Chapter 38: - Page 2 of 4

Fatality

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

The human cluster halted at times while the guards drank, and then the prisoners continued on their way with parched mouths, darkened brains, and hearts full of curses.  Thirst was for these wretches the least of their troubles.

Move on, you sons of ——! cried a soldier, again refreshed, hurling the insult common among the lower classes of Filipinos.

The branch whistled and fell on any shoulder whatsoever, the nearest one, or at times upon a face to leave a welt at first white, then red, and later dirty with the dust of the road.

Move on, you cowards! at times a voice yelled in Spanish, deepening its tone.

Cowards! repeated the mountain echoes.

Then the cowards quickened their pace under a sky of red-hot iron, over a burning road, lashed by the knotty branch which was worn into shreds on their livid skins.  A Siberian winter would perhaps be tenderer than the May sun of the Philippines.

Yet, among the soldiers there was one who looked with disapproving eyes upon so much wanton cruelty, as he marched along silently with his brows knit in disgust.  At length, seeing that the guard, not satisfied with the branch, was kicking the prisoners that fell, he could no longer restrain himself but cried out impatiently, Here, Mautang, let them alone!

Mautang turned toward him in surprise.  What’s it to you, Carolino? he asked.

To me, nothing, but it hurts me, replied Carolino.  They’re men like ourselves.

It’s plain that you’re new to the business! retorted Mautang with a compassionate smile.  How did you treat the prisoners in the war?

With more consideration, surely! answered Carolino.

Mautang remained silent for a moment and then, apparently having discovered the reason, calmly rejoined, Ah, it’s because they are enemies and fight us, while these—these are our own countrymen.

Then drawing nearer to Carolino he whispered, How stupid you are! They’re treated so in order that they may attempt to resist or to escape, and then—bang!

Carolino made no reply.

One of the prisoners then begged that they let him stop for a moment.

Learn this Filipino word:

hampas-lupà