Chapter 11: - Page 2 of 12

Los Baños

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

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!

Learn this Filipino word:

walâ sa kukó