Chapter 2: - Page 4 of 7

On the Lower Deck

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The youths thanked him, but declined the offer.

You do wrong, Simoun said to them, visibly taken aback.  Beer is a good thing, and I heard Padre Camorra say this morning that the lack of energy noticeable in this country is due to the great amount of water the inhabitants drink.

Isagani was almost as tall as the jeweler, and at this he drew himself up.

Then tell Padre Camorra, Basilio hastened to say, while he nudged Isagani slyly, tell him that if he would drink water instead of wine or beer, perhaps we might all be the gainers and he would not give rise to so much talk.

And tell him, also, added Isagani, paying no attention to his friend’s nudges, that water is very mild and can be drunk, but that it drowns out the wine and beer and puts out the fire, that heated it becomes steam, and that ruffled it is the ocean, that it once destroyed mankind and made the earth tremble to its foundations! [3]

Simoun raised his head.  Although his looks could not be read through the blue goggles, on the rest of his face surprise might be seen.  Rather a good answer, he said.  But I fear that he might get facetious and ask me when the water will be converted into steam and when into an ocean.  Padre Camorra is rather incredulous and is a great wag.

When the fire heats it, when the rivulets that are now scattered through the steep valleys, forced by fatality, rush together in the abyss that men are digging, replied Isagani.

No, Señor Simoun, interposed Basilio, changing to a jesting tone, rather keep in mind the verses of my friend Isagani himself:

‘Fire you, you say, and water we,

Then as you wish, so let it be;

But let us live in peace and right,

Nor shall the fire e’er see us fight;

So joined by wisdom’s glowing flame,

That without anger, hate, or blame,

We form the steam, the fifth element,

Progress and light, life and movement.’

[3] It was a common saying among the old Filipinos that the Spaniards (white men) were fire (activity), while they themselves were water (passivity).—Tr.

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