Chapter 19: - Page 6 of 8

The Fuse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Yes, it’ll be done within the coming week.

The coming week! exclaimed the unknown, stepping backward.  The suburbs are not yet ready, they hope that the General will withdraw the decree.  I thought it was postponed until the beginning of Lent.

Simoun shook his head.  We won’t need the suburbs, he said.  With Cabesang Tales’ people, the ex-carbineers, and a regiment, we’ll have enough. Later, Maria Clara may be dead.  Start at once!

The man disappeared. Placido, who had stood by and heard all of this brief interview, felt his hair rise and stared with startled eyes at Simoun, who smiled.

You’re surprised, he said with his icy smile, that this Indian, so poorly dressed, speaks Spanish well? He was a schoolmaster who persisted in teaching Spanish to the children and did not stop until he had lost his position and had been deported as a disturber of the public peace, and for having been a friend of the unfortunate Ibarra.  I got him back from his deportation, where he had been working as a pruner of coconut-palms, and have made him a pyrotechnist.

They returned to the street and set out for Trozo.  Before a wooden house of pleasant and well-kept appearance was a Spaniard on crutches, enjoying the moonlight.  When Simoun accosted him, his attempt to rise was accompanied by a stifled groan.

You’re ready? Simoun inquired of him.

I always am!

The coming week?

So soon?

At the first cannon-shot!

He moved away, followed by Placido, who was beginning to ask himself if he were not dreaming.

Does it surprise you, Simoun asked him, to see a Spaniard so young and so afflicted with disease? Two years ago he was as robust as you are, but his enemies succeeded in sending him to Balabak to work in a penal settlement, and there he caught the rheumatism and fever that are dragging him into the grave.  The poor devil had married a very beautiful woman.

As an empty carriage was passing, Simoun hailed it and with Placido directed it to his house in the Escolta, just at the moment when the clocks were striking half-past ten.

Learn this Filipino word:

nagdildíl ng asín