Chapter 10: - Page 3 of 8

Wealth and Want

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

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.

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