Chapter 7:


(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Over these matters Basilio was pondering as he visited his mother’s grave.  He was about to start back to the town when he thought he saw a light flickering among the trees and heard the snapping of twigs, the sound of feet, and rustling of leaves.  The light disappeared but the noises became more distinct, coming directly toward where he was.  Basilio was not naturally superstitious, especially after having carved up so many corpses and watched beside so many death-beds, but the old legends about that ghostly spot, the hour, the darkness, the melancholy sighing of the wind, and certain tales heard in his childhood, asserted their influence over his mind and made his heart beat violently.

The figure stopped on the other side of the balete, but the youth could see it through an open space between two roots that had grown in the course of time to the proportions of tree-trunks.  It produced from under its coat a lantern with a powerful reflecting lens, which it placed on the ground, thereby lighting up a pair of riding-boots, the rest of the figure remaining concealed in the darkness.  The figure seemed to search its pockets and then bent over to fix a shovel-blade on the end of a stout cane.  To his great surprise Basilio thought he could make out some of the features of the jeweler Simoun, who indeed it was.

The jeweler dug in the ground and from time to time the lantern illuminated his face, on which were not now the blue goggles that so completely disguised him.  Basilio shuddered: that was the same stranger who thirteen years before had dug his mother’s grave there, only now he had aged somewhat, his hair had turned white, he wore a beard and a mustache, but yet his look was the same, the bitter expression, the same cloud on his brow, the same muscular arms, though somewhat thinner now, the same violent energy.  Old impressions were stirred in the boy: he seemed to feel the heat of the fire, the hunger, the weariness of that time, the smell of freshly turned earth.  Yet his discovery terrified him—that jeweler Simoun, who passed for a British Indian, a Portuguese, an American, a mulatto, the Brown Cardinal, his Black Eminence, the evil genius of the Captain-General as many called him, was no other than the mysterious stranger whose appearance and disappearance coincided with the death of the heir to that land! But of the two strangers who had appeared, which was Ibarra, the living or the dead?

This question, which he had often asked himself whenever Ibarra’s death was mentioned, again came into his mind in the presence of the human enigma he now saw before him.  The dead man had had two wounds, which must have been made by firearms, as he knew from what he had since studied, and which would be the result of the chase on the lake.  Then the dead man must have been Ibarra, who had come to die at the tomb of his forefathers, his desire to be cremated being explained by his residence in Europe, where cremation is practised.  Then who was the other, the living, this jeweler Simoun, at that time with such an appearance of poverty and wretchedness, but who had now returned loaded with gold and a friend of the authorities? There was the mystery, and the student, with his characteristic cold-bloodedness, determined to clear it up at the first opportunity.


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