The Reign of Greed

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Title: The Reign of Greed
Complete English Version of ‘El Filibusterismo’

Author: Jose Rizal

Translator: Charles Derbyshire

Release Date: October 10, 2005 [EBook #10676]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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The Reign of Greed

A Complete English Version of _El Filibusterismo_ from the Spanish of
José Rizal

By

Charles Derbyshire

Manila
Philippine Education Company
1912

Copyright, 1912, by Philippine Education Company.
Entered at Stationers’ Hall.
Registrado en las Islas Filipinas.
_All rights reserved_.

TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION

El Filibusterismo, the second of José Rizal’s novels of Philippine
life, is a story of the last days of the Spanish régime in the
Philippines. Under the name of _The Reign of Greed_ it is for the
first time translated into English. Written some four or five years
after _Noli Me Tangere_, the book represents Rizal’s more mature
judgment on political and social conditions in the islands, and in
its graver and less hopeful tone reflects the disappointments and
discouragements which he had encountered in his efforts to lead the
way to reform. Rizal’s dedication to the first edition is of special
interest, as the writing of it was one of the grounds of accusation
against him when he was condemned to death in 1896. It reads:

“To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years
old), Don José Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora
(35 years old). Executed in Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of
February, 1872.

“The Church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt
the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by
surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows, causes the
belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments;
and all the Philippines, by worshiping your memory and calling
you martyrs, in no sense recognizes your culpability. In so
far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite mutiny is not
clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and
as you may or may not have cherished sentiments for justice
and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to
you as victims of the evil which I undertake to combat. And
while we await expectantly upon Spain some day to restore
your good name and cease to be answerable for your death,
let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried leaves over
your unknown tombs, and let it be understood that every one
who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands
in your blood!

J. Rizal.”

A brief recapitulation of the story in _Noli Me Tangere_ (The Social
Cancer) is essential to an understanding of such plot as there is
in the present work, which the author called a “continuation” of the
first story.

Juan Crisostomo Ibarra is a young Filipino, who, after studying
for seven years in Europe, returns to his native land to find that
his father, a wealthy landowner, has died in prison as the result
of a quarrel with the parish curate, a Franciscan friar named Padre
Damaso. Ibarra is engaged to a beautiful and accomplished girl, Maria
Clara, the supposed daughter and only child of the rich Don Santiago
de los Santos, commonly known as “Capitan Tiago,” a typical Filipino
cacique, the predominant character fostered by the friar régime.

Ibarra resolves to forego all quarrels and to work for the betterment
of his people. To show his good intentions, he seeks to establish,
at his own expense, a public school in his native town. He meets with
ostensible support from all, especially Padre Damaso’s successor,
a young and gloomy Franciscan named Padre Salvi, for whom Maria Clara
confesses to an instinctive dread.

At the laying of the corner-stone for the new schoolhouse a
suspicious accident, apparently aimed at Ibarra’s life, occurs, but
the festivities proceed until the dinner, where Ibarra is grossly and
wantonly insulted over the memory of his father by Fray Damaso. The
young man loses control of himself and is about to kill the friar,
who is saved by the intervention of Maria Clara.

Ibarra is excommunicated, and Capitan Tiago, through his fear of the
friars, is forced to break the engagement and agree to the marriage of
Maria Clara with a young and inoffensive Spaniard provided by Padre
Damaso. Obedient to her reputed father’s command and influenced
by her mysterious dread of Padre Salvi, Maria Clara consents to
this arrangement, but becomes seriously ill, only to be saved by
medicines sent secretly by Ibarra and clandestinely administered by
a girl friend.

Ibarra succeeds in having the excommunication removed, but before he
can explain matters an uprising against the Civil Guard is secretly
brought about through agents of Padre Salvi, and the leadership is
ascribed to Ibarra to ruin him. He is warned by a mysterious friend,
an outlaw called Elias, whose life he had accidentally saved; but
desiring first to see Maria Clara, he refuses to make his escape,
and when the outbreak occurs he is arrested as the instigator of it
and thrown into prison in Manila.

On the evening when Capitan Tiago gives a ball in his Manila house to
celebrate his supposed daughter’s engagement, Ibarra makes his escape
from prison and succeeds in seeing Maria Clara alone. He begins to
reproach her because it is a letter written to her before he went to
Europe which forms the basis of the charge against him, but she clears
herself of treachery to him. The letter had been secured from her by
false representations and in exchange for two others written by her
mother just before her birth, which prove that Padre Damaso is her
real father. These letters had been accidentally discovered in the
convento by Padre Salvi, who made use of them to intimidate the girl
and get possession of Ibarra’s letter, from which he forged others
to incriminate the young man. She tells him that she will marry the
young Spaniard, sacrificing herself thus to save her mother’s name
and Capitan Tiago’s honor and to prevent a public scandal, but that
she will always remain true to him.

Ibarra’s escape had been effected by Elias, who conveys him in a
banka up the Pasig to the Lake, where they are so closely beset by
the Civil Guard that Elias leaps into the water and draws the pursuers
away from the boat, in which Ibarra lies concealed.

On Christmas Eve, at the tomb of the Ibarras in a gloomy wood,
Elias appears, wounded and dying, to find there a boy named Basilio
beside the corpse of his mother, a poor woman who had been driven
to insanity by her husband’s neglect and abuses on the part of the
Civil Guard, her younger son having disappeared some time before in
the convento, where he was a sacristan. Basilio, who is ignorant of
Elias’s identity, helps him to build a funeral pyre, on which his
corpse and the madwoman’s are to be burned.

Upon learning of the reported death of Ibarra in the chase on the Lake,
Maria Clara becomes disconsolate and begs her supposed godfather,
Fray Damaso, to put her in a nunnery. Unconscious of her knowledge of
their true relationship, the friar breaks down and confesses that all
the trouble he has stirred up with the Ibarras has been to prevent her
from marrying a native, which would condemn her and her children to
the oppressed and enslaved class. He finally yields to her entreaties
and she enters the nunnery of St. Clara, to which Padre Salvi is soon
assigned in a ministerial capacity.

O masters, lords, and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape-;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords, and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings–
With those who shaped him to the thing he is–
When this dumb terror shall reply to God,
After the silence of the centuries?

Edwin Markham

CONTENTS

I.          On the Upper Deck
II.         On the Lower Deck
III.        Legends
IV.         Cabesang Tales
V.          A Cochero’s Christmas Eve
VI.         Basilio
VII.        Simoun
VIII.       Merry Christmas
IX.         Pilates
X.          Wealth and Want
XI.         Los Baños
XII.        Placido Penitente
XIII.       The Class in Physics
XIV.        In the House of the Students
XV.         Señor Pasta
XVI.        The Tribulations of a Chinese
XVII.       The Quiapo Pair
XVIII.      Legerdemain
XIX.        The Fuse
XX.         The Arbiter
XXI.        Manila Types
XXII.       The Performance
XXIII.      A Corpse
XXIV.       Dreams
XXV.        Smiles and Tears
XXVI.       Pasquinades
XXVII.      The Friar and the Filipino
XXVIII.     Tatakut
XXIX.       Exit Capitan Tiago
XXX.        Juli
XXXI.       The High Official
XXXII.      Effect of the Pasquinades
XXXIII.     La Ultima Razón
XXXIV.      The Wedding
XXXV.       The Fiesta
XXXVI.      Ben-Zayb’s Afflictions
XXXVII.     The Mystery
XXXVIII.    Fatality
XXXIX.      Conclusion

CHAPTER I

ON THE UPPER DECK

Sic itur ad astra.

One morning in December the steamer _Tabo_ was laboriously ascending
the tortuous course of the Pasig, carrying a large crowd of passengers
toward the province of La Laguna. She was a heavily built steamer,
almost round, like the _tabú_ from which she derived her name,
quite dirty in spite of her pretensions to whiteness, majestic and
grave from her leisurely motion. Altogether, she was held in great
affection in that region, perhaps from her Tagalog name, or from the
fact that she bore the characteristic impress of things in the country,
representing something like a triumph over progress, a steamer that was
not a steamer at all, an organism, stolid, imperfect yet unimpeachable,
which, when it wished to pose as being rankly progressive, proudly
contented itself with putting on a fresh coat of paint. Indeed, the
happy steamer was genuinely Filipino! If a person were only reasonably
considerate, she might even have been taken for the Ship of State,
constructed, as she had been, under the inspection of _Reverendos_
and _Ilustrísimos_….

Bathed in the sunlight of a morning that made the waters of the river
sparkle and the breezes rustle in the bending bamboo on its banks,
there she goes with her white silhouette throwing out great clouds
of smoke–the Ship of State, so the joke runs, also has the vice of
smoking! The whistle shrieks at every moment, hoarse and commanding
like a tyrant who would rule by shouting, so that no one on board
can hear his own thoughts. She menaces everything she meets: now she
looks as though she would grind to bits the _salambaw_, insecure
fishing apparatus which in their movements resemble skeletons of
giants saluting an antediluvian tortoise; now she speeds straight
toward the clumps of bamboo or against the amphibian structures,
_karihan_, or wayside lunch-stands, which, amid _gumamelas_ and other
flowers, look like indecisive bathers who with their feet already in
the water cannot bring themselves to make the final plunge; at times,
following a sort of channel marked out in the river by tree-trunks,
she moves along with a satisfied air, except when a sudden shock
disturbs the passengers and throws them off their balance, all the
result of a collision with a sand-bar which no one dreamed was there.

Moreover, if the comparison with the Ship of State is not yet complete,
note the arrangement of the passengers. On the lower deck appear brown
faces and black heads, types of Indians, [1] Chinese, and mestizos,
wedged in between bales of merchandise and boxes, while there on the
upper deck, beneath an awning that protects them from the sun, are
seated in comfortable chairs a few passengers dressed in the fashion of
Europeans, friars, and government clerks, each with his _puro_ cigar,
and gazing at the landscape apparently without heeding the efforts
of the captain and the sailors to overcome the obstacles in the river.

The captain was a man of kindly aspect, well along in years, an old
sailor who in his youth had plunged into far vaster seas, but who now
in his age had to exercise much greater attention, care, and vigilance
to avoid dangers of a trivial character. And they were the same for
each day: the same sand-bars, the same hulk of unwieldy steamer wedged
into the same curves, like a corpulent dame in a jammed throng. So,
at each moment, the good man had to stop, to back up, to go forward at
half speed, sending–now to port, now to starboard–the five sailors
equipped with long bamboo poles to give force to the turn the rudder
had suggested. He was like a veteran who, after leading men through
hazardous campaigns, had in his age become the tutor of a capricious,
disobedient, and lazy boy.

Doña Victorina, the only lady seated in the European group, could say
whether the _Tabo_ was not lazy, disobedient, and capricious–Doña
Victorina, who, nervous as ever, was hurling invectives against the
cascos, bankas, rafts of coconuts, the Indians paddling about, and
even the washerwomen and bathers, who fretted her with their mirth and
chatter. Yes, the _Tabo_ would move along very well if there were no
Indians in the river, no Indians in the country, yes, if there were
not a single Indian in the world–regardless of the fact that the
helmsmen were Indians, the sailors Indians, Indians the engineers,
Indians ninety-nine per cent, of the passengers, and she herself also
an Indian if the rouge were scratched off and her pretentious gown
removed. That morning Doña Victorina was more irritated than usual
because the members of the group took very little notice of her,
reason for which was not lacking; for just consider–there could be
found three friars, convinced that the world would move backwards the
very day they should take a single step to the right; an indefatigable
Don Custodio who was sleeping peacefully, satisfied with his projects;
a prolific writer like Ben-Zayb (anagram of Ibañez), who believed that
the people of Manila thought because he, Ben-Zayb, was a thinker;
a canon like Padre Irene, who added luster to the clergy with his
rubicund face, carefully shaven, from which towered a beautiful Jewish
nose, and his silken cassock of neat cut and small buttons; and a
wealthy jeweler like Simoun, who was reputed to be the adviser and
inspirer of all the acts of his Excellency, the Captain-General–just
consider the presence there of these pillars _sine quibus non_ of the
country, seated there in agreeable discourse, showing little sympathy
for a renegade Filipina who dyed her hair red! Now wasn’t this enough
to exhaust the patience of a female Job–a sobriquet Doña Victorina
always applied to herself when put out with any one!

The ill-humor of the señora increased every time the captain shouted
“Port,” “Starboard” to the sailors, who then hastily seized their
poles and thrust them against the banks, thus with the strength of
their legs and shoulders preventing the steamer from shoving its hull
ashore at that particular point. Seen under these circumstances the
Ship of State might be said to have been converted from a tortoise
into a crab every time any danger threatened.

“But, captain, why don’t your stupid steersmen go in that
direction?” asked the lady with great indignation.

“Because it’s very shallow in the other, señora,” answered the captain,
deliberately, slowly winking one eye, a little habit which he had
cultivated as if to say to his words on their way out, “Slowly,
slowly!”

“Half speed! Botheration, half speed!” protested Doña Victorina
disdainfully. “Why not full?”

“Because we should then be traveling over those ricefields, señora,”
replied the imperturbable captain, pursing his lips to indicate the
cultivated fields and indulging in two circumspect winks.

This Doña Victorina was well known in the country for her caprices and
extravagances. She was often seen in society, where she was tolerated
whenever she appeared in the company of her niece, Paulita Gomez,
a very beautiful and wealthy orphan, to whom she was a kind of
guardian. At a rather advanced age she had married a poor wretch
named Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, and at the time we now see her,
carried upon herself fifteen years of wedded life, false frizzes, and a
half-European costume–for her whole ambition had been to Europeanize
herself, with the result that from the ill-omened day of her wedding
she had gradually, thanks to her criminal attempts, succeeded in
so transforming herself that at the present time Quatrefages and
Virchow together could not have told where to classify her among the
known races.

Her husband, who had borne all her impositions with the resignation of
a fakir through so many years of married life, at last on one luckless
day had had his bad half-hour and administered to her a superb whack
with his crutch. The surprise of Madam Job at such an inconsistency
of character made her insensible to the immediate effects, and only
after she had recovered from her astonishment and her husband had
fled did she take notice of the pain, then remaining in bed for
several days, to the great delight of Paulita, who was very fond
of joking and laughing at her aunt. As for her husband, horrified
at the impiety of what appeared to him to be a terrific parricide,
he took to flight, pursued by the matrimonial furies (two curs and a
parrot), with all the speed his lameness permitted, climbed into the
first carriage he encountered, jumped into the first banka he saw on
the river, and, a Philippine Ulysses, began to wander from town to
town, from province to province, from island to island, pursued and
persecuted by his bespectacled Calypso, who bored every one that had
the misfortune to travel in her company. She had received a report of
his being in the province of La Laguna, concealed in one of the towns,
so thither she was bound to seduce him back with her dyed frizzes.

Her fellow travelers had taken measures of defense by keeping up
among themselves a lively conversation on any topic whatsoever. At
that moment the windings and turnings of the river led them to talk
about straightening the channel and, as a matter of course, about the
port works. Ben-Zayb, the journalist with the countenance of a friar,
was disputing with a young friar who in turn had the countenance of an
artilleryman. Both were shouting, gesticulating, waving their arms,
spreading out their hands, stamping their feet, talking of levels,
fish-corrals, the San Mateo River, [2] of cascos, of Indians, and so
on, to the great satisfaction of their listeners and the undisguised
disgust of an elderly Franciscan, remarkably thin and withered,
and a handsome Dominican about whose lips flitted constantly a
scornful smile.

The thin Franciscan, understanding the Dominican’s smile, decided
to intervene and stop the argument. He was undoubtedly respected,
for with a wave of his hand he cut short the speech of both at the
moment when the friar-artilleryman was talking about experience and
the journalist-friar about scientists.

“Scientists, Ben-Zayb–do you know what they are?” asked the Franciscan
in a hollow voice, scarcely stirring in his seat and making only a
faint gesture with his skinny hand. “Here you have in the province
a bridge, constructed by a brother of ours, which was not completed
because the scientists, relying on their theories, condemned it as
weak and scarcely safe–yet look, it is the bridge that has withstood
all the floods and earthquakes!” [3]

“That’s it, _puñales,_ that very thing, that was exactly what I was
going to say!” exclaimed the friar-artilleryman, thumping his fists
down on the arms of his bamboo chair. “That’s it, that bridge and
the scientists! That was just what I was going to mention, Padre
Salvi–_puñales!_”

Ben-Zayb remained silent, half smiling, either out of respect or
because he really did not know what to reply, and yet his was the only
thinking head in the Philippines! Padre Irene nodded his approval as
he rubbed his long nose.

Padre Salvi, the thin and withered cleric, appeared to be satisfied
with such submissiveness and went on in the midst of the silence:
“But this does not mean that you may not be as near right as Padre
Camorra” (the friar-artilleryman). “The trouble is in the lake–”

“The fact is there isn’t a single decent lake in this country,”
interrupted Doña Victorina, highly indignant, and getting ready for
a return to the assault upon the citadel.

The besieged gazed at one another in terror, but with the promptitude
of a general, the jeweler Simoun rushed in to the rescue. “The remedy
is very simple,” he said in a strange accent, a mixture of English
and South American. “And I really don’t understand why it hasn’t
occurred to somebody.”

All turned to give him careful attention, even the Dominican. The
jeweler was a tall, meager, nervous man, very dark, dressed in the
English fashion and wearing a pith helmet. Remarkable about him was
his long white hair contrasted with a sparse black beard, indicating a
mestizo origin. To avoid the glare of the sun he wore constantly a pair
of enormous blue goggles, which completely hid his eyes and a portion
of his cheeks, thus giving him the aspect of a blind or weak-sighted
person. He was standing with his legs apart as if to maintain his
balance, with his hands thrust into the pockets of his coat.

“The remedy is very simple,” he repeated, “and wouldn’t cost a cuarto.”

The attention now redoubled, for it was whispered in Manila that this
man controlled the Captain-General, and all saw the remedy in process
of execution. Even Don Custodio himself turned to listen.

“Dig a canal straight from the source to the mouth of the river,
passing through Manila; that is, make a new river-channel and fill
up the old Pasig. That would save land, shorten communication, and
prevent the formation of sandbars.”

The project left all his hearers astounded, accustomed as they were
to palliative measures.

“It’s a Yankee plan!” observed Ben-Zayb, to ingratiate himself with
Simoun, who had spent a long time in North America.

All considered the plan wonderful and so indicated by the movements
of their heads. Only Don Custodio, the liberal Don Custodio, owing to
his independent position and his high offices, thought it his duty
to attack a project that did not emanate from himself–that was a
usurpation! He coughed, stroked the ends of his mustache, and with
a voice as important as though he were at a formal session of the
Ayuntamiento, said, “Excuse me, Señor Simoun, my respected friend,
if I should say that I am not of your opinion. It would cost a great
deal of money and might perhaps destroy some towns.”

“Then destroy them!” rejoined Simoun coldly.

“And the money to pay the laborers?”

“Don’t pay them! Use the prisoners and convicts!”

“But there aren’t enough, Señor Simoun!”

“Then, if there aren’t enough, let all the villagers, the old men,
the youths, the boys, work. Instead of the fifteen days of obligatory
service, let them work three, four, five months for the State, with the
additional obligation that each one provide his own food and tools.”

The startled Don Custodio turned his head to see if there was any
Indian within ear-shot, but fortunately those nearby were rustics,
and the two helmsmen seemed to be very much occupied with the windings
of the river.

“But, Señor Simoun–”

“Don’t fool yourself, Don Custodio,” continued Simoun dryly, “only in
this way are great enterprises carried out with small means. Thus
were constructed the Pyramids, Lake Moeris, and the Colosseum
in Rome. Entire provinces came in from the desert, bringing their
tubers to feed on. Old men, youths, and boys labored in transporting
stones, hewing them, and carrying them on their shoulders under
the direction of the official lash, and afterwards, the survivors
returned to their homes or perished in the sands of the desert. Then
came other provinces, then others, succeeding one another in the work
during years. Thus the task was finished, and now we admire them,
we travel, we go to Egypt and to Home, we extol the Pharaohs and the
Antonines. Don’t fool yourself–the dead remain dead, and might only
is considered right by posterity.”

“But, Señor Simoun, such measures might provoke uprisings,” objected
Don Custodio, rather uneasy over the turn the affair had taken.

“Uprisings, ha, ha! Did the Egyptian people ever rebel, I wonder? Did
the Jewish prisoners rebel against the pious Titus? Man, I thought
you were better informed in history!”

Clearly Simoun was either very presumptuous or disregarded
conventionalities! To say to Don Custodio’s face that he did not know
history! It was enough to make any one lose his temper! So it seemed,
for Don Custodio forgot himself and retorted, “But the fact is that
you’re not among Egyptians or Jews!”

“And these people have rebelled more than once,” added the Dominican,
somewhat timidly. “In the times when they were forced to transport
heavy timbers for the construction of ships, if it hadn’t been for
the clerics–”

“Those times are far away,” answered Simoun, with a laugh even drier
than usual. “These islands will never again rebel, no matter how much
work and taxes they have. Haven’t you lauded to me, Padre Salvi,”
he added, turning to the Franciscan, “the house and hospital at Los
Baños, where his Excellency is at present?”

Padre Salvi gave a nod and looked up, evading the question.

“Well, didn’t you tell me that both buildings were constructed
by forcing the people to work on them under the whip of a
lay-brother? Perhaps that wonderful bridge was built in the same
way. Now tell me, did these people rebel?”

“The fact is–they have rebelled before,” replied the Dominican,
“and _ab actu ad posse valet illatio!_”

“No, no, nothing of the kind,” continued Simoun, starting down a
hatchway to the cabin. “What’s said, is said! And you, Padre Sibyla,
don’t talk either Latin or nonsense. What are you friars good for if
the people can rebel?”

Taking no notice of the replies and protests, Simoun descended the
small companionway that led below, repeating disdainfully, “Bosh,
bosh!”

Padre Sibyla turned pale; this was the first time that he, Vice-Rector
of the University, had ever been credited with nonsense. Don Custodio
turned green; at no meeting in which he had ever found himself had
he encountered such an adversary.

“An American mulatto!” he fumed.

“A British Indian,” observed Ben-Zayb in a low tone.

“An American, I tell you, and shouldn’t I know?” retorted Don Custodio
in ill-humor. “His Excellency has told me so. He’s a jeweler whom
the latter knew in Havana, and, as I suspect, the one who got him
advancement by lending him money. So to repay him he has had him come
here to let him have a chance and increase his fortune by selling
diamonds–imitations, who knows? And he so ungrateful, that, after
getting money from the Indians, he wishes–huh!” The sentence was
concluded by a significant wave of the hand.

No one dared to join in this diatribe. Don Custodio could discredit
himself with his Excellency, if he wished, but neither Ben-Zayb,
nor Padre Irene, nor Padre Salvi, nor the offended Padre Sibyla had
any confidence in the discretion of the others.

“The fact is that this man, being an American, thinks no doubt
that we are dealing with the redskins. To talk of these matters on
a steamer! Compel, force the people! And he’s the very person who
advised the expedition to the Carolines and the campaign in Mindanao,
which is going to bring us to disgraceful ruin. He’s the one who
has offered to superintend the building of the cruiser, and I say,
what does a jeweler, no matter how rich and learned he may be, know
about naval construction?”

All this was spoken by Don Custodio in a guttural tone to his neighbor
Ben-Zayb, while he gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and from time
to time with his looks consulted the others, who were nodding their
heads ambiguously. The Canon Irene indulged in a rather equivocal
smile, which he half hid with his hand as he rubbed his nose.

“I tell you, Ben-Zayb,” continued Don Custodio, slapping the journalist
on the arm, “all the trouble comes from not consulting the old-timers
here. A project in fine words, and especially with a big appropriation,
with an appropriation in round numbers, dazzles, meets with acceptance
at once, for this!” Here, in further explanation, he rubbed the tip
of his thumb against his middle and forefinger. [4]

“There’s something in that, there’s something in that,” Ben-Zayb
thought it his duty to remark, since in his capacity of journalist
he had to be informed about everything.

“Now look here, before the port works I presented a project, original,
simple, useful, economical, and practicable, for clearing away the bar
in the lake, and it hasn’t been accepted because there wasn’t any of
that in it.” He repeated the movement of his fingers, shrugged his
shoulders, and gazed at the others as though to say, “Have you ever
heard of such a misfortune?”

“May we know what it was?” asked several, drawing nearer and giving
him their attention. The projects of Don Custodio were as renowned
as quacks’ specifics.

Don Custodio was on the point of refusing to explain it from
resentment at not having found any supporters in his diatribe against
Simoun. “When there’s no danger, you want me to talk, eh? And when
there is, you keep quiet!” he was going to say, but that would cause
the loss of a good opportunity, and his project, now that it could
not be carried out, might at least be known and admired.

After blowing out two or three puffs of smoke, coughing, and spitting
through a scupper, he slapped Ben-Zayb on the thigh and asked,
“You’ve seen ducks?”

“I rather think so–we’ve hunted them on the lake,” answered the
surprised journalist.

“No, I’m not talking about wild ducks, I’m talking of the domestic
ones, of those that are raised in Pateros and Pasig. Do you know what
they feed on?”

Ben-Zayb, the only thinking head, did not know–he was not engaged
in that business.

“On snails, man, on snails!” exclaimed Padre Camorra. “One doesn’t
have to be an Indian to know that; it’s sufficient to have eyes!”

“Exactly so, on snails!” repeated Don Custodio, flourishing his
forefinger. “And do you know where they get them?”

Again the thinking head did not know.

“Well, if you had been in the country as many years as I have, you
would know that they fish them out of the bar itself, where they
abound, mixed with the sand.”

“Then your project?”

“Well, I’m coming to that. My idea was to compel all the towns round
about, near the bar, to raise ducks, and you’ll see how they, all
by themselves, will deepen the channel by fishing for the snails–no
more and no less, no more and no less!”

Here Don Custodio extended his arms and gazed triumphantly at the
stupefaction of his hearers–to none of them had occurred such an
original idea.

“Will you allow me to write an article about that?” asked Ben-Zayb. “In
this country there is so little thinking done–”

“But, Don Custodio,” exclaimed Doña Victorina with smirks and grimaces,
“if everybody takes to raising ducks the _balot_ [5] eggs will become
abundant. Ugh, how nasty! Rather, let the bar close up entirely!”

CHAPTER II

ON THE LOWER DECK

There, below, other scenes were being enacted. Seated on benches
or small wooden stools among valises, boxes, and baskets, a few
feet from the engines, in the heat of the boilers, amid the human
smells and the pestilential odor of oil, were to be seen the great
majority of the passengers. Some were silently gazing at the changing
scenes along the banks, others were playing cards or conversing in the
midst of the scraping of shovels, the roar of the engine, the hiss of
escaping steam, the swash of disturbed waters, and the shrieks of the
whistle. In one corner, heaped up like corpses, slept, or tried to
sleep, a number of Chinese pedlers, seasick, pale, frothing through
half-opened lips, and bathed in their copious perspiration. Only
a few youths, students for the most part, easily recognizable from
their white garments and their confident bearing, made bold to move
about from stern to bow, leaping over baskets and boxes, happy in
the prospect of the approaching vacation. Now they commented on the
movements of the engines, endeavoring to recall forgotten notions of
physics, now they surrounded the young schoolgirl or the red-lipped
_buyera_ with her collar of _sampaguitas,_ whispering into their ears
words that made them smile and cover their faces with their fans.

Nevertheless, two of them, instead of engaging in these fleeting
gallantries, stood in the bow talking with a man, advanced in years,
but still vigorous and erect. Both these youths seemed to be well
known and respected, to judge from the deference shown them by their
fellow passengers. The elder, who was dressed in complete black, was
the medical student, Basilio, famous for his successful cures and
extraordinary treatments, while the other, taller and more robust,
although much younger, was Isagani, one of the poets, or at least
rimesters, who that year came from the Ateneo, [6] a curious character,
ordinarily quite taciturn and uncommunicative. The man talking with
them was the rich Capitan Basilio, who was returning from a business
trip to Manila.

“Capitan Tiago is getting along about the same as usual, yes, sir,”
said the student Basilio, shaking his head. “He won’t submit to any
treatment. At the advice of _a certain person_ he is sending me to San
Diego under the pretext of looking after his property, but in reality
so that he may be left to smoke his opium with complete liberty.”

When the student said _a certain person_, he really meant Padre Irene,
a great friend and adviser of Capitan Tiago in his last days.

“Opium is one of the plagues of modern times,” replied the capitan
with the disdain and indignation of a Roman senator. “The ancients knew
about it but never abused it. While the addiction to classical studies
lasted–mark this well, young men–opium was used solely as a medicine;
and besides, tell me who smoke it the most?–Chinamen, Chinamen who
don’t understand a word of Latin! Ah, if Capitan Tiago had only devoted
himself to Cicero–” Here the most classical disgust painted itself
on his carefully-shaven Epicurean face. Isagani regarded him with
attention: that gentleman was suffering from nostalgia for antiquity.

“But to get back to this academy of Castilian,” Capitan Basilio
continued, “I assure you, gentlemen, that you won’t materialize it.”

“Yes, sir, from day to day we’re expecting the permit,” replied
Isagani. “Padre Irene, whom you may have noticed above, and to whom
we’ve presented a team of bays, has promised it to us. He’s on his
way now to confer with the General.”

“That doesn’t matter. Padre Sibyla is opposed to it.”

“Let him oppose it! That’s why he’s here on the steamer, in order
to–at Los Baños before the General.”

And the student Basilio filled out his meaning by going through the
pantomime of striking his fists together.

“That’s understood,” observed Capitan Basilio, smiling. “But even
though you get the permit, where’ll you get the funds?”

“We have them, sir. Each student has contributed a real.”

“But what about the professors?”

“We have them: half Filipinos and half Peninsulars.” [7]

“And the house?”

“Makaraig, the wealthy Makaraig, has offered one of his.”

Capitan Basilio had to give in; these young men had everything
arranged.

“For the rest,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “it’s not
altogether bad, it’s not a bad idea, and now that you can’t know
Latin at least you may know Castilian. Here you have another instance,
namesake, of how we are going backwards. In our times we learned Latin
because our books were in Latin; now you study Latin a little but
have no Latin books. On the other hand, your books are in Castilian
and that language is not taught–_aetas parentum pejor avis tulit
nos nequiores!_ as Horace said.” With this quotation he moved away
majestically, like a Roman emperor.

The youths smiled at each other. “These men of the past,” remarked
Isagani, “find obstacles for everything. Propose a thing to them and
instead of seeing its advantages they only fix their attention on
the difficulties. They want everything to come smooth and round as
a billiard ball.”

“He’s right at home with your uncle,” observed Basilio.

“They talk of past times. But listen–speaking of uncles, what does
yours say about Paulita?”

Isagani blushed. “He preached me a sermon about the choosing of
a wife. I answered him that there wasn’t in Manila another like
her–beautiful, well-bred, an orphan–”

“Very wealthy, elegant, charming, with no defect other than a
ridiculous aunt,” added Basilio, at which both smiled.

“In regard to the aunt, do you know that she has charged me to look
for her husband?”

“Doña Victorina? And you’ve promised, in order to keep your
sweetheart.”

“Naturally! But the fact is that her husband is actually hidden–in
my uncle’s house!”

Both burst into a laugh at this, while Isagani continued: “That’s
why my uncle, being a conscientious man, won’t go on the upper deck,
fearful that Doña Victorina will ask him about Don Tiburcio. Just
imagine, when Doña Victorina learned that I was a steerage passenger
she gazed at me with a disdain that–”

At that moment Simoun came down and, catching sight of the two young
men, greeted Basilio in a patronizing tone: “Hello, Don Basilio,
you’re off for the vacation? Is the gentleman a townsman of yours?”

Basilio introduced Isagani with the remark that he was not a townsman,
but that their homes were not very far apart. Isagani lived on the
seashore of the opposite coast. Simoun examined him with such marked
attention that he was annoyed, turned squarely around, and faced the
jeweler with a provoking stare.

“Well, what is the province like?” the latter asked, turning again
to Basilio.

“Why, aren’t you familiar with it?”

“How the devil am I to know it when I’ve never set foot in it? I’ve
been told that it’s very poor and doesn’t buy jewels.”

“We don’t buy jewels, because we don’t need them,” rejoined Isagani
dryly, piqued in his provincial pride.

A smile played over Simoun’s pallid lips. “Don’t be offended, young
man,” he replied. “I had no bad intentions, but as I’ve been assured
that nearly all the money is in the hands of the native priests, I
said to myself: the friars are dying for curacies and the Franciscans
are satisfied with the poorest, so when they give them up to the
native priests the truth must be that the king’s profile is unknown
there. But enough of that! Come and have a beer with me and we’ll
drink to the prosperity of your province.”

The youths thanked him, but declined the offer.

“You do wrong,” Simoun said to them, visibly taken aback. “Beer is a
good thing, and I heard Padre Camorra say this morning that the lack
of energy noticeable in this country is due to the great amount of
water the inhabitants drink.”

Isagani was almost as tall as the jeweler, and at this he drew
himself up.

“Then tell Padre Camorra,” Basilio hastened to say, while he nudged
Isagani slyly, “tell him that if he would drink water instead of wine
or beer, perhaps we might all be the gainers and he would not give
rise to so much talk.”

“And tell him, also,” added Isagani, paying no attention to his
friend’s nudges, “that water is very mild and can be drunk, but that
it drowns out the wine and beer and puts out the fire, that heated
it becomes steam, and that ruffled it is the ocean, that it once
destroyed mankind and made the earth tremble to its foundations!” [8]

Simoun raised his head. Although his looks could not be read
through the blue goggles, on the rest of his face surprise might
be seen. “Rather a good answer,” he said. “But I fear that he might
get facetious and ask me when the water will be converted into steam
and when into an ocean. Padre Camorra is rather incredulous and is
a great wag.”

“When the fire heats it, when the rivulets that are now scattered
through the steep valleys, forced by fatality, rush together in the
abyss that men are digging,” replied Isagani.

“No, Señor Simoun,” interposed Basilio, changing to a jesting tone,
“rather keep in mind the verses of my friend Isagani himself:

‘Fire you, you say, and water we,
Then as you wish, so let it be;
But let us live in peace and right,
Nor shall the fire e’er see us fight;
So joined by wisdom’s glowing flame,
That without anger, hate, or blame,
We form the steam, the fifth element,
Progress and light, life and movement.'”

“Utopia, Utopia!” responded Simoun dryly. “The engine is about to
meet–in the meantime, I’ll drink my beer.” So, without any word of
excuse, he left the two friends.

“But what’s the matter with you today that you’re so
quarrelsome?” asked Basilio.

“Nothing. I don’t know why, but that man fills me with horror,
fear almost.”

“I was nudging you with my elbow. Don’t you know that he’s called
the Brown Cardinal?”

“The Brown Cardinal?”

“Or Black Eminence, as you wish.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Richelieu had a Capuchin adviser who was called the Gray Eminence;
well, that’s what this man is to the General.”

“Really?”

“That’s what I’ve heard from _a certain person,_–who always speaks
ill of him behind his back and flatters him to his face.”

“Does he also visit Capitan Tiago?”

“From the first day after his arrival, and I’m sure that _a certain
person_ looks upon him as a rival–in the inheritance. I believe
that he’s going to see the General about the question of instruction
in Castilian.”

At that moment Isagani was called away by a servant to his uncle.

On one of the benches at the stern, huddled in among the other
passengers, sat a native priest gazing at the landscapes that were
successively unfolded to his view. His neighbors made room for him, the
men on passing taking off their hats, and the gamblers not daring to
set their table near where he was. He said little, but neither smoked
nor assumed arrogant airs, nor did he disdain to mingle with the other
men, returning the salutes with courtesy and affability as if he felt
much honored and very grateful. Although advanced in years, with hair
almost completely gray, he appeared to be in vigorous health, and even
when seated held his body straight and his head erect, but without
pride or arrogance. He differed from the ordinary native priests,
few enough indeed, who at that period served merely as coadjutors or
administered some curacies temporarily, in a certain self-possession
and gravity, like one who was conscious of his personal dignity
and the sacredness of his office. A superficial examination of his
appearance, if not his white hair, revealed at once that he belonged
to another epoch, another generation, when the better young men were
not afraid to risk their dignity by becoming priests, when the native
clergy looked any friar at all in the face, and when their class,
not yet degraded and vilified, called for free men and not slaves,
superior intelligences and not servile wills. In his sad and serious
features was to be read the serenity of a soul fortified by study and
meditation, perhaps tried out by deep moral suffering. This priest
was Padre Florentino, Isagani’s uncle, and his story is easily told.

Scion of a wealthy and influential family of Manila, of agreeable
appearance and cheerful disposition, suited to shine in the world, he
had never felt any call to the sacerdotal profession, but by reason
of some promises or vows, his mother, after not a few struggles and
violent disputes, compelled him to enter the seminary. She was a great
friend of the Archbishop, had a will of iron, and was as inexorable
as is every devout woman who believes that she is interpreting the
will of God. Vainly the young Florentine offered resistance, vainly he
begged, vainly he pleaded his love affairs, even provoking scandals:
priest he had to become at twenty-five years of age, and priest he
became. The Archbishop ordained him, his first mass was celebrated
with great pomp, three days were given over to feasting, and his
mother died happy and content, leaving him all her fortune.

But in that struggle Florentine received a wound from which he
never recovered. Weeks before his first mass the woman he loved,
in desperation, married a nobody–a blow the rudest he had ever
experienced. He lost his moral energy, life became dull and
insupportable. If not his virtue and the respect for his office,
that unfortunate love affair saved him from the depths into which the
regular orders and secular clergymen both fall in the Philippines. He
devoted himself to his parishioners as a duty, and by inclination to
the natural sciences.

When the events of seventy-two occurred, [9] he feared that the
large income his curacy yielded him would attract attention to
him, so, desiring peace above everything, he sought and secured his
release, living thereafter as a private individual on his patrimonial
estate situated on the Pacific coast. He there adopted his nephew,
Isagani, who was reported by the malicious to be his own son by his
old sweetheart when she became a widow, and by the more serious and
better informed, the natural child of a cousin, a lady in Manila.

The captain of the steamer caught sight of the old priest and insisted
that he go to the upper deck, saying, “If you don’t do so, the friars
will think that you don’t want to associate with them.”

Padre Florentino had no recourse but to accept, so he summoned his
nephew in order to let him know where he was going, and to charge him
not to come near the upper deck while he was there. “If the captain
notices you, he’ll invite you also, and we should then be abusing
his kindness.”

“My uncle’s way!” thought Isagani. “All so that I won’t have any
reason for talking with Doña Victorina.”

CHAPTER III

LEGENDS

Ich weiss nicht was soil es bedeuten
Dass ich so traurig bin!

When Padre Florentino joined the group above, the bad humor provoked by
the previous discussion had entirely disappeared. Perhaps their spirits
had been raised by the attractive houses of the town of Pasig, or the
glasses of sherry they had drunk in preparation for the coming meal, or
the prospect of a good breakfast. Whatever the cause, the fact was that
they were all laughing and joking, even including the lean Franciscan,
although he made little noise and his smiles looked like death-grins.

“Evil times, evil times!” said Padre Sibyla with a laugh.

“Get out, don’t say that, Vice-Rector!” responded the Canon Irene,
giving the other’s chair a shove. “In Hongkong you’re doing a fine
business, putting up every building that–ha, ha!”

“Tut, tut!” was the reply; “you don’t see our expenses, and the
tenants on our estates are beginning to complain–”

“Here, enough of complaints, _puñales,_ else I’ll fall to
weeping!” cried Padre Camorra gleefully. “We’re not complaining,
and we haven’t either estates or banking-houses. You know that my
Indians are beginning to haggle over the fees and to flash schedules on
me! Just look how they cite schedules to me now, and none other than
those of the Archbishop Basilio Sancho, [10] as if from his time up
to now prices had not risen. Ha, ha, ha! Why should a baptism cost
less than a chicken? But I play the deaf man, collect what I can,
and never complain. We’re not avaricious, are we, Padre Salvi?”

At that moment Simoun’s head appeared above the hatchway.

“Well, where’ve you been keeping yourself?” Don Custodio called to
him, having forgotten all about their dispute. “You’re missing the
prettiest part of the trip!”

“Pshaw!” retorted Simoun, as he ascended, “I’ve seen so many rivers
and landscapes that I’m only interested in those that call up legends.”

“As for legends, the Pasig has a few,” observed the captain, who did
not relish any depreciation of the river where he navigated and earned
his livelihood. “Here you have that of _Malapad-na-bato,_ a rock sacred
before the coming of the Spaniards as the abode of spirits. Afterwards,
when the superstition had been dissipated and the rock profaned, it was
converted into a nest of tulisanes, since from its crest they easily
captured the luckless bankas, which had to contend against both the
currents and men. Later, in our time, in spite of human interference,
there are still told stories about wrecked bankas, and if on rounding
it I didn’t steer with my six senses, I’d be smashed against its
sides. Then you have another legend, that of Doña Jeronima’s cave,
which Padre Florentino can relate to you.”

“Everybody knows that,” remarked Padre Sibyla disdainfully.

But neither Simoun, nor Ben-Zayb, nor Padre Irene, nor Padre Camorra
knew it, so they begged for the story, some in jest and others from
genuine curiosity. The priest, adopting the tone of burlesque with
which some had made their request, began like an old tutor relating
a story to children.

“Once upon a time there was a student who had made a promise of
marriage to a young woman in his country, but it seems that he failed
to remember her. She waited for him faithfully year after year, her
youth passed, she grew into middle age, and then one day she heard a
report that her old sweetheart was the Archbishop of Manila. Disguising
herself as a man, she came round the Cape and presented herself before
his grace, demanding the fulfilment of his promise. What she asked
was of course impossible, so the Archbishop ordered the preparation
of the cave that you may have noticed with its entrance covered and
decorated with a curtain of vines. There she lived and died and there
she is buried. The legend states that Doña Jeronima was so fat that
she had to turn sidewise to get into it. Her fame as an enchantress
sprung from her custom of throwing into the river the silver dishes
which she used in the sumptuous banquets that were attended by crowds
of gentlemen. A net was spread under the water to hold the dishes
and thus they were cleaned. It hasn’t been twenty years since the
river washed the very entrance of the cave, but it has gradually been
receding, just as the memory of her is dying out among the people.”

“A beautiful legend!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb. “I’m going to write an
article about it. It’s sentimental!”

Doña Victorina thought of dwelling in such a cave and was about to
say so, when Simoun took the floor instead.

“But what’s your opinion about that, Padre Salvi?” he asked the
Franciscan, who seemed to be absorbed in thought. “Doesn’t it seem to
you as though his Grace, instead of giving her a cave, ought to have
placed her in a nunnery–in St. Clara’s, for example? What do you say?”

There was a start of surprise on Padre Sibyla’s part to notice that
Padre Salvi shuddered and looked askance at Simoun.

“Because it’s not a very gallant act,” continued Simoun quite
naturally, “to give a rocky cliff as a home to one with whose
hopes we have trifled. It’s hardly religious to expose her thus to
temptation, in a cave on the banks of a river–it smacks of nymphs and
dryads. It would have been more gallant, more pious, more romantic,
more in keeping with the customs of this country, to shut her up in
St. Clara’s, like a new Eloise, in order to visit and console her
from time to time.”

“I neither can nor should pass judgment upon the conduct of
archbishops,” replied the Franciscan sourly.

“But you, who are the ecclesiastical governor, acting in the place
of our Archbishop, what would you do if such a case should arise?”

Padre Salvi shrugged his shoulders and calmly responded, “It’s not
worth while thinking about what can’t happen. But speaking of legends,
don’t overlook the most beautiful, since it is the truest: that of
the miracle of St. Nicholas, the ruins of whose church you may have
noticed. I’m going to relate it to Señor Simoun, as he probably hasn’t
heard it. It seems that formerly the river, as well as the lake,
was infested with caymans, so huge and voracious that they attacked
bankas and upset them with a slap of the tail. Our chronicles relate
that one day an infidel Chinaman, who up to that time had refused to be
converted, was passing in front of the church, when suddenly the devil
presented himself to him in the form of a cayman and upset the banka,
in order to devour him and carry him off to hell. Inspired by God,
the Chinaman at that moment called upon St. Nicholas and instantly
the cayman was changed into a stone. The old people say that in
their time the monster could easily be recognized in the pieces of
stone that were left, and, for my part, I can assure you that I have
clearly made out the head, to judge from which the monster must have
been enormously large.”

“Marvelous, a marvelous legend!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb. “It’s good for an
article–the description of the monster, the terror of the Chinaman,
the waters of the river, the bamboo brakes. Also, it’ll do for a study
of comparative religions; because, look you, an infidel Chinaman in
great distress invoked exactly the saint that he must know only by
hearsay and in whom he did not believe. Here there’s no room for the
proverb that ‘a known evil is preferable to an unknown good.’ If I
should find myself in China and get caught in such a difficulty, I
would invoke the obscurest saint in the calendar before Confucius or
Buddha. Whether this is due to the manifest superiority of Catholicism
or to the inconsequential and illogical inconsistency in the brains
of the yellow race, a profound study of anthropology alone will be
able to elucidate.”

Ben-Zayb had adopted the tone of a lecturer and was describing
circles in the air with his forefinger, priding himself on his
imagination, which from the most insignificant facts could deduce
so many applications and inferences. But noticing that Simoun was
preoccupied and thinking that he was pondering over what he, Ben-Zayb,
had just said, he inquired what the jeweler was meditating about.

“About two very important questions,” answered Simoun; “two questions
that you might add to your article. First, what may have become of
the devil on seeing himself suddenly confined within a stone? Did he
escape? Did he stay there? Was he crushed? Second, if the petrified
animals that I have seen in various European museums may not have
been the victims of some antediluvian saint?”

The tone in which the jeweler spoke was so serious, while he rested
his forehead on the tip of his forefinger in an attitude of deep
meditation, that Padre Camorra responded very gravely, “Who knows,
who knows?”

“Since we’re busy with legends and are now entering the lake,”
remarked Padre Sibyla, “the captain must know many–”

At that moment the steamer crossed the bar and the panorama spread out
before their eyes was so truly magnificent that all were impressed. In
front extended the beautiful lake bordered by green shores and blue
mountains, like a huge mirror, framed in emeralds and sapphires,
reflecting the sky in its glass. On the right were spread out the
low shores, forming bays with graceful curves, and dim there in the
distance the crags of Sungay, while in the background rose Makiling,
imposing and majestic, crowned with fleecy clouds. On the left lay
Talim Island with its curious sweep of hills. A fresh breeze rippled
over the wide plain of water.

“By the way, captain,” said Ben-Zayb, turning around, “do you know
in what part of the lake a certain Guevara, Navarra, or Ibarra,
was killed?”

The group looked toward the captain, with the exception of Simoun, who
had turned away his head as though to look for something on the shore.

“Ah, yes!” exclaimed Doña Victorina. “Where, captain? Did he leave
any tracks in the water?”

The good captain winked several times, an indication that he was
annoyed, but reading the request in the eyes of all, took a few steps
toward the bow and scanned the shore.

“Look over there,” he said in a scarcely audible voice, after making
sure that no strangers were near. “According to the officer who
conducted the pursuit, Ibarra, upon finding himself surrounded, jumped
out of his banka there near the Kinabutasan [11] and, swimming under
water, covered all that distance of more than two miles, saluted by
bullets every time that he raised his head to breathe. Over yonder is
where they lost track of him, and a little farther on near the shore
they discovered something like the color of blood. And now I think
of it, it’s just thirteen years, day for day, since this happened.”

“So that his corpse–” began Ben-Zayb.

“Went to join his father’s,” replied Padre Sibyla. “Wasn’t he also
another filibuster, Padre Salvi?”

“That’s what might be called cheap funerals, Padre Camorra,
eh?” remarked Ben-Zayb.

“I’ve always said that those who won’t pay for expensive funerals
are filibusters,” rejoined the person addressed, with a merry laugh.

“But what’s the matter with you, Señor Simoun?” inquired Ben-Zayb,
seeing that the jeweler was motionless and thoughtful. “Are you
seasick–an old traveler like you? On such a drop of water as this!”

“I want to tell you,” broke in the captain, who had come to hold all
those places in great affection, “that you can’t call this a drop
of water. It’s larger than any lake in Switzerland and all those in
Spain put together. I’ve seen old sailors who got seasick here.”

CHAPTER IV

CABESANG TALES

Those who have read the first part of this story will perhaps remember
an old wood-cutter who lived in the depths of the forest. [12] Tandang
Selo is still alive, and though his hair has turned completely white,
he yet preserves his good health. He no longer hunts or cuts firewood,
for his fortunes have improved and he works only at making brooms.

His son Tales (abbreviation of Telesforo) had worked at first on shares
on the lands of a capitalist, but later, having become the owner of
two carabaos and several hundred pesos, determined to work on his own
account, aided by his father, his wife, and his three children. So
they cut down and cleared away some thick woods which were situated
on the borders of the town and which they believed belonged to no
one. During the labors of cleaning and cultivating the new land,
the whole family fell ill with malaria and the mother died, along
with the eldest daughter, Lucia, in the flower of her age. This,
which was the natural consequence of breaking up new soil infested
with various kinds of bacteria, they attributed to the anger of the
woodland spirit, so they were resigned and went on with their labor,
believing him pacified.

But when they began to harvest their first crop a religious
corporation, which owned land in the neighboring town, laid claim to
the fields, alleging that they fell within their boundaries, and to
prove it they at once started to set up their marks. However, the
administrator of the religious order left to them, for humanity’s
sake, the usufruct of the land on condition that they pay a small
sum annually–a mere bagatelle, twenty or thirty pesos. Tales, as
peaceful a man as could be found, was as much opposed to lawsuits
as any one and more submissive to the friars than most people; so,
in order not to smash a _palyok_ against a _kawali_ (as he said,
for to him the friars were iron pots and he a clay jar), he had the
weakness to yield to their claim, remembering that he did not know
Spanish and had no money to pay lawyers.

Besides, Tandang Selo said to him, “Patience! You would spend more
in one year of litigation than in ten years of paying what the white
padres demand. And perhaps they’ll pay you back in masses! Pretend
that those thirty pesos had been lost in gambling or had fallen into
the water and been swallowed by a cayman.”

The harvest was abundant and sold well, so Tales planned to build a
wooden house in the barrio of Sagpang, of the town of Tiani, which
adjoined San Diego.

Another year passed, bringing another good crop, and for this reason
the friars raised the rent to fifty pesos, which Tales paid in order
not to quarrel and because he expected to sell his sugar at a good
price.

“Patience! Pretend that the cayman has grown some,” old Selo consoled
him.

That year he at last saw his dream realized: to live in the barrio of
Sagpang in a wooden house. The father and grandfather then thought of
providing some education for the two children, especially the daughter
Juliana, or Juli, as they called her, for she gave promise of being
accomplished and beautiful. A boy who was a friend of the family,
Basilio, was studying in Manila, and he was of as lowly origin as they.

But this dream seemed destined not to be realized. The first care the
community took when they saw the family prospering was to appoint as
cabeza de barangay its most industrious member, which left only Tano,
the son, who was only fourteen years old. The father was therefore
called _Cabesang_ Tales and had to order a sack coat, buy a felt hat,
and prepare to spend his money. In order to avoid any quarrel with
the curate or the government, he settled from his own pocket the
shortages in the tax-lists, paying for those who had died or moved
away, and he lost considerable time in making the collections and on
his trips to the capital.

“Patience! Pretend that the cayman’s relatives have joined him,”
advised Tandang Selo, smiling placidly.

“Next year you’ll put on a long skirt and go to Manila to study like
the young ladies of the town,” Cabesang Tales told his daughter every
time he heard her talking of Basilio’s progress.

But that next year did not come, and in its stead there was another
increase in the rent. Cabesang Tales became serious and scratched
his head. The clay jar was giving up all its rice to the iron pot.

When the rent had risen to two hundred pesos, Tales was not content
with scratching his head and sighing; he murmured and protested. The
friar-administrator then told him that if he could not pay, some one
else would be assigned to cultivate that land–many who desired it
had offered themselves.

He thought at first that the friar was joking, but the friar was
talking seriously, and indicated a servant of his to take possession
of the land. Poor Tales turned pale, he felt a buzzing in his ears, he
saw in the red mist that rose before his eyes his wife and daughter,
pallid, emaciated, dying, victims of the intermittent fevers–then
he saw the thick forest converted into productive fields, he saw the
stream of sweat watering its furrows, he saw himself plowing under
the hot sun, bruising his feet against the stones and roots, while
this friar had been driving about in his carriage with the wretch who
was to get the land following like a slave behind his master. No, a
thousand times, no! First let the fields sink into the depths of the
earth and bury them all! Who was this intruder that he should have
any right to his land? Had he brought from his own country a single
handful of that soil? Had he crooked a single one of his fingers to
pull up the roots that ran through it?

Exasperated by the threats of the friar, who tried to uphold his
authority at any cost in the presence of the other tenants, Cabesang
Tales rebelled and refused to pay a single cuarto, having ever before
himself that red mist, saying that he would give up his fields to the
first man who could irrigate it with blood drawn from his own veins.

Old Selo, on looking at his son’s face, did not dare to mention the
cayman, but tried to calm him by talking of clay jars, reminding him
that the winner in a lawsuit was left without a shirt to his back.

“We shall all be turned to clay, father, and without shirts we were
born,” was the reply.

So he resolutely refused to pay or to give up a single span of his
land unless the friars should first prove the legality of their claim
by exhibiting a title-deed of some kind. As they had none, a lawsuit
followed, and Cabesang Tales entered into it, confiding that some at
least, if not all, were lovers of justice and respecters of the law.

“I serve and have been serving the King with my money and my services,”
he said to those who remonstrated with him. “I’m asking for justice
and he is obliged to give it to me.”

Drawn on by fatality, and as if he had put into play in the lawsuit
the whole future of himself and his children, he went on spending his
savings to pay lawyers, notaries, and solicitors, not to mention the
officials and clerks who exploited his ignorance and his needs. He
moved to and fro between the village and the capital, passed his
days without eating and his nights without sleeping, while his talk
was always about briefs, exhibits, and appeals. There was then seen
a struggle such as was never before carried on under the skies of the
Philippines: that of a poor Indian, ignorant and friendless, confiding
in the justness and righteousness of his cause, fighting against a
powerful corporation before which Justice bowed her head, while the
judges let fall the scales and surrendered the sword. He fought as
tenaciously as the ant which bites when it knows that it is going
to be crushed, as does the fly which looks into space only through
a pane of glass. Yet the clay jar defying the iron pot and smashing
itself into a thousand pieces bad in it something impressive–it had
the sublimeness of desperation!

On the days when his journeys left him free he patrolled his fields
armed with a shotgun, saying that the tulisanes were hovering around
and he had need of defending himself in order not to fall into their
hands and thus lose his lawsuit. As if to improve his marksmanship,
he shot at birds and fruits, even the butterflies, with such accurate
aim that the friar-administrator did not dare to go to Sagpang without
an escort of civil-guards, while the friar’s hireling, who gazed from
afar at the threatening figure of Tales wandering over the fields
like a sentinel upon the walls, was terror stricken and refused to
take the property away from him.

But the local judges and those at the capital, warned by the experience
of one of their number who had been summarily dismissed, dared not
give him the decision, fearing their own dismissal. Yet they were not
really bad men, those judges, they were upright and conscientious,
good citizens, excellent fathers, dutiful sons–and they were
able to appreciate poor Tales’ situation better than Tales himself
could. Many of them were versed in the scientific and historical
basis of property, they knew that the friars by their own statutes
could not own property, but they also knew that to come from far
across the sea with an appointment secured with great difficulty,
to undertake the duties of the position with the best intentions,
and now to lose it because an Indian fancied that justice had to
be done on earth as in heaven–that surely was an idea! They had
their families and greater needs surely than that Indian: one had
a mother to provide for, and what duty is more sacred than that of
caring for a mother? Another had sisters, all of marriageable age;
that other there had many little children who expected their daily
bread and who, like fledglings in a nest, would surely die of hunger
the day he was out of a job; even the very least of them had there,
far away, a wife who would be in distress if the monthly remittance
failed. All these moral and conscientious judges tried everything in
their power in the way of counsel, advising Cabesang Tales to pay
the rent demanded. But Tales, like all simple souls, once he had
seen what was just, went straight toward it. He demanded proofs,
documents, papers, title-deeds, but the friars had none of these,
resting their case on his concessions in the past.

Cabesang Tales’ constant reply was: “If every day I give alms to a
beggar to escape annoyance, who will oblige me to continue my gifts
if he abuses my generosity?”

From this stand no one could draw him, nor were there any threats that
could intimidate him. In vain Governor M—- made a trip expressly
to talk to him and frighten him. His reply to it all was: “You may
do what you like, Mr. Governor, I’m ignorant and powerless. But I’ve
cultivated those fields, my wife and daughter died while helping me
clear them, and I won’t give them up to any one but him who can do
more with them than I’ve done. Let him first irrigate them with his
blood and bury in them his wife and daughter!”

The upshot of this obstinacy was that the honorable judges gave the
decision to the friars, and everybody laughed at him, saying that
lawsuits are not won by justice. But Cabesang Tales appealed, loaded
his shotgun, and patrolled his fields with deliberation.

During this period his life seemed to be a wild dream. His son,
Tano, a youth as tall as his father and as good as his sister, was
conscripted, but he let the boy go rather than purchase a substitute.

“I have to pay the lawyers,” he told his weeping daughter. “If I win
the case I’ll find a way to get him back, and if I lose it I won’t
have any need for sons.”

So the son went away and nothing more was heard of him except that his
hair had been cropped and that he slept under a cart. Six months later
it was rumored that he had been seen embarking for the Carolines;
another report was that he had been seen in the uniform of the
Civil Guard.

“Tano in the Civil Guard! _’Susmariosep_!” exclaimed several, clasping
their hands. “Tano, who was so good and so honest! _Requimternam!_”

The grandfather went many days without speaking to the father, Juli
fell sick, but Cabesang Tales did not shed a single tear, although for
two days he never left the house, as if he feared the looks of reproach
from the whole village or that he would be called the executioner of
his son. But on the third day he again sallied forth with his shotgun.

Murderous intentions were attributed to him, and there were
well-meaning persons who whispered about that he had been heard to
threaten that he would bury the friar-administrator in the furrows of
his fields, whereat the friar was frightened at him in earnest. As a
result of this, there came a decree from the Captain-General forbidding
the use of firearms and ordering that they be taken up. Cabesang Tales
had to hand over his shotgun but he continued his rounds armed with
a long bolo.

“What are you going to do with that bolo when the tulisanes have
firearms?” old Selo asked him.

“I must watch my crops,” was the answer. “Every stalk of cane growing
there is one of my wife’s bones.”

The bolo was taken up on the pretext that it was too long. He then
took his father’s old ax and with it on his shoulder continued his
sullen rounds.

Every time he left the house Tandang Selo and Juli trembled for his
life. The latter would get up from her loom, go to the window, pray,
make vows to the saints, and recite novenas. The grandfather was at
times unable to finish the handle of a broom and talked of returning
to the forest–life in that house was unbearable.

At last their fears were realized. As the fields were some distance
from the village, Cabesang Tales, in spite of his ax, fell into the
hands of tulisanes who had revolvers and rifles. They told him that
since he had money to pay judges and lawyers he must have some also
for the outcasts and the hunted. They therefore demanded a ransom of
five hundred pesos through the medium of a rustic, with the warning
that if anything happened to their messenger, the captive would pay
for it with his life. Two days of grace were allowed.

This news threw the poor family into the wildest terror, which was
augmented when they learned that the Civil Guard was going out in
pursuit of the bandits. In case of an encounter, the first victim
would be the captive–this they all knew. The old man was paralyzed,
while the pale and frightened daughter tried often to talk but could
not. Still, another thought more terrible, an idea more cruel, roused
them from their stupor. The rustic sent by the tulisanes said that
the band would probably have to move on, and if they were slow in
sending the ransom the two days would elapse and Cabesang Tales would
have his throat cut.

This drove those two beings to madness, weak and powerless as they
were. Tandang Selo got up, sat down, went outside, came back again,
knowing not where to go, where to seek aid. Juli appealed to her
images, counted and recounted her money, but her two hundred pesos
did not increase or multiply. Soon she dressed herself, gathered
together all her jewels, and asked the advice of her grandfather,
if she should go to see the gobernadorcillo, the judge, the notary,
the lieutenant of the Civil Guard. The old man said yes to everything,
or when she said no, he too said no. At length came the neighbors,
their relatives and friends, some poorer than others, in their
simplicity magnifying the fears. The most active of all was Sister
Bali, a great _panguinguera,_ who had been to Manila to practise
religious exercises in the nunnery of the Sodality.

Juli was willing to sell all her jewels, except a locket set with
diamonds and emeralds which Basilio had given her, for this locket
had a history: a nun, the daughter of Capitan Tiago, had given it to a
leper, who, in return for professional treatment, had made a present of
it to Basilio. So she could not sell it without first consulting him.

Quickly the shell-combs and earrings were sold, as well as Juli’s
rosary, to their richest neighbor, and thus fifty pesos were added,
but two hundred and fifty were still lacking. The locket might be
pawned, but Juli shook her head. A neighbor suggested that the house
be sold and Tandang Selo approved the idea, satisfied to return to
the forest and cut firewood as of old, but Sister Bali observed that
this could not be done because the owner was not present.

“The judge’s wife once sold me her _tapis_ for a peso, but her
husband said that the sale did not hold because it hadn’t received
his approval. _Abá!_ He took back the _tapis_ and she hasn’t returned
the peso yet, but I don’t pay her when she wins at _panguingui, abá!_
In that way I’ve collected twelve cuartos, and for that alone I’m
going to play with her. I can’t bear to have people fail to pay what
they owe me, _abá!_”

Another neighbor was going to ask Sister Bali why then did not
she settle a little account with her, but the quick _panguinguera_
suspected this and added at once: “Do you know, Juli, what you can
do? Borrow two hundred and fifty pesos on the house, payable when
the lawsuit is won.”

This seemed to be the best proposition, so they decided to act upon
it that same day. Sister Bali offered to accompany her, and together
they visited the houses of all the rich folks in Tiani, but no one
would accept the proposal. The case, they said, was already lost,
and to show favors to an enemy of the friars was to expose themselves
to their vengeance. At last a pious woman took pity on the girl and
lent the money on condition that Juli should remain with her as a
servant until the debt was paid. Juli would not have so very much
to do: sew, pray, accompany her to mass, and fast for her now and
then. The girl accepted with tears in her eyes, received the money,
and promised to enter her service on the following day, Christmas.

When the grandfather heard of that sale he fell to weeping like a
child. What, that granddaughter whom he had not allowed to walk in the
sun lest her skin should be burned, Juli, she of the delicate fingers
and rosy feet! What, that girl, the prettiest in the village and
perhaps in the whole town, before whose window many gallants had vainly
passed the night playing and singing! What, his only granddaughter,
the sole joy of his fading eyes, she whom he had dreamed of seeing
dressed in a long skirt, talking Spanish, and holding herself erect
waving a painted fan like the daughters of the wealthy–she to become
a servant, to be scolded and reprimanded, to ruin her fingers, to
sleep anywhere, to rise in any manner whatsoever!

So the old grandfather wept and talked of hanging or starving himself
to death. “If you go,” he declared, “I’m going back to the forest
and will never set foot in the town.”

Juli soothed him by saying that it was necessary for her father to
return, that the suit would be won, and they could then ransom her
from her servitude.

The night was a sad one. Neither of the two could taste a bite and
the old man refused to lie down, passing the whole night seated in
a corner, silent and motionless. Juli on her part tried to sleep,
but for a long time could not close her eyes. Somewhat relieved about
her father’s fate, she now thought of herself and fell to weeping,
but stifled her sobs so that the old man might not hear them. The
next day she would be a servant, and it was the very day Basilio was
accustomed to come from Manila with presents for her. Henceforward
she would have to give up that love; Basilio, who was going to be a
doctor, couldn’t marry a pauper. In fancy she saw him going to the
church in company with the prettiest and richest girl in the town,
both well-dressed, happy and smiling, while she, Juli, followed her
mistress, carrying novenas, buyos, and the cuspidor. Here the girl
felt a lump rise in her throat, a sinking at her heart, and begged
the Virgin to let her die first.

But–said her conscience–he will at least know that I preferred to
pawn myself rather than the locket he gave me.

This thought consoled her a little and brought on empty dreams. Who
knows but that a miracle might happen? She might find the two hundred
and fifty pesos under the image of the Virgin–she had read of
many similar miracles. The sun might not rise nor morning come, and
meanwhile the suit would be won. Her father might return, or Basilio
put in his appearance, she might find a bag of gold in the garden,
the tulisanes would send the bag of gold, the curate, Padre Camorra,
who was always teasing her, would come with the tulisanes. So her
ideas became more and more confused, until at length, worn out by
fatigue and sorrow, she went to sleep with dreams of her childhood
in the depths of the forest: she was bathing in the torrent along
with her two brothers, there were little fishes of all colors that
let themselves be caught like fools, and she became impatient because
she found no pleasure in catchnig such foolish little fishes! Basilio
was under the water, but Basilio for some reason had the face of her
brother Tano. Her new mistress was watching them from the bank.

CHAPTER V

A COCHERO’S CHRISTMAS EVE

Basilio reached San Diego just as the Christmas Eve procession was
passing through the streets. He had been delayed on the road for
several hours because the cochero, having forgotten his cedula, was
held up by the Civil Guard, had his memory jogged by a few blows from
a rifle-butt, and afterwards was taken before the commandant. Now the
carromata was again detained to let the procession pass, while the
abused cochero took off his hat reverently and recited a paternoster
to the first image that came along, which seemed to be that of a
great saint. It was the figure of an old man with an exceptionally
long beard, seated at the edge of a grave under a tree filled with
all kinds of stuffed birds. A _kalan_ with a clay jar, a mortar,
and a _kalikut_ for mashing buyo were his only utensils, as if to
indicate that he lived on the border of the tomb and was doing his
cooking there. This was the Methuselah of the religious iconography
of the Philippines; his colleague and perhaps contemporary is called
in Europe Santa Claus, and is still more smiling and agreeable.

“In the time of the saints,” thought the cochero, “surely there were no
civil-guards, because one can’t live long on blows from rifle-butts.”

Behind the great old man came the three Magian Kings on ponies that
were capering about, especially that of the negro Melchior, which
seemed to be about to trample its companions.

“No, there couldn’t have been any civil-guards,” decided the
cochero, secretly envying those fortunate times, “because if there
had been, that negro who is cutting up such capers beside those two
Spaniards”–Gaspar and Bathazar–“would have gone to jail.”

Then, observing that the negro wore a crown and was a king, like the
other two, the Spaniards, his thoughts naturally turned to the king
of the Indians, and he sighed. “Do you know, sir,” he asked Basilio
respectfully, “if his right foot is loose yet?”

Basilio had him repeat the question. “Whose right foot?”

“The King’s!” whispered the cochero mysteriously.

“What King’s?”

“Our King’s, the King of the Indians.”

Basilio smiled and shrugged his shoulders, while the cochero again
sighed. The Indians in the country places preserve the legend that
their king, imprisoned and chained in the cave of San Mateo, will
come some day to free them. Every hundredth year he breaks one of his
chains, so that he now has his hands and his left foot loose–only
the right foot remains bound. This king causes the earthquakes when he
struggles or stirs himself, and he is so strong that in shaking hands
with him it is necessary to extend to him a bone, which he crushes
in his grasp. For some unexplainable reason the Indians call him King
Bernardo, perhaps by confusing him with Bernardo del Carpio. [13]

“When he gets his right foot loose,” muttered the cochero, stifling
another sigh, “I’ll give him my horses, and offer him my services even
to death, for he’ll free us from the Civil Guard.” With a melancholy
gaze he watched the Three Kings move on.

The boys came behind in two files, sad and serious as though they were
there under compulsion. They lighted their way, some with torches,
others with tapers, and others with paper lanterns on bamboo poles,
while they recited the rosary at the top of their voices, as though
quarreling with somebody. Afterwards came St. Joseph on a modest float,
with a look of sadness and resignation on his face, carrying his stalk
of lilies, as he moved along between two civil-guards as though he were
a prisoner. This enabled the cochero to understand the expression on
the saint’s face, but whether the sight of the guards troubled him or
he had no great respect for a saint who would travel in such company,
he did not recite a single requiem.

Behind St. Joseph came the girls bearing lights, their heads covered
with handkerchiefs knotted under their chins, also reciting the rosary,
but with less wrath than the boys. In their midst were to be seen
several lads dragging along little rabbits made of Japanese paper,
lighted by red candles, with their short paper tails erect. The lads
brought those toys into the procession to enliven the birth of the
Messiah. The little animals, fat and round as eggs, seemed to be so
pleased that at times they would take a leap, lose their balance, fall,
and catch fire. The owner would then hasten to extinguish such burning
enthusiasm, puffing and blowing until he finally beat out the fire,
and then, seeing his toy destroyed, would fall to weeping. The cochero
observed with sadness that the race of little paper animals disappeared
each year, as if they had been attacked by the pest like the living
animals. He, the abused Sinong, remembered his two magnificent horses,
which, at the advice of the curate, he had caused to be blessed to
save them from plague, spending therefor ten pesos–for neither
the government nor the curates have found any better remedy for
the epizootic–and they had died after all. Yet he consoled himself
by remembering also that after the shower of holy water, the Latin
phrases of the padre, and the ceremonies, the horses had become so
vain and self-important that they would not even allow him, Sinong,
a good Christian, to put them in harness, and he had not dared to whip
them, because a tertiary sister had said that they were _sanctified_.

