Chapter 16: - Page 6 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Ugh, bad people, surely not a real lady, went on the Chinaman, shaking his head in disgust.  What! She has no decency, while me, a Chinaman, me always polite! Ah, surely she not a real lady—a cigarrera has more decency!

They’ve caught you, they’ve caught you! exclaimed Simoun, poking him in the chest.

And everybody’s asking for loans and never pays—what about that? Clerks, officials, lieutenants, soldiers— he checked them off on his long-nailed fingers—ah, Señor Simoun, I’m lost, I’m busted!

Get out with your complaints, said Simoun.  I’ve saved you from many officials that wanted money from you. I’ve lent it to them so that they wouldn’t bother you, even when I knew that they couldn’t pay.  

But, Señor Simoun, you lend to officials; I lend to women, sailors, everybody.

I bet you get your money back.

Me, money back? Ah, surely you don’t understand! When it’s lost in gambling they never pay.  Besides, you have a consul, you can force them, but I haven’t.

Simoun became thoughtful.  Listen, Quiroga, he said, somewhat abstractedly, I’ll undertake to collect what the officers and sailors owe you. Give me their notes.

Quiroga again fell to whining: they had never given him any notes.

When they come to you asking for money, send them to me.  I want to help you.

The grateful Quiroga thanked him, but soon fell to lamenting again about the bracelets.  A cigarrera wouldn’t be so shameless! he repeated.

The devil! exclaimed Simoun, looking askance at the Chinese, as though studying him.  Exactly when I need the money and thought that you could pay me! But it can all be arranged, as I don’t want you to fail for such a small amount.  Come, a favor, and I’ll reduce to seven the nine thousand pesos you owe me. You can get anything you wish through the Customs—boxes of lamps, iron, copper, glassware, Mexican pesos—you furnish arms to the conventos, don’t you?

The Chinese nodded affirmation, but remarked that he had to do a good deal of bribing.  I furnish the padres everything!

Well, then, added Simoun in a low voice, I need you to get in for me some boxes of rifles that arrived this evening.  I want you to keep them in your warehouse; there isn’t room for all of them in my house.

Quiroga began to show symptoms of fright.

Learn this Filipino word:

mantsá sa mukhá