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A Classic Novel By Jose Rizal, translated by Charles Derbyshire in 1912.
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The Reign of Greed
Translated By Charles Derbyshire
El Filibusterismo, the second of José Rizal’s novels of Philippine life, is a story of the last days of the Spanish régime in the Philippines. Under the name of The Reign of Greed it is for the first time translated into English. Written some four or five years after Noli Me Tangere, the book represents Rizal’s more mature judgment on political and social conditions in the islands, and in its graver and less hopeful tone reflects the disappointments and discouragements which he had encountered in his efforts to lead the way to reform. Rizal’s dedication to the first edition is of special interest, as the writing of it was one of the grounds of accusation against him when he was condemned to death in 1896. It reads:
“To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don José Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872.
“The Church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows, causes the belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshiping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no [vi] sense recognizes your culpability. In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and as you may or may not have cherished sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake to combat. And while we await expectantly upon Spain some day to restore your good name and cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried leaves over your unknown tombs, and let it be understood that every one who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood!
A brief recapitulation of the story in Noli Me Tangere (The Social Cancer) is essential to an understanding of such plot as there is in the present work, which the author called a “continuation” of the first story.
Juan Crisostomo Ibarra is a young Filipino, who, after studying for seven years in Europe, returns to his native land to find that his father, a wealthy landowner, has died in prison as the result of a quarrel with the parish curate, a Franciscan friar named Padre Damaso. Ibarra is engaged to a beautiful and accomplished girl, Maria Clara, the supposed daughter and only child of the rich Don Santiago de los Santos, commonly known as “Capitan Tiago,” a typical Filipino cacique, the predominant character fostered by the friar régime. [vii]
Ibarra resolves to forego all quarrels and to work for the betterment of his people. To show his good intentions, he seeks to establish, at his own expense, a public school in his native town. He meets with ostensible support from all, especially Padre Damaso’s successor, a young and gloomy Franciscan named Padre Salvi, for whom Maria Clara confesses to an instinctive dread.
At the laying of the corner-stone for the new schoolhouse a suspicious accident, apparently aimed at Ibarra’s life, occurs, but the festivities proceed until the dinner, where Ibarra is grossly and wantonly insulted over the memory of his father by Fray Damaso. The young man loses control of himself and is about to kill the friar, who is saved by the intervention of Maria Clara.
Ibarra is excommunicated, and Capitan Tiago, through his fear of the friars, is forced to break the engagement and agree to the marriage of Maria Clara with a young and inoffensive Spaniard provided by Padre Damaso. Obedient to her reputed father’s command and influenced by her mysterious dread of Padre Salvi, Maria Clara consents to this arrangement, but becomes seriously ill, only to be saved by medicines sent secretly by Ibarra and clandestinely administered by a girl friend.
Ibarra succeeds in having the excommunication removed, but before he can explain matters an uprising against the Civil Guard is secretly brought about through agents of Padre Salvi, and the leadership is ascribed to Ibarra to ruin him. He is warned by a mysterious friend, an outlaw called Elias, whose life he had accidentally saved; but desiring first to see Maria Clara, he refuses to make his escape, and when the outbreak [viii] occurs he is arrested as the instigator of it and thrown into prison in Manila.
On the evening when Capitan Tiago gives a ball in his Manila house to celebrate his supposed daughter’s engagement, Ibarra makes his escape from prison and succeeds in seeing Maria Clara alone. He begins to reproach her because it is a letter written to her before he went to Europe which forms the basis of the charge against him, but she clears herself of treachery to him. The letter had been secured from her by false representations and in exchange for two others written by her mother just before her birth, which prove that Padre Damaso is her real father. These letters had been accidentally discovered in the convento by Padre Salvi, who made use of them to intimidate the girl and get possession of Ibarra’s letter, from which he forged others to incriminate the young man. She tells him that she will marry the young Spaniard, sacrificing herself thus to save her mother’s name and Capitan Tiago’s honor and to prevent a public scandal, but that she will always remain true to him.
Ibarra’s escape had been effected by Elias, who conveys him in a banka up the Pasig to the Lake, where they are so closely beset by the Civil Guard that Elias leaps into the water and draws the pursuers away from the boat, in which Ibarra lies concealed.
On Christmas Eve, at the tomb of the Ibarras in a gloomy wood, Elias appears, wounded and dying, to find there a boy named Basilio beside the corpse of his mother, a poor woman who had been driven to insanity by her husband’s neglect and abuses on the part of the Civil Guard, her younger son having [ix] disappeared some time before in the convento, where he was a sacristan. Basilio, who is ignorant of Elias’s identity, helps him to build a funeral pyre, on which his corpse and the madwoman’s are to be burned.
Upon learning of the reported death of Ibarra in the chase on the Lake, Maria Clara becomes disconsolate and begs her supposed godfather, Fray Damaso, to put her in a nunnery. Unconscious of her knowledge of their true relationship, the friar breaks down and confesses that all the trouble he has stirred up with the Ibarras has been to prevent her from marrying a native, which would condemn her and her children to the oppressed and enslaved class. He finally yields to her entreaties and she enters the nunnery of St. Clara, to which Padre Salvi is soon assigned in a ministerial capacity. [x]
O masters, lords, and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape-;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords, and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings—
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb terror shall reply to God,
After the silence of the centuries?
