Chapter 23: - Page 3 of 5

A Corpse

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Like the Philippines! observed Simoun lugubriously.

Basilio was unable to refrain from a gesture of impatience, but he was determined not to recur to the old subject, so he proceeded as if he had heard nothing: What weakens him the most is the nightmares, his terrors—

Like the government! again interrupted Simoun.

Several nights ago he awoke in the dark and thought that he had gone blind.  He raised a disturbance, lamenting and scolding me, saying that I had put his eyes out.  When I entered his room with a light he mistook me for Padre Irene and called me his saviour.

Like the government, exactly!

Last night, continued Basilio, paying no attention, he got up begging for his favorite game-cock, the one that died three years ago, and I had to give him a chicken.  Then he heaped blessings upon me and promised me many thousands—

At that instant a clock struck half-past ten.  Simoun shuddered and stopped the youth with a gesture.

Basilio, he said in a low, tense voice, listen to me carefully, for the moments are precious.  I see that you haven’t opened the pamphlets that I sent you.  You’re not interested in your country.

The youth started to protest.

It’s useless, went on Simoun dryly.  Within an hour the revolution is going to break out at a signal from me, and tomorrow there’ll be no studies, there’ll be no University, there’ll be nothing but fighting and butchery.  I have everything ready and my success is assured.  When we triumph, all those who could have helped us and did not do so will be treated as enemies.  Basilio, I’ve come to offer you death or a future!

Death or a future! the boy echoed, as though he did not understand.

With us or with the government, rejoined Simoun.  With your country or with your oppressors. Decide, for time presses! I’ve come to save you because of the memories that unite us!

With my country or with the oppressors! repeated Basilio in a low tone.  The youth was stupefied. He gazed at the jeweler with eyes in which terror was reflected, he felt his limbs turn cold, while a thousand confused ideas whirled about in his mind.  He saw the streets running blood, he heard the firing, he found himself among the dead and wounded, and by the peculiar force of his inclinations fancied himself in an operator’s blouse, cutting off legs and extracting bullets.

Learn this Filipino word:

naghúhugas ng kamáy