Chapter 16: - Page 7 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Don’t get scared, you don’t run any risk.  These rifles are to be concealed, a few at a time, in various dwellings, then a search will be instituted, and many people will be sent to prison.  You and I can make a haul getting them set free. Understand me?

Quiroga wavered, for he was afraid of firearms.  In his desk he had an empty revolver that he never touched without turning his head away and closing his eyes.

If you can’t do it, I’ll have to apply to some one else, but then I’ll need the nine thousand pesos to cross their palms and shut their eyes.

All right, all right! Quiroga finally agreed.  But many people will be arrested? There’ll be a search, eh?

When Quiroga and Simoun returned to the sala they found there, in animated conversation, those who had finished their dinner, for the champagne had loosened their tongues and stirred their brains.  They were talking rather freely.

In a group where there were a number of government clerks, some ladies, and Don Custodio, the topic was a commission sent to India to make certain investigations about footwear for the soldiers.

Who compose it? asked an elderly lady.

A colonel, two other officers, and his Excellency’s nephew.

Four? rejoined a clerk.  What a commission! Suppose they disagree—are they competent?

That’s what I asked, replied a clerk.  It’s said that one civilian ought to go, one who has no military prejudices—a shoemaker, for instance.

That’s right, added an importer of shoes, but it wouldn’t do to send an Indian or a Chinaman, and the only Peninsular shoemaker demanded such large fees—

But why do they have to make any investigations about footwear? inquired the elderly lady.  It isn’t for the Peninsular artillerymen.  The Indian soldiers can go barefoot, as they do in their towns. [5] 

Exactly so, and the treasury would save more, corroborated another lady, a widow who was not satisfied with her pension.

But you must remember, remarked another in the group, a friend of the officers on the commission, that while it’s true they go barefoot in the towns, it’s not the same as moving about under orders in the service.  They can’t choose the hour, nor the road, nor rest when they wish.  Remember, madam, that, with the noonday sun overhead and the earth below baking like an oven, they have to march over sandy stretches, where there are stones, the sun above and fire below, bullets in front—

[5] Up to the outbreak of the insurrection in 1896, the only genuinely Spanish troops in the islands were a few hundred artillerymen, the rest being natives, with Spanish officers.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibig na ayaw