Chapter 28: - Page 2 of 7

Tatakut

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

But Simoun refused to see any one and sent word to the Chinese that he should leave things as they were, whereupon he went to see Don Custodio to inquire whether he should fortify his bazaar, but neither would Don Custodio receive him, being at the time engaged in the study of a project for defense in case of a siege.  He thought of Ben-Zayb as a source of information, but finding the writer armed to the teeth and using two loaded revolvers for paper-weights, took his leave in the shortest possible  time, to shut himself up in his house and take to his bed under pretense of illness.

At four in the afternoon the talk was no longer of simple pasquinades.  There were whispered rumors of an understanding between the students and the outlaws of San Mateo, it was certain that in the pansitería they had conspired to surprise the city, there was talk of German ships outside the bay to support the movement, of a band of young men who under the pretext of protesting and demonstrating their Hispanism had gone to the Palace to place themselves at the General’s orders but had been arrested because it was discovered that they were armed.  Providence had saved his Excellency, preventing him from receiving those precocious criminals, as he was at the time in conference with the Provincials, the Vice-Rector, and with Padre Irene, Padre Salvi’s representative.  There was considerable truth in these rumors, if we have to believe Padre Irene, who in the afternoon went to visit Capitan Tiago.  According to him, certain persons had advised his Excellency to improve the opportunity in order to inspire terror and administer a lasting lesson to the filibusters.

A number shot, one had advised, some two dozen reformers deported at once, in the silence of the night, would extinguish forever the flames of discontent.

No, rejoined another, who had a kind heart, sufficient that the soldiers parade through the streets, a troop of cavalry, for example, with drawn sabers—sufficient to drag along some cannon, that’s enough! The people are timid and will all retire into their houses.

No, no, insinuated another.  This is the opportunity to get rid of the enemy.  It’s not sufficient that they retire into their houses, they should be made to come out, like evil humors by means of plasters.  If they are inclined to start riots, they should be stirred up by secret agitators.  I am of the opinion that the troops should be resting on their arms and appearing careless and indifferent, so the people may be emboldened, and then in case of any disturbance—out on them, action!  

The end justifies the means, remarked another.  Our end is our holy religion and the integrity of the fatherland.  Proclaim a state of siege, and in case of the least disturbance, arrest all the rich and educated, and—clean up the country!

If I hadn’t got there in time to counsel moderation, added Padre Irene, speaking to Capitan Tiago, it’s certain that blood would now be flowing through the streets.  I thought of you, Capitan—The partizans of force couldn’t do much with the General, and they missed Simoun.  Ah, if Simoun had not been taken ill—

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