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Home Sections DrRizal.com The Social Cancer (Noli Me Tangere) Chapter XXXI to XL
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Written by Jose Rizal   
Monday, 18 June 2007 23:04

 

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The Social Cancer

A Complete English Version of Noli Me Tangere from the Spanish of
José Rizal
By
Charles Derbyshire

Manila
Philippine Education Company
New York: World Book Company
1912

THE NOVELS OF JOSÉ RIZAL

Translated from Spanish into English

BY CHARLES DERBYSHIRE

· THE SOCIAL CANCER (NOLI ME TANGERE)

· THE REIGN OF GREED (EL FILIBUSTERISMO)

Copyright, 1912, by Philippine Education Company.
Entered at Stationers’ Hall.
Registrado en las Islas Filipinas.
All rights reserved.

Contents

 

 

Author’s Dedication

I

A Social Gathering

II

Crisostomo Ibarra

III

The Dinner

IV

Heretic and Filibuster

V

A Star in a Dark Night

VI

Capitan Tiago

VII

An Idyl on an Azotea

VIII

Recollections

IX

Local Affairs

X

The Town

XI

The Rulers

XII

All Saints

XIII

Signs of Storm

XIV

Tasio: Lunatic or Sage

XV

The Sacristans

XVI

Sisa

XVII

Basilio

XVIII

Souls In Torment

XIX

A Schoolmaster’s Difficulties

XX

The Meeting in the Town Hall

XXI

The Story of a Mother[liv]

XXII

Lights and Shadows

XXIII

Fishing

XXIV

In the Wood

XXV

In the House of the Sage

XXVI

The Eve of the Fiesta

XXVII

In the Twilight

XXVIII

Correspondence

XXIX

The Morning

XXX

In the Church

XXXI

The Sermon

XXXII

The Derrick

XXXIII

Free Thought

XXXIV

The Dinner

XXXV

Comments

XXXVI

The First Cloud

XXXVII

His Excellency

XXXVIII

The Procession

XXXIX

Doña Consolación

XL

Right and Might

XLI

Two Visits

XLII

The Espadañas

XLIII

Plans

XLIV

An Examination of Conscience

XLV

The Hunted

XLVI

The Cockpit

XLVII

The Two Señoras

XLVIII

The Enigma

XLIX

The Voice of the Hunted[iv]

L

Elias’s Story

LI

Exchanges

LII

The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows

LIII

Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina

LIV

Revelations

LV

The Catastrophe

LVI

Rumors and Belief

LVII

Vae Victis!

LVIII

The Accursed

LIX

Patriotism and Private Interests

LX

Maria Clara Weds

LXI

The Chase on the Lake

LXII

Padre Damaso Explains

LXIII

Christmas Eve

 

Epilogue

 

Glossary

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXI-The Sermon}

Chapter XXXI

The Sermon

Fray Damaso began slowly in a low voice: "‘Et spiritum bonum dedisti, qui doceret eos, et manna tuum non prohibuisti ab ore eorum, et aquam dedisti eis in siti. And thou gavest thy good Spirit to teach them, and thy manna thou didst not withhold from their mouth, and thou gavest them water for their thirst!’ Words which the Lord spoke through the mouth of Esdras, in the second book, the ninth chapter, and the twentieth verse."1 Padre Sibyla glanced in surprise at the preacher. Padre Manuel Martin turned pale and swallowed hard that was better than his! Whether Padre Damaso noticed this or whether he was still hoarse, the fact is that he coughed several times as he placed both hands on the rail of the pulpit. The Holy Ghost was above his head, freshly painted, clean and white, with rose-colored beak and feet. "Most honorable sir" (to the alcalde), "most holy priests, Christians, brethren in Jesus Christ!"

Here he made a solemn pause as again he swept his gaze over the congregation, with whose attention and concentration he seemed satisfied.

"The first part of the sermon is to be in Spanish and the other in Tagalog; loquebantur omnes linguas."

After the salutations and the pause he extended his right hand majestically toward the altar, at the same time fixing his gaze on the alcalde. He slowly crossed his arms without uttering a word, then suddenly passing from calmness to action, threw back his head and made a sign toward the main door, sawing the air with his open hand so forcibly that the sacristans interpreted the gesture as a command [237]and closed the doors. The alferez became uneasy, doubting whether he should go or stay, when the preacher began in a strong voice, full and sonorous; truly his old housekeeper was skilled in medicine. "Radiant and resplendent is the altar, wide is the great door, the air is the vehicle of the holy and divine words that will spring from my mouth! Hear ye then with the ears of your souls and hearts that the words of the Lord may not fall on the stony soil where the birds of Hell may consume them, but that ye may grow and flourish as holy seed in the field of our venerable and seraphic father, St. Francis! O ye great sinners, captives of the Moros of the soul that infest the sea of eternal life in the powerful craft of the flesh and the world, ye who are laden with the fetters of lust and avarice, and who toil in the galleys of the infernal Satan, look ye here with reverent repentance upon him who saved souls from the captivity of the devil, upon the intrepid Gideon, upon the valiant David, upon the triumphant Roland of Christianity, upon the celestial Civil Guard, more powerful than all the Civil Guards together, now existing or to exist!" (The alferez frowned.) "Yes, señor alferez, more valiant and powerful, he who with no other weapon than a wooden cross boldly vanquishes the eternal tulisan of the shades and all the hosts of Lucifer, and who would have exterminated them forever, were not the spirits immortal! This marvel of divine creation, this wonderful prodigy, is the blessed Diego of Alcala, who, if I may avail myself of a comparison, since comparisons aid in the comprehension of incomprehensible things, as another has said, I say then that this great saint is merely a private soldier, a steward in the powerful company which our seraphic father, St. Francis, sends from Heaven, and to which I have the honor to belong as a corporal or sergeant, by the grace of God!"

The "rude Indians," as the correspondent would say, caught nothing more from this paragraph than the words "Civil Guard," "tulisan," "San Diego," and "St. Francis," [238]so, observing the wry face of the alferez and the bellicose gestures of the preacher, they deduced that the latter was reprehending him for not running down the tulisanes. San Diego and St. Francis would be commissioned in this duty and justly so, as is proved by a picture existing in the convento at Manila, representing St. Francis, by means of his girdle only, holding back the Chinese invasion in the first years after the discovery. The devout were accordingly not a little rejoiced and thanked God for this aid, not doubting that once the tulisanes had disappeared, St. Francis would also destroy the Civil Guard. With redoubled attention, therefore, they listened to Padre Damaso, as he continued: "Most honorable sir" Great affairs are great affairs even by the side of the small and the small are always small even by the side of the great. So History says, but since History hits the nail on the head only once in a hundred times, being a thing made by men, and men make mistakes—errarle es hominum,2 as Cicero said—he who opens his mouth makes mistakes, as they say in my country then the result is that there are profound truths which History does not record. These truths, most honorable sir, the divine Spirit spoke with that supreme wisdom which human intelligence has not comprehended since the times of Seneca and Aristotle, those wise priests of antiquity, even to our sinful days, and these truths are that not always are small affairs small, but that they are great, not by the side of the little things, but by the side of the grandest of the earth and of the heavens and of the air and of the clouds and of the waters and of space and of life and of death!" "Amen!" exclaimed the leader of the Tertiaries, crossing himself.

With this figure of rhetoric, which he had learned from a famous preacher in Manila, Padre Damaso wished to startle his audience, and in fact his holy ghost was so [239]fascinated with such great truths that it was necessary to kick him to remind him of his business. "Patent to your eyes—" prompted the holy ghost below.

"Patent to your eyes is the conclusive and impressive proof of this eternal philosophical truth! Patent is that sun of virtue, and I say sun and not moon, for there is no great merit in the fact that the moon shines during the night,—in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king; by night may shine a light, a tiny star,—so the greatest merit is to be able to shine even in the middle of the day, as the sun does; so shines our brother Diego even in the midst of the greatest saints! Here you have patent to your eyes, in your impious disbelief, the masterpiece of the Highest for the confusion of the great of the earth, yes, my brethren, patent, patent to all, PATENT!"

A man rose pale and trembling and hid himself in a confessional. He was a liquor dealer who had been dozing and dreaming that the carbineers were demanding the patent, or license, that he did not have. It may safely be affirmed that he did not come out from his hiding-place while the sermon lasted.

"Humble and lowly saint, thy wooden cross" (the one that the image held was of silver), "thy modest gown, honors the great Francis whose sons and imitators we are. We propagate thy holy race in the whole world, in the remote places, in the cities, in the towns, without distinction between black and white" (the alcalde held his breath), "suffering hardships and martyrdoms, thy holy race of faith and religion militant" ("Ah!" breathed the alcalde) "which holds the world in balance and prevents it from falling into the depths of perdition."

His hearers, including even Capitan Tiago, yawned little by little. Maria Clara was not listening to the sermon, for she knew that Ibarra was near and was thinking about him while she fanned herself and gazed at an evangelical bull that had all the outlines of a small carabao.

[240]"All should know by heart the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the saints and then I should not have to preach to you, O sinners! You should know such important and necessary things as the Lord’s Prayer, although many of you have forgotten it, living now as do the Protestants or heretics, who, like the Chinese, respect not the ministers of God. But the worse for you, O ye accursed, moving as you are toward damnation!" "Abá, Pale Lamaso, what!"3 muttered Carlos, the Chinese, looking angrily at the preacher, who continued to extemporize, emitting a series of apostrophes and imprecations. "You will die in final unrepentance, O race of heretics! God punishes you even on this earth with jails and prisons! Women should flee from you, the rulers should hang all of you so that the seed of Satan be not multiplied in the vineyard of the Lord! Jesus Christ said: ‘If you have an evil member that leads you to sin, cut it off, and cast it into the fire—’"

Having forgotten both his sermon and his rhetoric, Fray Damaso began to be nervous. Ibarra became uneasy and looked about for a quiet corner, but the church was crowded. Maria Clara neither heard nor saw anything as she was analyzing a picture, of the blessed souls in purgatory, souls in the shape of men and women dressed in hides, with miters, hoods, and cowls, all roasting in the fire and clutching St. Francis’ girdle, which did not break even with such great weight. With that improvisation on the preacher’s part, the holy-ghost friar lost the thread of the sermon and skipped over three long paragraphs, giving the wrong cue to the now laboriously-panting Fray Damaso.

"Who of you, O sinners, would lick the sores of a poor and ragged beggar? Who? Let him answer by raising his hand! None! That I knew, for only a saint like Diego de Alcala would do it. He licked all the sores, saying to [241]an astonished brother, ‘Thus is this sick one cured!’ O Christian charity! O matchless example! O virtue of virtues! O inimitable pattern! O spotless talisman!" Here he continued a long series of exclamations, the while crossing his arms and raising and lowering them as though he wished to fly or to frighten the birds away. "Before dying he spoke in Latin, without knowing Latin! Marvel, O sinners! You, in spite of what you study, for which blows are given to you, you do not speak Latin, and you will die without speaking it! To speak Latin is a gift of God and therefore the Church uses Latin! I, too, speak Latin! Was God going to deny this consolation to His beloved Diego? Could he die, could he be permitted to die, without speaking Latin? Impossible! God wouldn’t be just, He Wouldn’t be God! So he talked in Latin, and of that fact the writers of his time bear witness!"

He ended this exordium with the passage which had cost him the most toil and which he had plagiarized from a great writer, Sinibaldo de Mas. "Therefore, I salute thee, illustrious Diego, the glory of our Order! Thou art the pattern of virtue, meek with honor, humble with nobility, compliant with fortitude, temperate with ambition, hostile with loyalty, compassionate with pardon, holy with conscientiousness, full of faith with devotion, credulous with sincerity, chaste with love, reserved with secrecy; long-suffering with patience, brave with timidity, moderate with desire, bold with resolution, obedient with subjection., modest with pride, zealous with disinterestedness, skilful with capability, ceremonious with politeness, astute with sagacity, merciful with piety, secretive with modesty, revengeful with valor, poor on account of thy labors with true conformity, prodigal with economy, active with ease, economical with liberality, innocent with sagacity, reformer with consistency, indifferent with zeal for learning: God created thee to feel the raptures of Platonic love! Aid me in singing thy greatness and thy name higher than the stars [242]and clearer than the sun itself that circles about thy feet! Aid me, all of you, as you appeal to God for sufficient inspiration by reciting the Ave Maria!" All fell upon their knees and raised a murmur like the humming of a thousand bees. The alcalde laboriously bent one knee and wagged his head in a disgusted manner, while the alferez looked pale and penitent.

"To the devil with the curate!" muttered one of two youths who had come from Manila.

"Keep still!" admonished his companion. "His woman might hear us."

Meanwhile, Padre Damaso, instead of reciting the Ave Maria, was scolding his holy ghost for having skipped three of his best paragraphs; at the same time he consumed a couple of cakes and a glass of Malaga, secure of encountering therein greater inspiration than in all the holy ghosts, whether of wood in the form of a dove or of flesh in the shape of an inattentive friar.

Then he began the sermon in Tagalog. The devout old woman again gave her granddaughter a hearty slap. The child awoke ill-naturedly and asked, "Is it time to cry now?"

"Not yet, O lost one, but don’t go to sleep again!" answered the good grandmother.

Of the second part of the sermon—that in Tagalog—we have only a few rough notes, for Padre Damaso extemporized in this language, not because he knew it better, but because, holding the provincial Filipinos ignorant of rhetoric, he was not afraid of making blunders before them. With Spaniards the case was different; he had heard rules of oratory spoken of, and it was possible that among his hearers some one had been in college-halls, perhaps the alcalde, so he wrote out his sermons, corrected and polished them, and then memorized and rehearsed them for several days beforehand.