Edwin Markham [xi]
I. On the Upper Deck
II. On the Lower Deck
IV. Cabesang Tales
V. A Cochero’s Christmas Eve
VIII. Merry Christmas
X. Wealth and Want
XI. Los Baños
XII. Placido Penitente
XIII. The Class in Physics
XIV. In the House of the Students
XV. Señor Pasta
XVI. The Tribulations of a Chinese
XVII. The Quiapo Pair
XIX. The Fuse
XX. The Arbiter
XXI. Manila Types
XXII. The Performance
XXIII. A Corpse
XXV. Smiles and Tears [xii]
XXVII. The Friar and the Filipino
XXIX. Exit Capitan Tiago
XXXI. The High Official
XXXII. Effect of the Pasquinades
XXXIII. La Ultima Razón
XXXIV. The Wedding
XXXV. The Fiesta
XXXVI. Ben-Zayb’s Afflictions
XXXVII. The Mystery
On the Upper Deck
Sic itur ad astra.
One morning in December the steamer Tabo was laboriously ascending the tortuous course of the Pasig, carrying a large crowd of passengers toward the province of La Laguna. She was a heavily built steamer, almost round, like the tabú from which she derived her name, quite dirty in spite of her pretensions to whiteness, majestic and grave from her leisurely motion. Altogether, she was held in great affection in that region, perhaps from her Tagalog name, or from the fact that she bore the characteristic impress of things in the country, representing something like a triumph over progress, a steamer that was not a steamer at all, an organism, stolid, imperfect yet unimpeachable, which, when it wished to pose as being rankly progressive, proudly contented itself with putting on a fresh coat of paint. Indeed, the happy steamer was genuinely Filipino! If a person were only reasonably considerate, she might even have been taken for the Ship of State, constructed, as she had been, under the inspection of Reverendos and Ilustrísimos....
Bathed in the sunlight of a morning that made the waters of the river sparkle and the breezes rustle in the bending bamboo on its banks, there she goes with her white silhouette throwing out great clouds of smoke—the Ship of State, so the joke runs, also has the vice of smoking! The whistle shrieks at every moment, hoarse and commanding like a tyrant who would rule by shouting, so that no one on  board can hear his own thoughts. She menaces everything she meets: now she looks as though she would grind to bits the salambaw, insecure fishing apparatus which in their movements resemble skeletons of giants saluting an antediluvian tortoise; now she speeds straight toward the clumps of bamboo or against the amphibian structures, karihan, or wayside lunch-stands, which, amid gumamelas and other flowers, look like indecisive bathers who with their feet already in the water cannot bring themselves to make the final plunge; at times, following a sort of channel marked out in the river by tree-trunks, she moves along with a satisfied air, except when a sudden shock disturbs the passengers and throws them off their balance, all the result of a collision with a sand-bar which no one dreamed was there.
Moreover, if the comparison with the Ship of State is not yet complete, note the arrangement of the passengers. On the lower deck appear brown faces and black heads, types of Indians,1 Chinese, and mestizos, wedged in between bales of merchandise and boxes, while there on the upper deck, beneath an awning that protects them from the sun, are seated in comfortable chairs a few passengers dressed in the fashion of Europeans, friars, and government clerks, each with his puro cigar, and gazing at the landscape apparently without heeding the efforts of the captain and the sailors to overcome the obstacles in the river.
The captain was a man of kindly aspect, well along in years, an old sailor who in his youth had plunged into far vaster seas, but who now in his age had to exercise much greater attention, care, and vigilance to avoid dangers of a trivial character. And they were the same for each day: the same sand-bars, the same hulk of unwieldy steamer wedged into the same curves, like a corpulent dame  in a jammed throng. So, at each moment, the good man had to stop, to back up, to go forward at half speed, sending—now to port, now to starboard—the five sailors equipped with long bamboo poles to give force to the turn the rudder had suggested. He was like a veteran who, after leading men through hazardous campaigns, had in his age become the tutor of a capricious, disobedient, and lazy boy.
Doña Victorina, the only lady seated in the European group, could say whether the Tabo was not lazy, disobedient, and capricious—Doña Victorina, who, nervous as ever, was hurling invectives against the cascos, bankas, rafts of coconuts, the Indians paddling about, and even the washerwomen and bathers, who fretted her with their mirth and chatter. Yes, the Tabo would move along very well if there were no Indians in the river, no Indians in the country, yes, if there were not a single Indian in the world—regardless of the fact that the helmsmen were Indians, the sailors Indians, Indians the engineers, Indians ninety-nine per cent, of the passengers, and she herself also an Indian if the rouge were scratched off and her pretentious gown removed. That morning Doña Victorina was more irritated than usual because the members of the group took very little notice of her, reason for which was not lacking; for just consider—there could be found three friars, convinced that the world would move backwards the very day they should take a single step to the right; an indefatigable Don Custodio who was sleeping peacefully, satisfied with his projects; a prolific writer like Ben-Zayb (anagram of Ibañez), who believed that the people of Manila thought because he, Ben-Zayb, was a thinker; a canon like Padre Irene, who added luster to the clergy with his rubicund face, carefully shaven, from which towered a beautiful Jewish nose, and his silken cassock of neat cut and small buttons; and a wealthy jeweler like Simoun, who was reputed to be the adviser and inspirer of all the acts of his Excellency, the Captain-General—  just consider the presence there of these pillars sine quibus non of the country, seated there in agreeable discourse, showing little sympathy for a renegade Filipina who dyed her hair red! Now wasn’t this enough to exhaust the patience of a female Job—a sobriquet Doña Victorina always applied to herself when put out with any one!
