he could hardly see. Ambowriggled and struggled and tried tobite Baldo's legs. Failing,he buriedhis face inthe sand and howled lustily. Baldo nowleft him and ran tothe black-spottedpuppy which he caughtup in his arms, holdingitagainsthis throat.Ambo followed, crying out threatsand curses.He grabbedthe tailofthe puppyand jerked hard. The puppy howled shrilly and Baldo let it go,but Ambo kept hold ofthe tail as the dogfell tothe ground. Itturnedaroundand snappedat the hand holding itstail. Its sharp little teeth sank into the fleshy edge of Ambo's palm.With a cry, Ambo snatchedaway his handfrom the mouth ofthe enragedpuppy. Atthat moment the windowofthe house facing the streetwas pushedviolentlyopen and the boys' father,Tang Ciaco, looked out. He saw the blood fromthe toothmarksonAmbo's hand.He called out inarticulatelyand the twobrotherslookedup in surpriseand fear. Ambohid his bittenhandbehindhim. Baldo stoppedtopick upthe black-spottedpuppy,butTang Ciaco shoutedhoarselytohim not to touch the dog.AtTang Ciaco's angry voice, the puppy had crouched back snarling,its pink lips drawn back, the hair onits back rising."The doghas gone mad,"the man cried,coming downhurriedly.Bythe stove in the kitchen,he stoppedto get a sizeablepieceoffirewood,throwing an angry look and a curseatNana Elang forlettingher sons play with the dogs. He removedasplinterortwo,then hurrieddownthe ladder, cursingin aloud angry voice.Nana Elang ran tothe doorway and stood there silently fingering herskirt. Baldo and Ambo awaited the coming oftheir fatherwith fear written ontheir faces.Baldohated hisfather asmuch ashefearedhim. He watchedhim nowwith half amind toflee asTang Ciaco approachedwith the pieceoffirewood held firmly in one hand.He a big, gauntman with thick bonywrists andstoopshoulders.Ashort-sleevedcotton shirt revealedhis sinewy arms onwhich the blood-vesselsstood outlike roots. His short pantsshowed his bony-kneed,hard-muscledlegs covered with blackhair.He was acarpenter.He had come homedrunkthenight before.He was not an habitualdrunkard,but nowandthenhe drank " great quantitiesofbasi and came home and beat his wifeand children. "'~"-,,, __ ,. Hewould blame them fortheirhard life and poverty. "Youare aprostitute," - ~_ he wo~ld'r6arat his wife, and as he beat his children,he would shout,"I -~--------.--------".-'
will kill you both, you bastards."IfNana Elang venturedto remonstrate, he would beat them harderand curse her forbeing an interferingwhore. "I am king in my house,"he would say. Nowas he approachedthe two,Ambo coweredbehindhis elder brother. Heheld ontoBaldo'sundershirt,keeping hiswounded hand at his back,unabletoremove his gazefromhis father'sclose-set,red-specked eyes. The puppy with ayelp slunk between Baldo's legs. Baldo looked at the dog, avoidinghis father'seyes. TangCiaco roaredat them to get away from the dog: "Fools!Don't yousee it ismad?"Baldo laid ahand onAmbo as they movedback hastily.He wantedto tell his fatherit was not true,thedog was not mad, itwas all Ambo's fault,but his tongue refusedtomove. The puppy attemptedto follow them,butTang Ciaco caughtit with a sweepingblow ofthe pieceoffirewood. The puppy wasflung into the air.It rolledover once beforeitfell, howling weakly. Again thechunkoffirewood descended,Tang Ciaco gruntingwith the efforthe put into the blow,and thepuppyceasedtohowl. It lay on its side, feebly moving its jaws from which darkblood oozed. Once moreTang Ciaco raisedhis arm, but Baldo suddenlyclungtoitwith both handsand beggedhim tostop. "Enough,father,enough.Don't beat itanymore,"he entreated.Tears flowed down his upraisedface. TangCiaco shook him offwith an oath. Baldo fell on his face in the dust. He did notrise, but cried and sobbed and...