Chapter 24:


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Amor, qué astro eres?

On the following day, Thursday, at the hour of sunset, Isagani was walking along the beautiful promenade of Maria Cristina in the direction of the Malecon to keep an appointment which Paulita had that morning given him.  The young man had no doubt that they were to talk about what had happened on the previous night, and as he was determined to ask for an explanation, and knew how proud and haughty she was, he foresaw an estrangement.  In view of this eventuality he had brought with him the only two letters he had ever received from Paulita, two scraps of paper, whereon were merely a few hurriedly written lines with various blots, but in an even handwriting, things that did not prevent the enamored youth from preserving them with more solicitude than if they had been the autographs of Sappho and the Muse Polyhymnia.

This decision to sacrifice his love on the altar of dignity, the consciousness of suffering in the discharge of duty, did not prevent a profound melancholy from taking possession of Isagani and brought back into his mind the beautiful days, and nights more beautiful still, when they had whispered sweet nothings through the flowered gratings of the entresol, nothings that to the youth took on such a character of seriousness and importance that they seemed to him the only matters worthy of meriting the attention of the most exalted human understanding.  He recalled the walks on moonlit nights, the fair, the dark December mornings after the mass of Nativity, the holy water that he used to offer her, when she would thank him with a look charged with a whole epic of love, both of them trembling as their fingers touched.  Heavy sighs, like small rockets, issued from his breast and brought back to him all the verses, all the sayings of poets and writers about the inconstancy of woman. Inwardly he cursed the creation of theaters, the French operetta, and vowed to get revenge on Pelaez at the first opportunity.  Everything about him appeared under the saddest and somberest colors: the bay, deserted and solitary, seemed more solitary still on account of the few steamers that were anchored in it; the sun was dying behind Mariveles without poetry or enchantment, without the capricious and richly tinted clouds of happier evenings; the Anda monument, in bad taste, mean and squat, without style, without grandeur, looked like a lump of ice-cream or at best a chunk of cake; the people who were promenading along the Malecon, in spite of their complacent and contented air, appeared distant, haughty, and vain; mischievous and bad-mannered, the boys that played on the beach, skipping flat stones over the surface of the water or searching in the sand for mollusks and crustaceans which they caught for the mere fun of catching and killed without benefit to themselves; in short, even the eternal port works to which he had dedicated more than three odes, looked to him absurd, ridiculous child’s play.

The port, ah, the port of Manila, a bastard that since its conception had brought tears of humiliation and shame to all! If only after so many tears there were not being brought forth a useless abortion!


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