It is common knowledge that none of those present understood the drift of the sermon. They were so dull of [243]understanding and the preacher was so profound, as Sister Rufa said, that the audience waited in vain for an opportunity to weep, and the lost grandchild of the blessed old woman went to sleep again. Nevertheless, this part had greater consequences than the first, at least for certain hearers, as we shall see later. He began with a "Mana capatir con cristiano,"4 followed by an avalanche of untranslatable phrases. He talked of the soul, of Hell, of "mahal na santo pintacasi,"5 of the Indian sinners and of the virtuous Franciscan Fathers. "The devil!" exclaimed one of the two irreverent Manilans to his companion. "That’s all Greek to me. I’m going." Seeing the doors closed, he went out through the sacristy, to the great scandal of the people and especially of the preacher, who turned pale and paused in the midst of his sentence. Some looked for a violent apostrophe, but Padre Damaso contented himself with watching the delinquent, and then he went on with his sermon.

Then were let loose curses upon the age, against the lack of reverence, against the growing indifference to Religion. This matter seemed to be his forte, for he appeared to be inspired and expressed himself with force and clearness. He talked of the sinners who did not attend confession, who died in prisons without the sacraments, of families accursed, of proud and puffed-up little half-breeds, of young sages and little philosophers, of pettifoggers, of picayunish students, and so on. Well known is this habit that many have when they wish to ridicule their enemies; they apply to them belittling epithets because their brains do not appear to furnish them any other means, and thus they are happy.

Ibarra heard it all and understood the allusions. Preserving an outward calm, he turned his eyes to God and the authorities, but saw nothing more than the images of saints, and the alcalde was sleeping.

[244]Meanwhile, the preacher’s enthusiasm was rising by degrees. He spoke of the times when every Filipino upon meeting a priest took off his hat, knelt on the ground, and kissed the priest’s hand. "But now," he added, "you only take off your salakot or your felt hat, which you have placed on the side of your head in order not to ruffle your nicely combed hair! You content yourself with saying, ‘good day, among,’ and there are proud dabblers in a little Latin who, from having studied in Manila or in Europe, believe that they have the right to shake a priest’s hand instead of kissing it. Ah, the day of judgment will quickly come, the world will end, as many saints have foretold; it will rain fire, stones, and ashes to chastise your pride!" The people were exhorted not to imitate such "savages" but to hate and shun them, since they were beyond the religious pale. "Hear what the holy decrees say! When an Indian meets a curate in the street he should bow his head and offer his neck for his master to step upon. If the curate and the Indian are both on horseback, then the Indian should stop and take off his hat or salakot reverently; and finally, if the Indian is on horseback and the curate on foot, the Indian should alight and not mount again until the curate has told him to go on, or is far away. This is what the holy decrees say and he who does not obey will be excommunicated."

"And when one is riding a carabao?" asked a scrupulous countryman of his neighbor.

"Then—keep on going!" answered the latter, who was a casuist.

But in spite of the cries and gestures of the preacher many fell asleep or wandered in their attention, since these sermons were ever the same. In vain some devout women tried to sigh and sob over the sins of the wicked; they had to desist in the attempt from lack of supporters. Even Sister Puté was thinking of something quite different. A man beside her had dropped off to sleep in such a way that [245]he had fallen over and crushed her habit, so the good woman caught up one of her clogs and with blows began to wake him, crying out, "Get away, savage, brute, devil, carabao, cur, accursed!" Naturally, this caused somewhat of a stir. The preacher paused and arched his eyebrows, surprised at so great a scandal. Indignation choked the words in his throat and he was able only to bellow, while he pounded the pulpit with his fists. This had the desired effect, however, for the old woman, though still grumbling, dropped her clog and, crossing herself repeatedly, fell devoutly upon her knees.

"Aaah! Aaah!" the indignant priest was at last able to roar out as he crossed his arms and shook his head. "For this do I preach to you the whole morning, savages! Here in the house of God you quarrel and curse, shameless ones! Aaaah! You respect nothing! This is the result of the luxury and the looseness of the age! That’s just what I’ve told you, aah!"

Upon this theme he continued to preach for half an hour. The alcalde snored, and Maria Clara nodded, for the poor child could no longer keep from sleeping, since she had no more paintings or images to study, nor anything else to amuse her. On Ibarra the words and allusions made no more impression, for he was thinking of a cottage on the top of a mountain and saw Maria Clara in the garden; let men crawl about in their miserable towns in the depths of the valley!

Padre Salvi had caused the altar bell to be rung twice, but this was only adding fuel to the flame, for Padre Damaso became stubborn and prolonged the sermon. Fray Sibyla gnawed at his lips and repeatedly adjusted his gold-mounted eye-glasses. Fray Manuel Martin was the only one who appeared to listen with pleasure, for he was smiling.

But at last God said "Enough"; the orator became weary and descended from the pulpit. All knelt to render [246]thanks to God. The alcalde rubbed his eyes, stretched out one arm as if to waken himself, and yawned with a deep aah. The mass continued. When all were kneeling and the priests had lowered their heads while the Incarnatus est was being sung, a man murmured in Ibarra’s ear, "At the laying of the cornerstone, don’t move away from the curate, don’t go down into the trench, don’t go near the stone—your life depends upon it!"

Ibarra turned to see Elias, who, as soon as he had said this, disappeared in the crowd. [247]

 

1 The Douay version.—TR.
2 "Errare humanum est": "To err is human."
3 To the Philippine Chinese "d" and "l" look and sound about the same.—TR.
4 "Brothers in Christ."
5 "Venerable patron saint."

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXII-The Derrick}

Chapter XXXII

The Derrick

The yellowish individual had kept his word, for it was no simple derrick that he had erected above the open trench to let the heavy block of granite down into its place. It was not the simple tripod that Ñor Juan had wanted for suspending a pulley from its top, but was much more, being at once a machine and an ornament, a grand and imposing ornament. Over eight meters in height rose the confused and complicated scaffolding. Four thick posts sunk in the ground served as a frame, fastened to each other by huge timbers crossing diagonally and joined by large nails driven in only half-way, perhaps for the reason that the apparatus was simply for temporary use and thus might easily be taken down again. Huge cables stretched from all sides gave an appearance of solidity and grandeur to the whole. At the top it was crowned with many-colored banners, streaming pennants, and enormous garlands of flowers and leaves artistically interwoven.

There at the top in the shadow made by the posts, the garlands, and the banners, hung fastened with cords and iron hooks an unusually large three-wheeled pulley over the polished sides of which passed in a crotch three cables even larger than the others. These held suspended the smooth, massive stone hollowed out in the center to form with a similar hole in the lower stone, already in place, the little space intended to contain the records of contemporaneous history, such as newspapers, manuscripts, money, medals, and the like, and perhaps to transmit them to very remote generations. The cables extended downward and connected with another equally large pulley at the bottom [248]of the apparatus, whence they passed to the drum of a windlass held in place by means of heavy timbers. This windlass, which could be turned with two cranks, increased the strength of a man a hundredfold by the movement of notched wheels, although it is true that what was gained in force was lost in velocity. "Look," said the yellowish individual, turning the crank, "look, Ñor Juan, how with merely my own strength I can raise and lower the great stone. It’s so well arranged that at will I can regulate the rise or fall inch by inch, so that a man in the trench can easily fit the stones together while I manage it from here."

Ñor Juan could not but gaze in admiration at the speaker, who was smiling in his peculiar way. Curious bystanders made remarks praising the yellowish individual.

"Who taught you mechanics?" asked Ñor Juan.

"My father, my dead father," was the answer, accompanied by his peculiar smile.

"Who taught your father?"

"Don Saturnino, the grandfather of Don Crisostomo."

"I didn’t know that Don Saturnino—"

"Oh, he knew a lot of things! He not only beat his laborers well and exposed them out in the sun, but he also knew how to wake the sleepers and put the waking to sleep. You’ll see in time what my father taught me, you’ll see!"

Here the yellowish individual smiled again, but in a strange way.

On a tame covered with a piece of Persian tapestry rested a leaden cylinder containing the objects that were to be kept in the tomb-like receptacle and a glass case with thick sides, which would hold that mummy of an epoch and preserve for the future the records of a past.

Tasio, the Sage, who was walking about there thoughtfully, murmured: "Perchance some day when this edifice, which is today begun, has grown old and after many vicissitudes has fallen into ruins, either from the visitations of Nature or the destructive hand of man, and above [249]the ruins grow the ivy and the moss,—then when Time has destroyed the moss and ivy, and scattered the ashes of the ruins themselves to the winds, wiping from the pages of History the recollection of it and of those who destroyed it, long since lost from the memory of man: perchance when the races have been buried in their mantle of earth or have disappeared, only by accident the pick of some miner striking a spark from this rock will dig up mysteries and enigmas from the depths of the soil. Perchance the learned men of the nation that dwells in these regions will labor, as do the present Egyptologists, with the remains of a great civilization which occupied itself with eternity, little dreaming that upon it was descending so long a night. Perchance some learned professor will say to his students of five or six years of age, in a language spoken by all mankind, ‘Gentlemen, after studying and examining carefully the objects found in the depths of our soil, after deciphering some symbols and translating a few words, we can without the shadow of a doubt conclude that these objects belonged to the barbaric age of man, to that obscure era which we are accustomed to speak of as fabulous. In short, gentlemen, in order that you may form an approximate idea of the backwardness of our ancestors, it will be sufficient that I point out to you the fact that those who lived here not only recognized kings, but also for the purpose of settling questions of local government they had to go to the other side of the earth, just as if we should say that a body in order to move itself would need to consult a head existing in another part of the globe, perhaps in regions now sunk under the waves. This incredible defect, however improbable it may seem to us now, must have existed, if we take into consideration the circumstances surrounding those beings, whom I scarcely dare to call human! In those primitive times men were still (or at least so they believed) in direct communication with their Creator, since they had ministers from Him, beings different from the rest, designated always with the mysterious [250]letters "M. R. P.",1 concerning the meaning of which our learned men do not agree. According to the professor of languages whom we have here, rather mediocre, since he does not speak more than a hundred of the imperfect languages of the past, "M. R. P." may signify "Muy Rico Propietario."2 These ministers were a species of demigods, very virtuous and enlightened, and were very eloquent orators, who, in spite of their great power and prestige, never committed the slightest fault, which fact strengthens my belief in supposing that they were of a nature distinct from the rest. If this were not sufficient to sustain my belief, there yet remains the argument, disputed by no one and day by day confirmed, that these mysterious beings could make God descend to earth merely by saying a few words, that God could speak only through their mouths, that they ate His flesh and drank His blood, and even at times allowed the common folk to do the same.’" These and other opinions the skeptical Sage put into the mouths of all the corrupt men of the future. Perhaps, as may easily be the case, old Tasio was mistaken, but we must return to our story.

In the kiosks which we saw two days ago occupied by the schoolmaster and his pupils, there was now spread out a toothsome and abundant meal. Noteworthy is the fact that on the table prepared for the school children there was not a single bottle of wine but an abundance of fruits. In the arbors joining the two kiosks were the seats for the musicians and a table covered with sweetmeats and confections, with bottles of water for the thirsty public, all decorated with leaves and flowers. The schoolmaster had erected near by a greased pole and hurdles, and had hung up pots and pans for a number of games.

[251]The crowd, resplendent in bright-colored garments, gathered as people fled from the burning sun, some into the shade of the trees, others under the arbor. The boys climbed up into the branches or on the stones in order to see the ceremony better, making up in this way for their short stature. They looked with envy at the clean and well-dressed school children, who occupied a place especially assigned to them and whose parents were overjoyed, as they, poor country folk, would see their children eat from a white tablecloth, almost the same as the curate or the alcalde. Thinking of this alone was enough to drive away hunger, and such an event would be recounted from father to son. Soon were heard the distant strains of the band, which was preceded by a motley throng made up of persons of all ages, in clothing of all colors. The yellowish individual became uneasy and with a glance examined his whole apparatus. A curious countryman followed his glance and watched all his movements; this was Elias, who had also come to witness the ceremony, but in his salakot and rough attire he was almost unrecognizable. He had secured a very good position almost at the side of the windlass, on the edge of the excavation. With the music came the alcalde, the municipal officials, the friars, with the exception of Padre Damaso, and the Spanish employees. Ibarra was conversing with the alcalde, of whom he had made quite a friend since he had addressed to him some well-turned compliments over his decorations and ribbons, for aristocratic pretensions were the weakness of his Honor. Capitan Tiago, the alferez, and some other wealthy personages came in the gilded cluster of maidens displaying their silken parasols. Padre Salvi followed, silent and thoughtful as ever.

"Count upon my support always in any worthy enterprise," the alcalde was saying to Ibarra. "I will give you whatever appropriation you need or else see that it is furnished by others."

[252]As they drew nearer the youth felt his heart beat faster. Instinctively he glanced at the strange scaffolding raised there. He saw the yellowish individual salute him respectfully and gaze at him fixedly for a moment. With surprise he noticed Elias, who with a significant wink gave him to understand that he should remember the warning in the church. The curate put on his sacerdotal robes and commenced the ceremony, while the one-eyed sacristan held the book and an acolyte the hyssop and jar of holy water. The rest stood about him uncovered, and maintained such a profound silence that, in spite of his reading in a low tone, it was apparent that Padre Salvi’s voice was trembling.

Meanwhile, there had been placed in the glass case the manuscripts, newspapers, medals, coins, and the like, and the whole enclosed in the leaden cylinder, which was then hermetically sealed.

"Señor Ibarra, will you put the box in its place? The curate is waiting," murmured the alcalde into the young man’s ear.

"I would with great pleasure," answered the latter, "but that would be usurping the honorable duty of the escribano. The escribano must make affidavit of the act."

So the escribano gravely took the box, descended the carpeted stairway leading to the bottom of the excavation and with due solemnity placed it in the hole in the stone. The curate then took the hyssop and sprinkled the stones with holy water.

