Chapter 19: - Page 5 of 8

The Fuse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Simoun ordered the carriage to stop and both alighted, just at the moment when Isagani and Paulita Gomez passed them murmuring sweet inanities.  Behind them came Doña Victorina with Juanito Pelaez, who was talking in a loud voice, busily gesticulating, and appearing to have a larger hump than ever.  In his preoccupation Pelaez did not notice his former schoolmate.

There’s a fellow who’s happy! muttered Placido with a sigh, as he gazed toward the group, which became converted into vaporous silhouettes, with Juanito’s arms plainly visible, rising and falling like the arms of a windmill.

That’s all he’s good for, observed Simoun.  It’s fine to be young!

To whom did Placido and Simoun each allude?

The jeweler made a sign to the young man, and they left the street to pick their way through a labyrinth of paths and passageways among various houses, at times leaping upon stones to avoid the mudholes or stepping aside from the sidewalks that were badly constructed and still more badly tended.  Placido was surprised to see the rich jeweler move through such places as if he were familiar with them.  They at length reached an open lot where a wretched hut stood off by itself surrounded by banana-plants and areca-palms.  Some bamboo frames and sections of the same material led Placido to suspect that they were approaching the house of a pyrotechnist.  

Simoun rapped on the window and a man’s face appeared.

Ah, sir! he exclaimed, and immediately came outside.

Is the powder here? asked Simoun.

In sacks.  I’m waiting for the shells.

And the bombs?

Are all ready.

All right, then.  This very night you must go and inform the lieutenant and the corporal.  Then keep on your way, and in Lamayan you will find a man in a banka.  You will say Cabesa and he will answer Tales.  It’s necessary that he be here tomorrow.  There’s no time to be lost.

Saying this, he gave him some gold coins.

How’s this, sir? the man inquired in very good Spanish.  Is there any news?

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