Ibarra was in such a state of mind that he found it impossible to sleep, so to distract his attention from the sad thoughts which are so exaggerated during the night-hours he set to work in his lonely cabinet. Day found him still making mixtures and combinations, to the action of which he subjected pieces of bamboo and other substances, placing them afterwards in numbered and sealed jars.
A servant entered to announce the arrival of a man who had the appearance of being from the country. “Show him in,” said Ibarra without looking around.
Elias entered and remained standing in silence.
“Ah, it’s you!” exclaimed Ibarra in Tagalog when he recognized him. “Excuse me for making you wait, I didn’t notice that it was you. I’m making an important experiment.”
“I don’t want to disturb you,” answered the youthful pilot. “I’ve come first to ask you if there is anything I can do for you in the province, of Batangas, for which I am leaving immediately, and also to bring you some bad news.”
Ibarra questioned him with a look.
“Capitan Tiago’s daughter is ill,” continued Elias quietly, “but not seriously.”
“That’s what I feared,” murmured Ibarra in a weak voice. “Do you know what is the matter with her?”
“A fever. Now, if you have nothing to command–”
“Thank you, my friend, no. I wish you a pleasant journey. But first let me ask you a question–if it is indiscreet, do not answer.”
“How were you able to quiet the disturbance last night?” asked Ibarra, looking steadily at him.
“Very easily,” answered Elias in the most natural manner. “The leaders of the commotion were two brothers whose father died from a beating given him by the Civil Guard. One day I had the good fortune to save them from the same hands into which their father had fallen, and both are accordingly grateful to me. I appealed to them last night and they undertook to dissuade the rest.”
“And those two brothers whose father died from the beating–”
“Will end as their father did,” replied Elias in a low voice. “When misfortune has once singled out a family all its members must perish, –when the lightning strikes a tree the whole is reduced to ashes.”
Ibarra fell silent on hearing this, so Elias took his leave. When the youth found himself alone he lost the serene self-possession he had maintained in the pilot’s presence. His sorrow pictured itself on his countenance. “I, I have made her suffer,” he murmured.
He dressed himself quickly and descended the stairs. A small man, dressed in mourning, with a large scar on his left cheek, saluted him humbly, and detained him on his way.
“What do you want?” asked Ibarra.
“Sir, my name is Lucas, and I’m the brother of the man who was killed yesterday.”
“Ah, you have my sympathy. Well?”
“Sir, I want to know how much you’re going to pay my brother’s family.”
“Pay?” repeated the young man, unable to conceal his disgust. “We’ll talk of that later. Come back this afternoon, I’m in a hurry now.”
“Only tell me how much you’re willing to pay,” insisted Lucas.
“I’ve told you that we’ll talk about that some other time. I haven’t time now,” repeated Ibarra impatiently.
“You haven’t time now, sir?” asked Lucas bitterly, placing himself in front of the young man. “You haven’t time to consider the dead?”
“Come this afternoon, my good man,” replied Ibarra, restraining himself. “I’m on my way now to visit a sick person.”
“Ah, for the sick you forget the dead? Do you think that because we are poor–”
Ibarra looked at him and interrupted, “Don’t try my patience!” then went on his way.
Lucas stood looking after him with a smile full of hate. “It’s easy to see that you’re the grandson of the man who tied my father out in the sun,” he muttered between his teeth. “You still have the same blood.”
Then with a change of tone he added, “But, if you pay well–friends!”
Leave a Reply