Chapter 15:

Señor Pasta

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

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.


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