Now the moment had arrived for each one to place his trowelful of mortar on the face of the large stone lying in the trench, in order that the other might be fitted and fastened to it. Ibarra handed the alcalde a mason’s trowel, on the wide silver Made of which was engraved the date. But the alcalde first gave a harangue in Spanish:

"People of San Diego! We have the honor to preside over a ceremony whose importance you will not understand unless We tell you of it. A school is being founded, and [253]the school is the basis of society, the school is the book in which is written the future of the nations! Show us the schools of a people and We will show you what that people is. "People of San Diego! Thank God, who has given you holy priests, and the government of the mother country, which untiringly spreads civilization through these fertile isles, protected beneath her glorious mantle! Thank God, who has taken pity on you and sent you these humble priests who enlighten you and teach you the divine word! Thank the government, which has made, is making, and will continue to make, so many sacrifices for you and your children!

"And now that the first stone of this important edifice is consecrated, We, alcalde-mayor of this province, in the name of his Majesty the King, whom God preserve, King of the Spains, in the name of the illustrious Spanish government and under the protection of its spotless and ever-victorious banner, We consecrate this act and begin the construction of this schoolhouse! People of San Diego, long live the King! Long live Spain! Long live the friars! Long live the Catholic Religion!"

Many voices were raised in answer, adding, "Long live the Señor Alcalde!"

He then majestically descended to the strains of the band, which began to play, deposited several trowelfuls of mortar on the stone, and with equal majesty reascended. The employees applauded.

Ibarra offered another trowel to the curate, who, after fixing his eyes on him for a moment, descended slowly. Half-way down the steps he raised his eyes to look at the stone, which hung fastened by the stout cables, but this was only for a second, and he then went on down. He did the same as the alcalde, but this time more applause was heard, for to the employees were added some friars and Capitan Tiago.

Padre Salvi then seemed to seek for some one to whom [254]he might give the trowel. He looked doubtfully at Maria Clara, but changing his mind, offered it to the escribano. The latter in gallantry offered it to Maria Clara, who smilingly refused it. The friars, the employees, and the alferez went down one after another, nor was Capitan Tiago forgotten. Ibarra only was left, and the order was about to be given for the yellowish individual to lower the stone when the curate remembered the youth and said to him in a joking tone, with affected familiarity: "Aren’t you going to put on your trowelful, Señor Ibarra?"

"I should be a Juan Palomo, to prepare the meal and eat it myself," answered the latter in the same tone.

"Go on!" said the alcalde, shoving him forward gently. "Otherwise, I’ll order that the stone be not lowered at all and we’ll be here until doomsday."

Before such a terrible threat Ibarra had to obey. He exchanged the small silver trowel for a large iron one, an act which caused some of the spectators to smile, and went forward tranquilly. Elias gazed at him with such an indefinable expression that on seeing it one might have said that his whole life was concentrated in his eyes. The yellowish individual stared into the trench, which opened at his feet. After directing a rapid glance at the heavy stone hanging over his head and another at Elias and the yellowish individual, Ibarra said to Ñor Juan in a somewhat unsteady voice, "Give me the mortar and get me another trowel up there."

The youth remained alone. Elias no longer looked at him, for his eyes were fastened on the hand of the yellowish individual, who, leaning over the trench, was anxiously following the movements of Ibarra. There was heard the noise of the trowel scraping on the stone in the midst of a feeble murmur among the employees, who were congratulating the alcalde on his speech.

Suddenly a crash was heard. The pulley tied at the base [255]of the derrick jumped up and after it the windlass, which struck the heavy posts like a battering-ram. The timbers shook, the fastenings flew apart, and the whole apparatus fell in a second with a frightful crash. A cloud of dust arose, while a cry of horror from a thousand voices filled the air. Nearly all fled; only a few dashed toward the trench. Maria Clara and Padre Salvi remained in their places, pale, motionless, and speechless. When the dust had cleared away a little, they saw Ibarra standing among beams, posts, and cables, between the windlass and the heavy stone, which in its rapid descent had shaken and crushed everything. The youth still held the trowel in his hand and was staring with frightened eyes at the body of a man which lay at his feet half-buried among the timbers.

"You’re not killed! You’re still alive! For God’s sake, speak!" cried several employees, full of terror and solicitude.

"A miracle! A miracle!" shouted some.

"Come and extricate the body of this poor devil!" exclaimed Ibarra like one arousing himself from sleep.

On hearing his voice Maria Clara felt her strength leave her and fell half-fainting into the arms of her friends.

Great confusion prevailed. All were talking, gesticulating, running about, descending into the trench, coming up again, all amazed and terrified.

"Who is the dead man? Is he still alive?" asked the alferez.

The corpse was identified as that of the yellowish individual who had been operating the windlass.

"Arrest the foreman on the work!" was the first thing that the alcalde was able to say.

They examined the corpse, placing their hands on the chest, but the heart had ceased to beat. The blow had struck him on the head, and blood was flowing from his nose, mouth, and ears. On his neck were to be noticed some peculiar marks, four deep depressions toward the [256]back and one more somewhat larger on the other side, which induced the belief that a hand of steel had caught him as in a pair of pincers. The priests felicitated the youth warmly and shook his hand. The Franciscan of humble aspect who had served as holy ghost for Padre Damaso exclaimed with tearful eyes, "God is just, God is good!"

"When I think that a few moments before I was down there!" said one of the employees to Ibarra. "What if I had happened to be the last!"

"It makes my hair stand on end!" remarked another partly bald individual.

"I’m glad that it happened to you and not to me," murmured an old man tremblingly.

"Don Pascual!" exclaimed some of the Spaniards.

"I say that because the young man is not dead. If I had not been crushed, I should have died afterwards merely from thinking about it."

But Ibarra was already at a distance informing himself as to Maria Clara’s condition.

"Don’t let this stop the fiesta, Señor Ibarra," said the alcalde. "Praise God, the dead man is neither a priest nor a Spaniard! We must rejoice over your escape! Think if the stone had caught you!"

"There are presentiments, there are presentiments!" exclaimed the escribano. "I’ve said so before! Señor Ibarra didn’t go down willingly. I saw it!"

"The dead man is only an Indian!"

"Let the fiesta go on! Music! Sadness will never resuscitate the dead!"

"An investigation shall be made right here!"

"Send for the directorcillo!"

"Arrest the foreman on the work! To the stocks with him!"

"To the stocks! Music! To the stocks with the foreman!"

"Señor Alcalde," said Ibarra gravely, "if mourning [257]will not resuscitate the dead, much less will arresting this man about whose guilt we know nothing. I will be security for his person and so I ask his liberty for these days at least." "Very well! But don’t let him do it again!"

All kinds of rumors began to circulate. The idea of a miracle was soon an accepted fact, although Fray Salvi seemed to rejoice but little over a miracle attributed to a saint of his Order and in his parish. There were not lacking those who added that they had seen descending into the trench, when everything was tumbling down, a figure in a dark robe like that of the Franciscans. There was no doubt about it; it was San Diego himself! It was also noted that Ibarra had attended mass and that the yellowish individual had not—it was all as clear as the sun!

"You see! You didn’t want to go to mass!" said a mother to her son. "If I hadn’t whipped you to make you go you would now be on your way to the town hall, like him, in a cart!"

The yellowish individual, or rather his corpse, wrapped up in a mat, was in fact being carried to the town hall. Ibarra hurried home to change his clothes.

"A bad beginning, huh!" commented old Tasio, as he moved away. [258]

 

1 Muy Reverendo Padre: Very Reverend Father. 2 Very rich landlord. The United States Philippine Commission, constituting the government of the Archipelago, paid to the religious orders "a lump sum of $7,239,000, more or less," for the bulk of the lands claimed by them. See the Annual Report of the Philippine Commission to the Secretary of War, December 23, 1903.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXIII-Free Thought}

Chapter XXXIII

Free Thought

Ibarra was just putting the finishing touches to a change of clothing when a servant informed him that a countryman was asking for him. Supposing it to be one of his laborers, he ordered that he be brought into his office, or study, which was at the same time a library and a chemical laboratory. Greatly to his surprise he found himself face to face with the severe and mysterious figure of Elias.

"You saved my life," said the pilot in Tagalog, noticing Ibarra’s start of surprise. "I have partly paid the debt and you have nothing to thank me for, but quite the opposite. I’ve come to ask a favor of you."

"Speak!" answered the youth in the same language, puzzled by the pilot’s gravity.

Elias stared into Ibarra’s eyes for some seconds before he replied, "When human courts try to clear up this mystery, I beg of you not to speak to any one of the warning that I gave you in the church."

"Don’t worry," answered the youth in a rather disgusted tone. "I know that you’re wanted, but I’m no informer."

"Oh, it’s not on my account, not on my account!" exclaimed Elias with some vigor and haughtiness. "It’s on your own account. I fear nothing from men."

Ibarra’s surprise increased. The tone in which this rustics—formerly a pilot—spoke was new and did not seem to harmonize with either his condition or his fortune. "What do you mean?" he asked, interrogating that mysterious individual with his looks.

[259]"I do not talk in enigmas but try to express myself clearly; for your greater security, it is better that your enemies think you unsuspecting and unprepared." Ibarra recoiled. "My enemies? Have I enemies?"

"All of us have them, sir, from the smallest insect up to man, from the poorest and humblest to the richest and most powerful! Enmity is the law of life!"

Ibarra gazed at him in silence for a while, then murmured, "You are neither a pilot nor a rustic!"

"You have enemies in high and low places," continued Elias, without heeding the young man’s words. "You are planning a great undertaking, you have a past. Your father and your grandfather had enemies because they had passions, and in life it is not the criminal who provokes the most hate but the honest man."

"Do you know who my enemies are?"

Elias meditated for a moment. "I knew one—him who is dead," he finally answered. "Last night I learned that a plot against you was being hatched, from some words exchanged with an unknown person who lost himself in the crowd. ‘The fish will not eat him, as they did his father; you’ll see tomorrow,’ the unknown said. These words caught my attention not only by their meaning but also on account of the person who uttered them, for he had some days before presented himself to the foreman on the work with the express request that he be allowed to superintend the placing of the stone. He didn’t ask for much pay but made a show of great knowledge. I hadn’t sufficient reason for believing in his bad intentions, but something within told me that my conjectures were true and therefore I chose as the suitable occasion to warn you a moment when you could not ask me any questions. The rest you have seen for yourself."

For a long time after Elias had become silent Ibarra remained thoughtful, not answering him or saying a word. "I’m sorry that that man is dead!" he exclaimed at [260]length. "From him something more might have been learned." "If he had lived, he would have escaped from the trembling hand of blind human justice. God has judged him, God has killed him, let God be the only Judge!"

Crisostomo gazed for a moment at the man, who, while he spoke thus, exposed his muscular arms covered with lumps and bruises. "Do you also believe in the miracle?" he asked with a smile. "You know what a miracle the people are talking about."

"Were I to believe in miracles, I should not believe in God. I should believe in a deified man, I should believe that man had really created a god in his own image and likeness," the mysterious pilot answered solemnly. "But I believe in Him, I have felt His hand more than once. When the whole apparatus was falling down and threatening destruction to all who happened to be near it, I, I myself, caught the criminal, I placed myself at his side. He was struck and I am safe and sound."

"You! So it was you—"

"Yes! I caught him when he tried to escape, once his deadly work had begun. I saw his crime, and I say this to you: let God be the sole judge among men, let Him be the only one to have the right over life, let no man ever think to take His place!"

"But you in this instance—"

"No!" interrupted Elias, guessing the objection. "It’s not the same. When a man condemns others to death or destroys their future forever he does it with impunity and uses the strength of others to execute his judgments, which after all may be mistaken or erroneous. But I, in exposing the criminal to the same peril that he had prepared for others, incurred the same risk as he did. I did not kill him, but let the hand of God smite him."

"Then you don’t believe in accidents?"

"Believing in accidents is like believing in miracles; both presuppose that God does not know the future. What [261]is an accident? An event that no one has at all foreseen. What is a miracle? A contradiction, an overturning of natural laws. Lack of foresight and contradiction in the Intelligence that rules the machinery of the world indicate two great defects." "Who are you?" Ibarra again asked with some awe.

"Have you ever studied?"

"I have had to believe greatly in God, because I have lost faith in men," answered the pilot, avoiding the question.

Ibarra thought he understood this hunted youth; he rejected human justice, he refused to recognize the right of man to judge his fellows, he protested against force and the superiority of some classes over others.

"But nevertheless you must admit the necessity of human justice, however imperfect it may be," he answered. "God, in spite of the many ministers He may have on earth, cannot, or rather does not, pronounce His judgments clearly to settle the million conflicts that our passions excite. It is proper, it is necessary, it is just, that man sometimes judge his fellows."

"Yes, to do good, but not to do ill, to correct and to better, but not to destroy, for if his judgments are wrong he hasn’t the power to remedy the evil he has done. But," he added with a change of tone, "this discussion is beyond my powers and I’m detaining you, who are being waited for. Don’t forget what I’ve just told you—you have enemies. Take care of yourself for the good of our country." Saying this, he turned to go.

"When shall I see you again?" asked Ibarra.

"Whenever you wish and always when I can be of service to you. I am still your debtor." [262]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXIV-The Dinner}

Chapter XXXIV

The Dinner

There in the decorated kiosk the great men of the province were dining. The alcalde occupied one end of the table and Ibarra the other. At the young man’s right sat Maria Clara and at his left the escribano. Capitan Tiago, the alferez, the gobernadorcillo, the friars, the employees, and the few young ladies who had remained sat, not according to rank, but according to their inclinations. The meal was quite animated and happy.

When the dinner was half over, a messenger came in search of Capitan Tiago with a telegram, to open which he naturally requested the permission of the others, who very naturally begged him to do so. The worthy capitan at first knitted his eyebrows, then raised them; his face became pale, then lighted up as he hastily folded the paper and arose.

"Gentlemen," he announced in confusion, "his Excellency the Captain-General is coming this evening to honor my house." Thereupon he set off at a run, hatless, taking with him the message and his napkin.