The procession was closed by the Virgin dressed as the Divine Shepherd,
with a pilgrim’s hat of wide brim and long plumes to indicate the
journey to Jerusalem. That the birth might be made more explicable, the
curate had ordered her figure to be stuffed with rags and cotton under
her skirt, so that no one could be in any doubt as to her condition. It
was a very beautiful image, with the same sad expression of all the
images that the Filipinos make, and a mien somewhat ashamed, doubtless
at the way in which the curate had arranged her. In front came several
singers and behind, some musicians with the usual civil-guards. The
curate, as was to be expected after what he had done, was not in his
place, for that year he was greatly displeased at having to use all
his diplomacy and shrewdness to convince the townspeople that they
should pay thirty pesos for each Christmas mass instead of the usual
twenty. “You’re turning filibusters!” he had said to them.

The cochero must have been greatly preoccupied with the sights of the
procession, for when it had passed and Basilio ordered him to go on, he
did not notice that the lamp on his carromata had gone out. Neither did
Basilio notice it, his attention being devoted to gazing at the houses,
which were illuminated inside and out with little paper lanterns
of fantastic shapes and colors, stars surrounded by hoops with long
streamers which produced a pleasant murmur when shaken by the wind,
and fishes of movable heads and tails, having a glass of oil inside,
suspended from the eaves of the windows in the delightful fashion of
a happy and homelike fiesta. But he also noticed that the lights were
flickering, that the stars were being eclipsed, that this year had
fewer ornaments and hangings than the former, which in turn had had
even fewer than the year preceding it. There was scarcely any music
in the streets, while the agreeable noises of the kitchen were not to
be heard in all the houses, which the youth ascribed to the fact that
for some time things had been going badly, the sugar did not bring a
good price, the rice crops had failed, over half the live stock had
died, but the taxes rose and increased for some inexplicable reason,
while the abuses of the Civil Guard became more frequent to kill off
the happiness of the people in the towns.

He was just pondering over this when an energetic
“Halt!” resounded. They were passing in front of the barracks and one
of the guards had noticed the extinguished lamp of the carromata,
which could not go on without it. A hail of insults fell about the
poor cochero, who vainly excused himself with the length of the
procession. He would be arrested for violating the ordinances and
afterwards advertised in the newspapers, so the peaceful and prudent
Basilio left the carromata and went his way on foot, carrying his
valise. This was San Diego, his native town, where he had not a
single relative.

The only, house wherein there seemed to be any mirth was Capitan
Basilio’s. Hens and chickens cackled their death chant to the
accompaniment of dry and repeated strokes, as of meat pounded on a
chopping-block, and the sizzling of grease in the frying-pans. A feast
was going on in the house, and even into the street there passed a
certain draught of air, saturated with the succulent odors of stews
and confections. In the entresol Basilio saw Sinang, as small as
when our readers knew her before, [14] although a little rounder and
plumper since her marriage. Then to his great surprise he made out,
further in at the back of the room, chatting with Capitan Basilio,
the curate, and the alferez of the Civil Guard, no less than the
jeweler Simoun, as ever with his blue goggles and his nonchalant air.

“It’s understood, Señor Simoun,” Capitan Basilio was saying, “that
we’ll go to Tiani to see your jewels.”

“I would also go,” remarked the alferez, “because I need a watch-chain,
but I’m so busy–if Capitan Basilio would undertake–”

Capitan Basilio would do so with the greatest pleasure, and as
he wished to propitiate the soldier in order that he might not be
molested in the persons of his laborers, he refused to accept the
money which the alferez was trying to get out of his pocket.

“It’s my Christmas gift!”

“I can’t allow you, Capitan, I can’t permit it!”

“All right! We’ll settle up afterwards,” replied Capitan Basilio with
a lordly gesture.

Also, the curate wanted a pair of lady’s earrings and requested the
capitan to buy them for him. “I want them first class. Later we’ll
fix up the account.”

“Don’t worry about that, Padre,” said the good man, who wished to be
at peace with the Church also. An unfavorable report on the curate’s
part could do him great damage and cause him double the expense,
for those earrings were a forced present. Simoun in the meantime was
praising his jewels.

“That fellow is fierce!” mused the student. “He does business
everywhere. And if I can believe _a certain person,_ he buys from some
gentlemen for a half of their value the same jewels that he himself
has sold for presents. Everybody in this country prospers but us!”

He made his way to his house, or rather Capitan Tiago’s, now occupied
by a trustworthy man who had held him in great esteem since the
day when he had seen him perform a surgical operation with the same
coolness that he would cut up a chicken. This man was now waiting to
give him the news. Two of the laborers were prisoners, one was to be
deported, and a number of carabaos had died.

“The same old story,” exclaimed Basilio, in a bad humor. “You always
receive me with the same complaints.” The youth was not overbearing,
but as he was at times scolded by Capitan Tiago, he liked in his turn
to chide those under his orders.

The old man cast about for something new. “One of our tenants has died,
the old fellow who took care of the woods, and the curate refused to
bury him as a pauper, saying that his master is a rich man.”

“What did he die of?”

“Of old age.”

“Get out! To die of old age! It must at least have been some
disease.” Basilio in his zeal for making autopsies wanted diseases.

“Haven’t you anything new to tell me? You take away my appetite
relating the same old things. Do you know anything of Sagpang?”

The old man then told him about the kidnapping of Cabesang
Tales. Basilio became thoughtful and said nothing more–his appetite
had completely left him.

CHAPTER VI

BASILIO

When the bells began their chimes for the midnight mass and those who
preferred a good sleep to fiestas and ceremonies arose grumbling at
the noise and movement, Basilio cautiously left the house, took two
or three turns through the streets to see that he was not watched
or followed, and then made his way by unfrequented paths to the road
that led to the ancient wood of the Ibarras, which had been acquired
by Capitan Tiago when their property was confiscated and sold. As
Christmas fell under the waning moon that year, the place was wrapped
in darkness. The chimes had ceased, and only the tolling sounded
through the darkness of the night amid the murmur of the breeze-stirred
branches and the measured roar of the waves on the neighboring lake,
like the deep respiration of nature sunk in profound sleep.

Awed by the time and place, the youth moved along with his head down,
as if endeavoring to see through the darkness. But from time to time
he raised it to gaze at the stars through the open spaces between the
treetops and went forward parting the bushes or tearing away the lianas
that obstructed his path. At times he retraced his steps, his foot
would get caught among the plants, he stumbled over a projecting root
or a fallen log. At the end of a half-hour he reached a small brook on
the opposite side of which arose a hillock, a black and shapeless mass
that in the darkness took on the proportions of a mountain. Basilio
crossed the brook on the stones that showed black against the shining
surface of the water, ascended the hill, and made his way to a small
space enclosed by old and crumbling walls. He approached the balete
tree that rose in the center, huge, mysterious, venerable, formed of
roots that extended up and down among the confusedly-interlaced trunks.

Pausing before a heap of stones he took off his hat and seemed to be
praying. There his mother was buried, and every time he came to the
town his first visit was to that neglected and unknown grave. Since he
must visit Cabesang Tales’ family the next day, he had taken advantage
of the night to perform this duty. Seated on a stone, he seemed to fall
into deep thought. His past rose before him like a long black film,
rosy at first, then shadowy with spots of blood, then black, black,
gray, and then light, ever lighter. The end could not be seen, hidden
as it was by a cloud through which shone lights and the hues of dawn.

Thirteen years before to the day, almost to the hour, his mother
had died there in the deepest distress, on a glorious night when the
moon shone brightly and the Christians of the world were engaged in
rejoicing. Wounded and limping, he had reached there in pursuit of
her–she mad and terrified, fleeing from her son as from a ghost. There
she had died, and there had come a stranger who had commanded him to
build a funeral pyre. He had obeyed mechanically and when he returned
he found a second stranger by the side of the other’s corpse. What
a night and what a morning those were! The stranger helped him raise
the pyre, whereon they burned the corpse of the first, dug the grave
in which they buried his mother, and then after giving him some pieces
of money told him to leave the place. It was the first time that he had
seen that man–tall, with blood-shot eyes, pale lips, and a sharp nose.

Entirely alone in the world, without parents or brothers and sisters,
he left the town whose authorities inspired in him such great fear and
went to Manila to work in some rich house and study at the same time,
as many do. His journey was an Odyssey of sleeplessness and startling
surprises, in which hunger counted for little, for he ate the fruits
in the woods, whither he retreated whenever he made out from afar the
uniform of the Civil Guard, a sight that recalled the origin of all
his misfortunes. Once in Manila, ragged and sick, he went from door
to door offering his services. A boy from the provinces who knew not
a single word of Spanish, and sickly besides! Discouraged, hungry, and
miserable, he wandered about the streets, attracting attention by the
wretchedness of his clothing. How often was he tempted to throw himself
under the feet of the horses that flashed by, drawing carriages shining
with silver and varnish, thus to end his misery at once! Fortunately,
he saw Capitan Tiago, accompanied by Aunt Isabel. He had known them
since the days in San Diego, and in his joy believed that in them he
saw almost fellow-townsfolk. He followed the carriage until he lost
sight of it, and then made inquiries for the house. As it was the
very day that Maria Clara entered the nunnery and Capitan Tiago was
accordingly depressed, he was admitted as a servant, without pay,
but instead with leave to study, if he so wished, in San Juan de
Letran. [15]

Dirty, poorly dressed, with only a pair of clogs for footwear, at
the end of several months’ stay in Manila, he entered the first year
of Latin. On seeing his clothes, his classmates drew away from him,
and the professor, a handsome Dominican, never asked him a question,
but frowned every time he looked at him. In the eight months that
the class continued, the only words that passed between them were
his name read from the roll and the daily _adsum_ with which the
student responded. With what bitterness he left the class each
day, and, guessing the reason for the treatment accorded him, what
tears sprang into his eyes and what complaints were stifled in his
heart! How he had wept and sobbed over the grave of his mother,
relating to her his hidden sorrows, humiliations, and affronts,
when at the approach of Christmas Capitan Tiago had taken him back
to San Diego! Yet he memorized the lessons without omitting a comma,
although he understood scarcely any part of them. But at length he
became resigned, noticing that among the three or four hundred in his
class only about forty merited the honor of being questioned, because
they attracted the professor’s attention by their appearance, some
prank, comicality, or other cause. The greater part of the students
congratulated themselves that they thus escaped the work of thinking
and understanding the subject. “One goes to college, not to learn
and study, but to gain credit for the course, so if the book can be
memorized, what more can be asked–the year is thus gained.” [16]

Basilio passed the examinations by answering the solitary question
asked him, like a machine, without stopping or breathing, and in the
amusement of the examiners won the passing certificate. His nine
companions–they were examined in batches of ten in order to save
time–did not have such good luck, but were condemned to repeat the
year of brutalization.

In the second year the game-cock that he tended won a large sum and he
received from Capitan Tiago a big tip, which he immediately invested
in the purchase of shoes and a felt hat. With these and the clothes
given him by his employer, which he made over to fit his person,
his appearance became more decent, but did not get beyond that. In
such a large class a great deal was needed to attract the professor’s
attention, and the student who in the first year did not make himself
known by some special quality, or did not capture the good-will of the
professors, could with difficulty make himself known in the rest of his
school-days. But Basilio kept on, for perseverance was his chief trait.

His fortune seemed to change somewhat when he entered the third
year. His professor happened to be a very jolly fellow, fond of
jokes and of making the students laugh, complacent enough in that
he almost always had his favorites recite the lessons–in fact,
he was satisfied with anything. At this time Basilio now wore shoes
and a clean and well-ironed camisa. As his professor noticed that
he laughed very little at the jokes and that his large eyes seemed
to be asking something like an eternal question, he took him for
a fool, and one day decided to make him conspicuous by calling
on him for the lesson. Basilio recited it from beginning to end,
without hesitating over a single letter, so the professor called him
a parrot and told a story to make the class laugh. Then to increase
the hilarity and justify the epithet he asked several questions,
at the same time winking to his favorites, as if to say to them,
“You’ll see how we’re going to amuse ourselves.”

Basilio now understood Spanish and answered the questions with the
plain intention of making no one laugh. This disgusted everybody,
the expected absurdity did not materialize, no one could laugh, and
the good friar never pardoned him for having defrauded the hopes of
the class and disappointed his own prophecies. But who would expect
anything worth while to come from a head so badly combed and placed on
an Indian poorly shod, classified until recently among the arboreal
animals? As in other centers of learning, where the teachers are
honestly desirous that the students should learn, such discoveries
usually delight the instructors, so in a college managed by men
convinced that for the most part knowledge is an evil, at least for
the students, the episode of Basilio produced a bad impression and
he was not questioned again during the year. Why should he be, when
he made no one laugh?

Quite discouraged and thinking of abandoning his studies, he passed
to the fourth year of Latin. Why study at all, why not sleep like
the others and trust to luck?

One of the two professors was very popular, beloved by all, passing
for a sage, a great poet, and a man of advanced ideas. One day when
he accompanied the collegians on their walk, he had a dispute with
some cadets, which resulted in a skirmish and a challenge. No doubt
recalling his brilliant youth, the professor preached a crusade and
promised good marks to all who during the promenade on the following
Sunday would take part in the fray. The week was a lively one–there
were occasional encounters in which canes and sabers were crossed,
and in one of these Basilio distinguished himself. Borne in triumph
by the students and presented to the professor, he thus became known
to him and came to be his favorite. Partly for this reason and partly
from his diligence, that year he received the highest marks, medals
included, in view of which Capitan Tiago, who, since his daughter
had become a nun, exhibited some aversion to the friars, in a fit of
good humor induced him to transfer to the Ateneo Municipal, the fame
of which was then in its apogee.

Here a new world opened before his eyes–a system of instruction
that he had never dreamed of. Except for a few superfluities and some
childish things, he was filled with admiration for the methods there
used and with gratitude for the zeal of the instructors. His eyes at
times filled with tears when he thought of the four previous years
during which, from lack of means, he had been unable to study at that
center. He had to make extraordinary efforts to get himself to the
level of those who had had a good preparatory course, and it might be
said that in that one year he learned the whole five of the secondary
curricula. He received his bachelor’s degree, to the great satisfaction
of his instructors, who in the examinations showed themselves to be
proud of him before the Dominican examiners sent there to inspect the
school. One of these, as if to dampen such great enthusiasm a little,
asked him where he had studied the first years of Latin.

“In San Juan de Letran, Padre,” answered Basilio.

“Aha! Of course! He’s not bad,–in Latin,” the Dominican then remarked
with a slight smile.

From choice and temperament he selected the course in medicine. Capitan
Tiago preferred the law, in order that he might have a lawyer free,
but knowledge of the laws is not sufficient to secure clientage
in the Philippines–it is necessary to win the cases, and for this
friendships are required, influence in certain spheres, a good deal of
astuteness. Capitan Tiago finally gave in, remembering that medical
students get on intimate terms with corpses, and for some time he
had been seeking a poison to put on the gaffs of his game-cocks,
the best he had been able to secure thus far being the blood of a
Chinaman who had died of syphilis.

With equal diligence, or more if possible, the young man continued
this course, and after the third year began to render medical services
with such great success that he was not only preparing a brilliant
future for himself but also earning enough to dress well and save
some money. This was the last year of the course and in two months he
would be a physician; he would come back to the town, he would marry
Juliana, and they would be happy. The granting of his licentiateship
was not only assured, but he expected it to be the crowning act of
his school-days, for he had been designated to deliver the valedictory
at the graduation, and already he saw himself in the rostrum, before
the whole faculty, the object of public attention. All those heads,
leaders of Manila science, half-hidden in their colored capes; all
the women who came there out of curiosity and who years before had
gazed at him, if not with disdain, at least with indifference; all
those men whose carriages had once been about to crush him down in the
mud like a dog: they would listen attentively, and he was going to
say something to them that would not be trivial, something that had
never before resounded in that place, he was going to forget himself
in order to aid the poor students of the future–and he would make
his entrance on his work in the world with that speech.

CHAPTER VII

SIMOUN

Over these matters Basilio was pondering as he visited his mother’s
grave. He was about to start back to the town when he thought he saw
a light flickering among the trees and heard the snapping of twigs,
the sound of feet, and rustling of leaves. The light disappeared
but the noises became more distinct, coming directly toward where he
was. Basilio was not naturally superstitious, especially after having
carved up so many corpses and watched beside so many death-beds,
but the old legends about that ghostly spot, the hour, the darkness,
the melancholy sighing of the wind, and certain tales heard in his
childhood, asserted their influence over his mind and made his heart
beat violently.

The figure stopped on the other side of the balete, but the youth
could see it through an open space between two roots that had grown
in the course of time to the proportions of tree-trunks. It produced
from under its coat a lantern with a powerful reflecting lens, which
it placed on the ground, thereby lighting up a pair of riding-boots,
the rest of the figure remaining concealed in the darkness. The figure
seemed to search its pockets and then bent over to fix a shovel-blade
on the end of a stout cane. To his great surprise Basilio thought he
could make out some of the features of the jeweler Simoun, who indeed
it was.

The jeweler dug in the ground and from time to time the lantern
illuminated his face, on which were not now the blue goggles that so
completely disguised him. Basilio shuddered: that was the same stranger
who thirteen years before had dug his mother’s grave there, only now
he had aged somewhat, his hair had turned white, he wore a beard and
a mustache, but yet his look was the same, the bitter expression,
the same cloud on his brow, the same muscular arms, though somewhat
thinner now, the same violent energy. Old impressions were stirred
in the boy: he seemed to feel the heat of the fire, the hunger, the
weariness of that time, the smell of freshly turned earth. Yet his
discovery terrified him–that jeweler Simoun, who passed for a British
Indian, a Portuguese, an American, a mulatto, the Brown Cardinal, his
Black Eminence, the evil genius of the Captain-General as many called
him, was no other than the mysterious stranger whose appearance and
disappearance coincided with the death of the heir to that land! But
of the two strangers who had appeared, which was Ibarra, the living
or the dead?

This question, which he had often asked himself whenever Ibarra’s death
was mentioned, again came into his mind in the presence of the human
enigma he now saw before him. The dead man had had two wounds, which
must have been made by firearms, as he knew from what he had since
studied, and which would be the result of the chase on the lake. Then
the dead man must have been Ibarra, who had come to die at the tomb
of his forefathers, his desire to be cremated being explained by his
residence in Europe, where cremation is practised. Then who was the
other, the living, this jeweler Simoun, at that time with such an
appearance of poverty and wretchedness, but who had now returned
loaded with gold and a friend of the authorities? There was the
mystery, and the student, with his characteristic cold-bloodedness,
determined to clear it up at the first opportunity.

Simoun dug away for some time, but Basilio noticed that his old vigor
had declined–he panted and had to rest every few moments. Fearing
that he might be discovered, the boy made a sudden resolution. Rising
from his seat and issuing from his hiding-place, he asked in the most
matter-of-fact tone, “Can I help you, sir?”

Simoun straightened up with the spring of a tiger attacked at his
prey, thrust his hand in his coat pocket, and stared at the student
with a pale and lowering gaze.

“Thirteen years ago you rendered me a great service, sir,” went on
Basilio unmoved, “in this very place, by burying my mother, and I
should consider myself happy if I could serve you now.”

Without taking his eyes off the youth Simoun drew a revolver from
his pocket and the click of a hammer being cocked was heard. “For
whom do you take me?” he asked, retreating a few paces.

“For a person who is sacred to me,” replied Basilio with some emotion,
for he thought his last moment had come. “For a person whom all, except
me, believe to be dead, and whose misfortunes I have always lamented.”

An impressive silence followed these words, a silence that to the
youth seemed to suggest eternity. But Simoun, after some hesitation,
approached him and placing a hand on his shoulder said in a moving
tone: “Basilio, you possess a secret that can ruin me and now you have
just surprised me in another, which puts me completely in your hands,
the divulging of which would upset all my plans. For my own security
and for the good of the cause in which I labor, I ought to seal your
lips forever, for what is the life of one man compared to the end I
seek? The occasion is fitting; no one knows that I have come here;
I am armed; you are defenceless; your death would be attributed to
the outlaws, if not to more supernatural causes–yet I’ll let you
live and trust that I shall not regret it. You have toiled, you have
struggled with energetic perseverance, and like myself, you have your
scores to settle with society. Your brother was murdered, your mother
driven to insanity, and society has prosecuted neither the assassin
nor the executioner. You and I are the dregs of justice and instead
of destroying we ought to aid each other.”

Simoun paused with a repressed sigh, and then slowly resumed, while
his gaze wandered about: “Yes, I am he who came here thirteen years
ago, sick and wretched, to pay the last tribute to a great and noble
soul that was willing to die for me. The victim of a vicious system, I
have wandered over the world, working night and day to amass a fortune
and carry out my plan. Now I have returned to destroy that system,
to precipitate its downfall, to hurl it into the abyss toward which
it is senselessly rushing, even though I may have to shed oceans
of tears and blood. It has condemned itself, it stands condemned,
and I don’t want to die before I have seen it in fragments at the
foot of the precipice!”

Simoun extended both his arms toward the earth, as if with that gesture
he would like to hold there the broken remains. His voice took on a
sinister, even lugubrious tone, which made the student shudder.

“Called by the vices of the rulers, I have returned to these islands,
and under the cloak of a merchant have visited the towns. My gold
has opened a way for me and wheresoever I have beheld greed in the
most execrable forms, sometimes hypocritical, sometimes shameless,
sometimes cruel, fatten on the dead organism, like a vulture on a
corpse, I have asked myself–why was there not, festering in its
vitals, the corruption, the ptomaine, the poison of the tombs, to
kill the foul bird? The corpse was letting itself be consumed, the
vulture was gorging itself with meat, and because it was not possible
for me to give it life so that it might turn against its destroyer,
and because the corruption developed slowly, I have stimulated greed,
I have abetted it. The cases of injustice and the abuses multiplied
themselves; I have instigated crime and acts of cruelty, so that the
people might become accustomed to the idea of death. I have stirred up
trouble so that to escape from it some remedy might be found; I have
placed obstacles in the way of trade so that the country, impoverished
and reduced to misery, might no longer be afraid of anything; I have
excited desires to plunder the treasury, and as this has not been
enough to bring about a popular uprising, I have wounded the people
in their most sensitive fiber; I have made the vulture itself insult
the very corpse that it feeds upon and hasten the corruption.

“Now, when I was about to get the supreme rottenness, the supreme
filth, the mixture of such foul products brewing poison, when the
greed was beginning to irritate, in its folly hastening to seize
whatever came to hand, like an old woman caught in a conflagration,
here you come with your cries of Hispanism, with chants of confidence
in the government, in what cannot come to pass, here you have a body
palpitating with heat and life, young, pure, vigorous, throbbing with
blood, with enthusiasm, suddenly come forth to offer itself again as
fresh food!

“Ah, youth is ever inexperienced and dreamy, always running after
the butterflies and flowers! You have united, so that by your efforts
you may bind your fatherland to Spain with garlands of roses when in
reality you are forging upon it chains harder than the diamond! You
ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don’t
see that what you are begging for is suicide, the destruction of your
nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of
tyranny! What will you be in the future? A people without character,
a nation without liberty–everything you have will be borrowed, even
your very defects! You beg for Hispanization, and do not pale with
shame when they deny it you! And even if they should grant it to you,
what then–what have you gained? At best, a country of pronunciamentos,
a land of civil wars, a republic of the greedy and the malcontents,
like some of the republics of South America! To what are you tending
now, with your instruction in Castilian, a pretension that would be
ridiculous were it not for its deplorable consequences! You wish to
add one more language to the forty odd that are spoken in the islands,
so that you may understand one another less and less.”

“On the contrary,” replied Basilio, “if the knowledge of Castilian
may bind us to the government, in exchange it may also unite the
islands among themselves.”

“A gross error!” rejoined Simoun. “You are letting yourselves be
deceived by big words and never go to the bottom of things to examine
the results in their final analysis. Spanish will never be the general
language of the country, the people will never talk it, because the
conceptions of their brains and the feelings of their hearts cannot
be expressed in that language–each people has its own tongue, as it
has its own way of thinking! What are you going to do with Castilian,
the few of you who will speak it? Kill off your own originality,
subordinate your thoughts to other brains, and instead of freeing
yourselves, make yourselves slaves indeed! Nine-tenths of those of
you who pretend to be enlightened are renegades to your country! He
among you who talks that language neglects his own in such a way that
he neither writes nor understands it, and how many have I not seen
who pretended not to know a single word of it! But fortunately, you
have an imbecile government! While Russia enslaves Poland by forcing
the Russian language upon it, while Germany prohibits French in the
conquered provinces, your government strives to preserve yours, and
you in return, a remarkable people under an incredible government, you
are trying to despoil yourselves of your own nationality! One and all
you forget that while a people preserves its language, it preserves
the marks of its liberty, as a man preserves his independence while
he holds to his own way of thinking. Language is the thought of the
peoples. Luckily, your independence is assured; human passions are
looking out for that!”

Simoun paused and rubbed his hand over his forehead. The waning moon
was rising and sent its faint light down through the branches of the
trees, and with his white locks and severe features, illuminated from
below by the lantern, the jeweler appeared to be the fateful spirit
of the wood planning some evil.

Basilio was silent before such bitter reproaches and listened with
bowed head, while Simoun resumed: “I saw this movement started and have
passed whole nights of anguish, because I understood that among those
youths there were exceptional minds and hearts, sacrificing themselves
for what they thought to be a good cause, when in reality they were
working against their own country. How many times have I wished
to speak to you young men, to reveal myself and undeceive you! But
in view of the reputation I enjoy, my words would have been wrongly
interpreted and would perhaps have had a counter effect. How many times
have I not longed to approach your Makaraig, your Isagani! Sometimes
I thought of their death, I wished to destroy them–”

Simoun checked himself.

“Here’s why I let you live, Basilio, and by such imprudence I expose
myself to the risk of being some day betrayed by you. But you know
who I am, you know how much I must have suffered–then believe in
me! You are not of the common crowd, which sees in the jeweler Simoun
the trader who incites the authorities to commit abuses in order that
the abused may buy jewels. I am the Judge who wishes to castigate
this system by making use of its own defects, to make war on it by
flattering it. I need your help, your influence among the youth, to
combat these senseless desires for Hispanization, for assimilation,
for equal rights. By that road you will become only a poor copy,
and the people should look higher. It is madness to attempt to
influence the thoughts of the rulers–they have their plan outlined,
the bandage covers their eyes, and besides losing time uselessly, you
are deceiving the people with vain hopes and are helping to bend their
necks before the tyrant. What you should do is to take advantage of
their prejudices to serve your needs. Are they unwilling that you
be assimilated with the Spanish people? Good enough! Distinguish
yourselves then by revealing yourselves in your own character, try
to lay the foundations of the Philippine fatherland! Do they deny you
hope? Good! Don’t depend on them, depend upon yourselves and work! Do
they deny you representation in their Cortes? So much the better! Even
should you succeed in sending representatives of your own choice,
what are you going to accomplish there except to be overwhelmed among
so many voices, and sanction with your presence the abuses and wrongs
that are afterwards perpetrated? The fewer rights they allow you,
the more reason you will have later to throw off the yoke, and return
evil for evil. If they are unwilling to teach you their language,
cultivate your own, extend it, preserve to the people their own way
of thinking, and instead of aspiring to be a province, aspire to be
a nation! Instead of subordinate thoughts, think independently, to
the end that neither by right, nor custom, nor language, the Spaniard
can be considered the master here, nor even be looked upon as a part
of the country, but ever as an invader, a foreigner, and sooner or
later you will have your liberty! Here’s why I let you live!”

Basilio breathed freely, as though a great weight had been lifted from
him, and after a brief pause, replied: “Sir, the honor you do me in
confiding your plans to me is too great for me not to be frank with
you, and tell you that what you ask of me is beyond my power. I am
no politician, and if I have signed the petition for instruction in
Castilian it has been because I saw in it an advantage to our studies
and nothing more. My destiny is different; my aspiration reduces
itself to alleviating the physical sufferings of my fellow men.”

The jeweler smiled. “What are physical sufferings compared to moral
tortures? What is the death of a man in the presence of the death of a
society? Some day you will perhaps be a great physician, if they let
you go your way in peace, but greater yet will be he who can inject
a new idea into this anemic people! You, what are you doing for the
land that gave you existence, that supports your life, that affords
you knowledge? Don’t you realize that that is a useless life which is
not consecrated to a great idea? It is a stone wasted in the fields
without becoming a part of any edifice.”

“No, no, sir!” replied Basilio modestly, “I’m not folding my arms,
I’m working like all the rest to raise up from the ruins of the past
a people whose units will be bound together–that each one may feel
in himself the conscience and the life of the whole. But however
enthusiastic our generation may be, we understand that in this great
social fabric there must be a division of labor. I have chosen my
task and will devote myself to science.”

“Science is not the end of man,” declared Simoun.

“The most civilized nations are tending toward it.”

“Yes, but only as a means of seeking their welfare.”

“Science is more eternal, it’s more human, it’s more
universal!” exclaimed the youth in a transport of enthusiasm. “Within a
few centuries, when humanity has become redeemed and enlightened, when
there are no races, when all peoples are free, when there are neither
tyrants nor slaves, colonies nor mother countries, when justice rules
and man is a citizen of the world, the pursuit of science alone will
remain, the word patriotism will be equivalent to fanaticism, and he
who prides himself on patriotic ideas will doubtless be isolated as
a dangerous disease, as a menace to the social order.”

Simoun smiled sadly. “Yes, yes,” he said with a shake of his head,
“yet to reach that condition it is necessary that there be no
tyrannical and no enslaved peoples, it is necessary that man go about
freely, that he know how to respect the rights of others in their own
individuality, and for this there is yet much blood to be shed, the
struggle forces itself forward. To overcome the ancient fanaticism
that bound consciences it was necessary that many should perish in
the holocausts, so that the social conscience in horror declared
the individual conscience free. It is also necessary that all answer
the question which with each day the fatherland asks them, with its
fettered hands extended! Patriotism can only be a crime in a tyrannical
people, because then it is rapine under a beautiful name, but however
perfect humanity may become, patriotism will always be a virtue among
oppressed peoples, because it will at all times mean love of justice,
of liberty, of personal dignity–nothing of chimerical dreams, of
effeminate idyls! The greatness of a man is not in living before his
time, a thing almost impossible, but in understanding its desires,
in responding to its needs, and in guiding it on its forward way. The
geniuses that are commonly believed to have existed before their time,
only appear so because those who judge them see from a great distance,
or take as representative of the age the line of stragglers!”

Simoun fell silent. Seeing that he could awake no enthusiasm in
that unresponsive mind, he turned to another subject and asked with
a change of tone: “And what are you doing for the memory of your
mother and your brother? Is it enough that you come here every year,
to weep like a woman over a grave?” And he smiled sarcastically.

The shot hit the mark. Basilio changed color and advanced a step.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked angrily.

“Without means, without social position, how may I bring their
murderers to justice? I would merely be another victim, shattered like
a piece of glass hurled against a rock. Ah, you do ill to recall this
to me, since it is wantonly reopening a wound!”

“But what if I should offer you my aid?”

Basilio shook his head and remained pensive. “All the tardy
vindications of justice, all the revenge in the world, will not restore
a single hair of my mother’s head, or recall a smile to my brother’s
lips. Let them rest in peace–what should I gain now by avenging them?”

“Prevent others from suffering what you have suffered, that in
the future there be no brothers murdered or mothers driven to
madness. Resignation is not always a virtue; it is a crime when it
encourages tyrants: there are no despots where there are no slaves! Man
is in his own nature so wicked that he always abuses complaisance. I
thought as you do, and you know what my fate was. Those who caused
your misfortunes are watching you day and night, they suspect that
you are only biding your time, they take your eagerness to learn,
your love of study, your very complaisance, for burning desires for
revenge. The day they can get rid of you they will do with you as
they did with me, and they will not let you grow to manhood, because
they fear and hate you!”

“Hate me? Still hate me after the wrong they have done me?” asked
the youth in surprise.

Simoun burst into a laugh. “‘It is natural for man to hate those
whom he has wronged,’ said Tacitus, confirming the _quos laeserunt et
oderunt_ of Seneca. When you wish to gauge the evil or the good that
one people has done to another, you have only to observe whether
it hates or loves. Thus is explained the reason why many who have
enriched themselves here in the high offices they have filled, on
their return to the Peninsula relieve themselves by slanders and
insults against those who have been their victims. _Proprium humani
ingenii est odisse quern laeseris!”_

“But if the world is large, if one leaves them to the peaceful
enjoyment of power, if I ask only to be allowed to work, to live–”

“And to rear meek-natured sons to send them afterwards to submit to
the yoke,” continued Simoun, cruelly mimicking Basilio’s tone. “A fine
future you prepare for them, and they have to thank you for a life
of humiliation and suffering! Good enough, young man! When a body
is inert, it is useless to galvanize it. Twenty years of continuous
slavery, of systematic humiliation, of constant prostration, finally
create in the mind a twist that cannot be straightened by the labor
of a day. Good and evil instincts are inherited and transmitted from
father to son. Then let your idylic ideas live, your dreams of a
slave who asks only for a bandage to wrap the chain so that it may
rattle less and not ulcerate his skin! You hope for a little home
and some ease, a wife and a handful of rice–here is your ideal man
of the Philippines! Well, if they give it to you, consider yourself
fortunate.”

Basilio, accustomed to obey and bear with the caprices and humors
of Capitan Tiago. was now dominated by Simoun, who appeared to him
terrible and sinister on a background bathed in tears and blood. He
tried to explain himself by saying that he did not consider himself
fit to mix in politics, that he had no political opinions because
he had never studied the question, but that he was always ready to
lend his services the day they might be needed, that for the moment
he saw only one need, the enlightenment of the people.

Simoun stopped him with a gesture, and, as the dawn was coming,
said to him: “Young man, I am not warning you to keep my secret,
because I know that discretion is one of your good qualities, and
even though you might wish to sell me, the jeweler Simoun, the friend
of the authorities and of the religious corporations, will always
be given more credit than the student Basilio, already suspected
of filibusterism, and, being a native, so much the more marked and
watched, and because in the profession you are entering upon you
will encounter powerful rivals. After all, even though you have not
corresponded to my hopes, the day on which you change your mind,
look me up at my house in the Escolta, and I’ll be glad to help you.”

Basilio thanked him briefly and went away.

“Have I really made a mistake?” mused Simoun, when he found himself
alone. “Is it that he doubts me and meditates his plan of revenge
so secretly that he fears to tell it even in the solitude of the
night? Or can it be that the years of servitude have extinguished
in his heart every human sentiment and there remain only the animal
desires to live and reproduce? In that case the type is deformed
and will have to be cast over again. Then the hecatomb is preparing:
let the unfit perish and only the strongest survive!”

Then he added sadly, as if apostrophizing some one: “Have patience, you
who left me a name and a home, have patience! I have lost all–country,
future, prosperity, your very tomb, but have patience! And thou,
noble spirit, great soul, generous heart, who didst live with only one
thought and didst sacrifice thy life without asking the gratitude or
applause of any one, have patience, have patience! The methods that I
use may perhaps not be thine, but they are the most direct. The day
is coming, and when it brightens I myself will come to announce it
to you who are now indifferent. Have patience!”

CHAPTER VIII

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

When Juli opened her sorrowing eyes, she saw that the house was still
dark, but the cocks were crowing. Her first thought was that perhaps
the Virgin had performed the miracle and the sun was not going to rise,
in spite of the invocations of the cocks. She rose, crossed herself,
recited her morning prayers with great devotion, and with as little
noise as possible went out on the _batalan._

There was no miracle–the sun was rising and promised a magnificent
morning, the breeze was delightfully cool, the stars were paling
in the east, and the cocks were crowing as if to see who could crow
best and loudest. That had been too much to ask–it were much easier
to request the Virgin to send the two hundred and fifty pesos. What
would it cost the Mother of the Lord to give them? But underneath the
image she found only the letter of her father asking for the ransom of
five hundred pesos. There was nothing to do but go, so, seeing that
her grandfather was not stirring, she thought him asleep and began
to prepare breakfast. Strange, she was calm, she even had a desire
to laugh! What had she had last night to afflict her so? She was not
going very far, she could come every second day to visit the house,
her grandfather could see her, and as for Basilio, he had known for
some time the bad turn her father’s affairs had taken, since he had
often said to her, “When I’m a physician and we are married, your
father won’t need his fields.”

“What a fool I was to cry so much,” she said to herself as she packed
her _tampipi._ Her fingers struck against the locket and she pressed
it to her lips, but immediately wiped them from fear of contagion, for
that locket set with diamonds and emeralds had come from a leper. Ah,
then, if she should catch that disease she could not get married.

As it became lighter, she could see her grandfather seated in a
corner, following all her movements with his eyes, so she caught up her
_tampipi_ of clothes and approached him smilingly to kiss his hand. The
old man blessed her silently, while she tried to appear merry. “When
father comes back, tell him that I have at last gone to college–my
mistress talks Spanish. It’s the cheapest college I could find.”

Seeing the old man’s eyes fill with tears, she placed the _tampipi_
on her head and hastily went downstairs, her slippers slapping merrily
on the wooden steps. But when she turned her head to look again at
the house, the house wherein had faded her childhood dreams and her
maiden illusions, when she saw it sad, lonely, deserted, with the
windows half closed, vacant and dark like a dead man’s eyes, when
she heard the low rustling of the bamboos, and saw them nodding in
the fresh morning breeze as though bidding her farewell, then her
vivacity disappeared; she stopped, her eyes filled with tears, and
letting herself fall in a sitting posture on a log by the wayside
she broke out into disconsolate tears.

Juli had been gone several hours and the sun was quite high overhead
when Tandang Selo gazed from the window at the people in their festival
garments going to the town to attend the high mass. Nearly all led
by the hand or carried in their arms a little boy or girl decked out
as if for a fiesta.

Christmas day in the Philippines is, according to the elders, a fiesta
for the children, who are perhaps not of the same opinion and who,
it may be supposed, have for it an instinctive dread. They are roused
early, washed, dressed, and decked out with everything new, dear,
and precious that they possess–high silk shoes, big hats, woolen or
velvet suits, without overlooking four or five scapularies, which
contain texts from St. John, and thus burdened they are carried to
the high mass, where for almost an hour they are subjected to the heat
and the human smells from so many crowding, perspiring people, and if
they are not made to recite the rosary they must remain quiet, bored,
or asleep. At each movement or antic that may soil their clothing
they are pinched and scolded, so the fact is that they do not laugh
or feel happy, while in their round eyes can be read a protest against
so much embroidery and a longing for the old shirt of week-days.

Afterwards, they are dragged from house to house to kiss their
relatives’ hands. There they have to dance, sing, and recite all
the amusing things they know, whether in the humor or not, whether
comfortable or not in their fine clothes, with the eternal pinchings
and scoldings if they play any of their tricks. Their relatives give
them cuartos which their parents seize upon and of which they hear
nothing more. The only positive results they are accustomed to get from
the fiesta are the marks of the aforesaid pinchings, the vexations,
and at best an attack of indigestion from gorging themselves with
candy and cake in the houses of kind relatives. But such is the
custom, and Filipino children enter the world through these ordeals,
which afterwards prove the least sad, the least hard, of their lives.

Adult persons who live independently also share in this fiesta,
by visiting their parents and their parents’ relatives, crooking
their knees, and wishing them a merry Christmas. Their Christmas
gift consists of a sweetmeat, some fruit, a glass of water, or some
insignificant present.

Tandang Selo saw all his friends pass and thought sadly that this
year he had no Christmas gift for anybody, while his granddaughter
had gone without hers, without wishing him a merry Christinas. Was
it delicacy on Juli’s part or pure forgetfulness?

When he tried to greet the relatives who called on him, bringing their
children, he found to his great surprise that he could not articulate
a word. Vainly he tried, but no sound could he utter. He placed his
hands on his throat, shook his head, but without effect. When he tried
to laugh, his lips trembled convulsively and the only noise produced
was a hoarse wheeze like the blowing of bellows.

The women gazed at him in consternation. “He’s dumb, he’s dumb!” they
cried in astonishment, raising at once a literal pandemonium.

CHAPTER IX

PILATES

When the news of this misfortune became known in the town, some
lamented it and others shrugged their shoulders. No one was to blame,
and no one need lay it on his conscience.

The lieutenant of the Civil Guard gave no sign: he had received an
order to take up all the arms and he had performed his duty. He had
chased the tulisanes whenever he could, and when they captured Cabesang
Tales he had organized an expedition and brought into the town,
with their arms bound behind them, five or six rustics who looked
suspicious, so if Cabesang Tales did not show up it was because he
was not in the pockets or under the skins of the prisoners, who were
thoroughly shaken out.

The friar-administrator shrugged his shoulders: he had nothing to
do with it, it was a matter of tulisanes and he had merely done his
duty. True it was that if he had not entered the complaint, perhaps the
arms would not have been taken up, and poor Tales would not have been
captured; but he, Fray Clemente, had to look after his own safety,
and that Tales had a way of staring at him as if picking out a good
target in some part of his body. Self-defense is natural. If there
are tulisanes, the fault is not his, it is not his duty to run them
down–that belongs to the Civil Guard. If Cabesang Tales, instead
of wandering about his fields, had stayed at home, he would not have
been captured. In short, that was a punishment from heaven upon those
who resisted the demands of his corporation.

When Sister Penchang, the pious old woman in whose service Juli
had entered, learned of it, she ejaculated several _’Susmarioseps_,
crossed herself, and remarked, “Often God sends these trials because
we are sinners or have sinning relatives, to whom we should have
taught piety and we haven’t done so.”

Those _sinning relatives_ referred to Juliana, for to this pious
woman Juli was a great sinner. “Think of a girl of marriageable age
who doesn’t yet know how to pray! _Jesús_, how scandalous! If the
wretch doesn’t say the _Diós te salve María_ without stopping at _es
contigo_, and the _Santa María_ without a pause after _pecadores_, as
every good Christian who fears God ought to do! She doesn’t know the
_oremus gratiam_, and says _mentíbus_ for _méntibus_. Anybody hearing
her would think she was talking about something else. _’Susmariosep!_”

Greatly scandalized, she made the sign of the cross and thanked God,
who had permitted the capture of the father in order that the daughter
might be snatched from sin and learn the virtues which, according
to the curates, should adorn every Christian woman. She therefore
kept the girl constantly at work, not allowing her to return to the
village to look after her grandfather. Juli had to learn how to pray,
to read the books distributed by the friars, and to work until the
two hundred and fifty pesos should be paid.

When she learned that Basilio had gone to Manila to get his savings
and ransom Juli from her servitude, the good woman believed that the
girl was forever lost and that the devil had presented himself in
the guise of the student. Dreadful as it all was, how true was that
little book the curate had given her! Youths who go to Manila to
study are ruined and then ruin the others. Thinking to rescue Juli,
she made her read and re-read the book called _Tandang Basio Macunat_,
[17] charging her always to go and see the curate in the convento,
[18] as did the heroine, who is so praised by the author, a friar.

Meanwhile, the friars had gained their point. They had certainly
won the suit, so they took advantage of Cabesang Tales’ captivity
to turn the fields over to the one who had asked for them, without
the least thought of honor or the faintest twinge of shame. When
the former owner returned and learned what had happened, when he saw
his fields in another’s possession,–those fields that had cost the
lives of his wife and daughter,–when he saw his father dumb and his
daughter working as a servant, and when he himself received an order
from the town council, transmitted through the headman of the village,
to move out of the house within three days, he said nothing; he sat
down at his father’s side and spoke scarcely once during the whole day.

CHAPTER X

WEALTH AND WANT

On the following day, to the great surprise of the village, the jeweler
Simoun, followed by two servants, each carrying a canvas-covered chest,
requested the hospitality of Cabesang Tales, who even in the midst
of his wretchedness did not forget the good Filipino customs–rather,
he was troubled to think that he had no way of properly entertaining
the stranger. But Simoun brought everything with him, servants and
provisions, and merely wished to spend the day and night in the house
because it was the largest in the village and was situated between
San Diego and Tiani, towns where he hoped to find many customers.

Simoun secured information about the condition of the roads and asked
Cabesang Tales if his revolver was a sufficient protection against
the tulisanes.

“They have rifles that shoot a long way,” was the rather absent-minded
reply.

“This revolver does no less,” remarked Simoun, firing at an areca-palm
some two hundred paces away.

Cabesang Tales noticed that some nuts fell, but remained silent
and thoughtful.

Gradually the families, drawn by the fame of the jeweler’s wares,
began to collect. They wished one another merry Christmas, they
talked of masses, saints, poor crops, but still were there to spend
their savings for jewels and trinkets brought from Europe. It was
known that the jeweler was the friend of the Captain-General, so it
wasn’t lost labor to get on good terms with him, and thus be prepared
for contingencies.

Capitan Basilio came with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, prepared
to spend at least three thousand pesos. Sister Penchang was there to
buy a diamond ring she had promised to the Virgin of Antipolo. She
had left Juli at home memorizing a booklet the curate had sold her for
four cuartos, with forty days of indulgence granted by the Archbishop
to every one who read it or listened to it read.

“_Jesús!_” said the pious woman to Capitana Tika, “that poor girl has
grown up like a mushroom planted by the _tikbalang._ I’ve made her read
the book at the top of her voice at least fifty times and she doesn’t
remember a single word of it. She has a head like a sieve–full when
it’s in the water. All of us hearing her, even the dogs and cats,
have won at least twenty years of indulgence.”

Simoun arranged his two chests on the table, one being somewhat larger
than the other. “You don’t want plated jewelry or imitation gems. This
lady,” turning to Sinang, “wants real diamonds.”

“That’s it, yes, sir, diamonds, old diamonds, antique stones, you
know,” she responded. “Papa will pay for them, because he likes antique
things, antique stones.” Sinang was accustomed to joke about the great
deal of Latin her father understood and the little her husband knew.

“It just happens that I have some antique jewels,” replied Simoun,
taking the canvas cover from the smaller chest, a polished steel
case with bronze trimmings and stout locks. “I have necklaces of
Cleopatra’s, real and genuine, discovered in the Pyramids; rings of
Roman senators and knights, found in the ruins of Carthage.”

“Probably those that Hannibal sent back after the battle of
Cannae!” exclaimed Capitan Basilio seriously, while he trembled with
pleasure. The good man, thought he had read much about the ancients,
had never, by reason of the lack of museums in Filipinas, seen any
of the objects of those times.

“I have brought besides costly earrings of Roman ladies, discovered
in the villa of Annius Mucius Papilinus in Pompeii.”

Capitan Easilio nodded to show that he understood and was eager to
see such precious relics. The women remarked that they also wanted
things from Rome, such as rosaries blessed by the Pope, holy relics
that would take away sins without the need of confessions, and so on.

When the chest was opened and the cotton packing removed, there was
exposed a tray filled with rings, reliquaries, lockets, crucifixes,
brooches, and such like. The diamonds set in among variously colored
stones flashed out brightly and shimmered among golden flowers of
varied hues, with petals of enamel, all of peculiar designs and rare
Arabesque workmanship.

Simoun lifted the tray and exhibited another filled with quaint jewels
that would have satisfied the imaginations of seven débutantes on the
eves of the balls in their honor. Designs, one more fantastic than
the other, combinations of precious stones and pearls worked into
the figures of insects with azure backs and transparent forewings,
sapphires, emeralds, rubies, turquoises, diamonds, joined to form
dragon-flies, wasps, bees, butterflies, beetles, serpents, lizards,
fishes, sprays of flowers. There were diadems, necklaces of pearls
and diamonds, so that some of the girls could not withhold a _nakú_
of admiration, and Sinang gave a cluck with her tongue, whereupon
her mother pinched her to prevent her from encouraging the jeweler
to raise his prices, for Capitana Tika still pinched her daughter
even after the latter was married.

“Here you have some old diamonds,” explained the jeweler. “This ring
belonged to the Princess Lamballe and those earrings to one of Marie
Antoinette’s ladies.” They consisted of some beautiful solitaire
diamonds, as large as grains of corn, with somewhat bluish lights,
and pervaded with a severe elegance, as though they still reflected
in their sparkles the shuddering of the Reign of Terror.

“Those two earrings!” exclaimed Sinang, looking at her father and
instinctively covering the arm next to her mother.

“Something more ancient yet, something Roman,” said Capitan Basilio
with a wink.

The pious Sister Penchang thought that with such a gift the Virgin of
Antipolo would be softened and grant her her most vehement desire:
for some time she had begged for a wonderful miracle to which her
name would be attached, so that her name might be immortalized on
earth and she then ascend into heaven, like the Capitana Ines of the
curates. She inquired the price and Simoun asked three thousand pesos,
which made the good woman cross herself–_’Susmariosep!_

Simoun now exposed the third tray, which was filled with watches,
cigar- and match-cases decorated with the rarest enamels, reliquaries
set with diamonds and containing the most elegant miniatures.

The fourth tray, containing loose gems, stirred a murmur of
admiration. Sinang again clucked with her tongue, her mother again
pinched her, although at the same time herself emitting a _’Susmaría_
of wonder.

No one there had ever before seen so much wealth. In that chest lined
with dark-blue velvet, arranged in trays, were the wonders of the
_Arabian Nights,_ the dreams of Oriental fantasies. Diamonds as large
as peas glittered there, throwing out attractive rays as if they were
about to melt or burn with all the hues of the spectrum; emeralds from
Peru, of varied forms and shapes; rubies from India, red as drops of
blood; sapphires from Ceylon, blue and white; turquoises from Persia;
Oriental pearls, some rosy, some lead-colored, others black. Those
who have at night seen a great rocket burst in the azure darkness of
the sky into thousands of colored lights, so bright that they make
the eternal stars look dim, can imagine the aspect the tray presented.

As if to increase the admiration of the beholders, Simoun took the
stones out with his tapering brown fingers, gloating over their
crystalline hardness, their luminous stream, as they poured from his
hands like drops of water reflecting the tints of the rainbow. The
reflections from so many facets, the thought of their great value,
fascinated the gaze of every one.

Cabesang Tales, who had approached out of curiosity, closed his eyes
and drew back hurriedly, as if to drive away an evil thought. Such
great riches were an insult to his misfortunes; that man had come there
to make an exhibition of his immense wealth on the very day that he,
Tales, for lack of money, for lack of protectors, had to abandon the
house raised by his own hands.

“Here you have two black diamonds, among the largest in existence,”
explained the jeweler. “They’re very difficult to cut because they’re
the very hardest. This somewhat rosy stone is also a diamond, as is
this green one that many take for an emerald. Quiroga the Chinaman
offered me six thousand pesos for it in order to present it to a very
influential lady, and yet it is not the green ones that are the most
valuable, but these blue ones.”

He selected three stones of no great size, but thick and well-cut,
of a delicate azure tint.

“For all that they are smaller than the green,” he continued,
“they cost twice as much. Look at this one, the smallest of all,
weighing not more than two carats, which cost me twenty thousand
pesos and which I won’t sell for less than thirty. I had to make a
special trip to buy it. This other one, from the mines of Golconda,
weighs three and a half carats and is worth over seventy thousand. The
Viceroy of India, in a letter I received the day before yesterday,
offers me twelve thousand pounds sterling for it.”

Before such great wealth, all under the power of that man who talked
so unaffectedly, the spectators felt a kind of awe mingled with
dread. Sinang clucked several times and her mother did not pinch
her, perhaps because she too was overcome, or perhaps because she
reflected that a jeweler like Simoun was not going to try to gain
five pesos more or less as a result of an exclamation more or less
indiscreet. All gazed at the gems, but no one showed any desire to
handle them, they were so awe-inspiring. Curiosity was blunted by
wonder. Cabesang Tales stared out into the field, thinking that with
a single diamond, perhaps the very smallest there, he could recover
his daughter, keep his house, and perhaps rent another farm. Could
it be that those gems were worth more than a man’s home, the safety
of a maiden, the peace of an old man in his declining days?

As if he guessed the thought, Simoun remarked to those about him: “Look
here–with one of these little blue stones, which appear so innocent
and inoffensive, pure as sparks scattered over the arch of heaven,
with one of these, seasonably presented, a man was able to have his
enemy deported, the father of a family, as a disturber of the peace;
and with this other little one like it, red as one’s heart-blood,
as the feeling of revenge, and bright as an orphan’s tears, he was
restored to liberty, the man was returned to his home, the father to
his children, the husband to the wife, and a whole family saved from
a wretched future.”

He slapped the chest and went on in a loud tone in bad Tagalog: “Here
I have, as in a medicine-chest, life and death, poison and balm,
and with this handful I can drive to tears all the inhabitants of
the Philippines!”

The listeners gazed at him awe-struck, knowing him to be right. In
his voice there could be detected a strange ring, while sinister
flashes seemed to issue from behind the blue goggles.

Then as if to relieve the strain of the impression made by the gems on
such simple folk, he lifted up the tray and exposed at the bottom the
_sanctum sanctorum_. Cases of Russian leather, separated by layers of
cotton, covered a bottom lined with gray velvet. All expected wonders,
and Sinang’s husband thought he saw carbuncles, gems that flashed
fire and shone in the midst of the shadows. Capitan Basilio was on
the threshold of immortality: he was going to behold something real,
something beyond his dreams.

“This was a necklace of Cleopatra’s,” said Simoun, taking out carefully
a flat case in the shape of a half-moon. “It’s a jewel that can’t be
appraised, an object for a museum, only for a rich government.”

It was a necklace fashioned of bits of gold representing little idols
among green and blue beetles, with a vulture’s head made from a single
piece of rare jasper at the center between two extended wings–the
symbol and decoration of Egyptian queens.

Sinang turned up her nose and made a grimace of childish depreciation,
while Capitan Basilio, with all his love for antiquity, could not
restrain an exclamation of disappointment.

“It’s a magnificent jewel, well-preserved, almost two thousand
years old.”

“Pshaw!” Sinang made haste to exclaim, to prevent her father’s falling
into temptation.

“Fool!” he chided her, after overcoming his first disappointment. “How
do you know but that to this necklace is due the present condition
of the world? With this Cleopatra may have captivated Caesar, Mark
Antony! This has heard the burning declarations of love from the
greatest warriors of their time, it has listened to speeches in the
purest and most elegant Latin, and yet you would want to wear it!”

“I? I wouldn’t give three pesos for it.”

“You could give twenty, silly,” said Capitana Tika in a judicial
tone. “The gold is good and melted down would serve for other jewelry.”

“This is a ring that must have belonged to Sulla,” continued Simoun,
exhibiting a heavy ring of solid gold with a seal on it.

“With that he must have signed the death-wrarrants during his
dictatorship!” exclaimed Capitan Basilio, pale with emotion. He
examined it and tried to decipher the seal, but though he turned
it over and over he did not understand paleography, so he could not
read it.

“What a finger Sulla had!” he observed finally. “This would fit two
of ours–as I’ve said, we’re degenerating!”

“I still have many other jewels–”

“If they’re all that kind, never mind!” interrupted Sinang. “I think
I prefer the modern.”

Each one selected some piece of jewelry, one a ring, another a watch,
another a locket. Capitana Tika bought a reliquary that contained a
fragment of the stone on which Our Saviour rested at his third fall;
Sinang a pair of earrings; and Capitan Basilio the watch-chain for
the alferez, the lady’s earrings for the curate, and other gifts. The
families from the town of Tiani, not to be outdone by those of San
Diego, in like manner emptied their purses.

Simoun bought or exchanged old jewelry, brought there by economical
mothers, to whom it was no longer of use.

“You, haven’t you something to sell?” he asked Cabesang Tales,
noticing the latter watching the sales and exchanges with covetous
eyes, but the reply was that all his daughter’s jewels had been sold,
nothing of value remained.

“What about Maria Clara’s locket?” inquired Sinang.

“True!” the man exclaimed, and his eyes blazed for a moment.

“It’s a locket set with diamonds and emeralds,” Sinang told the
jeweler. “My old friend wore it before she became a nun.”

Simoun said nothing, but anxiously watched Cabesang Tales, who, after
opening several boxes, found the locket. He examined it carefully,
opening and shutting it repeatedly. It was the same locket that Maria
Clara had worn during the fiesta in San Diego and which she had in
a moment of compassion given to a leper.

“I like the design,” said Simoun. “How much do you want for it?”

Cabesang Tales scratched his head in perplexity, then his ear, then
looked at the women.

“I’ve taken a fancy to this locket,” Simoun went on. “Will you take a
hundred, five hundred pesos? Do you want to exchange it for something
else? Take your choice here!”

Tales stared foolishly at Simoun, as if in doubt of what he
heard. “Five hundred pesos?” he murmured.

“Five hundred,” repeated the jeweler in a voice shaking with emotion.

Cabesang Tales took the locket and made several turns about the room,
with his heart beating violently and his hands trembling. Dared he ask
more? That locket could save him, this was an excellent opportunity,
such as might not again present itself.

The women winked at him to encourage him to make the sale, excepting
Penchang, who, fearing that Juli would be ransomed, observed piously:
“I would keep it as a relic. Those who have seen Maria Clara in the
nunnery say she has got so thin and weak that she can scarcely talk
and it’s thought that she’ll die a saint. Padre Salvi speaks very
highly of her and he’s her confessor. That’s why Juli didn’t want
ito give it up, but rather preferred to pawn herself.”

This speech had its effect–the thought of his daughter restrained
Tales. “If you will allow me,” he said, “I’ll go to the town to
consult my daughter. I’ll be back before night.”

This was agreed upon and Tales set out at once. But when he found
himself outside of the village, he made out at a distance, on a path,
that entered the woods, the friar-administrator and a man whom he
recognized as the usurper of his land. A husband seeing his wife
enter a private room with another man could not feel more wrath or
jealousy than Cabesang Tales experienced when he saw them moving
over his fields, the fields cleared by him, which he had thought to
leave to his children. It seemed to him that they were mocking him,
laughing at his powerlessness. There flashed into his memory what he
had said about never giving up his fields except to him who irrigated
them with his own blood and buried in them his wife and daughter.

He stopped, rubbed his hand over his forehead, and shut his eyes. When
he again opened them, he saw that the man had turned to laugh and
that the friar had caught his sides as though to save himself from
bursting with merriment, then he saw them point toward his house and
laugh again.

A buzz sounded in his ears, he felt the crack of a whip around his
chest, the red mist reappeared before his eyes, he again saw the
corpses of his wife and daughter, and beside them the usurper with
the friar laughing and holding his sides. Forgetting everything else,
he turned aside into the path they had taken, the one leading to
his fields.

Simoun waited in vain for Cabesang Tales to return that night. But
the next morning when he arose he noticed that the leather holster of
his revolver was empty. Opening it he found inside a scrap of paper
wrapped around the locket set with emeralds and diamonds, with these
few lines written on it in Tagalog:

“Pardon, sir, that in my own house I relieve you of what
belongs to you, but necessity drives me to it. In exchange
for your revolver I leave the locket you desired so much. I
need the weapon, for I am going out to join the tulisanes.

“I advise you not to keep on your present road, because if
you fall into our power, not then being my guest, we will
require of you a large ransom.

Telesforo Juan de Dios.”

“At last I’ve found my man!” muttered Simoun with a deep breath. “He’s
somewhat scrupulous, but so much the better–he’ll keep his promises.”

He then ordered a servant to go by boat over the lake to Los Baños with
the larger chest and await him there. He would go on overland, taking
the smaller chest, the one containing his famous jewels. The arrival
of four civil-guards completed his good humor. They came to arrest
Cabesang Tales and not finding him took Tandang Selo away instead.

Three murders had been committed during the night. The
friar-administrator and the new tenant of Cabesang Tales’ land had
been found dead, with their heads split open and their mouths full
of earth, on the border of the fields. In the town the wife of the
usurper was found dead at dawn, her mouth also filled with earth and
her throat cut, with a fragment of paper beside her, on which was
the name _Tales_, written in blood as though traced by a finger.

Calm yourselves, peaceful inhabitants of Kalamba! None of you are
named Tales, none of you have committed any crime! You are called
Luis Habaña, Matías Belarmino, Nicasio Eigasani, Cayetano de Jesús,
Mateo Elejorde, Leandro Lopez, Antonino Lopez, Silvestre Ubaldo,
Manuel Hidalgo, Paciano Mercado, your name is the whole village of
Kalamba. [19] You cleared your fields, on them you have spent the
labor of your whole lives, your savings, your vigils and privations,
and you have been despoiled of them, driven from your homes, with the
rest forbidden to show you hospitality! Not content with outraging
justice, they [20] have trampled upon the sacred traditions of your
country! You have served Spain and the King, and when in their name
you have asked for justice, you were banished without trial, torn
from your wives’ arms and your children’s caresses! Any one of you has
suffered more than Cabesang Tales, and yet none, not one of you, has
received justice! Neither pity nor humanity has been shown you–you
have been persecuted beyond the tomb, as was Mariano Herbosa! [21]
Weep or laugh, there in those lonely isles where you wander vaguely,
uncertain of the future! Spain, the generous Spain, is watching over
you, and sooner or later you will have justice!

CHAPTER XI

LOS BAÑOS

His Excellency, the Captain-General and Governor of the Philippine
Islands, had been hunting in Bosoboso. But as he had to be
accompanied by a band of music,–since such an exalted personage
was not to be esteemed less than the wooden images carried in the
processions,–and as devotion to the divine art of St. Cecilia has
not yet been popularized among the deer and wild boars of Bosoboso,
his Excellency, with the band of music and train of friars, soldiers,
and clerks, had not been able to catch a single rat or a solitary bird.

The provincial authorities foresaw dismissals and transfers, the poor
gobernadorcillos and cabezas de barangay were restless and sleepless,
fearing that the mighty hunter in his wrath might have a notion to make
up with their persons for the lack of submissiveness on the part of the
beasts of the forest, as had been done years before by an alcalde who
had traveled on the shoulders of impressed porters because he found no
horses gentle enough to guarantee his safety. There was not lacking
an evil rumor that his Excellency had decided to take some action,
since in this he saw the first symptoms of a rebellion which should be
strangled in its infancy, that a fruitless hunt hurt the prestige of
the Spanish name, that he already had his eye on a wretch to be dressed
up as a deer, when his Excellency, with clemency that Ben-Zayb lacked
words to extol sufficiently, dispelled all the fears by declaring that
it pained him to sacrifice to his pleasure the beasts of the forest.

But to tell the truth, his Excellency was secretly very well satisfied,
for what would have happened had he missed a shot at a deer, one of
those not familiar with political etiquette? What would the prestige
of the sovereign power have come to then? A Captain-General of the
Philippines missing a shot, like a raw hunter? What would have been
said by the Indians, among whom there were some fair huntsmen? The
integrity of the fatherland would have been endangered.

So it was that his Excellency, with a sheepish smile, and posing as a
disappointed hunter, ordered an immediate return to Los Baños. During
the journey he related with an indifferent air his hunting exploits
in this or that forest of the Peninsula, adopting a tone somewhat
depreciative, as suited the case, toward hunting in Filipinas. The bath
in Dampalit, the hot springs on the shore of the lake, card-games in
the palace, with an occasional excursion to some neighboring waterfall,
or the lake infested with caymans, offered more attractions and fewer
risks to the integrity of the fatherland.

Thus on one of the last days of December, his Excellency found himself
in the sala, taking a hand at cards while he awaited the breakfast
hour. He had come from the bath, with the usual glass of coconut-milk
and its soft meat, so he was in the best of humors for granting favors
and privileges. His good humor was increased by his winning a good many
hands, for Padre Irene and Padre Sibyla, with whom he was playing,
were exercising all their skill in secretly trying to lose, to the
great irritation of Padre Camorra, who on account of his late arrival
only that morning was not informed as to the game they were playing
on the General. The friar-artilleryman was playing in good faith and
with great care, so he turned red and bit his lip every time Padre
Sibyla seemed inattentive or blundered, but he dared not say a word
by reason of the respect he felt for the Dominican. In exchange he
took his revenge out on Padre Irene, whom he looked upon as a base
fawner and despised for his coarseness. Padre Sibyla let him scold,
while the humbler Padre Irene tried to excuse himself by rubbing his
long nose. His Excellency was enjoying it and took advantage, like
the good tactician that the Canon hinted he was, of all the mistakes
of his opponents. Padre Camorra was ignorant of the fact that across
the table they were playing for the intellectual development of the
Filipinos, the instruction in Castilian, but had he known it he would
doubtless have joyfully entered into that _game_.

The open balcony admitted the fresh, pure breeze and revealed the lake,
whose waters murmured sweetly around the base of the edifice, as if
rendering homage. On the right, at a distance, appeared Talim Island,
a deep blue in the midst of the lake, while almost in front lay the
green and deserted islet of Kalamba, in the shape of a half-moon. To
the left the picturesque shores were fringed with clumps of bamboo,
then a hill overlooking the lake, with wide ricefields beyond, then
red roofs amid the deep green of the trees,–the town of Kalamba,–and
beyond the shore-line fading into the distance, with the horizon at
the back closing down over the water, giving the lake the appearance
of a sea and justifying the name the Indians give it of _dagat na
tabang_, or fresh-water sea.

At the end of the sala, seated before a table covered with documents,
was the secretary. His Excellency was a great worker and did not
like to lose time, so he attended to business in the intervals of
the game or while dealing the cards. Meanwhile, the bored secretary
yawned and despaired. That morning he had worked, as usual, over
transfers, suspensions of employees, deportations, pardons, and the
like, but had not yet touched the great question that had stirred so
much interest–the petition of the students requesting permission to
establish an academy of Castilian. Pacing from one end of the room to
the other and conversing animatedly but in low tones were to be seen
Don Custodio, a high official, and a friar named Padre Fernandez, who
hung his head with an air either of meditation or annoyance. From an
adjoining room issued the click of balls striking together and bursts
of laughter, amid which might be heard the sharp, dry voice of Simoun,
who was playing billiards with Ben-Zayb.

Suddenly Padre Camorra arose. “The devil with this game, _puñales!_”
he exclaimed, throwing his cards at Padre Irene’s head. “_Puñales_,
that trick, if not all the others, was assured and we lost by
default! _Puñales!_ The devil with this game!”

He explained the situation angrily to all the occupants of the sala,
addressing himself especially to the three walking about, as if he had
selected them for judges. The general played thus, he replied with
such a card, Padre Irene had a certain card; he led, and then that
fool of a Padre Irene didn’t play his card! Padre Irene was giving
the game away! It was a devil of a way to play! His mother’s son had
not come here to rack his brains for nothing and lose his money!

Then he added, turning very red, “If the booby thinks my money grows
on every bush!… On top of the fact that my Indians are beginning to
haggle over payments!” Fuming, and disregarding the excuses of Padre
Irene, who tried to explain while he rubbed the tip of his beak in
order to conceal his sly smile, he went into the billiardroom.

“Padre Fernandez, would you like to take a hand?” asked Fray Sibyla.

“I’m a very poor player,” replied the friar with a grimace.

“Then get Simoun,” said the General. “Eh, Simoun! Eh, Mister, won’t
you try a hand?”

“What is your disposition concerning the arms for sporting
purposes?” asked the secretary, taking advantage of the pause.

Simoun thrust his head through the doorway.

“Don’t you want to take Padre Camorra’s place, Señor Sindbad?” inquired
Padre Irene. “You can bet diamonds instead of chips.”

“I don’t care if I do,” replied Simoun, advancing while he brushed
the chalk from his hands. “What will you bet?”

“What should we bet?” returned Padre Sibyla. “The General can bet
what he likes, but we priests, clerics–”

“Bah!” interrupted Simoun ironically. “You and Padre Irene can pay
with deeds of charity, prayers, and virtues, eh?”

“You know that the virtues a person may possess,” gravely argued
Padre Sibyla, “are not like the diamonds that may pass from hand to
hand, to be sold and resold. They are inherent in the being, they
are essential attributes of the subject–”

“I’ll be satisfied then if you pay me with promises,” replied Simoun
jestingly. “You, Padre Sibyla, instead of paying me five something
or other in money, will say, for example: for five days I renounce
poverty, humility, and obedience. You, Padre Irene: I renounce
chastity, liberality, and so on. Those are small matters, and I’m
putting up my diamonds.”

“What a peculiar man this Simoun is, what notions he has!” exclaimed
Padre Irene with a smile.

“And _he_,” continued Simoun, slapping his Excellency familiarly on
the shoulder, “he will pay me with an order for five days in prison,
or five months, or an order of deportation made out in blank, or let
us say a summary execution by the Civil Guard while my man is being
conducted from one town to another.”

This was a strange proposition, so the three who had been pacing
about gathered around.

“But, Señor Simoun,” asked the high official, “what good will you
get out of winning promises of virtues, or lives and deportations
and summary executions?”

“A great deal! I’m tired of hearing virtues talked about and would
like to have the whole of them, all there are in the world, tied up
in a sack, in order to throw them into the sea, even though I had to
use my diamonds for sinkers.”

“What an idea!” exclaimed Padre Irene with another smile. “And the
deportations and executions, what of them?”

“Well, to clean the country and destroy every evil seed.”

“Get out! You’re still sore at the tulisanes. But you were lucky
that they didn’t demand a larger ransom or keep all your jewels. Man,
don’t be ungrateful!”

Simoun proceeded to relate how he had been intercepted by a band of
tulisanes, who, after entertaining him for a day, had let him go on
his way without exacting other ransom than his two fine revolvers and
the two boxes of cartridges he carried with him. He added that the
tulisanes had charged him with many kind regards for his Excellency,
the Captain-General.

As a result of this, and as Simoun reported that the tulisanes were
well provided with shotguns, rifles, and revolvers, and against such
persons one man alone, no matter how well armed, could not defend
himself, his Excellency, to prevent the tulisanes from getting
weapons in the future, was about to dictate a new decree forbidding
the introduction of sporting arms.

“On the contrary, on the contrary!” protested Simoun, “for me the
tulisanes are the most respectable men in the country, they’re the
only ones who earn their living honestly. Suppose I had fallen into
the hands–well, of you yourselves, for example, would you have let
me escape without taking half of my jewels, at least?”

