Chapter 10: - Page 6 of 8

Wealth and Want

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

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.

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