Chapter 39: - Page 4 of 8


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

But an antidote, Señor Simoun! I have ether, chloroform—

The priest began to search for a flask, until Simoun cried impatiently, Useless, it’s useless! Don’t waste time! I’ll go away with my secret!

The bewildered priest fell down at his desk and prayed at the feet of the Christ, hiding his face in his hands.  Then he arose serious and grave, as if he had received from his God all the force, all the dignity, all the authority of the Judge of consciences.  Moving a chair to the head of the bed he prepared to listen.

At the first words Simoun murmured, when he told his real name, the old priest started back and gazed at him in terror, whereat the sick man smiled bitterly.  Taken by surprise, the priest was not master of himself, but he soon recovered, and covering his face with a handkerchief again bent over to listen.

Simoun related his sorrowful story: how, thirteen years before, he had returned from Europe filled with hopes and smiling illusions, having come back to marry a girl whom he loved, disposed to do good and forgive all who had wronged him, just so they would let him live in peace. But it was not so.  A mysterious hand involved him in the confusion of an uprising planned by his enemies.  Name, fortune, love, future, liberty, all were lost, and he escaped only through the heroism of a friend. Then he swore vengeance. With the wealth of his family, which had been buried in a wood, he had fled, had gone to foreign lands and engaged in trade.  He took part in the war in Cuba, aiding first one side and then another, but always profiting. There he made the acquaintance of the General, then a major, whose good-will he won first by loans of money, and afterwards he made a friend of him by the knowledge of criminal secrets.  With his money he had been able to secure the General’s appointment and, once in the Philippines, he had used him as a blind tool and incited him to all kinds of injustice, availing himself of his insatiable lust for gold.

The confession was long and tedious, but during the whole of it the confessor made no further sign of surprise and rarely interrupted the sick man.  It was night when Padre Florentino, wiping the perspiration from his face, arose and began to meditate.  Mysterious darkness flooded the room, so that the moonbeams entering through the window filled it with vague lights and vaporous reflections.

Into the midst of the silence the priest’s voice broke sad and deliberate, but consoling: God will forgive you, Señor—Simoun, he said.  He knows that we are fallible, He has seen that you have suffered, and in ordaining that the chastisement for your faults should come as death from the very ones you have instigated to crime, we can see His infinite mercy.  He has frustrated your plans one by one, the best conceived, first by the death of Maria Clara, then by a lack of preparation, then in some mysterious way. Let us bow to His will and render Him thanks!  

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