The ill-humor of the señora increased every time the captain shouted “Port,” “Starboard” to the sailors, who then hastily seized their poles and thrust them against the banks, thus with the strength of their legs and shoulders preventing the steamer from shoving its hull ashore at that particular point. Seen under these circumstances the Ship of State might be said to have been converted from a tortoise into a crab every time any danger threatened.
“But, captain, why don’t your stupid steersmen go in that direction?” asked the lady with great indignation.
“Because it’s very shallow in the other, señora,” answered the captain, deliberately, slowly winking one eye, a little habit which he had cultivated as if to say to his words on their way out, “Slowly, slowly!”
“Half speed! Botheration, half speed!” protested Doña Victorina disdainfully. “Why not full?”
“Because we should then be traveling over those ricefields, señora,” replied the imperturbable captain, pursing his lips to indicate the cultivated fields and indulging in two circumspect winks.
This Doña Victorina was well known in the country for her caprices and extravagances. She was often seen in society, where she was tolerated whenever she appeared in the company of her niece, Paulita Gomez, a very beautiful and wealthy orphan, to whom she was a kind of guardian. At a rather advanced age she had married a poor wretch named Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, and at the time we now see her, carried upon herself fifteen years of wedded life, false frizzes, and a half-European costume—for her whole ambition had been to Europeanize herself, with the result that from the ill-omened day of her wedding she had gradually,  thanks to her criminal attempts, succeeded in so transforming herself that at the present time Quatrefages and Virchow together could not have told where to classify her among the known races.
Her husband, who had borne all her impositions with the resignation of a fakir through so many years of married life, at last on one luckless day had had his bad half-hour and administered to her a superb whack with his crutch. The surprise of Madam Job at such an inconsistency of character made her insensible to the immediate effects, and only after she had recovered from her astonishment and her husband had fled did she take notice of the pain, then remaining in bed for several days, to the great delight of Paulita, who was very fond of joking and laughing at her aunt. As for her husband, horrified at the impiety of what appeared to him to be a terrific parricide, he took to flight, pursued by the matrimonial furies (two curs and a parrot), with all the speed his lameness permitted, climbed into the first carriage he encountered, jumped into the first banka he saw on the river, and, a Philippine Ulysses, began to wander from town to town, from province to province, from island to island, pursued and persecuted by his bespectacled Calypso, who bored every one that had the misfortune to travel in her company. She had received a report of his being in the province of La Laguna, concealed in one of the towns, so thither she was bound to seduce him back with her dyed frizzes.
Her fellow travelers had taken measures of defense by keeping up among themselves a lively conversation on any topic whatsoever. At that moment the windings and turnings of the river led them to talk about straightening the channel and, as a matter of course, about the port works. Ben-Zayb, the journalist with the countenance of a friar, was disputing with a young friar who in turn had the countenance of an artilleryman. Both were shouting, gesticulating, waving their arms, spreading out their hands,  stamping their feet, talking of levels, fish-corrals, the San Mateo River,2 of cascos, of Indians, and so on, to the great satisfaction of their listeners and the undisguised disgust of an elderly Franciscan, remarkably thin and withered, and a handsome Dominican about whose lips flitted constantly a scornful smile.
The thin Franciscan, understanding the Dominican’s smile, decided to intervene and stop the argument. He was undoubtedly respected, for with a wave of his hand he cut short the speech of both at the moment when the friar-artilleryman was talking about experience and the journalist-friar about scientists.
“Scientists, Ben-Zayb—do you know what they are?” asked the Franciscan in a hollow voice, scarcely stirring in his seat and making only a faint gesture with his skinny hand. “Here you have in the province a bridge, constructed by a brother of ours, which was not completed because the scientists, relying on their theories, condemned it as weak and scarcely safe—yet look, it is the bridge that has withstood all the floods and earthquakes!”3
“That’s it, puñales, that very thing, that was exactly what I was going to say!” exclaimed the friar-artilleryman, thumping his fists down on the arms of his bamboo chair. “That’s it, that bridge and the scientists! That was just what I was going to mention, Padre Salvi—puñales!”
Ben-Zayb remained silent, half smiling, either out of respect or because he really did not know what to reply, and yet his was the only thinking head in the Philippines! Padre Irene nodded his approval as he rubbed his long nose.
