Chapter 31:

The High Official

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

L’Espagne et sa, vertu, l’Espagne et sa grandeur

Tout s’en va!—Victor Hugo

The newspapers of Manila were so engrossed in accounts of a notorious murder committed in Europe, in panegyrics and puffs for various preachers in the city, in the constantly increasing success of the French operetta, that they could scarcely devote space to the crimes perpetrated in the provinces by a band of tulisanes headed by a fierce and terrible leader who was called Matanglawin. [1]  Only when the object of the attack was a convento or a Spaniard there then appeared long articles giving frightful details and asking for martial law, energetic measures, and so on.  So it was that they could take no notice of what had occurred in the town of Tiani, nor was there the slightest hint or allusion to it.  In private circles something was whispered, but so confused, so vague, and so little consistent, that not even the name of the victim was known, while those who showed the greatest interest forgot it quickly, trusting that the affair had been settled in some way with the wronged family.  The only one who knew anything certain was Padre Camorra, who had to leave the town, to be transferred to another or to remain for some time in the convento in Manila.

Poor Padre Camorra! exclaimed Ben-Zayb in a fit of generosity.  He was so jolly and had such a good heart!

It was true that the students had recovered their liberty, thanks to the exertions of their relatives, who did not hesitate at expense, gifts, or any sacrifice whatsoever.  The first to see himself free, as was to be expected, was Makaraig, and the last Isagani, because Padre Florentine did not reach Manila until a week after the events.  So many acts of clemency secured for the General the title of clement and merciful, which Ben-Zayb hastened to add to his long list of adjectives.

The only one who did not obtain his liberty was Basilio, since he was also accused of having in his possession prohibited books.  We don’t know whether this referred to his text-book on legal medicine or to the pamphlets that were found, dealing with the Philippines, or both together—the fact is that it was said that prohibited literature was being secretly sold, and upon the unfortunate boy fell all the weight of the rod of justice.

It was reported that his Excellency had been thus advised: It’s necessary that there be some one, so that the prestige of authority may be sustained and that it may not be said that we made a great fuss over nothing.  Authority before everything. It’s necessary that some one be made an example of.  Let there be just one, one who, according to Padre Irene, was the servant of Capitan Tiago—there’ll be no one to enter a complaint—

Servant and student? asked his Excellency. That fellow, then! Let it be he!



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