Chapter 22: - Page 2 of 11

The Performance

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Meanwhile, the noise increased.  There remained only two vacant boxes, besides that of his Excellency, which was distinguished by its curtains of red velvet.  The orchestra played another waltz, the audience protested, when fortunately there arose a charitable hero to distract their attention and relieve the manager, in the person of a man who had occupied a reserved seat and refused to give it up to its owner, the philosopher Don Primitivo.  Finding his own arguments useless, Don Primitivo had appealed to an usher.  I don’t care to, the hero responded to the latter’s protests, placidly puffing at his cigarette.  The usher appealed to the manager.  I don’t care to, was the response, as he settled back in the seat.  The manager went away, while the artillerymen in the gallery began to sing out encouragement to the usurper.

Our hero, now that he had attracted general attention, thought that to yield would be to lower himself, so he held on to the seat, while he repeated his answer to a pair of guards the manager had called in.  These, in consideration of the rebel’s rank, went in search of their corporal, while the whole house broke out into applause at the firmness of the hero, who remained seated like a Roman senator.

Hisses were heard, and the inflexible gentleman turned angrily to see if they were meant for him, but the galloping of horses resounded and the stir increased.  One might have said that a revolution had broken out, or at least a riot, but no, the orchestra had suspended the waltz and was playing the royal march: it was his Excellency, the Captain-General and Governor of the islands, who was entering.  All eyes sought and followed him, then lost sight of him, until he finally appeared in his box.  After looking all about him and making some persons happy with a lordly salute, he sat down, as though he were indeed the man for whom the chair was waiting.  The artillerymen then became silent and the orchestra tore into the prelude.

Our students occupied a box directly facing that of Pepay, the dancing girl.  Her box was a present from Makaraig, who had already got on good terms with her in order to propitiate Don Custodio.  Pepay had that very afternoon written a note to the illustrious arbiter, asking for an answer and appointing an interview in the theater.  For this reason, Don Custodio, in spite of the active opposition he had manifested toward the French operetta, had gone to the theater, which action won him some caustic remarks on the part of Don Manuel, his ancient adversary in the sessions of the Ayuntamiento.

I’ve come to judge the operetta, he had replied in the tone of a Cato whose conscience was clear.

So Makaraig was exchanging looks of intelligence with Pepay, who was giving him to understand that she had something to tell him.  As the dancing girl’s face wore a happy expression, the students augured that a favorable outcome was assured.  Sandoval, who had just returned from making calls in other boxes, also assured them that the decision had been favorable, that that very afternoon the Superior Commission had considered and approved it.  Every one was jubilant, even Pecson having laid aside his pessimism when he saw the smiling Pepay display a note.  Sandoval and Makaraig congratulated one another, Isagani alone remaining cold and unsmiling.  What had happened to this young man?

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