Sunday, February 13, 2011

El Filibusterismo CHAPTER II: ON THE LOWER DECK

CHAPTER II
ON THE LOWER DECK


There, below, other scenes were being enacted. Seated on benches
or small wooden stools among valises, boxes, and baskets, a few
feet from the engines, in the heat of the boilers, amid the human
smells and the pestilential odor of oil, were to be seen the great
majority of the passengers. Some were silently gazing at the changing
scenes along the banks, others were playing cards or conversing in the
midst of the scraping of shovels, the roar of the engine, the hiss of
escaping steam, the swash of disturbed waters, and the shrieks of the
whistle. In one corner, heaped up like corpses, slept, or tried to
sleep, a number of Chinese pedlers, seasick, pale, frothing through
half-opened lips, and bathed in their copious perspiration. Only
a few youths, students for the most part, easily recognizable from
their white garments and their confident bearing, made bold to move
about from stern to bow, leaping over baskets and boxes, happy in
the prospect of the approaching vacation. Now they commented on the
movements of the engines, endeavoring to recall forgotten notions of
physics, now they surrounded the young schoolgirl or the red-lipped
_buyera_ with her collar of _sampaguitas,_ whispering into their ears
words that made them smile and cover their faces with their fans.

Nevertheless, two of them, instead of engaging in these fleeting
gallantries, stood in the bow talking with a man, advanced in years,
but still vigorous and erect. Both these youths seemed to be well
known and respected, to judge from the deference shown them by their
fellow passengers. The elder, who was dressed in complete black, was
the medical student, Basilio, famous for his successful cures and
extraordinary treatments, while the other, taller and more robust,
although much younger, was Isagani, one of the poets, or at least
rimesters, who that year came from the Ateneo, [6] a curious character,
ordinarily quite taciturn and uncommunicative. The man talking with
them was the rich Capitan Basilio, who was returning from a business
trip to Manila.

"Capitan Tiago is getting along about the same as usual, yes, sir,"
said the student Basilio, shaking his head. "He won't submit to any
treatment. At the advice of _a certain person_ he is sending me to San
Diego under the pretext of looking after his property, but in reality
so that he may be left to smoke his opium with complete liberty."

When the student said _a certain person_, he really meant Padre Irene,
a great friend and adviser of Capitan Tiago in his last days.
"Opium is one of the plagues of modern times," replied the capitan
with the disdain and indignation of a Roman senator. "The ancients knew
about it but never abused it. While the addiction to classical studies
lasted--mark this well, young men--opium was used solely as a medicine;
and besides, tell me who smoke it the most?--Chinamen, Chinamen who
don't understand a word of Latin! Ah, if Capitan Tiago had only devoted
himself to Cicero--" Here the most classical disgust painted itself
on his carefully-shaven Epicurean face. Isagani regarded him with
attention: that gentleman was suffering from nostalgia for antiquity.
"But to get back to this academy of Castilian," Capitan Basilio
continued, "I assure you, gentlemen, that you won't materialize it."
"Yes, sir, from day to day we're expecting the permit," replied
Isagani. "Padre Irene, whom you may have noticed above, and to whom
we've presented a team of bays, has promised it to us. He's on his
way now to confer with the General."

Continue reading:

El Filibusterismo CHAPTER II: ON THE LOWER DECK (cont.....2)

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