Don Custodio was on the point of protesting; that Simoun was really
a rude American mulatto taking advantage of his friendship with the
Captain-General to insult Padre Irene, although it may be true also
that Padre Irene would hardly have set him free for so little.

“The evil is not,” went on Simoun, “in that there are tulisanes in
the mountains and uninhabited parts–the evil lies in the tulisanes
in the towns and cities.”

“Like yourself,” put in the Canon with a smile.

“Yes, like myself, like all of us! Let’s be frank, for no Indian
is listening to us here,” continued the jeweler. “The evil is that
we’re not all openly declared tulisanes. When that happens and we all
take to the woods, on that day the country will be saved, on that
day will rise a new social order which will take care of itself,
and his Excellency will be able to play his game in peace, without
the necessity of having his attention diverted by his secretary.”

The person mentioned at that moment yawned, extending his folded
arms above his head and stretching his crossed legs under the table
as far as possible, upon noticing which all laughed. His Excellency
wished to change the course of the conversation, so, throwing down
the cards he had been shuffling, he said half seriously: “Come, come,
enough of jokes and cards! Let’s get to work, to work in earnest,
since we still have a half-hour before breakfast. Are there many
matters to be got through with?”

All now gave their attention. That was the day for joining battle
over the question of instruction in Castilian, for which purpose
Padre Sibyla and Padre Irene had been there several days. It was known
that the former, as Vice-Rector, was opposed to the project and that
the latter supported it, and his activity was in turn supported by
the Countess.

“What is there, what is there?” asked his Excellency impatiently.

“The petition about sporting arms,” replied the secretary with a
stifled yawn.

“Forbidden!”

“Pardon, General,” said the high official gravely, “your Excellency
will permit me to invite your attention to the fact that the use of
sporting arms is permitted in all the countries of the world.”

The General shrugged his shoulders and remarked dryly, “We are not
imitating any nation in the world.”

Between his Excellency and the high official there was always a
difference of opinion, so it was sufficient that the latter offer
any suggestion whatsoever to have the former remain stubborn.

The high official tried another tack. “Sporting arms can harm only
rats and chickens. They’ll say–”

“But are we chickens?” interrupted the General, again shrugging his
shoulders. “Am I? I’ve demonstrated that I’m not.”

“But there’s another thing,” observed the secretary. “Four months ago,
when the possession of arms was prohibited, the foreign importers
were assured that sporting arms would be admitted.”

His Excellency knitted his brows.

“That can be arranged,” suggested Simoun.

“How?”

“Very simply. Sporting arms nearly all have a caliber of six
millimeters, at least those now in the market. Authorize only the
sale of those that haven’t these six millimeters.”

All approved this idea of Simoun’s, except the high official, who
muttered into Padre Fernandez’s ear that this was not dignified,
nor was it the way to govern.

“The schoolmaster of Tiani,” proceeded the secretary, shuffling some
papers about, “asks for a better location for–”

“What better location can he want than the storehouse that he has
all to himself?” interrupted Padre Camorra, who had returned, having
forgotten about the card-game.

“He says that it’s roofless,” replied the secretary, “and that having
purchased out of his own pocket some maps and pictures, he doesn’t
want to expose them to the weather.”

“But I haven’t anything to do with that,” muttered his Excellency. “He
should address the head secretary, [22] the governor of the province,
or the nuncio.”

“I want to tell you,” declared Padre Camorra, “that this little
schoolmaster is a discontented filibuster. Just imagine–the heretic
teaches that corpses rot just the same, whether buried with great pomp
or without any! Some day I’m going to punch him!” Here he doubled up
his fists.

“To tell the truth,” observed Padre Sibyla, as if speaking only to
Padre Irene, “he who wishes to teach, teaches everywhere, in the open
air. Socrates taught in the public streets, Plato in the gardens of
the Academy, even Christ among the mountains and lakes.”

“I’ve heard several complaints against this schoolmaster,” said his
Excellency, exchanging a glance with Simoun. “I think the best thing
would be to suspend him.”

“Suspended!” repeated the secretary.

The luck of that unfortunate, who had asked for help and received
his dismissal, pained the high official and he tried to do something
for him.

“It’s certain,” he insinuated rather timidly, “that education is not
at all well provided for–”

“I’ve already decreed large sums for the purchase of supplies,”
exclaimed his Excellency haughtily, as if to say, “I’ve done more
than I ought to have done.”

“But since suitable locations are lacking, the supplies purchased
get ruined.”

“Everything can’t be done at once,” said his Excellency dryly. “The
schoolmasters here are doing wrong in asking for buildings when those
in Spain starve to death. It’s great presumption to be better off
here than in the mother country itself!”

“Filibusterism–”

“Before everything the fatherland! Before everything else we are
Spaniards!” added Ben-Zayb, his eyes glowing with patriotism, but he
blushed somewhat when he noticed that he was speaking alone.

“In the future,” decided the General, “all who complain will be
suspended.”

“If my project were accepted–” Don Custodio ventured to remark,
as if talking to himself.

“For the construction of schoolhouses?”

“It’s simple, practical, economical, and, like all my projects,
derived from long experience and knowledge of the country. The towns
would have schools without costing the government a cuarto.”

“That’s easy,” observed the secretary sarcastically. “Compel the
towns to construct them at their own expense,” whereupon all laughed.

“No, sir! No, sir!” cried the exasperated Don Custodio, turning
very red. “The buildings are already constructed and only wait to be
utilized. Hygienic, unsurpassable, spacious–”

The friars looked at one another uneasily. Would Don Custodio propose
that the churches and conventos be converted into schoolhouses?

“Let’s hear it,” said the General with a frown.

“Well, General, it’s very simple,” replied Don Custodio, drawing
himself up and assuming his hollow voice of ceremony. “The schools
are open only on week-days and the cockpits on holidays. Then convert
these into schoolhouses, at least during the week.”

“Man, man, man!”

“What a lovely idea!”

“What’s the matter with you, Don Custodio?”

“That’s a grand suggestion!”

“That beats them all!”

“But, gentlemen,” cried Don Custodio, in answer to so many
exclamations, “let’s be practical–what places are more suitable
than the cockpits? They’re large, well constructed, and under a
curse for the use to which they are put during the week-days. From
a moral standpoint my project would be acceptable, by serving as a
kind of expiation and weekly purification of the temple of chance,
as we might say.”

“But the fact remains that sometimes there are cockfights during the
week,” objected Padre Camorra, “and it wouldn’t be right when the
contractors of the cockpits pay the government–” [23]

“Well, on those days close the school!”

“Man, man!” exclaimed the scandalized Captain-General. “Such an outrage
shall never be perpetrated while I govern! To close the schools in
order to gamble! Man, man, I’ll resign first!” His Excellency was
really horrified.

“But, General, it’s better to close them for a few days than for
months.”

“It would be immoral,” observed Padre Irene, more indignant even than
his Excellency.

“It’s more immoral that vice has good buildings and learning
none. Let’s be practical, gentlemen, and not be carried away by
sentiment. In politics there’s nothing worse than sentiment. While
from humane considerations we forbid the cultivation of opium in our
colonies, we tolerate the smoking of it, and the result is that we
do not combat the vice but impoverish ourselves.”

“But remember that it yields to the government, without any effort,
more than four hundred and fifty thousand pesos,” objected Padre Irene,
who was getting more and more on the governmental side.

“Enough, enough, enough!” exclaimed his Excellency, to end the
discussion. “I have my own plans in this regard and will devote special
attention to the matter of public instruction. Is there anything else?”

The secretary looked uneasily toward Padre Sibyla and Padre Irene. The
cat was about to come out of the bag. Both prepared themselves.

“The petition of the students requesting authorization to open an
academy of Castilian,” answered the secretary.

A general movement was noted among those in the room. After glancing
at one another they fixed their eyes on the General to learn what
his disposition would be. For six months the petition had lain there
awaiting a decision and had become converted into a kind of _casus
belli_ in certain circles. His Excellency had lowered his eyes,
as if to keep his thoughts from being read.

The silence became embarrassing, as the General understood, so he
asked the high official, “What do you think?”

“What should I think, General?” responded the person addressed, with
a shrug of his shoulders and a bitter smile. “What should I think
but that the petition is just, very just, and that I am surprised
that six months should have been taken to consider it.”

“The fact is that it involves other considerations,” said Padre Sibyla
coldly, as he half closed his eyes.

The high official again shrugged his shoulders, like one who did not
comprehend what those considerations could be.

“Besides the intemperateness of the demand,” went on the Dominican,
“besides the fact that it is in the nature of an infringement on
our prerogatives–”

Padre Sibyla dared not go on, but looked at Simoun.

“The petition has a somewhat suspicious character,” corroborated
that individual, exchanging a look with the Dominican, who winked
several times.

Padre Irene noticed these things and realized that his cause was
almost lost–Simoun was against him.

“It’s a peaceful rebellion, a revolution on stamped paper,” added
Padre Sibyla.

“Revolution? Rebellion?” inquired the high official, staring from
one to the other as if he did not understand what they could mean.

“It’s headed by some young men charged with being too radical and
too much interested in reforms, not to use stronger terms,” remarked
the secretary, with a look at the Dominican. “Among them is a certain
Isagani, a poorly balanced head, nephew of a native priest–”

“He’s a pupil of mine,” put in Padre Fernandez, “and I’m much pleased
with him.”

“_Puñales,_ I like your taste!” exclaimed Padre Camorra. “On the
steamer we nearly had a fight. He’s so insolent that when I gave him
a shove aside he returned it.”

“There’s also one Makaragui or Makarai–”

“Makaraig,” Padre Irene joined in. “A very pleasant and agreeable
young man.”

Then he murmured into the General’s ear, “He’s the one I’ve talked
to you about, he’s very rich. The Countess recommends him strongly.”

“Ah!”

“A medical student, one Basilio–”

“Of that Basilio, I’ll say nothing,” observed Padre Irene, raising
his hands and opening them, as if to say _Dominus vobiscum_. “He’s
too deep for me. I’ve never succeeded in fathoming what he wants or
what he is thinking about. It’s a pity that Padre Salvi isn’t present
to tell us something about his antecedents. I believe that I’ve heard
that when a boy he got into trouble with the Civil Guard. His father
was killed in–I don’t remember what disturbance.”

Simoun smiled faintly, silently, showing his sharp white teeth.

“Aha! Aha!” said his Excellency nodding. “That’s the kind we have! Make
a note of that name.”

“But, General,” objected the high official, seeing that the matter
was taking a bad turn, “up to now nothing positive is known against
these young men. Their position is a very just one, and we have no
right to deny it on the ground of mere conjectures. My opinion is that
the government, by exhibiting confidence in the people and in its own
stability, should grant what is asked, then it could freely revoke the
permission when it saw that its kindness was being abused–reasons
and pretexts would not be wanting, we can watch them. Why cause
disaffection among some young men, who later on may feel resentment,
when what they ask is commanded by royal decrees?”

Padre Irene, Don Custodio, and Padre Fernandez nodded in agreement.

“But the Indians must not understand Castilian, you know,” cried Padre
Camorra. “They mustn’t learn it, for then they’ll enter into arguments
with us, and the Indians must not argue, but obey and pay. They mustn’t
try to interpret the meaning of the laws and the books, they’re so
tricky and pettifogish! Just as soon as they learn Castilian they
become enemies of God and of Spain. Just read the _Tandang Basio
Macunat_–that’s a book! It tells truths like this!” And he held up
his clenched fists.

Padre Sibyla rubbed his hand over his tonsure in sign of
impatience. “One word,” he began in the most conciliatory tone, though
fuming with irritation, “here we’re not dealing with the instruction
in Castilian alone. Here there is an underhand fight between the
students and the University of Santo Tomas. If the students win this,
our prestige will be trampled in the dirt, they will say that they’ve
beaten us and will exult accordingly. Then, good-by to moral strength,
good-by to everything! The first dike broken down, who will restrain
this youth? With our fall we do no more than signal your own. After
us, the government!”

“_Puñales_, that’s not so!” exclaimed Padre Camorra. “We’ll see first
who has the biggest fists!”

At this point Padre Fernandez, who thus far in the discussion had
merely contented himself with smiling, began to talk. All gave him
their attention, for they knew him to be a thoughtful man.

“Don’t take it ill of me, Padre Sibyla, if I differ from your view
of the affair, but it’s my peculiar fate to be almost always in
opposition to my brethren. I say, then, that we ought not to be so
pessimistic. The instruction in Castilian can be allowed without any
risk whatever, and in order that it may not appear to be a defeat
of the University, we Dominicans ought to put forth our efforts and
be the first to rejoice over it–that should be our policy. To what
end are we to be engaged in an everlasting struggle with the people,
when after all we are the few and they are the many, when we need them
and they do not need us? Wait, Padre Camorra, wait! Admit that now the
people may be weak and ignorant–I also believe that–but it will not
be true tomorrow or the day after. Tomorrow and the next day they will
be the stronger, they will know what is good for them, and we cannot
keep it from them, just as it is not possible to keep from children
the knowledge of many things when they reach a certain age. I say,
then, why should we not take advantage of this condition of ignorance
to change our policy completely, to place it upon a basis solid and
enduring–on the basis of justice, for example, instead of on the basis
of ignorance? There’s nothing like being just; that I’ve always said to
my brethren, but they won’t believe me. The Indian idolizes justice,
like every race in its youth; he asks for punishment when he has
done wrong, just as he is exasperated when he has not deserved it. Is
theirs a just desire? Then grant it! Let’s give them all the schools
they want, until they are tired of them. Youth is lazy, and what urges
them to activity is our opposition. Our bond of prestige, Padre Sibyla,
is about worn out, so let’s prepare another, the bond of gratitude,
for example. Let’s not be fools, let’s do as the crafty Jesuits–”

“Padre Fernandez!” Anything could be tolerated by Padre Sibyla except
to propose the Jesuits to him as a model. Pale and trembling, he
broke out into bitter recrimination. “A Franciscan first! Anything
before a Jesuit!” He was beside himself.

“Oh, oh!”

“Eh, Padre–”

A general discussion broke out, regardless of the Captain-General. All
talked at once, they yelled, they misunderstood and contradicted
one another. Ben-Zayb and Padre Camorra shook their fists in each
other’s faces, one talking of simpletons and the other of ink-slingers,
Padre Sibyla kept harping on the _Capitulum_, and Padre Fernandez on
the _Summa_ of St. Thomas, until the curate of Los Baños entered to
announce that breakfast was served.

His Excellency arose and so ended the discussion. “Well, gentlemen,”
he said, “we’ve worked like niggers and yet we’re on a vacation. Some
one has said that grave matters should he considered at dessert. I’m
entirely of that opinion.”

“We might get indigestion,” remarked the secretary, alluding to the
heat of the discussion.

“Then we’ll lay it aside until tomorrow.”

As they rose the high official whispered to the General, “Your
Excellency, the daughter of Cabesang Tales has been here again begging
for the release of her sick grandfather, who was arrested in place
of her father.”

His Excellency looked at him with an expression of impatience and
rubbed his hand across his broad forehead. “_Carambas_! Can’t one be
left to eat his breakfast in peace?”

“This is the third day she has come. She’s a poor girl–”

“Oh, the devil!” exclaimed Padre Camorra. “I’ve just thought of it. I
have something to say to the General about that–that’s what I came
over for–to support that girl’s petition.”

The General scratched the back of his ear and said, “Oh, go along! Have
the secretary make out an order to the lieutenant of the Civil Guard
for the old man’s release. They sha’n’t say that we’re not clement
and merciful.”

He looked at Ben-Zayb. The journalist winked.

CHAPTER XII

PLACIDO PENITENTE

Reluctantly, and almost with tearful eyes, Placido Penitente was going
along the Escolta on his way to the University of Santo Tomas. It
had hardly been a week since he had come from his town, yet he had
already written to his mother twice, reiterating his desire to abandon
his studies and go back there to work. His mother answered that he
should have patience, that at the least he must be graduated as a
bachelor of arts, since it would be unwise to desert his books after
four years of expense and sacrifices on both their parts.

Whence came to Penitente this aversion to study, when he had been
one of the most diligent in the famous college conducted by Padre
Valerio in Tanawan? There Penitente had been considered one of the
best Latinists and the subtlest disputants, one who could tangle or
untangle the simplest as well as the most abstruse questions. His
townspeople considered him very clever, and his curate, influenced by
that opinion, already classified him as a filibuster–a sure proof that
he was neither foolish nor incapable. His friends could not explain
those desires for abandoning his studies and returning: he had no
sweethearts, was not a gambler, hardly knew anything about _hunkían_
and rarely tried his luck at the more familiar _revesino_. He did
not believe in the advice of the curates, laughed at _Tandang Basio
Macunat_, had plenty of money and good clothes, yet he went to school
reluctantly and looked with repugnance on his books.

On the Bridge of Spain, a bridge whose name alone came from Spain,
since even its ironwork came from foreign countries, he fell in with
the long procession of young men on their way to the Walled City to
their respective schools. Some were dressed in the European fashion and
walked rapidly, carrying books and notes, absorbed in thoughts of their
lessons and essays–these were the students of the Ateneo. Those from
San Juan de Letran were nearly all dressed in the Filipino costume, but
were more numerous and carried fewer books. Those from the University
are dressed more carefully and elegantly and saunter along carrying
canes instead of books. The collegians of the Philippines are not very
noisy or turbulent. They move along in a preoccupied manner, such that
upon seeing them one would say that before their eyes shone no hope,
no smiling future. Even though here and there the line is brightened
by the attractive appearance of the schoolgirls of the _Escuela
Municipal_, [24] with their sashes across their shoulders and their
books in their hands, followed by their servants, yet scarcely a laugh
resounds or a joke can be heard–nothing of song or jest, at best a few
heavy jokes or scuffles among the smaller boys. The older ones nearly
always proceed seriously and composedly, like the German students.

Placido was proceeding along the Paseo de Magallanes toward the
breach–formerly the gate–of Santo Domingo, when he suddenly felt
a slap on the shoulder, which made him turn quickly in ill humor.

“Hello, Penitente! Hello, Penitente!”

It was his schoolmate Juanito Pelaez, the _barbero_ or pet of the
professors, as big a rascal as he could be, with a roguish look and
a clownish smile. The son of a Spanish mestizo–a rich merchant in
one of the suburbs, who based all his hopes and joys on the boy’s
talent–he promised well with his roguery, and, thanks to his custom
of playing tricks on every one and then hiding behind his companions,
he had acquired a peculiar hump, which grew larger whenever he was
laughing over his deviltry.

“What kind of time did you have, Penitente?” was his question as he
again slapped him on the shoulder.

“So, so,” answered Placido, rather bored. “And you?”

“Well, it was great! Just imagine–the curate of Tiani invited me to
spend the vacation in his town, and I went. Old man, you know Padre
Camorra, I suppose? Well, he’s a liberal curate, very jolly, frank,
very frank, one of those like Padre Paco. As there were pretty girls,
we serenaded them all, he with his guitar and songs and I with my
violin. I tell you, old man, we had a great time–there wasn’t a
house we didn’t try!”

He whispered a few words in Placido’s ear and then broke out into
laughter. As the latter exhibited some surprise, he resumed:
“I’ll swear to it! They can’t help themselves, because with a
governmental order you get rid of the father, husband, or brother,
and then–merry Christmas! However, we did run up against a little
fool, the sweetheart, I believe, of Basilio, you know? Look, what a
fool this Basilio is! To have a sweetheart who doesn’t know a word
of Spanish, who hasn’t any money, and who has been a servant! She’s
as shy as she can be, but pretty. Padre Camorra one night started to
club two fellows who were serenading her and I don’t know how it was
he didn’t kill them, yet with all that she was just as shy as ever. But
it’ll result for her as it does with all the women, all of them!”

Juanito Pelaez laughed with a full mouth, as though he thought this
a glorious thing, while Placido stared at him in disgust.

“Listen, what did the professor explain yesterday?” asked Juanito,
changing the conversation.

“Yesterday there was no class.”

“Oho, and the day before yesterday?”

“Man, it was Thursday!”

“Right! What an ass I am! Don’t you know, Placido, that I’m getting
to be a regular ass? What about Wednesday?”

“Wednesday? Wait–Wednesday, it was a little wet.”

“Fine! What about Tuesday, old man?”

“Tuesday was the professor’s nameday and we went to entertain him
with an orchestra, present him flowers and some gifts.”

“Ah, _carambas!_” exclaimed Juanito, “that I should have forgotten
about it! What an ass I am! Listen, did he ask for me?”

Penitente shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, but they gave him
a list of his entertainers.”

“_Carambas!_ Listen–Monday, what happened?”

“As it was the first school-day, he called the roll and assigned the
lesson–about mirrors. Look, from here to here, by memory, word for
word. We jump all this section, we take that.” He was pointing out
with his finger in the “Physics” the portions that were to be learned,
when suddenly the book flew through the air, as a result of the slap
Juanito gave it from below.

“Thunder, let the lessons go! Let’s have a _dia pichido!_”

The students in Manila call _dia pichido_ a school-day that falls
between two holidays and is consequently suppressed, as though forced
out by their wish.

“Do you know that you really are an ass?” exclaimed Placido, picking
up his book and papers.

“Let’s have a _dia pichido!_” repeated Juanito.

Placido was unwilling, since for only two the authorities were hardly
going to suspend a class of more than a hundred and fifty. He recalled
the struggles and privations his mother was suffering in order to keep
him in Manila, while she went without even the necessities of life.

They were just passing through the breach of Santo Domingo, and
Juanito, gazing across the little plaza [25] in front of the old
Customs building, exclaimed, “Now I think of it, I’m appointed to
take up the collection.”

“What collection?”

“For the monument.”

“What monument?”

“Get out! For Padre Balthazar, you know.”

“And who was Padre Balthazar?”

“Fool! A Dominican, of course–that’s why the padres call on the
students. Come on now, loosen up with three or four pesos, so that they
may see we are sports. Don’t let them say afterwards that in order
to erect a statue they had to dig down into their own pockets. Do,
Placido, it’s not money thrown away.”

He accompanied these words with a significant wink. Placido recalled
the case of a student who had passed through the entire course by
presenting canary-birds, so he subscribed three pesos.

“Look now, I’ll write your name plainly so that the professor will read
it, you see–Placido Penitente, three pesos. Ah, listen! In a couple
of weeks comes the nameday of the professor of natural history. You
know that he’s a good fellow, never marks absences or asks about the
lesson. Man, we must show our appreciation!”

“That’s right!”

“Then don’t you think that we ought to give him a celebration? The
orchestra must not be smaller than the one you had for the professor
of physics.”

“That’s right!”

“What do you think about making the contribution two pesos? Come,
Placido, you start it, so you’ll be at the head of the list.”

Then, seeing that Placido gave the two pesos without hesitation,
he added, “Listen, put up four, and afterwards I’ll return you
two. They’ll serve as a decoy.”

“Well, if you’re going to return them to me, why give them to
you? It’ll be sufficient, for you to write four.”

“Ah, that’s right! What an ass I am! Do you know, I’m getting to be
a regular ass! But let me have them anyhow, so that I can show them.”

Placido, in order not to give the lie to the priest who christened him,
gave what was asked, just as they reached the University.

In the entrance and along the walks on each side of it were gathered
the students, awaiting the appearance of the professors. Students of
the preparatory year of law, of the fifth of the secondary course,
of the preparatory in medicine, formed lively groups. The latter
were easily distinguished by their clothing and by a certain air
that was lacking in the others, since the greater part of them came
from the Ateneo Municipal. Among them could be seen the poet Isagani,
explaining to a companion the theory of the refraction of light. In
another group they were talking, disputing, citing the statements
of the professor, the text-books, and scholastic principles; in
yet another they were gesticulating and waving their books in the
air or making demonstrations with their canes by drawing diagrams
on the ground; farther on, they were entertaining themselves in
watching the pious women go into the neighboring church, all the
students making facetious remarks. An old woman leaning on a young
girl limped piously, while the girl moved along writh downcast eyes,
timid and abashed to pass before so many curious eyes. The old lady,
catching up her coffee-colored skirt, of the Sisterhood of St. Rita,
to reveal her big feet and white stockings, scolded her companion
and shot furious glances at the staring bystanders.

“The rascals!” she grunted. “Don’t look at them, keep your eyes down.”

Everything was noticed; everything called forth jokes and comments. Now
it was a magnificent victoria which stopped at the door to set down a
family of votaries on their way to visit the Virgin of the Rosary [26]
on her favorite day, while the inquisitive sharpened their eyes to get
a glimpse of the shape and size of the young ladies’ feet as they got
out of the carriages; now it was a student who came out of the door
with devotion still shining in his eyes, for he had passed through
the church to beg the Virgin’s help in understanding his lesson and
to see if his sweetheart was there, to exchange a few glances with
her and go on to his class with the recollection of her loving eyes.

Soon there was noticed some movement in the groups, a certain air of
expectancy, while Isagani paused and turned pale. A carriage drawn
by a pair of well-known white horses had stopped at the door. It
was that of Paulita Gomez, and she had already jumped down, light
as a bird, without giving the rascals time to see her foot. With a
bewitching whirl of her body and a sweep of her hand she arranged
the folds of her skirt, shot a rapid and apparently careless glance
toward Isagani, spoke to him and smiled. Doña Victorina descended
in her turn, gazed over her spectacles, saw Juanito Pelaez, smiled,
and bowed to him affably.

Isagani, flushed with excitement, returned a timid salute, while
Juanito bowed profoundly, took off his hat, and made the same gesture
as the celebrated clown and caricaturist Panza when he received
applause.

“Heavens, what a girl!” exclaimed one of the students, starting
forward. “Tell the professor that I’m seriously ill.” So Tadeo,
as this invalid youth was known, entered the church to follow the girl.

Tadeo went to the University every day to ask if the classes would be
held and each time seemed to be more and more astonished that they
would. He had a fixed idea of a latent and eternal _holiday_, and
expected it to come any day. So each morning, after vainly proposing
that they play truant, he would go away alleging important business,
an appointment, or illness, just at the very moment when his companions
were going to their classes. But by some occult, thaumaturgic art
Tadeo passed the examinations, was beloved by the professors, and
had before him a promising future.

Meanwhile, the groups began to move inside, for the professor
of physics and chemistry had put in his appearance. The students
appeared to be cheated in their hopes and went toward the interior
of the building with exclamations of discontent. Placido went along
with the crowd.

“Penitente, Penitente!” called a student with a certain mysterious
air. “Sign this!”

“What is it?”

“Never mind–sign it!”

It seemed to Placido that some one was twitching his ears. He recalled
the story of a cabeza de barangay in his town who, for having signed
a document that he did not understand, was kept a prisoner for months
and months, and came near to deportation. An uncle of Placido’s,
in order to fix the lesson in his memory, had given him a severe
ear-pulling, so that always whenever he heard signatures spoken of,
his ears reproduced the sensation.

“Excuse me, but I can’t sign anything without first understanding
what it’s about.”

“What a fool you are! If two _celestial carbineers_ have signed it,
what have you to fear?”

The name of _celestial carbineers_ inspired confidence, being, as it
was, a sacred company created to aid God in the warfare against the
evil spirit and to prevent the smuggling of heretical contraband into
the markets of the New Zion. [27]

Placido was about to sign to make an end of it, because he was in
a hurry,–already his classmates were reciting the _O Thoma_,–but
again his ears twitched, so he said, “After the class! I want to read
it first.”

“It’s very long, don’t you see? It concerns the presentation of a
counter-petition, or rather, a protest. Don’t you understand? Makaraig
and some others have asked that an academy of Castilian be opened,
which is a piece of genuine foolishness–”

“All right, all right, after awhile. They’re already beginning,”
answered Placido, trying to get away.

“But your professor may not call the roll–”

“Yes, yes; but he calls it sometimes. Later on, later on! Besides,
I don’t want to put myself in opposition to Makaraig.”

“But it’s not putting yourself in opposition, it’s only–”

Placido heard no more, for he was already far away, hurrying to his
class. He heard the different voices–_adsum, adsum_–the roll was
being called! Hastening his steps he got to the door just as the
letter Q was reached.

“_Tinamáan ñg–!_” [28] he muttered, biting his lips.

He hesitated about entering, for the mark was already down against
him and was not to be erased. One did not go to the class to
learn but in order not to get this absence mark, for the class was
reduced to reciting the lesson from memory, reading the book, and
at the most answering a few abstract, profound, captious, enigmatic
questions. True, the usual preachment was never lacking–the same
as ever, about humility, submission, and respect to the clerics,
and he, Placido, was humble, submissive, and respectful. So he was
about to turn away when he remembered that the examinations were
approaching and his professor had not yet asked him a question nor
appeared to notice him–this would be a good opportunity to attract
his attention and become known! To be known was to gain a year, for
if it cost nothing to suspend one who was not known, it required a
hard heart not to be touched by the sight of a youth who by his daily
presence was a reproach over a year of his life wasted.

So Placido went in, not on tiptoe as was his custom, but noisily on his
heels, and only too well did he succeed in his intent! The professor
stared at him, knitted his brows, and shook his head, as though to say,
“Ah, little impudence, you’ll pay for that!”

CHAPTER XIII

THE CLASS IN PHYSICS

The classroom was a spacious rectangular hall with large grated
windows that admitted an abundance of light and air. Along the two
sides extended three wide tiers of stone covered with wood, filled
with students arranged in alphabetical order. At the end opposite the
entrance, under a print of St. Thomas Aquinas, rose the professor’s
chair on an elevated platform with a little stairway on each side. With
the exception of a beautiful blackboard in a narra frame, scarcely
ever used, since there was still written on it the _viva_ that had
appeared on the opening day, no furniture, either useful or useless,
was to be seen. The walls, painted white and covered with glazed tiles
to prevent scratches, were entirely bare, having neither a drawing
nor a picture, nor even an outline of any physical apparatus. The
students had no need of any, no one missed the practical instruction
in an extremely experimental science; for years and years it has been
so taught and the country has not been upset, but continues just as
ever. Now and then some little instrument descended from heaven and
was exhibited to the class from a distance, like the monstrance to
the prostrate worshipers–look, but touch not! From time to time,
when some complacent professor appeared, one day in the year was
set aside for visiting the mysterious laboratory and gazing from
without at the puzzling apparatus arranged in glass cases. No one
could complain, for on that day there were to be seen quantities of
brass and glassware, tubes, disks, wheels, bells, and the like–the
exhibition did not get beyond that, and the country was not upset.

Besides, the students were convinced that those instruments had not
been purchased for them–the friars would be fools! The laboratory
was intended to be shown to the visitors and the high officials who
came from the Peninsula, so that upon seeing it they would nod their
heads with satisfaction, while their guide would smile, as if to say,
“Eh, you thought you were going to find some backward monks! Well,
we’re right up with the times–we have a laboratory!”

The visitors and high officials, after being handsomely entertained,
would then write in their _Travels_ or _Memoirs_: “The Royal
and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas of Manila, in charge of
the enlightened Dominican Order, possesses a magnificent physical
laboratory for the instruction of youth. Some two hundred and fifty
students annually study this subject, but whether from apathy,
indolence, the limited capacity of the Indian, or some other
ethnological or incomprehensible reason, up to now there has not
developed a Lavoisier, a Secchi, or a Tyndall, not even in miniature,
in the Malay-Filipino race.”

Yet, to be exact, we will say that in this laboratory are held the
classes of thirty or forty _advanced_ students, under the direction of
an instructor who performs his duties well enough, but as the greater
part of these students come from the Ateneo of the Jesuits, where
science is taught practically in the laboratory itself, its utility
does not come to be so great as it would be if it could be utilized by
the two hundred and fifty who pay their matriculation fees, buy their
books, memorize them, and waste a year to know nothing afterwards. As
a result, with the exception of some rare usher or janitor who has
had charge of the museum for years, no one has ever been known to
get any advantage from the lessons memorized with so great effort.

But let us return to the class. The professor was a young Dominican,
who had filled several chairs in San Juan de Letran with zeal and
good repute. He had the reputation of being a great logician as well
as a profound philosopher, and was one of the most promising in his
clique. His elders treated him with consideration, while the younger
men envied him, for there were also cliques among them. This was the
third year of his professorship and, although the first in which he
had taught physics and chemistry, he already passed for a sage, not
only with the complaisant students but also among the other nomadic
professors. Padre Millon did not belong to the common crowd who each
year change their subject in order to acquire scientific knowledge,
students among other students, with the difference only that they
follow a single course, that they quiz instead of being quizzed,
that they have a better knowledge of Castilian, and that they are not
examined at the completion of the course. Padre Millon went deeply
into science, knew the physics of Aristotle and Padre Amat, read
carefully his “Ramos,” and sometimes glanced at “Ganot.” With all that,
he would often shake his head with an air of doubt, as he smiled and
murmured: “_transeat_.” In regard to chemistry, no common knowledge
was attributed to him after he had taken as a premise the statement of
St. Thomas that water is a mixture and proved plainly that the Angelic
Doctor had long forestalled Berzelius, Gay-Lussac, Bunsen, and other
more or less presumptuous materialists. Moreover, in spite of having
been an instructor in geography, he still entertained certain doubts as
to the rotundity of the earth and smiled maliciously when its rotation
and revolution around the sun were mentioned, as he recited the verses

“El mentir de las estrellas
Es un cómodo mentir.” [29]

He also smiled maliciously in the presence of certain physical
theories and considered visionary, if not actually insane, the
Jesuit Secchi, to whom he imputed the making of triangulations on
the host as a result of his astronomical mania, for which reason it
was said that he had been forbidden to celebrate mass. Many persons
also noticed in him some aversion to the sciences that he taught,
but these vagaries were trifles, scholarly and religious prejudices
that were easily explained, not only by the fact that the physical
sciences were eminently practical, of pure observation and deduction,
while his forte was philosophy, purely speculative, of abstraction
and induction, but also because, like any good Dominican, jealous
of the fame of his order, he could hardly feel any affection for a
science in which none of his brethren had excelled–he was the first
who did not accept the chemistry of St. Thomas Aquinas–and in which
so much renown had been acquired by hostile, or rather, let us say,
rival orders.

This was the professor who that morning called the roll and directed
many of the students to recite the lesson from memory, word for
word. The phonographs got into operation, some well, some ill, some
stammering, and received their grades. He who recited without an error
earned a good mark and he who made more than three mistakes a bad mark.

A fat boy with a sleepy face and hair as stiff and hard as the bristles
of a brush yawned until he seemed to be about to dislocate his jaws,
and stretched himself with his arms extended as though he were in
his bed. The professor saw this and wished to startle him.

“Eh, there, sleepy-head! What’s this? Lazy, too, so it’s sure you
[30] don’t know the lesson, ha?”

Padre Millon not only used the depreciative _tu_ with the students,
like a good friar, but he also addressed them in the slang of the
markets, a practise that he had acquired from the professor of
canonical law: whether that reverend gentleman wished to humble the
students or the sacred decrees of the councils is a question not yet
settled, in spite of the great attention that has been given to it.

This question, instead of offending the class, amused them, and many
laughed–it was a daily occurrence. But the sleeper did not laugh;
he arose with a bound, rubbed his eyes, and, as though a steam-engine
were turning the phonograph, began to recite.

“The name of mirror is applied to all polished surfaces intended to
produce by the reflection of light the images of the objects placed
before said surfaces. From the substances that form these surfaces,
they are divided into metallic mirrors and glass mirrors–”

“Stop, stop, stop!” interrupted the professor. “Heavens, what a
rattle! We are at the point where the mirrors are divided into
metallic and glass, eh? Now if I should present to you a block of
wood, a piece of kamagon for instance, well polished and varnished,
or a slab of black marble well burnished, or a square of jet, which
would reflect the images of objects placed before them, how would
you classify those mirrors?”

Whether he did not know what to answer or did not understand
the question, the student tried to get out of the difficulty by
demonstrating that he knew the lesson, so he rushed on like a torrent.

“The first are composed of brass or an alloy of different metals and
the second of a sheet of glass, with its two sides well polished,
one of which has an amalgam of tin adhering to it.”

“Tut, tut, tut! That’s not it! I say to you ‘_Dominus vobiscum_,’
and you answer me with ‘_Requiescat in pace!_’ ”

The worthy professor then repeated the question in the vernacular of
the markets, interspersed with _cosas_ and _abás_ at every moment.

The poor youth did not know how to get out of the quandary: he doubted
whether to include the kamagon with the metals, or the marble with
glasses, and leave the jet as a neutral substance, until Juanito
Pelaez maliciously prompted him:

“The mirror of kamagon among the wooden mirrors.”

The incautious youth repeated this aloud and half the class was
convulsed with laughter.

“A good sample of wood you are yourself!” exclaimed the professor,
laughing in spite of himself. “Let’s see from what you would define a
mirror–from a surface _per se, in quantum est superficies_, or from a
substance that forms the surface, or from the substance upon which the
surface rests, the raw material, modified by the attribute ‘surface,’
since it is clear that, surface being an accidental property of bodies,
it cannot exist without substance. Let’s see now–what do you say?”

“I? Nothing!” the wretched boy was about to reply, for he did not
understand what it was all about, confused as he was by so many
surfaces and so many accidents that smote cruelly on his ears, but
a sense of shame restrained him. Filled with anguish and breaking
into a cold perspiration, he began to repeat between his teeth:
“The name of mirror is applied to all polished surfaces–”

“_Ergo, per te_, the mirror is the surface,” angled the
professor. “Well, then, clear up this difficulty. If the surface is the
mirror, it must be of no consequence to the ‘essence’ of the mirror
what may be found behind this surface, since what is behind it does
not affect the ‘essence’ that is before it, _id est_, the surface,
_quae super faciem est, quia vocatur superficies, facies ea quae
supra videtur_. Do you admit that or do you not admit it?”

The poor youth’s hair stood up straighter than ever, as though acted
upon by some magnetic force.

“Do you admit it or do you not admit it?”

“Anything! Whatever you wish, Padre,” was his thought, but he did
not dare to express it from fear of ridicule. That was a dilemma
indeed, and he had never been in a worse one. He had a vague idea
that the most innocent thing could not be admitted to the friars
but that they, or rather their estates and curacies, would get out
of it all the results and advantages imaginable. So his good angel
prompted him to deny everything with all the energy of his soul and
refractoriness of his hair, and he was about to shout a proud _nego_,
for the reason that he who denies everything does not compromise
himself in anything, as a certain lawyer had once told him; but the
evil habit of disregarding the dictates of one’s own conscience,
of having little faith in legal folk, and of seeking aid from others
where one is sufficient unto himself, was his undoing. His companions,
especially Juanito Pelaez, were making signs to him to admit it,
so he let himself be carried away by his evil destiny and exclaimed,
“_Concedo_, Padre,” in a voice as faltering as though he were saying,
“_In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum._”

“_Concedo antecedentum_,” echoed the professor, smiling
maliciously. “_Ergo_, I can scratch the mercury off a looking-glass,
put in its place a piece of _bibinka_, and we shall still have a
mirror, eh? Now what shall we have?”

The youth gazed at his prompters, but seeing them surprised and
speechless, contracted his features into an expression of bitterest
reproach. “_Deus meus, Deus meus, quare dereliquiste me,_” said his
troubled eyes, while his lips muttered “_Linintikan!_” Vainly he
coughed, fumbled at his shirt-bosom, stood first on one foot and then
on the other, but found no answer.

“Come now, what have we?” urged the professor, enjoying the effect
of his reasoning.

“_Bibinka!_” whispered Juanito Pelaez. “_Bibinka!_”

“Shut up, you fool!” cried the desperate youth, hoping to get out of
the difficulty by turning it into a complaint.

“Let’s see, Juanito, if you can answer the question for me,” the
professor then said to Pelaez, who was one of his pets.

The latter rose slowly, not without first giving Penitente, who
followed him on the roll, a nudge that meant, “Don’t forget to
prompt me.”

“_Nego consequentiam_, Padre,” he replied resolutely.

“Aha, then _probo consequentiam! Per te_, the polished surface
constitutes the ‘essence’ of the mirror–”

_”Nego suppositum!”_ interrupted Juanito, as he felt Placido pulling
at his coat.

“How? _Per te_–”

“_Nego!_”

“_Ergo,_ you believe that what is behind affects what is in front?”

_”Nego!”_ the student cried with still more ardor, feeling another
jerk at his coat.

Juanito, or rather Placido, who was prompting him, was unconsciously
adopting Chinese tactics: not to admit the most inoffensive foreigner
in order not to be invaded.

“Then where are we?” asked the professor, somewhat disconcerted,
and looking uneasily at the refractory student. “Does the substance
behind affect, or does it not affect, the surface?”

To this precise and categorical question, a kind of ultimatum, Juanito
did not know what to reply and his coat offered no suggestions. In vain
he made signs to Placido, but Placido himself was in doubt. Juanito
then took advantage of a moment in which the professor was staring
at a student who was cautiously and secretly taking off the shoes
that hurt his feet, to step heavily on Placido’s toes and whisper,
“Tell me, hurry up, tell me!”

“I distinguish–Get out! What an ass you are!” yelled Placido
unreservedly, as he stared with angry eyes and rubbed his hand over
his patent-leather shoe.

The professor heard the cry, stared at the pair, and guessed what
had happened.

“Listen, you meddler,” he addressed Placido, “I wasn’t questioning
you, but since you think you can save others, let’s see if you can
save yourself, _salva te ipsum,_ and decide this question.”

Juanito sat down in content, and as a mark of gratitude stuck out
his tongue at his prompter, who had arisen blushing with shame and
muttering incoherent excuses.

For a moment Padre Millon regarded him as one gloating over a favorite
dish. What a good thing it would be to humiliate and hold up to
ridicule that dudish boy, always smartly dressed, with head erect
and serene look! It would be a deed of charity, so the charitable
professor applied himself to it with all his heart, slowly repeating
the question.

“The book says that the metallic mirrors are made of brass and an
alloy of different metals–is that true or is it not true?”

“So the book says, Padre.”

“_Liber dixit, ergo ita est_. Don’t pretend that you know more than the
book does. It then adds that the glass mirrors are made of a sheet of
glass whose two surfaces are well polished, one of them having applied
to it an amalgam of tin, _nota bene_, an amalgam of tin! Is that true?”

“If the book says so, Padre.”

“Is tin a metal?”

“It seems so, Padre. The book says so.”

“It is, it is, and the word amalgam means that it is compounded with
mercury, which is also a metal. _Ergo_, a glass mirror is a metallic
mirror; _ergo_, the terms of the distinction are confused; _ergo_,
the classification is imperfect–how do you explain that, meddler?”

He emphasized the _ergos_ and the familiar “you’s” with indescribable
relish, at the same time winking, as though to say, “You’re done for.”

“It means that, it means that–” stammered Placido.

“It means that you haven’t learned the lesson, you petty meddler,
you don’t understand it yourself, and yet you prompt your neighbor!”

The class took no offense, but on the contrary many thought the
epithet funny and laughed. Placido bit his lips.

“What’s your name?” the professor asked him.

“Placido,” was the curt reply.

“Aha! Placido Penitente, although you look more like Placido the
Prompter–or the Prompted. But, _Penitent_, I’m going to impose some
_penance_ on you for your promptings.”

Pleased with his play on words, he ordered the youth to recite the
lesson, and the latter, in the state of mind to which he was reduced,
made more than three mistakes. Shaking his head up and down, the
professor slowly opened the register and slowly scanned it while he
called off the names in a low voice.

“Palencia–Palomo–Panganiban–Pedraza–Pelado–Pelaez–Penitents,
aha! Placido Penitente, fifteen unexcused absences–”

Placido started up. “Fifteen absences, Padre?”

“Fifteen unexcused absences,” continued the professor, “so that you
only lack one to be dropped from the roll.”

“Fifteen absences, fifteen absences,” repeated Placido in
amazement. “I’ve never been absent more than four times, and with
today, perhaps five.”

“Jesso, jesso, monseer,” [31] replied the professor, examining the
youth over his gold eye-glasses. “You confess that you have missed
five times, and God knows if you may have missed oftener. _Atqui_,
as I rarely call the roll, every time I catch any one I put five
marks against him; _ergo_, how many are five times five? Have you
forgotten the multiplication table? Five times five?”

“Twenty-five.”

“Correct, correct! Thus you’ve still got away with ten, because I have
caught you only three times. Huh, if I had caught you every time–Now,
how many are three times five?”

“Fifteen.”

“Fifteen, right you are!” concluded the professor, closing the
register. “If you miss once more–out of doors with you, get out! Ah,
now a mark for the failure in the daily lesson.”

He again opened the register, sought out the name, and entered the
mark. “Come, only one mark,” he said, “since you hadn’t any before.”

“But, Padre,” exclaimed Placido, restraining himself, “if your
Reverence puts a mark against me for failing in the lesson, your
Reverence owes it to me to erase the one for absence that you have
put against me for today.”

His Reverence made no answer. First he slowly entered the mark,
then contemplated it with his head on one side,–the mark must be
artistic,–closed the register, and asked with great sarcasm, “_Abá_,
and why so, sir?”

“Because I can’t conceive, Padre, how one can be absent from the
class and at the same time recite the lesson in it. Your Reverence
is saying that to be is not to be.”

“_Nakú_, a metaphysician, but a rather premature one! So you can’t
conceive of it, eh? _Sed patet experientia_ and _contra experientiam
negantem, fusilibus est arguendum_, do you understand? And can’t
you conceive, with your philosophical head, that one can be absent
from the class and not know the lesson at the same time? Is it a fact
that absence necessarily implies knowledge? What do you say to that,
philosophaster?”

This last epithet was the drop of water that made the full cup
overflow. Placido enjoyed among his friends the reputation of being
a philosopher, so he lost his patience, threw down his book, arose,
and faced the professor.

“Enough, Padre, enough! Your Reverence can put all the marks against me
that you wish, but you haven’t the right to insult me. Your Reverence
may stay with the class, I can’t stand any more.” Without further
farewell, he stalked away.

The class was astounded; such an assumption of dignity had scarcely
ever been seen, and who would have thought it of Placido Penitente? The
surprised professor bit his lips and shook his head threateningly as he
watched him depart. Then in a trembling voice he began his preachment
on the same old theme, delivered however with more energy and more
eloquence. It dealt with the growing arrogance, the innate ingratitude,
the presumption, the lack of respect for superiors, the pride that
the spirit of darkness infused in the young, the lack of manners,
the absence of courtesy, and so on. From this he passed to coarse
jests and sarcasm over the presumption which some good-for-nothing
“prompters” had of teaching their teachers by establishing an academy
for instruction in Castilian.

“Aha, aha!” he moralized, “those who the day before yesterday scarcely
knew how to say, ‘Yes, Padre,’ ‘No, Padre,’ now want to know more
than those who have grown gray teaching them. He who wishes to learn,
will learn, academies or no academies! Undoubtedly that fellow who
has just gone out is one of those in the project. Castilian is in good
hands with such guardians! When are you going to get the time to attend
the academy if you have scarcely enough to fulfill your duties in the
regular classes? We wish that you may all know Spanish and that you
pronounce it well, so that you won’t split our ear-drums with your
twist of expression and your ‘p’s’; [32] but first business and then
pleasure: finish your studies first, and afterwards learn Castilian,
and all become clerks, if you so wish.”

So he went on with his harangue until the bell rang and the class was
over. The two hundred and thirty-four students, after reciting their
prayers, went out as ignorant as when they went in, but breathing more
freely, as if a great weight had been lifted from them. Each youth had
lost another hour of his life and with it a portion of his dignity and
self-respect, and in exchange there was an increase of discontent,
of aversion to study, of resentment in their hearts. After all this
ask for knowledge, dignity, gratitude!

_De nobis, post haec, tristis sententia fertur_!

Just as the two hundred and thirty-four spent their class hours,
so the thousands of students who preceded them have spent theirs,
and, if matters do not mend, so will those yet to come spend theirs,
and be brutalized, while wounded dignity and youthful enthusiasm
will be converted into hatred and sloth, like the waves that become
polluted along one part of the shore and roll on one after another,
each in succession depositing a larger sediment of filth. But yet He
who from eternity watches the consequences of a deed develop like a
thread through the loom of the centuries, He who weighs the value
of a second and has ordained for His creatures as an elemental
law progress and development, He, if He is just, will demand a
strict accounting from those who must render it, of the millions of
intelligences darkened and blinded, of human dignity trampled upon
in millions of His creatures, and of the incalculable time lost and
effort wasted! And if the teachings of the Gospel are based on truth,
so also will these have to answer–the millions and millions who do
not know how to preserve the light of their intelligences and their
dignity of mind, as the master demanded an accounting from the cowardly
servant for the talent that he let be taken from him.

CHAPTER XIV

IN THE HOUSE OF THE STUDENTS

The house where Makaraig lived was worth visiting. Large and spacious,
with two entresols provided with elegant gratings, it seemed to be
a school during the first hours of the morning and pandemonium from
ten o’clock on. During the boarders’ recreation hours, from the lower
hallway of the spacious entrance up to the main floor, there was a
bubbling of laughter, shouts, and movement. Boys in scanty clothing
played _sipa_ or practised gymnastic exercises on improvised trapezes,
while on the staircase a fight was in progress between eight or nine
armed with canes, sticks, and ropes, but neither attackers nor attacked
did any great damage, their blows generally falling sidewise upon the
shoulders of the Chinese pedler who was there selling his outlandish
mixtures and indigestible pastries. Crowds of boys surrounded him,
pulled at his already disordered queue, snatched pies from him,
haggled over the prices, and committed a thousand deviltries. The
Chinese yelled, swore, forswore, in all the languages he could jabber,
not omitting his own; he whimpered, laughed, pleaded, put on a smiling
face when an ugly one would not serve, or the reverse.

He cursed them as devils, savages, _no kilistanos_ [33] but that
mattered nothing. A whack would bring his face around smiling, and
if the blow fell only upon his shoulders he would calmly continue
his business transactions, contenting himself with crying out to
them that he was not in the game, but if it struck the flat basket
on which were placed his wares, then he would swear never to come
again, as he poured out upon them all the imprecations and anathemas
imaginable. Then the boys would redouble their efforts to make him
rage the more, and when at last his vocabulary was exhausted and they
were satiated with his fearful mixtures, they paid him religiously,
and sent him away happy, winking, chuckling to himself, and receiving
as caresses the light blows from their canes that the students gave
him as tokens of farewell.

Concerts on the piano and violin, the guitar, and the accordion,
alternated with the continual clashing of blades from the fencing
lessons. Around a long, wide table the students of the Ateneo prepared
their compositions or solved their problems by the side of others
writing to their sweethearts on pink perforated note-paper covered
with drawings. Here one was composing a melodrama at the side of
another practising on the flute, from which he drew wheezy notes. Over
there, the older boys, students in professional courses, who affected
silk socks and embroidered slippers, amused themselves in teasing
the smaller boys by pulling their ears, already red from repeated
fillips, while two or three held down a little fellow who yelled and
cried, defending himself with his feet against being reduced to the
condition in which he was born, kicking and howling. In one room,
around a small table, four were playing _revesino_ with laughter and
jokes, to the great annoyance of another who pretended to be studying
his lesson but who was in reality waiting his turn to play.

Still another came in with exaggerated wonder, scandalized as he
approached the table. “How wicked you are! So early in the morning
and already gambling! Let’s see, let’s see! You fool, take it with
the three of spades!” Closing his book, he too joined in the game.

Cries and blows were heard. Two boys were fighting in the adjoining
room–a lame student who was very sensitive about his infirmity and
an unhappy newcomer from the provinces who was just commencing his
studies. He was working over a treatise on philosophy and reading
innocently in a loud voice, with a wrong accent, the Cartesian
principle: “_Cogito, ergo sum!_”

The little lame boy (_el cojito_) took this as an insult and the others
intervened to restore peace, but in reality only to sow discord and
come to blows themselves.

In the dining-room a young man with a can of sardines, a bottle of
wine, and the provisions that he had just brought from his town, was
making heroic efforts to the end that his friends might participate
in his lunch, while they were offering in their turn heroic resistance
to his invitation. Others were bathing on the azotea, playing firemen
with the water from the well, and joining in combats with pails of
water, to the great delight of the spectators.

But the noise and shouts gradually died away with the coming of leading
students, summoned by Makaraig to report to them the progress of the
academy of Castilian. Isagani was cordially greeted, as was also the
Peninsular, Sandoval, who had come to Manila as a government employee
and was finishing his studies, and who had completely identified
himself with the cause of the Filipino students. The barriers that
politics had established between the races had disappeared in the
schoolroom as though dissolved by the zeal of science and youth.

From lack of lyceums and scientific, literary, or political centers,
Sandoval took advantage of all the meetings to cultivate his great
oratorical gifts, delivering speeches and arguing on any subject,
to draw forth applause from his friends and listeners. At that moment
the subject of conversation was the instruction in Castilian, but as
Makaraig had not yet arrived conjecture was still the order of the day.

“What can have happened?”

“What has the General decided?”

“Has he refused the permit?”

“Has Padre Irene or Padre Sibyla won?”

Such were the questions they asked one another, questions that could
be answered only by Makaraig.

Among the young men gathered together there were optimists like Isagani
and Sandoval, who saw the thing already accomplished and talked of
congratulations and praise from the government for the patriotism of
the students–outbursts of optimism that led Juanito Pelaez to claim
for himself a large part of the glory of founding the society.

All this was answered by the pessimist Pecson, a chubby youth with
a wide, clownish grin, who spoke of outside influences, whether the
Bishop A., the Padre B., or the Provincial C., had been consulted or
not, whether or not they had advised that the whole association should
be put in jail–a suggestion that made Juanito Pelaez so uneasy that
he stammered out, “_Carambas_, don’t you drag me into–”

Sandoval, as a Peninsular and a liberal, became furious at
this. “But pshaw!” he exclaimed, “that is holding a bad opinion of his
Excellency! I know that he’s quite a friar-lover, but in such a matter
as this he won’t let the friars interfere. Will you tell me, Pecson, on
what you base your belief that the General has no judgment of his own?”

“I didn’t say that, Sandoval,” replied Pecson, grinning until he
exposed his wisdom-tooth. “For me the General has _his own_ judgment,
that is, the judgment of all those within his reach. That’s plain!”

“You’re dodging–cite me a fact, cite me a fact!” cried
Sandoval. “Let’s get away from hollow arguments, from empty phrases,
and get on the solid ground of facts,”–this with an elegant
gesture. “Facts, gentlemen, facts! The rest is prejudice–I won’t
call it filibusterism.”

Pecson smiled like one of the blessed as he retorted, “There comes the
filibusterism. But can’t we enter into a discussion without resorting
to accusations?”

Sandoval protested in a little extemporaneous speech, again demanding
facts.

“Well, not long ago there was a dispute between some private persons
and certain friars, and the acting Governor rendered a decision
that it should be settled by the Provincial of the Order concerned,”
replied Pecson, again breaking out into a laugh, as though he were
dealing with an insignificant matter, he cited names and dates,
and promised documents that would prove how justice was dispensed.

“But, on what ground, tell me this, on what ground can they refuse
permission for what plainly appears to be extremely useful and
necessary?” asked Sandoval.

Pecson shrugged his shoulders. “It’s that it endangers the integrity
of the fatherland,” he replied in the tone of a notary reading an
allegation.

“That’s pretty good! What has the integrity of the fatherland to do
with the rules of syntax?”

“The Holy Mother Church has learned doctors–what do I know? Perhaps
it is feared that we may come to understand the laws so that we can
obey them. What will become of the Philippines on the day when we
understand one another?”

Sandoval did not relish the dialectic and jesting turn of the
conversation; along that path could rise no speech worth the
while. “Don’t make a joke of things!” he exclaimed. “This is a
serious matter.”

“The Lord deliver me from joking when there are friars concerned!”

“But, on what do you base–”

“On the fact that, the hours for the classes having to come at
night,” continued Pecson in the same tone, as if he were quoting
known and recognized formulas, “there may be invoked as an obstacle
the immorality of the thing, as was done in the case of the school
at Malolos.”

“Another! But don’t the classes of the Academy of Drawing, and the
novenaries and the processions, cover themselves with the mantle
of night?”

“The scheme affects the dignity of the University,” went on the chubby
youth, taking no notice of the question.

“Affects nothing! The University has to accommodate itself to the needs
of the students. And granting that, what is a university then? Is it
an institution to discourage study? Have a few men banded themselves
together in the name of learning and instruction in order to prevent
others from becoming enlightened?”

“The fact is that movements initiated from below are regarded as
discontent–”

“What about projects that come from above?” interpolated one of the
students. “There’s the School of Arts and Trades!”

“Slowly, slowly, gentlemen,” protested Sandoval. “I’m not a
friar-lover, my liberal views being well known, but render unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s. Of that School of Arts and Trades, of which I
have been the most enthusiastic supporter and the realization of which
I shall greet as the first streak of dawn for these fortunate islands,
of that School of Arts and Trades the friars have taken charge–”

“Or the cat of the canary, which amounts to the same thing,” added
Pecson, in his turn interrupting the speech.

“Get out!” cried Sandoval, enraged at the interruption, which had
caused him to lose the thread of his long, well-rounded sentence. “As
long as we hear nothing bad, let’s not be pessimists, let’s not be
unjust, doubting the liberty and independence of the government.”

Here he entered upon a defense in beautiful phraseology of the
government and its good intentions, a subject that Pecson dared not
break in upon.

“The Spanish government,” he said among other things, “has given
you everything, it has denied you nothing! We had absolutism in
Spain and you had absolutism here; the friars covered our soil with
conventos, and conventos occupy a third part of Manila; in Spain
the garrote prevails and here the garrote is the extreme punishment;
we are Catholics and we have made you Catholics; we were scholastics
and scholasticism sheds its light in your college halls; in short,
gentlemen, we weep when you weep, we suffer when you suffer, we have
the same altars, the same courts, the same punishments, and it is
only just that we should give you our rights and our joys.”

As no one interrupted him, he became more and more enthusiastic,
until he came to speak of the future of the Philippines.

“As I have said, gentlemen, the dawn is not far distant. Spain is now
breaking the eastern sky for her beloved Philippines, and the times
are changing, as I positively know, faster than we imagine. This
government, which, according to you, is vacillating and weak, should
be strengthened by our confidence, that we may make it see that it is
the custodian of our hopes. Let us remind it by our conduct (should
it ever forget itself, which I do not believe can happen) that we
have faith in its good intentions and that it should be guided by no
other standard than justice and the welfare of all the governed. No,
gentlemen,” he went on in a tone more and more declamatory, “we must
not admit at all in this matter the possibility of a consultation with
other more or less hostile entities, as such a supposition would imply
our resignation to the fact. Your conduct up to the present has been
frank, loyal, without vacillation, above suspicion; you have addressed
it simply and directly; the reasons you have presented could not be
more sound; your aim is to lighten the labor of the teachers in the
first years and to facilitate study among the hundreds of students
who fill the college halls and for whom one solitary professor cannot
suffice. If up to the present the petition has not been granted, it
has been for the reason, as I feel sure, that there has been a great
deal of material accumulated, but I predict that the campaign is
won, that the summons of Makaraig is to announce to us the victory,
and tomorrow we shall see our efforts crowned with the applause and
appreciation of the country, and who knows, gentlemen, but that the
government may confer upon you some handsome decoration of merit,
benefactors as you are of the fatherland!”

Enthusiastic applause resounded. All immediately believed in the
triumph, and many in the decoration.

“Let it be remembered, gentlemen,” observed Juanito, “that I was one
of the first to propose it.”

The pessimist Pecson was not so enthusiastic. “Just so we don’t get
that decoration on our ankles,” he remarked, but fortunately for
Pelaez this comment was not heard in the midst of the applause.

When they had quieted down a little, Pecson replied, “Good, good,
very good, but one supposition: if in spite of all that, the General
consults and consults and consults, and afterwards refuses the permit?”

This question fell like a dash of cold water. All turned to Sandoval,
who was taken aback. “Then–” he stammered.

“Then?”

“Then,” he exclaimed in a burst of enthusiasm, still excited by the
applause, “seeing that in writing and in printing it boasts of desiring
your enlightenment, and yet hinders and denies it when called upon to
make it a reality–then, gentlemen, your efforts will not have been
in vain, you will have accomplished what no one else has been able
to do. Make them drop the mask and fling down the gauntlet to you!”

“Bravo, bravo!” cried several enthusiastically.

“Good for Sandoval! Hurrah for the gauntlet!” added others.

“Let them fling down the gauntlet to us!” repeated Pecson
disdainfully. “But afterwards?”

Sandoval seemed to be cut short in his triumph, but with the vivacity
peculiar to his race and his oratorical temperament he had an
immediate reply.

“Afterwards?” he asked. “Afterwards, if none of the Filipinos dare
to accept the challenge, then I, Sandoval, in the name of Spain, will
take up the gauntlet, because such a policy would give the lie to the
good intentions that she has always cherished toward her provinces,
and because he who is thus faithless to the trust reposed in him and
abuses his unlimited authority deserves neither the protection of
the fatherland nor the support of any Spanish citizen!”

The enthusiasm of his hearers broke all bounds. Isagani embraced him,
the others following his example. They talked of the fatherland,
of union, of fraternity, of fidelity. The Filipinos declared that
if there were only Sandovals in Spain all would be Sandovals in the
Philippines. His eyes glistened, and it might well be believed that if
at that moment any kind of gauntlet had been flung at him he would have
leaped upon any kind of horse to ride to death for the Philippines.

The “cold water” alone replied: “Good, that’s very good, Sandoval. I
could also say the same if I were a Peninsular, but not being one,
if I should say one half of what you have, you yourself would take
me for a filibuster.”

Sandoval began a speech in protest, but was interrupted.

“Rejoice, friends, rejoice! Victory!” cried a youth who entered at
that moment and began to embrace everybody.

“Rejoice, friends! Long live the Castilian tongue!”

An outburst of applause greeted this announcement. They fell to
embracing one another and their eyes filled with tears. Pecson alone
preserved his skeptical smile.

The bearer of such good news was Makaraig, the young man at the head
of the movement. This student occupied in that house, by himself, two
rooms, luxuriously furnished, and had his servant and a cochero to look
after his carriage and horses. He was of robust carriage, of refined
manners, fastidiously dressed, and very rich. Although studying law
only that he might have an academic degree, he enjoyed a reputation for
diligence, and as a logician in the scholastic way had no cause to envy
the most frenzied quibblers of the University faculty. Nevertheless
he was not very far behind in regard to modern ideas and progress,
for his fortune enabled him to have all the books and magazines that a
watchful censor was unable to keep out. With these qualifications and
his reputation for courage, his fortunate associations in his earlier
years, and his refined and delicate courtesy, it was not strange that
he should exercise such great influence over his associates and that
he should have been chosen to carry out such a difficult undertaking
as that of the instruction in Castilian.

After the first outburst of enthusiasm, which in youth always takes
hold in such exaggerated forms, since youth finds everything beautiful,
they wanted to be informed how the affair had been managed.

“I saw Padre Irene this morning,” said Makaraig with a certain air
of mystery.

“Hurrah for Padre Irene!” cried an enthusiastic student.

“Padre Irene,” continued Makaraig, “has told me about everything that
took place at Los Baños. It seems that they disputed for at least
a week, he supporting and defending our case against all of them,
against Padre Sibyla, Padre Fernandez, Padre Salvi, the General,
the jeweler Simoun–”

“The jeweler Simoun!” interrupted one of his listeners. “What has that
Jew to do with the affairs of our country? We enrich him by buying–”

“Keep quiet!” admonished another impatiently, anxious to learn how
Padre Irene had been able to overcome such formidable opponents.

“There were even high officials who were opposed to our project,
the Head Secretary, the Civil Governor, Quiroga the Chinaman–”

“Quiroga the Chinaman! The pimp of the–”

“Shut up!”

“At last,” resumed Makaraig, “they were going to pigeonhole the
petition and let it sleep for months and months, when Padre Irene
remembered the Superior Commission of Primary Instruction and proposed,
since the matter concerned the teaching of the Castilian tongue,
that the petition be referred to that body for a report upon it.”

“But that Commission hasn’t been in operation for a long time,”
observed Pecson.

“That’s exactly what they replied to Padre Irene, and he answered
that this was a good opportunity to revive it, and availing himself
of the presence of Don Custodio, one of its members, he proposed on
the spot that a committee should be appointed. Don Custodio’s activity
being known and recognized, he was named as arbiter and the petition
is now in his hands. He promised that he would settle it this month.”

“Hurrah for Don Custodio!”

“But suppose Don Custodio should report unfavorably upon it?” inquired
the pessimist Pecson.

Upon this they had not reckoned, being intoxicated with the thought
that the matter would not be pigeonholed, so they all turned to
Makaraig to learn how it could be arranged.

“The same objection I presented to Padre Irene, but with his sly smile
he said to me: ‘We’ve won a great deal, we have succeeded in getting
the matter on the road to a decision, the opposition sees itself
forced to join battle.’ If we can bring some influence to bear upon
Don Custodio so that he, in accordance with his liberal tendencies,
may report favorably, all is won, for the General showed himself to
be absolutely neutral.”

Makaraig paused, and an impatient listener asked, “How can we
influence him?”

“Padre Irene pointed out to me two ways–”

“Quiroga,” some one suggested.

“Pshaw, great use Quiroga–”

“A fine present.”

“No, that won’t do, for he prides himself upon being incorruptible.”

“Ah, yes, I know!” exclaimed Pecson with a laugh. “Pepay the dancing
girl.”

“Ah, yes, Pepay the dancing girl,” echoed several.

This Pepay was a showy girl, supposed to be a great friend of
Don Custodio. To her resorted the contractors, the employees, the
intriguers, when they wanted to get something from the celebrated
councilor. Juanito Pelaez, who was also a great friend of the dancing
girl, offered to look after the matter, but Isagani shook his head,
saying that it was sufficient that they had made use of Padre Irene
and that it would be going too far to avail themselves of Pepay in
such an affair.

“Show us the other way.”

“The other way is to apply to his attorney and adviser, Señor Pasta,
the oracle before whom Don Custodio bows.”

“I prefer that,” said Isagani. “Señor Pasta is a Filipino, and was
a schoolmate of my uncle’s. But how can we interest him?”

“There’s the _quid_,” replied Makaraig, looking earnestly at
Isagani. “Señor Pasta has a dancing girl–I mean, a seamstress.”

Isagani again shook his head.

“Don’t be such a puritan,” Juanito Pelaez said to him. “The end
justifies the means! I know the seamstress, Matea, for she has a shop
where a lot of girls work.”

“No, gentlemen,” declared Isagani, “let’s first employ decent
methods. I’ll go to Señor Pasta and, if I don’t accomplish anything,
then you can do what you wish with the dancing girls and seamstresses.”

They had to accept this proposition, agreeing that Isagani should
talk to Señor Pasta that very day, and in the afternoon report to
his associates at the University the result of the interview.

CHAPTER XV

SEÑOR PASTA

Isagani presented himself in the house of the lawyer, one of the
most talented minds in Manila, whom the friars consulted in their
great difficulties. The youth had to wait some time on account of the
numerous clients, but at last his turn came and he entered the office,
or _bufete_, as it is generally called in the Philippines. The lawyer
received him with a slight cough, looking down furtively at his feet,
but he did not rise or offer a seat, as he went on writing. This gave
Isagani an opportunity for observation and careful study of the lawyer,
who had aged greatly. His hair was gray and his baldness extended
over nearly the whole crown of his head. His countenance was sour
and austere.

There was complete silence in the study, except for the whispers of the
clerks and understudies who were at work in an adjoining room. Their
pens scratched as though quarreling with the paper.

At length the lawyer finished what he was writing, laid down his pen,
raised his head, and, recognizing the youth, let his face light up
with a smile as he extended his hand affectionately.

“Welcome, young man! But sit down, and excuse me, for I didn’t know
that it was you. How is your uncle?”

Isagani took courage, believing that his case would get on well. He
related briefly what had been done, the while studying the effect of
his words. Señor Pasta listened impassively at first and, although
he was informed of the efforts of the students, pretended ignorance,
as if to show that he had nothing to do with such childish matters,
but when he began to suspect what was wanted of him and heard mention
of the Vice-Rector, friars, the Captain-General, a project, and so on,
his face slowly darkened and he finally exclaimed, “This is the land
of projects! But go on, go on!”

Isagani was not yet discouraged. He spoke of the manner in which a
decision was to be reached and concluded with an expression of the
confidence which the young men entertained that he, Señor Pasta,
would _intercede_ in their behalf in case Don Custodio should consult
him, as was to be expected. He did not dare to say would _advise_,
deterred by the wry face the lawyer put on.

But Señor Pasta had already formed his resolution, and it was not
to mix at all in the affair, either as consulter or consulted. He
was familiar with what had occurred at Los Baños, he knew that there
existed two factions, and that Padre Irene was not the only champion
on the side of the students, nor had he been the one who proposed
submitting the petition to the Commission of Primary Instruction,
but quite the contrary. Padre Irene, Padre Fernandez, the Countess,
a merchant who expected to sell the materials for the new academy,
and the high official who had been citing royal decree after royal
decree, were about to triumph, when Padre Sibyla, wishing to gain
time, had thought of the Commission. All these facts the great lawyer
had present in his mind, so that when Isagani had finished speaking,
he determined to confuse him with evasions, tangle the matter up,
and lead the conversation to other subjects.

“Yes,” he said, pursing his lips and scratching his head, “there is
no one who surpasses me in love for the country and in aspirations
toward progress, but–I can’t compromise myself, I don’t know whether
you clearly understand my position, a position that is very delicate,
I have so many interests, I have to labor within the limits of strict
prudence, it’s a risk–”

The lawyer sought to bewilder the youth with an exuberance of words,
so he went on speaking of laws and decrees, and talked so much that
instead of confusing the youth, he came very near to entangling
himself in a labyrinth of citations.

“In no way do we wish to compromise you,” replied Isagani with great
calmness. “God deliver us from injuring in the least the persons
whose lives are so useful to the rest of the Filipinos! But, as
little versed as I may be in the laws, royal decrees, writs, and
resolutions that obtain in this country, I can’t believe that there
can be any harm in furthering the high purposes of the government,
in trying to secure a proper interpretation of these purposes. We
are seeking the same end and differ only about the means.”