He was followed by exclamations and questions, for a cry of "Tulisanes!" would not have produced greater effect. "But, listen!" "When is he coming?" "Tell us about it!" "His Excellency!" But Capitan Tiago was already far away.

"His Excellency is coming and will stay at Capitan Tiago’s!" exclaimed some without taking into consideration the fact that his daughter and future son-in-law were present.

"The choice couldn’t be better," answered the latter.

[263]The friars gazed at one another with looks that seemed to say: "The Captain-General is playing another one of his tricks, he is slighting us, for he ought to stay at the convento," but since this was the thought of all they remained silent, none of them giving expression to it. "I was told of this yesterday," said the alcalde, "but at that time his Excellency had not yet fully decided."

"Do you know, Señor Alcalde, how long the Captain-General thinks of staying here?" asked the alferez uneasily.

"With certainty, no. His Excellency likes to give surprises."

"Here come some more messages." These were for the alcalde, the alferez, and the gobernadorcillo, and contained the same announcement. The friars noted well that none came directed to the curate.

"His Excellency will arrive at four this afternoon, gentlemen!" announced the alcalde solemnly. "So we can finish our meal in peace." Leonidas at Thermopylae could not have said more cheerfully, "Tonight we shall sup with Pluto!"

The conversation again resumed its ordinary course.

"I note the absence of our great preacher," timidly remarked an employee of inoffensive aspect who had not opened his mouth up to the time of eating, and who spoke now for the first time in the whole morning.

All who knew the history of Crisostomo’s father made a movement and winked, as if to say, "Get out! Fools rush in—" But some one more charitably disposed answered, "He must be rather tired."

"Rather?" exclaimed the alferez. "He must be exhausted, and as they say here, all fagged out. What a sermon it was!"

"A splendid sermon—wonderful!" said the escribano.

"Magnificent—profound!" added the correspondent.

"To be able to talk so much, it’s necessary to have the lungs that he has," observed Padre Manuel Martin. The [264]Augustinian did not concede him anything more than lungs. "And his fertility of expression!" added Padre Salvi.

"Do you know that Señor Ibarra has the best cook in the province?" remarked the alcalde, to cut short such talk.

"You may well say that, but his beautiful neighbor doesn’t wish to honor the table, for she is scarcely eating a bite," observed one of the employees.

Maria Clara blushed. "I thank the gentleman, he troubles himself too much on my account," she stammered timidly, "but—"

"But you honor it enough merely by being present," concluded the gallant alcalde as he turned to Padre Salvi.

"Padre," he said in a loud voice, "I’ve observed that during the whole day your Reverence has been silent and thoughtful."

"The alcalde is a great observer," remarked Fray Sibyla in a meaning tone.

"It’s a habit of mine," stammered the Franciscan. "It pleases me more to listen than to talk."

"Your Reverence always takes care to win and not to lose," said the alferez in a jesting tone.

Padre Salvi, however, did not take this as a joke, for his gaze brightened a moment as he replied, "The alferez knows very well these days that I’m not the one who is winning or losing most."

The alferez turned the hit aside with a forced laugh, pretending not to take it to himself.

"But, gentlemen, I don’t understand how it is possible to talk of winnings and losses," interposed the alcalde. "What will these amiable and discreet young ladies who honor us with their company think of us? For me the young women are like the Æolian harps in the middle of the night—it is necessary to listen with close attention in order that their ineffable harmonies may elevate the soul to the celestial spheres of the infinite and the ideal!"

[265]"Your Honor is becoming poetical!" exclaimed the escribano gleefully, and both emptied their wine-glasses. "I can’t help it," said the alcalde as he wiped his lips. "Opportunity, while it doesn’t always make the thief, makes the poet. In my youth I composed verses which were really not bad."

"So your Excellency has been unfaithful to the Muses to follow Themis," emphatically declared our mythical or mythological correspondent.

"Pshaw, what would you have? To run through the entire social scale was always my dream. Yesterday I was gathering flowers and singing songs, today I wield the rod of justice and serve Humanity, tomorrow—"

"Tomorrow your Honor will throw the rod into the fire to warm yourself by it in the winter of life, and take an appointment in the cabinet," added Padre Sibyla.

"Pshaw! Yes—no—to be a cabinet official isn’t exactly my beau-ideal: any upstart may become one. A villa in the North in which to spend the summer, a mansion in Madrid, and some property in Andalusia for the winter—there we shall live remembering our beloved Philippines. Of me Voltaire would not say, ‘We have lived among these people only to enrich ourselves and to calumniate them.’"

The alcalde quoted this in French, so the employees, thinking that his Honor had cracked a joke, began to laugh in appreciation of it. Some of the friars did likewise, since they did not know that the Voltaire mentioned was the same Voltaire whom they had so often cursed and consigned to hell. But Padre Sibyla was aware of it and became serious from the belief that the alcalde had said something heretical or impious.

In the other kiosk the children were eating under the direction of their teacher. For Filipino children they were rather noisy, since at the table and in the presence of other persons their sins are generally more of omission than of commission. Perhaps one who was using the tableware improperly [266]would be corrected by his neighbor and from this there would arise a noisy discussion in which each would have his partisans. Some would say the spoon, others the knife or the fork, and as no one was considered an authority there would arise the contention that God is Christ or, more clearly, a dispute of theologians. Their fathers and mothers winked, made signs, nudged one another, and showed their happiness by their smiles. "Ya!" exclaimed a countrywoman to an old man who was mashing buyo in his kalikut, "in spite of the fact that my husband is opposed to it, my Andoy shall be a priest. It’s true that we’re poor, but we’ll work, and if necessary we’ll beg alms. There are not lacking those who will give money so that the poor may take holy orders. Does not Brother Mateo, a man who does not lie, say that Pope Sextus was a herder of carabaos in Batangas? Well then, look at my Andoy, see if he hasn’t already the face of a St. Vincent!" The good mother watered at the mouth to see her son take hold of a fork with both hands.

"God help us!" added the old man, rolling his quid of buyo. "If Andoy gets to be Pope we’ll go to Rome he, he! I can still walk well, and if I die—he, he!"

"Don’t worry, granddad! Andoy won’t forget that you taught him how to weave baskets."

"You’re right, Petra. I also believe that your son will be great, at least a patriarch. I have never seen any one who learned the business in a shorter time. Yes, he’ll remember me when as Pope or bishop he entertains himself in making baskets for his cook. He’ll then say masses for my soul—he, he!" With this hope the good old man again filled his kalikut with buyo.

"If God hears my prayers and my hopes are fulfilled, I’ll say to Andoy, ‘Son, take away all our sins and send us to Heaven!’ Then we shan’t need to pray and fast and buy indulgences. One whose son is a blessed Pope can commit sins!"

"Send him to my house tomorrow, Petra," cried the old [267]man enthusiastically, "and I’ll teach him to weave the nito!" "Huh! Get out! What are you dreaming about, grand-dad? Do you still think that the Popes even move their hands? The curate, being nothing more than a curate, only works in the mass—when he turns around! The Archbishop doesn’t even turn around, for he says mass sitting down. So the Pope—the Pope says it in bed with a fan! What are you thinking about?"

"Of nothing more, Petra, than that he know how to weave the nito. It would be well for him to be able to sell hats and cigar-cases so that he wouldn’t have to beg alms, as the curate does here every year in the name of the Pope. It always fills me with compassion to see a saint poor, so I give all my savings."

Another countryman here joined in the conversation, saying, "It’s all settled, cumare,1 my son has got to be a doctor, there’s nothing like being a doctor!" "Doctor! What are you talking about, cumpare?" retorted Petra. "There’s nothing like being a curate!"

"A curate, pish! A curate? The doctor makes lots of money, the sick people worship him, cumare!"

"Excuse me! The curate, by making three or four turns and saying deminos pabiscum,2 eats God and makes money. All, even the women, tell him their secrets." "And the doctor? What do you think a doctor is? The doctor sees all that the women have, he feels the pulses of the dalagas! I’d just like to be a doctor for a week!"

"And the curate, perhaps the curate doesn’t see what your doctor sees? Better still, you know the saying, ‘the fattest chicken and the roundest leg for the curate!’"

[268]"What of that? Do the doctors eat dried fish? Do they soil their fingers eating salt?" "Does the curate dirty his hands as your doctors do? He has great estates and when he works he works with music and has sacristans to help him."

"But the confessing, cumare? Isn’t that work?"

"No work about that! I’d just like to be confessing everybody! While we work and sweat to find out what our own neighbors are doing, the curate does nothing more than take a seat and they tell him everything. Sometimes he falls asleep, but he lets out two or three blessings and we are again the children of God! I’d just like to be a curate for one evening in Lent!"

"But the preaching? You can’t tell me that it’s not work. Just look how the fat curate was sweating this morning," objected the rustic, who felt himself being beaten into retreat.

"Preaching! Work to preach! Where’s your judgment? I’d just like to be talking half a day from the pulpit, scolding and quarreling with everybody, without any one daring to reply, and be getting paid for it besides. I’d just like to be the curate for one morning when those who are in debt to me are attending mass! Look there now, how Padre Damaso gets fat with so much scolding and beating."

Padre Damaso was, indeed, approaching with the gait of a heavy man. He was half smiling, but in such a malignant way that Ibarra, upon seeing him, lost the thread of his talk. The padre was greeted with some surprise but with signs of pleasure on the part of all except Ibarra. They were then at the dessert and the champagne was foaming in the glasses.

Padre Damaso’s smile became nervous when he saw Maria Clara seated at Crisostomo’s right. He took a seat beside the alcalde and said in the midst of a significant silence, "Were you discussing something, gentlemen? Go ahead!"

[269]"We were at the toasts," answered the alcalde. "Señor Ibarra was mentioning all who have helped him in his philanthropic enterprise and was speaking of the architect when your Reverence—" "Well, I don’t know anything about architecture," interrupted Padre Damaso, "but I laugh at architects and the fools who employ them. Here you have it—I drew the plan of this church and it’s perfectly constructed, so an English jeweler who stopped in the convento one day assured me. To draw a plan one needs only to have two fingers’ breadth of forehead."

"Nevertheless," answered the alcalde, seeing that Ibarra was silent, "when we consider certain buildings, as, for example, this schoolhouse, we need an expert."

"Get out with your experts!" exclaimed the priest with a sneer. "Only a fool needs experts! One must be more of a brute than the Indians, who build their own houses, not to know how to construct four walls and put a roof on top of them. That’s all a schoolhouse is!"

The guests gazed at Ibarra, who had turned pale, but he continued as if in conversation with Maria Clara.

"But your Reverence should consider—"

"See now," went on the Franciscan, not allowing the alcalde to continue, "look how one of our lay brothers, the most stupid that we have, has constructed a hospital, good, pretty, and cheap. He made them work hard and paid only eight cuartos a day even to those who had to come from other towns. He knew how to handle them, not like a lot of cranks and little mestizos who are spoiling them by paying three or four reals."

"Does your Reverence say that he paid only eight cuartos? Impossible!" The alcalde was trying to change the course of the conversation.

"Yes, sir, and those who pride themselves on being good Spaniards ought to imitate him. You see now, since the Suez Canal was opened, the corruption that has come in here. Formerly, when we had to double the Cape, neither [270]so many vagabonds came here nor so many others went from here to become vagabonds." "But, Padre Damaso—"

"You know well enough what the Indian is—just as soon as he gets a little learning he sets himself up as a doctor! All these little fellows that go to Europe—"

"But, listen, your Reverence!" interrupted the alcalde, who was becoming nervous over the aggressiveness of such talk.

"Every one ends up as he deserves," the friar continued. "The hand of God is manifest in the midst of it all, and one must be blind not to see it. Even in this life the fathers of such vipers receive their punishment, they die in jail ha, ha! As we might say, they have nowhere—"

But he did not finish the sentence. Ibarra, livid, had been following him with his gaze and upon hearing this allusion to his father jumped up and dropped a heavy hand on the priest’s head, so that he fell back stunned. The company was so filled with surprise and fright that no one made any movement to interfere.

"Keep off!" cried the youth in a terrible voice, as he caught up a sharp knife and placed his foot on the neck of the friar, who was recovering from the shock of his fall. "Let him who values his life keep away!"

The youth was beside himself. His whole body trembled and his eyes rolled threateningly in their sockets. Fray Damaso arose with an effort, but the youth caught him by the neck and shook him until he again fell doubled over on his knees.

"Señor Ibarra! Señor Ibarra!" stammered some. But no one, not even the alferez himself, dared to approach the gleaming knife, when they considered the youth’s strength and the condition of his mind. All seemed to be paralyzed.

"You, here! You have been silent, now it is my turn! I have tried to avoid this, but God brings me to it—let God be the judge!" The youth was breathing laboriously, [271]but with a hand of iron he held down the Franciscan, who was struggling vainly to free himself. "My heart beats tranquilly, my hand is sure," he began, looking around him. "First, is there one among you, one who has not loved his father, who was born in such shame and humiliation that he hates his memory? You see? You understand this silence? Priest of a God of peace, with your mouth full of sanctity and religion and your heart full of evil, you cannot know what a father is, or you might have thought of your own! In all this crowd which you despise there is not one like you! You are condemned!"

The persons surrounding him, thinking that he was about to commit murder, made a movement.

