Chapter 10: - Page 2 of 8

Wealth and Want

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

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!

Learn this Filipino word:

di-makabasag pinggán