Chapter 2: - Page 3 of 7

On the Lower Deck

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

He’s right at home with your uncle, observed Basilio.  

They talk of past times.  But listen—speaking of uncles, what does yours say about Paulita?

Isagani blushed.  He preached me a sermon about the choosing of a wife.  I answered him that there wasn’t in Manila another like her—beautiful, well-bred, an orphan—

Very wealthy, elegant, charming, with no defect other than a ridiculous aunt, added Basilio, at which both smiled.

In regard to the aunt, do you know that she has charged me to look for her husband?

Doña Victorina? And you’ve promised, in order to keep your sweetheart.

Naturally! But the fact is that her husband is actually hidden—in my uncle’s house!

Both burst into a laugh at this, while Isagani continued: That’s why my uncle, being a conscientious man, won’t go on the upper deck, fearful that Doña Victorina will ask him about Don Tiburcio.  Just imagine, when Doña Victorina learned that I was a steerage passenger she gazed at me with a disdain that—

At that moment Simoun came down and, catching sight of the two young men, greeted Basilio in a patronizing tone: Hello, Don Basilio, you’re off for the vacation? Is the gentleman a townsman of yours?

Basilio introduced Isagani with the remark that he was not a townsman, but that their homes were not very far apart.  Isagani lived on the seashore of the opposite coast. Simoun examined him with such marked attention that he was annoyed, turned squarely around, and faced the jeweler with a provoking stare.

Well, what is the province like? the latter asked, turning again to Basilio.

Why, aren’t you familiar with it?

How the devil am I to know it when I’ve never set foot in it? I’ve been told that it’s very poor and doesn’t buy jewels.  

We don’t buy jewels, because we don’t need them, rejoined Isagani dryly, piqued in his provincial pride.

A smile played over Simoun’s pallid lips.  Don’t be offended, young man, he replied.  I had no bad intentions, but as I’ve been assured that nearly all the money is in the hands of the native priests, I said to myself: the friars are dying for curacies and the Franciscans are satisfied with the poorest, so when they give them up to the native priests the truth must be that the king’s profile is unknown there.  But enough of that! Come and have a beer with me and we’ll drink to the prosperity of your province.

Learn this Filipino word:

inagaw ang buhay