The lawyer smiled, for the youth had allowed himself to wander away
from the subject, and there where the former was going to entangle
him he had already entangled himself.

“That’s exactly the _quid_, as is vulgarly said. It’s clear that it
is laudable to aid the government, when one aids it submissively,
following out its desires and the true spirit of the laws in agreement
with the just beliefs of the governing powers, and when not in
contradiction to the fundamental and general way of thinking of the
persons to whom is intrusted the common welfare of the individuals that
form a social organism. Therefore, it is criminal, it is punishable,
because it is offensive to the high principle of authority, to attempt
any action contrary to its initiative, even supposing it to be better
than the governmental proposition, because such action would injure
its prestige, which is the elementary basis upon which all colonial
edifices rest.”

Confident that this broadside had at least stunned Isagani, the old
lawyer fell back in his armchair, outwardly very serious, but laughing
to himself.

Isagani, however, ventured to reply. “I should think that governments,
the more they are threatened, would be all the more careful to seek
bases that are impregnable. The basis of prestige for colonial
governments is the weakest of all, since it does not depend upon
themselves but upon the consent of the governed, while the latter
are willing to recognize it. The basis of justice or reason would
seem to be the most durable.”

The lawyer raised his head. How was this–did that youth dare to reply
and argue with him, _him_, Señor Pasta? Was he not yet bewildered
with his big words?

“Young man, you must put those considerations aside, for they are
dangerous,” he declared with a wave of his hand. “What I advise is
that you let the government attend to its own business.”

“Governments are established for the welfare of the peoples, and
in order to accomplish this purpose properly they have to follow
the suggestions of the citizens, who are the ones best qualified to
understand their own needs.”

“Those who constitute the government are also citizens, and among
the most enlightened.”

“But, being men, they are fallible, and ought not to disregard the
opinions of others.”

“They must be trusted, they have to attend to everything.”

“There is a Spanish proverb which says, ‘No tears, no milk,’ in other
words, ‘To him who does not ask, nothing is given.’ ”

“Quite the reverse,” replied the lawyer with a sarcastic smile;
“with the government exactly the reverse occurs–”

But he suddenly checked himself, as if he had said too much and
wished to correct his imprudence. “The government has given us things
that we have not asked for, and that we could not ask for, because
to ask–to ask, presupposes that it is in some way incompetent and
consequently is not performing its functions. To suggest to it a course
of action, to try to guide it, when not really antagonizing it, is to
presuppose that it is capable of erring, and as I have already said
to you such suppositions are menaces to the existence of colonial
governments. The common crowd overlooks this and the young men who
set to work thoughtlessly do not know, do not comprehend, do not try
to comprehend the counter-effect of asking, the menace to order there
is in that idea–”

“Pardon me,” interrupted Isagani, offended by the arguments the jurist
was using with him, “but when by legal methods people ask a government
for something, it is because they think it good and disposed to grant a
blessing, and such action, instead of irritating it, should flatter it
–to the mother one appeals, never to the stepmother. The government,
in my humble opinion, is not an omniscient being that can see and
anticipate everything, and even if it could, it ought not to feel
offended, for here you have the church itself doing nothing but asking
and begging of God, who sees and knows everything, and you yourself
ask and demand many things in the courts of this same government,
yet neither God nor the courts have yet taken offense. Every one
realizes that the government, being the human institution that it is,
needs the support of all the people, it needs to be made to see and
feel the reality of things. You yourself are not convinced of the
truth of your objection, you yourself know that it is a tyrannical
and despotic government which, in order to make a display of force
and independence, denies everything through fear or distrust, and
that the tyrannized and enslaved peoples are the only ones whose duty
it is never to ask for anything. A people that hates its government
ought to ask for nothing but that it abdicate its power.”

The old lawyer grimaced and shook his head from side to side, in sign
of discontent, while he rubbed his hand over his bald pate and said
in a tone of condescending pity: “Ahem! those are bad doctrines, bad
theories, ahem! How plain it is that you are young and inexperienced
in life. Look what is happening with the inexperienced young men
who in Madrid are asking for so many reforms. They are accused of
filibusterism, many of them don’t dare return here, and yet, what
are they asking for? Things holy, ancient, and recognized as quite
harmless. But there are matters that can’t be explained, they’re so
delicate. Let’s see–I confess to you that there are other reasons
besides those expressed that might lead a sensible government to
deny systematically the wishes of the people–no–but it may happen
that we find ourselves under rulers so fatuous and ridiculous–but
there are always other reasons, even though what is asked be quite
just–different governments encounter different conditions–”

The old man hesitated, stared fixedly at Isagani, and then with a
sudden resolution made a sign with his hand as though he would dispel
some idea.

“I can guess what you mean,” said Isagani, smiling sadly. “You mean
that a colonial government, for the very reason that it is imperfectly
constituted and that it is based on premises–”

“No, no, not that, no!” quickly interrupted the old lawyer, as he
sought for something among his papers. “No, I meant–but where are
my spectacles?”

“There they are,” replied Isagani.

The old man put them on and pretended to look over some papers, but
seeing that the youth was waiting, he mumbled, “I wanted to tell you
something, I wanted to say–but it has slipped from my mind. You
interrupted me in your eagerness–but it was an insignificant
matter. If you only knew what a whirl my head is in, I have so much
to do!”

Isagani understood that he was being dismissed. “So,” he said, rising,
“we–”

“Ah, you will do well to leave the matter in the hands of the
government, which will settle it as it sees fit. You say that the
Vice-Rector is opposed to the teaching of Castilian. Perhaps he may
be, not as to the fact but as to the form. It is said that the Rector
who is on his way will bring a project for reform in education. Wait
a while, give time a chance, apply yourself to your studies as
the examinations are near, and–_carambas!_–you who already speak
Castilian and express yourself easily, what are you bothering yourself
about? What interest have you in seeing it specially taught? Surely
Padre Florentino thinks as I do! Give him my regards.”

“My uncle,” replied Isagani, “has always admonished me to think of
others as much as of myself. I didn’t come for myself, I came in the
name of those who are in worse condition.”

“What the devil! Let them do as you have done, let them singe their
eyebrows studying and come to be bald like myself, stuffing whole
paragraphs into their memories! I believe that if you talk Spanish it
is because you have studied it–you’re not of Manila or of Spanish
parents! Then let them learn it as you have, and do as I have done:
I’ve been a servant to all the friars, I’ve prepared their chocolate,
and while with my right hand I stirred it, with the left I held a
grammar, I learned, and, thank God! have never needed other teachers
or academies or permits from the government. Believe me, he who wishes
to learn, learns and becomes wise!”

“But how many among those who wish to learn come to be what you
are? One in ten thousand, and more!”

“Pish! Why any more?” retorted the old man, shrugging his
shoulders. “There are too many lawyers now, many of them become mere
clerks. Doctors? They insult and abuse one another, and even kill
each other in competition for a patient. Laborers, sir, laborers,
are what we need, for agriculture!”

Isagani realized that he was losing time, but still could not forbear
replying: “Undoubtedly, there are many doctors and lawyers, but I won’t
say there are too many, since we have towns that lack them entirely,
and if they do abound in quantity, perhaps they are deficient in
quality. Since the young men can’t be prevented from studying, and
no other professions are open to us, why let them waste their time
and effort? And if the instruction, deficient as it is, does not keep
many from becoming lawyers and doctors, if we must finally have them,
why not have good ones? After all, even if the sole wish is to make
the country a country of farmers and laborers, and condemn in it all
intellectual activity, I don’t see any evil in enlightening those
same farmers and laborers, in giving them at least an education that
will aid them in perfecting themselves and in perfecting their work,
in placing them in a condition to understand many things of which
they are at present ignorant.”

“Bah, bah, bah!” exclaimed the lawyer, drawing circles in the air
with his hand to dispel the ideas suggested. “To be a good farmer no
great amount of rhetoric is needed. Dreams, illusions, fancies! Eh,
will you take a piece of advice?”

He arose and placed his hand affectionately on the youth’s shoulder,
as he continued: “I’m going to give you one, and a very good one,
because I see that you are intelligent and the advice will not be
wasted. You’re going to study medicine? Well, confine yourself to
learning how to put on plasters and apply leeches, and don’t ever try
to improve or impair the condition of your kind. When you become a
licentiate, marry a rich and devout girl, try to make cures and charge
well, shun everything that has any relation to the general state of
the country, attend mass, confession, and communion when the rest do,
and you will see afterwards how you will thank me, and I shall see
it, if I am still alive. Always remember that charity begins at home,
for man ought not to seek on earth more than the greatest amount of
happiness for himself, as Bentham says. If you involve yourself in
quixotisms you will have no career, nor will you get married, nor
will you ever amount to anything. All will abandon you, your own
countrymen will be the first to laugh at your simplicity. Believe
me, you will remember me and see that I am right, when you have gray
hairs like myself, gray hairs such as these!”

Here the old lawyer stroked his scanty white hair, as he smiled sadly
and shook his head.

“When I have gray hairs like those, sir,” replied Isagani with equal
sadness, “and turn my gaze back over my past and see that I have
worked only for myself, without having done what I plainly could
and should have done for the country that has given me everything,
for the citizens that have helped me to live–then, sir, every gray
hair will be a thorn, and instead of rejoicing, they will shame me!”

So saying, he took his leave with a profound bow. The lawyer remained
motionless in his place, with an amazed look on his face. He listened
to the footfalls that gradually died away, then resumed his seat.

“Poor boy!” he murmured, “similar thoughts also crossed my mind
once! What more could any one desire than to be able to say: ‘I
have done this for the good of the fatherland, I have consecrated
my life to the welfare of others!’ A crown of laurel, steeped in
aloes, dry leaves that cover thorns and worms! That is not life,
that does not get us our daily bread, nor does it bring us honors–
the laurel would hardly serve for a salad, nor produce ease, nor aid
us in winning lawsuits, but quite the reverse! Every country has its
code of ethics, as it has its climate and its diseases, different
from the climate and the diseases of other countries.”

After a pause, he added: “Poor boy! If all should think and act as
he does, I don’t say but that–Poor boy! Poor Florentino!”

CHAPTER XVI

THE TRIBULATIONS OF A CHINESE

In the evening of that same Saturday, Quiroga, the Chinese, who
aspired to the creation of a consulate for his nation, gave a dinner
in the rooms over his bazaar, located in the Escolta. His feast was
well attended: friars, government employees, soldiers, merchants,
all of them his customers, partners or patrons, were to be seen
there, for his store supplied the curates and the conventos with
all their necessities, he accepted the chits of all the employees,
and he had servants who were discreet, prompt, and complaisant. The
friars themselves did not disdain to pass whole hours in his store,
sometimes in view of the public, sometimes in the chambers with
agreeable company.

That night, then, the sala presented a curious aspect, being filled
with friars and clerks seated on Vienna chairs, stools of black wood,
and marble benches of Cantonese origin, before little square tables,
playing cards or conversing among themselves, under the brilliant glare
of the gilt chandeliers or the subdued light of the Chinese lanterns,
which were brilliantly decorated with long silken tassels. On the
walls there was a lamentable medley of landscapes in dim and gaudy
colors, painted in Canton or Hongkong, mingled with tawdry chromos
of odalisks, half-nude women, effeminate lithographs of Christ,
the deaths of the just and of the sinners–made by Jewish houses in
Germany to be sold in the Catholic countries. Nor were there lacking
the Chinese prints on red paper representing a man seated, of venerable
aspect, with a calm, smiling face, behind whom stood a servant, ugly,
horrible, diabolical, threatening, armed with a lance having a wide,
keen blade. Among the Indians some call this figure Mohammed, others
Santiago, [34] we do not know why, nor do the Chinese themselves give
a very clear explanation of this popular pair. The pop of champagne
corks, the rattle of glasses, laughter, cigar smoke, and that odor
peculiar to a Chinese habitation–a mixture of punk, opium, and dried
fruits–completed the collection.

Dressed as a Chinese mandarin in a blue-tasseled cap, Quiroga moved
from room to room, stiff and straight, but casting watchful glances
here and there as though to assure himself that nothing was being
stolen. Yet in spite of this natural distrust, he exchanged handshakes
with each guest, greeted some with a smile sagacious and humble,
others with a patronizing air, and still others with a certain shrewd
look that seemed to say, “I know! You didn’t come on my account,
you came for the dinner!”

And Quiroga was right! That fat gentleman who is now praising him
and speaking of the advisability of a Chinese consulate in Manila,
intimating that to manage it there could be no one but Quiroga, is the
Señor Gonzalez who hides behind the pseudonym _Pitilí_ when he attacks
Chinese immigration through the columns of the newspapers. That
other, an elderly man who closely examines the lamps, pictures,
and other furnishings with grimaces and ejaculations of disdain,
is Don Timoteo Pelaez, Juanito’s father, a merchant who inveighs
against the Chinese competition that is ruining his business. The
one over there, that thin, brown individual with a sharp look and a
pale smile, is the celebrated originator of the dispute over Mexican
pesos, which so troubled one of Quiroga’s protéges: that government
clerk is regarded in Manila as very clever. That one farther on, he
of the frowning look and unkempt mustache, is a government official
who passes for a most meritorious fellow because he has the courage
to speak ill of the business in lottery tickets carried on between
Quiroga and an exalted dame in Manila society. The fact is that
two thirds of the tickets go to China and the few that are left in
Manila are sold at a premium of a half-real. The honorable gentleman
entertains the conviction that some day he will draw the first prize,
and is in a rage at finding himself confronted with such tricks.

The dinner, meanwhile, was drawing to an end. From the dining-room
floated into the sala snatches of toasts, interruptions, bursts and
ripples of laughter. The name of Quiroga was often heard mingled with
the words “consul,” “equality,” “justice.” The amphitryon himself
did not eat European dishes, so he contented himself with drinking
a glass of wine with his guests from time to time, promising to dine
with those who were not seated at the first table.

Simoun, who was present, having already dined, was in the sala talking
with some merchants, who were complaining of business conditions:
everything was going wrong, trade was paralyzed, the European exchanges
were exorbitantly high. They sought information from the jeweler
or insinuated to him a few ideas, with the hope that these would be
communicated to the Captain-General. To all the remedies suggested
Simoun responded with a sarcastic and unfeeling exclamation about
nonsense, until one of them in exasperation asked him for his opinion.

“My opinion?” he retorted. “Study how other nations prosper, and then
do as they do.”

“And why do they prosper, Señor Simoun?”

Simoun replied with a shrug of his shoulders.

“The port works, which weigh so heavily upon commerce, and the port
not yet completed!” sighed Don Timoteo Pelaez. “A Penelope’s web,
as my son says, that is spun and unspun. The taxes–”

“You complaining!” exclaimed another. “Just as the General has decreed
the destruction of houses of light materials! [35] And you with a
shipment of galvanized iron!”

“Yes,” rejoined Don Timoteo, “but look what that decree cost me! Then,
the destruction will not be carried out for a month, not until Lent
begins, and other shipments may arrive. I would have wished them
destroyed right away, but–Besides, what are the owners of those
houses going to buy from me if they are all poor, all equally beggars?”

“You can always buy up their shacks for a trifle.”

“And afterwards have the decree revoked and sell them back at double
the price–that’s business!”

Simoun smiled his frigid smile. Seeing Quiroga approach, he left the
querulous merchants to greet the future consul, who on catching sight
of him lost his satisfied expression and assigned a countenance like
those of the merchants, while he bent almost double.

Quiroga respected the jeweler greatly, not only because he knew him
to be very wealthy, but also on account of his rumored influence
with the Captain-General. It was reported that Simoun favored
Quiroga’s ambitions, that he was an advocate for the consulate,
and a certain newspaper hostile to the Chinese had alluded to him
in many paraphrases, veiled allusions, and suspension points, in the
celebrated controversy with another sheet that was favorable to the
queued folk. Some prudent persons added with winks and half-uttered
words that his Black Eminence was advising the General to avail himself
of the Chinese in order to humble the tenacious pride of the natives.

“To hold the people in subjection,” he was reported to have said,
“there’s nothing like humiliating them and humbling them in their
own eyes.”

To this end an opportunity had soon presented itself. The guilds
of mestizos and natives were continually watching one another,
venting their bellicose spirits and their activities in jealousy
and distrust. At mass one day the gobernadorcillo of the natives was
seated on a bench to the right, and, being extremely thin, happened
to cross one of his legs over the other, thus adopting a nonchalant
attitude, in order to expose his thighs more and display his pretty
shoes. The gobernadorcillo of the guild of mestizos, who was seated on
the opposite bench, as he had bunions, and could not cross his legs on
account of his obesity, spread his legs wide apart to expose a plain
waistcoat adorned with a beautiful gold chain set with diamonds. The
two cliques comprehended these maneuvers and joined battle. On the
following Sunday all the mestizos, even the thinnest, had large
paunches and spread their legs wide apart as though on horseback,
while the natives placed one leg over the other, even the fattest,
there being one cabeza de barangay who turned a somersault. Seeing
these movements, the Chinese all adopted their own peculiar attitude,
that of sitting as they do in their shops, with one leg drawn back
and upward, the other swinging loose. There resulted protests and
petitions, the police rushed to arms ready to start a civil war,
the curates rejoiced, the Spaniards were amused and made money out
of everybody, until the General settled the quarrel by ordering that
every one should sit as the Chinese did, since they were the heaviest
contributors, even though they were not the best Catholics. The
difficulty for the mestizos and natives then was that their trousers
were too tight to permit of their imitating the Chinese. But to make
the intention of humiliating them the more evident, the measure was
carried out with great pomp and ceremony, the church being surrounded
by a troop of cavalry, while all those within were sweating. The matter
was carried to the Cortes, but it was repeated that the Chinese, as
the ones who paid, should have their way in the religious ceremonies,
even though they apostatized and laughed at Christianity immediately
after. The natives and the mestizos had to be content, learning thus
not to waste time over such fatuity. [36]

Quiroga, with his smooth tongue and humble smile, was lavishly and
flatteringly attentive to Simoun. His voice was caressing and his
bows numerous, but the jeweler cut his blandishments short by asking
brusquely:

“Did the bracelets suit her?”

At this question all Quiroga’s liveliness vanished like a dream. His
caressing voice became plaintive; he bowed lower, gave the Chinese
salutation of raising his clasped hands to the height of his face,
and groaned: “Ah, Señor Simoun! I’m lost, I’m ruined!” [37]

“How, Quiroga, lost and ruined when you have so many bottles of
champagne and so many guests?”

Quiroga closed his eyes and made a grimace. Yes, the affair of that
afternoon, that affair of the bracelets, had ruined him. Simoun smiled,
for when a Chinese merchant complains it is because all is going well,
and when he makes a show that things are booming it is quite certain
that he is planning an assignment or flight to his own country.

“You didn’t know that I’m lost, I’m ruined? Ah, Señor Simoun, I’m
_busted!_” To make his condition plainer, he illustrated the word by
making a movement as though he were falling in collapse.

Simoun wanted to laugh, but restrained himself and said that he knew
nothing, nothing at all, as Quiroga led him to a room and closed the
door. He then explained the cause of his misfortune.

Three diamond bracelets that he had secured from Simoun on pretense
of showing them to his wife were not for her, a poor native shut up in
her room like a Chinese woman, but for a beautiful and charming lady,
the friend of a powerful man, whose influence was needed by him in
a certain deal in which he could clear some six thousand pesos. As
he did not understand feminine tastes and wished to be gallant, the
Chinese had asked for the three finest bracelets the jeweler had, each
priced at three to four thousand pesos. With affected simplicity and
his most caressing smile, Quiroga had begged the lady to select the
one she liked best, and the lady, more simple and caressing still,
had declared that she liked all three, and had kept them.

Simoun burst out into laughter.

“Ah, sir, I’m lost, I’m ruined!” cried the Chinese, slapping himself
lightly with his delicate hands; but the jeweler continued his
laughter.

“Ugh, bad people, surely not a real lady,” went on the Chinaman,
shaking his head in disgust. “What! She has no decency, while me,
a Chinaman, me always polite! Ah, surely she not a real lady–a
_cigarrera_ has more decency!”

“They’ve caught you, they’ve caught you!” exclaimed Simoun, poking
him in the chest.

“And everybody’s asking for loans and never pays–what about
that? Clerks, officials, lieutenants, soldiers–” he checked them off
on his long-nailed fingers–“ah, Señor Simoun, I’m lost, I’m _busted_!”

“Get out with your complaints,” said Simoun. “I’ve saved you from many
officials that wanted money from you. I’ve lent it to them so that
they wouldn’t bother you, even when I knew that they couldn’t pay.”

“But, Señor Simoun, you lend to officials; I lend to women, sailors,
everybody.”

“I bet you get your money back.”

“Me, money back? Ah, surely you don’t understand! When it’s lost in
gambling they never pay. Besides, you have a consul, you can force
them, but I haven’t.”

Simoun became thoughtful. “Listen, Quiroga,” he said, somewhat
abstractedly, “I’ll undertake to collect what the officers and sailors
owe you. Give me their notes.”

Quiroga again fell to whining: they had never given him any notes.

“When they come to you asking for money, send them to me. I want to
help you.”

The grateful Quiroga thanked him, but soon fell to lamenting again
about the bracelets. “A _cigarrera_ wouldn’t be so shameless!” he
repeated.

“The devil!” exclaimed Simoun, looking askance at the Chinese, as
though studying him. “Exactly when I need the money and thought that
you could pay me! But it can all be arranged, as I don’t want you
to fail for such a small amount. Come, a favor, and I’ll reduce to
seven the nine thousand pesos you owe me. You can get anything you
wish through the Customs–boxes of lamps, iron, copper, glassware,
Mexican pesos–you furnish arms to the conventos, don’t you?”

The Chinese nodded affirmation, but remarked that he had to do a good
deal of bribing. “I furnish the padres everything!”

“Well, then,” added Simoun in a low voice, “I need you to get in for
me some boxes of rifles that arrived this evening. I want you to keep
them in your warehouse; there isn’t room for all of them in my house.”

Quiroga began to show symptoms of fright.

“Don’t get scared, you don’t run any risk. These rifles are to be
concealed, a few at a time, in various dwellings, then a search will
be instituted, and many people will be sent to prison. You and I can
make a haul getting them set free. Understand me?”

Quiroga wavered, for he was afraid of firearms. In his desk he had
an empty revolver that he never touched without turning his head away
and closing his eyes.

“If you can’t do it, I’ll have to apply to some one else, but then I’ll
need the nine thousand pesos to cross their palms and shut their eyes.”

“All right, all right!” Quiroga finally agreed. “But many people will
be arrested? There’ll be a search, eh?”

When Quiroga and Simoun returned to the sala they found there, in
animated conversation, those who had finished their dinner, for the
champagne had loosened their tongues and stirred their brains. They
were talking rather freely.

In a group where there were a number of government clerks, some ladies,
and Don Custodio, the topic was a commission sent to India to make
certain investigations about footwear for the soldiers.

“Who compose it?” asked an elderly lady.

“A colonel, two other officers, and his Excellency’s nephew.”

“Four?” rejoined a clerk. “What a commission! Suppose they
disagree–are they competent?”

“That’s what I asked,” replied a clerk. “It’s said that one civilian
ought to go, one who has no military prejudices–a shoemaker,
for instance.”

“That’s right,” added an importer of shoes, “but it wouldn’t do
to send an Indian or a Chinaman, and the only Peninsular shoemaker
demanded such large fees–”

“But why do they have to make any investigations about
footwear?” inquired the elderly lady. “It isn’t for the Peninsular
artillerymen. The Indian soldiers can go barefoot, as they do in
their towns.” [38]

“Exactly so, and the treasury would save more,” corroborated another
lady, a widow who was not satisfied with her pension.

“But you must remember,” remarked another in the group, a friend of
the officers on the commission, “that while it’s true they go barefoot
in the towns, it’s not the same as moving about under orders in the
service. They can’t choose the hour, nor the road, nor rest when
they wish. Remember, madam, that, with the noonday sun overhead and
the earth below baking like an oven, they have to march over sandy
stretches, where there are stones, the sun above and fire below,
bullets in front–”

“It’s only a question of getting used to it!”

“Like the donkey that got used to not eating! In our present campaign
the greater part of our losses have been due to wounds on the soles
of the feet. Remember the donkey, madam, remember the donkey!”

“But, my dear sir,” retorted the lady, “look how much money is wasted
on shoe-leather. There’s enough to pension many widows and orphans
in order to maintain our prestige. Don’t smile, for I’m not talking
about myself, and I have my pension, even though a very small one,
insignificant considering the services my husband rendered, but I’m
talking of others who are dragging out miserable lives! It’s not
right that after so much persuasion to come and so many hardships in
crossing the sea they should end here by dying of hunger. What you say
about the soldiers may be true, but the fact is that I’ve been in the
country more than three years, and I haven’t seen any soldier limping.”

“In that I agree with the lady,” said her neighbor. “Why issue them
shoes when they were born without them?”

“And why shirts?”

“And why trousers?”

“Just calculate what we should economize on soldiers clothed only in
their skins!” concluded he who was defending the army.

In another group the conversation was more heated. Ben-Zayb was
talking and declaiming, while Padre Camorra, as usual, was constantly
interrupting him. The friar-journalist, in spite of his respect for
the cowled gentry, was always at loggerheads with Padre Camorra,
whom he regarded as a silly half-friar, thus giving himself the
appearance of being independent and refuting the accusations of those
who called him Fray Ibañez. Padre Camorra liked his adversary, as the
latter was the only person who would take seriously what he styled
his arguments. They were discussing magnetism, spiritualism, magic,
and the like. Their words flew through the air like the knives and
balls of jugglers, tossed back and forth from one to the other.

That year great attention had been attracted in the Quiapo fair
by a head, wrongly called a sphinx, exhibited by Mr. Leeds, an
American. Glaring advertisements covered the walls of the houses,
mysterious and funereal, to excite the curiosity of the public. Neither
Ben-Zayb nor any of the padres had yet seen it; Juanito Pelaez was the
only one who had, and he was describing his wonderment to the party.

Ben-Zayb, as a journalist, looked for a natural explanation. Padre
Camorra talked of the devil, Padre Irene smiled, Padre Salvi remained
grave.

“But, Padre, the devil doesn’t need to come–we are sufficient to
damn ourselves–”

“It can’t be explained any other way.”

“If science–”

“Get out with science, _puñales_!”

“But, listen to me and I’ll convince you. It’s all a question of
optics. I haven’t yet seen the head nor do I know how it looks, but
this gentleman”–indicating Juanito Pelaez–“tells us that it does not
look like the talking heads that are usually exhibited. So be it! But
the principle is the same–it’s all a question of optics. Wait! A
mirror is placed thus, another mirror behind it, the image is
reflected–I say, it is purely a problem in physics.”

Taking down from the walls several mirrors, he arranged them, turned
them round and round, but, not getting the desired result, concluded:
“As I say, it’s nothing more or less than a question of optics.”

“But what do you want mirrors for, if Juanito tells us that the head is
inside a box placed on the table? I see in it spiritualism, because the
spiritualists always make use of tables, and I think that Padre Salvi,
as the ecclesiastical governor, ought to prohibit the exhibition.”

Padre Salvi remained silent, saying neither yes nor no.

“In order to learn if there are devils or mirrors inside it,”
suggested Simoun, “the best thing would be for you to go and see the
famous sphinx.”

The proposal was a good one, so it was accepted, although Padre
Salvi and Don Custodio showed some repugnance. They at a fair, to rub
shoulders with the public, to see sphinxes and talking heads! What
would the natives say? These might take them for mere men, endowed
with the same passions and weaknesses as others. But Ben-Zayb, with
his journalistic ingenuity, promised to request Mr. Leeds not to
admit the public while they were inside. They would be honoring him
sufficiently by the visit not to admit of his refusal, and besides
he would not charge any admission fee. To give a show of probability
to this, he concluded: “Because, remember, if I should expose the
trick of the mirrors to the public, it would ruin the poor American’s
business.” Ben-Zayb was a conscientious individual.

About a dozen set out, among them our acquaintances, Padres Salvi,
Camorra, and Irene, Don Custodio, Ben-Zayb, and Juanito Pelaez. Their
carriages set them down at the entrance to the Quiapo Plaza.

CHAPTER XVII

THE QUIAPO FAIR

It was a beautiful night and the plaza presented a most animated
aspect. Taking advantage of the freshness of the breeze and the
splendor of the January moon, the people filled the fair to see, be
seen, and amuse themselves. The music of the cosmoramas and the lights
of the lanterns gave life and merriment to every one. Long rows of
booths, brilliant with tinsel and gauds, exposed to view clusters of
balls, masks strung by the eyes, tin toys, trains, carts, mechanical
horses, carriages, steam-engines with diminutive boilers, Lilliputian
tableware of porcelain, pine Nativities, dolls both foreign and
domestic, the former red and smiling, the latter sad and pensive like
little ladies beside gigantic children. The beating of drums, the roar
of tin horns, the wheezy music of the accordions and the hand-organs,
all mingled in a carnival concert, amid the coming and going of the
crowd, pushing, stumbling over one another, with their faces turned
toward the booths, so that the collisions were frequent and often
amusing. The carriages were forced to move slowly, with the _tabí_ of
the cocheros repeated every moment. Met and mingled government clerks,
soldiers, friars, students, Chinese, girls with their mammas or aunts,
all greeting, signaling, calling to one another merrily.

Padre Camorra was in the seventh heaven at the sight of so many pretty
girls. He stopped, looked back, nudged Ben-Zayb, chuckled and swore,
saying, “And that one, and that one, my ink-slinger? And that one
over there, what say you?” In his contentment he even fell to using
the familiar _tu_ toward his friend and adversary. Padre Salvi stared
at him from time to time, but he took little note of Padre Salvi. On
the contrary, he pretended to stumble so that he might brush against
the girls, he winked and made eyes at them.

“_Puñales!_” he kept saying to himself. “When shall I be the curate
of Quiapo?”

Suddenly Ben-Zayb let go an oath, jumped aside, and slapped his hand
on his arm; Padre Camorra in his excess of enthusiasm had pinched
him. They were approaching a dazzling señorita who was attracting the
attention of the whole plaza, and Padre Camorra, unable to restrain
his delight, had taken Ben-Zayb’s arm as a substitute for the girl’s.

It was Paulita Gomez, the prettiest of the pretty, in company with
Isagani, followed by Doña Victorina. The young woman was resplendent
in her beauty: all stopped and craned their necks, while they ceased
their conversation and followed her with their eyes–even Doña
Victorina was respectfully saluted.

Paulita was arrayed in a rich camisa and pañuelo of embroidered piña,
different from those she had worn that morning to the church. The
gauzy texture of the piña set off her shapely head, and the Indians
who saw her compared her to the moon surrounded by fleecy clouds. A
silk rose-colored skirt, caught up in rich and graceful folds by her
little hand, gave majesty to her erect figure, the movement of which,
harmonizing with her curving neck, displayed all the triumphs of vanity
and satisfied coquetry. Isagani appeared to be rather disgusted,
for so many curious eyes fixed upon the beauty of his sweetheart
annoyed him. The stares seemed to him robbery and the girl’s smiles
faithlessness.

Juanito saw her and his hump increased when he spoke to her. Paulita
replied negligently, while Doña Victorina called to him, for Juanito
was her favorite, she preferring him to Isagani.

“What a girl, what a girl!” muttered the entranced Padre Camorra.

“Come, Padre, pinch yourself and let me alone,” said Ben-Zayb
fretfully.

“What a girl, what a girl!” repeated the friar. “And she has for a
sweetheart a pupil of mine, the boy I had the quarrel with.”

“Just my luck that she’s not of my town,” he added, after turning
his head several times to follow her with his looks. He was even
tempted to leave his companions to follow the girl, and Ben-Zayb had
difficulty in dissuading him. Paulita’s beautiful figure moved on,
her graceful little head nodding with inborn coquetry.

Our promenaders kept on their way, not without sighs on the part
of the friar-artilleryman, until they reached a booth surrounded by
sightseers, who quickly made way for them. It was a shop of little
wooden figures, of local manufacture, representing in all shapes and
sizes the costumes, races, and occupations of the country: Indians,
Spaniards, Chinese, mestizos, friars, clergymen, government clerks,
gobernadorcillos, students, soldiers, and so on.

Whether the artists had more affection for the priests, the folds
of whose habits were better suited to their esthetic purposes, or
whether the friars, holding such an important place in Philippine life,
engaged the attention of the sculptor more, the fact was that, for one
cause or another, images of them abounded, well-turned and finished,
representing them in the sublimest moments of their lives–the opposite
of what is done in Europe, where they are pictured as sleeping on
casks of wine, playing cards, emptying tankards, rousing themselves
to gaiety, or patting the cheeks of a buxom girl. No, the friars
of the Philippines were different: elegant, handsome, well-dressed,
their tonsures neatly shaven, their features symmetrical and serene,
their gaze meditative, their expression saintly, somewhat rosy-cheeked,
cane in hand and patent-leather shoes on their feet, inviting adoration
and a place in a glass case. Instead of the symbols of gluttony and
incontinence of their brethren in Europe, those of Manila carried the
book, the crucifix, and the palm of martyrdom; instead of kissing the
simple country lasses, those of Manila gravely extended the hand to
be kissed by children and grown men doubled over almost to kneeling;
instead of the full refectory and dining-hall, their stage in Europe,
in Manila they had the oratory, the study-table; instead of the
mendicant friar who goes from door to door with his donkey and sack,
begging alms, the friars of the Philippines scattered gold from full
hands among the miserable Indians.

“Look, here’s Padre Camorra!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb, upon whom the effect
of the champagne still lingered. He pointed to a picture of a lean
friar of thoughtful mien who was seated at a table with his head
resting on the palm of his hand, apparently writing a sermon by the
light of a lamp. The contrast suggested drew laughter from the crowd.

Padre Camorra, who had already forgotten about Paulita, saw what was
meant and laughing his clownish laugh, asked in turn, “Whom does this
other figure resemble, Ben-Zayb?”

It was an old woman with one eye, with disheveled hair, seated on
the ground like an Indian idol, ironing clothes. The sad-iron was
carefully imitated, being of copper with coals of red tinsel and
smoke-wreaths of dirty twisted cotton.

“Eh, Ben-Zayb, it wasn’t a fool who designed that” asked Padre Camorra
with a laugh.

“Well, I don’t see the point,” replied the journalist.

“But, _puñales_, don’t you see the title, _The Philippine Press_? That
utensil with which the old woman is ironing is here called the press!”

All laughed at this, Ben-Zayb himself joining in good-naturedly.

Two soldiers of the Civil Guard, appropriately labeled, were placed
behind a man who was tightly bound and had his face covered by his
hat. It was entitled _The Country of Abaka_, [39] and from appearances
they were going to shoot him.

Many of our visitors were displeased with the exhibition. They talked
of rules of art, they sought proportion–one said that this figure did
not have seven heads, that the face lacked a nose, having only three,
all of which made Padre Camorra somewhat thoughtful, for he did not
comprehend how a figure, to be correct, need have four noses and
seven heads. Others said, if they were muscular, that they could not
be Indians; still others remarked that it was not sculpture, but mere
carpentry. Each added his spoonful of criticism, until Padre Camorra,
not to be outdone, ventured to ask for at least thirty legs for each
doll, because, if the others wanted noses, couldn’t he require feet? So
they fell to discussing whether the Indian had or had not any aptitude
for sculpture, and whether it would be advisable to encourage that
art, until there arose a general dispute, which was cut short by Don
Custodio’s declaration that the Indians had the aptitude, but that
they should devote themselves exclusively to the manufacture of saints.

“One would say,” observed Ben-Zayb, who was full of bright ideas
that night, “that this Chinaman is Quiroga, but on close examination
it looks like Padre Irene. And what do you say about that British
Indian? He looks like Simoun!”

Fresh peals of laughter resounded, while Padre Irene rubbed his nose.

“That’s right!”

“It’s the very image of him!”

“But where is Simoun? Simoun should buy it.”

But the jeweler had disappeared, unnoticed by any one.

“_Puñales!_” exclaimed Padre Camorra, “how stingy the American
is! He’s afraid we would make him pay the admission for all of us
into Mr. Leeds’ show.”

“No!” rejoined Ben-Zayb, “what he’s afraid of is that he’ll compromise
himself. He may have foreseen the joke in store for his friend
Mr. Leeds and has got out of the way.”

Thus, without purchasing the least trifle, they continued on their
way to see the famous sphinx. Ben-Zayb offered to manage the affair,
for the American would not rebuff a journalist who could take revenge
in an unfavorable article. “You’ll see that it’s all a question
of mirrors,” he said, “because, you see–” Again he plunged into a
long demonstration, and as he had no mirrors at hand to discredit
his theory he tangled himself up in all kinds of blunders and wound
up by not knowing himself what he was saying. “In short, you’ll see
how it’s all a question of optics.”

CHAPTER XVIII

LEGERDEMAIN

Mr. Leeds, a genuine Yankee, dressed completely in black, received his
visitors with great deference. He spoke Spanish well, from having been
for many years in South America, and offered no objection to their
request, saying that they might examine everything, both before and
after the exhibition, but begged that they remain quiet while it was
in progress. Ben-Zayb smiled in pleasant anticipation of the vexation
he had prepared for the American.

The room, hung entirely in black, was lighted by ancient lamps burning
alcohol. A rail wrapped in black velvet divided it into two almost
equal parts, one of which was filled with seats for the spectators and
the other occupied by a platform covered with a checkered carpet. In
the center of this platform was placed a table, over which was spread
a piece of black cloth adorned with skulls and cabalistic signs. The
_mise en scène_ was therefore lugubrious and had its effect upon
the merry visitors. The jokes died away, they spoke in whispers,
and however much some tried to appear indifferent, their lips framed
no smiles. All felt as if they had entered a house where there was a
corpse, an illusion accentuated by an odor of wax and incense. Don
Custodio and Padre Salvi consulted in whispers over the expediency
of prohibiting such shows.

Ben-Zayb, in order to cheer the dispirited group and embarrass
Mr. Leeds, said to him in a familiar tone: “Eh, Mister, since there
are none but ourselves here and we aren’t Indians who can be fooled,
won’t you let us see the trick? We know of course that it’s purely
a question of optics, but as Padre Camorra won’t be convinced–”

Here he started to jump over the rail, instead of going through the
proper opening, while Padre Camorra broke out into protests, fearing
that Ben-Zayb might be right.

“And why not, sir?” rejoined the American. “But don’t break anything,
will you?”

The journalist was already on the platform. “You will allow me,
then?” he asked, and without waiting for the permission, fearing that
it might not be granted, raised the cloth to look for the mirrors
that he expected should be between the legs of the table. Ben-Zayb
uttered an exclamation and stepped back, again placed both hands under
the table and waved them about; he encountered only empty space. The
table had three thin iron legs, sunk into the floor.

The journalist looked all about as though seeking something.

“Where are the mirrors?” asked Padre Camorra.

Ben-Zayb looked and looked, felt the table with his fingers, raised
the cloth again, and rubbed his hand over his forehead from time to
time, as if trying to remember something.

“Have you lost anything?” inquired Mr. Leeds.

“The mirrors, Mister, where are the mirrors?”

“I don’t know where yours are–mine are at the hotel. Do you want to
look at yourself? You’re somewhat pale and excited.”

Many laughed, in spite of their weird impressions, on seeing the
jesting coolness of the American, while Ben-Zayb retired, quite
abashed, to his seat, muttering, “It can’t be. You’ll see that he
doesn’t do it without mirrors. The table will have to be changed
later.”

Mr. Leeds placed the cloth on the table again and turning toward his
illustrious audience, asked them, “Are you satisfied? May we begin?”

“Hurry up! How cold-blooded he is!” said the widow.

“Then, ladies and gentlemen, take your seats and get your questions
ready.”

Mr. Leeds disappeared through a doorway and in a few moments returned
with a black box of worm-eaten wood, covered with inscriptions in
the form of birds, beasts, and human heads.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began solemnly, “once having had occasion
to visit the great pyramid of Khufu, a Pharaoh of the fourth dynasty,
I chanced upon a sarcophagus of red granite in a forgotten chamber. My
joy was great, for I thought that I had found a royal mummy, but what
was my disappointment on opening the coffin, at the cost of infinite
labor, to find nothing more than this box, which you may examine.”

He handed the box to those in the front row. Padre Camorra drew back in
loathing, Padre Salvi looked at it closely as if he enjoyed sepulchral
things, Padre Irene smiled a knowing smile, Don Custodio affected
gravity and disdain, while Ben-Zayb hunted for his mirrors–there
they must be, for it was a question of mirrors.

“It smells like a corpse,” observed one lady, fanning herself
furiously. “Ugh!”

“It smells of forty centuries,” remarked some one with emphasis.

Ben-Zayb forgot about his mirrors to discover who had made this
remark. It was a military official who had read the history of
Napoleon.

Ben-Zayb felt jealous and to utter another epigram that might annoy
Padre Camorra a little said, “It smells of the Church.”

“This box, ladies and gentlemen,” continued the American, “contained
a handful of ashes and a piece of papyrus on which were written
some words. Examine them yourselves, but I beg of you not to breathe
heavily, because if any of the dust is lost my sphinx will appear in
a mutilated condition.”

The humbug, described with such seriousness and conviction, was
gradually having its effect, so much so that when the box was passed
around, no one dared to breathe. Padre Camorra, who had so often
depicted from the pulpit of Tiani the torments and sufferings of hell,
while he laughed in his sleeves at the terrified looks of the sinners,
held his nose, and Padre Salvi–the same Padre Salvi who had on All
Souls’ Day prepared a phantasmagoria of the souls in purgatory with
flames and transparencies illuminated with alcohol lamps and covered
with tinsel, on the high altar of the church in a suburb, in order
to get alms and orders for masses–the lean and taciturn Padre Salvi
held his breath and gazed suspiciously at that handful of ashes.

“_Memento, homo, quia pulvis es_!” muttered Padre Irene with a smile.

“Pish!” sneered Ben-Zayb–the same thought had occurred to him,
and the Canon had taken the words out of his mouth.

“Not knowing what to do,” resumed Mr. Leeds, closing the box carefully,
“I examined the papyrus and discovered two words whose meaning
was unknown to me. I deciphered them, and tried to pronounce them
aloud. Scarcely had I uttered the first word when I felt the box
slipping from my hands, as if pressed down by an enormous weight,
and it glided along the floor, whence I vainly endeavored to remove
it. But my surprise was converted into terror when it opened and I
found within a human head that stared at me fixedly. Paralyzed with
fright and uncertain what to do in the presence of such a phenomenon,
I remained for a time stupefied, trembling like a person poisoned
with mercury, but after a while recovered myself and, thinking that
it was a vain illusion, tried to divert my attention by reading
the second word. Hardly had I pronounced it when the box closed,
the head disappeared, and in its place I again found the handful of
ashes. Without suspecting it I had discovered the two most potent
words in nature, the words of creation and destruction, of life and
of death!”

He paused for a few moments to note the effect of his story, then
with grave and measured steps approached the table and placed the
mysterious box upon it.

“The cloth, Mister!” exclaimed the incorrigible Ben-Zayb.

“Why not?” rejoined Mr. Leeds, very complaisantly.

Lifting the box with his right hand, he caught up the cloth with his
left, completely exposing the table sustained by its three legs. Again
he placed the box upon the center and with great gravity turned to
his audience.

“Here’s what I want to see,” said Ben-Zayb to his neighbor. “You
notice how he makes some excuse.”

Great attention was depicted on all countenances and silence
reigned. The noise and roar of the street could be distinctly heard,
but all were so affected that a snatch of dialogue which reached them
produced no effect.

“Why can’t we go in?” asked a woman’s voice.

“_Abá_, there’s a lot of friars and clerks in there,” answered a
man. “The sphinx is for them only.”

“The friars are inquisitive too,” said the woman’s voice, drawing
away. “They don’t want us to know how they’re being fooled. Why,
is the head a friar’s _querida_?”

In the midst of a profound silence the American announced in a tone
of emotion: “Ladies and gentlemen, with a word I am now going to
reanimate the handful of ashes, and you will talk with a being that
knows the past, the present, and much of the future!”

Here the prestidigitator uttered a soft cry, first mournful, then
lively, a medley of sharp sounds like imprecations and hoarse notes
like threats, which made Ben-Zayb’s hair stand on end.

“_Deremof_!” cried the American.

The curtains on the wall rustled, the lamps burned low, the table
creaked. A feeble groan responded from the interior of the box. Pale
and uneasy, all stared at one another, while one terrified señora
caught hold of Padre Salvi.

The box then opened of its own accord and presented to the eyes of
the audience a head of cadaverous aspect, surrounded by long and
abundant black hair. It slowly opened its eyes and looked around
the whole audience. Those eyes had a vivid radiance, accentuated by
their cavernous sockets, and, as if deep were calling unto deep,
fixed themselves upon the profound, sunken eyes of the trembling
Padre Salvi, who was staring unnaturally, as though he saw a ghost.

“Sphinx,” commanded Mr. Leeds, “tell the audience who you are.”

A deep silence prevailed, while a chill wind blew through the room
and made the blue flames of the sepulchral lamps flicker. The most
skeptical shivered.

“I am Imuthis,” declared the head in a funereal, but strangely
menacing, voice. “I was born in the time of Amasis and died under the
Persian domination, when Cambyses was returning from his disastrous
expedition into the interior of Libya. I had come to complete my
education after extensive travels through Greece, Assyria, and Persia,
and had returned to my native laud to dwell in it until Thoth should
call me before his terrible tribunal. But to my undoing, on passing
through Babylonia, I discovered an awful secret–the secret of the
false Smerdis who usurped the throne, the bold Magian Gaumata who
governed as an impostor. Fearing that I would betray him to Cambyses,
he determined upon my ruin through the instrumentality of the Egyptian
priests, who at that time ruled my native country. They were the
owners of two-thirds of the land, the monopolizers of learning, they
held the people down in ignorance and tyranny, they brutalized them,
thus making them fit to pass without resistance from one domination
to another. The invaders availed themselves of them, and knowing their
usefulness, protected and enriched them. The rulers not only depended
on their will, but some were reduced to mere instruments of theirs. The
Egyptian priests hastened to execute Gaumata’s orders, with greater
zeal from their fear of me, because they were afraid that I would
reveal their impostures to the people. To accomplish their purpose,
they made use of a young priest of Abydos, who passed for a saint.”

A painful silence followed these words. That head was talking
of priestly intrigues and impostures, and although referring to
another age and other creeds, all the friars present were annoyed,
possibly because they could see in the general trend of the speech
some analogy to the existing situation. Padre Salvi was in the grip
of convulsive shivering; he worked his lips and with bulging eyes
followed the gaze of the head as though fascinated. Beads of sweat
began to break out on his emaciated face, but no one noticed this,
so deeply absorbed and affected were they.

“What was the plot concocted by the priests of your country against
you?” asked Mr. Leeds.

The head uttered a sorrowful groan, which seemed to come from the
bottom of the heart, and the spectators saw its eyes, those fiery
eyes, clouded and filled with tears. Many shuddered and felt their
hair rise. No, that was not an illusion, it was not a trick: the head
was the victim and what it told was its own story.

“Ay!” it moaned, shaking with affliction, “I loved a maiden,
the daughter of a priest, pure as light, like the freshly opened
lotus! The young priest of Abydos also desired her and planned a
rebellion, using my name and some papyri that he had secured from
my beloved. The rebellion broke out at the time when Cambyses was
returning in rage over the disasters of his unfortunate campaign. I was
accused of being a rebel, was made a prisoner, and having effected my
escape was killed in the chase on Lake Moeris. From out of eternity
I saw the imposture triumph. I saw the priest of Abydos night and
day persecuting the maiden, who had taken refuge in a temple of Isis
on the island of Philae. I saw him persecute and harass her, even
in the subterranean chambers, I saw him drive her mad with terror
and suffering, like a huge bat pursuing a white dove. Ah, priest,
priest of Abydos, I have returned to life to expose your infamy, and
after so many years of silence, I name thee murderer, hypocrite, liar!”

A dry, hollow laugh accompanied these words, while a choked voice
responded, “No! Mercy!”

It was Padre Salvi, who had been overcome with terror and with arms
extended was slipping in collapse to the floor.

“What’s the matter with your Reverence? Are you ill?” asked Padre
Irene.

“The heat of the room–”

“This odor of corpses we’re breathing here–”

“Murderer, slanderer, hypocrite!” repeated the head. “I accuse
you–murderer, murderer, murderer!”

Again the dry laugh, sepulchral and menacing, resounded, as though
that head were so absorbed in contemplation of its wrongs that it
did not see the tumult that prevailed in the room.

“Mercy! She still lives!” groaned Padre Salvi, and then lost
consciousness. He was as pallid as a corpse. Some of the ladies
thought it their duty to faint also, and proceeded to do so.

“He is out of his head! Padre Salvi!”

“I told him not to eat that bird’s-nest soup,” said Padre Irene. “It
has made him sick.”

“But he didn’t eat anything,” rejoined Don Custodio shivering. “As
the head has been staring at him fixedly, it has mesmerized him.”

So disorder prevailed, the room seemed to be a hospital or a
battlefield. Padre Salvi looked like a corpse, and the ladies,
seeing that no one was paying them any attention, made the best of
it by recovering.

Meanwhile, the head had been reduced to ashes, and Mr. Leeds, having
replaced the cloth on the table, bowed his audience out.

“This show must be prohibited,” said Don Custodio on leaving. “It’s
wicked and highly immoral.”

“And above all, because it doesn’t use mirrors,” added Ben-Zayb,
who before going out of the room tried to assure himself finally,
so he leaped over the rail, went up to the table, and raised the
cloth: nothing, absolutely nothing! [40] On the following day he
wrote an article in which he spoke of occult sciences, spiritualism,
and the like.

An order came immediately from the ecclesiastical governor prohibiting
the show, but Mr. Leeds had already disappeared, carrying his secret
with him to Hongkong.

CHAPTER XIX

THE FUSE

Placido Penitente left the class with his heart overflowing with
bitterness and sullen gloom in his looks. He was worthy of his name
when not driven from his usual course, but once irritated he was a
veritable torrent, a wild beast that could only be stopped by the
death of himself or his foe. So many affronts, so many pinpricks,
day after day, had made his heart quiver, lodging in it to sleep the
sleep of lethargic vipers, and they now were awaking to shake and
hiss with fury. The hisses resounded in his ears with the jesting
epithets of the professor, the phrases in the slang of the markets,
and he seemed to hear blows and laughter. A thousand schemes for
revenge rushed into his brain, crowding one another, only to fade
immediately like phantoms in a dream. His vanity cried out to him
with desperate tenacity that he must do something.

“Placido Penitente,” said the voice, “show these youths that you
have dignity, that you are the son of a valiant and noble province,
where wrongs are washed out with blood. You’re a Batangan, Placido
Penitente! Avenge yourself, Placido Penitente!”

The youth groaned and gnashed his teeth, stumbling against every
one in the street and on the Bridge of Spain, as if he were seeking
a quarrel. In the latter place he saw a carriage in which was the
Vice-Rector, Padre Sibyla, accompanied by Don Custodio, and he had
a great mind to seize the friar and throw him into the river.

He proceeded along the Escolta and was tempted to assault two
Augustinians who were seated in the doorway of Quiroga’s bazaar,
laughing and joking with other friars who must have been inside in
joyous conversation, for their merry voices and sonorous laughter
could be heard. Somewhat farther on, two cadets blocked up the
sidewalk, talking with the clerk of a warehouse, who was in his
shirtsleeves. Penitents moved toward them to force a passage and
they, perceiving his dark intention, good-humoredly made way for
him. Placido was by this time under the influence of the _amok_,
as the Malayists say.

As he approached his home–the house of a silversmith where he lived as
a boarder–he tried to collect his thoughts and make a plan–to return
to his town and avenge himself by showing the friars that they could
not with impunity insult a youth or make a joke of him. He decided to
write a letter immediately to his mother, Cabesang Andang, to inform
her of what had happened and to tell her that the schoolroom had closed
forever for him. Although there was the Ateneo of the Jesuits, where he
might study that year, yet it was not very likely that the Dominicans
would grant him the transfer, and, even though he should secure it,
in the following year he would have to return to the University.

“They say that we don’t know how to avenge ourselves!” he
muttered. “Let the lightning strike and we’ll see!”

But Placido was not reckoning upon what awaited him in the house
of the silversmith. Cabesang Andang had just arrived from Batangas,
having come to do some shopping, to visit her son, and to bring him
money, jerked venison, and silk handkerchiefs.

The first greetings over, the poor woman, who had at once noticed her
son’s gloomy look, could no longer restrain her curiosity and began
to ask questions. His first explanations Cabesang Andang regarded as
some subterfuge, so she smiled and soothed her son, reminding him of
their sacrifices and privations. She spoke of Capitana Simona’s son,
who, having entered the seminary, now carried himself in the town like
a bishop, and Capitana Simona already considered herself a Mother of
God, clearly so, for her son was going to be another Christ.

“If the son becomes a priest,” said she, “the mother won’t have to
pay us what she owes us. Who will collect from her then?”

But on seeing that Placido was speaking seriously and reading in his
eyes the storm that raged within him, she realized that what he was
telling her was unfortunately the strict truth. She remained silent
for a while and then broke out into lamentations.

“Ay!” she exclaimed. “I promised your father that I would care for
you, educate you, and make a lawyer of you! I’ve deprived myself of
everything so that you might go to school! Instead of joining the
_panguingui_ where the stake is a half peso, I Ve gone only where it’s
a half real, enduring the bad smells and the dirty cards. Look at my
patched camisa; for instead of buying new ones I’ve spent the money in
masses and presents to St. Sebastian, even though I don’t have great
confidence in his power, because the curate recites the masses fast
and hurriedly, he’s an entirely new saint and doesn’t yet know how
to perform miracles, and isn’t made of _batikulin_ but of _lanete._
Ay, what will your father say to me when I die and see him again!”

So the poor woman lamented and wept, while Placido became gloomier
and let stifled sighs escape from his breast.

“What would I get out of being a lawyer?” was his response.

“What will become of you?” asked his mother, clasping her
hands. “They’ll call you a filibuster and garrote you. I’ve told you
that you must have patience, that you must be humble. I don’t tell
you that you must kiss the hands of the curates, for I know that
you have a delicate sense of smell, like your father, who couldn’t
endure European cheese. [41] But we have to suffer, to be silent,
to say yes to everything. What are we going to do? The friars own
everything, and if they are unwilling, no one will become a lawyer
or a doctor. Have patience, my son, have patience!”

“But I’ve had a great deal, mother, I’ve suffered for months and
months.”

Cabesang Andang then resumed her lamentations. She did not ask that he
declare himself a partizan of the friars, she was not one herself–it
was enough to know that for one good friar there were ten bad, who
took the money from the poor and deported the rich. But one must be
silent, suffer, and endure–there was no other course. She cited this
man and that one, who by being _patient_ and humble, even though in
the bottom of his heart he hated his masters, had risen from servant
of the friars to high office; and such another who was rich and
could commit abuses, secure of having patrons who would protect him
from the law, yet who had been nothing more than a poor sacristan,
humble and obedient, and who had married a pretty girl whose son had
the curate for a godfather. So Cabesang Andang continued her litany
of humble and _patient_ Filipinos, as she called them, and was about
to cite others who by not being so had found themselves persecuted
and exiled, when Placido on some trifling pretext left the house to
wander about the streets.

He passed through Sibakong, [42] Tondo, San Nicolas, and Santo Cristo,
absorbed in his ill-humor, without taking note of the sun or the hour,
and only when he began to feel hungry and discovered that he had no
money, having given it all for celebrations and contributions, did
he return to the house. He had expected that he would not meet his
mother there, as she was in the habit, when in Manila, of going out
at that hour to a neighboring house where _panguingui_ was played,
but Cabesang Andang was waiting to propose her plan. She would avail
herself of the procurator of the Augustinians to restore her son to
the good graces of the Dominicans.

Placido stopped her with a gesture. “I’ll throw myself into the sea
first,” he declared. “I’ll become a tulisan before I’ll go back to
the University.”

Again his mother began her preachment about patience and humility,
so he went away again without having eaten anything, directing his
steps toward the quay where the steamers tied up. The sight of a
steamer weighing anchor for Hongkong inspired him with an idea–to go
to Hongkong, to run away, get rich there, and make war on the friars.

The thought of Hongkong awoke in his mind the recollection of
a story about frontals, cirials, and candelabra of pure silver,
which the piety of the faithful had led them to present to a certain
church. The friars, so the silversmith told, had sent to Hongkong to
have duplicate frontals, cirials, and candelabra made of German silver,
which they substituted for the genuine ones, these being melted down
and coined into Mexican pesos. Such was the story he had heard, and
though it was no more than a rumor or a story, his resentment gave it
the color of truth and reminded him of other tricks of theirs in that
same style. The desire to live free, and certain half-formed plans,
led him to decide upon Hongkong. If the corporations sent all their
money there, commerce must be flourishing and he could enrich himself.

“I want to be free, to live free!”

Night surprised him wandering along San Fernando, but not meeting any
sailor he knew, he decided to return home. As the night was beautiful,
with a brilliant moon transforming the squalid city into a fantastic
fairy kingdom, he went to the fair. There he wandered back and forth,
passing booths without taking any notice of the articles in them, ever
with the thought of Hongkong, of living free, of enriching himself.

He was about to leave the fair when he thought he recognized the
jeweler Simoun bidding good-by to a foreigner, both of them speaking
in English. To Placido every language spoken in the Philippines
by Europeans, when not Spanish, had to be English, and besides, he
caught the name Hongkong. If only the jeweler would recommend him to
that foreigner, who must be setting out for Hongkong!

Placido paused. He was acquainted with the jeweler, as the latter had
been in his town peddling his wares, and he had accompanied him on
one of his trips, when Simoun had made himself very amiable indeed,
telling him of the life in the universities of the free countries–what
a difference!

So he followed the jeweler. “Señor Simoun, Señor Simoun!” he called.

The jeweler was at that moment entering his carriage. Recognizing
Placido, he checked himself.

“I want to ask a favor of you, to say a few words to you.”

Simoun made a sign of impatience which Placido in his perturbation
did not observe. In a few words the youth related what had happened
and made known his desire to go to Hongkong.

“Why?” asked Simoun, staring fixedly at Placido through his blue
goggles.

Placido did not answer, so Simoun threw back his head, smiled his cold,
silent smile and said, “All right! Come with me. To Calle Iris!” he
directed the cochero.

Simoun remained silent throughout the whole drive, apparently absorbed
in meditation of a very important nature. Placido kept quiet, waiting
for him to speak first, and entertained himself in watching the
promenaders who were enjoying the clear moonlight: pairs of infatuated
lovers, followed by watchful mammas or aunts; groups of students
in white clothes that the moonlight made whiter still; half-drunken
soldiers in a carriage, six together, on their way to visit some nipa
temple dedicated to Cytherea; children playing their games and Chinese
selling sugar-cane. All these filled the streets, taking on in the
brilliant moonlight fantastic forms and ideal outlines. In one house
an orchestra was playing waltzes, and couples might be seen dancing
under the bright lamps and chandeliers–what a sordid spectacle they
presented in comparison with the sight the streets afforded! Thinking
of Hongkong, he asked himself if the moonlit nights in that island
were so poetical and sweetly melancholy as those of the Philippines,
and a deep sadness settled down over his heart.

Simoun ordered the carriage to stop and both alighted, just at the
moment when Isagani and Paulita Gomez passed them murmuring sweet
inanities. Behind them came Doña Victorina with Juanito Pelaez, who
was talking in a loud voice, busily gesticulating, and appearing to
have a larger hump than ever. In his preoccupation Pelaez did not
notice his former schoolmate.

“There’s a fellow who’s happy!” muttered Placido with a sigh,
as he gazed toward the group, which became converted into vaporous
silhouettes, with Juanito’s arms plainly visible, rising and falling
like the arms of a windmill.

“That’s all he’s good for,” observed Simoun. “It’s fine to be young!”

To whom did Placido and Simoun each allude?

The jeweler made a sign to the young man, and they left the street
to pick their way through a labyrinth of paths and passageways among
various houses, at times leaping upon stones to avoid the mudholes
or stepping aside from the sidewalks that were badly constructed and
still more badly tended. Placido was surprised to see the rich jeweler
move through such places as if he were familiar with them. They at
length reached an open lot where a wretched hut stood off by itself
surrounded by banana-plants and areca-palms. Some bamboo frames and
sections of the same material led Placido to suspect that they were
approaching the house of a pyrotechnist.

Simoun rapped on the window and a man’s face appeared.

“Ah, sir!” he exclaimed, and immediately came outside.

“Is the powder here?” asked Simoun.

“In sacks. I’m waiting for the shells.”

“And the bombs?”

“Are all ready.”

“All right, then. This very night you must go and inform the lieutenant
and the corporal. Then keep on your way, and in Lamayan you will find a
man in a banka. You will say _Cabesa_ and he will answer _Tales_. It’s
necessary that he be here tomorrow. There’s no time to be lost.”

Saying this, he gave him some gold coins.

“How’s this, sir?” the man inquired in very good Spanish. “Is there
any news?”

“Yes, it’ll be done within the coming week.”

“The coming week!” exclaimed the unknown, stepping backward. “The
suburbs are not yet ready, they hope that the General will withdraw
the decree. I thought it was postponed until the beginning of Lent.”

Simoun shook his head. “We won’t need the suburbs,” he said. “With
Cabesang Tales’ people, the ex-carbineers, and a regiment, we’ll have
enough. Later, Maria Clara may be dead. Start at once!”

The man disappeared. Placido, who had stood by and heard all of this
brief interview, felt his hair rise and stared with startled eyes at
Simoun, who smiled.

“You’re surprised,” he said with his icy smile, “that this Indian,
so poorly dressed, speaks Spanish well? He was a schoolmaster who
persisted in teaching Spanish to the children and did not stop until
he had lost his position and had been deported as a disturber of
the public peace, and for having been a friend of the unfortunate
Ibarra. I got him back from his deportation, where he had been working
as a pruner of coconut-palms, and have made him a pyrotechnist.”

They returned to the street and set out for Trozo. Before a wooden
house of pleasant and well-kept appearance was a Spaniard on crutches,
enjoying the moonlight. When Simoun accosted him, his attempt to rise
was accompanied by a stifled groan.

“You’re ready?” Simoun inquired of him.

“I always am!”

“The coming week?”

“So soon?”

“At the first cannon-shot!”

He moved away, followed by Placido, who was beginning to ask himself
if he were not dreaming.

“Does it surprise you,” Simoun asked him, “to see a Spaniard so young
and so afflicted with disease? Two years ago he was as robust as you
are, but his enemies succeeded in sending him to Balabak to work in a
penal settlement, and there he caught the rheumatism and fever that
are dragging him into the grave. The poor devil had married a very
beautiful woman.”

As an empty carriage was passing, Simoun hailed it and with Placido
directed it to his house in the Escolta, just at the moment when the
clocks were striking half-past ten.

Two hours later Placido left the jeweler’s house and walked gravely
and thoughtfully along the Escolta, then almost deserted, in spite
of the fact that the cafés were still quite animated. Now and then
a carriage passed rapidly, clattering noisily over the worn pavement.

From a room in his house that overlooked the Pasig, Simoun turned
his gaze toward the Walled City, which could be seen through the open
windows, with its roofs of galvanized iron gleaming in the moonlight
and its somber towers showing dull and gloomy in the midst of the
serene night. He laid aside his blue goggles, and his white hair,
like a frame of silver, surrounded his energetic bronzed features,
dimly lighted by a lamp whose flame was dying out from lack of
oil. Apparently wrapped in thought, he took no notice of the fading
light and impending darkness.

“Within a few days,” he murmured, “when on all sides that accursed city
is burning, den of presumptuous nothingness and impious exploitation
of the ignorant and the distressed, when the tumults break out in the
suburbs and there rush into the terrorized streets my avenging hordes,
engendered by rapacity and wrongs, then will I burst the walls of
your prison, I will tear you from the clutches of fanaticism, and my
white dove, you will be the Phoenix that will rise from the glowing
embers! A revolution plotted by men in darkness tore me from your
side–another revolution will sweep me into your arms and revive
me! That moon, before reaching the apogee of its brilliance, will
light the Philippines cleansed of loathsome filth!”

Simoun, stopped suddenly, as though interrupted. A voice in his inner
consciousness was asking if he, Simoun, were not also a part of the
filth of that accursed city, perhaps its most poisonous ferment. Like
the dead who are to rise at the sound of the last trumpet, a thousand
bloody specters–desperate shades of murdered men, women violated,
fathers torn from their families, vices stimulated and encouraged,
virtues mocked, now rose in answer to the mysterious question. For
the first time in his criminal career, since in Havana he had by
means of corruption and bribery set out to fashion an instrument
for the execution of his plans–a man without faith, patriotism, or
conscience–for the first time in that life, something within rose up
and protested against his actions. He closed his eyes and remained
for some time motionless, then rubbed his hand over his forehead,
tried to be deaf to his conscience, and felt fear creeping over
him. No, he must not analyze himself, he lacked the courage to turn
his gaze toward his past. The idea of his courage, his conviction,
his self-confidence failing him at the very moment when his work was
set before him! As the ghosts of the wretches in whose misfortunes
he had taken a hand continued to hover before his eyes, as if issuing
from the shining surface of the river to invade the room with appeals
and hands extended toward him, as reproaches and laments seemed to
fill the air with threats and cries for vengeance, he turned his gaze
from the window and for the first time began to tremble.

“No, I must be ill, I can’t be feeling well,” he muttered. “There
are many who hate me, who ascribe their misfortunes to me, but–”

He felt his forehead begin to burn, so he arose to approach the window
and inhale the fresh night breeze. Below him the Pasig dragged along
its silvered stream, on whose bright surface the foam glittered,
winding slowly about, receding and advancing, following the course of
the little eddies. The city loomed up on the opposite bank, and its
black walls looked fateful, mysterious, losing their sordidness in
the moonlight that idealizes and embellishes everything. But again
Simoun shivered; he seemed to see before him the severe countenance
of his father, dying in prison, but dying for having done good; then
the face of another man, severer still, who had given his life for him
because he believed that he was going to bring about the regeneration
of his country.

“No, I can’t turn back,” he exclaimed, wiping the perspiration from
his forehead. “The work is at hand and its success will justify me! If
I had conducted myself as you did, I should have succumbed. Nothing
of idealism, nothing of fallacious theories! Fire and steel to the
cancer, chastisement to vice, and afterwards destroy the instrument,
if it be bad! No, I have planned well, but now I feel feverish, my
reason wavers, it is natural–If I have done ill, it has been that I
may do good, and the end justifies the means. What I will do is not
to expose myself–”

With his thoughts thus confused he lay down, and tried to fall asleep.

On the following morning Placido listened submissively, with a smile
on his lips, to his mother’s preachment. When she spoke of her plan of
interesting the Augustinian procurator he did not protest or object,
but on the contrary offered himself to carry it out, in order to
save trouble for his mother, whom he begged to return at once to the
province, that very day, if possible. Cabesang Andang asked him the
reason for such haste.

“Because–because if the procurator learns that you are here he won’t
do anything until you send him a present and order some masses.”

CHAPTER XX

THE ARBITER

True it was that Padre Irene had said: the question of the academy of
Castilian, so long before broached, was on the road to a solution. Don
Custodio, the active Don Custodio, the most active of all the arbiters
in the world, according to Ben-Zayb, was occupied with it, spending
his days reading the petition and falling asleep without reaching any
decision, waking on the following day to repeat the same performance,
dropping off to sleep again, and so on continuously.

How the good man labored, the most active of all the arbiters
in the world! He wished to get out of the predicament by pleasing
everybody–the friars, the high official, the Countess, Padre Irene,
and his own liberal principles. He had consulted with Señor Pasta, and
Señor Pasta had left him stupefied and confused, after advising him to
do a million contradictory and impossible things. He had consulted with
Pepay the dancing girl, and Pepay, who had no idea what he was talking
about, executed a pirouette and asked him for twenty-five pesos to
bury an aunt of hers who had suddenly died for the fifth time, or the
fifth aunt who had suddenly died, according to fuller explanations, at
the same time requesting that he get a cousin of hers who could read,
write, and play the violin, a job as assistant on the public works–all
things that were far from inspiring Don Custodio with any saving idea.

Two days after the events in the Quiapo fair, Don Custodio was as
usual busily studying the petition, without hitting upon the happy
solution. While he yawns, coughs, smokes, and thinks about Pepay’s
legs and her pirouettes, let us give some account of this exalted
personage, in order to understand Padre Sibyla’s reason for proposing
him as the arbiter of such a vexatious matter and why the other clique
accepted him.

Don Custodio de Salazar y Sanchez de Monteredondo, often referred
to as _Good Authority_, belonged to that class of Manila society
which cannot take a step without having the newspapers heap titles
upon them, calling each _indedefatigable, distinguished, zealous,
active, profound, intelligent, well-informed, influential_, and so
on, as if they feared that he might be confused with some idle and
ignorant possessor of the same name. Besides, no harm resulted from
it, and the watchful censor was not disturbed. The _Good Authority_
resulted from his friendship with Ben-Zayb, when the latter, in his two
noisiest controversies, which he carried on for weeks and months in the
columns of the newspapers about whether it was proper to wear a high
hat, a derby, or a _salakot,_ and whether the plural of _carácter_
should be _carácteres_ or _caractéres,_ in order to strengthen his
argument always came out with, “We have this on good authority,”
“We learn this from good authority,” later letting it be known,
for in Manila everything becomes known, that this _Good Authority_
was no other than Don Custodio de Salazar y Sanchez de Monteredondo.