"Away!" he cried again in a threatening voice. "What, do you fear that I shall stain my hands with impure blood? Have I not told you that my heart beats tranquilly? Away from us! Listen, priests and judges, you who think yourselves other men and attribute to yourselves other rights: my father was an honorable man,—ask these people here, who venerate his memory. My father was a good citizen and he sacrificed himself for me and for the good of his country. His house was open and his table was set for the stranger and the outcast who came to him in distress! He was a Christian who always did good and who never oppressed the unprotected or afflicted those in trouble. To this man here he opened his doors, he made him sit at his table and called him his friend. And how has this man repaid him? He calumniated him, persecuted him, raised up against him all the ignorant by availing himself of the sanctity of his position; he outraged his tomb, dishonored his memory, and persecuted him even in the sleep of death! Not satisfied with this, he persecutes the son now! I have fled from him, I have avoided his presence. You this morning heard him profane the pulpit, pointing me out to popular fanaticism, and I held my peace! Now he comes here to seek a quarrel with me. To your surprise, I have [272]suffered in silence, but he again insults the most sacred memory that there is for a son. You who are here, priests and judges, have you seen your aged father wear himself out working for you, separating himself from you for your welfare, have you seen him die of sorrow in a prison sighing for your embrace, seeking some one to comfort him, alone, sick, when you were in a foreign land? Have you afterwards heard his name dishonored, have you found his tomb empty when you went to pray beside it? No? You are silent, you condemn him!" He raised his hand, but with the swiftness of light a girlish form put itself between them and delicate fingers restrained the avenging arm. It was Maria Clara. Ibarra stared at her with a look that seemed to reflect madness. Slowly his clenched fingers relaxed, letting fall the body of the Franciscan and the knife. Covering his face, he fled through the crowd. [273]

 

 

1 Cumare and cumpare are corruptions of the Spanish comadre and compadre, which have an origin analogous to the English "gossip" in its original meaning of "sponsor in baptism." In the Philippines these words are used among the simpler folk as familiar forms of address, "friend," "neighbor."—TR.
2 Dominus vobiscum.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXV-Comments}

Chapter XXXV

Comments

News of the incident soon spread throughout the town. At first all were incredulous, but, having to yield to the fact, they broke out into exclamations of surprise. Each one, according to his moral lights, made his comments.

"Padre Damaso is dead," said some. "When they picked him up his face was covered with blood and he wasn’t breathing."

"May he rest in peace! But he hasn’t any more than settled his debts!" exclaimed a young man. "Look what he did this morning in the convento—there isn’t any name for it."

"What did he do? Did he beat up the coadjutor again?"

"What did he do? Tell us about it!"

"You saw that Spanish mestizo go out through the sacristy in the midst of the sermon?"

"Yes, we saw him. Padre Damaso took note of him."

"Well, after the sermon he sent for the young man and asked him why he had gone out. ‘I don’t understand Tagalog, Padre,’ was the reply. ‘And why did you joke about it, saying that it was Greek?’ yelled Padre Damaso, slapping the young man in the face. The latter retorted and the two came to blows until they were separated."

"If that had happened to me—" hissed a student between his teeth.

"I don’t approve of the action of the Franciscan," said another, "since Religion ought not to be imposed on any one as a punishment or a penance. But I am almost glad of it, for I know that young man, I know that he’s from [274]San Pedro Makati and that he talks Tagalog well. Now he wants to be taken for a recent arrival from Russia and prides himself on appearing not to know the language of his fathers." "Then God makes them and they rush together!"1 "Still we must protest against such actions," exclaimed another student. "To remain silent would be to assent to the abuse, and what has happened may be repeated with any one of us. We’re going back to the times of Nero!"

"You’re wrong," replied another. "Nero was a great artist, while Padre Damaso is only a tiresome preacher."

The comments of the older persons were of a different kind. While they were waiting for the arrival of the Captain-General in a hut outside the town, the gobernadorcillo was saying, "To tell who was right and who was wrong, is not an easy matter. Yet if Señor Ibarra had used more prudence—"

"If Padre Damaso had used half the prudence of Señor Ibarra, you mean to say, perhaps!" interrupted Don Filipo. "The bad thing about it is that they exchanged parts—the youth conducted himself like an old man and the old man like a youth."

"Did you say that no one moved, no one went near to separate them, except Capitan Tiago’s daughter?" asked Capitan Martin. "None of the friars, nor the alcalde? Ahem! Worse and worse! I shouldn’t like to be in that young man’s skin. No one will forgive him for having been afraid of him. Worse and worse, ahem!"

"Do you think so?" asked Capitan Basilio curiously.

"I hope," said Don Filipo, exchanging a look with the latter, "that the people won’t desert him. We must keep in mind what his family has done and what he is trying to do now. And if, as may happen, the people, being intimidated, are silent, his friends—"

"But, gentlemen," interrupted the gobernadorcillo, [275]"what can we do? What can the people do? Happen what will, the friars are always right!" "They are always right because we always allow them to be," answered Don Filipo impatiently, putting double stress on the italicized word. "Let us be right once and then we’ll talk."

The gobernadorcillo scratched his head and stared at the roof while he replied in a sour tone, "Ay! the heat of the blood! You don’t seem to realize yet what country we’re in, you don’t know your countrymen. The friars are rich and united, while we are divided and poor. Yes, try to defend yourself and you’ll see how the people will leave you in the lurch."

"Yes!" exclaimed Don Filipo bitterly. "That will happen as long as you think that way, as long as fear and prudence are synonyms. More attention is paid to a possible evil than to a necessary good. At once fear, and not confidence, presents itself; each one thinks only of himself, no one thinks of the rest, and therefore we are all weak!"

"Well then, think of others before yourself and you’ll see how they’ll leave you in the lurch. Don’t you know the proverb, ‘Charity begins at home’?"

"You had better say," replied the exasperated teniente-mayor, "that cowardice begins in selfishness and ends in shame! This very day I’m going to hand in my resignation to the alcalde. I’m tired of passing for a joke without being useful to anybody. Good-by!"

The women had opinions of still another kind.

"Ay!" sighed one woman of kindly expression. "The young men are always so! If his good mother were alive, what would she say? When I think that the like may happen to my son, who has a violent temper, I almost envy his dead mother. I should die of grief!"

"Well, I shouldn’t," replied another. "It wouldn’t cause me any shame if such a thing should happen to my two sons."

[276] "What are you saying, Capitana Maria!" exclaimed the first, clasping her hands. "It pleases me to see a son defend the memory of his parents, Capitana Tinay. What would you say if some day when you were a widow you heard your husband spoken ill of and your son Antonio should hang his head and remain silent?"

"I would deny him my blessing!" exclaimed a third, Sister Rufa, "but—"

"Deny him my blessing, never!" interrupted the kind Capitana Tinay. "A mother ought not to say that! But I don’t know what I should do—I don’t know—I believe I’d die—but I shouldn’t want to see him again. But what do you think about it, Capitana Maria?"

"After all," added Sister Rufa, "it must not be forgotten that it’s a great sin to place your hand on a sacred person."

"A father’s memory is more sacred!" replied Capitana Maria. "No one, not even the Pope himself, much less Padre Damaso, may profane such a holy memory."

"That’s true!" murmured Capitana Tinay, admiring the wisdom of both. "Where did you get such good ideas?"

"But the excommunication and the condemnation?" exclaimed Sister Rufa. "What are honor and a good name in this life if in the other we are damned? Everything passes away quickly—but the excommunication—to outrage a minister of Christ! No one less than the Pope can pardon that!"

"God, who commands honor for father and mother, will pardon it, God will not excommunicate him! And I tell you that if that young man comes to my house I will receive him and talk with him, and if I had a daughter I would want him for a son-in-law; he who is a good son will be a good husband and a good father—believe it, Sister Rufa!"

"Well, I don’t think so. Say what you like, and even [277]though you may appear to be right, I’ll always rather believe the curate. Before everything else, I’ll save my soul. What do you say, Capitana Tinny?" "Oh, what do you want me to say? You’re both right the curate is right, but God must also be right. I don’t know, I’m only a foolish woman. What I’m going to do is to tell my son not to study any more, for they say that persons who know anything die on the gallows. María Santísima, my son wants to go to Europe!"

"What are you thinking of doing?"

"Tell him to stay with me—why should he know more? Tomorrow or the next day we shall die, the learned and the ignorant alike must die, and the only question is to live in peace." The good old woman sighed and raised her eyes toward the sky.

"For my part," said Capitana Maria gravely, "if I were rich like you I would let my sons travel; they are young and will some day be men. I have only a little while to live, we should see one another in the other life, so sons should aspire to be more than their fathers, but at our sides we only teach them to be children."

"Ay, what rare thoughts you have!" exclaimed the astonished Capitana Tinay, clasping her hands. "It must be that you didn’t suffer in bearing your twin boys."

"For the very reason that I did bear them with suffering, that I have nurtured and reared them in spite of our poverty, I do not wish that, after the trouble they’re cost me, they be only half-men."

"It seems to me that you don’t love your children as God commands," said Sister Rufa in a rather severe tone.

"Pardon me, every mother loves her sons in her own way. One mother loves them for her own sake and another loves them for their sake. I am one of the latter, for my husband has so taught me."

"All your ideas, Capitana Maria," said Sister Rufa, as if preaching, "are but little religious. Become a sister of [278]the Holy Rosary or of St. Francis or of St. Rita or of St. Clara." "Sister Rufa, when I am a worthy sister of men then I’ll try to be a sister of the saints," she answered with a smile.

To put an end to this chapter of comments and that the reader may learn in passing what the simple country folk thought of the incident, we will now go to the plaza, where under the large awning some rustics are conversing, one of them—he who dreamed about doctors of medicine—being an acquaintance of ours.

"What I regret most," said he, "is that the schoolhouse won’t be finished."

"What’s that?" asked the bystanders with interest.

"My son won’t be a doctor but a carter, nothing more! Now there won’t be any school!"

"Who says there won’t be any school?" asked a rough and robust countryman with wide cheeks and a narrow head.

"I do! The white padres have called Don Crisostomo plibastiero.2 Now there won’t be any school." All stood looking questioningly at each other; that was a new term to them.

"And is that a bad name?" the rough countryman made bold to ask.

"The worst thing that one Christian can say to another!"

"Worse than tarantado and sarayate?"3 "If it were only that! I’ve been called those names several times and they didn’t even give me a bellyache."

"Well, it can’t be worse than ‘indio,’ as the alferez says."

The man who was to have a carter for a son became gloomier, while the other scratched his head in thought.

[279]"Then it must be like the betelapora4 that the alferez’s old woman says. Worse than that is to spit on the Host." "Well, it’s worse than to spit on the Host on Good Friday," was the grave reply. "You remember the word ispichoso5 which when applied to a man is enough to have the civil-guards take him into exile or put him in jail well, plibustiero is much worse. According to what the telegrapher and the directorcillo said, plibustiero, said by a Christian, a curate, or a Spaniard to another Christian like us is a santusdeus with requimiternam,6 for if they ever call you a plibustiero then you’d better get yourself shriven and pay your debts, since nothing remains for you but to be hanged. You know whether the telegrapher and the directorcillo ought to be informed; one talks with wires and the other knows Spanish and works only with a pen." All were appalled. "May they force me to wear shoes and in all my life to drink nothing but that vile stuff they call beer, if I ever let myself be called pelbistero!" swore the countryman, clenching his fists. "What, rich as Don Crisostomo is, knowing Spanish as he does, and able to eat fast with a knife and spoon, I’d laugh at five curates!"

"The next civil-guard I catch stealing my chickens I’m going to call palabistiero, then I’ll go to confession at once," murmured one of the rustics in a low voice as he withdrew from the group. [280]

 

 

1 The Spanish proverb equivalent to the English "Birds of a feather flock together."—TR.
2 For "filibustero."
3 Tarantado is a Spanish vulgarism meaning "blunderhead," "bungler." Saragate (or zaragate) is a Mexican provincialism meaning "disturber," "mischief-maker."—TR.
4 Vete á la porra is a vulgarism almost the same in meaning and use as the English slang, "Tell it to the policeman," porra being the Spanish term for the policeman’s "billy."—TR.
5 For sospechoso, "a suspicious character."—TR.
6 Sanctus Deus and Requiem aeternam (so called from their first words) are prayers for the dead.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXVI-The First Cloud}

Chapter XXXVI

The First Cloud

In Capitan Tiago’s house reigned no less disorder than in the people’s imagination. Maria Clara did nothing but weep and would not listen to the consoling words of her aunt and of Andeng, her foster-sister. Her father had forbidden her to speak to Ibarra until the priests should absolve him from the excommunication. Capitan Tiago himself, in the midst of his preparations for receiving the Captain-General properly, had been summoned to the convento.

"Don’t cry, daughter," said Aunt Isabel, as she polished the bright plates of the mirrors with a piece of chamois. "They’ll withdraw the excommunication, they’ll write now to the Pope, and we’ll make a big poor-offering. Padre Damaso only fainted, he’s not dead."

"Don’t cry," whispered Andeng. "I’ll manage it so that you may talk with him. What are confessionals for if not that we may sin? Everything is forgiven by telling it to the curate."

At length Capitan Tiago returned. They sought in his face the answer to many questions, and it announced discouragement. The poor fellow was perspiring; he rubbed his hand across his forehead, but was unable to say a single word.

"What has happened, Santiago?" asked Aunt Isabel anxiously.

He answered by sighing and wiping away a tear.

"For God’s sake, speak! What has happened?"

"Just what I feared," he broke out at last, half in tears. [281]"All is lost! Padre Damaso has ordered me to break the engagement, otherwise he will damn me in this life and in the next. All of them told me the same, even Padre Sibyla. I must close the doors of my house against him, and I owe him over fifty thousand pesos! I told the padres this, but they refused to take any notice of it. ‘Which do you prefer to lose,’ they asked me, ‘fifty thousand pesos or your life and your soul?’ Ay, St. Anthony, if I had only known, if I had only known! Don’t cry, daughter," he went on, turning to the sobbing girl. "You’re not like your mother, who never cried except just before you were born. Padre Damaso told me that a relative of his has just arrived from Spain and you are to marry him." Maria Clara covered her ears, while Aunt Isabel screamed, "Santiago, are you crazy? To talk to her of another sweetheart now! Do you think that your daughter changes sweethearts as she does her camisa?"

"That’s just the way I felt, Isabel. Don Crisostomo is rich, while the Spaniards marry only for love of money. But what do you want me to do? They’ve threatened me with another excommunication. They say that not only my soul but also my body is in great danger—my body, do you hear, my body!"

