Chapter 16: - Page 5 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Quiroga, with his smooth tongue and humble smile, was lavishly and flatteringly attentive to Simoun.  His voice was caressing and his bows numerous, but the jeweler cut his blandishments short by asking brusquely:

Did the bracelets suit her?

At this question all Quiroga’s liveliness vanished like a dream.  His caressing voice became plaintive; he bowed lower, gave the Chinese salutation of raising his clasped hands to the height of his face, and groaned: Ah, Señor Simoun! I’m lost, I’m ruined! [4]

How, Quiroga, lost and ruined when you have so many bottles of champagne and so many guests?

Quiroga closed his eyes and made a grimace.  Yes, the affair of that afternoon, that affair of the bracelets, had ruined him.  Simoun smiled, for when a Chinese merchant complains it is because all is going well, and when he makes a show that things are booming it is quite certain that he is planning an assignment or flight to his own country.

You didn’t know that I’m lost, I’m ruined? Ah, Señor Simoun, I’m busted! To make his condition plainer, he illustrated the word by making a movement as though he were falling in collapse.

Simoun wanted to laugh, but restrained himself and said that he knew nothing, nothing at all, as Quiroga led him to a room and closed the door.  He then explained the cause of his misfortune.

Three diamond bracelets that he had secured from Simoun on pretense of showing them to his wife were not for her, a poor native shut up in her room like a Chinese woman, but for a beautiful and charming lady, the friend of a powerful man, whose influence was needed by him in a certain deal in which he could clear some six thousand pesos.  As he did not understand feminine tastes and wished to be gallant, the Chinese had asked for the three finest bracelets the jeweler had, each priced at three to four thousand pesos.  With affected simplicity and his most caressing smile, Quiroga had begged the lady to select the one she liked best, and the lady, more simple and caressing still, had declared that she liked all three, and had kept them.

Simoun burst out into laughter.

Ah, sir, I’m lost, I’m ruined! cried the Chinese, slapping himself lightly with his delicate hands; but the jeweler continued his laughter.

[4] It is regrettable that Quiroga’s picturesque butchery of Spanish and Tagalog—the dialect of the Manila Chinese—cannot be reproduced here. Only the thought can be given. There is the same difficulty with r’s, d’s, and l’s that the Chinese show in English.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

hindî malulón