He had come to Manila very young, with a good position that had enabled
him to marry a pretty mestiza belonging to one of the wealthiest
families of the city. As he had natural talent, boldness, and great
self-possession, and knew how to make use of the society in which
he found himself, he launched into business with his wife’s money,
filling contracts for the government, by reason of which he was
made alderman, afterwards alcalde, member of the Economic Society,
[43] councilor of the administration, president of the directory of
the _Obras Pias_, [44] member of the Society of Mercy, director of
the Spanish-Filipino Bank, etc., etc. Nor are these _etceteras_ to be
taken like those ordinarily placed after a long enumeration of titles:
Don Custodio, although never having seen a treatise on hygiene, came
to be vice-chairman of the Board of Health, for the truth was that of
the eight who composed this board only one had to be a physician and
he could not be that one. So also he was a member of the Vaccination
Board, which was composed of three physicians and seven laymen, among
these being the Archbishop and three Provincials. He was a brother in
all the confraternities of the common and of the most exalted dignity,
and, as we have seen, director of the Superior Commission of Primary
Instruction, which usually did not do anything–all these being quite
sufficient reason for the newspapers to heap adjectives upon him no
less when he traveled than when he sneezed.

In spite of so many offices, Don Custodio was not among those who
slept through the sessions, contenting themselves, like lazy and timid
delegates, in voting with the majority. The opposite of the numerous
kings of Europe who bear the title of King of Jerusalem, Don Custodio
made his dignity felt and got from it all the benefit possible, often
frowning, making his voice impressive, coughing out his words, often
taking up the whole session telling a story, presenting a project, or
disputing with a colleague who had placed himself in open opposition
to him. Although not past forty, he already talked of acting with
circumspection, of letting the figs ripen (adding under his breath
“pumpkins”), of pondering deeply and of stepping with careful tread,
of the necessity for understanding the country, because the nature of
the Indians, because the prestige of the Spanish name, because they
were first of all Spaniards, because religion–and so on. Remembered
yet in Manila is a speech of his when for the first time it was
proposed to light the city with kerosene in place of the old coconut
oil: in such an innovation, far from seeing the extinction of the
coconut-oil industry, he merely discerned the interests of a certain
alderman–because Don Custodio saw a long way–and opposed it with
all the resonance of his bucal cavity, considering the project too
premature and predicting great social cataclysms. No less celebrated
was his opposition to a sentimental serenade that some wished to tender
a certain governor on the eve of his departure. Don Custodio, who felt
a little resentment over some slight or other, succeeded in insinuating
the idea that the rising star was the mortal enemy of the setting one,
whereat the frightened promoters of the serenade gave it up.

One day he was advised to return to Spain to be cured of a liver
complaint, and the newspapers spoke of him as an Antaeus who had
to set foot in the mother country to gain new strength. But the
Manila Antaeus found himself a small and insignificant person at the
capital. There he was nobody, and he missed his beloved adjectives. He
did not mingle with the upper set, and his lack of education prevented
him from amounting to much in the academies and scientific centers,
while his backwardness and his parish-house politics drove him from
the clubs disgusted, vexed, seeing nothing clearly but that there
they were forever borrowing money and gambling heavily. He missed the
submissive servants of Manila, who endured all his peevishness, and
who now seemed to be far preferable; when a winter kept him between
a fireplace and an attack of pneumonia, he sighed for the Manila
winter during which a single quilt is sufficient, while in summer he
missed the easy-chair and the boy to fan him. In short, in Madrid he
was only one among many, and in spite of his diamonds he was once
taken for a rustic who did not know how to comport himself and at
another time for an _Indiano_. His scruples were scoffed at, and he
was shamelessly flouted by some borrowers whom he offended. Disgusted
with the conservatives, who took no great notice of his advice, as well
as with the sponges who rifled his pockets, he declared himself to be
of the liberal party and returned within a year to the Philippines,
if not sound in his liver, yet completely changed in his beliefs.

The eleven months spent at the capital among café politicians, nearly
all retired half-pay office-holders, the various speeches caught here
and there, this or that article of the opposition, all the political
life that permeates the air, from the barber-shop where amid the
scissors-clips the Figaro announces his program to the banquets
where in harmonious periods and telling phrases the different
shades of political opinion, the divergences and disagreements,
are adjusted–all these things awoke in him the farther he got from
Europe, like the life-giving sap within the sown seed prevented from
bursting out by the thick husk, in such a way that when he reached
Manila he believed that he was going to regenerate it and actually
had the holiest plans and the purest ideals.

During the first months after his return he was continually talking
about the capital, about his good friends, about Minister So-and-So,
ex-Minister Such-a-One, the delegate C., the author B., and there was
not a political event, a court scandal, of which he was not informed
to the last detail, nor was there a public man the secrets of whose
private life were unknown to him, nor could anything occur that he
had not foreseen, nor any reform be ordered but he had first been
consulted. All this was seasoned with attacks on the conservatives
in righteous indignation, with apologies of the liberal party, with
a little anecdote here, a phrase there from some great man, dropped
in as one who did not wish offices and employments, which same he
had refused in order not to be beholden to the conservatives. Such
was his enthusiasm in these first days that various cronies in
the grocery-store which he visited from time to time affiliated
themselves with the liberal party and began to style themselves
liberals: Don Eulogio Badana, a retired sergeant of carbineers;
the honest Armendia, by profession a pilot, and a rampant Carlist;
Don Eusebio Picote, customs inspector; and Don Bonifacio Tacon, shoe-
and harness-maker. [45]

But nevertheless, from lack of encouragement and of opposition, his
enthusiasm gradually waned. He did not read the newspapers that came
from Spain, because they arrived in packages, the sight of which made
him yawn. The ideas that he had caught having been all expended, he
needed reinforcement, and his orators were not there, and although in
the casinos of Manila there was enough gambling, and money was borrowed
as in Madrid, no speech that would nourish his political ideas was
permitted in them. But Don Custodio was not lazy, he did more than
wish–he worked. Foreseeing that he was going to leave his bones in
the Philippines, he began to consider that country his proper sphere
and to devote his efforts to its welfare. Thinking to liberalize it,
he commenced to draw up a series of reforms or projects, which were
ingenious, to say the least. It was he who, having heard in Madrid
mention of the wooden street pavements of Paris, not yet adopted in
Spain, proposed the introduction of them in Manila by covering the
streets with boards nailed down as they are on the sides of houses;
it was he who, deploring the accidents to two-wheeled vehicles,
planned to avoid them by putting on at least three wheels; it was
also he who, while acting as vice-president of the Board of Health,
ordered everything fumigated, even the telegrams that came from
infected places; it was also he who, in compassion for the convicts
that worked in the sun and with a desire of saving to the government
the cost of their equipment, suggested that they be clothed in a
simple breech-clout and set to work not by day but at night. He
marveled, he stormed, that his projects should encounter objectors,
but consoled himself with the reflection that the man who is worth
enemies has them, and revenged himself by attacking and tearing to
pieces any project, good or bad, presented by others.

As he prided himself on being a liberal, upon being asked what he
thought of the Indians he would answer, like one conferring a great
favor, that they were fitted for manual labor and the _imitative
arts_ (meaning thereby music, painting, and sculpture), adding his
old postscript that to know them one must have resided many, many
years in the country. Yet when he heard of any one of them excelling
in something that was not manual labor or an _imitative art_–in
chemistry, medicine, or philosophy, for example–he would exclaim:
“Ah, he promises fairly, fairly well, he’s not a fool!” and feel sure
that a great deal of Spanish blood must flow in the veins of such an
_Indian_. If unable to discover any in spite of his good intentions,
he then sought a Japanese origin, for it was at that time the fashion
began of attributing to the Japanese or the Arabs whatever good the
Filipinos might have in them. For him the native songs were Arabic
music, as was also the alphabet of the ancient Filipinos–he was
certain of this, although he did not know Arabic nor had he ever seen
that alphabet.

“Arabic, the purest Arabic,” he said to Ben-Zayb in a tone that
admitted no reply. “At best, Chinese!”

Then he would add, with a significant wink: “Nothing can be, nothing
ought to be, original with the Indians, you understand! I like them
greatly, but they mustn’t be allowed to pride themselves upon anything,
for then they would take heart and turn into a lot of wretches.”

At other times he would say: “I love the Indians fondly, I’ve
constituted myself their father and defender, but it’s necessary to
keep everything in its proper place. Some were born to command and
others to serve–plainly, that is a truism which can’t be uttered very
loudly, but it can be put into practise without many words. For look,
the trick depends upon trifles. When you wish to reduce a people
to subjection, assure it that it is in subjection. The first day it
will laugh, the second protest, the third doubt, and the fourth be
convinced. To keep the Filipino docile, he must have repeated to him
day after day what he is, to convince him that he is incompetent. What
good would it do, besides, to have him believe in something else that
would make him wretched? Believe me, it’s an act of charity to hold
every creature in his place–that is order, harmony. That constitutes
the _science_ of government.”

In referring to his policies, Don Custodio was not satisfied with the
word _art_, and upon pronouncing the word _government_, he would extend
his hand downwards to the height of a man bent over on his knees.

In regard to his religious ideas, he prided himself on being a
Catholic, very much a Catholic–ah, Catholic Spain, the land of
_María Santísima_! A liberal could be and ought to be a Catholic,
when the reactionaries were setting themselves up as gods or saints,
just as a mulatto passes for a white man in Kaffirland. But with all
that, he ate meat during Lent, except on Good Friday, never went to
confession, believed neither in miracles nor the infallibility of the
Pope, and when he attended mass, went to the one at ten o’clock, or
to the shortest, the military mass. Although in Madrid he had spoken
ill of the religious orders, so as not to be out of harmony with his
surroundings, considering them anachronisms, and had hurled curses
against the Inquisition, while relating this or that lurid or droll
story wherein the habits danced, or rather friars without habits,
yet in speaking of the Philippines, which should be ruled by special
laws, he would cough, look wise, and again extend his hand downwards
to that mysterious altitude.

“The friars are necessary, they’re a necessary evil,” he would declare.

But how he would rage when any Indian dared to doubt the miracles
or did not acknowledge the Pope! All the tortures of the Inquisition
were insufficient to punish such temerity.

When it was objected that to rule or to live at the expense of
ignorance has another and somewhat ugly name and is punished by law
when the culprit is a single person, he would justify his position
by referring to other colonies. “We,” he would announce in his
official tone, “can speak out plainly! We’re not like the British
and the Dutch who, in order to hold people in subjection, make use
of the lash. We avail ourselves of other means, milder and surer. The
salutary influence of the friars is superior to the British lash.”

This last remark made his fortune. For a long time Ben-Zayb continued
to use adaptations of it, and with him all Manila. The thinking
part of Manila applauded it, and it even got to Madrid, where it
was quoted in the Parliament as from _a liberal of long residence
there_. The friars, flattered by the comparison and seeing their
prestige enhanced, sent him sacks of chocolate, presents which the
incorruptible Don Custodio returned, so that Ben-Zayb immediately
compared him to Epaminondas. Nevertheless, this modern Epaminondas
made use of the rattan in his choleric moments, and advised its use!

At that time the conventos, fearful that he would render a decision
favorable to the petition of the students, increased their gifts,
so that on the afternoon when we see him he was more perplexed than
ever, his reputation for energy was being compromised. It had been
more than a fortnight since he had had the petition in his hands,
and only that morning the high official, after praising his zeal,
had asked for a decision. Don Custodio had replied with mysterious
gravity, giving him to understand that it was not yet completed. The
high official had smiled a smile that still worried and haunted him.

As we were saying, he yawned and yawned. In one of these movements, at
the moment when he opened his eyes and closed his mouth, his attention
was caught by a file of red envelopes, arranged in regular order on a
magnificent kamagon desk. On the back of each could be read in large
letters: PROJECTS.

For a moment he forgot his troubles and Pepay’s pirouettes, to
reflect upon all that those files contained, which had issued from his
prolific brain in his hours of inspiration. How many original ideas,
how many sublime thoughts, how many means of ameliorating the woes
of the Philippines! Immortality and the gratitude of the country were
surely his!

Like an old lover who discovers a moldy package of amorous epistles,
Don Custodio arose and approached the desk. The first envelope, thick,
swollen, and plethoric, bore the title: PROJECTS IN PROJECT.

“No,” he murmured, “they’re excellent things, but it would take a
year to read them over.”

The second, also quite voluminous, was entitled: PROJECTS UNDER
CONSIDERATION. “No, not those either.”

Then came the PROJECTS NEARING COMPLETION, PROJECTS PRESENTED, PROJECTS
REJECTED, PROJECTS APPROVED, PROJECTS POSTPONED. These last envelopes
held little, but the least of all was that of the PROJECTS EXECUTED.

Don Custodio wrinkled up his nose–what did it contain? He had
completely forgotten what was in it. A sheet of yellowish paper
showed from under the flap, as though the envelope were sticking out
its tongue. This he drew out and unfolded: it was the famous project
for the School of Arts and Trades!

“What the devil!” he exclaimed. “If the Augustinian padres took charge
of it–”

Suddenly he slapped his forehead and arched his eyebrows, while a look
of triumph overspread his face. “I have reached a decision!” he cried
with an oath that was not exactly _eureka_. “My decision is made!”

Repeating his peculiar _eureka_ five or six times, which struck the
air like so many gleeful lashes, he sat down at his desk, radiant
with joy, and began to write furiously.

CHAPTER XXI

MANILA TYPES

That night there was a grand function at the Teatro de
Variedades. Mr. Jouay’s French operetta company was giving its initial
performance, _Les Cloches de Corneville_. To the eyes of the public
was to be exhibited his select troupe, whose fame the newspapers had
for days been proclaiming. It was reported that among the actresses
was a very beautiful voice, with a figure even more beautiful, and
if credit could be given to rumor, her amiability surpassed even her
voice and figure.

At half-past seven in the evening there were no more tickets to be
had, not even though they had been for Padre Salvi himself in his
direct need, and the persons waiting to enter the general admission
already formed a long queue. In the ticket-office there were scuffles
and fights, talk of filibusterism and races, but this did not produce
any tickets, so that by a quarter before eight fabulous prices were
being offered for them. The appearance of the building, profusely
illuminated, with flowers and plants in all the doors and windows,
enchanted the new arrivals to such an extent that they burst out into
exclamations and applause. A large crowd surged about the entrance,
gazing enviously at those going in, those who came early from fear
of missing their seats. Laughter, whispering, expectation greeted the
later arrivals, who disconsolately joined the curious crowd, and now
that they could not get in contented themselves with watching those
who did.

Yet there was one person who seemed out of place amid such great
eagerness and curiosity. He was a tall, meager man, who dragged one
leg stiffly when he walked, dressed in a wretched brown coat and dirty
checkered trousers that fitted his lean, bony limbs tightly. A straw
sombrero, artistic in spite of being broken, covered an enormous
head and allowed his dirty gray, almost red, hair to straggle out
long and kinky at the end like a poet’s curls. But the most notable
thing about this man was not his clothing or his European features,
guiltless of beard or mustache, but his fiery red face, from which he
got the nickname by which he was known, _Camaroncocido_. [46] He was
a curious character belonging to a prominent Spanish family, but he
lived like a vagabond and a beggar, scoffing at the prestige which he
flouted indifferently with his rags. He was reputed to be a kind of
reporter, and in fact his gray goggle-eyes, so cold and thoughtful,
always showed up where anything publishable was happening. His manner
of living was a mystery to all, as no one seemed to know where he
ate and slept. Perhaps he had an empty hogshead somewhere.

But at that moment Camaroncocido lacked his usual hard and indifferent
expression, something like mirthful pity being reflected in his
looks. A funny little man accosted him merrily.

“Friend!” exclaimed the latter, in a raucous voice, as hoarse as a
frog’s, while he displayed several Mexican pesos, which Camaroncocido
merely glanced at and then shrugged his shoulders. What did they
matter to him?

The little old man was a fitting contrast to him. Small, very small,
he wore on his head a high hat, which presented the appearance of a
huge hairy worm, and lost himself in an enormous frock coat, too wide
and too long for him, to reappear in trousers too short, not reaching
below his calves. His body seemed to be the grandfather and his legs
the grandchildren, while as for his shoes he appeared to be floating
on the land, for they were of an enormous sailor type, apparently
protesting against the hairy worm worn on his head with all the energy
of a convento beside a World’s Exposition. If Camaroncocido was red,
he was brown; while the former, although of Spanish extraction, had
not a single hair on his face, yet he, an Indian, had a goatee and
mustache, both long, white, and sparse. His expression was lively. He
was known as _Tio Quico_, [47] and like his friend lived on publicity,
advertising the shows and posting the theatrical announcements,
being perhaps the only Filipino who could appear with impunity in a
silk hat and frock coat, just as his friend was the first Spaniard
who laughed at the prestige of his race.

“The Frenchman has paid me well,” he said smiling and showing his
picturesque gums, which looked like a street after a conflagration. “I
did a good job in posting the bills.”

Camaroncocido shrugged his shoulders again. “Quico,” he rejoined in
a cavernous voice, “if they’ve given you six pesos for your work,
how much will they give the friars?”

Tio Quico threw back his head in his usual lively manner. “To the
friars?”

“Because you surely know,” continued Camaroncocido, “that all this
crowd was secured for them by the conventos.”

The fact was that the friars, headed by Padre Salvi, and some lay
brethren captained by Don Custodio, had opposed such shows. Padre
Camorra, who could not attend, watered at the eyes and mouth, but
argued with Ben-Zayb, who defended them feebly, thinking of the free
tickets they would send his newspaper. Don Custodio spoke of morality,
religion, good manners, and the like.

“But,” stammered the writer, “if our own farces with their plays on
words and phrases of double meaning–”

“But at least they’re in Castilian!” the virtuous councilor interrupted
with a roar, inflamed to righteous wrath. “Obscenities in French,
man, Ben-Zayb, for God’s sake, in French! Never!”

He uttered this _never_ with the energy of three Guzmans threatened
with being killed like fleas if they did not surrender twenty
Tarifas. Padre Irene naturally agreed with Don Custodio and execrated
French operetta. Whew, he had been in Paris, but had never set foot
in a theater, the Lord deliver him!

Yet the French operetta also counted numerous partizans. The officers
of the army and navy, among them the General’s aides, the clerks,
and many society people were anxious to enjoy the delicacies of the
French language from the mouths of genuine _Parisiennes_, and with
them were affiliated those who had traveled by the M.M. [48] and had
jabbered a little French during the voyage, those who had visited
Paris, and all those who wished to appear learned.

Hence, Manila society was divided into two factions, operettists
and anti-operettists. The latter were supported by the elderly
ladies, wives jealous and careful of their husbands’ love, and by
those who were engaged, while those who were free and those who
were beautiful declared themselves enthusiastic operettists. Notes
and then more notes were exchanged, there were goings and comings,
mutual recriminations, meetings, lobbyings, arguments, even talk of
an insurrection of the natives, of their indolence, of inferior and
superior races, of prestige and other humbugs, so that after much
gossip and more recrimination, the permit was granted, Padre Salvi
at the same time publishing a pastoral that was read by no one but
the proof-reader. There were questionings whether the General had
quarreled with the Countess, whether she spent her time in the halls
of pleasure, whether His Excellency was greatly annoyed, whether
there had been presents exchanged, whether the French consul–, and
so on and on. Many names were bandied about: Quiroga the Chinaman’s,
Simoun’s, and even those of many actresses.

Thanks to these scandalous preliminaries, the people’s impatience had
been aroused, and since the evening before, when the troupe arrived,
there was talk of nothing but attending the first performance. From
the hour when the red posters announced _Les Cloches de Corneville_ the
victors prepared to celebrate their triumph. In some offices, instead
of the time being spent in reading newspapers and gossiping, it was
devoted to devouring the synopsis and spelling out French novels, while
many feigned business outside to consult their pocket-dictionaries
on the sly. So no business was transacted, callers were told to come
back the next day, but the public could not take offense, for they
encountered some very polite and affable clerks, who received and
dismissed them with grand salutations in the French style. The clerks
were practising, brushing the dust off their French, and calling to
one another _oui, monsieur, s’il vous plait_, and _pardon_! at every
turn, so that it was a pleasure to see and hear them.

But the place where the excitement reached its climax was the newspaper
office. Ben-Zayb, having been appointed critic and translator of the
synopsis, trembled like a poor woman accused of witchcraft, as he saw
his enemies picking out his blunders and throwing up to his face his
deficient knowledge of French. When the Italian opera was on, he had
very nearly received a challenge for having mistranslated a tenor’s
name, while an envious rival had immediately published an article
referring to him as an ignoramus–him, the foremost thinking head in
the Philippines! All the trouble he had had to defend himself! He
had had to write at least seventeen articles and consult fifteen
dictionaries, so with these salutary recollections, the wretched
Ben-Zayb moved about with leaden hands, to say nothing of his feet,
for that would be plagiarizing Padre Camorra, who had once intimated
that the journalist wrote with them.

“You see, Quico?” said Camaroncocido. “One half of the people have
come because the friars told them not to, making it a kind of public
protest, and the other half because they say to themselves, ‘Do the
friars object to it? Then it must be instructive!’ Believe me, Quico,
your advertisements are a good thing but the pastoral was better,
even taking into consideration the fact that it was read by no one.”

“Friend, do you believe,” asked Tio Quico uneasily, “that on account
of the competition with Padre Salvi my business will in the future
be prohibited?”

“Maybe so, Quico, maybe so,” replied the other, gazing at the
sky. “Money’s getting scarce.”

Tio Quico muttered some incoherent words: if the friars were going to
turn theatrical advertisers, he would become a friar. After bidding his
friend good-by, he moved away coughing and rattling his silver coins.

With his eternal indifference Camaroncocido continued to wander about
here and there with his crippled leg and sleepy looks. The arrival
of unfamiliar faces caught his attention, coming as they did from
different parts and signaling to one another with a wink or a cough. It
was the first time that he had ever seen these individuals on such
an occasion, he who knew all the faces and features in the city. Men
with dark faces, humped shoulders, uneasy and uncertain movements,
poorly disguised, as though they had for the first time put on sack
coats, slipped about among the shadows, shunning attention, instead
of getting in the front rows where they could see well.

“Detectives or thieves?” Camaroncocido asked himself and immediately
shrugged his shoulders. “But what is it to me?”

The lamp of a carriage that drove up lighted in passing a group of
four or five of these individuals talking with a man who appeared to
be an army officer.

“Detectives! It must be a new corps,” he muttered with his shrug
of indifference. Soon, however, he noticed that the officer, after
speaking to two or three more groups, approached a carriage and seemed
to be talking vigorously with some person inside. Camaroncocido took
a few steps forward and without surprise thought that he recognized
the jeweler Simoun, while his sharp ears caught this short dialogue.

“The signal will be a gunshot!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t worry–it’s the General who is ordering it, but be careful about
saying so. If you follow my instructions, you’ll get a promotion.”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, be ready!”

The voice ceased and a second later the carriage drove away. In spite
of his indifference Camaroncocido could not but mutter, “Something’s
afoot–hands on pockets!”

But feeling his own to be empty, he again shrugged his shoulders. What
did it matter to him, even though the heavens should fall?

So he continued his pacing about. On passing near two persons engaged
in conversation, he caught what one of them, who had rosaries and
scapularies around his neck, was saying in Tagalog: “The friars are
more powerful than the General, don’t be a fool! He’ll go away and
they’ll stay here. So, if we do well, we’ll get rich. The signal is
a gunshot.”

“Hold hard, hold hard,” murmured Camaroncocido, tightening his
fingers. “On that side the General, on this Padre Salvi. Poor
country! But what is it to me?”

Again shrugging his shoulders and expectorating at the same time,
two actions that with him were indications of supreme indifference,
he continued his observations.

Meanwhile, the carriages were arriving in dizzy streams, stopping
directly before the door to set down the members of the select
society. Although the weather was scarcely even cool, the ladies
sported magnificent shawls, silk neckerchiefs, and even light
cloaks. Among the escorts, some who were in frock coats with white
ties wore overcoats, while others carried them on their arms to
display the rich silk linings.

In a group of spectators, Tadeo, he who was always taken ill the
moment the professor appeared, was accompanied by a fellow townsman
of his, the novice whom we saw suffer evil consequences from reading
wrongly the Cartesian principle. This novice was very inquisitive and
addicted to tiresome questions, and Tadeo was taking advantage of his
ingenuousness and inexperience to relate to him the most stupendous
lies. Every Spaniard that spoke to him, whether clerkling or underling,
was presented as a leading merchant, a marquis, or a count, while on
the other hand any one who passed him by was a greenhorn, a petty
official, a nobody! When pedestrians failed him in keeping up the
novice’s astonishment, he resorted to the resplendent carriages that
came up. Tadeo would bow politely, wave his hand in a friendly manner,
and call out a familiar greeting.

“Who’s he?”

“Bah!” was the negligent reply. “The Civil Governor, the Vice-Governor,
Judge —-, Señora —-, all friends of mine!”

The novice marveled and listened in fascination, taking care to keep
on the left. Tadeo the friend of judges and governors!

Tadeo named all the persons who arrived, when he did not know them
inventing titles, biographies, and interesting sketches.

“You see that tall gentleman with dark whiskers, somewhat squint-eyed,
dressed in black–he’s Judge A —-, an intimate friend of the wife of
Colonel B —-. One day if it hadn’t been for me they would have come
to blows. Hello, here comes that Colonel! What if they should fight?”

The novice held his breath, but the colonel and the judge shook hands
cordially, the soldier, an old bachelor, inquiring about the health
of the judge’s family.

“Ah, thank heaven!” breathed Tadeo. “I’m the one who made them
friends.”

“What if they should invite us to go in?” asked the novice timidly.

“Get out, boy! I never accept favors!” retorted Tadeo majestically. “I
confer them, but disinterestedly.”

The novice bit his lip and felt smaller than ever, while he placed
a respectful distance between himself and his fellow townsman.

Tadeo resumed: “That is the musician H—-; that one, the lawyer
J—-, who delivered as his own a speech printed in all the books and
was congratulated and admired for it; Doctor K—-, that man just
getting out of a hansom, is a specialist in diseases of children,
so he’s called Herod; that’s the banker L—-, who can talk only of
his money and his hoards; the poet M—-, who is always dealing with
the stars and _the beyond_. There goes the beautiful wife of N—-,
whom Padre Q—-is accustomed to meet when he calls upon the absent
husband; the Jewish merchant P—-, who came to the islands with a
thousand pesos and is now a millionaire. That fellow with the long
beard is the physician R—-, who has become rich by making invalids
more than by curing them.”

“Making invalids?”

“Yes, boy, in the examination of the conscripts. Attention! That
finely dressed gentleman is not a physician but a homeopathist _sui
generis_–he professes completely the _similis similibus_. The young
cavalry captain with him is his chosen disciple. That man in a light
suit with his hat tilted back is the government clerk whose maxim
is never to be polite and who rages like a demon when he sees a hat
on any one else’s head–they say that he does it to ruin the German
hatters. The man just arriving with his family is the wealthy merchant
C—-, who has an income of over a hundred thousand pesos. But what
would you say if I should tell you that he still owes me four pesos,
five reales, and twelve cuartos? But who would collect from a rich
man like him?”

“That gentleman in debt to you?”

“Sure! One day I got him out of a bad fix. It was on a Friday at
half-past six in the morning, I still remember, because I hadn’t
breakfasted. That lady who is followed by a duenna is the celebrated
Pepay, the dancing girl, but she doesn’t dance any more now that a
very Catholic gentleman and a great friend of mine has–forbidden
it. There’s the death’s-head Z—-, who’s surely following her to get
her to dance again. He’s a good fellow, and a great friend of mine,
but has one defect–he’s a Chinese mestizo and yet calls himself a
Peninsular Spaniard. Sssh! Look at Ben-Zayb, him with the face of a
friar, who’s carrying a pencil and a roll of paper in his hand. He’s
the great writer, Ben-Zayb, a good friend of mine–he has talent!”

“You don’t say! And that little man with white whiskers?”

“He’s the official who has appointed his daughters, those three little
girls, assistants in his department, so as to get their names on the
pay-roll. He’s a clever man, very clever! When he makes a mistake he
blames it on somebody else, he buys things and pays for them out of
the treasury. He’s clever, very, very clever!”

Tadeo was about to say more, but suddenly checked himself.

“And that gentleman who has a fierce air and gazes at everybody over
his shoulders?” inquired the novice, pointing to a man who nodded
haughtily.

But Tadeo did not answer. He was craning his neck to see Paulita
Gomez, who was approaching with a friend, Doña Victorina, and Juanito
Pelaez. The latter had presented her with a box and was more humped
than ever.

Carriage after carriage drove up; the actors and actresses arrived
and entered by a separate door, followed by their friends and admirers.

After Paulita had gone in, Tadeo resumed: “Those are the nieces of
the rich Captain D—-, those coming up in a landau; you see how
pretty and healthy they are? Well, in a few years they’ll be dead or
crazy. Captain D—- is opposed to their marrying, and the insanity
of the uncle is appearing in the nieces. That’s the Señorita E—-,
the rich heiress whom the world and the conventos are disputing
over. Hello, I know that fellow! It’s Padre Irene, in disguise, with
a false mustache. I recognize him by his nose. And he was so greatly
opposed to this!”

The scandalized novice watched a neatly cut coat disappear behind a
group of ladies.

“The Three Fates!” went on Tadeo, watching the arrival of three
withered, bony, hollow-eyed, wide-mouthed, and shabbily dressed
women. “They’re called–”

“Atropos?” ventured the novice, who wished to show that he also knew
somebody, at least in mythology.

“No, boy, they’re called the Weary Waiters–old, censorious, and
dull. They pretend to hate everybody–men, women, and children. But
look how the Lord always places beside the evil a remedy, only that
sometimes it comes late. There behind the Fates, the frights of
the city, come those three girls, the pride of their friends, among
whom I count myself. That thin young man with goggle-eyes, somewhat
stooped, who is wildly gesticulating because he can’t get tickets,
is the chemist S—-, author of many essays and scientific treatises,
some of which are notable and have captured prizes. The Spaniards say
of him, ‘There’s some hope for him, some hope for him.’ The fellow who
is soothing him with his Voltairian smile is the poet T—-, a young
man of talent, a great friend of mine, and, for the very reason that
he has talent, he has thrown away his pen. That fellow who is trying to
get in with the actors by the other door is the young physician U—-,
who has effected some remarkable cures–it’s also said of him that he
promises well. He’s not such a scoundrel as Pelaez but he’s cleverer
and slyer still. I believe that he’d shake dice with death and win.”

“And that brown gentleman with a mustache like hog-bristles?”

“Ah, that’s the merchant F—-, who forges everything, even his
baptismal certificate. He wants to be a Spanish mestizo at any cost,
and is making heroic efforts to forget his native language.”

“But his daughters are very white.”

“Yes, that’s the reason rice has gone up in price, and yet they eat
nothing but bread.”

The novice did not understand the connection between the price of
rice and the whiteness of those girls, but he held his peace.

“There goes the fellow that’s engaged to one of them, that thin brown
youth who is following them with a lingering movement and speaking with
a protecting air to the three friends who are laughing at him. He’s
a martyr to his beliefs, to his consistency.”

The novice was filled with admiration and respect for the young man.

“He has the look of a fool, and he is one,” continued Tadeo. “He
was born in San Pedro Makati and has inflicted many privations upon
himself. He scarcely ever bathes or eats pork, because, according to
him, the Spaniards don’t do those things, and for the same reason he
doesn’t eat rice and dried fish, although he may be watering at the
mouth and dying of hunger. Anything that comes from Europe, rotten
or preserved, he considers divine–a month ago Basilio cured him of
a severe attack of gastritis, for he had eaten a jar of mustard to
prove that he’s a European.”

At that moment the orchestra struck up a waltz.

“You see that gentleman–that hypochondriac who goes along turning
his head from side to side, seeking salutes? That’s the celebrated
governor of Pangasinan, a good man who loses his appetite whenever any
Indian fails to salute him. He would have died if he hadn’t issued the
proclamation about salutes to which he owes his celebrity. Poor fellow,
it’s only been three days since he came from the province and look how
thin he has become! Oh, here’s the great man, the illustrious–open
your eyes!”

“Who? That man with knitted brows?”

“Yes, that’s Don Custodio, the liberal, Don Custodio. His brows are
knit because he’s meditating over some important project. If the
ideas he has in his head were carried out, this would be a different
world! Ah, here comes Makaraig, your housemate.”

It was in fact Makaraig, with Pecson, Sandoval, and Isagani. Upon
seeing them, Tadeo advanced and spoke to them.

“Aren’t you coming in?” Makaraig asked him.

“We haven’t been able to get tickets.”

“Fortunately, we have a box,” replied Makaraig. “Basilio couldn’t
come. Both of you, come in with us.”

Tadeo did not wait for the invitation to be repeated, but the novice,
fearing that he would intrude, with the timidity natural to the
provincial Indian, excused himself, nor could he be persuaded to enter.

CHAPTER XXII

THE PERFORMANCE

The interior of the theater presented a lively aspect. It was filled
from top to bottom, with people standing in the corridors and in
the aisles, fighting to withdraw a head from some hole where they
had inserted it, or to shove an eye between a collar and an ear. The
open boxes, occupied for the most part by ladies, looked like baskets
of flowers, whose petals–the fans–shook in a light breeze, wherein
hummed a thousand bees. However, just as there are flowers of strong
or delicate fragrance, flowers that kill and flowers that console,
so from our baskets were exhaled like emanations: there were to be
heard dialogues, conversations, remarks that bit and stung. Three
or four boxes, however, were still vacant, in spite of the lateness
of the hour. The performance had been advertised for half-past eight
and it was already a quarter to nine, but the curtain did not go up,
as his Excellency had not yet arrived. The gallery-gods, impatient
and uncomfortable in their seats, started a racket, clapping their
hands and pounding the floor with their canes.

“Boom–boom–boom! Ring up the curtain! Boom–boom–boom!”

The artillerymen were not the least noisy. Emulators of Mars, as
Ben-Zayb called them, they were not satisfied with this music; thinking
themselves perhaps at a bullfight, they made remarks at the ladies who
passed before them in words that are euphemistically called flowers
in Madrid, although at times they seem more like foul weeds. Without
heeding the furious looks of the husbands, they bandied from one to
another the sentiments and longings inspired by so many beauties.

In the reserved seats, where the ladies seemed to be afraid to venture,
as few were to be seen there, a murmur of voices prevailed amid
suppressed laughter and clouds of tobacco smoke. They discussed the
merits of the players and talked scandal, wondering if his Excellency
had quarreled with the friars, if his presence at such a show was
a defiance or mere curiosity. Others gave no heed to these matters,
but were engaged in attracting the attention of the ladies, throwing
themselves into attitudes more or less interesting and statuesque,
flashing diamond rings, especially when they thought themselves the
foci of insistent opera-glasses, while yet another would address a
respectful salute to this or that señora or señorita, at the same time
lowering his head gravely to whisper to a neighbor, “How ridiculous
she is! And such a bore!”

The lady would respond with one of her most gracious smiles and an
enchanting nod of her head, while murmuring to a friend sitting near,
amid lazy flourishes of her fan, “How impudent he is! He’s madly in
love, my dear.”

Meanwhile, the noise increased. There remained only two vacant
boxes, besides that of his Excellency, which was distinguished by
its curtains of red velvet. The orchestra played another waltz, the
audience protested, when fortunately there arose a charitable hero to
distract their attention and relieve the manager, in the person of
a man who had occupied a reserved seat and refused to give it up to
its owner, the philosopher Don Primitivo. Finding his own arguments
useless, Don Primitivo had appealed to an usher. “I don’t care to,”
the hero responded to the latter’s protests, placidly puffing at his
cigarette. The usher appealed to the manager. “I don’t care to,” was
the response, as he settled back in the seat. The manager went away,
while the artillerymen in the gallery began to sing out encouragement
to the usurper.

Our hero, now that he had attracted general attention, thought that
to yield would be to lower himself, so he held on to the seat, while
he repeated his answer to a pair of guards the manager had called
in. These, in consideration of the rebel’s rank, went in search of
their corporal, while the whole house broke out into applause at the
firmness of the hero, who remained seated like a Roman senator.

Hisses were heard, and the inflexible gentleman turned angrily to see
if they were meant for him, but the galloping of horses resounded
and the stir increased. One might have said that a revolution had
broken out, or at least a riot, but no, the orchestra had suspended
the waltz and was playing the royal march: it was his Excellency, the
Captain-General and Governor of the islands, who was entering. All
eyes sought and followed him, then lost sight of him, until he
finally appeared in his box. After looking all about him and making
some persons happy with a lordly salute, he sat down, as though he
were indeed the man for whom the chair was waiting. The artillerymen
then became silent and the orchestra tore into the prelude.

Our students occupied a box directly facing that of Pepay, the
dancing girl. Her box was a present from Makaraig, who had already
got on good terms with her in order to propitiate Don Custodio. Pepay
had that very afternoon written a note to the illustrious arbiter,
asking for an answer and appointing an interview in the theater. For
this reason, Don Custodio, in spite of the active opposition he
had manifested toward the French operetta, had gone to the theater,
which action won him some caustic remarks on the part of Don Manuel,
his ancient adversary in the sessions of the Ayuntamiento.

“I’ve come to judge the operetta,” he had replied in the tone of a
Cato whose conscience was clear.

So Makaraig was exchanging looks of intelligence with Pepay, who was
giving him to understand that she had something to tell him. As the
dancing girl’s face wore a happy expression, the students augured
that a favorable outcome was assured. Sandoval, who had just returned
from making calls in other boxes, also assured them that the decision
had been favorable, that that very afternoon the Superior Commission
had considered and approved it. Every one was jubilant, even Pecson
having laid aside his pessimism when he saw the smiling Pepay display
a note. Sandoval and Makaraig congratulated one another, Isagani alone
remaining cold and unsmiling. What had happened to this young man?

Upon entering the theater, Isagani had caught sight of Paulita in a
box, with Juanito Pelaez talking to her. He had turned pale, thinking
that he must be mistaken. But no, it was she herself, she who greeted
him with a gracious smile, while her beautiful eyes seemed to be
asking pardon and promising explanations. The fact was that they had
agreed upon Isagani’s going first to the theater to see if the show
contained anything improper for a young woman, but now he found her
there, and in no other company than that of his rival. What passed in
his mind is indescribable: wrath, jealousy, humiliation, resentment
raged within him, and there were moments even when he wished that
the theater would fall in; he had a violent desire to laugh aloud,
to insult his sweetheart, to challenge his rival, to make a scene, but
finally contented himself with sitting quiet and not looking at her at
all. He was conscious of the beautiful plans Makaraig and Sandoval were
making, but they sounded like distant echoes, while the notes of the
waltz seemed sad and lugubrious, the whole audience stupid and foolish,
and several times he had to make an effort to keep back the tears. Of
the trouble stirred up by the hero who refused to give up the seat,
of the arrival of the Captain-General, he was scarcely conscious. He
stared toward the drop-curtain, on which was depicted a kind of
gallery with sumptuous red hangings, affording a view of a garden in
which a fountain played, yet how sad the gallery looked to him and how
melancholy the painted landscape! A thousand vague recollections surged
into his memory like distant echoes of music heard in the night, like
songs of infancy, the murmur of lonely forests and gloomy rivulets,
moonlit nights on the shore of the sea spread wide before his eyes. So
the enamored youth considered himself very wretched and stared fixedly
at the ceiling so that the tears should not fall from his eyes.

A burst of applause drew him from these meditations. The curtain
had just risen, and the merry chorus of peasants of Corneville was
presented, all dressed in cotton caps, with heavy wooden sabots on
their feet. Some six or seven girls, well-rouged on the lips and
cheeks, with large black circles around their eyes to increase their
brilliance, displayed white arms, fingers covered with diamonds,
round and shapely limbs. While they were chanting the Norman phrase
“_Allez, marchez! Allez, marchez!_” they smiled at their different
admirers in the reserved seats with such openness that Don Custodio,
after looking toward Pepay’s box to assure himself that she was
not doing the same thing with some other admirer, set down in his
note-book this indecency, and to make sure of it lowered his head a
little to see if the actresses were not showing their knees.

“Oh, these Frenchwomen!” he muttered, while his imagination lost
itself in considerations somewhat more elevated, as he made comparisons
and projects.

“_Quoi v’la tous les cancans d’la s’maine!_” sang Gertrude, a proud
damsel, who was looking roguishly askance at the Captain-General.

“We’re going to have the cancan!” exclaimed Tadeo, the winner of the
first prize in the French class, who had managed to make out this
word. “Makaraig, they’re going to dance the cancan!”

He rubbed his hands gleefully. From the moment the curtain rose,
Tadeo had been heedless of the music. He was looking only for the
prurient, the indecent, the immoral in actions and dress, and with
his scanty French was sharpening his ears to catch the obscenities
that the austere guardians of the fatherland had foretold.

Sandoval, pretending to know French, had converted himself into a
kind of interpreter for his friends. He knew as much about it as
Tadeo, but the published synopsis helped him and his fancy supplied
the rest. “Yes,” he said, “they’re going to dance the cancan–she’s
going to lead it.”

Makaraig and Pecson redoubled their attention, smiling in anticipation,
while Isagani looked away, mortified to think that Paulita should
be present at such a show and reflecting that it was his duty to
challenge Juanito Pelaez the next day.

But the young men waited in vain. Serpolette came on, a charming girl,
in her cotton cap, provoking and challenging. “_Hein, qui parle de
Serpolette?_” she demanded of the gossips, with her arms akimbo in
a combative attitude. Some one applauded, and after him all those in
the reserved seats. Without changing her girlish attitude, Serpolette
gazed at the person who had started the applause and paid him with a
smile, displaying rows of little teeth that looked like a string of
pearls in a case of red velvet.

Tadeo followed her gaze and saw a man in a false mustache with an
extraordinarily large nose. “By the monk’s cowl!” he exclaimed. “It’s
Irene!”

“Yes,” corroborated Sandoval, “I saw him behind the scenes talking
with the actresses.”

The truth was that Padre Irene, who was a melomaniac of the first
degree and knew French well, had been sent to the theater by Padre
Salvi as a sort of religious detective, or so at least he told
the persons who recognized him. As a faithful critic, who should
not be satisfied with viewing the piece from a distance, he wished
to examine the actresses at first hand, so he had mingled in the
groups of admirers and gallants, had penetrated into the greenroom,
where was whispered and talked a French required by the situation,
a _market French_, a language that is readily comprehensible for the
vender when the buyer seems disposed to pay well.

Serpolette was surrounded by two gallant officers, a sailor, and a
lawyer, when she caught sight of him moving about, sticking the tip
of his long nose into all the nooks and corners, as though with it
he were ferreting out all the mysteries of the stage. She ceased her
chatter, knitted her eyebrows, then raised them, opened her lips and
with the vivacity of a _Parisienne_ left her admirers to hurl herself
like a torpedo upon our critic.

“_Tiens, tiens, Toutou! Mon lapin!_” she cried, catching Padre Irene’s
arm and shaking it merrily, while the air rang with her silvery laugh.

“Tut, tut!” objected Padre Irene, endeavoring to conceal himself.

“_Mais, comment! Toi ici, grosse bête! Et moi qui t’croyais–_”

“_’Tais pas d’tapage, Lily! Il faut m’respecter! ‘Suis ici l’Pape!_”

With great difficulty Padre Irene made her listen to reason, for Lily
was _enchanteé_ to meet in Manila an old friend who reminded her of
the _coulisses_ of the Grand Opera House. So it was that Padre Irene,
fulfilling at the same time his duties as a friend and a critic, had
initiated the applause to encourage her, for Serpolette deserved it.

Meanwhile, the young men were waiting for the cancan. Pecson became
all eyes, but there was everything except cancan. There was presented
the scene in which, but for the timely arrival of the representatives
of the law, the women would have come to blows and torn one another’s
hair out, incited thereto by the mischievous peasants, who, like our
students, hoped to see something more than the cancan.

Scit, scit, scit, scit, scit, scit,
Disputez-vous, battez-vous,
Scit, scit, scit, scit, scit, scit,
Nous allons compter les coups.

The music ceased, the men went away, the women returned, a few at
a time, and started a conversation among themselves, of which our
friends understood nothing. They were slandering some absent person.

“They look like the Chinamen of the _pansiteria!_” whispered Pecson.

“But, the cancan?” asked Makaraig.

“They’re talking about the most suitable place to dance it,” gravely
responded Sandoval.

“They look like the Chinamen of the _pansiteria_,” repeated Pecson
in disgust.

A lady accompanied by her husband entered at that moment and took her
place in one of the two vacant boxes. She had the air of a queen and
gazed disdainfully at the whole house, as if to say, “I’ve come later
than all of you, you crowd of upstarts and provincials, I’ve come later
than you!” There are persons who go to the theater like the contestants
in a mule-race: the last one in, wins, and we know very sensible men
who would ascend the scaffold rather than enter a theater before the
first act. But the lady’s triumph was of short duration–she caught
sight of the other box that was still empty, and began to scold her
better half, thus starting such a disturbance that many were annoyed.

“Ssh! Ssh!”

“The blockheads! As if they understood French!” remarked the lady,
gazing with supreme disdain in all directions, finally fixing her
attention on Juanito’s box, whence she thought she had heard an
impudent hiss.

Juanito was in fact guilty, for he had been pretending to understand
everything, holding himself up proudly and applauding at times as
though nothing that was said escaped him, and this too without guiding
himself by the actors’ pantomime, because he scarcely looked toward
the stage. The rogue had intentionally remarked to Paulita that,
as there was so much more beautiful a woman close at hand, he did
not care to strain his eyes looking beyond her. Paulita had blushed,
covered her face with her fan, and glanced stealthily toward where
Isagani, silent and morose, was abstractedly watching the show.

Paulita felt nettled and jealous. Would Isagani fall in love with
any of those alluring actresses? The thought put her in a bad humor,
so she scarcely heard the praises that Doña Victorina was heaping
upon her own favorite.

Juanito was playing his part well: he shook his head at times in sign
of disapproval, and then there could be heard coughs and murmurs in
some parts, at other times he smiled in approbation, and a second later
applause resounded. Doña Victorina was charmed, even conceiving some
vague ideas of marrying the young man the day Don Tiburcio should
die–Juanito knew French and De Espadaña didn’t! Then she began to
flatter him, nor did he perceive the change in the drift of her talk,
so occupied was he in watching a Catalan merchant who was sitting
next to the Swiss consul. Having observed that they were conversing in
French, Juanito was getting his inspiration from their countenances,
and thus grandly giving the cue to those about him.

Scene followed scene, character succeeded character, comic and
ridiculous like the bailiff and Grenicheux, imposing and winsome like
the marquis and Germaine. The audience laughed heartily at the slap
delivered by Gaspard and intended for the coward Grenicheux, which was
received by the grave bailiff, whose wig went flying through the air,
producing disorder and confusion as the curtain dropped.

“Where’s the cancan?” inquired Tadeo.

But the curtain rose again immediately, revealing a scene in a servant
market, with three posts on which were affixed signs bearing the
announcements: _servantes_, _cochers_, and _domestiques_. Juanito, to
improve the opportunity, turned to Doña Victorina and said in a loud
voice, so that Paulita might hear and he convinced of his learning:

“_Servantes_ means servants, _domestiques_ domestics.”

“And in what way do the _servantes_ differ from the
_domestiques_?” asked Paulita.

Juanito was not found wanting. “_Domestiques_ are those that are
domesticated–haven’t you noticed that some of them have the air of
savages? Those are the _servantes_.”

“That’s right,” added Doña Victorina, “some have very bad manners–and
yet I thought that in Europe everybody was cultivated. But as it
happens in France,–well, I see!”

“Ssh! Ssh!”

But what was Juanito’s predicament when the time came for the opening
of the market and the beginning of the sale, and the servants who were
to be hired placed themselves beside the signs that indicated their
class! The men, some ten or twelve rough characters in livery, carrying
branches in their hands, took their place under the sign _domestiques_!

“Those are the domestics,” explained Juanito.

“Really, they have the appearance of being only recently domesticated,”
observed Doña Victorina. “Now let’s have a look at the savages.”

Then the dozen girls headed by the lively and merry Serpolette, decked
out in their best clothes, each wearing a big bouquet of flowers at
the waist, laughing, smiling, fresh and attractive, placed themselves,
to Juanito’s great desperation, beside the post of the _servantes_.

“How’s this?” asked Paulita guilelessly. “Are those the savages that
you spoke of?”

“No,” replied the imperturbable Juanito, “there’s a mistake–they’ve
got their places mixed–those coming behind–”

“Those with the whips?”

Juanito nodded assent, but he was rather perplexed and uneasy.

“So those girls are the _cochers_?”

Here Juanito was attacked by such a violent fit of coughing that some
of the spectators became annoyed.

“Put him out! Put the consumptive out!” called a voice.

Consumptive! To be called a consumptive before Paulita! Juanito
wanted to find the blackguard and make him swallow that
“consumptive.” Observing that the women were trying to hold him back,
his bravado increased, and he became more conspicuously ferocious. But
fortunately it was Don Custodio who had made the diagnosis, and he,
fearful of attracting attention to himself, pretended to hear nothing,
apparently busy with his criticism of the play.

“If it weren’t that I am with you,” remarked Juanito, rolling his
eyes like some dolls that are moved by clockwork, and to make the
resemblance more real he stuck out his tongue occasionally.

Thus that night he acquired in Doña Victorina’s eyes the reputation
of being brave and punctilious, so she decided in her heart that
she would marry him just as soon as Don Tiburcio was out of the
way. Paulita became sadder and sadder in thinking about how the girls
called _cochers_ could occupy Isagani’s attention, for the name had
certain disagreeable associations that came from the slang of her
convent school-days.

At length the first act was concluded, the marquis taking away as
servants Serpolette and Germaine, the representative of timid beauty
in the troupe, and for coachman the stupid Grenicheux. A burst of
applause brought them out again holding hands, those who five seconds
before had been tormenting one another and were about to come to blows,
bowing and smiling here and there to the gallant Manila public and
exchanging knowing looks with various spectators.

While there prevailed the passing tumult occasioned by those who
crowded one another to get into the greenroom and felicitate the
actresses and by those who were going to make calls on the ladies in
the boxes, some expressed their opinions of the play and the players.

“Undoubtedly, Serpolette is the best,” said one with a knowing air.

“I prefer Germaine, she’s an ideal blonde.”

“But she hasn’t any voice.”

“What do I care about the voice?”

“Well, for shape, the tall one.”

“Pshaw,” said Ben-Zayb, “not a one is worth a straw, not a one is
an artist!”

Ben-Zayb was the critic for _El Grito de la Integridad_, and his
disdainful air gave him great importance in the eyes of those who
were satisfied with so little.

“Serpolette hasn’t any voice, nor Germaine grace, nor is that
music, nor is it art, nor is it anything!” he concluded with marked
contempt. To set oneself up as a great critic there is nothing like
appearing to be discontented with everything. Besides, the management
had sent only two seats for the newspaper staff.

In the boxes curiosity was aroused as to who could be the possessor
of the empty one, for that person, would surpass every one in chic,
since he would be the last to arrive. The rumor started somewhere
that it belonged to Simoun, and was confirmed: no one had seen the
jeweler in the reserved seats, the greenroom, or anywhere else.

“Yet I saw him this afternoon with Mr. Jouay,” some one said. “He
presented a necklace to one of the actresses.”

“To which one?” asked some of the inquisitive ladies.

“To the finest of all, the one who made eyes at his Excellency.”

This information was received with looks of intelligence, winks,
exclamations of doubt, of confirmation, and half-uttered commentaries.

“He’s trying to play the Monte Cristo,” remarked a lady who prided
herself on being literary.

“Or purveyor to the Palace!” added her escort, jealous of Simoun.

In the students’ box, Pecson, Sandoval, and Isagani had remained,
while Tadeo had gone to engage Don Custodio in conversation about
his projects, and Makaraig to hold an interview with Pepay.

“In no way, as I have observed to you before, friend Isagani,”
declared Sandoval with violent gestures and a sonorous voice, so
that the ladies near the box, the daughters of the rich man who was
in debt to Tadeo, might hear him, “in no way does the French language
possess the rich sonorousness or the varied and elegant cadence of the
Castilian tongue. I cannot conceive, I cannot imagine, I cannot form
any idea of French orators, and I doubt that they have ever had any
or can have any now in the strict construction of the term orator,
because we must not confuse the name orator with the words babbler
and charlatan, for these can exist in any country, in all the regions
of the inhabited world, among the cold and curt Englishmen as among
the lively and impressionable Frenchmen.”

Thus he delivered a magnificent review of the nations, with his
poetical characterizations and most resounding epithets. Isagani nodded
assent, with his thoughts fixed on Paulita, whom he had surprised
gazing at him with an expressive look which contained a wealth of
meaning. He tried to divine what those eyes were expressing–those
eyes that were so eloquent and not at all deceptive.

“Now you who are a poet, a slave to rhyme and meter, a son of the
Muses,” continued Sandoval, with an elegant wave of his hand, as
though he were saluting, on the horizon, the Nine Sisters, “do you
comprehend, can you conceive, how a language so harsh and unmusical
as French can give birth to poets of such gigantic stature as our
Garcilasos, our Herreras, our Esproncedas, our Calderons?”

“Nevertheless,” objected Pecson, “Victor Hugo–”

“Victor Hugo, my friend Pecson, if Victor Hugo is a poet, it is
because he owes it to Spain, because it is an established fact, it
is a matter beyond all doubt, a thing admitted even by the Frenchmen
themselves, so envious of Spain, that if Victor Hugo has genius, if
he really is a poet, it is because his childhood was spent in Madrid;
there he drank in his first impressions, there his brain was molded,
there his imagination was colored, his heart modeled, and the most
beautiful concepts of his mind born. And after all, who is Victor
Hugo? Is he to be compared at all with our modern–”

This peroration was cut short by the return of Makaraig with a
despondent air and a bitter smile on his lips, carrying in his hand
a note, which he offered silently to Sandoval, who read:

“MY DOVE: Your letter has reached me late, for I have already
handed in my decision, and it has been approved. However,
as if I had guessed your wish, I have decided the matter
according to the desires of your protégés. I’ll be at the
theater and wait for you after the performance.

“Your duckling,

“CUSTODINING.”

“How tender the man is!” exclaimed Tadeo with emotion.

“Well?” said Sandoval. “I don’t see anything wrong about this–quite
the reverse!”

“Yes,” rejoined Makaraig with his bitter smile, “decided
favorably! I’ve just seen Padre Irene.”

“What does Padre Irene say?” inquired Pecson.

“The same as Don Custodio, and the rascal still had the audacity
to congratulate me. The Commission, which has taken as its own the
decision of the arbiter, approves the idea and felicitates the students
on their patriotism and their thirst for knowledge–”

“Well?”

“Only that, considering our duties–in short, it says that in order
that the idea may not be lost, it concludes that the direction
and execution of the plan should be placed in charge of one of
the religious corporations, in case the Dominicans do not wish to
incorporate the academy with the University.”

Exclamations of disappointment greeted the announcement. Isagani rose,
but said nothing.

“And in order that we may participate in the management of the
academy,” Makaraig went on, “we are intrusted with the collection
of contributions and dues, with the obligation of turning them over
to the treasurer whom the corporation may designate, which treasurer
will issue us receipts.”

“Then we’re tax-collectors!” remarked Tadeo.

“Sandoval,” said Pecson, “there’s the gauntlet–take it up!”

“Huh! That’s not a gauntlet–from its odor it seems more like a sock.”

“The funniest, part of it,” Makaraig added, “is that Padre Irene has
advised us to celebrate the event with a banquet or a torchlight
procession–a public demonstration of the students _en masse_ to
render thanks to all the persons who have intervened in the affair.”

“Yes, after the blow, let’s sing and give thanks. _Super flumina
Babylonis sedimus_!”

“Yes, a banquet like that of the convicts,” said Tadeo.

“A banquet at which we all wear mourning and deliver funeral orations,”
added Sandoval.

“A serenade with the Marseillaise and funeral marches,” proposed
Isagani.

“No, gentlemen,” observed Pecson with his clownish grin, “to celebrate
the event there’s nothing like a banquet in a _pansitería_, served
by the Chinamen without camisas. I insist, without camisas!”

The sarcasm and grotesqueness of this idea won it ready acceptance,
Sandoval being the first to applaud it, for he had long wished to see
the interior of one of those establishments which at night appeared
to be so merry and cheerful.

Just as the orchestra struck up for the second act, the young men
arose and left the theater, to the scandal of the whole house.

CHAPTER XXIII

A CORPSE

Simoun had not, in fact, gone to the theater. Already, at seven o’clock
in the evening, he had left his house looking worried and gloomy. His
servants saw him return twice, accompanied by different individuals,
and at eight o’clock Makaraig encountered him pacing along Calle
Hospital near the nunnery of St. Clara, just when the bells of its
church were ringing a funeral knell. At nine Camaroncocido saw him
again, in the neighborhood of the theater, speak with a person who
seemed to be a student, pay the latter’s admission to the show,
and again disappear among the shadows of the trees.

“What is it to me?” again muttered Camaroncocido. “What do I get out
of watching over the populace?”

Basilio, as Makaraig said, had not gone to the show. The poor student,
after returning from San Diego, whither he had gone to ransom Juli,
his future bride, from her servitude, had turned again to his studies,
spending his time in the hospital, in studying, or in nursing Capitan
Tiago, whose affliction he was trying to cure.

The invalid had become an intolerable character. During his bad spells,
when he felt depressed from lack of opium, the doses of which Basilio
was trying to reduce, he would scold, mistreat, and abuse the boy, who
bore it resignedly, conscious that he was doing good to one to whom
he owed so much, and yielded only in the last extremity. His vicious
appetite satisfied, Capitan Tiago would fall into a good humor, become
tender, and call him his son, tearfully recalling the youth’s services,
how well he administered the estates, and would even talk of making him
his heir. Basilio would smile bitterly and reflect that in this world
complaisance with vice is rewarded better than fulfilment of duty. Not
a few times did he feel tempted to give free rein to the craving and
conduct his benefactor to the grave by a path of flowers and smiling
illusions rather than lengthen his life along a road of sacrifice.

“What a fool I am!” he often said to himself. “People are stupid and
then pay for it.”

But he would shake his head as he thought of Juli, of the wide
future before him. He counted upon living without a stain on his
conscience, so he continued the treatment prescribed, and bore
everything patiently.

Yet with all his care the sick man, except for short periods of
improvement, grew worse. Basilio had planned gradually to reduce
the amount of the dose, or at least not to let him injure himself
by increasing it, but on returning from the hospital or some visit
he would find his patient in the heavy slumber produced by the opium,
driveling, pale as a corpse. The young man could not explain whence the
drug came: the only two persons who visited the house were Simoun and
Padre Irene, the former rarely, while the latter never ceased exhorting
him to be severe and inexorable with the treatment, to take no notice
of the invalid’s ravings, for the main object was to save him.

“Do your duty, young man,” was Padre Irene’s constant admonition. “Do
your duty.” Then he would deliver a sermon on this topic with such
great conviction and enthusiasm that Basilio would begin to feel
kindly toward the preacher. Besides, Padre Irene promised to get him a
fine assignment, a good province, and even hinted at the possibility
of having him appointed a professor. Without being carried away by
illusions, Basilio pretended to believe in them and went on obeying
the dictates of his own conscience.

That night, while _Les Cloches de Corneville_ was being presented,
Basilio was studying at an old table by the light of an oil-lamp, whose
thick glass globe partly illuminated his melancholy features. An old
skull, some human bones, and a few books carefully arranged covered
the table, whereon there was also a pan of water with a sponge. The
smell of opium that proceeded from the adjoining bedroom made the
air heavy and inclined him to sleep, but he overcame the desire by
bathing his temples and eyes from time to time, determined not to go
to sleep until he had finished the book, which he had borrowed and
must return as soon as possible. It was a volume of the _Medicina
Legal y Toxicología_ of Dr. Friata, the only book that the professor
would use, and Basilio lacked money to buy a copy, since, under
the pretext of its being forbidden by the censor in Manila and the
necessity for bribing many government employees to get it in, the
booksellers charged a high price for it.

So absorbed wras the youth in his studies that he had not given any
attention at all to some pamphlets that had been sent to him from
some unknown source, pamphlets that treated of the Philippines, among
which figured those that were attracting the greatest notice at the
time because of their harsh and insulting manner of referring to the
natives of the country. Basilio had no time to open them, and he was
perhaps restrained also by the thought that there is nothing pleasant
about receiving an insult or a provocation without having any means
of replying or defending oneself. The censorship, in fact, permitted
insults to the Filipinos but prohibited replies on their part.

In the midst of the silence that reigned in the house, broken only by
a feeble snore that issued now and then from the adjoining bedroom,
Basilio heard light footfalls on the stairs, footfalls that soon
crossed the hallway and approached the room where he was. Raising
his head, he saw the door open and to his great surprise appeared
the sinister figure of the jeweler Simoun, who since the scene in
San Diego had not come to visit either himself or Capitan Tiago.

“How is the sick man?” he inquired, throwing a rapid glance about the
room and fixing his attention on the pamphlets, the leaves of which
were still uncut.

“The beating of his heart is scarcely perceptible, his pulse is very
weak, his appetite entirely gone,” replied Basilio in a low voice
with a sad smile. “He sweats profusely in the early morning.”

Noticing that Simoun kept his face turned toward the pamphlets and
fearing that he might reopen the subject of their conversation in
the wood, he went on: “His system is saturated with poison. He may
die any day, as though struck by lightning. The least irritation,
any excitement may kill him.”

“Like the Philippines!” observed Simoun lugubriously.

Basilio was unable to refrain from a gesture of impatience, but he
was determined not to recur to the old subject, so he proceeded as if
he had heard nothing: “What weakens him the most is the nightmares,
his terrors–”

“Like the government!” again interrupted Simoun.

“Several nights ago he awoke in the dark and thought that he had
gone blind. He raised a disturbance, lamenting and scolding me,
saying that I had put his eyes out. When I entered his room with a
light he mistook me for Padre Irene and called me his saviour.”

“Like the government, exactly!”

“Last night,” continued Basilio, paying no attention, “he got up
begging for his favorite game-cock, the one that died three years
ago, and I had to give him a chicken. Then he heaped blessings upon
me and promised me many thousands–”

At that instant a clock struck half-past ten. Simoun shuddered and
stopped the youth with a gesture.

“Basilio,” he said in a low, tense voice, “listen to me carefully,
for the moments are precious. I see that you haven’t opened the
pamphlets that I sent you. You’re not interested in your country.”

The youth started to protest.

“It’s useless,” went on Simoun dryly. “Within an hour the revolution
is going to break out at a signal from me, and tomorrow there’ll
be no studies, there’ll be no University, there’ll be nothing but
fighting and butchery. I have everything ready and my success is
assured. When we triumph, all those who could have helped us and did
not do so will be treated as enemies. Basilio, I’ve come to offer
you death or a future!”

“Death or a future!” the boy echoed, as though he did not understand.

“With us or with the government,” rejoined Simoun. “With your country
or with your oppressors. Decide, for time presses! I’ve come to save
you because of the memories that unite us!”

“With my country or with the oppressors!” repeated Basilio in a low
tone. The youth was stupefied. He gazed at the jeweler with eyes
in which terror was reflected, he felt his limbs turn cold, while a
thousand confused ideas whirled about in his mind. He saw the streets
running blood, he heard the firing, he found himself among the dead and
wounded, and by the peculiar force of his inclinations fancied himself
in an operator’s blouse, cutting off legs and extracting bullets.

“The will of the government is in my hands,” said Simoun. “I’ve
diverted and wasted its feeble strength and resources on foolish
expeditions, dazzling it with the plunder it might seize. Its heads
are now in the theater, calm and unsuspecting, thinking of a night
of pleasure, but not one shall again repose upon a pillow. I have
men and regiments at my disposition: some I have led to believe that
the uprising is ordered by the General; others that the friars are
bringing it about; some I have bought with promises, with employments,
with money; many, very many, are acting from revenge, because they are
oppressed and see it as a matter of killing or being killed. Cabesang
Tales is below, he has come with me here! Again I ask you–will you
come with us or do you prefer to expose yourself to the resentment
of my followers? In critical moments, to declare oneself neutral is
to be exposed to the wrath of both the contending parties.”

Basilio rubbed his hand over his face several times, as if he were
trying to wake from a nightmare. He felt that his brow was cold.

“Decide!” repeated Simoun.

“And what–what would I have to do?” asked the youth in a weak and
broken voice.

“A very simple thing,” replied Simoun, his face lighting up with a
ray of hope. “As I have to direct the movement, I cannot get away from
the scene of action. I want you, while the attention of the whole city
is directed elsewhere, at the head of a company to force the doors of
the nunnery of St. Clara and take from there a person whom only you,
besides myself and Capitan Tiago, can recognize. You’ll run no risk
at all.”

“Maria Clara!” exclaimed Basilio.

“Yes, Maria Clara,” repeated Simoun, and for the first time his voice
became human and compassionate. “I want to save her; to save her I
have wished to live, I have returned. I am starting the revolution,
because only a revolution can open the doors of the nunneries.”

“Ay!” sighed Basilio, clasping his hands. “You’ve come late, too late!”

“Why?” inquired Simoun with a frown.

“Maria Clara is dead!”

Simoun arose with a bound and stood over the youth. “She’s dead?” he
demanded in a terrible voice.

“This afternoon, at six. By now she must be–”

“It’s a lie!” roared Simoun, pale and beside himself. “It’s
false! Maria Clara lives, Maria Clara must live! It’s a cowardly
excuse! She’s not dead, and this night I’ll free her or tomorrow
you die!”

Basilio shrugged his shoulders. “Several days ago she was taken ill
and I went to the nunnery for news of her. Look, here is Padre Salvi’s
letter, brought by Padre Irene. Capitan Tiago wept all the evening,
kissing his daughter’s picture and begging her forgiveness, until at
last he smoked an enormous quantity of opium. This evening her knell
was tolled.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Simoun, pressing his hands to his head and standing
motionless. He remembered to have actually heard the knell while he
was pacing about in the vicinity of the nunnery.

“Dead!” he murmured in a voice so low that it seemed to be a ghost
whispering. “Dead! Dead without my having seen her, dead without
knowing that I lived for her–dead!”

Feeling a terrible storm, a tempest of whirlwind and thunder without
a drop of water, sobs without tears, cries without words, rage in his
breast and threaten to burst out like burning lava long repressed,
he rushed precipitately from the room. Basilio heard him descend the
stairs with unsteady tread, stepping heavily, he heard a stifled cry,
a cry that seemed to presage death, so solemn, deep, and sad that
he arose from his chair pale and trembling, but he could hear the
footsteps die away and the noisy closing of the door to the street.

“Poor fellow!” he murmured, while his eyes filled with tears. Heedless
now of his studies, he let his gaze wander into space as he pondered
over the fate of those two beings: he–young, rich, educated, master
of his fortunes, with a brilliant future before him; she–fair as
a dream, pure, full of faith and innocence, nurtured amid love and
laughter, destined to a happy existence, to be adored in the family
and respected in the world; and yet of those two beings, filled with
love, with illusions and hopes, by a fatal destiny he wandered over
the world, dragged ceaselessly through a whirl of blood and tears,
sowing evil instead of doing good, undoing virtue and encouraging vice,
while she was dying in the mysterious shadows of the cloister where
she had sought peace and perhaps found suffering, where she entered
pure and stainless and expired like a crushed flower!

Sleep in peace, ill-starred daughter of my hapless fatherland! Bury
in the grave the enchantments of youth, faded in their prime! When a
people cannot offer its daughters a tranquil home under the protection
of sacred liberty, when a man can only leave to his widow blushes,
tears to his mother, and slavery to his children, you do well to
condemn yourself to perpetual chastity, stifling within you the germ
of a future generation accursed! Well for you that you have not
to shudder in your grave, hearing the cries of those who groan in
darkness, of those who feel that they have wings and yet are fettered,
of those who are stifled from lack of liberty! Go, go with your poet’s
dreams into the regions of the infinite, spirit of woman dim-shadowed
in the moonlight’s beam, whispered in the bending arches of the
bamboo-brakes! Happy she who dies lamented, she who leaves in the
heart that loves her a pure picture, a sacred remembrance, unspotted
by the base passions engendered by the years! Go, we shall remember
you! In the clear air of our native land, under its azure sky, above
the billows of the lake set amid sapphire hills and emerald shores,
in the crystal streams shaded by the bamboos, bordered by flowers,
enlivened by the beetles and butterflies with their uncertain and
wavering flight as though playing with the air, in the silence of
our forests, in the singing of our rivers, in the diamond showers of
our waterfalls, in the resplendent light of our moon, in the sighs of
the night breeze, in all that may call up the vision of the beloved,
we must eternally see you as we dreamed of you, fair, beautiful,
radiant with hope, pure as the light, yet still sad and melancholy
in the contemplation of our woes!

CHAPTER XXIV

DREAMS

Amor, qué astro eres?

On the following day, Thursday, at the hour of sunset, Isagani
was walking along the beautiful promenade of Maria Cristina in the
direction of the Malecon to keep an appointment which Paulita had that
morning given him. The young man had no doubt that they were to talk
about what had happened on the previous night, and as he was determined
to ask for an explanation, and knew how proud and haughty she was,
he foresaw an estrangement. In view of this eventuality he had brought
with him the only two letters he had ever received from Paulita, two
scraps of paper, whereon were merely a few hurriedly written lines
with various blots, but in an even handwriting, things that did not
prevent the enamored youth from preserving them with more solicitude
than if they had been the autographs of Sappho and the Muse Polyhymnia.