Padre Salvi, the thin and withered cleric, appeared to be satisfied with such submissiveness and went on in the  midst of the silence: “But this does not mean that you may not be as near right as Padre Camorra” (the friar-artilleryman). “The trouble is in the lake—”
“The fact is there isn’t a single decent lake in this country,” interrupted Doña Victorina, highly indignant, and getting ready for a return to the assault upon the citadel.
The besieged gazed at one another in terror, but with the promptitude of a general, the jeweler Simoun rushed in to the rescue. “The remedy is very simple,” he said in a strange accent, a mixture of English and South American. “And I really don’t understand why it hasn’t occurred to somebody.”
All turned to give him careful attention, even the Dominican. The jeweler was a tall, meager, nervous man, very dark, dressed in the English fashion and wearing a pith helmet. Remarkable about him was his long white hair contrasted with a sparse black beard, indicating a mestizo origin. To avoid the glare of the sun he wore constantly a pair of enormous blue goggles, which completely hid his eyes and a portion of his cheeks, thus giving him the aspect of a blind or weak-sighted person. He was standing with his legs apart as if to maintain his balance, with his hands thrust into the pockets of his coat.
“The remedy is very simple,” he repeated, “and wouldn’t cost a cuarto.”
The attention now redoubled, for it was whispered in Manila that this man controlled the Captain-General, and all saw the remedy in process of execution. Even Don Custodio himself turned to listen.
“Dig a canal straight from the source to the mouth of the river, passing through Manila; that is, make a new river-channel and fill up the old Pasig. That would save land, shorten communication, and prevent the formation of sandbars.”
The project left all his hearers astounded, accustomed as they were to palliative measures. 
“It’s a Yankee plan!” observed Ben-Zayb, to ingratiate himself with Simoun, who had spent a long time in North America.
All considered the plan wonderful and so indicated by the movements of their heads. Only Don Custodio, the liberal Don Custodio, owing to his independent position and his high offices, thought it his duty to attack a project that did not emanate from himself—that was a usurpation! He coughed, stroked the ends of his mustache, and with a voice as important as though he were at a formal session of the Ayuntamiento, said, “Excuse me, Señor Simoun, my respected friend, if I should say that I am not of your opinion. It would cost a great deal of money and might perhaps destroy some towns.”
“Then destroy them!” rejoined Simoun coldly.
“And the money to pay the laborers?”
“Don’t pay them! Use the prisoners and convicts!”
“But there aren’t enough, Señor Simoun!”
“Then, if there aren’t enough, let all the villagers, the old men, the youths, the boys, work. Instead of the fifteen days of obligatory service, let them work three, four, five months for the State, with the additional obligation that each one provide his own food and tools.”
The startled Don Custodio turned his head to see if there was any Indian within ear-shot, but fortunately those nearby were rustics, and the two helmsmen seemed to be very much occupied with the windings of the river.
“But, Señor Simoun—”
“Don’t fool yourself, Don Custodio,” continued Simoun dryly, “only in this way are great enterprises carried out with small means. Thus were constructed the Pyramids, Lake Moeris, and the Colosseum in Rome. Entire provinces came in from the desert, bringing their tubers to feed on. Old men, youths, and boys labored in transporting stones, hewing them, and carrying them on their shoulders under the direction of the official lash, and afterwards, the survivors returned to their homes or perished  in the sands of the desert. Then came other provinces, then others, succeeding one another in the work during years. Thus the task was finished, and now we admire them, we travel, we go to Egypt and to Home, we extol the Pharaohs and the Antonines. Don’t fool yourself—the dead remain dead, and might only is considered right by posterity.”
“But, Señor Simoun, such measures might provoke uprisings,” objected Don Custodio, rather uneasy over the turn the affair had taken.
“Uprisings, ha, ha! Did the Egyptian people ever rebel, I wonder? Did the Jewish prisoners rebel against the pious Titus? Man, I thought you were better informed in history!”
Clearly Simoun was either very presumptuous or disregarded conventionalities! To say to Don Custodio’s face that he did not know history! It was enough to make any one lose his temper! So it seemed, for Don Custodio forgot himself and retorted, “But the fact is that you’re not among Egyptians or Jews!”
“And these people have rebelled more than once,” added the Dominican, somewhat timidly. “In the times when they were forced to transport heavy timbers for the construction of ships, if it hadn’t been for the clerics—”
“Those times are far away,” answered Simoun, with a laugh even drier than usual. “These islands will never again rebel, no matter how much work and taxes they have. Haven’t you lauded to me, Padre Salvi,” he added, turning to the Franciscan, “the house and hospital at Los Baños, where his Excellency is at present?”
Padre Salvi gave a nod and looked up, evading the question.
“Well, didn’t you tell me that both buildings were constructed by forcing the people to work on them under the whip of a lay-brother? Perhaps that wonderful bridge was built in the same way. Now tell me, did these people rebel?” 
“The fact is—they have rebelled before,” replied the Dominican, “and ab actu ad posse valet illatio!”