"But you’re only making your daughter more disconsolate! Isn’t the Archbishop your friend? Why don’t you write to him?"

"The Archbishop is also a friar, the Archbishop does only what the friars tell him to do. But, Maria, don’t cry. The Captain-General is coming, he’ll want to see you, and your eyes are all red. Ay, I was thinking to spend a happy evening! Without this misfortune I should be the happiest of men—every one would envy me! Be calm, my child, I’m more unfortunate than you and I’m not crying. You can have another and better husband, while I—I’ve lost fifty thousand pesos! Ay, Virgin of Antipolo, if tonight I may only have luck!"

Salvos, the sound of carriage wheels, the galloping of [282]horses, and a band playing the royal march, announced the arrival of his Excellency, the Captain-General of the Philippines. Maria Clara ran to hide herself in her chamber. Poor child, rough hands that knew not its delicate chords were playing with her heart! While the house became filled with people and heavy steps, commanding voices, and the clank of sabers and spurs resounded on all sides, the afflicted maiden reclined half-kneeling before a picture of the Virgin represented in that sorrowful loneliness perceived only by Delaroche, as if he had surprised her returning from the sepulcher of her Son. But Maria Clara was not thinking of that mother’s sorrow, she was thinking of her own. With her head hanging down over her breast and her hands resting on the floor she made the picture of a lily bent by the storm. A future dreamed of and cherished for years, whose illusions, born in infancy and grown strong throughout youth, had given form to the very fibers of her being, to be wiped away now from her mind and heart by a single word! It was enough to stop the beating of one and to deprive the other of reason. Maria Clara was a loving daughter as well as a good and pious Christian, so it was not the excommunication alone that terrified her, but the command and the ominous calmness of her father demanding the sacrifice of her love. Now she felt the whole force of that affection which until this moment she had hardly suspected. It had been like a river gliding along peacefully with its banks carpeted by fragrant flowers and its bed covered with fine sand, so that the wind hardly ruffled its current as it moved along, seeming hardly to flow at all; but suddenly its bed becomes narrower, sharp stones block the way, hoary logs fall across it forming a barrier—then the stream rises and roars with its waves boiling and scattering clouds of foam, it beats against the rocks and rushes into the abyss!

She wanted to pray, but who in despair can pray? Prayers are for the hours of hope, and when in the absence of this we turn to God it is only with complaints. "My [283]God," cried her heart, "why dost Thou thus cut a man off, why dost Thou deny him the love of others? Thou dost not deny him thy sunlight and thy air nor hide from him the sight of thy heaven! Why then deny him love, for without a sight of the sky, without air or sunlight, one can live, but without love—never!" Would these cries unheard by men reach the throne of God or be heard by the Mother of the distressed? The poor maiden who had never known a mother dared to confide these sorrows of an earthly love to that pure heart that knew only the love of daughter and of mother. In her despair she turned to that deified image of womanhood, the most beautiful idealization of the most ideal of all creatures, to that poetical creation of Christianity who unites in herself the two most beautiful phases of womanhood without its sorrows: those of virgin and mother,—to her whom we call Mary!

"Mother, mother!" she moaned.

Aunt Isabel came to tear her away from her sorrow since she was being asked for by some friends and by the Captain-General, who wished to talk with her.

"Aunt, tell them that I’m ill," begged the frightened girl. "They’re going to make me play on the piano and sing."

"Your father has promised. Are you going to put your father in a bad light?"

Maria Clara rose, looked at her aunt, and threw back her shapely arms, murmuring, "Oh, if I only had—"

But without concluding the phrase she began to make herself ready for presentation. [284]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXVII-His Excellency}

Chapter XXXVII

His Excellency

"I Want to talk with that young man," said his Excellency to an aide. "He has aroused all my interest."

"They have already gone to look for him, General. But here is a young man from Manila who insists on being introduced. We told him that your Excellency had no time for interviews, that you had not come to give audiences, but to see the town and the procession, and he answered that your Excellency always has time to dispense justice—"

His Excellency turned to the alcalde in wonder. "If I am not mistaken," said the latter with a slight bow, "he is the young man who this morning had a quarrel with Padre Damaso over the sermon."

"Still another? Has this friar set himself to stir up the whole province or does he think that he governs here? Show the young man in." His Excellency paced nervously from one end of the sala to the other.

In the hall were gathered various Spaniards mingled with soldiers and officials of San Diego and neighboring towns, standing in groups conversing or disputing. There were also to be seen all the friars, with the exception of Padre Damaso, and they wanted to go in to pay their respects to his Excellency.

"His Excellency the Captain-General begs your Reverences to wait a moment," said the aide. "Come in, young man!" The Manilan who had confounded Greek with Tagalog entered the room pale and trembling.

All were filled with surprise; surely his Excellency must [285]be greatly irritated to dare to make the friars wait! Padre Sibyla remarked, "I haven’t anything to say to him, I’m wasting my time here." "I say the same," added an Augustinian. "Shall we go?"

"Wouldn’t it be better that we find out how he stands?" asked Padre Salvi. "We should avoid a scandal, and should be able to remind him of his duties toward—religion."

"Your Reverences may enter, if you so desire," said the aide as he ushered out the youth who did not understand Greek and whose countenance was now beaming with satisfaction.

Fray Sibyla entered first, Padre Salvi, Padre Martin, and the other priests following. They all made respectful bows with the exception of Padre Sibyla, who even in bending preserved a certain air of superiority. Padre Salvi on the other hand almost doubled himself over the girdle.

"Which of your Reverences is Padre Damaso?" asked the Captain-General without any preliminary greeting, neither asking them to be seated nor inquiring about their health nor addressing them with the flattering speeches to which such important personages are accustomed.

"Padre Damaso is not here among us, sir," replied Fray Sibyla in the same dry tone as that used by his Excellency.

"Your Excellency’s servant is in bed sick," added Padre Salvi humbly. "After having the pleasure of welcoming you and of informing ourselves concerning your Excellency’s health, as is the duty of all good subjects of the King and of every person of culture, we have come in the name of the respected servant of your Excellency who has had the misfortune—"

"Oh!" interrupted the Captain-General, twirling a chair about on one leg and smiling nervously, "if all the servants of my Excellency were like his Reverence, Padre Damaso, I should prefer myself to serve my Excellency!"

[286]The reverend gentlemen, who were standing up physically, did so mentally at this interruption. "Won’t your Reverences be seated?" he added after a brief pause, moderating his tone a little.

Capitan Tiago here appeared in full dress, walking on tiptoe and leading by the hand Maria Clara, who entered timidly and with hesitation. Still she bowed gracefully and ceremoniously.

"Is this young lady your daughter?" asked the Captain-General in surprise.

"And your Excellency’s, General," answered Capitan Tiago seriously.1 The alcalde and the aides opened their eyes wide, but his Excellency lost none of his gravity as he took the girl’s hand and said affably, "Happy are the fathers who have daughters like you, señorita! I have heard you spoken of with respect and admiration and have wanted to see you and thank you for your beautiful action of this afternoon. I am informed of everything and when I make my report to his Majesty’s government I shall not forget your noble conduct. Meanwhile, permit me to thank you in the name of his Majesty, the King, whom I represent here and who loves peace and tranquillity in his loyal subjects, and for myself, a father who has daughters of your age, and to propose a reward for you."

"Sir—" answered the trembling Maria Clara.

His Excellency guessed what she wanted to say, and so continued: "It is well, señorita, that you are at peace with your conscience and content with the good opinion of your fellow-countrymen, with the faith which is its own best reward and beyond which we should not aspire. But you must not deprive me of an opportunity to show that if Justice knows how to punish she also knows how to reward [287]and that she is not always blind!" The italicized words were all spoken in a loud and significant tone. "Señor Don Juan Crisostomo Ibarra awaits the orders of your Excellency!" announced the aide in a loud voice.

Maria Clara shuddered.

"Ah!" exclaimed the Captain-General. "Allow me, señorita, to express my desire to see you again before leaving the town, as I still have some very important things to say to you. Señor Alcalde, you will accompany me during the walk which I wish to take after the conference that I will hold alone with Señor Ibarra."

"Your Excellency will permit us to inform you," began Padre Salvi humbly, "that Señor Ibarra is excommunicated."

His Excellency cut short this speech, saying, "I am happy that I have only to regret the condition of Padre Damaso, for whom I sincerely desire a complete recovery, since at his age a voyage to Spain on account of his health may not be very agreeable. But that depends on him! Meanwhile, may God preserve the health of your Reverences!"

"And so much depends on him," murmured Padre Salvi as they retired. "We’ll see who makes that voyage soonest!" remarked another Franciscan.

"I shall leave at once," declared the indignant Padre Sibyla.

"And we shall go back to our province," said the Augustinians. Neither the Dominican nor the Augustinians could endure the thought that they had been so coldly received on a Franciscan’s account.

In the hall they met Ibarra, their amphitryon of a few hours before, but no greetings were exchanged, only looks that said many things. But when the friars had withdrawn the alcalde greeted him familiarly, although the entrance of the aide looking for the young man left no time for conversation. In the doorway he met Maria Clara; their [288]looks also said many things but quite different from what the friars’ eyes had expressed. Ibarra was dressed in deep mourning, but presented himself serenely and made a profound bow, even though the visit of the friars had not appeared to him to be a good augury. The Captain-General advanced toward him several steps.

"I take pleasure, Señor Ibarra, in shaking your hand. Permit me to receive you in all confidence." His Excellency examined the youth with marked satisfaction.

"Sir, such kindness—"

"Your surprise offends me, signifying as it does that you had not expected to be well received. That is casting a doubt on my sense of justice!"

"A cordial reception, sir, for an insignificant subject of his Majesty like myself is not justice but a favor."

"Good, good," exclaimed his Excellency, seating himself and waving Ibarra to a chair. "Let us enjoy a brief period of frankness. I am very well satisfied with your conduct and have already recommended you to his Majesty for a decoration on account of your philanthropic idea of erecting a schoolhouse. If you had let me know, I would have attended the ceremony with pleasure, and perhaps might have prevented a disagreeable incident."

"It seemed to me such a small matter," answered the youth, "that I did not think it worth while troubling your Excellency with it in the midst of your numerous cares. Besides, my duty was to apply first to the chief authority of my province."

His Excellency nodded with a satisfied air and went on in an even more familiar tone: "In regard to the trouble you’re had with Padre Damaso, don’t hold any fear or rancor, for they won’t touch a hair of your head while I govern the islands. As for the excommunication, I’ll speak to the Archbishop, since it is necessary for us to adjust ourselves to circumstances. Here we can’t laugh at such things in public as we can in the Peninsula and in enlightened [289]Europe. Nevertheless, be more prudent in the future. You have placed yourself in opposition to the religious orders, who must be respected on account of their influence and their wealth. But I will protect you, for I like good sons, I like to see them honor the memory of their fathers. I loved mine, and, as God lives, I don’t know what I would have done in your place!" Then, changing the subject of conversation quickly, he asked, "I’m told that you have just returned from Europe; were you in Madrid?"

"Yes, sir, several months."

"Perhaps you heard my family spoken of?"

"Your Excellency had just left when I had the honor of being introduced to your family."

"How is it, then, that you came without bringing any recommendations to me?"

"Sir," replied Ibarra with a bow, "because I did not come direct from Spain and because I have heard your Excellency so well spoken of that I thought a letter of recommendation might not only be valueless but even offensive; all Filipinos are recommended to you."

A smile played about the old soldier’s lips and he replied slowly, as though measuring and weighing his words, "You flatter me by thinking so, and—so it ought to be. Nevertheless, young man, you must know what burdens weigh upon our shoulders here in the Philippines. Here we, old soldiers, have to do and to be everything: King, Minister of State, of War, of Justice, of Finance, of Agriculture, and of all the rest. The worst part of it too is that in every matter we have to consult the distant mother country, which accepts or rejects our proposals according to circumstances there—and at times blindly. As we Spaniards say, ‘He who attempts many things succeeds in none.’ Besides, we generally come here knowing little about the country and leave it when we begin to get acquainted with it. With you I can be frank, for it would be useless to try to be otherwise. Even in Spain, where [290]each department has its own minister, born and reared in the locality, where there are a press and a public opinion, where the opposition frankly opens the eyes of the government and keeps it informed, everything moves along imperfectly and defectively; thus it is a miracle that here things are not completely topsyturvy in the lack of these safeguards, and having to live and work under the shadow of a most powerful opposition. Good intentions are not lacking to us, the governing powers, but we find ourselves obliged to avail ourselves of the eyes and arms of others whom ordinarily we do not know and who perhaps, instead of serving their country, serve only their own private interests. This is not our fault but the fault of circumstances—the friars aid us not a little in getting along, but they are not sufficient. You have aroused my interest and it is my desire that the imperfections of our present system of government be of no hindrance to you. I cannot look after everybody nor can everybody come to me. Can I be of service to you in any way? Have you no request to make?" Ibarra reflected a moment before he answered. "Sir, my dearest wish is the happiness of my country, a happiness which I desire to see owed to the mother country and to the efforts of my fellow-citizens, the two united by the eternal bonds of common aspirations and common interests. What I would request can only be given by the government after years of unceasing toil and after the introduction of definite reforms."

His Excellency gazed at him for a few seconds with a searching look, which Ibarra sustained with naturalness. "You are the first man that I’ve talked to in this country!" he finally exclaimed, extending his hand.

"Your Excellency has seen only those who drag themselves about in the city; you have not visited the slandered huts of our towns or your Excellency would have been able to see real men, if to be a man it is sufficient to have a generous heart and simple customs."

[291]The Captain-General rose and began to walk back and forth in the room. "Señor Ibarra," he exclaimed, pausing suddenly, and the young man also rose, "perhaps within a month I shall leave. Your education and your mode of thinking are not for this country. Sell what you have, pack your trunk, and come with me to Europe; the climate there will be more agreeable to you." "I shall always while I live preserve the memory of your Excellency’s kindness," replied Ibarra with emotion, "but I must remain in this country where my fathers have lived."