This decision to sacrifice his love on the altar of dignity, the
consciousness of suffering in the discharge of duty, did not prevent
a profound melancholy from taking possession of Isagani and brought
back into his mind the beautiful days, and nights more beautiful
still, when they had whispered sweet nothings through the flowered
gratings of the entresol, nothings that to the youth took on such a
character of seriousness and importance that they seemed to him the
only matters worthy of meriting the attention of the most exalted human
understanding. He recalled the walks on moonlit nights, the fair, the
dark December mornings after the mass of Nativity, the holy water that
he used to offer her, when she would thank him with a look charged
with a whole epic of love, both of them trembling as their fingers
touched. Heavy sighs, like small rockets, issued from his breast
and brought back to him all the verses, all the sayings of poets and
writers about the inconstancy of woman. Inwardly he cursed the creation
of theaters, the French operetta, and vowed to get revenge on Pelaez at
the first opportunity. Everything about him appeared under the saddest
and somberest colors: the bay, deserted and solitary, seemed more
solitary still on account of the few steamers that were anchored in
it; the sun was dying behind Mariveles without poetry or enchantment,
without the capricious and richly tinted clouds of happier evenings;
the Anda monument, in bad taste, mean and squat, without style, without
grandeur, looked like a lump of ice-cream or at best a chunk of cake;
the people who were promenading along the Malecon, in spite of their
complacent and contented air, appeared distant, haughty, and vain;
mischievous and bad-mannered, the boys that played on the beach,
skipping flat stones over the surface of the water or searching in
the sand for mollusks and crustaceans which they caught for the mere
fun of catching and killed without benefit to themselves; in short,
even the eternal port works to which he had dedicated more than three
odes, looked to him absurd, ridiculous child’s play.

The port, ah, the port of Manila, a bastard that since its conception
had brought tears of humiliation and shame to all! If only after so
many tears there were not being brought forth a useless abortion!

Abstractedly he saluted two Jesuits, former teachers of his, and
scarcely noticed a tandem in which an American rode and excited
the envy of the gallants who were in calesas only. Near the Anda
monument he heard Ben-Zayb talking with another person about
Simoun, learning that the latter had on the previous night been
taken suddenly ill, that he refused to see any one, even the very
aides of the General. “Yes!” exclaimed Isagani with a bitter smile,
“for him attentions because he is rich. The soldiers return from
their expeditions sick and wounded, but no one visits them.”

Musing over these expeditions, over the fate of the poor soldiers,
over the resistance offered by the islanders to the foreign yoke, he
thought that, death for death, if that of the soldiers was glorious
because they were obeying orders, that of the islanders was sublime
because they were defending their homes. [49]

“A strange destiny, that of some peoples!” he mused. “Because a
traveler arrives at their shores, they lose their liberty and become
subjects and slaves, not only of the traveler, not only of his heirs,
but even of all his countrymen, and not for a generation, but for
all time! A strange conception of justice! Such a state of affairs
gives ample right to exterminate every foreigner as the most ferocious
monster that the sea can cast up!”

He reflected that those islanders, against whom his country was waging
war, after all were guilty of no crime other than that of weakness. The
travelers also arrived at the shores of other peoples, but finding
them strong made no display of their strange pretension. With all
their weakness the spectacle they presented seemed beautiful to him,
and the names of the enemies, whom the newspapers did not fail to call
cowards and traitors, appeared glorious to him, as they succumbed with
glory amid the ruins of their crude fortifications, with greater glory
even than the ancient Trojan heroes, for those islanders had carried
away no Philippine Helen! In his poetic enthusiasm he thought of the
young men of those islands who could cover themselves with glory in
the eyes of their women, and in his amorous desperation he envied
them because they could find a brilliant suicide.

“Ah, I should like to die,” he exclaimed, “be reduced to nothingness,
leave to my native land a glorious name, perish in its cause, defending
it from foreign invasion, and then let the sun afterwards illumine
my corpse, like a motionless sentinel on the rocks of the sea!”

The conflict with the Germans [50] came into his mind and he almost
felt sorry that it had been adjusted: he would gladly have died for
the Spanish-Filipino banner before submitting to the foreigner.

“Because, after all,” he mused, “with Spain we are united by firm
bonds–the past, history, religion, language–”

Language, yes, language! A sarcastic smile curled his lips. That very
night they would hold a banquet in the _pansitería_ to _celebrate_
the demise of the academy of Castilian.

“Ay!” he sighed, “provided the liberals in Spain are like those we
have here, in a little while the mother country will be able to count
the number of the faithful!”

Slowly the night descended, and with it melancholy settled more heavily
upon the heart of the young man, who had almost lost hope of seeing
Paulita. The promenaders one by one left the Malecon for the Luneta,
the music from which was borne to him in snatches of melodies on the
fresh evening breeze; the sailors on a warship anchored in the river
performed their evening drill, skipping about among the slender ropes
like spiders; the boats one by one lighted their lamps, thus giving
signs of life; while the beach,

Do el viento riza las calladas olas
Que con blando murmullo en la ribera
Se deslizan veloces por sí solas. [51]

as Alaejos says, exhaled in the distance thin, vapors that the moon,
now at its full, gradually converted into mysterious transparent gauze.

A distant sound became audible, a noise that rapidly
approached. Isagani turned his head and his heart began to beat
violently. A carriage was coming, drawn by white horses, the white
horses that he would know among a hundred thousand. In the carriage
rode Paulita and her friend of the night before, with Doña Victorina.

Before the young man could take a step, Paulita had leaped to the
ground with sylph-like agility and smiled at him with a smile full of
conciliation. He smiled in return, and it seemed to him that all the
clouds, all the black thoughts that before had beset him, vanished
like smoke, the sky lighted up, the breeze sang, flowers covered the
grass by the roadside. But unfortunately Doña Victorina was there and
she pounced upon the young man to ask him for news of Don Tiburcio,
since Isagani had undertaken to discover his hiding-place by inquiry
among the students he knew.

“No one has been able to tell me up to now,” he answered, and he was
telling the truth, for Don Tiburcio was really hidden in the house
of the youth’s own uncle, Padre Florentino.

“Let him know,” declared Doña Victorina furiously, “that I’ll call in
the Civil Guard. Alive or dead, I want to know where he is–because
one has to wait ten years before marrying again.”

Isagani gazed at her in fright–Doña Victorina was thinking of
remarrying! Who could the unfortunate be?

“What do you think of Juanito Pelaez?” she asked him suddenly.

Juanito! Isagani knew not what to reply. He was tempted to tell all
the evil he knew of Pelaez, but a feeling of delicacy triumphed in his
heart and he spoke well of his rival, for the very reason that he was
such. Doña Victorina, entirely satisfied and becoming enthusiastic,
then broke out into exaggerations of Pelaez’s merits and was already
going to make Isagani a confidant of her new passion when Paulita’s
friend came running to say that the former’s fan had fallen among
the stones of the beach, near the Malecon. Stratagem or accident, the
fact is that this mischance gave an excuse for the friend to remain
with the old woman, while Isagani might talk with Paulita. Moreover,
it was a matter of rejoicing to Doña Victorina, since to get Juanito
for herself she was favoring Isagani’s love.

Paulita had her plan ready. On thanking him she assumed the role of
the offended party, showed resentment, and gave him to understand that
she was surprised to meet him there when everybody was on the Luneta,
even the French actresses.

“You made the appointment for me, how could I be elsewhere?”

“Yet last night you did not even notice that I was in the theater. I
was watching you all the time and you never took your eyes off those
_cochers_.”

So they exchanged parts: Isagani, who had come to demand explanations,
found himself compelled to give them and considered himself very happy
when Paulita said that she forgave him. In regard to her presence
at the theater, he even had to thank her for that: forced by her
aunt, she had decided to go in the hope of seeing him during the
performance. Little she cared for Juanito Pelaez!

“My aunt’s the one who is in love with him,” she said with a merry
laugh.

Then they both laughed, for the marriage of Pelaez with Doña Victorina
made them really happy, and they saw it already an accomplished
fact, until Isagani remembered that Don Tiburcio was still living and
confided the secret to his sweetheart, after exacting her promise that
she would tell no one. Paulita promised, with the mental reservation
of relating it to her friend.

This led the conversation to Isagani’s town, surrounded by forests,
situated on the shore of the sea which roared at the base of the
high cliffs. Isagani’s gaze lighted up when he spoke of that obscure
spot, a flush of pride overspread his cheeks, his voice trembled,
his poetic imagination glowed, his words poured forth burning,
charged with enthusiasm, as if he were talking of love to his love,
and he could not but exclaim:

“Oh, in the solitude of my mountains I feel free, free as the air,
as the light that shoots unbridled through space! A thousand cities, a
thousand palaces, would I give for that spot in the Philippines, where,
far from men, I could feel myself to have genuine liberty. There,
face to face with nature, in the presence of the mysterious and the
infinite, the forest and the sea, I think, speak, and work like a
man who knows not tyrants.”

In the presence of such enthusiasm for his native place, an enthusiasm
that she did not comprehend, for she was accustomed to hear her country
spoken ill of, and sometimes joined in the chorus herself, Paulita
manifested some jealousy, as usual making herself the offended party.

But Isagani very quickly pacified her. “Yes,” he said, “I loved it
above all things before I knew you! It was my delight to wander through
the thickets, to sleep in the shade of the trees, to seat myself upon
a cliff to take in with my gaze the Pacific which rolled its blue
waves before me, bringing to me echoes of songs learned on the shores
of free America. Before knowing you, that sea was for me my world,
my delight, my love, my dream! When it slept in calm with the sun
shining overhead, it was my delight to gaze into the abyss hundreds
of feet below me, seeking monsters in the forests of madrepores and
coral that were revealed through the limpid blue, enormous serpents
that the country folk say leave the forests to dwell in the sea, and
there take on frightful forms. Evening, they say, is the time when
the sirens appear, and I saw them between the waves–so great was
my eagerness that once I thought I could discern them amid the foam,
busy in their divine sports, I distinctly heard their songs, songs of
liberty, and I made out the sounds of their silvery harps. Formerly
I spent hours and hours watching the transformations in the clouds,
or gazing at a solitary tree in the plain or a high rock, without
knowing why, without being able to explain the vague feelings they
awoke in me. My uncle used to preach long sermons to me, and fearing
that I would become a hypochondriac, talked of placing me under
a doctor’s care. But I met you, I loved you, and during the last
vacation it seemed that something was lacking there, the forest was
gloomy, sad the river that glides through the shadows, dreary the sea,
deserted the sky. Ah, if you should go there once, if your feet should
press those paths, if you should stir the waters of the rivulet with
your fingers, if you should gaze upon the sea, sit upon the cliff,
or make the air ring with your melodious songs, my forest would be
transformed into an Eden, the ripples of the brook would sing, light
would burst from the dark leaves, into diamonds would be converted
the dewdrops and into pearls the foam of the sea.”

But Paulita had heard that to reach Isagani’s home it was necessary
to cross mountains where little leeches abounded, and at the mere
thought of them the little coward shivered convulsively. Humored and
petted, she declared that she would travel only in a carriage or a
railway train.

Having now forgotten all his pessimism and seeing only thornless
roses about him, Isagani answered, “Within a short time all the
islands are going to be crossed with networks of iron rails.

“‘Por donde rápidas
Y voladoras
Locomotoras
Corriendo irán,’ [52]

as some one said. Then the most beautiful spots of the islands will
be accessible to all.”

“Then, but when? When I’m an old woman?”

“Ah, you don’t know what we can do in a few years,” replied the
youth. “You don’t realize the energy and enthusiasm that are awakening
in the country after the sleep of centuries. Spain heeds us; our young
men in Madrid are working day and night, dedicating to the fatherland
all their intelligence, all their time, all their strength. Generous
voices there are mingled with ours, statesmen who realize that there
is no better bond than community of thought and interest. Justice will
be meted out to us, and everything points to a brilliant future for
all. It’s true that we’ve just met with a slight rebuff, we students,
but victory is rolling along the whole line, it is in the consciousness
of all! The traitorous repulse that we have suffered indicates the
last gasp, the final convulsions of the dying. Tomorrow we shall be
citizens of the Philippines, whose destiny will be a glorious one,
because it will be in loving hands. Ah, yes, the future is ours! I
see it rose-tinted, I see the movement that stirs the life of these
regions so long dead, lethargic. I see towns arise along the railroads,
and factories everywhere, edifices like that of Mandaloyan! I hear
the steam hiss, the trains roar, the engines rattle! I see the smoke
rise–their heavy breathing; I smell the oil–the sweat of monsters
busy at incessant toil. This port, so slow and laborious of creation,
this river where commerce is in its death agony, we shall see covered
with masts, giving us an idea of the forests of Europe in winter. This
pure air, and these stones, now so clean, will be crowded with coal,
with boxes and barrels, the products of human industry, but let it
not matter, for we shall move about rapidly in comfortable coaches to
seek in the interior other air, other scenes on other shores, cooler
temperatures on the slopes of the mountains. The warships of our navy
will guard our coasts, the Spaniard and the Filipino will rival each
other in zeal to repel all foreign invasion, to defend our homes, and
let you bask in peace and smiles, loved and respected. Free from the
system of exploitation, without hatred or distrust, the people will
labor because then labor will cease to be a despicable thing, it will
no longer be servile, imposed upon a slave. Then the Spaniard will
not embitter his character with ridiculous pretensions of despotism,
but with a frank look and a stout heart we shall extend our hands
to one another, and commerce, industry, agriculture, the sciences,
will develop under the mantle of liberty, with wise and just laws,
as in prosperous England.” [53]

Paulita smiled dubiously and shook her head. “Dreams, dreams!” she
sighed. “I’ve heard it said that you have many enemies. Aunt says
that this country must always be enslaved.”

“Because your aunt is a fool, because she can’t live without
slaves! When she hasn’t them she dreams of them in the future, and if
they are not obtainable she forces them into her imagination. True
it is that we have enemies, that there will be a struggle, but we
shall conquer. The old system may convert the ruins of its castle
into formless barricades, but we will take them singing hymns of
liberty, in the light of the eyes of you women, to the applause
of your lovely hands. But do not be uneasy–the struggle will be a
pacific one. Enough that you spur us to zeal, that you awake in us
noble and elevated thoughts and encourage us to constancy, to heroism,
with your affection for our reward.”

Paulita preserved her enigmatic smile and seemed thoughtful, as she
gazed toward the river, patting her cheek lightly with her fan. “But
if you accomplish nothing?” she asked abstractedly.

The question hurt Isagani. He fixed his eyes on his sweetheart,
caught her lightly by the hand, and began: “Listen, if we accomplish
nothing–”

He paused in doubt, then resumed: “You know how I love you, how I
adore you, you know that I feel myself a different creature when
your gaze enfolds me, when I surprise in it the flash of love,
but yet if we accomplish nothing, I would dream of another look of
yours and would die happy, because the light of pride could burn
in your eyes when you pointed to my corpse and said to the world:
‘My love died fighting for the rights of my fatherland!’ ”

“Come home, child, you’re going to catch cold,” screeched Doña
Victorina at that instant, and the voice brought them back to
reality. It was time to return, and they kindly invited him to
enter the carriage, an invitation which the young man did not give
them cause to repeat. As it was Paulita’s carriage, naturally Doña
Victorina and the friend occupied the back seat, while the two lovers
sat on the smaller one in front.

To ride in the same carriage, to have her at his side, to breathe
her perfume, to rub against the silk of her dress, to see her pensive
with folded arms, lighted by the moon of the Philippines that lends to
the meanest things idealism and enchantment, were all dreams beyond
Isagani’s hopes! What wretches they who were returning alone on foot
and had to give way to the swift carriage! In the whole course of the
drive, along the beach and down the length of La Sabana, across the
Bridge of Spain, Isagani saw nothing but a sweet profile, gracefully
set off by beautiful hair, ending in an arching neck that lost itself
amid the gauzy piña. A diamond winked at him from the lobe of the
little ear, like a star among silvery clouds. He heard faint echoes
inquiring for Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, the name of Juanito Pelaez,
but they sounded to him like distant bells, the confused noises heard
in a dream. It was necessary to tell him that they had reached Plaza
Santa Cruz.

CHAPTER XXV

SMILES AND TEARS

The sala of the _Pansiteria Macanista de Buen Gusto_ [54] that
night presented an extraordinary aspect. Fourteen young men of the
principal islands of the archipelago, from the pure Indian (if there
be pure ones) to the Peninsular Spaniard, were met to hold the banquet
advised by Padre Irene in view of the happy solution of the affair
about instruction in Castilian. They had engaged all the tables for
themselves, ordered the lights to be increased, and had posted on the
wall beside the landscapes and Chinese kakemonos this strange versicle:

“GLORY TO CUSTODIO FOR HIS CLEVERNESS AND PANSIT ON EABTH TO THE
YOUTHS OF GOOD WILL.”

In a country where everything grotesque is covered with a mantle
of seriousness, where many rise by the force of wind and hot air,
in a country where the deeply serious and sincere may do damage on
issuing from the heart and may cause trouble, probably this was the
best way to celebrate the ingenious inspiration of the illustrious
Don Custodio. The mocked replied to the mockery with a laugh, to the
governmental joke with a plate of _pansit_, and yet–!

They laughed and jested, but it could be seen that the merriment
was forced. The laughter had a certain nervous ring, eyes flashed,
and in more than one of these a tear glistened. Nevertheless, these
young men were cruel, they were unreasonable! It was not the first
time that their most beautiful ideas had been so treated, that their
hopes had been defrauded with big words and small actions: before
this Don Custodio there had been many, very many others.

In the center of the room under the red lanterns were placed four
round tables, systematically arranged to form a square. Little wooden
stools, equally round, served as seats. In the middle of each table,
according to the practise of the establishment, were arranged four
small colored plates with four pies on each one and four cups of tea,
with the accompanying dishes, all of red porcelain. Before each seat
was a bottle and two glittering wine-glasses.

Sandoval was curious and gazed about scrutinizing everything, tasting
the food, examining the pictures, reading the bill of fare. The
others conversed on the topics of the day: about the French actresses,
about the mysterious illness of Simoun, who, according to some, had
been found wounded in the street, while others averred that he had
attempted to commit suicide. As was natural, all lost themselves in
conjectures. Tadeo gave his particular version, which according to him
came from a reliable source: Simoun had been assaulted by some unknown
person in the old Plaza Vivac, [55] the motive being revenge, in proof
of which was the fact that Simoun himself refused to make the least
explanation. From this they proceeded to talk of mysterious revenges,
and naturally of monkish pranks, each one relating the exploits of
the curate of his town.

A notice in large black letters crowned the frieze of the room with
this warning:

De esta fonda el cabecilla
Al publico advierte
Que nada dejen absolutamente
Sobre alguna mesa ó silla. [56]

“What a notice!” exclaimed Sandoval. “As if he might have confidence
in the police, eh? And what verses! Don Tiburcio converted into a
quatrain–two feet, one longer than the other, between two crutches! If
Isagani sees them, he’ll present them to his future aunt.”

“Here’s Isagani!” called a voice from the stairway. The happy youth
appeared radiant with joy, followed by two Chinese, without camisas,
who carried on enormous waiters tureens that gave out an appetizing
odor. Merry exclamations greeted them.

Juanito Pelaez was missing, but the hour fixed had already passed, so
they sat down happily to the tables. Juanito was always unconventional.

“If in his place we had invited Basilio,” said Tadeo, “we should have
been better entertained. We might have got him drunk and drawn some
secrets from him.”

“What, does the prudent Basilio possess secrets?”

“I should say so!” replied Tadeo. “Of the most important kind. There
are some enigmas to which he alone has the key: the boy who
disappeared, the nun–”

“Gentlemen, the _pansit lang-lang_ is the soup _par excellence_!” cried
Makaraig. “As you will observe, Sandoval, it is composed of vermicelli,
crabs or shrimps, egg paste, scraps of chicken, and I don’t know
what else. As first-fruits, let us offer the bones to Don Custodio,
to see if he will project something with them.”

A burst of merry laughter greeted this sally.

“If he should learn–”

“He’d come a-running!” concluded Sandoval. “This is excellent
soup–what is it called?”

“_Pansit lang-lang_, that is, Chinese _pansit_, to distinguish it
from that which is peculiar to this country.”

“Bah! That’s a hard name to remember. In honor of Don Custodio,
I christen it the _soup project_!”

“Gentlemen,” said Makaraig, who had prepared the menu, “there are
three courses yet. Chinese stew made of pork–”

“Which should be dedicated to Padre Irene.”

“Get out! Padre Irene doesn’t eat pork, unless he turns his nose away,”
whispered a young man from Iloilo to his neighbor.

“Let him turn his nose away!”

“Down with Padre Irene’s nose,” cried several at once.

“Respect, gentlemen, more respect!” demanded Pecson with comic gravity.

“The third course is a lobster pie–”

“Which should be dedicated to the friars,” suggested he of the Visayas.

“For the lobsters’ sake,” added Sandoval.

“Right, and call it friar pie!”

The whole crowd took this up, repeating in concert, “Friar pie!”

“I protest in the name of one of them,” said Isagani.

“And I, in the name of the lobsters,” added Tadeo.

“Respect, gentlemen, more respect!” again demanded Pecson with a
full mouth.

“The fourth is stewed _pansit_, which is dedicated–to the government
and the country!”

All turned toward Makaraig, who went on: “Until recently, gentlemen,
the _pansit_ was believed to be Chinese or Japanese, but the
fact is that, being unknown in China or Japan, it would seem to be
Filipino, yet those who prepare it and get the benefit from it are the
Chinese–the same, the very, very same that happens to the government
and to the Philippines: they seem to be Chinese, but whether they
are or not, the Holy Mother has her doctors–all eat and enjoy it,
yet characterize it as disagreeable and loathsome, the same as with
the country, the same as with the government. All live at its cost,
all share in its feast, and afterwards there is no worse country than
the Philippines, there is no government more imperfect. Let us then
dedicate the _pansit_ to the country and to the government.”

“Agreed!” many exclaimed.

“I protest!” cried Isagani.

“Respect for the weaker, respect for the victims,” called Pecson in
a hollow voice, waving a chicken-bone in the air.

“Let’s dedicate the _pansit_ to Quiroga the Chinaman, one of the four
powers of the Filipino world,” proposed Isagani.

“No, to his Black Eminence.”

“Silence!” cautioned one mysteriously. “There are people in the plaza
watching us, and walls have ears.”

True it was that curious groups were standing by the windows, while
the talk and laughter in the adjoining houses had ceased altogether, as
if the people there were giving their attention to what was occurring
at the banquet. There was something extraordinary about the silence.

“Tadeo, deliver your speech,” Makaraig whispered to him.

It had been agreed that Sandoval, who possessed the most oratorical
ability, should deliver the last toast as a summing up.

Tadeo, lazy as ever, had prepared nothing, so he found himself in a
quandary. While disposing of a long string of vermicelli, he meditated
how to get out of the difficulty, until he recalled a speech learned
in school and decided to plagiarize it, with adulterations.

“Beloved brethren in project!” he began, gesticulating with two
Chinese chop-sticks.

“Brute! Keep that chop-stick out of my hair!” cried his neighbor.

“Called by you to fill the void that has been left in–”

“Plagiarism!” Sandoval interrupted him. “That speech was delivered
by the president of our lyceum.”

“Called by your election,” continued the imperturbable Tadeo, “to fill
the void that has been left in my mind”–pointing to his stomach–“by
a man famous for his Christian principles and for his inspirations
and projects, worthy of some little remembrance, what can one like
myself say of him, I who am very hungry, not having breakfasted?”

“Have a neck, my friend!” called a neighbor, offering that portion
of a chicken.

“There is one course, gentlemen, the treasure of a people who are
today a tale and a mockery in the world, wherein have thrust their
hands the greatest gluttons of the western regions of the earth–”
Here he pointed with his chopsticks to Sandoval, who was struggling
with a refractory chicken-wing.

“And eastern!” retorted the latter, describing a circle in the air
with his spoon, in order to include all the banqueters.

“No interruptions!”

“I demand the floor!”

“I demand pickles!” added Isagani.

“Bring on the stew!”

All echoed this request, so Tadeo sat down, contented with having
got out of his quandary.

The dish consecrated to Padre Irene did not appear to be extra good,
as Sandoval cruelly demonstrated thus: “Shining with grease outside
and with pork inside! Bring on the third course, the friar pie!”

The pie was not yet ready, although the sizzling of the grease in the
frying-pan could be heard. They took advantage of the delay to drink,
begging Pecson to talk.

Pecson crossed himself gravely and arose, restraining his clownish
laugh with an effort, at the same time mimicking a certain Augustinian
preacher, then famous, and beginning in a murmur, as though he were
reading a text.

“_Si tripa plena laudal Deum, tripa famelica laudabit fratres_–if
the full stomach praises God, the hungry stomach will praise the
friars. Words spoken by the Lord Custodio through the mouth of
Ben-Zayb, in the journal _El Grito de la Integridad_, the second
article, absurdity the one hundred and fifty-seventh.

“Beloved brethren in Christ: Evil blows its foul breath over
the verdant shores of Frailandia, commonly called the Philippine
Archipelago. No day passes but the attack is renewed, but there
is heard some sarcasm against the reverend, venerable, infallible
corporations, defenseless and unsupported. Allow me, brethren, on
this occasion to constitute myself a knight-errant to sally forth in
defense of the unprotected, of the holy corporations that have reared
us, thus again confirming the saving idea of the adage–a full stomach
praises God, which is to say, a hungry stomach will praise the friars.”

“Bravo, bravo!”

“Listen,” said Isagani seriously, “I want you to understand that,
speaking of friars, I respect one.”

Sandoval was getting merry, so he began to sing a shady couplet about
the friars.

“Hear me, brethren!” continued Pecson. “Turn your gaze toward the
happy days of your infancy, endeavor to analyze the present and ask
yourselves about the future. What do you find? Friars, friars, and
friars! A friar baptized you, confirmed you, visited you in school
with loving zeal; a friar heard your first secret; he was the first to
bring you into communion with God, to set your feet upon the pathway
of life; friars were your first and friars will be your last teachers;
a friar it is who opens the hearts of your sweethearts, disposing
them to heed your sighs; a friar marries you, makes you travel over
different islands to afford you changes of climate and diversion; he
will attend your death-bed, and even though you mount the scaffold,
there will the friar be to accompany you with his prayers and tears,
and you may rest assured that he will not desert you until he sees you
thoroughly dead. Nor does his charity end there–dead, he will then
endeavor to bury you with all pomp, he will fight that your corpse
pass through the church to receive his supplications, and he will only
rest satisfied when he can deliver you into the hands of the Creator,
purified here on earth, thanks to temporal punishments, tortures, and
humiliations. Learned in the doctrines of Christ, who closes heaven
against the rich, they, our redeemers and genuine ministers of the
Saviour, seek every means to lift away our sins and bear them far,
far off, there where the accursed Chinese and Protestants dwell,
to leave us this air, limpid, pure, healthful, in such a way that
even should we so wish afterwards, we could not find a real to bring
about our condemnation.

“If, then, their existence is necessary to our happiness,
if wheresoever we turn we must encounter their delicate hands,
hungering for kisses, that every day smooth the marks of abuse from
our countenances, why not adore them and fatten them–why demand their
impolitic expulsion? Consider for a moment the immense void that
their absence would leave in our social system. Tireless workers,
they improve and propagate the races! Divided as we are, thanks
to our jealousies and our susceptibilities, the friars unite us in
a common lot, in a firm bond, so firm that many are unable to move
their elbows. Take away the friar, gentlemen, and you will see how the
Philippine edifice will totter; lacking robust shoulders and hairy
limbs to sustain it, Philippine life will again become monotonous,
without the merry note of the playful and gracious friar, without
the booklets and sermons that split our sides with laughter, without
the amusing contrast between grand pretensions and small brains,
without the actual, daily representations of the tales of Boccaccio
and La Fontaine! Without the girdles and scapularies, what would you
have our women do in the future–save that money and perhaps become
miserly and covetous? Without the masses, novenaries, and processions,
where will you find games of _panguingui_ to entertain them in their
hours of leisure? They would then have to devote themselves to their
household duties and instead of reading diverting stories of miracles,
we should then have to get them works that are not extant.

“Take away the friar and heroism will disappear, the political virtues
will fall under the control of the vulgar. Take him away and the Indian
will cease to exist, for the friar is the Father, the Indian is the
Word! The former is the sculptor, the latter the statue, because all
that we are, think, or do, we owe to the friar–to his patience,
his toil, his perseverance of three centuries to modify the form
Nature gave us. The Philippines without the friar and without the
Indian–what then would become of the unfortunate government in the
hands of the Chinamen?”

“It will eat lobster pie,” suggested Isagani, whom Pecson’s speech
bored.

“And that’s what we ought to be doing. Enough of speeches!”

As the Chinese who should have served the courses did not put in his
appearance, one of the students arose and went to the rear, toward
the balcony that overlooked the river. But he returned at once,
making mysterious signs.

“We’re watched! I’ve seen Padre Sibyla’s pet!”

“Yes?” ejaculated Isagani, rising.

“It’s no use now. When he saw me he disappeared.”

Approaching the window he looked toward the plaza, then made signs to
his companions to come nearer. They saw a young man leave the door of
the _pansitería_, gaze all about him, then with some unknown person
enter a carriage that waited at the curb. It was Simoun’s carriage.

“Ah!” exclaimed Makaraig. “The slave of the Vice-Rector attended by
the Master of the General!”

CHAPTER XXVI

PASQUINADES

Very early the next morning Basilio arose to go to the hospital. He
had his plans made: to visit his patients, to go afterwards to the
University to see about his licentiateship, and then have an interview
with Makaraig about the expense this would entail, for he had used up
the greater part of his savings in ransoming Juli and in securing a
house where she and her grandfather might live, and he had not dared
to apply to Capitan Tiago, fearing that such a move would be construed
as an advance on the legacy so often promised him.

Preoccupied with these thoughts, he paid no attention to the groups
of students who were at such an early hour returning from the Walled
City, as though the classrooms had been closed, nor did he even note
the abstracted air of some of them, their whispered conversations,
or the mysterious signals exchanged among them. So it was that when
he reached San Juan de Dios and his friends asked him about the
conspiracy, he gave a start, remembering what Simoun had planned,
but which had miscarried, owing to the unexplained accident to the
jeweler. Terrified, he asked in a trembling voice, at the same time
endeavoring to feign ignorance, “Ah, yes, what conspiracy?”

“It’s been discovered,” replied one, “and it seems that many are
implicated in it.”

With an effort Basilio controlled himself. “Many implicated?” he
echoed, trying to learn something from the looks of the others. “Who?”

“Students, a lot of students.”

Basilio did not think it prudent to ask more, fearing that he would
give himself away, so on the pretext of visiting his patients he left
the group. One of the clinical professors met him and placing his hand
mysteriously on the youth’s shoulder–the professor was a friend of
his–asked him in a low voice, “Were you at that supper last night?”

In his excited frame of mind Basilio thought the professor had
said _night before last_, which was the time of his interview with
Simoun. He tried to explain. “I assure you,” he stammered, “that as
Capitan Tiago was worse–and besides I had to finish that book–”

“You did well not to attend it,” said the professor. “But you’re a
member of the students’ association?”

“I pay my dues.”

“Well then, a piece of advice: go home at once and destroy any papers
you have that may compromise you.”

Basilio shrugged his shoulders–he had no papers, nothing more than
his clinical notes.

“Has Señor Simoun–”

“Simoun has nothing to do with the affair, thank God!” interrupted
the physician. “He was opportunely wounded by some unknown hand and
is now confined to his bed. No, other hands are concerned in this,
but hands no less terrible.”

Basilio drew a breath of relief. Simoun was the only one who could
compromise him, although he thought of Cabesang Tales.

“Are there tulisanes–”

“No, man, nothing more than students.”

Basilio recovered his serenity. “What has happened then?” he made
bold to ask.

“Seditious pasquinades have been found; didn’t you know about them?”

“Where?”

“In the University.”

“Nothing more than that?”

“Whew! What more do you want?” asked the professor, almost in
a rage. “The pasquinades are attributed to the students of the
association–but, keep quiet!”

The professor of pathology came along, a man who had more the look
of a sacristan than of a physician. Appointed by the powerful mandate
of the Vice-Rector, without other merit than unconditional servility
to the corporation, he passed for a spy and an informer in the eyes
of the rest of the faculty.

The first professor returned his greeting coldly, and winked to
Basilio, as he said to him, “Now I know that Capitan Tiago smells like
a corpse–the crows and vultures have been gathering around him.” So
saying, he went inside.

Somewhat calmed, Basilio now ventured to inquire for more details,
but all that he could learn was that pasquinades had been found on
the doors of the University, and that the Vice-Rector had ordered
them to be taken down and sent to the Civil Government. It was said
that they were filled with threats of assassination, invasion, and
other braggadocio.

The students made their comments on the affair. Their information
came from the janitor, who had it from a servant in Santo Tomas,
who had it from an usher. They prognosticated future suspensions and
imprisonments, even indicating who were to be the victims–naturally
the members of the association.

Basilio then recalled Simoun’s words: “The day in which they can get
rid of you, you will not complete your course.”

“Could he have known anything?” he asked himself. “We’ll see who is
the most powerful.”

Recovering his serenity, he went on toward the University, to learn
what attitude it behooved him to take and at the same time to see
about his licentiateship. He passed along Calle Legazpi, then down
through Beaterio, and upon arriving at the corner of this street
and Calle Solana saw that something important must indeed have
happened. Instead of the former lively, chattering groups on the
sidewalks were to be seen civil-guards making the students move on,
and these latter issuing from the University silent, some gloomy,
some agitated, to stand off at a distance or make their way home.

The first acquaintance he met was Sandoval, but Basilio called to him
in vain. He seemed to have been smitten deaf. “Effect of fear on the
gastro-intestinal juices,” thought Basilio.

Later he met Tadeo, who wore a Christmas face–at last that eternal
holiday seemed to be realized.

“What has happened, Tadeo?”

“We’ll have no school, at least for a week, old
man! Sublime! Magnificent!” He rubbed his hands in glee.

“But what has happened?”

“They’re going to arrest all of us in the association.”

“And are you glad of that?”

“There’ll be no school, there’ll be no school!” He moved away almost
bursting with joy.

Basilio saw Juanito Pelaez approaching, pale and suspicious. This
time his hump had reached its maximum, so great was his haste to get
away. He had been one of the most active promoters of the association
while things were running smoothly.

“Eh, Pelaez, what’s happened?”

“Nothing, I know nothing. I didn’t have anything to do with it,”
he responded nervously. “I was always telling you that these things
were quixotisms. It’s the truth, you know I’ve said so to you?”

Basilio did not remember whether he had said so or not, but to humor
him replied, “Yes, man, but what’s happened?”

“It’s the truth, isn’t it? Look, you’re a witness: I’ve always been
opposed–you’re a witness, don’t forget it!”

“Yes, man, but what’s going on?”

“Listen, you’re a witness! I’ve never had anything to do with the
members of the association, except to give them advice. You’re not
going to deny it now. Be careful, won’t you?”

“No, no, I won’t deny it, but for goodness’ sake, what has happened?”

But Juanito was already far away. He had caught a glimpse of a guard
approaching and feared arrest.

Basilio then went on toward the University to see if perhaps the
secretary’s office might be open and if he could glean any further
news. The office was closed, but there was an extraordinary commotion
in the building. Hurrying up and down the stairways were friars, army
officers, private persons, old lawyers and doctors, there doubtless
to offer their services to the endangered cause.

At a distance he saw his friend Isagani, pale and agitated, but radiant
with youthful ardor, haranguing some fellow students with his voice
raised as though he cared little that he be heard by everybody.

“It seems preposterous, gentlemen, it seems unreal, that an incident so
insignificant should scatter us and send us into flight like sparrows
at whom a scarecrow has been shaken! But is this the first time that
students have gone to prison for the sake of liberty? Where are those
who have died, those who have been shot? Would you apostatize now?”

“But who can the fool be that wrote such pasquinades?” demanded an
indignant listener.

“What does that matter to us?” rejoined Isagani. “We don’t have
to find out, let them find out! Before we know how they are drawn
up, we have no need to make any show of agreement at a time like
this. There where the danger is, there must we hasten, because honor
is there! If what the pasquinades say is compatible with our dignity
and our feelings, be he who he may that wrote them, he has done well,
and we ought to be grateful to him and hasten to add our signatures
to his! If they are unworthy of us, our conduct and our consciences
will in themselves protest and defend us from every accusation!”

Upon hearing such talk, Basilio, although he liked Isagani very
much, turned and left. He had to go to Makaraig’s house to see about
the loan.

Near the house of the wealthy student he observed whisperings and
mysterious signals among the neighbors, but not comprehending what
they meant, continued serenely on his way and entered the doorway. Two
guards advanced and asked him what he wanted. Basilio realized that
he had made a bad move, but he could not now retreat.

“I’ve come to see my friend Makaraig,” he replied calmly.

The guards looked at each other. “Wait here,” one of them said to
him. “Wait till the corporal comes down.”

Basilio bit his lips and Simoun’s words again recurred to him. Had
they come to arrest Makaraig?–was his thought, but he dared not give
it utterance. He did not have to wait long, for in a few moments
Makaraig came down, talking pleasantly with the corporal. The two
were preceded by a warrant officer.

“What, you too, Basilio?” he asked.

“I came to see you–”

“Noble conduct!” exclaimed Makaraig laughing. “In time of calm,
you avoid us.”

The corporal asked Basilio his name, then scanned a list. “Medical
student, Calle Anloague?” he asked.

Basilio bit his lip.

“You’ve saved us a trip,” added the corporal, placing his hand on
the youth’s shoulder. “You’re under arrest!”

“What, I also?”

Makaraig burst out into laughter.

“Don’t worry, friend. Let’s get into the carriage, while I tell you
about the supper last night.”

With a graceful gesture, as though he were in his own house, he
invited the warrant officer and the corporal to enter the carriage
that waited at the door.

“To the Civil Government!” he ordered the cochero.

Now that Basilio had again regained his composure, he told Makaraig
the object of his visit. The rich student did not wait for him to
finish, but seized his hand. “Count on me, count on me, and to the
festivities celebrating our graduation we’ll invite these gentlemen,”
he said, indicating the corporal and the warrant officer.

CHAPTER XXVII

THE FRIAR AND THE FILIPINO

Vox populi, vox Dei

We left Isagani haranguing his friends. In the midst of his enthusiasm
an usher approached him to say that Padre Fernandez, one of the higher
professors, wished to talk with him.

Isagani’s face fell. Padre Fernandez was a person greatly respected
by him, being the _one_ always excepted by him whenever the friars
were attacked.

“What does Padre Fernandez want?” he inquired.

The usher shrugged his shoulders and Isagani reluctantly followed him.

Padre Fernandez, the friar whom we met in Los Baños, was waiting
in his cell, grave and sad, with his brows knitted as if he were
in deep thought. He arose as Isagani entered, shook hands with him,
and closed the door. Then he began to pace from one end of the room
to the other. Isagani stood waiting for him to speak.

“Señor Isagani,” he began at length with some emotion, “from the
window I’ve heard you speaking, for though I am a consumptive I have
good ears, and I want to talk with you. I have always liked the young
men who express themselves clearly and have their own way of thinking
and acting, no matter that their ideas may differ from mine. You
young men, from what I have heard, had a supper last night. Don’t
excuse yourself–”

“I don’t intend to excuse myself!” interrupted Isagani.

“So much the better–it shows that you accept the consequences of your
actions. Besides, you would do ill in retracting, and I don’t blame
you, I take no notice of what may have been said there last night,
I don’t accuse you, because after all you’re free to say of the
Dominicans what seems best to you, you are not a pupil of ours–only
this year have we had the pleasure of having you, and we shall
probably not have you longer. Don’t think that I’m going to invoke
considerations of gratitude; no, I’m not going to waste my time in
stupid vulgarisms. I’ve had you summoned here because I believe that
you are one of the few students who act from conviction, and, as I
like men of conviction, I’m going to explain myself to Señor Isagani.”

Padre Fernandez paused, then continued his walk with bowed head,
his gaze riveted on the floor.

“You may sit down, if you wish,” he remarked. “It’s a habit of mine
to walk about while talking, because my ideas come better then.”

Isagani remained standing, with his head erect, waiting for the
professor to get to the point of the matter.

“For more than eight years I have been a professor here,” resumed
Padre Fernandez, still continuing to pace back and forth, “and in
that time I’ve known and dealt with more than twenty-five hundred
students. I’ve taught them, I’ve tried to educate them, I’ve tried to
inculcate in them principles of justice and of dignity, and yet in
these days when there is so much murmuring against us I’ve not seen
one who has the temerity to maintain his accusations when he finds
himself in the presence of a friar, not even aloud in the presence
of any numbers. Young men there are who behind our backs calumniate
us and before us kiss our hands, with a base smile begging kind looks
from us! Bah! What do you wish that we should do with such creatures?”

“The fault is not all theirs, Padre,” replied Isagani. “The fault
lies partly with those who have taught them to be hypocrites,
with those who have tyrannized over freedom of thought and freedom
of speech. Here every independent thought, every word that is not an
echo of the will of those in power, is characterized as filibusterism,
and you know well enough what that means. A fool would he be who to
please himself would say aloud what he thinks, who would lay himself
liable to suffer persecution!”

“What persecution have you had to suffer?” asked Padre Fernandez,
raising his head. “Haven’t I let you express yourself freely in my
class? Nevertheless, you are an exception that, if what you say is
true, I must correct, so as to make the rule as general as possible
and thus avoid setting a bad example.”

Isagani smiled. “I thank you, but I will not discuss with you whether
I am an exception. I will accept your qualification so that you
may accept mine: you also are an exception, and as here we are not
going to talk about exceptions, nor plead for ourselves, at least,
I mean, _I’m not_, I beg of my _professor_ to change the course of
the conversation.”

In spite of his liberal principles, Padre Fernandez raised his head
and stared in surprise at Isagani. That young man was more independent
than he had thought–although he called him _professor_, in reality
he was dealing with him as an equal, since he allowed himself to
offer suggestions. Like a wise diplomat, Padre Fernandez not only
recognized the fact but even took his stand upon it.

“Good enough!” he said. “But don’t look upon me as your professor. I’m
a friar and you are a Filipino student, nothing more nor less! Now
I ask you–what do the Filipino students want of us?”

The question came as a surprise; Isagani was not prepared for it. It
was a thrust made suddenly while they were preparing their defense,
as they say in fencing. Thus startled, Isagani responded with a
violent stand, like a beginner defending himself.

“That you do your duty!” he exclaimed.

Fray Fernandez straightened up–that reply sounded to him like a
cannon-shot. “That we do our duty!” he repeated, holding himself
erect. “Don’t we, then, do our duty? What duties do you ascribe to us?”

“Those which you voluntarily placed upon yourselves on joining
the order, and those which afterwards, once in it, you have been
willing to assume. But, as a Filipino student, I don’t think myself
called upon to examine your conduct with reference to your statutes,
to Catholicism, to the government, to the Filipino people, and to
humanity in general–those are questions that you have to settle
with your founders, with the Pope, with the government, with the
whole people, and with God. As a Filipino student, I will confine
myself to your duties toward us. The friars in general, being the
local supervisors of education in the provinces, and the Dominicans
in particular, by monopolizing in their hands all the studies of the
Filipino youth, have assumed the obligation to its eight millions
of inhabitants, to Spain, and to humanity, of which we form a part,
of steadily bettering the young plant, morally and physically,
of training it toward its happiness, of creating a people honest,
prosperous, intelligent, virtuous, noble, and loyal. Now I ask you
in my turn–have the friars fulfilled that obligation of theirs?”

“We’re fulfilling–”

“Ah, Padre Fernandez,” interrupted Isagani, “you with your hand on
_your_ heart can say that you are fulfilling it, but with your hand
on the heart of your order, on the heart of all the orders, you cannot
say that without deceiving yourself. Ah, Padre Fernandez, when I find
myself in the presence of a person whom I esteem and respect, I prefer
to be the accused rather than the accuser, I prefer to defend myself
rather than take the offensive. But now that we have entered upon
the discussion, let us carry it to the end! How do they fulfill their
obligation, those who look after education in the towns? By hindering
it! And those who here monopolize education, those who try to mold the
mind of youth, to the exclusion of all others whomsoever, how do they
carry out their mission? By curtailing knowledge as much as possible,
by extinguishing all ardor and enthusiasm, by trampling on all dignity,
the soul’s only refuge, by inculcating in us worn-out ideas, rancid
beliefs, false principles incompatible with a life of progress! Ah,
yes, when it is a question of feeding convicts, of providing for the
maintenance of criminals, the government calls for bids in order
to find the purveyor who offers the best means of subsistence,
he who at least will not let them perish from hunger, but when it
is a question of morally feeding a whole people, of nourishing the
intellect of youth, the healthiest part, that which is later to be the
country and the all, the government not only does not ask for any bid,
but restricts the power to that very body which makes a boast of not
desiring education, of wishing no advancement. What should we say if
the purveyor for the prisons, after securing the contract by intrigue,
should then leave the prisoners to languish in want, giving them only
what is stale and rancid, excusing himself afterwards by saying that
it is not convenient for the prisoners to enjoy good health, because
good health brings merry thoughts, because merriment improves the man,
and the man ought not to be improved, because it is to the purveyor’s
interest that there be many criminals? What should we say if afterwards
the government and the purveyor should agree between themselves that
of the ten or twelve cuartos which one received for each criminal,
the other should receive five?”

Padre Fernandek bit his lip. “Those are grave charges,” he said,
“and you are overstepping the limits of our agreement.”

“No, Padre, not if I continue to deal with the student question. The
friars–and I do not say, you friars, since I do not confuse you
with the common herd–the friars of all the orders have constituted
themselves our mental purveyors, yet they say and shamelessly proclaim
that it is not expedient for us to become enlightened, because some
day we shall declare ourselves free! That is just the same as not
wishing the prisoner to be well-fed so that he may improve and get out
of prison. Liberty is to man what education is to the intelligence,
and the friars’ unwillingness that we have it is the origin of our
discontent.”

“Instruction is given only to those who deserve it,” rejoined Padre
Fernandez dryly. “To give it to men without character and without
morality is to prostitute it.”

“Why are there men without character and without morality?”

The Dominican shrugged his shoulders. “Defects that they imbibe with
their mothers’ milk, that they breathe in the bosom of the family–how
do I know?”

“Ah, no, Padre Fernandez!” exclaimed the young man impetuously. “You
have not dared to go into the subject deeply, you have not wished
to gaze into the depths from fear of finding yourself there in the
darkness of your brethren. What we are, you have made us. A people
tyrannized over is forced to be hypocritical; a people denied the
truth must resort to lies; and he who makes himself a tyrant breeds
slaves. There is no morality, you say, so let it be–even though
statistics can refute you in that here are not committed crimes
like those among other peoples, blinded by the fumes of their
moralizers. But, without attempting now to analyze what it is that
forms the character and how far the education received determines
morality, I will agree with you that we are defective. Who is to
blame for that? You who for three centuries and a half have had in
your hands our education, or we who submit to everything? If after
three centuries and a half the artist has been able to produce only
a caricature, stupid indeed he must be!”

“Or bad enough the material he works upon.”

“Stupider still then, when, knowing it to be bad, he does not give
it up, but goes on wasting time. Not only is he stupid, but he is
a cheat and a robber, because he knows that his work is useless,
yet continues to draw his salary. Not only is he stupid and a thief,
he is a villain in that he prevents any other workman from trying
his skill to see if he might not produce something worth while! The
deadly jealousy of the incompetent!”

The reply was sharp and Padre Fernandez felt himself caught. To his
gaze Isagani appeared gigantic, invincible, convincing, and for the
first time in his life he felt beaten by a Filipino student. He
repented of having provoked the argument, but it was too late to
turn back. In this quandary, finding himself confronted with such
a formidable adversary, he sought a strong shield and laid hold of
the government.

“You impute all the faults to us, because you see only us, who are
near,” he said in a less haughty tone. “It’s natural and doesn’t
surprise me. A person hates the soldier or policeman who arrests him
and not the judge who sends him to prison. You and we are both dancing
to the same measure of music–if at the same note you lift your foot in
unison with us, don’t blame us for it, it’s the music that is directing
our movements. Do you think that we friars have no consciences and
that we do not desire what is right? Do you believe that we do not
think about you, that we do not heed our duty, that we only eat to
live, and live to rule? Would that it were so! But we, like you,
follow the cadence, finding ourselves between Scylla and Charybdis:
either you reject us or the government rejects us. The government
commands, and he who commands, commands,–and must be obeyed!”

“From which it may be inferred,” remarked Isagani with a bitter smile,
“that the government wishes our demoralization.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean that! What I meant to say is that there are
beliefs, there are theories, there are laws, which, dictated with
the best intention, produce the most deplorable consequences. I’ll
explain myself better by citing an example. To stamp out a small
evil, there are dictated many laws that cause greater evils still:
‘_corruptissima in republica plurimae leges,_’ said Tacitus. To
prevent one case of fraud, there are provided a million and a half
preventive or humiliating regulations, which produce the immediate
effect of awakening in the public the desire to elude and mock
such regulations. To make a people criminal, there’s nothing more
needed than to doubt its virtue. Enact a law, not only here, but
even in Spain, and you will see how the means of evading it will be
sought, and this is for the very reason that the legislators have
overlooked the fact that the more an object is hidden, the more a
sight of it is desired. Why are rascality and astuteness regarded
as great qualities in the Spanish people, when there is no other so
noble, so proud, so chivalrous as it? Because our legislators, with
the best intentions, have doubted its nobility, wounded its pride,
challenged its chivalry! Do you wish to open in Spain a road among the
rocks? Then place there an imperative notice forbidding the passage,
and the people, in order to protest against the order, will leave the
highway to clamber over the rocks. The day on which some legislator in
Spain forbids virtue and commands vice, then all will become virtuous!”

The Dominican paused for a brief space, then resumed: “But you may
say that we are getting away from the subject, so I’ll return to
it. What I can say to you, to convince you, is that the vices from
which you suffer ought to be ascribed by you neither to us nor to the
government. They are due to the imperfect organization of our social
system: _qui multum probat, nihil probat_, one loses himself through
excessive caution, lacking what is necessary and having too much of
what is superfluous.”

“If you admit those defects in your social system,” replied Isagani,
“why then do you undertake to regulate alien societies, instead of
first devoting your attention to yourselves?”

“We’re getting away from the subject, young man. The theory in
accomplished facts must be accepted.”

“So let it be! I accept it because it is an accomplished fact, but
I will further ask: why, if your social organization is defective,
do you not change it or at least give heed to the cry of those who
are injured by it?”

“We’re still far away. Let’s talk about what the students want from
the friars.”

“From the moment when the friars hide themselves behind the government,
the students have to turn to it.”

This statement was true and there appeared no means of ignoring it.

“I’m not the government and I can’t answer for its acts. What do
the students wish us to do for them within the limits by which we
are confined?”

“Not to oppose the emancipation of education but to favor it.”

The Dominican shook his head. “Without stating my own opinion, that
is asking us to commit suicide,” he said.

“On the contrary, it is asking you for room to pass in order not to
trample upon and crush you.”

“Ahem!” coughed Padre Fernandez, stopping and remaining
thoughtful. “Begin by asking something that does not cost so much,
something that any one of us can grant without abatement of dignity
or privilege, for if we can reach an understanding and dwell in peace,
why this hatred, why this distrust?”

“Then let’s get down to details.”

“Yes, because if we disturb the foundation, we’ll bring down the
whole edifice.”

“Then let’s get down to details, let’s leave the region of abstract
principles,” rejoined Isagani with a smile, “and _also without stating
my own opinion,_”–the youth accented these words–“the students
would desist from their attitude and soften certain asperities if
the professors would try to treat them better than they have up to
the present. That is in their hands.”

“What?” demanded the Dominican. “Have the students any complaint to
make about my conduct?”

“Padre, we agreed from the start not to talk of yourself or of myself,
we’re speaking generally. The students, besides getting no great
benefit out of the years spent in the classes, often leave there
remnants of their dignity, if not the whole of it.”

Padre Fernandez again bit his lip. “No one forces them to study–the
fields are uncultivated,” he observed dryly.

“Yes, there is something that impels them to study,” replied Isagani
in the same tone, looking the Dominican full in the face. “Besides
the duty of every one to seek his own perfection, there is the desire
innate in man to cultivate his intellect, a desire the more powerful
here in that it is repressed. He who gives his gold and his life to the
State has the right to require of it opporttmity better to get that
gold and better to care for his life. Yes, Padre, there is something
that impels them, and that something is the government itself. It is
you yourselves who pitilessly ridicule the uncultured Indian and deny
him his rights, on the ground that he is ignorant. You strip him and
then scoff at his nakedness.”

Padre Fernandez did not reply, but continued to pace about feverishly,
as though very much agitated.

“You say that the fields are not cultivated,” resumed Isagani in a
changed tone, after a brief pause. “Let’s not enter upon an analysis
of the reason for this, because we should get far away. But you,
Padre Fernandez, you, a teacher, you, a learned man, do you wish a
people of peons and laborers? In your opinion, is the laborer the
perfect state at which man may arrive in his development? Or is it
that you wish knowledge for yourself and labor for the rest?”

“No, I want knowledge for him who deserves it, for him who knows how
to use it,” was the reply. “When the students demonstrate that they
love it, when young men of conviction appear, young men who know how
to maintain their dignity and make it respected, then there will be
knowledge, then there will be considerate professors! If there are
now professors who resort to abuse, it is because there are pupils
who submit to it.”

“When there are professors, there will be students!”

“Begin by reforming yourselves, you who have need of change, and we
will follow.”

“Yes,” said Isagani with a bitter laugh, “let us begin it, because
the difficulty is on our side. Well you know what is expected of
a pupil who stands before a professor–you yourself, with all your
love of justice, with all your kind sentiments, have been restraining
yourself by a great effort while I have been telling you bitter truths,
you yourself, Padre Fernandez! What good has been secured by him among
us who has tried to inculcate other ideas? What evils have not fallen
upon you because you have tried to be just and perform your duty?”

“Señor Isagani,” said the Dominican, extending his hand, “although it
may seem that nothing practical has resulted from this conversation,
yet something has been gained. I’ll talk to my brethren about what
you have told me and I hope that something can be done. Only I fear
that they won’t believe in your existence.”

“I fear the same,” returned Isagani, shaking the Dominican’s hand. “I
fear that my friends will not believe in your existence, as you have
revealed yourself to me today.” [57]

Considering the interview at an end, the young man took his leave.

Padre Fernandez opened the door and followed him with his gaze until
he disappeared around a corner in the corridor. For some time he
listened to the retreating footsteps, then went back into his cell
and waited for the youth to appear in the street.

He saw him and actually heard him say to a friend who asked where he
was going: “To the Civil Government! I’m going to see the pasquinades
and join the others!”

His startled friend stared at him as one would look at a person who
is about to commit suicide, then moved away from him hurriedly.

“Poor boy!” murmured Padre Fernandez, feeling his eyes moisten. “I
grudge you to the Jesuits who educated you.”

But Padre Fernandez was completely mistaken; the Jesuits repudiated
Isagani [58] when that afternoon they learned that he had been
arrested, saying that he would compromise them. “That young man has
thrown himself away, he’s going to do us harm! Let it be understood
that he didn’t get those ideas here.”

Nor were the Jesuits wrong. No! Those ideas come only from God through
the medium of Nature.

CHAPTER XXVIII

TATAKUT

With prophetic inspiration Ben-Zayb had been for some days past
maintaining in his newspaper that education was disastrous, very
disastrous for the Philippine Islands, and now in view of the events of
that Friday of pasquinades, the writer crowed and chanted his triumph,
leaving belittled and overwhelmed his adversary _Horatius_, who in
the _Pirotecnia_ had dared to ridicule him in the following manner:

From our contemporary, _El Grito_:

“Education is disastrous, very disastrous, for the Philippine
Islands.”

Admitted.

For some time _El Grito_ has pretended to represent the
Filipino people–_ergo_, as Fray Ibañez would say, if he
knew Latin.

But Fray Ibañez turns Mussulman when he writes, and we know
how the Mussulmans dealt with education. _In witness whereof_,
as a royal preacher said, the Alexandrian library!

Now he was right, he, Ben-Zayb! He was the only one in the islands
who thought, the only one who foresaw events!

Truly, the news that seditious pasquinades had been found on the
doors of the University not only took away the appetite from many
and disturbed the digestion of others, but it even rendered the
phlegmatic Chinese uneasy, so that they no longer dared to sit in
their shops with one leg drawn up as usual, from fear of losing time
in extending it in order to put themselves into flight. At eight
o’clock in the morning, although the sun continued on its course and
his Excellency, the Captain-General, did not appear at the head of
his victorious cohorts, still the excitement had increased. The friars
who were accustomed to frequent Quiroga’s bazaar did not put in their
appearance, and this symptom presaged terrific cataclysms. If the
sun had risen a square and the saints appeared only in pantaloons,
Quiroga would not have been so greatly alarmed, for he would have
taken the sun for a gaming-table and the sacred images for gamblers
who had lost their camisas, but for the friars not to come, precisely
when some novelties had just arrived for them!

By means of a provincial friend of his, Quiroga forbade entrance into
his gaming-houses to every Indian who was not an old acquaintance,
as the future Chinese consul feared that they might get possession of
the sums that the wretches lost there. After arranging his bazaar in
such a way that he could close it quickly in case of need, he had a
policeman accompany him for the short distance that separated his house
from Simoun’s. Quiroga thought this occasion the most propitious for
making use of the rifles and cartridges that he had in his warehouse,
in the way the jeweler had pointed out; so that on the following
days there would be searches made, and then–how many prisoners, how
many terrified people would give up their savings! It was the game of
the old carbineers, in slipping contraband cigars and tobacco-leaves
under a house, in order to pretend a search and force the unfortunate
owner to bribery or fines, only now the art had been perfected and,
the tobacco monopoly abolished, resort was had to the prohibited arms.

But Simoun refused to see any one and sent word to the Chinese that
he should leave things as they were, whereupon he went to see Don
Custodio to inquire whether he should fortify his bazaar, but neither
would Don Custodio receive him, being at the time engaged in the study
of a project for defense in case of a siege. He thought of Ben-Zayb
as a source of information, but finding the writer armed to the teeth
and using two loaded revolvers for paper-weights, took his leave in
the shortest possible time, to shut himself up in his house and take
to his bed under pretense of illness.

At four in the afternoon the talk was no longer of simple
pasquinades. There were whispered rumors of an understanding between
the students and the outlaws of San Mateo, it was certain that in the
_pansitería_ they had conspired to surprise the city, there was talk
of German ships outside the bay to support the movement, of a band
of young men who under the pretext of protesting and demonstrating
their Hispanism had gone to the Palace to place themselves at the
General’s orders but had been arrested because it was discovered that
they were armed. Providence had saved his Excellency, preventing him
from receiving those precocious criminals, as he was at the time in
conference with the Provincials, the Vice-Rector, and with Padre Irene,
Padre Salvi’s representative. There was considerable truth in these
rumors, if we have to believe Padre Irene, who in the afternoon went
to visit Capitan Tiago. According to him, certain persons had advised
his Excellency to improve the opportunity in order to inspire terror
and administer a lasting lesson to the filibusters.

“A number shot,” one had advised, “some two dozen reformers deported
at once, in the silence of the night, would extinguish forever the
flames of discontent.”

“No,” rejoined another, who had a kind heart, “sufficient that the
soldiers parade through the streets, a troop of cavalry, for example,
with drawn sabers–sufficient to drag along some cannon, that’s
enough! The people are timid and will all retire into their houses.”

“No, no,” insinuated another. “This is the opportunity to get rid of
the enemy. It’s not sufficient that they retire into their houses, they
should be made to come out, like evil humors by means of plasters. If
they are inclined to start riots, they should be stirred up by secret
agitators. I am of the opinion that the troops should be resting on
their arms and appearing careless and indifferent, so the people may be
emboldened, and then in case of any disturbance–out on them, action!”

“The end justifies the means,” remarked another. “Our end is our
holy religion and the integrity of the fatherland. Proclaim a state
of siege, and in case of the least disturbance, arrest all the rich
and educated, and–clean up the country!”

“If I hadn’t got there in time to counsel moderation,” added Padre
Irene, speaking to Capitan Tiago, “it’s certain that blood would
now be flowing through the streets. I thought of you, Capitan–The
partizans of force couldn’t do much with the General, and they missed
Simoun. Ah, if Simoun had not been taken ill–”

With the arrest of Basilio and the search made later among his books
and papers, Capitan Tiago had become much worse. Now Padre Irene had
come to augment his terror with hair-raising tales. Ineffable fear
seized upon the wretch, manifesting itself first by a light shiver,
which was rapidly accentuated, until he was unable to speak. With his
eyes bulging and his brow covered with sweat, he caught Padre Irene’s
arm and tried to rise, but could not, and then, uttering two groans,
fell heavily back upon the pillow. His eyes were wide open and he
was slavering–but he was dead. The terrified Padre Irene fled, and,
as the dying man had caught hold of him, in his flight he dragged the
corpse from the bed, leaving it sprawling in the middle of the room.

By night the terror had reached a climax. Several incidents had
occurred to make the timorous believe in the presence of secret
agitators.

During a baptism some cuartos were thrown to the boys and naturally
there was a scramble at the door of the church. It happened that at
the time there was passing a bold soldier, who, somewhat preoccupied,
mistook the uproar for a gathering of filibusters and hurled himself,
sword in hand, upon the boys. He went into the church, and had he not
become entangled in the curtains suspended from the choir he would
not have left a single head on shoulders. It was but the matter of a
moment for the timorous to witness this and take to flight, spreading
the news that the revolution had begun. The few shops that had been
kept open were now hastily closed, there being Chinese who even left
bolts of cloth outside, and not a few women lost their slippers in
their flight through the streets. Fortunately, there was only one
person wounded and a few bruised, among them the soldier himself,
who suffered a fall fighting with the curtain, which smelt to him of
filibusterism. Such prowess gained him great renown, and a renown
so pure that it is to be wished all fame could be acquired in like
manner–mothers would then weep less and earth would be more populous!

In a suburb the inhabitants caught two unknown individuals burying
arms under a house, whereupon a tumult arose and the people pursued
the strangers in order to kill them and turn their bodies over to the
authorities, but some one pacified the excited crowd by telling them
that it would be sufficient to hand over the _corpora delictorum_,
which proved to be some old shotguns that would surely have killed
the first person who tried to fire them.

“All right,” exclaimed one braggart, “if they want us to rebel,
let’s go ahead!” But he was cuffed and kicked into silence, the women
pinching him as though he had been the owner of the shotguns.

In Ermita the affair was more serious, even though there was less
excitement, and that when there were shots fired. A certain cautious
government employee, armed to the teeth, saw at nightfall an object
near his house, and taking it for nothing less than a student, fired
at it twice with a revolver. The object proved to be a policeman,
and they buried him–_pax Christi! Mutis!_

In Dulumbayan various shots also resounded, from which there resulted
the death of a poor old deaf man, who had not heard the sentinel’s
_quién vive_, and of a hog that had heard it and had not answered
_España_! The old man was buried with difficulty, since there was no
money to pay for the obsequies, but the hog was eaten.

In Manila, [59] in a confectionery near the University much frequented
by the students, the arrests were thus commented upon.

“And have they arrested Tadeo?” [60] asked the proprietess.

“_Abá_!” answered a student who lived in Parian, “he’s already shot!”

“Shot! _Nakú_! He hasn’t paid what he owes me.”

“Ay, don’t mention that or you’ll be taken for an accomplice. I’ve
already burnt the book [61] you lent me. There might be a search and
it would be found. Be careful!”

“Did you say that Isagani is a prisoner?”

“Crazy fool, too, that Isagani,” replied the indignant student. “They
didn’t try to catch him, but he went and surrendered. Let him bust
himself–he’ll surely be shot.”

The señora shrugged her shoulders. “He doesn’t owe me anything. And
what about Paulita?”

“She won’t lack a husband. Sure, she’ll cry a little, and then marry
a Spaniard.”

The night was one of the gloomiest. In the houses the rosary was
recited and pious women dedicated paternosters and requiems to each
of the souls of their relatives and friends. By eight o’clock hardly
a pedestrian could be seen–only from time to time was heard the
galloping of a horse against whose sides a saber clanked noisily,
then the whistles of the watchmen, and carriages that whirled along
at full speed, as though pursued by mobs of filibusters.

Yet terror did not reign everywhere. In the house of the silversmith,
where Placido Penitente boarded, the events were commented upon and
discussed with some freedom.

“I don’t believe in the pasquinades,” declared a workman, lank and
withered from operating the blowpipe. “To me it looks like Padre
Salvi’s doings.”

“Ahem, ahem!” coughed the silversmith, a very prudent man, who did not
dare to stop the conversation from fear that he would be considered
a coward. The good man had to content himself with coughing, winking
to his helper, and gazing toward the street, as if to say, “They may
be watching us!”

“On account of the operetta,” added another workman.

“Aha!” exclaimed one who had a foolish face, “I told you so!”

“Ahem!” rejoined a clerk, in a tone of compassion, “the affair of
the pasquinades is true, Chichoy, and I can give you the explanation.”

Then he added mysteriously, “It’s a trick of the Chinaman Quiroga’s!”

“Ahem, ahem!” again coughed the silversmith, shifting his quid of
buyo from one cheek to the other.

“Believe me, Chichoy, of Quiroga the Chinaman! I heard it in the
office.”

“_Nakú_, it’s certain then,” exclaimed the simpleton, believing it
at once.

“Quiroga,” explained the clerk, “has a hundred thousand pesos in
Mexican silver out in the bay. How is he to get it in? Very easily. Fix
up the pasquinades, availing himself of the question of the students,
and, while every-body is excited, grease the officials’ palms, and
in the cases come!”

“Just it! Just it!” cried the credulous fool, striking the table
with his fist. “Just it! That’s why Quiroga did it! That’s why–”
But he had to relapse into silence as he really did not know what to
say about Quiroga.

“And we must pay the damages?” asked the indignant Chichoy.

“Ahem, ahem, a-h-hem!” coughed the silversmith, hearing steps in
the street.

The footsteps approached and all in the shop fell silent.

“St. Pascual Bailon is a great saint,” declared the silversmith
hypocritically, in a loud voice, at the same time winking to the
others. “St. Pascual Bailon–”

At that moment there appeared the face of Placido Penitente, who was
accompanied by the pyrotechnician that we saw receiving orders from
Simoun. The newcomers were surrounded and importuned for news.

“I haven’t been able to talk with the prisoners,” explained
Placido. “There are some thirty of them.”

“Be on your guard,” cautioned the pyrotechnician, exchanging a
knowing look with Placido. “They say that to-night there’s going to
be a massacre.”

“Aha! Thunder!” exclaimed Chichoy, looking about for a weapon. Seeing
none, he caught up his blowpipe.

The silversmith sat down, trembling in every limb. The credulous
simpleton already saw himself beheaded and wept in anticipation over
the fate of his family.

“No,” contradicted the clerk, “there’s not going to be any
massacre. The adviser of”–he made a mysterious gesture–“is
fortunately sick.”

“Simoun!”

“Ahem, ahem, a-h-hem!”

Placido and the pyrotechnician exchanged another look.

“If he hadn’t got sick–”

“It would look like a revolution,” added the pyrotechnician
negligently, as he lighted a cigarette in the lamp chimney. “And what
should we do then?”

“Then we’d start a real one, now that they’re going to massacre
us anyhow–”

The violent fit of coughing that seized the silversmith prevented
the rest of this speech from being heard, but Chichoy must have been
saying terrible things, to judge from his murderous gestures with
the blowpipe and the face of a Japanese tragedian that he put on.

“Rather say that he’s playing off sick because he’s afraid to go
out. As may be seen–”

The silversmith was attacked by another fit of coughing so severe
that he finally asked all to retire.

“Nevertheless, get ready,” warned the pyrotechnician. “If they want
to force us to kill or be killed–”

Another fit of coughing on the part of the poor silversmith prevented
further conversation, so the workmen and apprentices retired to their
homes, carrying with them hammers and saws, and other implements,
more or less cutting, more or less bruising, disposed to sell their
lives dearly. Placido and the pyrotechnician went out again.

“Prudence, prudence!” cautioned the silversmith in a tearful voice.

“You’ll take care of my widow and orphans!” begged the credulous
simpleton in a still more tearful voice, for he already saw himself
riddled with bullets and buried.

That night the guards at the city gates were replaced with Peninsular
artillerymen, and on the following morning as the sun rose, Ben-Zayb,
who had ventured to take a morning stroll to examine the condition of
the fortifications, found on the glacis near the Luneta the corpse
of a native girl, half-naked and abandoned. Ben-Zayb was horrified,
but after touching it with his cane and gazing toward the gates
proceeded on his way, musing over a sentimental tale he might base
upon the incident.

However, no allusion to it appeared in the newspapers on the following
days, engrossed as they were with the falls and slippings caused by
banana-peels. In the dearth of news Ben-Zayb had to comment at length
on a cyclone that had destroyed in America whole towns, causing the
death of more than two thousand persons. Among other beautiful things
he said:

“_The sentiment of charity_, MORE PREVALENT IN CATHOLIC
COUNTRIES THAN IN OTHERS, and the thought of Him who,
influenced by that same feeling, sacrificed himself for
_humanity, moves (sic)_ us to compassion over the misfortunes
of our kind and to render thanks that _in this country_,
so scourged by cyclones, there are not enacted scenes so
desolating as that which the inhabitants of the United States
mus have witnessed!”

_Horatius_ did not miss the opportunity, and, also without mentioning
the dead, or the murdered native girl, or the assaults, answered him
in his _Pirotecnia_:

“After such great charity and such great humanity, Fray
Ibañez–I mean, Ben-Zayb–brings himself to pray for the
Philippines.

But he is understood.

