The night was a sad one. Neither of the two could taste a bite and the old man refused to lie down, passing the whole night seated in a corner, silent and motionless. Juli on her part tried to sleep, but for a long time could not close her eyes. Somewhat relieved about her father’s fate, she now thought of herself and fell to weeping, but stifled her sobs so that the old man might not hear them. The next day she would be a servant, and it was the very day Basilio was accustomed to come from Manila with presents for her. Henceforward she would have to give up that love; Basilio, who was going to be a doctor, couldn’t marry a pauper. In fancy she saw him going to the church in company with the prettiest and richest girl in the town, both well-dressed, happy and smiling, while she, Juli, followed her mistress, carrying novenas, buyos, and the cuspidor. Here the girl felt a lump rise in her throat, a sinking at her heart, and begged the Virgin to let her die first.
But—said her conscience—he will at least know that I preferred to pawn myself rather than the locket he gave me.
This thought consoled her a little and brought on empty dreams. Who knows but that a miracle might happen? She might find the two hundred and fifty pesos under the image of the Virgin—she had read of many similar miracles. The sun might not rise nor morning come, and meanwhile the suit would be won. Her father might return, or Basilio put in his appearance, she might find a bag of gold in the garden, the tulisanes would send the bag of gold, the curate, Padre Camorra, who was always teasing her, would come with the tulisanes. So her ideas became more and more confused, until at length, worn out by fatigue and sorrow, she went to sleep with dreams of her childhood in the depths of the forest: she was bathing in the torrent along with her two brothers, there were little fishes of all colors that let themselves be caught like fools, and she became impatient because she found no pleasure in catchnig such foolish little fishes! Basilio was under the water, but Basilio for some reason had the face of her brother Tano. Her new mistress was watching them from the bank.
A COCHERO’S CHRISTMAS EVE
Basilio reached San Diego just as the Christmas Eve procession was passing through the streets. He had been delayed on the road for several hours because the cochero, having forgotten his cedula, was held up by the Civil Guard, had his memory jogged by a few blows from a rifle-butt, and afterwards was taken before the commandant. Now the carromata was again detained to let the procession pass, while the abused cochero took off his hat reverently and recited a paternoster to the first image that came along, which seemed to be that of a great saint. It was the figure of an old man with an exceptionally long beard, seated at the edge of a grave under a tree filled with all kinds of stuffed birds. A kalan with a clay jar, a mortar, and a kalikut for mashing buyo were his only utensils, as if to indicate that he lived on the border of the tomb and was doing his cooking there. This was the Methuselah of the religious iconography of the Philippines; his colleague and perhaps contemporary is called in Europe Santa Claus, and is still more smiling and agreeable.