With equal diligence, or more if possible, the young man continued this course, and after the third year began to render medical services with such great success that he was not only preparing a brilliant future for himself but also earning enough to dress well and save some money. This was the last year of the course and in two months he would be a physician; he would come back to the town, he would marry Juliana, and they would be happy. The granting of his licentiateship was not only assured, but he expected it to be the crowning act of his school-days, for he had been designated to deliver the valedictory at the graduation, and already he saw himself in the rostrum, before the whole faculty, the object of public attention. All those heads, leaders of Manila science, half-hidden in their colored capes; all the women who came there out of curiosity and who years before had gazed at him, if not with disdain, at least with indifference; all those men whose carriages had once been about to crush him down in the mud like a dog: they would listen attentively, and he was going to say something to them that would not be trivial, something that had never before resounded in that place, he was going to forget himself in order to aid the poor students of the future—and he would make his entrance on his work in the world with that speech.
Over these matters Basilio was pondering as he visited his mother’s grave. He was about to start back to the town when he thought he saw a light flickering among the trees and heard the snapping of twigs, the sound of feet, and rustling of leaves. The light disappeared but the noises became more distinct, coming directly toward where he was. Basilio was not naturally superstitious, especially after having carved up so many corpses and watched beside so many death-beds, but the old legends about that ghostly spot, the hour, the darkness, the melancholy sighing of the wind, and certain tales heard in his childhood, asserted their influence over his mind and made his heart beat violently.
The figure stopped on the other side of the balete, but the youth could see it through an open space between two roots that had grown in the course of time to the proportions of tree-trunks. It produced from under its coat a lantern with a powerful reflecting lens, which it placed on the ground, thereby lighting up a pair of riding-boots, the rest of the figure remaining concealed in the darkness. The figure seemed to search its pockets and then bent over to fix a shovel-blade on the end of a stout cane. To his great surprise Basilio thought he could make out some of the features of the jeweler Simoun, who indeed it was.