Because he is not Catholic, and the sentiment of charity is
most prevalent,” etc. [62]

CHAPTER XXIX

EXIT CAPITAN TIAGO

Talis vita, finis ita

Capitan Tiago had a good end–that is, a quite exceptional
funeral. True it is that the curate of the parish had ventured
the observation to Padre Irene that Capitan Tiago had died without
confession, but the good priest, smiling sardonically, had rubbed
the tip of his nose and answered:

“Why say that to me? If we had to deny the obsequies to all who
die without confession, we should forget the _De profundis_! These
restrictions, as you well know, are enforced when the impenitent is
also insolvent. But Capitan Tiago–out on you! You’ve buried infidel
Chinamen, and with a requiem mass!”

Capitan Tiago had named Padre Irene as his executor and willed his
property in part to St. Clara, part to the Pope, to the Archbishop, the
religious corporations, leaving twenty pesos for the matriculation of
poor students. This last clause had been dictated at the suggestion of
Padre Irene, in his capacity as protector of studious youths. Capitan
Tiago had annulled a legacy of twenty-five pesos that he had left
to Basilio, in view of the ungrateful conduct of the boy during the
last few days, but Padre Irene had restored it and announced that he
would take it upon his own purse and conscience.

In the dead man’s house, where were assembled on the following day many
old friends and acquaintances, considerable comment was indulged in
over a miracle. It was reported that, at the very moment when he was
dying, the soul of Capitan Tiago had appeared to the nuns surrounded
by a brilliant light. God had saved him, thanks to the pious legacies,
and to the numerous masses he had paid for. The story was commented
upon, it was recounted vividly, it took on particulars, and was
doubted by no one. The appearance of Capitan Tiago was minutely
described–of course the frock coat, the cheek bulged out by the
quid of buyo, without omitting the game-cock and the opium-pipe. The
senior sacristan, who was present, gravely affirmed these facts with
his head and reflected that, after death, he would appear with his
cup of white _tajú_, for without that refreshing breakfast he could
not comprehend happiness either on earth or in heaven.

On this subject, because of their inability to discuss the events
of the preceding day and because there were gamblers present, many
strange speculations were developed. They made conjectures as to
whether Capitan Tiago would invite St. Peter to a _soltada_, whether
they would place bets, whether the game-cocks were immortal, whether
invulnerable, and in this case who would be the referee, who would win,
and so on: discussions quite to the taste of those who found sciences,
theories, and systems, based on a text which they esteem infallible,
revealed or dogmatic. Moreover, there were cited passages from novenas,
books of miracles, sayings of the curates, descriptions of heaven,
and other embroidery. Don Primitivo, the philosopher, was in his
glory quoting opinions of the theologians.

“Because no one can lose,” he stated with great authority. “To
lose would cause hard feelings and in heaven there can’t be any
hard feelings.”

“But some one has to win,” rejoined the gambler Aristorenas. “The
fun lies in winning!”

“Well, both win, that’s easy!”

This idea of both winning could not be admitted by Aristorenas,
for he had passed his life in the cockpit and had always seen one
cock lose and the other win–at best, there was a tie. Vainly Don
Primitivo argued in Latin. Aristorenas shook his head, and that too
when Don Primitivo’s Latin was easy to understand, for he talked of _an
gallus talisainus, acuto tari armatus, an gallus beati Petri bulikus
sasabungus sit_, [63] and so on, until at length he decided to resort
to the argument which many use to convince and silence their opponents.

“You’re going to be damned, friend Martin, you’re falling into
heresy! _Cave ne cadas!_ I’m not going to play monte with you any more,
and we’ll not set up a bank together. You deny the omnipotence of
God, _peccatum mortale!_ You deny the existence of the Holy Trinity–
three are one and one is three! Take care! You indirectly deny that
two natures, two understandings, and two wills can have only one
memory! Be careful! _Quicumque non crederit anathema sit!_”

Martin Aristorenas shrank away pale and trembling, while Quiroga,
who had listened with great attention to the argument, with marked
deference offered the philosopher a magnificent cigar, at the same time
asking in his caressing voice: “Surely, one can make a contract for a
cockpit with Kilisto, [64] ha? When I die, I’ll be the contractor, ha?”

Among the others, they talked more of the deceased; at least they
discussed what kind of clothing to put on him. Capitan Tinong proposed
a Franciscan habit–and fortunately, he had one, old, threadbare, and
patched, a precious object which, according to the friar who gave it to
him as alms in exchange for thirty-six pesos, would preserve the corpse
from the flames of hell and which reckoned in its support various pious
anecdotes taken from the books distributed by the curates. Although he
held this relic in great esteem, Capitan Tinong was disposed to part
with it for the sake of his intimate friend, whom he had not been able
to visit during his illness. But a tailor objected, with good reason,
that since the nuns had seen Capitan Tiago ascending to heaven in a
frock coat, in a frock coat he should be dressed here on earth, nor
was there any necessity for preservatives and fire-proof garments. The
deceased had attended balls and fiestas in a frock coat, and nothing
else would be expected of him in the skies–and, wonderful to relate,
the tailor accidentally happened to have one ready, which he would part
with for thirty-two pesos, four cheaper than the Franciscan habit,
because he didn’t want to make any profit on Capitan Tiago, who had
been his customer in life and would now be his patron in heaven. But
Padre Irene, trustee and executor, rejected both proposals and ordered
that the Capitan be dressed in one of his old suits of clothes,
remarking with holy unction that God paid no attention to clothing.

The obsequies were, therefore, of the very first class. There were
responsories in the house, and in the street three friars officiated,
as though one were not sufficient for such a great soul. All the
rites and ceremonies possible were performed, and it is reported
that there were even _extras_, as in the benefits for actors. It was
indeed a delight: loads of incense were burned, there were plenty
of Latin chants, large quantities of holy water were expended, and
Padre Irene, out of regard for his old friend, sang the _Dies Irae_
in a falsetto voice from the choir, while the neighbors suffered real
headaches from so much knell-ringing.

Doña Patrocinio, the ancient rival of Capitan Tiago in religiosity,
actually wanted to die on the next day, so that she might order even
more sumptuous obsequies. The pious old lady could not bear the thought
that he, whom she had long considered vanquished forever, should in
dying come forward again with so much pomp. Yes, she desired to die,
and it seemed that she could hear the exclamations of the people at
the funeral: “This indeed is what you call a funeral! This indeed is
to know how to die, Doña Patrocinio!”

CHAPTER XXX

JULI

The death of Capitan Tiago and Basilio’s imprisonment were soon
reported in the province, and to the honor of the simple inhabitants
of San Diego, let it be recorded that the latter was the incident more
regretted and almost the only one discussed. As was to be expected,
the report took on different forms, sad and startling details were
given, what could not be understood was explained, the gaps being
filled by conjectures, which soon passed for accomplished facts,
and the phantoms thus created terrified their own creators.

In the town of Tiani it was reported that at least, at the very
least, the young man was going to be deported and would very
probably be murdered on the journey. The timorous and pessimistic
were not satisfied with this but even talked about executions and
courts-martial–January was a fatal month; in January the Cavite affair
had occurred, and _they_ [65] even though curates, had been garroted,
so a poor Basilio without protectors or friends–

“I told him so!” sighed the Justice of the Peace, as if he had at
some time given advice to Basilio. “I told him so.”

“It was to be expected,” commented Sister Penchang. “He would go
into the church and when he saw that the holy water was somewhat
dirty he wouldn’t cross himself with it. He talked about germs and
disease, _abá_, it’s the chastisement of God! He deserved it, and he
got it! As though the holy water could transmit diseases! Quite the
contrary, _abá!_”

She then related how she had cured herself of indigestion by moistening
her stomach with holy water, at the same time reciting the _Sanctus
Deus_, and she recommended the remedy to those present when they should
suffer from dysentery, or an epidemic occurred, only that then they
must pray in Spanish:

Santo Diós,
Santo fuerte,
Santo inmortal,
¡Libranos, Señor, de la peste
Y de todo mal! [66]

“It’s an infallible remedy, but you must apply the holy water to the
part affected,” she concluded.

But there were many persons who did not believe in these things,
nor did they attribute Basilio’s imprisonment to the chastisement of
God. Nor did they take any stock in insurrections and pasquinades,
knowing the prudent and ultra-pacific character of the boy, but
preferred to ascribe it to revenge on the part of the friars, because
of his having rescued from servitude Juli, the daughter of a tulisan
who was the mortal enemy of a certain powerful corporation. As they
had quite a poor idea of the morality of that same corporation and
could recall cases of petty revenge, their conjecture was believed
to have more probability and justification.

“What a good thing I did when I drove her from my house!” said Sister
Penchang. “I don’t want to have any trouble with the friars, so I
urged her to find the money.”

The truth was, however, that she regretted Juli’s liberty, for Juli
prayed and fasted for her, and if she had stayed a longer time, would
also have done penance. Why, if the curates pray for us and Christ
died for our sins, couldn’t Juli do the same for Sister Penchang?

When the news reached the hut where the poor Juli and her grandfather
lived, the girl had to have it repeated to her. She stared at Sister
Bali, who was telling it, as though without comprehension, without
ability to collect her thoughts. Her ears buzzed, she felt a sinking
at the heart and had a vague presentiment that this event would have
a disastrous influence on her own future. Yet she tried to seize upon
a ray of hope, she smiled, thinking that Sister Bali was joking with
her, a rather strong joke, to be sure, but she forgave her beforehand
if she would acknowledge that it was such. But Sister Bali made a
cross with one of her thumbs and a forefinger, and kissed it, to prove
that she was telling the truth. Then the smile faded forever from the
girl’s lips, she turned pale, frightfully pale, she felt her strength
leave her and for the first time in her life she lost consciousness,
falling into a swoon.

When by dint of blows, pinches, dashes of water, crosses, and the
application of sacred palms, the girl recovered and remembered the
situation, silent tears sprang from her eyes, drop by drop, without
sobs, without laments, without complaints! She thought about Basilio,
who had had no other protector than Capitan Tiago, and who now, with
the Capitan dead, was left completely unprotected and in prison. In
the Philippines it is a well-known fact that patrons are needed for
everything, from the time one is christened until one dies, in order
to get justice, to secure a passport, or to develop an industry. As
it was said that his imprisonment was due to revenge on account of
herself and her father, the girl’s sorrow turned to desperation. Now
it was her duty to liberate him, as he had done in rescuing her from
servitude, and the inner voice which suggested the idea offered to
her imagination a horrible means.

“Padre Camorra, the curate,” whispered the voice. Juli gnawed at her
lips and became lost in gloomy meditation.

As a result of her father’s crime, her grandfather had been arrested in
the hope that by such means the son could be made to appear. The only
one who could get him his liberty was Padre Camorra, and Padre Camorra
had shown himself to be poorly satisfied with her words of gratitude,
having with his usual frankness asked for some sacrifices–since which
time Juli had tried to avoid meeting him. But the curate made her kiss
his hand, he twitched her nose and patted her cheeks, he joked with
her, winking and laughing, and laughing he pinched her. Juli was also
the cause of the beating the good curate had administered to some young
men who were going about the village serenading the girls. Malicious
ones, seeing her pass sad and dejected, would remark so that she
might hear: “If she only wished it, Cabesang Tales would be pardoned.”

Juli reached her home, gloomy and with wandering looks. She had
changed greatly, having lost her merriment, and no one ever saw her
smile again. She scarcely spoke and seemed to be afraid to look at
her own face. One day she was seen in the town with a big spot of
soot on her forehead, she who used to go so trim and neat. Once she
asked Sister Bali if the people who committed suicide went to hell.

“Surely!” replied that woman, and proceeded to describe the place as
though she had been there.

Upon Basilio’s imprisonment, the simple and grateful relatives had
planned to make all kinds of sacrifices to save the young man, but
as they could collect among themselves no more than thirty pesos,
Sister Bali, as usual, thought of a better plan.

“What we must do is to get some advice from the town clerk,” she
said. To these poor people, the town clerk was what the Delphic oracle
was to the ancient Greeks.

“By giving him a real and a cigar,” she continued, “he’ll tell you
all the laws so that your head bursts listening to him. If you have
a peso, he’ll save you, even though you may be at the foot of the
scaffold. When my friend Simon was put in jail and flogged for not
being able to give evidence about a robbery perpetrated near his
house, _abá_, for two reales and a half and a string of garlics,
the town clerk got him out. And I saw Simon myself when he could
scarcely walk and he had to stay in bed at least a month. Ay, his
flesh rotted as a result and he died!”

Sister Bali’s advice was accepted and she herself volunteered to
interview the town clerk. Juli gave her four reales and added some
strips of jerked venison her grand-father had got, for Tandang Selo
had again devoted himself to hunting.

But the town clerk could do nothing–the prisoner was in Manila,
and his power did not extend that far. “If at least he were at the
capital, then–” he ventured, to make a show of his authority, which
he knew very well did not extend beyond the boundaries of Tiani, but
he had to maintain his prestige and keep the jerked venison. “But I
can give you a good piece of advice, and it is that you go with Juli
to see the Justice of the Peace. But it’s very necessary that Juli go.”

The Justice of the Peace was a very rough fellow, but if he should
see Juli he might conduct himself less rudely–this is wherein lay
the wisdom of the advice.

With great gravity the honorable Justice listened to Sister Bali,
who did the talking, but not without staring from time to time at
the girl, who hung her head with shame. People would say that she
was greatly interested in Basilio, people who did not remember her
debt of gratitude, nor that his imprisonment, according to report,
was on her account.

After belching three or four times, for his Honor had that ugly habit,
he said that the only person who could save Basilio was Padre Camorra,
_in case he should care to do so_. Here he stared meaningly at the
girl and advised her to deal with the curate in person.

“You know what influence he has,–he got your grand-father out of
jail. A report from him is enough to deport a new-born babe or save
from death a man with the noose about his neck.”

Juli said nothing, but Sister Bali took this advice as though she
had read it in a novena, and was ready to accompany the girl to the
convento. It so happened that she was just going there to get as alms
a scapulary in exchange for four full reales.

But Juli shook her head and was unwilling to go to the convento. Sister
Bali thought she could guess the reason–Padre Camorra was reputed
to be very fond of the women and was very frolicsome–so she tried
to reassure her. “You’ve nothing to fear if I go with you. Haven’t
you read in the booklet _Tandang Basio_, given you by the curate,
that the girls should go to the convento, even without the knowledge
of their elders, to relate what is going on at home? _Abá_, that book
is printed with the permission of the Archbishop!”

Juli became impatient and wished to cut short such talk, so she begged
the pious woman to go if she wished, but his Honor observed with a
belch that the supplications of a youthful face were more moving than
those of an old one, the sky poured its dew over the fresh flowers
in greater abundance than over the withered ones. The metaphor was
fiendishly beautiful.

Juli did not reply and the two left the house. In the street the
girl firmly refused to go to the convento and they returned to their
village. Sister Bali, who felt offended at this lack of confidence
in herself, on the way home relieved her feelings by administering
a long preachment to the girl.

The truth was that the girl could not take that step without damning
herself in her own eyes, besides being cursed of men and cursed
of God! It had been intimated to her several times, whether with
reason or not, that if she would make that sacrifice her father would
be pardoned, and yet she had refused, in spite of the cries of her
conscience reminding her of her filial duty. Now must she make it for
Basilio, her sweetheart? That would be to fall to the sound of mockery
and laughter from all creation. Basilio himself would despise her! No,
never! She would first hang herself or leap from some precipice. At
any rate, she was already damned for being a wicked daughter.

The poor girl had besides to endure all the reproaches of her
relatives, who, knowing nothing of what had passed between her and
Padre Camovra, laughed at her fears. Would Padre Camorra fix his
attention upon a country girl when there were so many others in the
town? Hero the good women cited names of unmarried girls, rich and
beautiful, who had been more or less unfortunate. Meanwhile, if they
should shoot Basilio?

Juli covered her ears and stared wildly about, as if seeking a voice
that might plead for her, but she saw only her grandfather, who was
dumb and had his gaze fixed on his hunting-spear.

That night she scarcely slept at all. Dreams and nightmares, some
funereal, some bloody, danced before her sight and woke her often,
bathed in cold perspiration. She fancied that she heard shots, she
imagined that she saw her father, that father who had done so much
for her, fighting in the forests, hunted like a wild beast because
she had refused to save him. The figure of her father was transformed
and she recognized Basilio, dying, with looks of reproach at her. The
wretched girl arose, prayed, wept, called upon her mother, upon death,
and there was even a moment when, overcome with terror, if it had
not been night-time, she would have run straight to the convento,
let happen what would.

With the coming of day the sad presentiments and the terrors of
darkness were partly dissipated. The light inspired hopes in her. But
the news of the afternoon was terrible, for there was talk of persons
shot, so the next night was for the girl frightful. In her desperation
she decided to give herself up as soon as day dawned and then kill
herself afterwards–anything, rather than enditre such tortures! But
the dawn brought new hope and she would not go to church or even
leave the house. She was afraid she would yield.

So passed several days in praying and cursing, in calling upon God
and wishing for death. The day gave her a slight respite and she
trusted in some miracle. The reports that came from Manila, although
they reached there magnified, said that of the prisoners some had
secured their liberty, thanks to patrons and influence. Some one
had to be sacrificed–who would it be? Juli shuddered and returned
home biting her finger-nails. Then came the night with its terrors,
which took on double proportions and seemed to be converted into
realities. Juli feared to fall asleep, for her slumbers were a
continuous nightmare. Looks of reproach would flash across her eyelids
just as soon as they were closed, complaints and laments pierced
her ears. She saw her father wandering about hungry, without rest or
repose; she saw Basilio dying in the road, pierced by two bullets,
just as she had seen the corpse of that neighbor who had been killed
while in the charge of the Civil Guard. She saw the bonds that cut
into the flesh, she saw the blood pouring from the mouth, she heard
Basilio calling to her, “Save me! Save me! You alone can save me!” Then
a burst of laughter would resound and she would turn her eyes to see
her father gazing at her with eyes full of reproach. Juli would wake
up, sit up on her _petate_, and draw her hands across her forehead
to arrange her hair–cold sweat, like the sweat of death, moistened it!

“Mother, mother!” she sobbed.

Meanwhile, they who were so carelessly disposing of people’s fates,
he who commanded the legal murders, he who violated justice and made
use of the law to maintain himself by force, slept in peace.

At last a traveler arrived from Manila and reported that all
the prisoners had been set free, all except Basilio, who had no
protector. It was reported in Manila, added the traveler, that the
young man would be deported to the Carolines, having been forced to
sign a petition beforehand, in which he declared that he asked it
voluntarily. [67] The traveler had seen the very steamer that was
going to take him away.

This report put an end to all the girl’s hesitation. Besides, her mind
was already quite weak from so many nights of watching and horrible
dreams. Pale and with unsteady eyes, she sought out Sister Bali and,
in a voice that was cause for alarm, told her that she was ready,
asking her to accompany her. Sister Bali thereupon rejoiced and tried
to soothe her, but Juli paid no attention to her, apparently intent
only upon hurrying to the convento. She had decked herself out in her
finest clothes, and even pretended to be quite gay, talking a great
deal, although in a rather incoherent way.

So they set out. Juli went ahead, becoming impatient that her companion
lagged behind. But as they neared the town, her nervous energy began
gradually to abate, she fell silent and wavered in her resolution,
lessened her pace and soon dropped behind, so that Sister Bali had
to encourage her.

“We’ll get there late,” she remonstrated.

Juli now followed, pale, with downcast eyes, which she was afraid to
raise. She felt that the whole world was staring at her and pointing
its finger at her. A vile name whistled in her ears, but still she
disregarded it and continued on her way. Nevertheless, when they came
in sight of the convento, she stopped and began to tremble.

“Let’s go home, let’s go home,” she begged, holding her companion back.

Sister Bali had to take her by the arm and half drag her along,
reassuring her and telling her about the books of the friars. She
would not desert her, so there was nothing to fear. Padre Camorra
had other things in mind–Juli was only a poor country girl.

But upon arriving at the door of the convento, Juli firmly refused
to go in, catching hold of the wall.

“No, no,” she pleaded in terror. “No, no, no! Have pity!”

“But what a fool–”

Sister Bali pushed her gently along, Juli, pallid and with wild
features, offering resistance. The expression of her face said that
she saw death before her.

“All right, let’s go back, if you don’t want to!” at length the good
woman exclaimed in irritation, as she did not believe there was any
real danger. Padre Camorra, in spite of all his reputation, would
dare do nothing before her.

“Let them carry poor Basilio into exile, let them shoot him on the
way, saying that he tried to escape,” she added. “When he’s dead,
then remorse will come. But as for myself, I owe him no favors,
so he can’t reproach me!”

That was the decisive stroke. In the face of that reproach, with wrath
and desperation mingled, like one who rushes to suicide, Juli closed
her eyes in order not to see the abyss into which she was hurling
herself and resolutely entered the convento. A sigh that sounded
like the rattle of death escaped from her lips. Sister Bali followed,
telling her how to act.

That night comments were mysteriously whispered about certain events
which had occurred that afternoon. A girl had leaped from a window
of the convento, falling upon some stones and killing herself. Almost
at the same time another woman had rushed out of the convento to run
through the streets shouting and screaming like a lunatic. The prudent
townsfolk dared not utter any names and many mothers pinched their
daughters for letting slip expressions that might compromise them.

Later, very much later, at twilight, an old man came from a village
and stood calling at the door of the convento, which was closed and
guarded by sacristans. The old man beat the door with his fists and
with his head, while he littered cries stifled and inarticulate, like
those of a dumb person, until he was at length driven away by blows and
shoves. Then he made his way to the gobernadorcillo’s house, but was
told that the gobernadorcillo was not there, he was at the convento;
he went to the Justice of the Peace, but neither was the Justice of
the Peace at home–he had been summoned to the convento; he went to
the teniente-mayor, but he too was at the convento; he directed his
steps to the barracks, but the lieutenant of the Civil Guard was at
the convento. The old man then returned to his village, weeping like a
child. His wails were heard in the middle of the night, causing men to
bite their lips and women to clasp their hands, while the dogs slunk
fearfully back into the houses with their tails between their legs.

“Ah, God, God!” said a poor woman, lean from fasting, “in Thy presence
there is no rich, no poor, no white, no black–Thou wilt grant us
justice!”

“Yes,” rejoined her husband, “just so that God they preach is not a
pure invention, a fraud! They themselves are the first not to believe
in Him.”

At eight o’clock in the evening it was rumored that more than
seven friars, proceeding from neighboring towns, were assembled in
the convento to hold a conference. On the following day, Tandang
Selo disappeared forever from the village, carrying with him his
hunting-spear.

CHAPTER XXXI

THE HIGH OFFICIAL

L’Espagne et sa, vertu, l’Espagne et sa grandeur
Tout s’en va!–Victor Hugo

The newspapers of Manila were so engrossed in accounts of a notorious
murder committed in Europe, in panegyrics and puffs for various
preachers in the city, in the constantly increasing success of the
French operetta, that they could scarcely devote space to the crimes
perpetrated in the provinces by a band of tulisanes headed by a fierce
and terrible leader who was called _Matanglawin._ [68] Only when the
object of the attack was a convento or a Spaniard there then appeared
long articles giving frightful details and asking for martial law,
energetic measures, and so on. So it was that they could take no notice
of what had occurred in the town of Tiani, nor was there the slightest
hint or allusion to it. In private circles something was whispered,
but so confused, so vague, and so little consistent, that not even
the name of the victim was known, while those who showed the greatest
interest forgot it quickly, trusting that the affair had been settled
in some way with the wronged family. The only one who knew anything
certain was Padre Camorra, who had to leave the town, to be transferred
to another or to remain for some time in the convento in Manila.

“Poor Padre Camorra!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb in a fit of generosity. “He
was so jolly and had such a good heart!”

It was true that the students had recovered their liberty, thanks to
the exertions of their relatives, who did not hesitate at expense,
gifts, or any sacrifice whatsoever. The first to see himself free, as
was to be expected, was Makaraig, and the last Isagani, because Padre
Florentine did not reach Manila until a week after the events. So
many acts of clemency secured for the General the title of clement
and merciful, which Ben-Zayb hastened to add to his long list of
adjectives.

The only one who did not obtain his liberty was Basilio, since he was
also accused of having in his possession prohibited books. We don’t
know whether this referred to his text-book on legal medicine or to
the pamphlets that were found, dealing with the Philippines, or both
together–the fact is that it was said that prohibited literature
was being secretly sold, and upon the unfortunate boy fell all the
weight of the rod of justice.

It was reported that his Excellency had been thus advised: “It’s
necessary that there be some one, so that the prestige of authority
may be sustained and that it may not be said that we made a great fuss
over nothing. Authority before everything. It’s necessary that some
one be made an example of. Let there be just one, one who, according
to Padre Irene, was the servant of Capitan Tiago–there’ll be no one
to enter a complaint–”

“Servant and student?” asked his Excellency. “That fellow, then! Let
it be he!”

“Your Excellency will pardon me,” observed the high official, who
happened to be present, “but I’ve been told that this boy is a medical
student and his teachers speak well of him. If he remains a prisoner
he’ll lose a year, and as this year he finishes–”

The high official’s interference in behalf of Basilio, instead
of helping, harmed him. For some time there had been between this
official and his Excellency strained relations and bad feelings,
augmented by frequent clashes.

“Yes? So much the greater reason that he should be kept prisoner;
a year longer in his studies, instead of injuring him, will do good,
not only to himself but to all who afterwards fall into his hands. One
doesn’t become a bad physician by extensive practise. So much the
more reason that he should remain! Soon the filibustering reformers
will say that we are not looking out for the country!” concluded his
Excellency with a sarcastic laugh.

The high official realized that he had made a false move and took
Basilio’s case to heart. “But it seems to me that this young man is
the most innocent of all,” he rejoined rather timidly.

“Books have been seized in his possession,” observed the secretary.

“Yes, works on medicine and pamphlets written by Peninsulars, with
the leaves uncut, and besides, what does that signify? Moreover,
this young man was not present at the banquet in the _pansitería_,
he hasn’t mixed up in anything. As I’ve said, he’s the most innocent–”

“So much the better!” exclaimed his Excellency jocosely. “In that
way the punishment will prove more salutary and exemplary, since it
inspires greater terror. To govern is to act in this way, my dear
sir, as it is often expedient to sacrifice the welfare of one to the
welfare of many. But I’m doing more–from the welfare of one will
result the welfare of all, the principle of endangered authority is
preserved, prestige is respected and maintained. By this act of mine
I’m correcting my own and other people’s faults.”

The high official restrained himself with an effort and, disregarding
the allusion, decided to take another tack. “But doesn’t your
Excellency fear the–responsibility?”

“What have I to fear?” rejoined the General impatiently. “Haven’t
I discretionary powers? Can’t I do what I please for the better
government of these islands? What have I to fear? Can some
menial perhaps arraign me before the tribunals and exact from me
responsibility? Even though he had the means, he would have to consult
the Ministry first, and the Minister–”

He waved his hand and burst out into laughter.

“The Minister who appointed me, the devil knows where he is, and
he will feel honored in being able to welcome me when I return. The
present one, I don’t even think of him, and the devil take him too! The
one that relieves him will find himself in so many difficulties with
his new duties that he won’t be able to fool with trifles. I, my dear
sir, have nothing over me but my conscience, I act according to my
conscience, and my conscience is satisfied, so I don’t care a straw
for the opinions of this one and that. My conscience, my dear sir,
my conscience!”

“Yes, General, but the country–”

“Tut, tut, tut, tut! The country–what have I to do Avith the
country? Have I perhaps contracted any obligations to it? Do I owe
my office to it? Was it the country that elected me?”

A brief pause ensued, during which the high official stood with bowed
head. Then, as if reaching a decision, he raised it to stare fixedly
at the General. Pale and trembling, he said with repressed energy:
“That doesn’t matter, General, that doesn’t matter at all! Your
Excellency has not been chosen by the Filipino people, but by Spain,
all the more reason why you should treat the Filipinos well so that
they may not be able to reproach Spain. The greater reason, General,
the greater reason! Your Excellency, by coming here, has contracted
the obligation to govern justly, to seek the welfare–”

“Am I not doing it?” interrupted his Excellency in exasperation,
taking a step forward. “Haven’t I told you that I am getting from the
good of one the good of all? Are you now going to give me lessons? If
you don’t understand my actions, how am I to blame? Do I compel you
to share my responsibility?”

“Certainly not,” replied the high official, drawing himself up
proudly. “Your Excellency does not compel me, your Excellency cannot
compel me, _me,_ to share _your_ responsibility. I understand mine in
quite another way, and because I have it, I’m going to speak–I’ve held
my peace a long time. Oh, your Excellency needn’t make those gestures,
because the fact that I’ve come here in this or that capacity doesn’t
mean that I have given up my rights, that I have been reduced to the
part of a slave, without voice or dignity.

“I don’t want Spain to lose this beautiful empire, these eight
millions of patient and submissive subjects, who live on hopes and
delusions, but neither do I wish to soil my hands in their barbarous
exploitation. I don’t wish it ever to be said that, the slave-trade
abolished, Spain has continued to cloak it with her banner and
perfect it under a wealth of specious institutions. No, to be great
Spain does not have to be a tyrant, Spain is sufficient unto herself,
Spain was greater when she had only her own territory, wrested from
the clutches of the Moor. I too am a Spaniard, but before being a
Spaniard I am a man, and before Spain and above Spain is her honor,
the lofty principles of morality, the eternal principles of immutable
justice! Ah, you are surprised that I think thus, because you have no
idea of the grandeur of the Spanish name, no, you haven’t any idea of
it, you identify it with persons and interests. To you the Spaniard may
be a pirate, he may be a murderer, a hypocrite, a cheat, anything,
just so he keep what he has–but to me the Spaniard should lose
everything, empire, power, wealth, everything, before his honor! Ah,
my dear sir, we protest when we read that might is placed before right,
yet we applaud when in practise we see might play the hypocrite in
not only perverting right but even in using it as a tool in order to
gain control. For the very reason that I love Spain, I’m speaking now,
and I defy your frown!

“I don’t wish that the coming ages accuse Spain of being the stepmother
of the nations, the vampire of races, the tyrant of small islands,
since it would be a horrible mockery of the noble principles of our
ancient kings. How are we carrying out their sacred legacy? They
promised to these islands protection and justice, and we are playing
with the lives and liberties of the inhabitants; they promised
civilization, and^we are curtailing it, fearful that they may aspire
to a nobler existence; they promised them light, and we cover their
eyes that they may not witness our orgies; they promised to teach them
virtue and we are encouraging their vice. Instead of peace, wealth,
and justice, confusion reigns, commerce languishes, and skepticism
is fostered among the masses.

“Let us put ourselves in the place of the Filipinos and ask ourselves
what we would do in their place. Ah, in your silence I read their
right to rebel, and if matters do not mend they will rebel some day,
and justice will be on their side, with them will go the sympathy
of all honest men, of every patriot in the world! When a people is
denied light, home, liberty, and justice–things that are essential
to life, and therefore man’s patrimony–that people has the right to
treat him who so despoils it as we would the robber who intercepts us
on the highway. There are no distinctions, there are no exceptions,
nothing but a fact, a right, an aggression, and every honest man who
does not place himself on the side of the wronged makes himself an
accomplice and stains his conscience.

“True, I am not a soldier, and the years are cooling the little fire
in my blood, but just as I would risk being torn to pieces to defend
the integrity of Spain against any foreign invader or against an
unjustified disloyalty in her provinces, so I also assure you that I
would place myself beside the oppressed Filipinos, because I would
prefer to fall in the cause of the outraged rights of humanity to
triumphing with the selfish interests of a nation, even when that
nation be called as it is called–Spain!”

“Do you know when the mail-boat leaves?” inquired his Excellency
coldly, when the high official had finished speaking.

The latter stared at him fixedly, then dropped his head and silently
left the palace.

Outside he found his carriage awaiting him. “Some day when you declare
yourselves independent,” he said somewhat abstractedly to the native
lackey who opened the carriage-door for him, “remember that there
were not lacking in Spain hearts that beat for you and struggled for
your rights!”

“Where, sir?” asked the lackey, who had understood nothing of this
and was inquiring whither they should go.

Two hours later the high official handed in his resignation and
announced his intention of returning to Spain by the next mail-steamer.

CHAPTER XXXII

EFFECT OF THE PASQUINADES

As a result of the events narrated, many mothers ordered their sons
immediately to leave off their studies and devote themselves to
idleness or to agriculture. When the examinations came, suspensions
were plentiful, and he was a rare exception who finished the course,
if he had belonged to the famous association, to which no one paid
any more attention. Pecson, Tadeo, and Juanito Pelaez were all alike
suspended–the first receiving his dismissal with his foolish grin
and declaring his intention of becoming an officer in some court,
while Tadeo, with his eternal holiday realized at last, paid for an
illumination and made a bonfire of his books. Nor did the others get
off much better, and at length they too had to abandon their studies,
to the great satisfaction of their mothers, who always fancy their sons
hanged if they should come to understand what the books teach. Juanito
Pelaez alone took the blow ill, since it forced him to leave school for
his father’s store, with whom he was thenceforward to be associated
in the business: the rascal found the store much less entertaining,
but after some time his friends again noticed his hump appear,
a symptom that his good humor was returning. The rich Makaraig,
in view of the catastrophe, took good care not to expose himself,
and having secured a passport by means of money set out in haste for
Europe. It was said that his Excellency, the Captain-General, in his
desire to do good by good means, and careful of the interests of the
Filipinos, hindered the departure of every one who could not first
prove substantially that he had the money to spend and could live in
idleness in European cities. Among our acquaintances those who got off
best were Isagani and Sandoval: the former passed in the subject he
studied under Padre Fernandez and was suspended in the others, while
the latter was able to confuse the examining-board with his oratory.

Basilio was the only one who did not pass in any subject, who was
not suspended, and who did not go to Europe, for he remained in
Bilibid prison, subjected every three days to examinations, almost
always the same in principle, without other variation than a change of
inquisitors, since it seemed that in the presence of such great guilt
all gave up or fell away in horror. And while the documents moldered
or were shifted about, while the stamped papers increased like the
plasters of an ignorant physician on the body of a hypochondriac,
Basilio became informed of all the details of what had happened
in Tiani, of the death of Juli and the disappearance of Tandang
Selo. Sinong, the abused cochero, who had driven him to San Diego,
happened to be in Manila at that time and called to give him all
the news.

Meanwhile, Simoun had recovered his health, or so at least the
newspapers said. Ben-Zayb rendered thanks to “the Omnipotent who
watches over such a precious life,” and manifested the hope that the
Highest would some day reveal the malefactor, whose crime remained
unpunished, thanks to the charity of the victim, who was too closely
following the words of the Great Martyr: _Father, forgive them, for
they know not what they do._ These and other things Ben-Zayb said in
print, while by mouth he was inquiring whether there was any truth in
the rumor that the opulent jeweler was going to give a grand fiesta,
a banquet such as had never before been seen, in part to celebrate
his recovery and in part as a farewell to the country in which he had
increased his fortune. It was whispered as certain that Simoun, who
would have to leave with the Captain-General, whose command expired
in May, was making every effort to secure from Madrid an extension,
and that he was advising his Excellency to start a campaign in order to
have an excuse for remaining, but it was further reported that for the
first time his Excellency had disregarded the advice of his favorite,
making it a point of honor not to retain for a single additional day
the power that had been conferred upon him, a rumor which encouraged
belief that the fiesta announced would take place; very soon. For
the rest, Simoun remained unfathomable, since he had become very
uncommunicative, showed himself seldom, and smiled mysteriously when
the rumored fiesta was mentioned.

“Come, Señor Sindbad,” Ben-Zayb had once rallied him, “dazzle us with
something Yankee! You owe something to this country.”

“Doubtless!” was Simoun’s response, with a dry smile.

“You’ll throw the house wide open, eh?”

“Maybe, but as I have no house–”

“You ought to have secured Capitan Tiago’s, which Señor Pelaez got
for nothing.”

Simoun became silent, and from that time on he was often seen in the
store of Don Timoteo Pelaez, with whom it was said he had entered
into partnership. Some weeks afterward, in the month of April, it was
rumored that Juanito Pelaez, Don Timoteo’s son, was going to marry
Paulita Gomez, the girl coveted by Spaniards and foreigners.

“Some men are lucky!” exclaimed other envious merchants. “To buy a
house for nothing, sell his consignment of galvanized iron well,
get into partnership with a Simoun, and marry his son to a rich
heiress–just say if those aren’t strokes of luck that all honorable
men don’t have!”

“If you only knew whence came that luck of Señor Pelaez’s!” another
responded, in a tone which indicated that the speaker did know. “It’s
also assured that there’ll be a fiesta and on a grand scale,” was
added with mystery.

It was really true that Paulita was going to marry Juanito Pelaez. Her
love for Isagani had gradually waned, like all first loves based
on poetry and sentiment. The events of the pasquinades and the
imprisonment of the youth had shorn him of all his charms. To whom
would it have occurred to seek danger, to desire to share the fate
of his comrades, to surrender himself, when every one was hiding and
denying any complicity in the affair? It was quixotic, it was madness
that no sensible person in Manila could pardon, and Juanito was quite
right in ridiculing him, representing what a sorry figure he cut when
he went to the Civil Government. Naturally, the brilliant Paulita
could no longer love a young man who so erroneously understood social
matters and whom all condemned. Then she began to reflect. Juanito was
clever, capable, gay, shrewd, the son of a rich merchant of Manila,
and a Spanish mestizo besides–if Don Timoteo was to be believed,
a full-blooded Spaniard. On the other hand, Isagani was a provincial
native who dreamed of forests infested with leeches, he was of doubtful
family, with a priest for an uncle, who would perhaps be an enemy to
luxury and balls, of which she was very fond. One beautiful morning
therefore it occurred to her that she had been a downright fool to
prefer him to his rival, and from that time on Pelaez’s hump steadily
increased. Unconsciously, yet rigorously, Paulita was obeying the
law discovered by Darwin, that the female surrenders herself to the
fittest male, to him who knows how to adapt himself to the medium in
which he lives, and to live in Manila there was no other like Pelaez,
who from his infancy had had chicanery at his finger-tips. Lent passed
with its Holy Week, its array of processions and pompous displays,
without other novelty than a mysterious mutiny among the artillerymen,
the cause of which was never disclosed. The houses of light materials
were torn down in the presence of a troop of cavalry, ready to fall
upon the owners in case they should offer resistance. There was a
great deal of weeping and many lamentations, but the affair did not
get beyond that. The curious, among them Simoun, went to see those
who were left homeless, walking about indifferently and assuring each
other that thenceforward they could sleep in peace.

Towards the end of April, all the fears being now forgotten, Manila
was engrossed with one topic: the fiesta that Don Timoteo Pelaez was
going to celebrate at the wedding of his son, for which the General
had graciously and condescendingly agreed to be the patron. Simoun
was reported to have arranged the matter. The ceremony would
be solemnized two days before the departure of the General, who
would honor the house and make a present to the bridegroom. It was
whispered that the jeweler would pour out cascades of diamonds and
throw away handfuls of pearls in honor of his partner’s son, thus,
since he could hold no fiesta of his own, as he was a bachelor and
had no house, improving the opportunity to dazzle the Filipino people
with a memorable farewell. All Manila prepared to be invited, and
never did uneasiness take stronger hold of the mind than in view of
the thought of not being among those bidden. Friendship with Simoun
became a matter of dispute, and many husbands were forced by their
wives to purchase bars of steel and sheets of galvanized iron in
order to make friends with Don Timoteo Pelaez.

CHAPTER XXXIII

LA ULTIMA RAZÓN [69]

At last the great day arrived. During the morning Simoun had not left
his house, busied as he was in packing his arms and his jewels. His
fabulous wealth was already locked up in the big steel chest with its
canvas cover, there remaining only a few cases containing bracelets
and pins, doubtless gifts that he meant to make. He was going to leave
with the Captain-General, who cared in no way to lengthen his stay,
fearful of what people would say. Malicious ones insinuated that Simoun
did not dare remain alone, since without the General’s support he did
not care to expose himself to the vengeance of the many wretches he
had exploited, all the more reason for which was the fact that the
General who was coming was reported to be a model of rectitude and
might make him disgorge his gains. The superstitious Indians, on the
other hand, believed that Simoun was the devil who did not wish to
separate himself from his prey. The pessimists winked maliciously and
said, “The field laid waste, the locust leaves for other parts!” Only
a few, a very few, smiled and said nothing.

In the afternoon Simoun had given orders to his servant that if there
appeared a young man calling himself Basilio he should be admitted
at once. Then he shut himself up in his room and seemed to become
lost in deep thought. Since his illness the jeweler’s countenance had
become harder and gloomier, while the wrinkles between his eyebrows
had deepened greatly. He did not hold himself so erect as formerly,
and his head was bowed.

So absorbed was he in his meditations that he did not hear a knock
at the door, and it had to be repeated. He shuddered and called out,
“Come in!”

It was Basilio, but how altered! If the change that had taken place
in Simoun during those two months was great, in the young student it
was frightful. His cheeks were hollow, his hair unkempt, his clothing
disordered. The tender melancholy had disappeared from his eyes,
and in its place glittered a dark light, so that it might be said
that he had died and his corpse had revived, horrified with what it
had seen in eternity. If not crime, then the shadow of crime, had
fixed itself upon his whole appearance. Simoun himself was startled
and felt pity for the wretch.

Without any greeting Basilio slowly advanced into the room, and in
a voice that made the jeweler shudder said to him, “Señor Simoun,
I’ve been a wicked son and a bad brother–I’ve overlooked the murder
of one and the tortures of the other, and God has chastised me! Now
there remains to me only one desire, and it is to return evil for evil,
crime for crime, violence for violence!”

Simoun listened in silence, while Basilio continued; “Four months ago
you talked to me about your plans. I refused to take part in them,
but I did wrong, you have been right. Three months and a half ago
the revolution was on the point of breaking out, but I did not then
care to participate in it, and the movement failed. In payment for
my conduct I’ve been arrested and owe my liberty to your efforts
only. You are right and now I’ve come to say to you: put a weapon
in my hand and let the revolution come! I am ready to serve you,
along with all the rest of the unfortunates.”

The cloud that had darkened Simoun’s brow suddenly disappeared, a ray
of triumph darted from his eyes, and like one who has found what he
sought he exclaimed: “I’m right, yes, I’m right! Right and Justice
are on my side, because my cause is that of the persecuted. Thanks,
young man, thanks! You’ve come to clear away my doubts, to end my
hesitation.”

He had risen and his face was beaming. The zeal that had animated him
when four months before he had explained his plans to Basilio in the
wood of his ancestors reappeared in his countenance like a red sunset
after a cloudy day.

“Yes,” he resumed, “the movement failed and many have deserted me
because they saw me disheartened and wavering at the supreme moment. I
still cherished something in my heart, I was not the master of all
my feelings, I still loved! Now everything is dead in me, no longer
is there even a corpse sacred enough for me to respect its sleep. No
longer will there be any vacillation, for you yourself, an idealistic
youth, a gentle dove, understand the necessity and come to spur me to
action. Somewhat late you have opened your eyes, for between you and
me together we might have executed marvelous plans, I above in the
higher circles spreading death amid perfume and gold, brutalizing the
vicious and corrupting or paralyzing the few good, and you below among
the people, among the young men, stirring them to life amid blood and
tears. Our task, instead of being bloody and barbarous, would have
been holy, perfect, artistic, and surely success would have crowned
our efforts. But no intelligence would support me, I encountered fear
or effeminacy among the enlightened classes, selfishness among the
rich, simplicity among the youth, and only in the mountains, in the
waste places, among the outcasts, have I found my men. But no matter
now! If we can’t get a finished statue, rounded out in all its details,
of the rough block we work upon let those to come take charge!”

Seizing the arm of Basilio, who was listening without comprehending
all he said, he led him to the laboratory where he kept his chemical
mixtures. Upon the table was placed a large case made of dark shagreen,
similar to those that hold the silver plate exchanged as gifts among
the rich and powerful. Opening this, Simoun revealed to sight, upon
a bottom of red satin, a lamp of very peculiar shape, Its body was in
the form of a pomegranate as large as a man’s head, with fissures in
it exposing to view the seeds inside, which were fashioned of enormous
carnelians. The covering was of oxidized gold in exact imitation of
the wrinkles on the fruit.

Simoun took it out with great care and, removing the burner,
exposed to view the interior of the tank, which was lined with
steel two centimeters in thickness and which had a capacity of over a
liter. Basilio questioned him with his eyes, for as yet he comprehended
nothing. Without entering upon explanations, Simoun carefully took from
a cabinet a flask and showed the young man the formula written upon it.

“Nitro-glycerin!” murmured Basilio, stepping backward and instinctively
thrusting his hands behind him. “Nitro-glycerin! Dynamite!” Beginning
now to understand, he felt his hair stand on end.

“Yes, nitro-glycerin!” repeated Simoun slowly, with his cold smile and
a look of delight at the glass flask. “It’s also something more than
nitro-glycerin–it’s concentrated tears, repressed hatred, wrongs,
injustice, outrage. It’s the last resort of the weak, force against
force, violence against violence. A moment ago I was hesitating,
but you have come and decided me. This night the most dangerous
tyrants will be blown to pieces, the irresponsible rulers that hide
themselves behind God and the State, whose abuses remain unpunished
because no one can bring them to justice. This night the Philippines
will hear the explosion that will convert into rubbish the formless
monument whose decay I have fostered.”

Basilio was so terrified that his lips worked without producing any
sound, his tongue was paralyzed, his throat parched. For the first
time he was looking at the powerful liquid which he had heard talked
of as a thing distilled in gloom by gloomy men, in open war against
society. Now he had it before him, transparent and slightly yellowish,
poured with great caution into the artistic pomegranate. Simoun looked
to him like the jinnee of the _Arabian Nights_ that sprang from the
sea, he took on gigantic proportions, his head touched the sky, he
made the house tremble and shook the whole city with a shrug of his
shoulders. The pomegranate assumed the form of a colossal sphere,
the fissures became hellish grins whence escaped names and glowing
cinders. For the first time in his life Basilio was overcome with
fright and completely lost his composure.

Simoun, meanwhile, screwed on solidly a curious and complicated
mechanism, put in place a glass chimney, then the bomb, and crowned
the whole with an elegant shade. Then he moved away some distance to
contemplate the effect, inclining his head now to one side, now to
the other, thus better to appreciate its magnificent appearance.

Noticing that Basilio was watching him with questioning and suspicious
eyes, he said, “Tonight there will be a fiesta and this lamp will
be placed in a little dining-kiosk that I’ve had constructed for
the purpose. The lamp will give a brilliant light, bright enough to
suffice for the illumination of the whole place by itself, but at
the end of twenty minutes the light will fade, and then when some
one tries to turn up the wick a cap of fulminate of mercury will
explode, the pomegranate will blow up and with it the dining-room,
in the roof and floor of which I have concealed sacks of powder,
so that no one shall escape.”

There wras a moment’s silence, while Simoun stared at his mechanism
and Basilio scarcely breathed.

“So my assistance is not needed,” observed the young man.

“No, you have another mission to fulfill,” replied Simoun
thoughtfully. “At nine the mechanism will have exploded and the report
will have been heard in the country round, in the mountains, in the
caves. The uprising that I had arranged with the artillerymen was
a failure from lack of plan and timeliness, but this time it won’t
be so. Upon hearing the explosion, the wretched and the oppressed,
those who wander about pursued by force, will sally forth armed to
join Cabesang Tales in Santa Mesa, whence they will fall upon the city,
[70] while the soldiers, whom I have made to believe that the General
is shamming an insurrection in order to remain, will issue from their
barracks ready to fire upon whomsoever I may designate. Meanwhile,
the cowed populace, thinking that the hour of massacre has come,
will rush out prepared to kill or be killed, and as they have neither
arms nor organization, you with some others will put yourself at
their head and direct them to the warehouses of Quiroga, where I
keep my rifles. Cabesang Tales and I will join one another in the
city and take possession of it, while you in the suburbs will seize
the bridges and throw up barricades, and then be ready to come to
our aid to butcher not only those opposing the revolution but also
every man who refuses to take up arms and join us.”

“All?” stammered Basilio in a choking voice.

“All!” repeated Simoun in a sinister tone. “All–Indians, mestizos,
Chinese, Spaniards, all who are found to be without courage, without
energy. The race must be renewed! Cowardly fathers will only breed
slavish sons, and it wouldn’t be worth while to destroy and then try to
rebuild with rotten materials. What, do you shudder? Do you tremble,
do you fear to scatter death? What is death? What does a hecatomb of
twenty thousand wretches signify? Twenty thousand miseries less, and
millions of wretches saved from birth! The most timid ruler does not
hesitate to dictate a law that produces misery and lingering death
for thousands and thousands of prosperous and industrious subjects,
happy perchance, merely to satisfy a caprice, a whim, his pride,
and yet you shudder because in one night are to be ended forever the
mental tortures of many helots, because a vitiated and paralytic people
has to die to give place to another, young, active, full of energy!

“What is death? Nothingness, or a dream? Can its specters be compared
to the reality of the agonies of a whole miserable generation? The
needful thing is to destroy the evil, to kill the dragon and
bathe the new people in the blood, in order to make it strong and
invulnerable. What else is the inexorable law of Nature, the law of
strife in which the weak has to succumb so that the vitiated species
be not perpetuated and creation thus travel backwards? Away then with
effeminate scruples! Fulfill the eternal laws, foster them, and then
the earth will be so much the more fecund the more it is fertilized
with blood, and the thrones the more solid the more they rest upon
crimes and corpses. Let there be no hesitation, no doubtings! What is
the pain of death? A momentary sensation, perhaps confused, perhaps
agreeable, like the transition from waking to sleep. What is it that
is being destroyed? Evil, suffering–feeble weeds, in order to set in
their place luxuriant plants. Do you call that destruction? I should
call it creating, producing, nourishing, vivifying!”

Such bloody sophisms, uttered with conviction and coolness, overwhelmed
the youth, weakened as he was by more than three months in prison
and blinded by his passion for revenge, so he was not in a mood to
analyze the moral basis of the matter. Instead of replying that the
worst and cowardliest of men is always something more than a plant,
because he has a soul and an intelligence, which, however vitiated
and brutalized they may be, can be redeemed; instead of replying that
man has no right to dispose of one life for the benefit of another,
that the right to life is inherent in every individual like the right
to liberty and to light; instead of replying that if it is an abuse on
the part of governments to punish in a culprit the faults and crimes
to which they have driven him by their own negligence or stupidity,
how much more so would it be in a man, however great and however
unfortunate he might be, to punish in a wretched people the faults of
its governments and its ancestors; instead of declaring that God alone
can use such methods, that God can destroy because He can create,
God who holds in His hands recompense, eternity, and the future,
to justify His acts, and man never; instead of these reflections,
Basilio merely interposed a cant reflection.

“What will the world say at the sight of such butchery?”

“The world will applaud, as usual, conceding the right of
the strongest, the most violent!” replied Simoun with his cruel
smile. “Europe applauded when the western nations sacrificed millions
of Indians in America, and not by any means to found nations much more
moral or more pacific: there is the North with its egotistic liberty,
its lynch-law, its political frauds–the South with its turbulent
republics, its barbarous revolutions, civil wars, pronunciamientos,
as in its mother Spain! Europe applauded when the powerful Portugal
despoiled the Moluccas, it applauds while England is destroying the
primitive races in the Pacific to make room for its emigrants. Europe
will applaud as the end of a drama, the close of a tragedy, is
applauded, for the vulgar do not fix their attention on principles,
they look only at results. Commit the crime well, and you will be
admired and have more partizans than if you had carried out virtuous
actions with modesty and timidity.”

“Exactly,” rejoined the youth, “what does it matter to me, after all,
whether they praise or censure, when this world takes no care of the
oppressed, of the poor, and of weak womankind? What obligations have
I to recognize toward society when it has recognized none toward me?”

“That’s what I like to hear,” declared the tempter triumphantly. He
took a revolver from a case and gave it to Basilio, saying, “At
ten o’clock wait for me in front of the church of St. Sebastian to
receive my final instructions. Ah, at nine you must be far, very far
from Calle Anloague.”

Basilio examined the weapon, loaded it, and placed it in the inside
pocket of his coat, then took his leave with a curt, “I’ll see
you later.”

CHAPTER XXXIV

THE WEDDING

Once in the street, Basilio began to consider how he might spend the
time until the fatal hour arrived, for it was then not later than seven
o’clock. It was the vacation period and all the students were back in
their towns, Isagani being the only one who had not cared to leave,
but he had disappeared that morning and no one knew his whereabouts–so
Basilio had been informed when after leaving the prison he had gone
to visit his friend and ask him for lodging. The young man did not
know where to go, for he had no money, nothing but the revolver. The
memory of the lamp filled his imagination, the great catastrophe that
would occur within two hours. Pondering over this, he seemed to see
the men who passed before his eyes walking without heads, and he felt a
thrill of ferocious joy in telling himself that, hungry and destitute,
he that night was going to be dreaded, that from a poor student and
servant, perhaps the sun would see him transformed into some one
terrible and sinister, standing upon pyramids of corpses, dictating
laws to all those who were passing before his gaze now in magnificent
carriages. He laughed like one condemned to death and patted the butt
of the revolver. The boxes of cartridges were also in his pockets.

A question suddenly occurred to him–where would the drama begin? In
his bewilderment he had not thought of asking Simoun, but the
latter had warned him to keep away from Calle Anloague. Then came a
suspicion: that afternoon, upon leaving the prison, he had proceeded
to the former house of Capitan Tiago to get his few personal effects
and had found it transformed, prepared for a fiesta–the wedding of
Juanito Pelaez! Simoun had spoken of a fiesta.

At this moment he noticed passing in front of him a long line of
carriages filled with ladies and gentlemen, conversing in a lively
manner, and he even thought he could make out big bouquets of flowers,
but he gave the detail no thought. The carriages were going toward
Calle Rosario and in meeting those that came down off the Bridge
of Spain had to move along slowly and stop frequently. In one he
saw Juanito Pelaez at the side of a woman dressed in white with a
transparent veil, in whom he recognized Paulita Gomez.

“Paulita!” he ejaculated in surprise, realizing that it was indeed
she, in a bridal gown, along with Juanito Pelaez, as though they
were just coming from the church. “Poor Isagani!” he murmured,
“what can have become of him?”

He thought for a while about his friend, a great and generous soul,
and mentally asked himself if it would not be well to tell him about
the plan, then answered himself that Isagani would never take part
in such a butchery. They had not treated Isagani as they had him.

Then he thought that had there been no imprisonment, he would have
been betrothed, or a husband, at this time, a licentiate in medicine,
living and working in some corner of his province. The ghost of
Juli, crushed in her fall, crossed his mind, and dark flames of
hatred lighted his eyes; again he caressed the butt of the revolver,
regretting that the terrible hour had not yet come. Just then he saw
Simoun come out of the door of his house, carrying in his hands the
case containing the lamp, carefully wrapped up, and enter a carriage,
which then followed those bearing the bridal party. In order not to
lose track of Simoun, Basilio took a good look at the cochero and
with astonishment recognized in him the wretch who had driven him to
San Diego, Sinong, the fellow maltreated by the Civil Guard, the same
who had come to the prison to tell him about the occurrences in Tiani.

Conjecturing that Calle Anloague was to be the scene of action, thither
the youth directed his steps, hurrying forward and getting ahead of
the carriages, which were, in fact, all moving toward the former house
of Capitan Tiago–there they were assembling in search of a ball,
but actually to dance in the air! Basilio smiled when he noticed the
pairs of civil-guards who formed the escort, and from their number he
could guess the importance of the fiesta and the guests. The house
overflowed with people and poured floods of light from its windows,
the entrance was carpeted and strewn with flowers. Upstairs there,
perhaps in his former solitary room, an orchestra was playing lively
airs, which did not completely drown the confused tumult of talk
and laughter.

Don Timoteo Pelaez was reaching the pinnacle of fortune, and the
reality surpassed his dreams. He was, at last, marrying his son to
the rich Gomez heiress, and, thanks to the money Simoun had lent him,
he had royally furnished that big house, purchased for half its value,
and was giving in it a splendid fiesta, with the foremost divinities
of the Manila Olympus for his guests, to gild him with the light of
their prestige. Since that morning there had been recurring to him,
with the persistence of a popular song, some vague phrases that he had
read in the communion service. “Now has the fortunate hour come! Now
draws nigh the happy moment! Soon there will be fulfilled in you the
admirable words of Simoun–‘I live, and yet not I alone, but the
Captain-General liveth in me.'” The Captain-General the patron of
his son! True, he had not attended the ceremony, where Don Custodio
had represented him, but he would come to dine, he would bring a
wedding-gift, a lamp which not even Aladdin’s–between you and me,
Simoun was presenting the lamp. Timoteo, what more could you desire?

The transformation that Capitan Tiago’s house had undergone was
considerable–it had been richly repapered, while the smoke and
the smell of opium had been completely eradicated. The immense
sala, widened still more by the colossal mirrors that infinitely
multiplied the lights of the chandeliers, was carpeted throughout,
for the salons of Europe had carpets, and even though the floor
was of wide boards brilliantly polished, a carpet it must have too,
since nothing should be lacking. The rich furniture of Capitan Tiago
had disappeared and in its place was to be seen another kind, in the
style of Louis XV. Heavy curtains of red velvet, trimmed with gold,
with the initials of the bridal couple worked on them, and upheld by
garlands of artificial orange-blossoms, hung as portières and swept
the floor with their wide fringes, likewise of gold. In the corners
appeared enormous Japanese vases, alternating with those of Sèvres
of a clear dark-blue, placed upon square pedestals of carved wood.

The only decorations not in good taste were the screaming chromos
which Don Timoteo had substituted for the old drawings and pictures
of saints of Capitan Tiago. Simoun had been unable to dissuade him,
for the merchant did not want oil-paintings–some one might ascribe
them to Filipino artists! He, a patron of Filipino artists, never! On
that point depended his peace of mind and perhaps his life, and he
knew how to get along in the Philippines! It is true that he had heard
foreign painters mentioned–Raphael, Murillo, Velasquez–but he did
not know their addresses, and then they might prove to be somewhat
seditious. With the chromos he ran no risk, as the Filipinos did not
make them, they came cheaper, the effect was the same, if not better,
the colors brighter and the execution very fine. Don’t say that Don
Timoteo did not know how to comport himself in the Philippines!

The large hallway was decorated with flowers, having been converted
into a dining-room, with a long table for thirty persons in the center,
and around the sides, pushed against the walls, other smaller ones for
two or three persons each. Bouquets of flowers, pyramids of fruits
among ribbons and lights, covered their centers. The groom’s place
was designated by a bunch of roses and the bride’s by another of
orange-blossoms and tuberoses. In the presence of so much finery and
flowers one could imagine that nymphs in gauzy garments and Cupids
with iridescent wings were going to serve nectar and ambrosia to
aerial guests, to the sound of lyres and Aeolian harps.

But the table for the greater gods was not there, being placed
yonder in the middle of the wide azotea within a magnificent kiosk
constructed especially for the occasion. A lattice of gilded wood
over which clambered fragrant vines screened the interior from the
eyes of the vulgar without impeding the free circulation of air to
preserve the coolness necessary at that season. A raised platform
lifted the table above the level of the others at which the ordinary
mortals were going to dine and an arch decorated by the best artists
would protect the august heads from the jealous gaze of the stars.

On this table were laid only seven plates. The dishes were of solid
silver, the cloth and napkins of the finest linen, the wines the
most costly and exquisite. Don Timoteo had sought the most rare and
expensive in everything, nor would he have hesitated at crime had he
been assured that the Captain-General liked to eat human flesh.

CHAPTER XXXV

THE FIESTA

“Danzar sobre un volcán.”

By seven in the evening the guests had begun to arrive: first, the
lesser divinities, petty government officials, clerks, and merchants,
with the most ceremonious greetings and the gravest airs at the start,
as if they were parvenus, for so much light, so many decorations,
and so much glassware had some effect. Afterwards, they began to
be more at ease, shaking their fists playfully, with pats on the
shoulders, and even familiar slaps on the back. Some, it is true,
adopted a rather disdainful air, to let it be seen that they were
accustomed to better things–of course they were! There was one goddess
who yawned, for she found everything vulgar and even remarked that
she was ravenously hungry, while another quarreled with her god,
threatening to box his ears.

Don Timoteo bowed here and bowed there, scattered his best smiles,
tightened his belt, stepped backward, turned halfway round, then
completely around, and so on again and again, until one goddess could
not refrain from remarking to her neighbor, under cover of her fan:
“My dear, how important the old man is! Doesn’t he look like a
jumping-jack?”

Later came the bridal couple, escorted by Doña Victorina and the rest
of the party. Congratulations, hand-shakings, patronizing pats for the
groom: for the bride, insistent stares and anatomical observations
on the part of the men, with analyses of her gown, her toilette,
speculations as to her health and strength on the part of the women.

“Cupid and Psyche appearing on Olympus,” thought Ben-Zayb,
making a mental note of the comparison to spring it at some better
opportunity. The groom had in fact the mischievous features of the god
of love, and with a little good-will his hump, which the severity of
his frock coat did not altogether conceal, could be taken for a quiver.

Don Timoteo began to feel his belt squeezing him, the corns on his
feet began to ache, his neck became tired, but still the General
had not come. The greater gods, among them Padre Irene and Padre
Salvi, had already arrived, it was true, but the chief thunderer was
still lacking. The poor man became uneasy, nervous; his heart beat
violently, but still he had to bow and smile; he sat down, he arose,
failed to hear what was said to him, did not say what he meant. In
the meantime, an amateur god made remarks to him about his chromos,
criticizing them with the statement that they spoiled the walls.

“Spoil the walls!” repeated Don Timoteo, with a smile and a desire
to choke him. “But they were made in Europe and are the most costly
I could get in Manila! Spoil the walls!” Don Timoteo swore to himself
that on the very next day he would present for payment all the chits
that the critic had signed in his store.

Whistles resounded, the galloping of horses was heard–at last! “The
General! The Captain-General!”

Pale with emotion, Don Timoteo, dissembling the pain of his corns
and accompanied by his son and some of the greater gods, descended
to receive the Mighty Jove. The pain at his belt vanished before
the doubts that now assailed him: should he frame a smile or affect
gravity; should he extend his hand or wait for the General to offer
his? _Carambas!_ Why had nothing of this occurred to him before,
so that he might have consulted his good friend Simoun?

To conceal his agitation, he whispered to his son in a low, shaky
voice, “Have you a speech prepared?”

“Speeches are no longer in vogue, papa, especially on such an occasion
as this.”

Jupiter arrived in the company of Juno, who was converted into a tower
of artificial lights–with diamonds in her hair, diamonds around her
neck, on her arms, on her shoulders, she was literally covered with
diamonds. She was arrayed in a magnificent silk gown having a long
train decorated with embossed flowers.

His Excellency literally took possession of the house, as Don Timoteo
stammeringly begged him to do. [71] The orchestra played the royal
march while the divine couple majestically ascended the carpeted
stairway.

Nor was his Excellency’s gravity altogether affected. Perhaps for the
first time since his arrival in the islands he felt sad, a strain
of melancholy tinged his thoughts. This was the last triumph of
his three years of government, and within two days he would descend
forever from such an exalted height. What was he leaving behind? His
Excellency did not care to turn his head backwards, but preferred to
look ahead, to gaze into the future. Although he was carrying away a
fortune, large sums to his credit were awaiting him in European banks,
and he had residences, yet he had injured many, he had made enemies
at the Court, the high official was waiting for him there. Other
Generals had enriched themselves as rapidly as he, and now they were
ruined. Why not stay longer, as Simoun had advised him to do? No,
good taste before everything else. The bows, moreover, were not now
so profound as before, he noticed insistent stares and even looks of
dislike, but still he replied affably and even attempted to smile.

“It’s plain that the sun is setting,” observed Padre Irene in
Ben-Zayb’s ear. “Many now stare him in the face.”

The devil with the curate–that was just what he was going to remark!

“My dear,” murmured into the ear of a neighbor the lady who had
referred to Don Timoteo as a jumping-jack, “did you ever see such
a skirt?”

“Ugh, the curtains from the Palace!”

“You don’t say! But it’s true! They’re carrying everything away. You’ll
see how they make wraps out of the carpets.”

“That only goes to show that she has talent and taste,” observed her
husband, reproving her with a look. “Women should be economical.” This
poor god was still suffering from the dressmaker’s bill.

“My dear, give me curtains at twelve pesos a yard, and you’ll see if
I put on these rags!” retorted the goddess in pique. “Heavens! You
can talk when you have done something fine like that to give you
the right!”

Meanwhile, Basilio stood before the house, lost in the throng
of curious spectators, counting those who alighted from their
carriages. When he looked upon so many persons, happy and confident,
when he saw the bride and groom followed by their train of fresh
and innocent little girls, and reflected that they were going
to meet there a horrible death, he was sorry and felt his hatred
waning within him. He wanted to save so many innocents, he thought
of notifying the police, but a carriage drove up to set down Padre
Salvi and Padre Irene, both beaming with content, and like a passing
cloud his good intentions vanished. “What does it matter to me?” he
asked himself. “Let the righteous suffer with the sinners.”

Then he added, to silence his scruples: “I’m not an informer, I mustn’t
abuse the confidence he has placed in me. I owe him, _him_ more than
I do _them_: he dug my mother’s grave, they killed her! What have
I to do with them? I did everything possible to be good and useful,
I tried to forgive and forget, I suffered every imposition, and only
asked that they leave me in peace. I got in no one’s way. What have
they done to me? Let their mangled limbs fly through the air! We’ve
suffered enough.”

Then he saw Simoun alight with the terrible lamp in his hands, saw him
cross the entrance with bowed head, as though deep in thought. Basilio
felt his heart beat fainter, his feet and hands turn cold, while the
black silhouette of the jeweler assumed fantastic shapes enveloped in
flames. There at the foot of the stairway Simoun checked his steps,
as if in doubt, and Basilio held his breath. But the hesitation was
transient–Simoun raised his head, resolutely ascended the stairway,
and disappeared.

It then seemed to the student that the house was going to blow up at
any moment, and that walls, lamps, guests, roof, windows, orchestra,
would be hurtling through the air like a handful of coals in the midst
of an infernal explosion. He gazed about him and fancied that he saw
corpses in place of idle spectators, he saw them torn to shreds, it
seemed to him that the air was filled with flames, but his calmer self
triumphed over this transient hallucination, which was due somewhat
to his hunger.

“Until he comes out, there’s no danger,” he said to himself. “The
Captain-General hasn’t arrived yet.”

He tried to appear calm and control the convulsive trembling in his
limbs, endeavoring to divert his thoughts to other things. Something
within was ridiculing him, saying, “If you tremble now, before the
supreme moment, how will you conduct yourself when you see blood
flowing, houses burning, and bullets whistling?”

His Excellency arrived, but the young man paid no attention to
him. He was watching the face of Simoun, who was among those that
descended to receive him, and he read in that implacable countenance
the sentence of death for all those men, so that fresh terror seized
upon him. He felt cold, he leaned against the wall, and, with his
eyes fixed on the windows and his ears cocked, tried to guess what
might be happening. In the sala he saw the crowd surround Simoun
to look at the lamp, he heard congratulations and exclamations of
admiration–the words “dining-room,” “novelty,” were repeated many
times–he saw the General smile and conjectured that the novelty
was to be exhibited that very night, by the jeweler’s arrangement,
on the table whereat his Excellency was to dine. Simoun disappeared,
followed by a crowd of admirers.

At that supreme moment his good angel triumphed, he forgot his hatreds,
he forgot Juli, he wanted to save the innocent. Come what might, he
would cross the street and try to enter. But Basilio had forgotten
that he was miserably dressed. The porter stopped him and accosted
him roughly, and finally, upon his insisting, threatened to call
the police.

Just then Simoun came down, slightly pale, and the porter turned
from Basilio to salute the jeweler as though he had been a saint
passing. Basilio realized from the expression of Simoun’s face that he
was leaving the fated house forever, that the lamp was lighted. _Alea
jacta est!_ Seized by the instinct of self-preservation, he thought
then of saving himself. It might occur to any of the guests through
curiosity to tamper with the wick and then would come the explosion
to overwhelm them all. Still he heard Simoun say to the cochero,
“The Escolta, hurry!”

Terrified, dreading that he might at any moment hear the awful
explosion, Basilio hurried as fast as his legs would carry him to get
away from the accursed spot, but his legs seemed to lack the necessary
agility, his feet slipped on the sidewalk as though they were moving
but not advancing. The people he met blocked the way, and before he had
gone twenty steps he thought that at least five minutes had elapsed.

Some distance away he stumbled against a young man who was standing
with his head thrown back, gazing fixedly at the house, and in him
he recognized Isagani. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. “Come
away!”

Isagani stared at him vaguely, smiled sadly, and again turned his gaze
toward the open balconies, across which was revealed the ethereal
silhouette of the bride clinging to the groom’s arm as they moved
slowly out of sight.

“Come, Isagani, let’s get away from that house. Come!” Basilio urged
in a hoarse voice, catching his friend by the arm.

Isagani gently shook himself free and continued to stare with the
same sad smile upon his lips.

“For God’s sake, let’s get away from here!”

“Why should I go away? Tomorrow it will not be she.”

There was so much sorrow in those words that Basilio for a moment
forgot his own terror. “Do you want to die?” he demanded.

Isagani shrugged his shoulders and continued to gaze toward the house.

Basilio again tried to drag him away. “Isagani, Isagani, listen
to me! Let’s not waste any time! That house is mined, it’s going
to blow up at any moment, by the least imprudent act, the least
curiosity! Isagani, all will perish in its ruins.”

“In its ruins?” echoed Isagani, as if trying to understand, but
without removing his gaze from the window.

“Yes, in its ruins, yes, Isagani! For God’s sake, come! I’ll explain
afterwards. Come! One who has been more unfortunate than either you
or I has doomed them all. Do you see that white, clear light, like an
electric lamp, shining from the azotea? It’s the light of death! A
lamp charged with dynamite, in a mined dining-room, will burst and
not a rat will escape alive. Come!”

