Chapter 23:

A Corpse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Simoun had not, in fact, gone to the theater.  Already, at seven o’clock in the evening, he had left his house looking worried and gloomy.  His servants saw him return twice, accompanied by different individuals, and at eight o’clock Makaraig encountered him pacing along Calle Hospital near the nunnery of St. Clara, just when the bells of its church were ringing a funeral knell.  At nine Camaroncocido saw him again, in the neighborhood of the theater, speak with a person who seemed to be a student, pay the latter’s admission to the show, and again disappear among the shadows of the trees.

What is it to me? again muttered Camaroncocido.  What do I get out of watching over the populace?

Basilio, as Makaraig said, had not gone to the show.  The poor student, after returning from San Diego, whither he had gone to ransom Juli, his future bride, from her servitude, had turned again to his studies, spending his time in the hospital, in studying, or in nursing Capitan Tiago, whose affliction he was trying to cure.

The invalid had become an intolerable character.  During his bad spells, when he felt depressed from lack of opium, the doses of which Basilio was trying to reduce, he would scold, mistreat, and abuse the boy, who bore it resignedly, conscious that he was doing good to one to whom he owed so much, and yielded only in the last extremity.  His vicious appetite satisfied, Capitan Tiago would fall into a good humor, become tender, and call him his son, tearfully recalling the youth’s services, how well he administered the estates, and would even talk of making him his heir.  Basilio would smile bitterly and reflect that in this world complaisance with vice is rewarded better than fulfilment of duty.  Not a few times did he feel tempted to give free rein to the craving and conduct his benefactor to the grave by a path of flowers and smiling illusions rather than lengthen his life along a road of sacrifice.

What a fool I am! he often said to himself. People are stupid and then pay for it.

But he would shake his head as he thought of Juli, of the wide future before him.  He counted upon living without a stain on his conscience, so he continued the treatment prescribed, and bore everything patiently.

Yet with all his care the sick man, except for short periods of improvement, grew worse.  Basilio had planned gradually to reduce the amount of the dose, or at least not to let him injure himself by increasing it, but on returning from the hospital or some visit he would find his patient in the heavy slumber produced by the opium, driveling, pale as a corpse.  The young man could not explain whence the drug came: the only two persons who visited the house were Simoun and Padre Irene, the former rarely, while the latter never ceased exhorting him to be severe and inexorable with the treatment, to take no notice of the invalid’s ravings, for the main object was to save him.


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