“No, no, nothing of the kind,” continued Simoun, starting down a hatchway to the cabin. “What’s said, is said! And you, Padre Sibyla, don’t talk either Latin or nonsense. What are you friars good for if the people can rebel?”
Taking no notice of the replies and protests, Simoun descended the small companionway that led below, repeating disdainfully, “Bosh, bosh!”
Padre Sibyla turned pale; this was the first time that he, Vice-Rector of the University, had ever been credited with nonsense. Don Custodio turned green; at no meeting in which he had ever found himself had he encountered such an adversary.
“An American mulatto!” he fumed.
“A British Indian,” observed Ben-Zayb in a low tone.
“An American, I tell you, and shouldn’t I know?” retorted Don Custodio in ill-humor. “His Excellency has told me so. He’s a jeweler whom the latter knew in Havana, and, as I suspect, the one who got him advancement by lending him money. So to repay him he has had him come here to let him have a chance and increase his fortune by selling diamonds—imitations, who knows? And he so ungrateful, that, after getting money from the Indians, he wishes—huh!” The sentence was concluded by a significant wave of the hand.
No one dared to join in this diatribe. Don Custodio could discredit himself with his Excellency, if he wished, but neither Ben-Zayb, nor Padre Irene, nor Padre Salvi, nor the offended Padre Sibyla had any confidence in the discretion of the others.
“The fact is that this man, being an American, thinks no doubt that we are dealing with the redskins. To talk of these matters on a steamer! Compel, force the people! And he’s the very person who advised the expedition to  the Carolines and the campaign in Mindanao, which is going to bring us to disgraceful ruin. He’s the one who has offered to superintend the building of the cruiser, and I say, what does a jeweler, no matter how rich and learned he may be, know about naval construction?”
All this was spoken by Don Custodio in a guttural tone to his neighbor Ben-Zayb, while he gesticulated, shrugged his shoulders, and from time to time with his looks consulted the others, who were nodding their heads ambiguously. The Canon Irene indulged in a rather equivocal smile, which he half hid with his hand as he rubbed his nose.
“I tell you, Ben-Zayb,” continued Don Custodio, slapping the journalist on the arm, “all the trouble comes from not consulting the old-timers here. A project in fine words, and especially with a big appropriation, with an appropriation in round numbers, dazzles, meets with acceptance at once, for this!” Here, in further explanation, he rubbed the tip of his thumb against his middle and forefinger.4
“There’s something in that, there’s something in that,” Ben-Zayb thought it his duty to remark, since in his capacity of journalist he had to be informed about everything.
“Now look here, before the port works I presented a project, original, simple, useful, economical, and practicable, for clearing away the bar in the lake, and it hasn’t been accepted because there wasn’t any of that in it.” He repeated the movement of his fingers, shrugged his shoulders, and gazed at the others as though to say, “Have you ever heard of such a misfortune?”
“May we know what it was?” asked several, drawing nearer and giving him their attention. The projects of Don Custodio were as renowned as quacks’ specifics.
Don Custodio was on the point of refusing to explain it from resentment at not having found any supporters in his diatribe against Simoun. “When there’s no danger,  you want me to talk, eh? And when there is, you keep quiet!” he was going to say, but that would cause the loss of a good opportunity, and his project, now that it could not be carried out, might at least be known and admired.
After blowing out two or three puffs of smoke, coughing, and spitting through a scupper, he slapped Ben-Zayb on the thigh and asked, “You’ve seen ducks?”
“I rather think so—we’ve hunted them on the lake,” answered the surprised journalist.
“No, I’m not talking about wild ducks, I’m talking of the domestic ones, of those that are raised in Pateros and Pasig. Do you know what they feed on?”
Ben-Zayb, the only thinking head, did not know—he was not engaged in that business.
“On snails, man, on snails!” exclaimed Padre Camorra. “One doesn’t have to be an Indian to know that; it’s sufficient to have eyes!”
“Exactly so, on snails!” repeated Don Custodio, flourishing his forefinger. “And do you know where they get them?”
Again the thinking head did not know.
“Well, if you had been in the country as many years as I have, you would know that they fish them out of the bar itself, where they abound, mixed with the sand.”
“Then your project?”
“Well, I’m coming to that. My idea was to compel all the towns round about, near the bar, to raise ducks, and you’ll see how they, all by themselves, will deepen the channel by fishing for the snails—no more and no less, no more and no less!”
Here Don Custodio extended his arms and gazed triumphantly at the stupefaction of his hearers—to none of them had occurred such an original idea.
“Will you allow me to write an article about that?” asked Ben-Zayb. “In this country there is so little thinking done—” 
“But, Don Custodio,” exclaimed Doña Victorina with smirks and grimaces, “if everybody takes to raising ducks the balot5 eggs will become abundant. Ugh, how nasty! Rather, let the bar close up entirely!” 
1 The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the Philippines was indio (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously, the name filipino being generally applied in a restricted sense to the children of Spaniards born in the Islands.—Tr.