“No,” answered Isagani, shaking his head sadly. “I want to stay here,
I want to see her for the last time. Tomorrow, you see, she will be
something different.”

“Let fate have its way!” Basilio then exclaimed, hurrying away.

Isagani watched his friend rush away with a precipitation that
indicated real terror, but continued to stare toward the charmed
window, like the cavalier of Toggenburg waiting for his sweetheart
to appear, as Schiller tells. Now the sala was deserted, all having
repaired to the dining-rooms, and it occurred to Isagani that Basilio’s
fears may have been well-founded. He recalled the terrified countenance
of him who was always so calm and composed, and it set him to thinking.

Suddenly an idea appeared clear in his imagination–the house was
going to blow up and Paulita was there, Paulita was going to die a
frightful death. In the presence of this idea everything was forgotten:
jealousy, suffering, mental torture, and the generous youth thought
only of his love. Without reflecting, without hesitation, he ran
toward the house, and thanks to his stylish clothes and determined
mien, easily secured admittance.

While these short scenes were occurring in the street, in the
dining-kiosk of the greater gods there was passed from hand to hand
a piece of parchment on which were written in red ink these fateful
words:

_Mene, Tekel, Phares_ [72]
_Juan Crisostomo Ibarra_

“Juan Crisostomo Ibarra? Who is he?” asked his Excellency, handing
the paper to his neighbor.

“A joke in very bad taste!” exclaimed Don Custodio. “To sign the name
of a filibuster dead more than ten years!”

“A filibuster!”

“It’s a seditious joke!”

“There being ladies present–”

Padre Irene looked around for the joker and saw Padre Salvi, who was
seated at the right of the Countess, turn as white as his napkin,
while he stared at the mysterious words with bulging eyes. The scene
of the sphinx recurred to him.

“What’s the matter, Padre Salvi?” he asked. “Do you recognize your
friend’s signature?”

Padre Salvi did not reply. He made an effort to speak and without being
conscious of what he was doing wiped his forehead with his napkin.

“What has happened to your Reverence?”

“It is his very handwriting!” was the whispered reply in a scarcely
perceptible voice. “It’s the very handwriting of Ibarra.” Leaning
against the back of his chair, he let his arms fall as though all
strength had deserted him.

Uneasiness became converted into fright, they all stared at one another
without uttering a single word. His Excellency started to rise, but
apprehending that such a move would be ascribed to fear, controlled
himself and looked about him. There were no soldiers present, even
the waiters were unknown to him.

“Let’s go on eating, gentlemen,” he exclaimed, “and pay no attention
to the joke.” But his voice, instead of reassuring, increased the
general uneasiness, for it trembled.

“I don’t suppose that that _Mene, Tekel, Phares_, means that we’re
to be assassinated tonight?” speculated Don Custodio.

All remained motionless, but when he added, “Yet they might poison us,”
they leaped up from their chairs.

The light, meanwhile, had begun slowly to fade. “The lamp is going
out,” observed the General uneasily. “Will you turn up the wick,
Padre Irene?”

But at that instant, with the swiftness of a flash of lightning,
a figure rushed in, overturning a chair and knocking a servant down,
and in the midst of the general surprise seized the lamp, rushed to
the azotea, and threw it into the river. The whole thing happened in
a second and the dining-kiosk was left in darkness.

The lamp had already struck the water before the servants could cry
out, “Thief, thief!” and rush toward the azotea. “A revolver!” cried
one of them. “A revolver, quick! After the thief!”

But the figure, more agile than they, had already mounted the
balustrade and before a light could be brought, precipitated itself
into the river, striking the water with a loud splash.

CHAPTER XXXVI

BEN-ZAYB’S AFFLICTIONS

Immediately upon hearing of the incident, after lights had been brought
and the scarcely dignified attitudes of the startled gods revealed,
Ben-Zayb, filled with holy indignation, and with the approval of the
press-censor secured beforehand, hastened home–an entresol where
he lived in a mess with others–to write an article that would be
the sublimest ever penned under the skies of the Philippines. The
Captain-General would leave disconsolate if he did not first enjoy
his dithyrambs, and this Ben-Zayb, in his kindness of heart, could
not allow. Hence he sacrificed the dinner and ball, nor did he sleep
that night.

Sonorous exclamations of horror, of indignation, to fancy that
the world was smashing to pieces and the stars, the eternal stars,
were clashing together! Then a mysterious introduction, filled with
allusions, veiled hints, then an account of the affair, and the
final peroration. He multiplied the flourishes and exhausted all his
euphemisms in describing the drooping shoulders and the tardy baptism
of salad his Excellency had received on his Olympian brow, he eulogized
the agility with which the General had recovered a vertical position,
placing his head where his legs had been, and vice versa, then intoned
a hymn to Providence for having so solicitously guarded those sacred
bones. The paragraph turned out to be so perfect that his Excellency
appeared as a hero, and fell higher, as Victor Hugo said.

He wrote, erased, added, and polished, so that, without wanting
in veracity–this was his special merit as a journalist–the whole
would be an epic, grand for the seven gods, cowardly and base for
the unknown thief, “who had executed himself, terror-stricken, and
in the very act convinced of the enormity of his crime.”

He explained Padre Irene’s act of plunging under the table as
“an impulse of innate valor, which the habit of a God of peace
and gentleness, worn throughout a whole life, had been unable to
extinguish,” for Padre Irene had tried to hurl himself upon the
thief and had taken a straight course along the submensal route. In
passing, he spoke of submarine passages, mentioned a project of Don
Custodio’s, called attention to the liberal education and wide travels
of the priest. Padre Salvi’s swoon was the excessive sorrow that took
possession of the virtuous Franciscan to see the little fruit borne
among the Indians by his pious sermons, while the immobility and
fright of the other guests, among them the Countess, who “sustained”
Padre Salvi (she grabbed him), were the serenity and sang-froid of
heroes, inured to danger in the performance of their duties, beside
whom the Roman senators surprised by the Gallic invaders were nervous
schoolgirls frightened at painted cockroaches.

Afterwards, to form a contrast, the picture of the thief: fear,
madness, confusion, the fierce look, the distorted features,
and–force of moral superiority in the race–his religious awe to
see assembled there such august personages! Here came in opportunely
a long imprecation, a harangue, a diatribe against the perversion of
good customs, hence the necessity of a permanent military tribunal,
“a declaration of martial law within the limits already so declared,
special legislation, energetic and repressive, because it is in
every way needful, it is of imperative importance to impress upon the
malefactors and criminals that if the heart is generous and paternal
for those who are submissive and obedient to the law, the hand is
strong, firm, inexorable, hard, and severe for those who against all
reason fail to respect it and who insult the sacred institutions of the
fatherland. Yes, gentlemen, this is demanded not only for the welfare
of these islands, not only for the welfare of all mankind, but also
in the name of Spain, the honor of the Spanish name, the prestige of
the Iberian people, because before all things else Spaniards we are,
and the flag of Spain,” etc.

He terminated the article with this farewell: “Go in peace, gallant
warrior, you who with expert hand have guided the destinies of
this country in such calamitous times! Go in peace to breathe the
balmy breezes of Manzanares! [73] We shall remain here like faithful
sentinels to venerate your memory, to admire your wise dispositions,
to avenge the infamous attempt upon your splendid gift, which we
will recover even if we have to dry up the seas! Such a precious
relic will be for this country an eternal monument to your splendor,
your presence of mind, your gallantry!”

In this rather confused way he concluded the article and before
dawn sent it to the printing-office, of course with the censor’s
permit. Then he went to sleep like Napoleon, after he had arranged
the plan for the battle of Jena.

But at dawn he was awakened to have the sheets of copy returned with
a note from the editor saying that his Excellency had positively
and severely forbidden any mention of the affair, and had further
ordered the denial of any versions and comments that might get abroad,
discrediting them as exaggerated rumors.

To Ben-Zayb this blow was the murder of a beautiful and sturdy child,
born and nurtured with such great pain and fatigue. Where now hurl the
Catilinarian pride, the splendid exhibition of warlike crime-avenging
materials? And to think that within a month or two he was going to
leave the Philippines, and the article could not be published in Spain,
since how could he say those things about the criminals of Madrid,
where other ideas prevailed, where extenuating circumstances were
sought, where facts were weighed, where there were juries, and so
on? Articles such as his were like certain poisonous rums that are
manufactured in Europe, good enough to be sold among the negroes,
_good for negroes_, [74] with the difference that if the negroes did
not drink them they would not be destroyed, while Ben-Zayb’s articles,
whether the Filipinos read them or not, had their effect.

“If only some other crime might be committed today or tomorrow,”
he mused.

With the thought of that child dead before seeing the light, those
frozen buds, and feeling his eyes fill with tears, he dressed himself
to call upon the editor. But the editor shrugged his shoulders; his
Excellency had forbidden it because if it should be divulged that seven
of the greater gods had let themselves be surprised and robbed by a
nobody, while they brandished knives and forks, that would endanger
the integrity of the fatherland! So he had ordered that no search be
made for the lamp or the thief, and had recommended to his successors
that they should not run the risk of dining in any private house,
without being surrounded by halberdiers and guards. As those who knew
anything about the events that night in Don Timoteo’s house were for
the most part military officials and government employees, it was
not difficult to suppress the affair in public, for it concerned the
integrity of the fatherland. Before this name Ben-Zayb bowed his head
heroically, thinking about Abraham, Guzman El Bueno, [75] or at least,
Brutus and other heroes of antiquity.

Such a sacrifice could not remain unrewarded, the gods of journalism
being pleased with Abraham Ben-Zayb. Almost upon the hour came
the reporting angel bearing the sacrificial lamb in the shape of
an assault committed at a country-house on the Pasig, where certain
friars were spending the heated season. Here was his opportunity and
Ben-Zayb praised his gods.

“The robbers got over two thousand pesos, leaving badly wounded one
friar and two servants. The curate defended himself as well as he
could behind a chair, which was smashed in his hands.”

“Wait, wait!” said Ben-Zayb, taking notes. “Forty or fifty
outlaws traitorously–revolvers, bolos, shotguns, pistols–lion at
bay–chair–splinters flying–barbarously wounded–ten thousand pesos!”

So great was his enthusiasm that he was not content with mere reports,
but proceeded in person to the scene of the crime, composing on the
road a Homeric description of the fight. A harangue in the mouth of
the leader? A scornful defiance on the part of the priest? All the
metaphors and similes applied to his Excellency, Padre Irene, and
Padre Salvi would exactly fit the wounded friar and the description
of the thief would serve for each of the outlaws. The imprecation
could be expanded, since he could talk of religion, of the faith,
of charity, of the ringing of bells, of what the Indians owed to
the friars, he could get sentimental and melt into Castelarian [76]
epigrams and lyric periods. The señoritas of the city would read the
article and murmur, “Ben-Zayb, bold as a lion and tender as a lamb!”

But when he reached the scene, to his great astonishment he learned
that the wounded friar was no other than Padre Camorra, sentenced by
his Provincial to expiate in the pleasant country-house on the banks
of the Pasig his pranks in Tiani. He had a slight scratch on his hand
and a bruise on his head received from flattening himself out on the
floor. The robbers numbered three or four, armed only with bolos,
the sum stolen fifty pesos!

“It won’t do!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb. “Shut up! You don’t know what
you’re talking about.”

“How don’t I know, _puñales?_”

“Don’t be a fool–the robbers must have numbered more.”

“You ink-slinger–”

So they had quite an altercation. What chiefly concerned Ben-Zayb
was not to throw away the article, to give importance to the affair,
so that he could use the peroration.

But a fearful rumor cut short their dispute. The robbers caught
had made some important revelations. One of the outlaws under
_Matanglawin_ (Cabesang Tales) had made an appointment with them to
join his band in Santa Mesa, thence to sack the conventos and houses
of the wealthy. They would be guided by a Spaniard, tall and sunburnt,
with white hair, who said that he was acting under the orders of the
General, whose great friend he was, and they had been further assured
that the artillery and various regiments would join them, wherefore
they were to entertain no fear at all. The tulisanes would be pardoned
and have a third part of the booty assigned to them. The signal was
to have been a cannon-shot, but having waited for it in vain the
tulisanes, thinking themselves deceived, separated, some going back
to their homes, some returning to the mountains vowing vengeance on
the Spaniard, who had thus failed twice to keep his word. Then they,
the robbers caught, had decided to do something on their own account,
attacking the country-house that they found closest at hand, resolving
religiously to give two-thirds of the booty to the Spaniard with
white hair, if perchance he should call upon them for it.

The description being recognized as that of Simoun, the declaration
was received as an absurdity and the robber subjected to all kinds
of tortures, including the electric machine, for his impious
blasphemy. But news of the disappearance of the jeweler having
attracted the attention of the whole Escolta, and the sacks of powder
and great quantities of cartridges having been discovered in his
house, the story began to wear an appearance of truth. Mystery began
to enwrap the affair, enveloping it in clouds; there were whispered
conversations, coughs, suspicious looks, suggestive comments, and
trite second-hand remarks. Those who were on the inside were unable
to get over their astonishment, they put on long faces, turned pale,
and but little was wanting for many persons to lose their minds in
realizing certain things that had before passed unnoticed.

“We’ve had a narrow escape! Who would have said–”

In the afternoon Ben-Zayb, his pockets filled with revolvers and
cartridges, went to see Don Custodio, whom he found hard at work over
a project against American jewelers. In a hushed voice he whispered
between the palms of his hands into the journalist’s ear mysterious
words.

“Really?” questioned Ben-Zayb, slapping his hand on his pocket and
paling visibly.

“Wherever he may be found–” The sentence was completed with an
expressive pantomime. Don Custodio raised both arms to the height of
his face, with the right more bent than the left, turned the palms
of his hands toward the floor, closed one eye, and made two movements
in advance. “Ssh! Ssh!” he hissed.

“And the diamonds?” inquired Ben-Zayb.

“If they find him–” He went through another pantomime with the
fingers of his right hand, spreading them out and clenching them
together like the closing of a fan, clutching out with them somewhat
in the manner of the wings of a wind-mill sweeping imaginary objects
toward itself with practised skill. Ben-Zayb responded with another
pantomime, opening his eyes wide, arching his eyebrows and sucking in
his breath eagerly as though nutritious air had just been discovered.

“Sssh!”

CHAPTER XXXVII

THE MYSTERY

Todo se sabe

Notwithstanding so many precautions, rumors reached the public,
even though quite changed and mutilated. On the following night
they were the theme of comment in the house of Orenda, a rich jewel
merchant in the industrious district of Santa Cruz, and the numerous
friends of the family gave attention to nothing else. They were not
indulging in cards, or playing the piano, while little Tinay, the
youngest of the girls, became bored playing _chongka_ by herself,
without being able to understand the interest awakened by assaults,
conspiracies, and sacks of powder, when there were in the seven holes
so many beautiful cowries that seemed to be winking at her in unison
and smiled with their tiny mouths half-opened, begging to be carried
up to the _home_. Even Isagani, who, when he came, always used to
play with her and allow himself to be beautifully cheated, did not
come at her call, for Isagani was gloomily and silently listening to
something Chichoy the silversmith was relating. Momoy, the betrothed
of Sensia, the eldest of the daughters–a pretty and vivacious girl,
rather given to joking–had left the window where he was accustomed
to spend his evenings in amorous discourse, and this action seemed to
be very annoying to the lory whose cage hung from the eaves there,
the lory endeared to the house from its ability to greet everybody
in the morning with marvelous phrases of love. Capitana Loleng,
the energetic and intelligent Capitana Loleng, had her account-book
open before her, but she neither read nor wrote in it, nor was her
attention fixed on the trays of loose pearls, nor on the diamonds–she
had completely forgotten herself and was all ears. Her husband himself,
the great Capitan Toringoy,–a transformation of the name Domingo,–the
happiest man in the district, without other occupation than to dress
well, eat, loaf, and gossip, while his whole family worked and toiled,
had not gone to join his coterie, but was listening between fear and
emotion to the hair-raising news of the lank Chichoy.

Nor was reason for all this lacking. Chichoy had gone to deliver some
work for Don Timoteo Pelaez, a pair of earrings for the bride, at the
very time when they were tearing down the kiosk that on the previous
night had served as a dining-room for the foremost officials. Here
Chichoy turned pale and his hair stood on end.

“_Nakú_!” he exclaimed, “sacks and sacks of powder, sacks of powder
under the floor, in the roof, under the table, under the chairs,
everywhere! It’s lucky none of the workmen were smoking.”

“Who put those sacks of powder there?” asked Capitana Loleng, who was
brave and did not turn pale, as did the enamored Momoy. But Momoy had
attended the wedding, so his posthumous emotion can be appreciated:
he had been near the kiosk.

“That’s what no one can explain,” replied Chichoy. “Who would have any
interest in breaking up the fiesta? There couldn’t have been more than
one, as the celebrated lawyer Señor Pasta who was there on a visit
declared–either an enemy of Don Timoteo’s or a rival of Juanito’s.”

The Orenda girls turned instinctively toward Isagani, who smiled
silently.

“Hide yourself,” Capitana Loleng advised him. “They may accuse
you. Hide!”

Again Isagani smiled but said nothing.

“Don Timoteo,” continued Chichoy, “did not know to whom to attribute
the deed. He himself superintended the work, he and his friend Simoun,
and nobody else. The house was thrown into an uproar, the lieutenant
of the guard came, and after enjoining secrecy upon everybody, they
sent me away. But–”

“But–but–” stammered the trembling Momoy.

“_Nakú!_” ejaculated Sensia, gazing at her fiancé and trembling
sympathetically to remember that he had been at the fiesta. “This
young man–If the house had blown up–” She stared at her sweetheart
passionately and admired his courage.

“If it had blown up–”

“No one in the whole of Calle Anloague would have been left alive,”
concluded Capitan Toringoy, feigning valor and indifference in the
presence of his family.

“I left in consternation,” resumed Chichoy, “thinking about how, if a
mere spark, a cigarette had fallen, if a lamp had been overturned, at
the present moment we should have neither a General, nor an Archbishop,
nor any one, not even a government clerk! All who were at the fiesta
last night–annihilated!”

“_Vírgen Santísima!_ This young man–”

“_’Susmariosep!_” exclaimed Capitana Loleng. “All our debtors were
there, _’Susmariosep!_ And we have a house near there! Who could it
have been?”

“Now you may know about it,” added Chichoy in a whisper, “but you
must keep it a secret. This afternoon I met a friend, a clerk in an
office, and in talking about the affair, he gave me the clue to the
mystery–he had it from some government employees. Who do you suppose
put the sacks of powder there?”

Many shrugged their shoulders, while Capitan Toringoy merely looked
askance at Isagani.

“The friars?”

“Quiroga the Chinaman?”

“Some student?”

“Makaraig?”

Capitan Toringoy coughed and glanced at Isagani, while Chichoy shook
his head and smiled.

“The jeweler Simoun.”

“Simoun!!”

The profound silence of amazement followed these words. Simoun, the
evil genius of the Captain-General, the rich trader to whose house
they had gone to buy unset gems, Simoun, who had received the Orenda
girls with great courtesy and had paid them fine compliments! For
the very reason that the story seemed absurd it was believed. “_Credo
quia absurdum,_” said St. Augustine.

“But wasn’t Simoun at the fiesta last night?” asked Sensia.

“Yes,” said Momoy. “But now I remember! He left the house just as we
were sitting down to the dinner. He went to get his wedding-gift.”

“But wasn’t he a friend of the General’s? Wasn’t he a partner of
Don Timoteo’s?”

“Yes, he made himself a partner in order to strike the blow and kill
all the Spaniards.”

“Aha!” cried Sensia. “Now I understand!”

“What?”

“You didn’t want to believe Aunt Tentay. Simoun is the devil and he
has bought up the souls of all the Spaniards. Aunt Tentay said so!”

Capitana Loleng crossed herself and looked uneasily toward the jewels,
fearing to see them turn into live coals, while Capitan Toringoy took
off the ring which had come from Simoun.

“Simoun has disappeared without leaving any traces,” added
Chichoy. “The Civil Guard is searching for him.”

“Yes,” observed Sensia, crossing herself, “searching for the devil.”

Now many things were explained: Simoun’s fabulous wealth and the
peculiar smell in his house, the smell of sulphur. Binday, another
of the daughters, a frank and lovely girl, remembered having seen
blue flames in the jeweler’s house one afternoon when she and her
mother had gone there to buy jewels. Isagani listened attentively,
but said nothing.

“So, last night–” ventured Momoy.

“Last night?” echoed Sensia, between curiosity and fear.

Momoy hesitated, but the face Sensia put on banished his fear. “Last
night, while we were eating, there was a disturbance, the light in
the General’s dining-room went out. They say that some unknown person
stole the lamp that was presented by Simoun.”

“A thief? One of the Black Hand?”

Isagani arose to walk back and forth.

“Didn’t they catch him?”

“He jumped into the river before anybody recognized him. Some say he
was a Spaniard, some a Chinaman, and others an Indian.”

“It’s believed that with the lamp,” added Chichoy, “he was going to
set fire to the house, then the powder–”

Momoy again shuddered but noticing that Sensia was watching him tried
to control himself. “What a pity!” he exclaimed with an effort. “How
wickedly the thief acted. Everybody would have been killed.”

Sensia stared at him in fright, the women crossed themselves, while
Capitan Toringoy, who was afraid of politics, made a move to go away.

Momoy turned to Isagani, who observed with an enigmatic smile: “It’s
always wicked to take what doesn’t belong to you. If that thief had
known what it was all about and had been able to reflect, surely he
wouldn’t have done as he did.”

Then, after a pause, he added, “For nothing in the world would I want
to be in his place!”

So they continued their comments and conjectures until an hour later,
when Isagani bade the family farewell, to return forever to his
uncle’s side.

CHAPTER XXXVIII

FATALITY

_Matanglawin_ was the terror of Luzon. His band had as lief appear
in one province where it was least expected as make a descent upon
another that was preparing to resist it. It burned a sugar-mill in
Batangas and destroyed the crops, on the following day it murdered the
Justice of the Peace of Tiani, and on the next took possession of the
town of Cavite, carrying off the arms from the town hall. The central
provinces, from Tayabas to Pangasinan, suffered from his depredations,
and his bloody name extended from Albay in the south to Kagayan in
the north. The towns, disarmed through mistrust on the part of a
weak government, fell easy prey into his hands–at his approach the
fields were abandoned by the farmers, the herds were scattered, while
a trail of blood and fire marked his passage. _Matanglawin_ laughed at
the severe measures ordered by the government against the tulisanes,
since from them only the people in the outlying villages suffered,
being captured and maltreated if they resisted the band, and if they
made peace with it being flogged and deported by the government,
provided they completed the journey and did not meet with a fatal
accident on the way. Thanks to these terrible alternatives many of
the country folk decided to enlist under his command.

As a result of this reign of terror, trade among the towns, already
languishing, died out completely. The rich dared not travel, and
the poor feared to be arrested by the Civil Guard, which, being
under obligation to pursue the tulisanes, often seized the first
person encountered and subjected him to unspeakable tortures. In its
impotence, the government put on a show of energy toward the persons
whom it suspected, in order that by force of cruelty the people should
not realize its weakness–the fear that prompted such measures.

A string of these hapless suspects, some six or seven, with their
arms tied behind them, bound together like a bunch of human meat,
was one afternoon marching through the excessive heat along a road
that skirted a mountain, escorted by ten or twelve guards armed with
rifles. Their bayonets gleamed in the sun, the barrels of their rifles
became hot, and even the sage-leaves in their helmets scarcely served
to temper the effect of the deadly May sun.

Deprived of the use of their arms and pressed close against one
another to save rope, the prisoners moved along almost uncovered and
unshod, he being the best off who had a handkerchief twisted around
his head. Panting, suffering, covered with dust which perspiration
converted into mud, they felt their brains melting, they saw lights
dancing before them, red spots floating in the air. Exhaustion and
dejection were pictured in their faces, desperation, wrath, something
indescribable, the look of one who dies cursing, of a man who is
weary of life, who hates himself, who blasphemes against God. The
strongest lowered their heads to rub their faces against the dusky
backs of those in front of them and thus wipe away the sweat that
was blinding them. Many were limping, but if any one of them happened
to fall and thus delay the march he would hear a curse as a soldier
ran up brandishing a branch torn from a tree and forced him to rise
by striking about in all directions. The string then started to run,
dragging, rolling in the dust, the fallen one, who howled and begged
to be killed; but perchance he succeeded in getting on his feet and
then went along crying like a child and cursing the hour he was born.

The human cluster halted at times while the guards drank, and then
the prisoners continued on their way with parched mouths, darkened
brains, and hearts full of curses. Thirst was for these wretches the
least of their troubles.

“Move on, you sons of —-!” cried a soldier, again refreshed,
hurling the insult common among the lower classes of Filipinos.

The branch whistled and fell on any shoulder whatsoever, the nearest
one, or at times upon a face to leave a welt at first white, then red,
and later dirty with the dust of the road.

“Move on, you cowards!” at times a voice yelled in Spanish, deepening
its tone.

“Cowards!” repeated the mountain echoes.

Then the cowards quickened their pace under a sky of red-hot iron,
over a burning road, lashed by the knotty branch which was worn
into shreds on their livid skins. A Siberian winter would perhaps be
tenderer than the May sun of the Philippines.

Yet, among the soldiers there was one who looked with disapproving
eyes upon so much wanton cruelty, as he marched along silently
with his brows knit in disgust. At length, seeing that the guard,
not satisfied with the branch, was kicking the prisoners that fell,
he could no longer restrain himself but cried out impatiently, “Here,
Mautang, let them alone!”

Mautang turned toward him in surprise. “What’s it to you, Carolino?” he
asked.

“To me, nothing, but it hurts me,” replied Carolino. “They’re men
like ourselves.”

“It’s plain that you’re new to the business!” retorted Mautang with
a compassionate smile. “How did you treat the prisoners in the war?”

“With more consideration, surely!” answered Carolino.

Mautang remained silent for a moment and then, apparently having
discovered the reason, calmly rejoined, “Ah, it’s because they are
enemies and fight us, while these–these are our own countrymen.”

Then drawing nearer to Carolino he whispered, “How stupid you
are! They’re treated so in order that they may attempt to resist or
to escape, and then–bang!”

Carolino made no reply.

One of the prisoners then begged that they let him stop for a moment.

“This is a dangerous place,” answered the corporal, gazing uneasily
toward the mountain. “Move on!”

“Move on!” echoed Mautang and his lash whistled.

The prisoner twisted himself around to stare at him with reproachful
eyes. “You are more cruel than the Spaniard himself,” he said.

Mautang replied with more blows, when suddenly a bullet whistled,
followed by a loud report. Mautang dropped his rifle, uttered an
oath, and clutching at his breast with both hands fell spinning into
a heap. The prisoner saw him writhing in the dust with blood spurting
from his mouth.

“Halt!” called the corporal, suddenly turning pale.

The soldiers stopped and stared about them. A wisp of smoke rose from
a thicket on the height above. Another bullet sang to its accompanying
report and the corporal, wounded in the thigh, doubled over vomiting
curses. The column was attacked by men hidden among the rocks above.

Sullen with rage the corporal motioned toward the string of prisoners
and laconically ordered, “Fire!”

The wretches fell upon their knees, filled with consternation. As
they could not lift their hands, they begged for mercy by kissing
the dust or bowing their heads–one talked of his children, another
of his mother who would be left unprotected, one promised money,
another called upon God–but the muzzles were quickly lowered and a
hideous volley silenced them all.

Then began the sharpshooting against those who were behind the rocks
above, over which a light cloud of smoke began to hover. To judge from
the scarcity of their shots, the invisible enemies could not have
more than three rifles. As they advanced firing, the guards sought
cover behind tree-trunks or crouched down as they attempted to scale
the height. Splintered rocks leaped up, broken twigs fell from trees,
patches of earth were torn up, and the first guard who attempted the
ascent rolled back with a bullet through his shoulder.

The hidden enemy had the advantage of position, but the valiant
guards, who did not know how to flee, were on the point of retiring,
for they had paused, unwilling to advance; that fight against the
invisible unnerved them. Smoke and rocks alone could be seen–not a
voice was heard, not a shadow appeared; they seemed to be fighting
with the mountain.

“Shoot, Carolino! What are you aiming at?” called the corporal.

At that instant a man appeared upon a rock, making signs with his
rifle.

“Shoot him!” ordered the corporal with a foul oath.

Three guards obeyed the order, but the man continued standing there,
calling out at the top of his voice something unintelligible.

Carolino paused, thinking that he recognized something familiar about
that figure, which stood out plainly in the sunlight. But the corporal
threatened to tie him up if he did not fire, so Carolino took aim and
the report of his rifle was heard. The man on the rock spun around
and disappeared with a cry that left Carolino horror-stricken.

Then followed a rustling in the bushes, indicating that those within
were scattering in all directions, so the soldiers boldly advanced,
now that there was no more resistance. Another man appeared upon the
rock, waving a spear, and they fired at him. He sank down slowly,
catching at the branch of a tree, but with another volley fell face
downwards on the rock.

The guards climbed on nimbly, with bayonets fixed ready for a
hand-to-hand fight. Carolino alone moved forward reluctantly, with
a wandering, gloomy look, the cry of the man struck by his bullet
still ringing in his ears. The first to reach the spot found an old
man dying, stretched out on the rock. He plunged his bayonet into
the body, but the old man did not even wink, his eyes being fixed
on Carolino with an indescribable gaze, while with his bony hand he
pointed to something behind the rock.

The soldiers turned to see Caroline frightfully pale, his mouth
hanging open, with a look in which glimmered the last spark of reason,
for Carolino, who was no other than Tano, Cabesang Tales’ son, and
who had just returned from the Carolines, recognized in the dying
man his grandfather, Tandang Selo. No longer able to speak, the old
man’s dying eyes uttered a whole poem of grief–and then a corpse,
he still continued to point to something behind the rock.

CHAPTER XXXIX

CONCLUSION

In his solitary retreat on the shore of the sea, whose mobile surface
was visible through the open, windows, extending outward until it
mingled with the horizon, Padre Florentino was relieving the monotony
by playing on his harmonium sad and melancholy tunes, to which the
sonorous roar of the surf and the sighing of the treetops of the
neighboring wood served as accompaniments. Notes long, full, mournful
as a prayer, yet still vigorous, escaped from the old instrument. Padre
Florentino, who was an accomplished musician, was improvising, and,
as he was alone, gave free rein to the sadness in his heart.

For the truth was that the old man was very sad. His good friend, Don
Tiburcio de Espadaña, had just left him, fleeing from the persecution
of his wife. That morning he had received a note from the lieutenant
of the Civil Guard, which ran thus:

MY DEAR CHAPLAIN,–I have just received from the commandant
a telegram that says, “Spaniard hidden house Padre Florentino
capture forward alive dead.” As the telegram is quite explicit,
warn your friend not to be there when I come to arrest him
at eight tonight.

Affectionately,

PEREZ

Burn this note.

“T-that V-victorina!” Don Tiburcio had stammered. “S-she’s c-capable
of having me s-shot!”

Padre Florentino was unable to reassure him. Vainly he pointed
out to him that the word _cojera_ should have read _cogerá_,
[77] and that the hidden Spaniard could not be Don  Tiburcio,
but the jeweler Simoun, who two days before had arrived, wounded
and a fugitive, begging for shelter. But Don Tiburcio would not be
convinced–_cojera_ was his own lameness, his personal description,
and it was an intrigue of Victorina’s to get him back alive or dead,
as Isagani had written from Manila. So the poor Ulysses had left the
priest’s house to conceal himself in the hut of a woodcutter.

No doubt was entertained by Padre Florentino that the Spaniard wanted
was the jeweler Simoun, who had arrived mysteriously, himself carrying
the jewel-chest, bleeding, morose, and exhausted. With the free and
cordial Filipino hospitality, the priest had taken him in, without
asking indiscreet questions, and as news of the events in Manila had
not yet reached his ears he was unable to understand the situation
clearly. The only conjecture that occurred to him was that the General,
the jeweler’s friend and protector, being gone, probably his enemies,
the victims of wrong and abuse, were now rising and calling for
vengeance, and that the acting Governor was pursuing him to make him
disgorge the wealth he had accumulated–hence his flight. But whence
came his wounds? Had he tried to commit suicide? Were they the result
of personal revenge? Or were they merely caused by an accident, as
Simoun claimed? Had they been received in escaping from the force
that was pursuing him?

This last conjecture was the one that seemed to have the greatest
appearance of probability, being further strengthened by the telegram
received and Simoun’s decided unwillingness from the start to be
treated by the doctor from the capital. The jeweler submitted only
to the ministrations of Don Tiburcio, and even to them with marked
distrust. In this situation Padre Florentino was asking himself what
line of conduct he should pursue when the Civil Guard came to arrest
Simoun. His condition would not permit his removal, much less a long
journey–but the telegram said alive or dead.

Padre Florentine ceased playing and approached the window to gaze
out at the sea, whose desolate surface was without a ship, without
a sail–it gave him no suggestion. A solitary islet outlined
in the distance spoke only of solitude and made the space more
lonely. Infinity is at times despairingly mute.

The old man was trying to analyze the sad and ironical smile with
which Simoun had received the news that he was to be arrested. What did
that smile mean? And that other smile, still sadder and more ironical,
with which he received the news that they would not come before eight
at night? What did all this mystery signify? Why did Simoun refuse
to hide? There came into his mind the celebrated saying of St. John
Chrysostom when he was defending the eunuch Eutropius: “Never was a
better time than this to say–Vanity of vanities and all is vanity!”

Yes, that Simoun, so rich, so powerful, so feared a week ago, and
now more unfortunate than Eutropius, was seeking refuge, not at the
altars of a church, but in the miserable house of a poor native priest,
hidden in the forest, on the solitary seashore! Vanity of vanities
and all is vanity! That man would within a few hours be a prisoner,
dragged from the bed where he lay, without respect for his condition,
without consideration for his wounds–dead or alive his enemies
demanded him! How could he save him? Where could he find the moving
accents of the bishop of Constantinople? What weight would his weak
words have, the words of a native priest, whose own humiliation this
same Simoun had in his better days seemed to applaud and encourage?

But Padre Florentine no longer recalled the indifferent reception that
two months before the jeweler had accorded to him when he had tried
to interest him in favor of Isagani, then a prisoner on account of
his imprudent chivalry; he forgot the activity Simoun had displayed in
urging Paulita’s marriage, which had plunged Isagani into the fearful
misanthropy that was worrying his uncle. He forgot all these things
and thought only of the sick man’s plight and his own obligations as
a host, until his senses reeled. Where must he hide him to avoid his
falling into the clutches of the authorities? But the person chiefly
concerned was not worrying, he was smiling.

While he was pondering over these things, the old man was approached by
a servant who said that the sick man wished to speak with him, so he
went into the next room, a clean and well-ventilated apartment with a
floor of wide boards smoothed and polished, and simply furnished with
big, heavy armchairs of ancient design, without varnish or paint. At
one end there was a large kamagon bed with its four posts to support
the canopy, and beside it a table covered with bottles, lint, and
bandages. A praying-desk at the feet of a Christ and a scanty library
led to the suspicion that it was the priest’s own bedroom, given up to
his guest according to the Filipino custom of offering to the stranger
the best table, the best room, and the best bed in the house. Upon
seeing the windows opened wide to admit freely the healthful sea-breeze
and the echoes of its eternal lament, no one in the Philippines would
have said that a sick person was to be found there, since it is the
custom to close all the windows and stop up all the cracks just as
soon as any one catches a cold or gets an insignificant headache.

Padre Florentine looked toward the bed and was astonished to
see that the sick man’s face had lost its tranquil and ironical
expression. Hidden grief seemed to knit his brows, anxiety was depicted
in his looks, his lips were curled in a smile of pain.

“Are you suffering, Señor Simoun?” asked the priest solicitously,
going to his side.

“Some! But in a little while I shall cease to suffer,” he replied
with a shake of his head.

Padre Florentine clasped his hands in fright, suspecting that he
understood the terrible truth. “My God, what have you done? What have
you taken?” He reached toward the bottles.

“It’s useless now! There’s no remedy at all!” answered Simoun with a
pained smile. “What did you expect me to do? Before the clock strikes
eight–alive or dead–dead, yes, but alive, no!”

“My God, what have you done?”

“Be calm!” urged the sick man with a wave of his hand. “What’s done
is done. I must not fall into anybody’s hands–my secret would
be torn from me. Don’t get excited, don’t lose your head, it’s
useless! Listen–the night is coming on and there’s no time to be
lost. I must tell you my secret, and intrust to you my last request,
I must lay my life open before you. At the supreme moment I want to
lighten myself of a load, I want to clear up a doubt of mine. You
who believe so firmly in God–I want you to tell me if there is a God!”

“But an antidote, Señor Simoun! I have ether, chloroform–”

The priest began to search for a flask, until Simoun cried impatiently,
“Useless, it’s useless! Don’t waste time! I’ll go away with my secret!”

The bewildered priest fell down at his desk and prayed at the feet
of the Christ, hiding his face in his hands. Then he arose serious
and grave, as if he had received from his God all the force, all
the dignity, all the authority of the Judge of consciences. Moving
a chair to the head of the bed he prepared to listen.

At the first words Simoun murmured, when he told his real name,
the old priest started back and gazed at him in terror, whereat
the sick man smiled bitterly. Taken by surprise, the priest was not
master of himself, but he soon recovered, and covering his face with
a handkerchief again bent over to listen.

Simoun related his sorrowful story: how, thirteen years before, he
had returned from Europe filled with hopes and smiling illusions,
having come back to marry a girl whom he loved, disposed to do good
and forgive all who had wronged him, just so they would let him live
in peace. But it was not so. A mysterious hand involved him in the
confusion of an uprising planned by his enemies. Name, fortune, love,
future, liberty, all were lost, and he escaped only through the heroism
of a friend. Then he swore vengeance. With the wealth of his family,
which had been buried in a wood, he had fled, had gone to foreign
lands and engaged in trade. He took part in the war in Cuba, aiding
first one side and then another, but always profiting. There he made
the acquaintance of the General, then a major, whose good-will he won
first by loans of money, and afterwards he made a friend of him by
the knowledge of criminal secrets. With his money he had been able to
secure the General’s appointment and, once in the Philippines, he had
used him as a blind tool and incited him to all kinds of injustice,
availing himself of his insatiable lust for gold.

The confession was long and tedious, but during the whole of it the
confessor made no further sign of surprise and rarely interrupted the
sick man. It was night when Padre Florentino, wiping the perspiration
from his face, arose and began to meditate. Mysterious darkness
flooded the room, so that the moonbeams entering through the window
filled it with vague lights and vaporous reflections.

Into the midst of the silence the priest’s voice broke sad and
deliberate, but consoling: “God will forgive you, Señor–Simoun,”
he said. “He knows that we are fallible, He has seen that you have
suffered, and in ordaining that the chastisement for your faults
should come as death from the very ones you have instigated to crime,
we can see His infinite mercy. He has frustrated your plans one by
one, the best conceived, first by the death of Maria Clara, then by
a lack of preparation, then in some mysterious way. Let us bow to
His will and render Him thanks!”

“According to you, then,” feebly responded the sick man, “His will
is that these islands–”

“Should continue in the condition in which they suffer?” finished
the priest, seeing that the other hesitated. “I don’t know, sir,
I can’t read the thought of the Inscrutable. I know that He has not
abandoned those peoples who in their supreme moments have trusted in
Him and made Him the Judge of their cause, I know that His arm has
never failed when, justice long trampled upon and every recourse gone,
the oppressed have taken up the sword to fight for home and wife and
children, for their inalienable rights, which, as the German poet says,
shine ever there above, unextinguished and inextinguishable, like
the eternal stars themselves. No, God is justice, He cannot abandon
His cause, the cause of liberty, without which no justice is possible.”

“Why then has He denied me His aid?” asked the sick man in a voice
charged with bitter complaint.

“Because you chose means that He could not sanction,” was the
severe reply. “The glory of saving a country is not for him who has
contributed to its ruin. You have believed that what crime and iniquity
have defiled and deformed, another crime and another iniquity can
purify and redeem. Wrong! Hate never produces anything but monsters
and crime criminals! Love alone realizes wonderful works, virtue
alone can save! No, if our country has ever to be free, it will not
be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons,
deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue,
virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love!”

“Well, I accept your explanation,” rejoined the sick man, after
a pause. “I have been mistaken, but, because I have been mistaken,
will that God deny liberty to a people and yet save many who are much
worse criminals than I am? What is my mistake compared to the crimes
of our rulers? Why has that God to give more heed to my iniquity than
to the cries of so many innocents? Why has He not stricken me down
and then made the people triumph? Why does He let so many worthy and
just ones suffer and look complacently upon their tortures?”

“The just and the worthy must suffer in order that their ideas may be
known and extended! You must shake or shatter the vase to spread its
perfume, you must smite the rock to get the spark! There is something
providential in the persecutions of tyrants, Señor Simoun!”

“I knew it,” murmured the sick man, “and therefore I encouraged
the tyranny.”

“Yes, my friend, but more corrupt influences than anything else
were spread. You fostered the social rottenness without sowing an
idea. From this fermentation of vices loathing alone could spring,
and if anything were born overnight it would be at best a mushroom,
for mushrooms only can spring spontaneously from filth. True it
is that the vices of the government are fatal to it, they cause
its death, but they kill also the society in whose bosom they are
developed. An immoral government presupposes a demoralized people,
a conscienceless administration, greedy and servile citizens in the
settled parts, outlaws and brigands in the mountains. Like master,
like slave! Like government, like country!”

A brief pause ensued, broken at length by the sick man’s voice. “Then,
what can be done?”

“Suffer and work!”

“Suffer–work!” echoed the sick man bitterly. “Ah, it’s easy to say
that, when you are not suffering, when the work is rewarded. If your
God demands such great sacrifices from man, man who can scarcely
count upon the present and doubts the future, if you had seen what
I have, the miserable, the wretched, suffering unspeakable tortures
for crimes they have not committed, murdered to cover up the faults
and incapacity of others, poor fathers of families torn from their
homes to work to no purpose upon highways that are destroyed each day
and seem only to serve for sinking families into want. Ah, to suffer,
to work, is the will of God! Convince them that their murder is their
salvation, that their work is the prosperity of the home! To suffer,
to work! What God is that?”

“A very just God, Señor Simoun,” replied the priest. “A God who
chastises our lack of faith, our vices, the little esteem in which
we hold dignity and the civic virtues. We tolerate vice, we make
ourselves its accomplices, at times we applaud it, and it is just,
very just that we suffer the consequences, that our children suffer
them. It is the God of liberty, Señor Simoun, who obliges us to
love it, by making the yoke heavy for us–a God of mercy, of equity,
who while He chastises us, betters us and only grants prosperity to
him who has merited it through his efforts. The school of suffering
tempers, the arena of combat strengthens the soul.

“I do not mean to say that our liberty will be secured at the sword’s
point, for the sword plays but little part in modern affairs, but that
we must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it, by exalting the
intelligence and the dignity of the individual, by loving justice,
right, and greatness, even to the extent of dying for them,–and when
a people reaches that height God will provide a weapon, the idols
will be shattered, the tyranny will crumble like a house of cards
and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.

“Our ills we owe to ourselves alone, so let us blame no one. If Spain
should see that we were less complaisant with tyranny and more disposed
to struggle and suffer for our rights, Spain would be the first to
grant us liberty, because when the fruit of the womb reaches maturity
woe unto the mother who would stifle it! So, while the Filipino people
has not sufficient energy to proclaim, with head erect and bosom bared,
its rights to social life, and to guarantee it with its sacrifices,
with its own blood; while we see our countrymen in private life ashamed
within themselves, hear the voice of conscience roar in rebellion and
protest, yet in public life keep silence or even echo the words of
him who abuses them in order to mock the abused; while we see them
wrap themselves up in their egotism and with a forced smile praise
the most iniquitous actions, begging with their eyes a portion of
the booty–why grant them liberty? With Spain or without Spain they
would always be the same, and perhaps worse! Why independence, if the
slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will
be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.

“Señor Simoun, when our people is unprepared, when it enters the fight
through fraud and force, without a clear understanding of what it is
doing, the wisest attempts will fail, and better that they do fail,
since why commit the wife to the husband if he does not sufficiently
love her, if he is not ready to die for her?”

Padre Florentino felt the sick man catch and press his hand, so he
became silent, hoping that the other might speak, but he merely felt
a stronger pressure of the hand, heard a sigh, and then profound
silence reigned in the room. Only the sea, whose waves were rippled
by the night breeze, as though awaking from the heat of the day,
sent its hoarse roar, its eternal chant, as it rolled against the
jagged rocks. The moon, now free from the sun’s rivalry, peacefully
commanded the sky, and the trees of the forest bent down toward one
another, telling their ancient legends in mysterious murmurs borne
on the wings of the wind.

The sick man said nothing, so Padre Florentino, deeply thoughtful,
murmured: “Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours,
their illusions, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native
land? Where are the youth who will generously pour out their blood to
wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and
spotless must the victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable! Where
are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that
has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated
in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been quenched in our
hearts? We await you, O youth! Come, for we await you!”

Feeling his eyes moisten he withdrew his hand from that of the sick
man, arose, and went to the window to gaze out upon the wide surface
of the sea. He was drawn from his meditation by gentle raps at the
door. It was the servant asking if he should bring a light.

When the priest returned to the sick man and looked at him in the
light of the lamp, motionless, his eyes closed, the hand that had
pressed his lying open and extended along the edge of the bed,
he thought for a moment that he was sleeping, but noticing that he
was not breathing touched him gently, and then realized that he was
dead. His body had already commenced to turn cold. The priest fell
upon his knees and prayed.

When he arose and contemplated the corpse, in whose features were
depicted the deepest grief, the tragedy of a whole wasted life which
he was carrying over there beyond death, the old man shuddered and
murmured, “God have mercy on those who turned him from the straight
path!”

While the servants summoned by him fell upon their knees and prayed
for the dead man, curious and bewildered as they gazed toward the
bed, reciting requiem after requiem, Padre Florentino took from a
cabinet the celebrated steel chest that contained Simoun’s fabulous
wealth. He hesitated for a moment, then resolutely descended the
stairs and made his way to the cliff where Isagani was accustomed to
sit and gaze into the depths of the sea.

Padre Florentino looked down at his feet. There below he saw the dark
billows of the Pacific beating into the hollows of the cliff, producing
sonorous thunder, at the same time that, smitten by the moonbeams,
the waves and foam glittered like sparks of fire, like handfuls of
diamonds hurled into the air by some jinnee of the abyss. He gazed
about him. He was alone. The solitary coast was lost in the distance
amid the dim cloud that the moonbeams played through, until it mingled
with the horizon. The forest murmured unintelligible sounds.

Then the old man, with an effort of his herculean arms, hurled the
chest into space, throwing it toward the sea. It whirled over and over
several times and descended rapidly in a slight curve, reflecting the
moonlight on its polished surface. The old man saw the drops of water
fly and heard a loud splash as the abyss closed over and swallowed up
the treasure. He waited for a few moments to see if the depths would
restore anything, but the wave rolled on as mysteriously as before,
without adding a fold to its rippling surface, as though into the
immensity of the sea a pebble only had been dropped.

“May Nature guard you in her deep abysses among the pearls and corals
of her eternal seas,” then said the priest, solemnly extending his
hands. “When for some holy and sublime purpose man may need you, God
will in his wisdom draw you from the bosom of the waves. Meanwhile,
there you will not work woe, you will not distort justice, you will
not foment avarice!”

GLOSSARY

_abá:_ A Tagalog exclamation of wonder, surprise, etc., often used
to introduce or emphasize a contradictory statement.

_alcalde:_ Governor of a province or district, with both executive
and judicial authority.

_Ayuntamiento:_ A city corporation or council, and by extension
the building in which it has its offices; specifically, in Manila,
the capitol.

_balete:_ The Philippine banyan, a tree sacred in Malay folk-lore.

_banka:_ A dugout canoe with bamboo supports or outriggers.

_batalan:_ The platform of split bamboo attached to a _nipa_ house.

_batikúlin:_ A variety of easily-turned wood, used in carving.

_bibinka:_ A sweetmeat made of sugar or molasses and rice-flour,
commonly sold in the small shops.

_buyera:_ A woman who prepares and sells the _buyo_.

_buyo:_ The masticatory prepared by wrapping a piece of areca-nut
with a little shell-lime in a betel-leaf–the _pan_ of British India.

_cabesang:_ Title of a _cabeza de barangay;_ given by courtesy to
his wife also.

_cabeza de barangay:_ Headman and tax-collector for a group of about
fifty families, for whose “tribute” he was personally responsible.

_calesa:_ A two-wheeled chaise with folding top.

_calle:_ Street (Spanish).

_camisa:_ 1. A loose, collarless shirt of transparent material worn
by men outside the trousers. 2. A thin, transparent waist with flowing
sleeves, worn by women.

_capitan:_ “Captain,” a title used in addressing or referring to a
gobernadorcillo, or a former occupant of that office.

_carambas:_ A Spanish exclamation denoting surprise or displeasure.

_carbineer:_ Internal-revenue guard.

_carromata:_ A small two-wheeled vehicle with a fixed top.

_casco:_ A flat-bottomed freight barge.

_cayman:_ The Philippine crocodile.

_cedula:_ Certificate of registration and receipt for poll-tax.

_chongka:_ A child’s game played with pebbles or cowry-shells.

_cigarrera:_ A woman working in a cigar or cigarette factory.

_Civil Guard:_ Internal quasi-military police force of Spanish officers
and native soldiers.

_cochero:_ Carriage driver, coachman.

_cuarto:_ A copper coin, one hundred and sixty of which were equal
in value to a silver peso.

_filibuster:_ A native of the Philippines who was accused of advocating
their separation from Spain.

_filibusterism:_ See _filibuster_.

_gobernadorcillo:_ “Petty governor,” the principal municipal
official–also, in Manila, the head of a commercial guild.

_gumamela:_ The hibiscus, common as a garden shrub in the Philippines.

_Indian:_ The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the
Philippines was _indio_ (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously,
the name _Filipino_ being generally applied in a restricted sense to
the children of Spaniards born in the Islands.

_kalan:_ The small, portable, open, clay fireplace commonly used
in cooking.

_kalikut:_ A short section of bamboo for preparing the _buyo_;
a primitive betel-box.

_kamagon:_ A tree of the ebony family, from which fine cabinet-wood
is obtained. Its fruit is the _mabolo_, or date-plum.

_lanete:_ A variety of timber used in carving.

_linintikan:_ A Tagalog exclamation of disgust or contempt–“thunder!”

_Malacañang:_ The palace of the Captain-General: from the vernacular
name of the place where it stands, “fishermen’s resort.”

_Malecon:_ A drive along the bay shore of Manila, opposite the
Walled City.

_Mestizo:_ A person of mixed Filipino and Spanish blood; sometimes
applied also to a person of mixed Filipino and Chinese blood.

_nakú:_ A Tagalog exclamation of surprise, wonder, etc.

_narra:_ The Philippine mahogany.

_nipa:_ Swamp palm, with the imbricated leaves of which the roofs
and sides of the common native houses are constructed.

_novena:_ A devotion consisting of prayers recited for nine consecutive
days, asking for some special favor; also, a booklet of these prayers.

_panguingui:_ A complicated card-game, generally for small stakes,
played with a monte deck.

_panguinguera:_ A woman addicted to _panguingui_, this being chiefly
a feminine diversion in the Philippines.

_pansit:_ A soup made of Chinese vermicelli.

_pansitería:_ A shop where _pansit_ is prepared and sold.

_pañuelo:_ A starched neckerchief folded stiffly over the shoulders,
fastened in front and falling in a point behind: the most distinctive
portion of the customary dress of Filipino women.

_peso:_ A silver coin, either the Spanish peso or the Mexican dollar,
about the size of an American dollar and of approximately half
its value.

_petate:_ Sleeping-mat woven from palm leaves.

_piña:_ Fine cloth made from pineapple-leaf fibers.

_Provincial:_ The head of a religious order in the Philippines.

_puñales:_ “Daggers!”

_querida:_ A paramour, mistress: from the Spanish “beloved.”

_real:_ One-eighth of a peso, twenty cuartos.

_sala:_ The principal room in the more pretentious Philippine houses.

_salakot:_ Wide hat of palm or bamboo, distinctively Filipino.

_sampaguita:_ The Arabian jasmine: a small, white, very fragrant
flower, extensively cultivated, and worn in chaplets and rosaries by
women and girls–the typical Philippine flower.

_sipa_: A game played with a hollow ball of plaited bamboo or rattan,
by boys standing in a circle, who by kicking it with their heels
endeavor to keep it from striking the ground.

_soltada_: A bout between fighting-cocks.

_’Susmariosep_: A common exclamation: contraction of the Spanish,
_Jesús, María, y José_, the Holy Family.

_tabi_: The cry used by carriage drivers to warn pedestrians.

_tabú_: A utensil fashioned from half of a coconut shell.

_tajú_: A thick beverage prepared from bean-meal and syrup.

_tampipi_: A telescopic basket of woven palm, bamboo, or rattan.

_Tandang_: A title of respect for an old man: from the Tagalog term
for “old.”

_tapis_: A piece of dark cloth or lace, often richly worked or
embroidered, worn at the waist somewhat in the fashion of an apron;
a distinctive portion of the native women’s attire, especially among
the Tagalogs.

_tatakut_: The Tagalog term for “fear.”

_teniente-mayor_: “Senior lieutenant,” the senior member of the town
council and substitute for the gobernadorcillo.

_tertiary sister_: A member of a lay society affiliated with a regular
monastic order.

_tienda_: A shop or stall for the sale of merchandise.

_tikbalang_: An evil spirit, capable of assuming various forms, but
said to appear usually as a tall black man with disproportionately
long legs: the “bogey man” of Tagalog children.

_tulisan_: Outlaw, bandit. Under the old régime in the Philippines the
_tulisanes_ were those who, on account of real or fancied grievances
against the authorities, or from fear of punishment for crime,
or from an instinctive desire to return to primitive simplicity,
foreswore life in the towns “under the bell,” and made their homes
in the mountains or other remote places. Gathered in small bands with
such arms as they could secure, they sustained themselves by highway
robbery and the levying of black-mail from the country folk.

NOTES

[1] The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the
Philippines was _indio_ (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously,
the name _filipino_ being generally applied in a restricted sense to
the children of Spaniards born in the Islands.–Tr.

[2] Now generally known as the Mariquina.–Tr.

[3] This bridge, constructed in Lukban under the supervision of
a Franciscan friar, was jocularly referred to as the _Puente de
Capricho,_ being apparently an ignorant blunder in the right direction,
since it was declared in an official report made by Spanish engineers
in 1852 to conform to no known principle of scientific construction,
and yet proved to be strong and durable.–Tr.

[4] Don Custodio’s gesture indicates money.–Tr.

[5] Duck eggs, that are allowed to advance well into the duckling
stage, then boiled and eaten. The señora is sneering at a custom
among some of her own people.–Tr.

[6] The Jesuit College in Manila, established in 1859.–Tr.

[7] Natives of Spain; to distinguish them from the Filipinos, _i.e.,_
descendants of Spaniards born in the Philippines. See Glossary:
“Indian.”–Tr.

[8] It was a common saying among the old Filipinos that the Spaniards
(white men) were fire (activity), while they themselves were water
(passivity).–Tr.

[9] The “liberal” demonstrations in Manila, and the mutiny in the
Cavite Arsenal, resulting in the garroting of the three native
priests to whom this work was dedicated: the first of a series of
fatal mistakes, culminating in the execution of the author, that cost
Spain the loyalty of the Filipinos.–Tr.

[10] Archbishop of Manila from 1767 to 1787.–Tr.

[11] “Between this island (Talim) and Halahala point extends a strait
a mile wide and a league long, which the Indians call ‘Kinabutasan,’
a name that in their language means ‘place that was cleft open’;
from which it is inferred that in other times the island was joined
to the mainland and was separated from it by some severe earthquake,
thus leaving this strait: of this there is an old tradition among
the Indians.”–Fray Martinez de Zuñiga’s _Estadismo_ (1803).

[12] The reference is to the novel _Noli Me Tangere_ (_The Social
Cancer_), the author’s first work, of which, the present is in a way
a continuation.–Tr.

[13] This legend is still current among the Tagalogs. It circulates
in various forms, the commonest being that the king was so confined
for defying the lightning; and it takes no great stretch of the
imagination to fancy in this idea a reference to the firearms used
by the Spanish conquerors. Quite recently (January 1909), when the
nearly extinct volcano of Banahao shook itself and scattered a few
tons of mud over the surrounding landscape, the people thereabout
recalled this old legend, saying that it was their King Bernardo
making another effort to get that right foot loose.–Tr.

[14] The reference is to _Noli Me Tangere,_ in which Sinang appears.

[15] The Dominican school of secondary instruction in Manila.–Tr.

[16] “The studies of secondary instruction given in Santo Tomas,
in the college of San Juan de Letran, and of San José, and in the
private schools, had the defects inherent in the plan of instruction
which the friars developed in the Philippines. It suited their plans
that scientific and literary knowledge should not become general nor
very extensive, for which reason they took but little interest in the
study of those subjects or in the quality of the instruction. Their
educational establishments were places of luxury for the children of
wealthy and well-to-do families rather than establishments in which
to perfect and develop the minds of the Filipino youth. It is true
they were careful to give them a religious education, tending to make
them respect the omnipotent power (_sic_) of the monastic corporations.

“The intellectual powers were made dormant by devoting a greater
part of the time to the study of Latin, to which they attached an
extraordinary importance, for the purpose of discouraging pupils
from studying the exact and experimental sciences and from gaining
a knowledge of true literary studies.

“The philosophic system explained was naturally the scholastic one,
with an exceedingly refined and subtile logic, and with deficient
ideas upon physics. By the study of Latin, and their philosophic
systems, they converted their pupils into automatic machines rather
than into practical men prepared to battle with life.”–_Census of
the Philippine Islands (Washington, 1905), Volume III, pp. 601, 602._

[17] The nature of this booklet, in Tagalog, is made clear in several
passages. It was issued by the Franciscans, but proved too outspoken
for even Latin refinement, and was suppressed by the Order itself.–Tr.

[18] The rectory or parish house.

[19] Friends of the author, who suffered in Weyler’s expedition,
mentioned below.–Tr.

[20] The Dominican corporation, at whose instigation Captain-General
Valeriano Weyler sent a battery of artillery to Kalamba to destroy
the property of tenants who were contesting in the courts the
friars’ titles to land there. The author’s family were the largest
sufferers.–Tr.

[21] A relative of the author, whose body was dragged from the tomb and
thrown to the dogs, on the pretext that he had died without receiving
final absolution.–Tr.

[22] Under the Spanish régime the government paid no attention to
education, the schools (!) being under the control of the religious
orders and the friar-curates of the towns.–Tr.

[23] The cockpits are farmed out annually by the local governments,
the terms “contract,” and “contractor,” having now been softened into
“license” and “licensee.”–Tr.

[24] The “Municipal School for Girls” was founded by the municipality
of Manila in 1864…. The institution was in charge of the Sisters
of Charity.–_Census of the Philippine Islands, Vol. III, p. 615_.

[25] Now known as Plaza España.–Tr.

[26] Patroness of the Dominican Order. She was formally and sumptuously
recrowned a queen of the skies in 1907.–Tr.

[27] A burlesque on an association of students known as the _Milicia
Angelica_, organized by the Dominicans to strengthen their hold on
the people. The name used is significant, “carbineers” being the
local revenue officers, notorious in their later days for graft
and abuse.–Tr.

[28] “Tinamáan ñg lintik!”–a Tagalog exclamation of anger,
disappointment, or dismay, regarded as a very strong expression,
equivalent to profanity. Literally, “May the lightning strike
you!”–Tr.

[29] “To lie about the stars is a safe kind of lying.”–Tr.

[30] Throughout this chapter the professor uses the familiar _tu_
in addressing the students, thus giving his remarks a contemptuous
tone.–Tr.

[31] The professor speaks these words in vulgar dialect.

[32] To confuse the letters _p_ and _f_ in speaking Spanish was a
common error among uneducated Filipinos.–Tr.

[33] _No cristianos_, not Christians, _i.e_., savages.–Tr.

[34] The patron saint of Spain, St. James.–Tr.

[35] Houses of bamboo and nipa, such as form the homes of the masses
of the natives.–Tr.

[36] “In this paragraph Rizal alludes to an incident that had
very serious results. There was annually celebrated in Binondo a
certain religious festival, principally at the expense of the Chinese
mestizos. The latter finally petitioned that their gobernadorcillo be
given the presidency of it, and this was granted, thanks to the fact
that the parish priest (the Dominican, Fray José Hevia Campomanes)
held to the opinion that the presidency belonged to those who paid
the most. The Tagalogs protested, alleging their better right to it,
as the genuine sons of the country, not to mention the historical
precedent, but the friar, who was looking after his own interests,
did not yield. General Terrero (Governor, 1885-1888), at the advice
of his liberal councilors, finally had the parish priest removed and
for the time being decided the affair in favor of the Tagalogs. The
matter reached the Colonial Office (_Ministerio de Ultramar_) and
the Minister was not even content merely to settle it in the way the
friars desired, but made amends to Padre Hevia by appointing him a
bishop.”–_W. E. Retana, who was a journalist in Manila at the time,
in a note to this chapter._

Childish and ridiculous as this may appear now, it was far from being
so at the time, especially in view of the supreme contempt with which
the pugnacious Tagalog looks down upon the meek and complaisant Chinese
and the mortal antipathy that exists between the two races.–Tr.

[37] It is regrettable that Quiroga’s picturesque butchery of Spanish
and Tagalog–the dialect of the Manila Chinese–cannot be reproduced
here. Only the thought can be given. There is the same difficulty
with _r’s, d’s_, and _l’s_ that the Chinese show in English.–Tr.

[38] Up to the outbreak of the insurrection in 1896, the only genuinely
Spanish troops in the islands were a few hundred artillerymen, the
rest being natives, with Spanish officers.–Tr.

[39] Abaka is the fiber obtained from the leaves of the _Musa textilis_
and is known commercially as Manila hemp. As it is exclusively a
product of the Philippines, it may be taken here to symbolize the
country.–Tr.

[40] Yet Ben-Zayb was not very much mistaken. The three legs of the
table have grooves in them in which slide the mirrors hidden below
the platform and covered by the squares of the carpet. By placing
the box upon the table a spring is pressed and the mirrors rise
gently. The cloth is then removed, with care to raise it instead of
letting it slide off, and then there is the ordinary table of the
talking heads. The table is connected with the bottom of the box. The
exhibition ended, the prestidigitator again covers the table, presses
another spring, and the mirrors descend.–_Author’s note._

[41] The Malay method of kissing is quite different from the
Occidental. The mouth is placed close to the object and a deep breath
taken, often without actually touching the object, being more of a
sniff than a kiss.–Tr.

[42] Now Calle Tetuan, Santa Cruz. The other names are still in
use.–Tr.

[43] The _Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País_ for the encouragement
of agricultural and industrial development, was established by Basco
de Vargas in 1780.–Tr.

[44] Funds managed by the government for making loans and supporting
charitable enterprises.–Tr.

[45] The names are fictitious burlesques.–Tr.

[46] “Boiled Shrimp”–Tr.

[47] “Uncle Frank.”–Tr.

[48] Messageries Maritimes, a French line of steamers in the Oriental
trade.–Tr.

[49] Referring to the expeditions–_Misión Española Católica_–to the
Caroline and Pelew Islands from 1886 to 1895, headed by the Capuchin
Fathers, which brought misery and disaster upon the natives of those
islands, unprofitable losses and sufferings to the Filipino soldiers
engaged in them, discredit to Spain, and decorations of merit to a
number of Spanish officers.–Tr.

[50] Over the possession of the Caroline and Pelew Islands. The
expeditions referred to in the previous note were largely inspired
by German activity with regard to those islands, which had always
been claimed by Spain, who sold her claim to them to Germany after
the loss of the Philippines.–Tr.

[51] “Where the wind wrinkles the silent waves, that rapidly break,
of their own movement, with a gentle murmur on the shore.”–Tr.

[52] “Where rapid and winged engines will rush in flight.”–Tr.

[53] There is something almost uncanny about the general accuracy of
the prophecy in these lines, the economic part of which is now so
well on the way to realization, although the writer of them would
doubtless have been a very much surprised individual had he also
foreseen how it would come about. But one of his own expressions was
“fire and steel to the cancer,” and it surely got them.

On the very day that this passage was translated and this note written,
the first commercial liner was tied up at the new docks, which have
destroyed the Malecon but raised Manila to the front rank of Oriental
seaports, and the final revision is made at Baguio, Mountain Province,
amid the “cooler temperatures on the slopes of the mountains.” As for
the political portion, it is difficult even now to contemplate calmly
the blundering fatuity of that bigoted medieval brand of “patriotism”
which led the decrepit Philippine government to play the Ancient
Mariner and shoot the Albatross that brought this message.–Tr.

[54] These establishments are still a notable feature of native
life in Manila. Whether the author adopted a title already common or
popularized one of his own invention, the fact is that they are now
invariably known by the name used here. The use of _macanista_ was due
to the presence in Manila of a large number of Chinese from Macao.–Tr.

[55] Originally, Plaza San Gabriel, from the Dominican mission for the
Chinese established there; later, as it became a commercial center,
Plaza Vivac; and now known as Plaza Cervantes, being the financial
center of Manila.–Tr.

[56] “The manager of this restaurant warns the public to leave
absolutely nothing on any table or chair.”–Tr.

[57] “We do not believe in the verisimilitude of this dialogue,
fabricated by the author in order to refute the arguments of the
friars, whose pride was so great that it would not permit any
Isagani to tell them these truths face to face. The _invention_ of
Padre Fernandez as a Dominican professor is a stroke of generosity
on Rizal’s part, in conceding that there could have existed _any_
friar capable of talking frankly with an _Indian_.”–_W. E. Retana,
in note to this chapter in the edition published by him at Barcelona
in 1908_. Retana ought to know of what he is writing, for he was in
the employ of the friars for several years and later in Spain wrote
extensively for the journal supported by them to defend their position
in the Philippines. He has also been charged with having strongly urged
Rizal’s execution in 1896. Since 1898, however, he has doubled about,
or, perhaps more aptly, performed a journalistic somersault–having
written a diffuse biography and other works dealing with Rizal. He
is strong in unassorted facts, but his comments, when not inane and
wearisome, approach a maudlin wail over “spilt milk,” so the above
is given at its face value only.–Tr.

[58] Quite suggestive of, and perhaps inspired by, the author’s own
experience.–Tr.

[59] The Walled City, the original Manila, is still known to the
Spaniards and older natives exclusively as such, the other districts
being referred to by their distinctive names.–Tr.

[60] Nearly all the dialogue in this chapter is in the mongrel
Spanish-Tagalog “market language,” which cannot be reproduced in
English.–Tr.

[61] Doubtless a reference to the author’s first work, _Noli Me
Tangere_, which was tabooed by the authorities.–Tr.

[62] Such inanities as these are still a feature of Manila
journalism.–Tr.

[63] “Whether there would be a _talisain_ cock, armed with a sharp
gaff, whether the blessed Peter’s fighting-cock would be a _bulik_–”

_Talisain_ and _bulik_ are distinguishing terms in the vernacular for
fighting-cocks, _tari_ and _sasabungin_ the Tagalog terms for “gaff”
and “game-cock,” respectively.

The Tagalog terminology of the cockpit and monkish Latin certainly
make a fearful and wonderful mixture–nor did the author have to
resort to his imagination to get samples of it.–Tr.

[64] This is Quiroga’s pronunciation of _Christo_.–Tr.

[65] The native priests Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, charged with
complicity in the uprising of 1872, and executed.–Tr.

[66] This versicle, found in the booklets of prayer, is common on the
scapularies, which, during the late insurrection, were easily converted
into the _anting-anting_, or amulets, worn by the fanatics.–Tr.

[67] This practise–secretly compelling suspects to sign a request
to be transferred to some other island–was by no means a figment of
the author’s imagination, but was extensively practised to anticipate
any legal difficulties that might arise.–Tr.

[68] “Hawk-Eye.”–Tr.

[69] Ultima Razón de Reyes: the last argument of
kings–force. (Expression attributed to Calderon de la Barca, the
great Spanish dramatist.)–Tr.

[70] Curiously enough, and by what must have been more than a mere
coincidence, this route through Santa Mesa from San Juan del Monte was
the one taken by an armed party in their attempt to enter the city at
the outbreak of the Katipunan rebellion on the morning of August 30,
1896. (Foreman’s _The Philippine Islands_, Chap. XXVI.)

It was also on the bridge connecting these two places that the first
shot in the insurrection against American sovereignty was fired on
the night of February 4, 1899.–Tr.

[71] Spanish etiquette requires a host to welcome his guest with the
conventional phrase: “The house belongs to you.”–Tr.

[72] The handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast, foretelling
the destruction of Babylon. Daniel, v, 25-28.–Tr.

[73] A town in Ciudad Real province, Spain.–Tr.

[74] The italicized words are in English in the original.–Tr.

[75] A Spanish hero, whose chief exploit was the capture of Gibraltar
from the Moors in 1308.–Tr.

[76] Emilio Castelar (1832-1899), generally regarded as the greatest
of Spanish orators.–Tr.

[77] In the original the message reads: “Español escondido casa Padre
Florentino cojera remitirá vivo muerto.” Don Tiburcio understands
_cojera_ as referring to himself; there is a play upon the Spanish
words _cojera_, lameness, and _cogerá_, a form of the verb _coger_,
to seize or capture–_j_ and _g_ in these two words having the same
sound, that of the English _h_.–Tr.

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