Chapter 39: - Page 3 of 8


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

But Padre Florentine no longer recalled the indifferent reception that two months before the jeweler had accorded to him when he had tried to interest him in favor of Isagani, then a prisoner on account of his imprudent chivalry; he forgot the activity Simoun had displayed in urging Paulita’s marriage, which had plunged Isagani into the fearful misanthropy that was worrying his uncle.  He forgot all these things and thought only of the sick man’s plight and his own obligations as a host, until his senses reeled.  Where must he hide him to avoid his falling into the clutches of the authorities? But the person chiefly concerned was not worrying, he was smiling.

While he was pondering over these things, the old man was approached by a servant who said that the sick man wished to speak with him, so he went into the next room, a clean and well-ventilated apartment with a floor of wide boards smoothed and polished, and simply furnished with big, heavy armchairs of ancient design, without varnish or paint.  At one end there was a large kamagon bed with its four posts to support the canopy, and beside it a table covered with bottles, lint, and bandages.  A praying-desk at the feet of a Christ and a scanty library led to the suspicion that it was the priest’s own bedroom, given up to his guest according to the Filipino custom of offering to the stranger the best table, the best room, and the best bed in the house.  Upon seeing the windows opened wide to admit freely the healthful sea-breeze and the echoes of its eternal lament, no one in the Philippines would have said that a sick person was to be found there, since it is the custom to close all the windows and stop up all the cracks just as soon as any one catches a cold or gets an insignificant headache.

Padre Florentine looked toward the bed and was astonished to see that the sick man’s face had lost its tranquil and ironical expression.  Hidden grief seemed to knit his brows, anxiety was depicted in his looks, his lips were curled in a smile of pain.

Are you suffering, Señor Simoun? asked the priest solicitously, going to his side.

Some! But in a little while I shall cease to suffer, he replied with a shake of his head.  

Padre Florentine clasped his hands in fright, suspecting that he understood the terrible truth.  My God, what have you done? What have you taken? He reached toward the bottles.

It’s useless now! There’s no remedy at all! answered Simoun with a pained smile.  What did you expect me to do? Before the clock strikes eight—alive or dead—dead, yes, but alive, no!

My God, what have you done?

Be calm! urged the sick man with a wave of his hand.  What’s done is done. I must not fall into anybody’s hands—my secret would be torn from me.  Don’t get excited, don’t lose your head, it’s useless! Listen—the night is coming on and there’s no time to be lost. I must tell you my secret, and intrust to you my last request, I must lay my life open before you.  At the supreme moment I want to lighten myself of a load, I want to clear up a doubt of mine.  You who believe so firmly in God—I want you to tell me if there is a God!

Learn this Filipino word:

mamangká sa dalawang ilog