Chapter 19: - Page 7 of 8

The Fuse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Two hours later Placido left the jeweler’s house and walked gravely and thoughtfully along the Escolta, then almost deserted, in spite of the fact that the cafés were still quite animated.  Now and then a carriage passed rapidly, clattering noisily over the worn pavement.

From a room in his house that overlooked the Pasig, Simoun turned his gaze toward the Walled City, which could be seen through the open windows, with its roofs of galvanized iron gleaming in the moonlight and its somber towers showing dull and gloomy in the midst of the serene night.  He laid aside his blue goggles, and his white hair, like a frame of silver, surrounded his energetic bronzed features, dimly lighted by a lamp whose flame was dying out from lack of oil.  Apparently wrapped in thought, he took no notice of the fading light and impending darkness.  

Within a few days, he murmured, when on all sides that accursed city is burning, den of presumptuous nothingness and impious exploitation of the ignorant and the distressed, when the tumults break out in the suburbs and there rush into the terrorized streets my avenging hordes, engendered by rapacity and wrongs, then will I burst the walls of your prison, I will tear you from the clutches of fanaticism, and my white dove, you will be the Phoenix that will rise from the glowing embers! A revolution plotted by men in darkness tore me from your side—another revolution will sweep me into your arms and revive me! That moon, before reaching the apogee of its brilliance, will light the Philippines cleansed of loathsome filth!

Simoun, stopped suddenly, as though interrupted.  A voice in his inner consciousness was asking if he, Simoun, were not also a part of the filth of that accursed city, perhaps its most poisonous ferment.  Like the dead who are to rise at the sound of the last trumpet, a thousand bloody specters—desperate shades of murdered men, women violated, fathers torn from their families, vices stimulated and encouraged, virtues mocked, now rose in answer to the mysterious question.  For the first time in his criminal career, since in Havana he had by means of corruption and bribery set out to fashion an instrument for the execution of his plans—a man without faith, patriotism, or conscience—for the first time in that life, something within rose up and protested against his actions.  He closed his eyes and remained for some time motionless, then rubbed his hand over his forehead, tried to be deaf to his conscience, and felt fear creeping over him.  No, he must not analyze himself, he lacked the courage to turn his gaze toward his past.  The idea of his courage, his conviction, his self-confidence failing him at the very moment when his work was set before him! As the ghosts of the wretches in whose misfortunes he had taken a hand continued to hover before his eyes, as if issuing from the shining surface of the river to invade the room with appeals and hands extended toward him, as reproaches and laments seemed to fill the air with threats and cries for vengeance, he turned his gaze from the window and for the first time began to tremble.

No, I must be ill, I can’t be feeling well, he muttered.  There are many who hate me, who ascribe their misfortunes to me, but—

Learn this Filipino word:

ibong sawî