Sunday, February 13, 2011

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

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

"That doesn't matter. Padre Sibyla is opposed to it."
"Let him oppose it! That's why he's here on the steamer, in order
to--at Los Baños before the General."
And the student Basilio filled out his meaning by going through the
pantomime of striking his fists together.
"That's understood," observed Capitan Basilio, smiling. "But even
though you get the permit, where'll you get the funds?"
"We have them, sir. Each student has contributed a real."
"But what about the professors?"
"We have them: half Filipinos and half Peninsulars." [7]
"And the house?"
"Makaraig, the wealthy Makaraig, has offered one of his."
Capitan Basilio had to give in; these young men had everything
arranged.
"For the rest," he said with a shrug of his shoulders, "it's not
altogether bad, it's not a bad idea, and now that you can't know
Latin at least you may know Castilian. Here you have another instance,
namesake, of how we are going backwards. In our times we learned Latin
because our books were in Latin; now you study Latin a little but
have no Latin books. On the other hand, your books are in Castilian
and that language is not taught--_aetas parentum pejor avis tulit
nos nequiores!_ as Horace said." With this quotation he moved away
majestically, like a Roman emperor.
The youths smiled at each other. "These men of the past," remarked
Isagani, "find obstacles for everything. Propose a thing to them and
instead of seeing its advantages they only fix their attention on
the difficulties. They want everything to come smooth and round as
a billiard ball."
"He's right at home with your uncle," observed Basilio.
"They talk of past times. But listen--speaking of uncles, what does
yours say about Paulita?"
Isagani blushed. "He preached me a sermon about the choosing of
a wife. I answered him that there wasn't in Manila another like
her--beautiful, well-bred, an orphan--"
"Very wealthy, elegant, charming, with no defect other than a
ridiculous aunt," added Basilio, at which both smiled.
"In regard to the aunt, do you know that she has charged me to look
for her husband?"
"Doña Victorina? And you've promised, in order to keep your
sweetheart."
"Naturally! But the fact is that her husband is actually hidden--in
my uncle's house!"
Both burst into a laugh at this, while Isagani continued: "That's
why my uncle, being a conscientious man, won't go on the upper deck,
fearful that Doña Victorina will ask him about Don Tiburcio. Just
imagine, when Doña Victorina learned that I was a steerage passenger
she gazed at me with a disdain that--"
At that moment Simoun came down and, catching sight of the two young
men, greeted Basilio in a patronizing tone: "Hello, Don Basilio,
you're off for the vacation? Is the gentleman a townsman of yours?"
Basilio introduced Isagani with the remark that he was not a townsman,
but that their homes were not very far apart. Isagani lived on the
seashore of the opposite coast. Simoun examined him with such marked
attention that he was annoyed, turned squarely around, and faced the
jeweler with a provoking stare.
"Well, what is the province like?" the latter asked, turning again
to Basilio.
"Why, aren't you familiar with it?"
"How the devil am I to know it when I've never set foot in it? I've
been told that it's very poor and doesn't buy jewels."
"We don't buy jewels, because we don't need them," rejoined Isagani
dryly, piqued in his provincial pride.
A smile played over Simoun's pallid lips. "Don't be offended, young
man," he replied. "I had no bad intentions, but as I've been assured
that nearly all the money is in the hands of the native priests, I
said to myself: the friars are dying for curacies and the Franciscans
are satisfied with the poorest, so when they give them up to the
native priests the truth must be that the king's profile is unknown
there. But enough of that! Come and have a beer with me and we'll
drink to the prosperity of your province."
The youths thanked him, but declined the offer.
"You do wrong," Simoun said to them, visibly taken aback. "Beer is a
good thing, and I heard Padre Camorra say this morning that the lack
of energy noticeable in this country is due to the great amount of
water the inhabitants drink."
Isagani was almost as tall as the jeweler, and at this he drew
himself up.
"Then tell Padre Camorra," Basilio hastened to say, while he nudged
Isagani slyly, "tell him that if he would drink water instead of wine
or beer, perhaps we might all be the gainers and he would not give
rise to so much talk."

Continue reading:
El Filibusterismo CHAPTER II: ON THE LOWER DECK (cont.....3)

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