Chapter 36: - Page 3 of 5

Ben-Zayb’s Afflictions

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

With the thought of that child dead before seeing the light, those frozen buds, and feeling his eyes fill with tears, he dressed himself to call upon the editor.  But the editor shrugged his shoulders; his Excellency had forbidden it because if it should be divulged that seven of the greater gods had let themselves be surprised and robbed by a nobody, while they brandished knives and forks, that would endanger the integrity of the fatherland! So he had ordered that no search be made for the lamp or the thief, and had recommended to his successors that they should not run the risk of dining in any private house, without being surrounded by halberdiers and guards.  As those who knew anything about the events that night in Don Timoteo’s house were for the most part military officials and government employees, it was not difficult to suppress the affair in public, for it concerned the integrity of the fatherland.  Before this name Ben-Zayb bowed his head heroically, thinking about Abraham, Guzman El Bueno, [3] or at least, Brutus and other heroes of antiquity.

Such a sacrifice could not remain unrewarded, the gods of journalism being pleased with Abraham Ben-Zayb.  Almost upon the hour came the reporting angel bearing the sacrificial lamb in the shape of an assault committed at a country-house on the Pasig, where certain friars were spending the heated season.  Here was his opportunity and Ben-Zayb praised his gods.

The robbers got over two thousand pesos, leaving badly wounded one friar and two servants.  The curate defended himself as well as he could behind a chair, which was smashed in his hands.

Wait, wait! said Ben-Zayb, taking notes.  Forty or fifty outlaws traitorously—revolvers, bolos, shotguns, pistols—lion at bay—chair—splinters flying—barbarously wounded—ten thousand pesos!

So great was his enthusiasm that he was not content with mere reports, but proceeded in person to the scene of the crime, composing on the road a Homeric description of the fight.  A harangue in the mouth of the leader? A scornful defiance on the part of the priest? All the metaphors and similes applied to his Excellency, Padre Irene, and Padre Salvi would exactly fit the wounded friar and the description of the thief would serve for each of the outlaws.  The imprecation could be expanded, since he could talk of religion, of the faith, of charity, of the ringing of bells, of what the Indians owed to the friars, he could get sentimental and melt into Castelarian [4] epigrams and lyric periods.  The señoritas of the city would read the article and murmur, Ben-Zayb, bold as a lion and tender as a lamb!

[3] A Spanish hero, whose chief exploit was the capture of Gibraltar from the Moors in 1308.—Tr.

[4] Emilio Castelar (1832–1899), generally regarded as the greatest of Spanish orators.—Tr.

Learn this Filipino word:

bagong-bakal