"Where they have died you might say with more exactness! Believe me, perhaps I know your country better than you yourself do. Ah, now I remember," he exclaimed with a change of tone, "you are going to marry an adorable young woman and I’m detaining you here! Go, go to her, and that you may have greater freedom send her father to me," this with a smile. "Don’t forget, though, that I want you to accompany me in my walk."

Ibarra bowed and withdrew. His Excellency then called to his aide. "I’m satisfied," he said, slapping the latter lightly on the shoulder. "Today I’ve seen for the first time how it is possible for one to be a good Spaniard without ceasing to be a good Filipino and to love his country. Today I showed their Reverences that we are not all puppets of theirs. This young man gave me the opportunity and I shall soon have settled all my accounts with the friars. It’s a pity that some day or other this young man—But call the alcalde."

The alcalde presented himself immediately. As he entered, the Captain-General said to him, "Señor Alcalde, in order to avoid any repetition of scenes such as you witnessed this afternoon, scenes that I regret, as they hurt the prestige of the government and of all good Spaniards, allow me to recommend to your especial care Señor Ibarra, so that you may afford him means for carrying out his patriotic intentions and also that in the future you prevent his [292]being molested by persons of any class whatsoever, under any pretext at all." The alcalde understood the reprimand and bowed to conceal his confusion.

"Have the same order communicated to the alferez who commands in the district here. Also, investigate whether that gentleman has affairs of his own that are not sanctioned by the regulations. I’ve heard more than one complaint in regard to that."

Capitan Tiago presented himself stiff and formal. "Don Santiago," said his Excellency in an affable tone, "a little while ago I felicitated you on the happiness of having a daughter such as the Señorita de los Santos; now let me congratulate you on your future son-in-law. The most virtuous of daughters is certainly worthy of the best citizen of the Philippines. Is it permitted to know when the wedding will occur?"

"Sir!" stammered Capitan Tiago, wiping the perspiration from his forehead.

"Come now, I see that there is nothing definitely arranged. If persons are lacking to stand up with them, I shall take the greatest pleasure in being one of them. That’s for the purpose of ridding myself of the feeling of disgust which the many weddings I’ve heretofore taken part in have given me," he added, turning to the alcalde.

"Yes, sir," answered Capitan Tiago with a smile that would move to pity.

Ibarra almost ran in search of Maria Clara—he had so many things to tell her. Hearing merry voices in one of the rooms, he knocked lightly on the door.

"Who’s there?" asked the voice of Maria Clara.

"I!"

The voices became hushed and the door—did not open.

"It’s I, may I come in?" called the young man, his heart beating violently.

The silence continued. Then light footsteps approached the door and the merry voice of Sinang murmured through [293]the keyhole, "Crisostomo, we’re going to the theater tonight. Write what you have to say to Maria." The footsteps retreated again as rapidly as they approached.

"What does this mean?" murmured Ibarra thoughtfully as he retired slowly from the door. [294]

 

 

1 Spanish etiquette requires that the possessor of an object immediately offer it to any person who asks about it with the conventional phrase, "It is yours." Capitan Tiago is rather overdoing his Latin refinement.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXVIII-The Procession}

Chapter XXXVIII

The Procession

At nightfall, when all the lanterns in the windows had been lighted, for the fourth time the procession started amid the ringing of bells and the usual explosions of bombs. The Captain-General, who had gone out on foot in company with his two aides, Capitan Tiago, the alcalde, the alferez, and Ibarra, preceded by civil-guards and officials who opened the way and cleared the street, was invited to review the procession from the house of the gobernadorcillo, in front of which a platform had been erected where a loa1 would be recited in honor of the Blessed Patron.

[295]Ibarra would gladly have renounced the pleasure of hearing this poetical composition, preferring to watch the procession from Capitan Tiago’s house, where Maria Clara had remained with some of her friends, but his Excellency wished to hear the loa, so he had no recourse but to console himself with the prospect of seeing her at the theater. The procession was headed by the silver candelabra borne by three begloved sacristans, behind whom came the school children in charge of their teacher, then boys with paper lanterns of varied shapes and colors placed on the ends of bamboo poles of greater or less length and decorated according to the caprice of each boy, since this illumination was furnished by the children of the barrios, who gladly performed this service, imposed by the matanda sa nayon,2 each one designing and fashioning his own lantern, adorning it as his fancy prompted and his finances permitted with a greater or less number of frills and little streamers, and lighting it with a piece of candle if he had a friend or relative who was a sacristan, or if he could buy one of the small red tapers such as the Chinese burn before their altars. In the midst of the crowd came and went alguazils, guardians of justice to take care that the lines were not broken and the people did not crowd together. For this purpose they availed themselves of their rods, with blows from which, administered opportunely and with sufficient force, they endeavored to add to the glory and brilliance of the procession—all for the edification of souls and the

[296]splendor of religious show. At the same time that the alguazils were thus distributing free their sanctifying blows, other persons, to console the recipients, distributed candles and tapers of different sizes, also free. "Señor Alcalde," said Ibarra in a low voice, "do they administer those blows as a punishment for sin or simply because they like to do so?"

"You’re right, Señor Ibarra," answered the Captain-General, overhearing the question. "This barbarous sight is a wonder to all who come here from other countries. It ought to be forbidden."

Without any apparent reason, the first saint that appeared was St. John the Baptist. On looking at him it might have been said that the fame of Our Savior’s cousin did not amount to much among the people, for while it is true that he had the feet and legs of a maiden and the face of an anchorite, yet he was placed on an old wooden andas, and was hidden by a crowd of children who, armed with candles and unlighted lanterns, were engaging in mock fights.

"Unfortunate saint!" muttered the Sage Tasio, who was watching the procession from the street, "it avails you nothing to have been the forerunner of the Good Tidings or that Jesus bowed before you! Your great faith and your austerity avail you nothing, nor the fact that you died for the truth and your convictions, all of which men forget when they consider nothing more than their own merits. It avails more to preach badly in the churches than to be the eloquent voice crying in the desert, this is what the Philippines teaches you! If you had eaten turkey instead of locusts and had worn garments of silk rather than hides, if you had joined a Corporation—"

But the old man suspended his apostrophe at the approach of St. Francis. "Didn’t I say so?" he then went on, smiling sarcastically. "This one rides on a ear, and, good Heavens, what a car! How many lights and how many glass lanterns! Never did I see you surrounded by so [297]many luminaries, Giovanni Bernardone!3 And what music! Other tunes were heard by your followers after your death! But, venerable and humble founder, if you were to come back to life now you would see only degenerate Eliases of Cortona, and if your followers should recognize you, they would put you in jail, and perhaps you would share the fate of Cesareus of Spyre." After the music came a banner on which was pictured the same saint, but with seven wings, carried by the Tertiary Brethren dressed in guingón habits and praying in high, plaintive voices. Rather inexplicably, next came St. Mary Magdalene, a beautiful image with abundant hair, wearing a pañuelo of embroidered piña held by fingers covered with rings, and a silk gown decorated with gilt spangles. Lights and incense surrounded her while her glass tears reflected the colors of the Bengal lights, which, while giving a fantastic appearance to the procession, also made the saintly sinner weep now green, now red, now blue tears. The houses did not begin to light up until St. Francis was passing; St. John the Baptist did not enjoy this honor and passed hastily by as if ashamed to be the only one dressed in hides in such a crowd of folk covered with gold and jewels.

"There goes our saint!" exclaimed the daughter of the gobernadorcillo to her visitors. "I’ve lent him all my rings, but that’s in order to get to heaven."

The candle-bearers stopped around the platform to listen to the loa and the blessed saints did the same; either they or their bearers wished to hear the verses. Those who were carrying St. John, tired of waiting, squatted down on their heels and agreed to set him on the ground.

"The alguazil may scold!" objected one of them.

"Huh, in the sacristy they leave him in a corner among the cobwebs!"

[298]So St. John, once on the ground, became one of the townsfolk. As the Magdalene set out the women joined the procession, only that instead of beginning with the children, as among the men, the old women came first and the girls filled up the lines to the car of the Virgin, behind which came the curate under his canopy. This practise they had from Padre Damaso, who said: "To the Virgin the maidens and not the old women are pleasing!" This statement had caused wry faces on the part of many saintly old ladies, but the Virgin did not change her tastes.

San Diego followed the Magdalene but did not seem to be rejoicing over this fact, since he moved along as repentantly as he had in the morning when he followed St. Francis. His float was drawn by six Tertiary Sisters—whether because of some vow or on account of some sickness, the fact is that they dragged him along, and with zeal. San Diego stopped in front of the platform and waited to be saluted.

But it was necessary to wait for the float of the Virgin, which was preceded by persons dressed like phantoms, who frightened the little children so that there were heard the cries and screams of terrified babies. Yet in the midst of that dark mass of gowns, hoods, girdles, and nuns’ veils, from which arose a monotonous and snuffling prayer, there were to be seen, like white jasmines or fresh sampaguitas among old rags, twelve girls dressed in white, crowned with flowers, their hair curled, and flashing from their eyes glances as bright as their necklaces. Like little genii of light who were prisoners of specters they moved along holding to the wide blue ribbons tied to the Virgin’s car and suggesting the doves that draw the car of Spring.

Now all the images were in attitudes of attention, crowded one against the other to listen to the verses. Everybody kept his eyes fixed on the half-drawn curtain until at length a sigh of admiration escaped from the lips of all. Deservedly [299]so, too, for it was a boy with wings, riding-boots, sash, belt, and plumed hat. "It’s the alcalde!" cried some one, but this prodigy of creation began to recite a poem like himself and took no offense at the comparison.

But why record here what he said in Latin, Tagalog, and Spanish, all in verse—this poor victim of the gobernadorcillo? Our readers have enjoyed Padre Damaso’s sermon of the morning and we do not wish to spoil them by too many wonders. Besides, the Franciscan might feel hard toward us if we were to put forward a competitor, and this is far from being the desire of such peaceful folk as we have the good fortune to be.

Afterwards, the procession moved on, St. John proceeding along his vale of tears. When the Virgin passed the house of Capitan Tiago a heavenly song greeted her with the words of the archangel. It was a voice tender, melodious, pleading, sighing out the Ave Maria of Gounod to the accompaniment of a piano that prayed with it. The music of the procession became hushed, the praying ceased, and even Padre Salvi himself paused. The voice trembled and became plaintive, expressing more than a salutation—rather a prayer and a protest.

Terror and melancholy settled down upon Ibarra’s heart as he listened to the voice from the window where he stood. He comprehended what that suffering soul was expressing in a song and yet feared to ask himself the cause of such sorrow. Gloomy and thoughtful, he turned to the Captain-General.

"You will join me at the table," the latter said to him. "There we’ll talk about those boys who disappeared."

"Could I be the cause?" murmured the young man, staring without seeing the Captain-General, whom he was following mechanically. [300]

 

 

1 A metrical discourse for a special occasion or in honor of some distinguished personage. Padre Zuñiga (Estadismo, Chap. III) thus describes one heard by him in Lipa, Batangas, in 1800, on the occasion of General Alava’s visit to that place: "He who is to recite the loa is seen in the center of the stage dressed as a Spanish cavalier, reclining in a chair as if asleep, while behind the scenes musicians sing a lugubrious chant in the vernacular. The sleeper awakes and shows by signs that he thinks he has heard, or dreamed of hearing, some voice. He again disposes himself to sleep, and the chant is repeated in the same lugubrious tone. Again he awakes, rises, and shows that he has heard a voice. This scene is repeated several times, until at length he is persuaded that the voice is announcing the arrival of the hero who is to be eulogized. He then commences to recite his loa, carrying himself like a clown in a circus, while he sings the praises of the person in whose honor the fiesta has been arranged. This loa, which was in rhetorical verse in a diffuse style suited to the Asiatic taste, set forth the general’s naval expeditions and the honors he had received from the King, concluding with thanks and acknowledgment of the favor that he had conferred in passing through their town and visiting such poor wretches as they. There were not lacking in it the wanderings of Ulysses, the journeys of Aristotle, the unfortunate death of Pliny, and other passages from ancient history, which they delight in introducing into their stories. All these passages are usually filled with fables touching upon the marvelous, such as the following, which merit special [295n]notice: of Aristotle it was said that being unable to learn the depth of the sea he threw himself into its waves and was drowned, and of Pliny that he leaped into Vesuvius to investigate the fire within the volcano. In the same way other historical accounts are confused. I believe that these loas were introduced by the priests in former times, although the fables with which they abound would seem to offer an objection to this opinion, as nothing is ever told in them that can be found in the writings of any European author; still they appear to me to have been suited to the less critical taste of past centuries. The verses are written by the natives, among whom there are many poets, this art being less difficult in Tagalog than in any other language."—TR.
2 "The old man of the village," patriarch.—TR.
3 The secular name of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XXXIX-Doña Consolacion}

Chapter XXXIX

Doña Consolacion

Why were the windows closed in the house of the alferez? Where were the masculine features and the flannel camisa of the Medusa or Muse of the Civil Guard while the procession was passing? Had Doña Consolacion realized how disagreeable were her forehead seamed with thick veins that appeared to conduct not blood but vinegar and gall, and the thick cigar that made a fit ornament for her purple lips, and her envious leer, and yielding to a generous impulse had she wished not to disturb the pleasure of the populace by her sinister appearance? Ah, for her generous impulses existed in the Golden Age! The house, showed neither lanterns nor banners and was gloomy precisely because the town was making merry, as Sinang said, and but for the sentinel walking before the door appeared to be uninhabited.