2 Now generally known as the Mariquina.—Tr.
3 This bridge, constructed in Lukban under the supervision of a Franciscan friar, was jocularly referred to as the Puente de Capricho, being apparently an ignorant blunder in the right direction, since it was declared in an official report made by Spanish engineers in 1852 to conform to no known principle of scientific construction, and yet proved to be strong and durable.—Tr.
4 Don Custodio’s gesture indicates money.—Tr.
5 Duck eggs, that are allowed to advance well into the duckling stage, then boiled and eaten. The señora is sneering at a custom among some of her own people.—Tr.
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,1 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.”  “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.”2
“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.”
“And tell him, also,” added Isagani, paying no attention to his friend’s nudges, “that water is very mild and can be drunk, but that it drowns out the wine and beer and puts out the fire, that heated it becomes steam, and that ruffled it is the ocean, that it once destroyed mankind and made the earth tremble to its foundations!”3
Simoun raised his head. Although his looks could not be read through the blue goggles, on the rest of his face surprise might be seen. “Rather a good answer,” he said. “But I fear that he might get facetious and ask me when the  water will be converted into steam and when into an ocean. Padre Camorra is rather incredulous and is a great wag.”
“When the fire heats it, when the rivulets that are now scattered through the steep valleys, forced by fatality, rush together in the abyss that men are digging,” replied Isagani.
“No, Señor Simoun,” interposed Basilio, changing to a jesting tone, “rather keep in mind the verses of my friend Isagani himself:
‘Fire you, you say, and water we,
Then as you wish, so let it be;
But let us live in peace and right,
Nor shall the fire e’er see us fight;
So joined by wisdom’s glowing flame,
That without anger, hate, or blame,
We form the steam, the fifth element,
Progress and light, life and movement.’”
“Utopia, Utopia!” responded Simoun dryly. “The engine is about to meet—in the meantime, I’ll drink my beer.” So, without any word of excuse, he left the two friends.
“But what’s the matter with you today that you’re so quarrelsome?” asked Basilio.
“Nothing. I don’t know why, but that man fills me with horror, fear almost.”
“I was nudging you with my elbow. Don’t you know that he’s called the Brown Cardinal?”
“The Brown Cardinal?”
“Or Black Eminence, as you wish.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Richelieu had a Capuchin adviser who was called the Gray Eminence; well, that’s what this man is to the General.”
“That’s what I’ve heard from a certain person,—who always speaks ill of him behind his back and flatters him to his face.”
“Does he also visit Capitan Tiago?”
“From the first day after his arrival, and I’m sure that  a certain person looks upon him as a rival—in the inheritance. I believe that he’s going to see the General about the question of instruction in Castilian.”
At that moment Isagani was called away by a servant to his uncle.
On one of the benches at the stern, huddled in among the other passengers, sat a native priest gazing at the landscapes that were successively unfolded to his view. His neighbors made room for him, the men on passing taking off their hats, and the gamblers not daring to set their table near where he was. He said little, but neither smoked nor assumed arrogant airs, nor did he disdain to mingle with the other men, returning the salutes with courtesy and affability as if he felt much honored and very grateful. Although advanced in years, with hair almost completely gray, he appeared to be in vigorous health, and even when seated held his body straight and his head erect, but without pride or arrogance. He differed from the ordinary native priests, few enough indeed, who at that period served merely as coadjutors or administered some curacies temporarily, in a certain self-possession and gravity, like one who was conscious of his personal dignity and the sacredness of his office. A superficial examination of his appearance, if not his white hair, revealed at once that he belonged to another epoch, another generation, when the better young men were not afraid to risk their dignity by becoming priests, when the native clergy looked any friar at all in the face, and when their class, not yet degraded and vilified, called for free men and not slaves, superior intelligences and not servile wills. In his sad and serious features was to be read the serenity of a soul fortified by study and meditation, perhaps tried out by deep moral suffering. This priest was Padre Florentino, Isagani’s uncle, and his story is easily told.
Scion of a wealthy and influential family of Manila, of agreeable appearance and cheerful disposition, suited to shine in the world, he had never felt any call to the sacerdotal  profession, but by reason of some promises or vows, his mother, after not a few struggles and violent disputes, compelled him to enter the seminary. She was a great friend of the Archbishop, had a will of iron, and was as inexorable as is every devout woman who believes that she is interpreting the will of God. Vainly the young Florentine offered resistance, vainly he begged, vainly he pleaded his love affairs, even provoking scandals: priest he had to become at twenty-five years of age, and priest he became. The Archbishop ordained him, his first mass was celebrated with great pomp, three days were given over to feasting, and his mother died happy and content, leaving him all her fortune.
But in that struggle Florentine received a wound from which he never recovered. Weeks before his first mass the woman he loved, in desperation, married a nobody—a blow the rudest he had ever experienced. He lost his moral energy, life became dull and insupportable. If not his virtue and the respect for his office, that unfortunate love affair saved him from the depths into which the regular orders and secular clergymen both fall in the Philippines. He devoted himself to his parishioners as a duty, and by inclination to the natural sciences.
