Chapter 34: - Page 3 of 3

The Wedding

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The only decorations not in good taste were the screaming chromos which Don Timoteo had substituted for the old drawings and pictures of saints of Capitan Tiago.  Simoun had been unable to dissuade him, for the merchant did not want oil-paintings—some one might ascribe them to Filipino artists! He, a patron of Filipino artists, never! On that point depended his peace of mind and perhaps his life, and he knew how to get along in the Philippines! It is true that he had heard foreign painters mentioned—Raphael, Murillo, Velasquez—but he did not know their addresses, and then they might prove to be somewhat seditious. With the chromos he ran no risk, as the Filipinos did not make them, they came cheaper, the effect was the same, if not better, the colors brighter and the execution very fine.  Don’t say that Don Timoteo did not know how to comport himself in the Philippines!

The large hallway was decorated with flowers, having been converted into a dining-room, with a long table for thirty persons in the center, and around the sides, pushed against the walls, other smaller ones for two or three persons each.  Bouquets of flowers, pyramids of fruits among ribbons and lights, covered their centers.  The groom’s place was designated by a bunch of roses and the bride’s by another of orange-blossoms and tuberoses.  In the presence of so much finery and flowers one could imagine that nymphs in gauzy garments and Cupids with iridescent wings were going to serve nectar and ambrosia to aerial guests, to the sound of lyres and Aeolian harps.

But the table for the greater gods was not there, being placed yonder in the middle of the wide azotea within a magnificent kiosk constructed especially for the occasion.  A lattice of gilded wood over which clambered fragrant vines screened the interior from the eyes of the vulgar without impeding the free circulation of air to preserve the coolness necessary at that season.  A raised platform lifted the table above the level of the others at which the ordinary mortals were going to dine and an arch decorated by the best artists would protect the august heads from the jealous gaze of the stars.

On this table were laid only seven plates.  The dishes were of solid silver, the cloth and napkins of the finest linen, the wines the most costly and exquisite.  Don Timoteo had sought the most rare and expensive in everything, nor would he have hesitated at crime had he been assured that the Captain-General liked to eat human flesh.  

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