Chapter 37:

The Mystery

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Todo se sabe

Notwithstanding so many precautions, rumors reached the public, even though quite changed and mutilated.  On the following night they were the theme of comment in the house of Orenda, a rich jewel merchant in the industrious district of Santa Cruz, and the numerous friends of the family gave attention to nothing else.  They were not indulging in cards, or playing the piano, while little Tinay, the youngest of the girls, became bored playing chongka by herself, without being able to understand the interest awakened by assaults, conspiracies, and sacks of powder, when there were in the seven holes so many beautiful cowries that seemed to be winking at her in unison and smiled with their tiny mouths half-opened, begging to be carried up to the home.  Even Isagani, who, when he came, always used to play with her and allow himself to be beautifully cheated, did not come at her call, for Isagani was gloomily and silently listening to something Chichoy the silversmith was relating. Momoy, the betrothed of Sensia, the eldest of the daughters—a pretty and vivacious girl, rather given to joking—had left the window where he was accustomed to spend his evenings in amorous discourse, and this action seemed to be very annoying to the lory whose cage hung from the eaves there, the lory endeared to the house from its ability to greet everybody in the morning with marvelous phrases of love.  Capitana Loleng, the energetic and intelligent Capitana Loleng, had her account-book open before her, but she neither read nor wrote in it, nor was her attention fixed on the trays of loose pearls, nor on the diamonds—she had completely forgotten herself and was all ears.  Her husband himself, the great Capitan Toringoy,—a transformation of the name Domingo,—the happiest man in the district, without other occupation than to dress well, eat, loaf, and gossip, while his whole family worked and toiled, had not gone to join his coterie, but was listening between fear and emotion to the hair-raising news of the lank Chichoy.

Nor was reason for all this lacking. Chichoy had gone to deliver some work for Don Timoteo Pelaez, a pair of earrings for the bride, at the very time when they were tearing down the kiosk that on the previous night had served as a dining-room for the foremost officials.  Here Chichoy turned pale and his hair stood on end.

Nakú! he exclaimed, sacks and sacks of powder, sacks of powder under the floor, in the roof, under the table, under the chairs, everywhere! It’s lucky none of the workmen were smoking.

Who put those sacks of powder there? asked Capitana Loleng, who was brave and did not turn pale, as did the enamored Momoy.  But Momoy had attended the wedding, so his posthumous emotion can be appreciated: he had been near the kiosk.

That’s what no one can explain, replied Chichoy.  Who would have any interest in breaking up the fiesta? There couldn’t have been more than one, as the celebrated lawyer Señor Pasta who was there on a visit declared—either an enemy of Don Timoteo’s or a rival of Juanito’s.

The Orenda girls turned instinctively toward Isagani, who smiled silently.


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