When the events of seventy-two occurred,4 he feared that the large income his curacy yielded him would attract attention to him, so, desiring peace above everything, he sought and secured his release, living thereafter as a private individual on his patrimonial estate situated on the Pacific coast. He there adopted his nephew, Isagani, who was reported by the malicious to be his own son by his old sweetheart when she became a widow, and by the more serious and better informed, the natural child of a cousin, a lady in Manila. 
The captain of the steamer caught sight of the old priest and insisted that he go to the upper deck, saying, “If you don’t do so, the friars will think that you don’t want to associate with them.”
Padre Florentino had no recourse but to accept, so he summoned his nephew in order to let him know where he was going, and to charge him not to come near the upper deck while he was there. “If the captain notices you, he’ll invite you also, and we should then be abusing his kindness.”
“My uncle’s way!” thought Isagani. “All so that I won’t have any reason for talking with Doña Victorina.” 
1 The Jesuit College in Manila, established in 1859.—Tr.
2 Natives of Spain; to distinguish them from the Filipinos, i.e., descendants of Spaniards born in the Philippines. See Glossary: “Indian.”—Tr.
3 It was a common saying among the old Filipinos that the Spaniards (white men) were fire (activity), while they themselves were water (passivity).—Tr.
4 The “liberal” demonstrations in Manila, and the mutiny in the Cavite Arsenal, resulting in the garroting of the three native priests to whom this work was dedicated: the first of a series of fatal mistakes, culminating in the execution of the author, that cost Spain the loyalty of the Filipinos.—Tr.
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.”
“Everybody knows that,” remarked Padre Sibyla disdainfully.
But neither Simoun, nor Ben-Zayb, nor Padre Irene, nor Padre Camorra knew it, so they begged for the story, some in jest and others from genuine curiosity. The priest, adopting the tone of burlesque with which some had made their request, began like an old tutor relating a story to children.
“Once upon a time there was a student who had made a promise of marriage to a young woman in his country,  but it seems that he failed to remember her. She waited for him faithfully year after year, her youth passed, she grew into middle age, and then one day she heard a report that her old sweetheart was the Archbishop of Manila. Disguising herself as a man, she came round the Cape and presented herself before his grace, demanding the fulfilment of his promise. What she asked was of course impossible, so the Archbishop ordered the preparation of the cave that you may have noticed with its entrance covered and decorated with a curtain of vines. There she lived and died and there she is buried. The legend states that Doña Jeronima was so fat that she had to turn sidewise to get into it. Her fame as an enchantress sprung from her custom of throwing into the river the silver dishes which she used in the sumptuous banquets that were attended by crowds of gentlemen. A net was spread under the water to hold the dishes and thus they were cleaned. It hasn’t been twenty years since the river washed the very entrance of the cave, but it has gradually been receding, just as the memory of her is dying out among the people.”
“A beautiful legend!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb. “I’m going to write an article about it. It’s sentimental!”
Doña Victorina thought of dwelling in such a cave and was about to say so, when Simoun took the floor instead.
“But what’s your opinion about that, Padre Salvi?” he asked the Franciscan, who seemed to be absorbed in thought. “Doesn’t it seem to you as though his Grace, instead of giving her a cave, ought to have placed her in a nunnery—in St. Clara’s, for example? What do you say?”
There was a start of surprise on Padre Sibyla’s part to notice that Padre Salvi shuddered and looked askance at Simoun.
“Because it’s not a very gallant act,” continued Simoun quite naturally, “to give a rocky cliff as a home to one with whose hopes we have trifled. It’s hardly religious to expose her thus to temptation, in a cave on the banks of a river—it smacks of nymphs and dryads. It would  have been more gallant, more pious, more romantic, more in keeping with the customs of this country, to shut her up in St. Clara’s, like a new Eloise, in order to visit and console her from time to time.”
“I neither can nor should pass judgment upon the conduct of archbishops,” replied the Franciscan sourly.
“But you, who are the ecclesiastical governor, acting in the place of our Archbishop, what would you do if such a case should arise?”
Padre Salvi shrugged his shoulders and calmly responded, “It’s not worth while thinking about what can’t happen. But speaking of legends, don’t overlook the most beautiful, since it is the truest: that of the miracle of St. Nicholas, the ruins of whose church you may have noticed. I’m going to relate it to Señor Simoun, as he probably hasn’t heard it. It seems that formerly the river, as well as the lake, was infested with caymans, so huge and voracious that they attacked bankas and upset them with a slap of the tail. Our chronicles relate that one day an infidel Chinaman, who up to that time had refused to be converted, was passing in front of the church, when suddenly the devil presented himself to him in the form of a cayman and upset the banka, in order to devour him and carry him off to hell. Inspired by God, the Chinaman at that moment called upon St. Nicholas and instantly the cayman was changed into a stone. The old people say that in their time the monster could easily be recognized in the pieces of stone that were left, and, for my part, I can assure you that I have clearly made out the head, to judge from which the monster must have been enormously large.”
