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Chapter 29: Exit Capitan Tiago


Talis vita, finis ita
Capitan Tiago had a good end—that is, a quite exceptional funeral. True it is that the curate of the parish had ventured the observation to Padre Irene that Capitan Tiago had died without confession, but the good priest, smiling sardonically, had rubbed the tip of his nose and answered:
“Why say that to me? If we had to deny the obsequies to all who die without confession, we should forget the De profundis! These restrictions, as you well know, are enforced when the impenitent is also insolvent. But Capitan Tiago—out on you! You’ve buried infidel Chinamen, and with a requiem mass!”
Capitan Tiago had named Padre Irene as his executor and willed his property in part to St. Clara, part to the Pope, to the Archbishop, the religious corporations, leaving twenty pesos for the matriculation of poor students. This last clause had been dictated at the suggestion of Padre Irene, in his capacity as protector of studious youths. Capitan Tiago had annulled a legacy of twenty-five pesos that he had left to Basilio, in view of the ungrateful conduct of the boy during the last few days, but Padre Irene had restored it and announced that he would take it upon his own purse and conscience.
In the dead man’s house, where were assembled on the following day many old friends and acquaintances, considerable comment was indulged in over a miracle. It was reported that, at the very moment when he was dying, the [284] soul of Capitan Tiago had appeared to the nuns surrounded by a brilliant light. God had saved him, thanks to the pious legacies, and to the numerous masses he had paid for. The story was commented upon, it was recounted vividly, it took on particulars, and was doubted by no one. The appearance of Capitan Tiago was minutely described—of course the frock coat, the cheek bulged out by the quid of buyo, without omitting the game-cock and the opium-pipe. The senior sacristan, who was present, gravely affirmed these facts with his head and reflected that, after death, he would appear with his cup of white tajú, for without that refreshing breakfast he could not comprehend happiness either on earth or in heaven.
On this subject, because of their inability to discuss the events of the preceding day and because there were gamblers present, many strange speculations were developed. They made conjectures as to whether Capitan Tiago would invite St. Peter to a soltada, whether they would place bets, whether the game-cocks were immortal, whether invulnerable, and in this case who would be the referee, who would win, and so on: discussions quite to the taste of those who found sciences, theories, and systems, based on a text which they esteem infallible, revealed or dogmatic. Moreover, there were cited passages from novenas, books of miracles, sayings of the curates, descriptions of heaven, and other embroidery. Don Primitivo, the philosopher, was in his glory quoting opinions of the theologians.
“Because no one can lose,” he stated with great authority. “To lose would cause hard feelings and in heaven there can’t be any hard feelings.”
“But some one has to win,” rejoined the gambler Aristorenas. “The fun lies in winning!”
“Well, both win, that’s easy!”
This idea of both winning could not be admitted by Aristorenas, for he had passed his life in the cockpit and had always seen one cock lose and the other win—at best, there was a tie. Vainly Don Primitivo argued in Latin. Aristorenas shook his head, and that too when Don Primitivo’s Latin was easy to understand, for he talked of an gallus talisainus, acuto tari armatus, an gallus beati Petri bulikus sasabung̃us sit, and so on, until at length he decided to resort to the argument which many use to convince and silence their opponents.
“You’re going to be damned, friend Martin, you’re falling into heresy! Cave ne cadas! I’m not going to play monte with you any more, and we’ll not set up a bank together. You deny the omnipotence of God, peccatum mortale! You deny the existence of the Holy Trinity— three are one and one is three! Take care! You indirectly deny that two natures, two understandings, and two wills can have only one memory! Be careful! Quicumque non crederit anathema sit!
Martin Aristorenas shrank away pale and trembling, while Quiroga, who had listened with great attention to the argument, with marked deference offered the philosopher a magnificent cigar, at the same time asking in his caressing voice: “Surely, one can make a contract for a cockpit with Kilisto, ha? When I die, I’ll be the contractor, ha?”
Among the others, they talked more of the deceased; at least they discussed what kind of clothing to put on him. Capitan Tinong proposed a Franciscan habit—and fortunately, he had one, old, threadbare, and patched, a precious object which, according to the friar who gave it to him as alms in exchange for thirty-six pesos, would preserve the corpse from the flames of hell and which reckoned in its support various pious anecdotes taken from the books distributed by the curates. Although he held this relic in great esteem, Capitan Tinong was disposed to part with it for the sake of his intimate friend, whom he had not been able to visit during his illness. But a tailor objected, with good reason, that since the nuns had seen Capitan Tiago ascending to heaven in a frock coat, in a frock coat he should be dressed here on earth, nor was there any necessity for preservatives and fire-proof garments. The deceased had attended balls and fiestas in a frock coat, and nothing else would be expected of him in the skies—and, wonderful to relate, the tailor accidentally happened to have one ready, which he would part with for thirty-two pesos, four cheaper than the Franciscan habit, because he didn’t want to make any profit on Capitan Tiago, who had been his customer in life and would now be his patron in heaven. But Padre Irene, trustee and executor, rejected both proposals and ordered that the Capitan be dressed in one of his old suits of clothes, remarking with holy unction that God paid no attention to clothing.
The obsequies were, therefore, of the very first class. There were responsories in the house, and in the street three friars officiated, as though one were not sufficient for such a great soul. All the rites and ceremonies possible were performed, and it is reported that there were even extras, as in the benefits for actors. It was indeed a delight: loads of incense were burned, there were plenty of Latin chants, large quantities of holy water were expended, and Padre Irene, out of regard for his old friend, sang the Dies Irae in a falsetto voice from the choir, while the neighbors suffered real headaches from so much knell-ringing.
Doña Patrocinio, the ancient rival of Capitan Tiago in religiosity, actually wanted to die on the next day, so that she might order even more sumptuous obsequies. The pious old lady could not bear the thought that he, whom she had long considered vanquished forever, should in dying come forward again with so much pomp. Yes, she desired to die, and it seemed that she could hear the exclamations of the people at the funeral: “This indeed is what you call a funeral! This indeed is to know how to die, Doña Patrocinio!”

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