Chapter 20: - Page 6 of 6

The Arbiter

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

At that time the conventos, fearful that he would render a decision favorable to the petition of the students, increased their gifts, so that on the afternoon when we see him he was more perplexed than ever, his reputation for energy was being compromised. It had been more than a fortnight since he had had the petition in his hands, and only that morning the high official, after praising his zeal, had asked for a decision.  Don Custodio had replied with mysterious gravity, giving him to understand that it was not yet completed.  The high official had smiled a smile that still worried and haunted him.

As we were saying, he yawned and yawned.  In one of these movements, at the moment when he opened his eyes and closed his mouth, his attention was caught by a file of red envelopes, arranged in regular order on a magnificent kamagon desk.  On the back of each could be read in large letters: PROJECTS.  

For a moment he forgot his troubles and Pepay’s pirouettes, to reflect upon all that those files contained, which had issued from his prolific brain in his hours of inspiration.  How many original ideas, how many sublime thoughts, how many means of ameliorating the woes of the Philippines! Immortality and the gratitude of the country were surely his!

Like an old lover who discovers a moldy package of amorous epistles, Don Custodio arose and approached the desk.  The first envelope, thick, swollen, and plethoric, bore the title: PROJECTS IN PROJECT.

No, he murmured, they’re excellent things, but it would take a year to read them over.

The second, also quite voluminous, was entitled: PROJECTS UNDER CONSIDERATION.  No, not those either.

Then came the PROJECTS NEARING COMPLETION, PROJECTS PRESENTED, PROJECTS REJECTED, PROJECTS APPROVED, PROJECTS POSTPONED.  These last envelopes held little, but the least of all was that of the PROJECTS EXECUTED.

Don Custodio wrinkled up his nose—what did it contain? He had completely forgotten what was in it.  A sheet of yellowish paper showed from under the flap, as though the envelope were sticking out its tongue.  This he drew out and unfolded: it was the famous project for the School of Arts and Trades!

What the devil! he exclaimed.  If the Augustinian padres took charge of it—

Suddenly he slapped his forehead and arched his eyebrows, while a look of triumph overspread his face.  I have reached a decision! he cried with an oath that was not exactly eureka.  My decision is made!

Repeating his peculiar eureka five or six times, which struck the air like so many gleeful lashes, he sat down at his desk, radiant with joy, and began to write furiously.  

Learn this Filipino word:

mga mayroón