Chapter 3:

Legends

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Ich weiss nicht was soil es bedeuten

Dass ich so traurig bin!

When Padre Florentino joined the group above, the bad humor provoked by the previous discussion had entirely disappeared.  Perhaps their spirits had been raised by the attractive houses of the town of Pasig, or the glasses of sherry they had drunk in preparation for the coming meal, or the prospect of a good breakfast.  Whatever the cause, the fact was that they were all laughing and joking, even including the lean Franciscan, although he made little noise and his smiles looked like death-grins.

Evil times, evil times! said Padre Sibyla with a laugh.

Get out, don’t say that, Vice-Rector! responded the Canon Irene, giving the other’s chair a shove.  In Hongkong you’re doing a fine business, putting up every building that—ha, ha!

Tut, tut! was the reply; you don’t see our expenses, and the tenants on our estates are beginning to complain—

Here, enough of complaints, puñales, else I’ll fall to weeping! cried Padre Camorra gleefully.  We’re not complaining, and we haven’t either estates or banking-houses.  You know that my Indians are beginning to haggle over the fees and to flash schedules on me! Just look how they cite schedules to me now, and none other than those of the Archbishop Basilio Sancho,[1] as if from his time up to now prices had not risen.  Ha, ha, ha! Why should a baptism cost less than a chicken? But I play the deaf man, collect what I can, and never complain.  We’re not avaricious, are we, Padre Salvi?

At that moment Simoun’s head appeared above the hatchway.

Well, where’ve you been keeping yourself? Don Custodio called to him, having forgotten all about their dispute.  You’re missing the prettiest part of the trip!

Pshaw! retorted Simoun, as he ascended, I’ve seen so many rivers and landscapes that I’m only interested in those that call up legends.

As for legends, the Pasig has a few, observed the captain, who did not relish any depreciation of the river where he navigated and earned his livelihood.  Here you have that of Malapad-na-bato, a rock sacred before the coming of the Spaniards as the abode of spirits.  Afterwards, when the superstition had been dissipated and the rock profaned, it was converted into a nest of tulisanes, since from its crest they easily captured the luckless bankas, which had to contend against both the currents and men.  Later, in our time, in spite of human interference, there are still told stories about wrecked bankas, and if on rounding it I didn’t steer with my six senses, I’d be smashed against its sides.  Then you have another legend, that of Doña Jeronima’s cave, which Padre Florentino can relate to you.

[1] Archbishop of Manila from 1767 to 1787.—Tr.

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