“Marvelous, a marvelous legend!” exclaimed Ben-Zayb. “It’s good for an article—the description of the monster, the terror of the Chinaman, the waters of the river, the bamboo brakes. Also, it’ll do for a study of comparative religions; because, look you, an infidel Chinaman in great distress invoked exactly the saint that he must know only by hearsay and in whom he did not believe. Here there’s  no room for the proverb that ‘a known evil is preferable to an unknown good.’ If I should find myself in China and get caught in such a difficulty, I would invoke the obscurest saint in the calendar before Confucius or Buddha. Whether this is due to the manifest superiority of Catholicism or to the inconsequential and illogical inconsistency in the brains of the yellow race, a profound study of anthropology alone will be able to elucidate.”
Ben-Zayb had adopted the tone of a lecturer and was describing circles in the air with his forefinger, priding himself on his imagination, which from the most insignificant facts could deduce so many applications and inferences. But noticing that Simoun was preoccupied and thinking that he was pondering over what he, Ben-Zayb, had just said, he inquired what the jeweler was meditating about.
“About two very important questions,” answered Simoun; “two questions that you might add to your article. First, what may have become of the devil on seeing himself suddenly confined within a stone? Did he escape? Did he stay there? Was he crushed? Second, if the petrified animals that I have seen in various European museums may not have been the victims of some antediluvian saint?”
The tone in which the jeweler spoke was so serious, while he rested his forehead on the tip of his forefinger in an attitude of deep meditation, that Padre Camorra responded very gravely, “Who knows, who knows?”
“Since we’re busy with legends and are now entering the lake,” remarked Padre Sibyla, “the captain must know many—”
At that moment the steamer crossed the bar and the panorama spread out before their eyes was so truly magnificent that all were impressed. In front extended the beautiful lake bordered by green shores and blue mountains, like a huge mirror, framed in emeralds and sapphires, reflecting the sky in its glass. On the right were spread out the low shores, forming bays with graceful curves, and dim there in the distance the crags of Sungay, while in the  background rose Makiling, imposing and majestic, crowned with fleecy clouds. On the left lay Talim Island with its curious sweep of hills. A fresh breeze rippled over the wide plain of water.
“By the way, captain,” said Ben-Zayb, turning around, “do you know in what part of the lake a certain Guevara, Navarra, or Ibarra, was killed?”
The group looked toward the captain, with the exception of Simoun, who had turned away his head as though to look for something on the shore.
“Ah, yes!” exclaimed Doña Victorina. “Where, captain? Did he leave any tracks in the water?”
The good captain winked several times, an indication that he was annoyed, but reading the request in the eyes of all, took a few steps toward the bow and scanned the shore.
“Look over there,” he said in a scarcely audible voice, after making sure that no strangers were near. “According to the officer who conducted the pursuit, Ibarra, upon finding himself surrounded, jumped out of his banka there near the Kinabutasan2 and, swimming under water, covered all that distance of more than two miles, saluted by bullets every time that he raised his head to breathe. Over yonder is where they lost track of him, and a little farther on near the shore they discovered something like the color of blood. And now I think of it, it’s just thirteen years, day for day, since this happened.”
“So that his corpse—” began Ben-Zayb.
“Went to join his father’s,” replied Padre Sibyla. “Wasn’t he also another filibuster, Padre Salvi?”
“That’s what might be called cheap funerals, Padre Camorra, eh?” remarked Ben-Zayb. 
“I’ve always said that those who won’t pay for expensive funerals are filibusters,” rejoined the person addressed, with a merry laugh.
“But what’s the matter with you, Señor Simoun?” inquired Ben-Zayb, seeing that the jeweler was motionless and thoughtful. “Are you seasick—an old traveler like you? On such a drop of water as this!”
“I want to tell you,” broke in the captain, who had come to hold all those places in great affection, “that you can’t call this a drop of water. It’s larger than any lake in Switzerland and all those in Spain put together. I’ve seen old sailors who got seasick here.” 
1 Archbishop of Manila from 1767 to 1787.—Tr.
2 “Between this island (Talim) and Halahala point extends a strait a mile wide and a league long, which the Indians call ‘Kinabutasan,’ a name that in their language means ‘place that was cleft open’; from which it is inferred that in other times the island was joined to the mainland and was separated from it by some severe earthquake, thus leaving this strait: of this there is an old tradition among the Indians.”—Fray Martinez de Zuñiga’s Estadismo (1803).
Those who have read the first part of this story will perhaps remember an old wood-cutter who lived in the depths of the forest.1 Tandang Selo is still alive, and though his hair has turned completely white, he yet preserves his good health. He no longer hunts or cuts firewood, for his fortunes have improved and he works only at making brooms.
His son Tales (abbreviation of Telesforo) had worked at first on shares on the lands of a capitalist, but later, having become the owner of two carabaos and several hundred pesos, determined to work on his own account, aided by his father, his wife, and his three children. So they cut down and cleared away some thick woods which were situated on the borders of the town and which they believed belonged to no one. During the labors of cleaning and cultivating the new land, the whole family fell ill with malaria and the mother died, along with the eldest daughter, Lucia, in the flower of her age. This, which was the natural consequence of breaking up new soil infested with various kinds of bacteria, they attributed to the anger of the woodland spirit, so they were resigned and went on with their labor, believing him pacified.
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