Chapter 39: - Page 2 of 8


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

No doubt was entertained by Padre Florentino that the Spaniard wanted was the jeweler Simoun, who had arrived mysteriously, himself carrying the jewel-chest, bleeding, morose, and exhausted.  With the free and cordial Filipino hospitality, the priest had taken him in, without asking indiscreet questions, and as news of the events in Manila had not yet reached his ears he was unable to understand the situation clearly.  The only conjecture that occurred to him was that the General, the jeweler’s friend and protector, being gone, probably his enemies, the victims of wrong and abuse, were now rising and calling for vengeance, and that the acting Governor was pursuing him to make him disgorge the wealth he had accumulated—hence his flight. But whence came his wounds? Had he tried to commit suicide? Were they the result of personal revenge? Or were they merely caused by an accident, as Simoun claimed? Had they been received in escaping from the force that was pursuing him?

This last conjecture was the one that seemed to have the greatest appearance of probability, being further strengthened by the telegram received and Simoun’s decided unwillingness from the start to be treated by the doctor from the capital.  The jeweler submitted only to the ministrations of Don Tiburcio, and even to them with marked distrust.  In this situation Padre Florentino was asking himself what line of conduct he should pursue when the Civil Guard came to arrest Simoun. His condition would not permit his removal, much less a long journey—but the telegram said alive or dead.

Padre Florentine ceased playing and approached the window to gaze out at the sea, whose desolate surface was without a ship, without a sail—it gave him no suggestion.  A solitary islet outlined in the distance spoke only of solitude and made the space more lonely. Infinity is at times despairingly mute.

The old man was trying to analyze the sad and ironical smile with which Simoun had received the news that he was to be arrested. What did that smile mean? And that other smile, still sadder and more ironical, with which he received the news that they would not come before eight at night? What did all this mystery signify? Why did Simoun refuse to hide? There came into his mind the celebrated saying of St. John Chrysostom when he was defending the eunuch Eutropius: Never was a better time than this to say—Vanity of vanities and all is vanity!

Yes, that Simoun, so rich, so powerful, so feared a week ago, and now more unfortunate than Eutropius, was seeking refuge, not at the altars of a church, but in the miserable house of a poor native priest, hidden in the forest, on the solitary seashore! Vanity of vanities and all is vanity! That man would within a few hours be a prisoner, dragged from the bed where he lay, without respect for his condition, without consideration for his wounds—dead or alive his enemies demanded him! How could he save him? Where could he find the moving accents of the bishop of Constantinople? What weight would his weak words have, the words of a native priest, whose own humiliation this same Simoun had in his better days seemed to applaud and encourage?

Learn this Filipino word:

nábabago sa matá