A dim light shone in the disordered sala, rendering transparent the dirty concha-panes on which the cobwebs had fastened and the dust had become incrusted. The lady of the house, according to her indolent custom, was dozing on a wide sofa. She was dressed as usual, that is, badly and horribly: tied round her head a pañuelo, from beneath which escaped thin locks of tangled hair, a camisa of blue flannel over another which must once have been white, and a faded skirt which showed the outlines of her thin, flat thighs, placed one over the other and shaking feverishly. From her mouth issued little clouds of smoke which she puffed wearily in whatever direction she happened to be looking when she opened her eyes. If at that moment Don [301]Francisco de Cañamaque1 could have seen her, he would have taken her for a cacique of the town or the mankukúlam, and then decorated his discovery with commentaries in the vernacular of the markets, invented by him for her particular use. That morning she had not attended mass, not because she had not so desired, for on the contrary she had wished to show herself to the multitude and to hear the sermon, but her spouse had not permitted her to do so, his refusal being accompanied as usual by two or three insults, oaths, and threats of kicking. The alferez knew that his mate dressed ridiculously and had the appearance of what is known as a "querida of the soldiers," so he did not care to expose her to the gaze of strangers and persons from the capital. But she did not so understand it. She knew that she was beautiful and attractive, that she had the airs of a queen and dressed much better and with more splendor than Maria Clara herself, who wore a tapis while she went in a flowing skirt. It was therefore necessary for the alferez to threaten her, "Either shut up, or I’ll kick you back to your damned town!" Doña Consolacion did not care to return to her town at the toe of a boot, but she meditated revenge.

Never had the dark face of this lady been such as to inspire confidence in any one, not even when she painted, but that morning it greatly worried the servants, especially when they saw her move about the house from one part to another, silently, as if meditating something terrible or malign. Her glance reflected the look that springs from the eyes of a serpent when caught and about to be crushed; it was cold, luminous, and penetrating, with something fascinating, [302]loathsome, and cruel in it. The most insignificant error, the least unusual noise, drew from her a vile insult that struck into the soul, but no one answered her, for to excuse oneself would have been an additional fault. So the day passed. Not encountering any obstacle that would block her way,—her husband had been invited out,—she became saturated with bile, the cells of her whole organism seemed to become charged with electricity which threatened to burst in a storm of hate. Everything about her folded up as do the flowers at the first breath of the hurricane, so she met with no resistance nor found any point or high place to discharge her evil humor. The soldiers and servants kept away from her. That she might not hear the sounds of rejoicing outside she had ordered the windows closed and charged the sentinel to let no one enter. She tied a handkerchief around her head as if to keep it from bursting and, in spite of the fact that the sun was still shining, ordered the lamps to be lighted.

Sisa, as we saw, had been arrested as a disturber of the peace and taken to the barracks. The alferez was not then present, so the unfortunate woman had had to spend the night there seated on a bench in an abandoned attitude. The next day the alferez saw her, and fearing for her in those days of confusion nor caring to risk a disagreeable scene, he had charged the soldiers to look after her, to treat her kindly, and to give her something to eat. Thus the madwoman spent two days.

Tonight, whether the nearness to the house of Capitan Tiago had brought to her Maria Clara’s sad song or whether other recollections awoke in her old melodies, whatever the cause, Sisa also began to sing in a sweet and melancholy voice the kundíman of her youth. The soldiers heard her and fell silent; those airs awoke old memories of the days before they had been corrupted. Doña Consolacion also heard them in her tedium, and on learning who it was that sang, after a few moments of meditation, ordered that Sisa [303]be brought to her instantly. Something like a smile wandered over her dry lips. When Sisa was brought in she came calmly, showing neither wonder nor fear. She seemed to see no lady or mistress, and this wounded the vanity of the Muse, who endeavored to inspire respect and fear. She coughed, made a sign to the soldiers to leave her, and taking down her husband’s whip, said to the crazy woman in a sinister tone, "Come on, magcantar icau!"2 Naturally, Sisa did not understand such Tagalog, and this ignorance calmed the Medusa’s wrath, for one of the beautiful qualities of this lady was to try not to know Tagalog, or at least to appear not to know it. Speaking it the worst possible, she would thus give herself the air of a genuine orofea,

3 as she was accustomed to say. But she did well, for if she martyrized Tagalog, Spanish fared no better with her, either in regard to grammar or pronunciation, in spite of her husband, the chairs and the shoes, all of which had done what they could to teach her. One of the words that had cost her more effort than the hieroglyphics cost Champollion was the name Filipinas. The story goes that on the day after her wedding, when she was talking with her husband, who was then a corporal, she had said Pilipinas. The corporal thought it his duty to correct her, so he said, slapping her on the head, "Say Felipinas, woman! Don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that’s what your damned country is called, from Felipe?"

The woman, dreaming through her honeymoon, wished to obey and said Felepinas. To the corporal it seemed that she was getting nearer to it, so he increased the slaps and reprimanded her thus: "But, woman, can’t you pronounce Felipe? Don’t forget it; you know the king, Don Felipe—the fifth—. Say Felipe, and add to it nas, which in Latin means ‘islands of Indians,’ and you have the name of your damned country!"

[304]Consolacion, at that time a washerwoman, patted her bruises and repeated with symptoms of losing her patience, "Fe-li-pe, Felipe—nas, Fe-li-pe-nas, Felipinas, so?" The corporal saw visions. How could it be Felipenas instead of Felipinas? One of two things: either it was Felipenas or it was necessary to say Felipi! So that day he very prudently dropped the subject. Leaving his wife, he went to consult the books. Here his astonishment reached a climax: he rubbed his eyes—let’s see—slowly, now! F-i-l-i-p-i-n-a-s, Filipinas! So all the well-printed books gave it—neither he nor his wife was right!

"How’s this?" he murmured. "Can history lie? Doesn’t this book say that Alonso Saavedra gave the country that name in honor of the prince, Don Felipe? How was that name corrupted? Can it be that this Alonso Saavedra was an Indian?"4 With these doubts he went to consult the sergeant Gomez, who, as a youth, had wanted to be a curate. Without deigning to look at the corporal the sergeant blew out a mouthful of smoke and answered with great pompousness, "In ancient times it was pronounced Filipi instead of Felipe. But since we moderns have become Frenchified we can’t endure two i’s in succession, so cultured people, especially in Madrid—you’ve never been in Madrid?—cultured people, as I say, have begun to change the first i to e in many words. This is called modernizing yourself."

The poor corporal had never been in Madrid—here was the cause of his failure to understand the riddle: what things are learned in Madrid! "So now it’s proper to say—"

"In the ancient style, man! This country’s not yet cultured! [305]In the ancient style, Filipinas!" exclaimed Gomez disdainfully. The corporal, even if he was a bad philologist, was yet a good husband. What he had just learned his spouse must also know, so he proceeded with her education: "Consola, what do you call your damned country?"

"What should I call it? Just what you taught me: Felifinas!"

"I’ll throw a chair at you, you ———! Yesterday you pronounced it even better in the modern style, but now it’s proper to pronounce it like an ancient: Feli, I mean, Filipinas!"

"Remember that I’m no ancient! What are you thinking about?"

"Never mind! Say Filipinas!"

"I don’t want to. I’m no ancient baggage, scarcely thirty years old!" she replied, rolling up her sleeves and preparing herself for the fray.

"Say it, you ———, or I’ll throw this chair at you!"

Consolacion saw the movement, reflected, then began to stammer with heavy breaths, "Feli-, Fele-, File—"

Pum! Crack! The chair finished the word. So the lesson ended in fisticuffs, scratchings, slaps. The corporal caught her by the hair; she grabbed his goatee, but was unable to bite because of her loose teeth. He let out a yell, released her and begged her pardon. Blood began to flow, one eye got redder than the other, a camisa was torn into shreds, many things came to light, but not Filipinas.

Similar incidents occurred every time the question of language came up. The corporal, watching her linguistic progress, sorrowfully calculated that in ten years his mate would have completely forgotten how to talk, and this was about what really came to pass. When they were married she still knew Tagalog and could make herself understood in Spanish, but now, at the time of our story, she no longer spoke any language. She had become so addicted to expressing herself by means of signs—and of these she chose [306]the loudest and most impressive—that she could have given odds to the inventor of Volapuk. Sisa, therefore, had the good fortune not to understand her, so the Medusa smoothed out her eyebrows a little, while a smile of satisfaction lighted up her face; undoubtedly she did not know Tagalog, she was an orofea!

"Boy, tell her in Tagalog to sing! She doesn’t understand me, she doesn’t understand Spanish!"

The madwoman understood the boy and began to sing the Song of the Night. Doña Consolacion listened at first with a sneer, which disappeared little by little from her lips. She became attentive, then serious, and even somewhat thoughtful. The voice, the sentiment in the lines, and the song itself affected her—that dry and withered heart was perhaps thirsting for rain. She understood it well: "The sadness, the cold, and the moisture that descend from the sky when wrapped in the mantle of night," so ran the kundíman, seemed to be descending also on her heart. "The withered and faded flower which during the day flaunted her finery, seeking applause and full of vanity, at eventide, repentant and disenchanted, makes an effort to raise her drooping petals to the sky, seeking a little shade to hide herself and die without the mocking of the light that saw her in her splendor, without seeing the vanity of her pride, begging also that a little dew should weep upon her. The nightbird leaves his solitary retreat, the hollow of an ancient trunk, and disturbs the sad loneliness of the open places—"

"No, don’t sing!" she exclaimed in perfect Tagalog, as she rose with agitation. "Don’t sing! Those verses hurt me."

The crazy woman became silent. The boy ejaculated, "Abá! She talks Tagalog!" and stood staring with admiration at his mistress, who, realizing that she had given herself away, was ashamed of it, and as her nature was not that of a woman, the shame took the aspect of rage and [307]hate; so she showed the door to the imprudent boy and closed it behind him with a kick. Twisting the whip in her nervous hands, she took a few turns around the room, then stopping suddenly in front of the crazy woman, said to her in Spanish, "Dance!" But Sisa did not move.

"Dance, dance!" she repeated in a sinister tone.

The madwoman looked at her with wandering, expressionless eyes, while the alfereza lifted one of her arms, then the other, and shook them, but to no purpose, for Sisa did not understand. Then she began to jump about and shake herself, encouraging Sisa to imitate her. In the distance was to be heard the music of the procession playing a grave and majestic march, but Doña Consolacion danced furiously, keeping other time to other music resounding within her. Sisa gazed at her without moving, while her eyes expressed curiosity and something like a weak smile hovered around her pallid lips: the lady’s dancing amused her. The latter stopped as if ashamed, raised the whip,—that terrible whip known to thieves and soldiers, made in Ulango5 and perfected by the alferez with twisted wires,—and said, "Now it’s your turn to dance—dance!" She began to strike the madwoman’s bare feet gently with the whip. Sisa’s face drew up with pain and she was forced to protect herself with her hands.

"Aha, now you’re starting!" she exclaimed with savage joy, passing from lento to allegro vivace.

The afflicted Sisa gave a cry of pain and quickly raised her foot.

"You’ve got to dance, you Indian—!" The whip swung and whistled.

Sisa let herself fall to the floor and placed both hands on her knees while she gazed at her tormentor with wildly-staring eyes. Two sharp cuts of the whip on her shoulder made her stand up, and it was not merely a cry but a howl [308]that the unfortunate woman uttered. Her thin camisa was torn, her skin broken, and the blood was flowing. The sight of blood arouses the tiger; the blood of her victim aroused Doña Consolacion. "Dance, damn you, dance! Evil to the mother who bore you!" she cried. "Dance, or I’ll flog you to death!" She then caught Sisa with one hand and, whipping her with the other, began to dance about.

The crazy woman at last understood and followed the example by swinging her arms about awkwardly. A smile of satisfaction curled the lips of her teacher, the smile of a female Mephistopheles who succeeds in getting a great pupil. There were in it hate, disdain, jest, and cruelty; with a burst of demoniacal laughter she could not have expressed more.

Thus, absorbed in the joy of the sight, she was not aware of the arrival of her husband until he opened the door with a loud kick. The alferez appeared pale and gloomy, and when he saw what was going on he threw a terrible glance at his wife, who did not move from her place but stood smiling at him cynically.

The alferez put his hand as gently as he could on the shoulder of the strange dancer and made her stop. The crazy woman sighed and sank slowly to the floor covered with her own blood.

The silence continued. The alferez breathed heavily, while his wife watched him with questioning eyes. She picked up the whip and asked in a smooth, soft voice, "What’s the matter with you? You haven’t even wished me good evening."

The alferez did not answer, but instead called the boy and said to him, "Take this woman away and tell Marta to get her some other clothes and attend to her. You give her something to eat and a good bed. Take care that she isn’t ill-treated! Tomorrow she’ll be taken to Señor Ibarra’s house."

Then he closed the door carefully, bolted it, and approached [309]his wife. "You’re tempting me to kill you!" he exclaimed, doubling up his fists. "What’s the matter with you?" she asked, rising and drawing away from him.

"What’s the matter with me!" he yelled in a voice of thunder, letting out an oath and holding up before her a sheet of paper covered with scrawls. "Didn’t you write this letter to the alcalde saying that I’m bribed to permit gambling, huh? I don’t know why I don’t beat you to death."

"Let’s see you! Let’s see you try it if you dare!" she replied with a jeering laugh. "The one who beats me to death has got to be more of a man than you are!"

He heard the insult, but saw the whip. Catching up a plate from the table, he threw it at her head, but she, accustomed to such fights, dodged quickly and the plate was shattered against the wall. A cup and saucer met with a similar fate.

"Coward!" she yelled; "you’re afraid to come near me!" And to exasperate him the more, she spat upon him.

The alferez went blind from rage and with a roar attempted to throw himself upon her, but she, with astonishing quickness, hit him across the face with the whip and ran hurriedly into an inner room, shutting and bolting the door violently behind her. Bellowing with rage and pain, he followed, but was only able to run against the door, which made him vomit oaths.

"Accursed be your offspring, you sow! Open, open, or I’ll break your head!" he howled, beating the door with his hands and feet.

No answer was heard, but instead the scraping of chairs and trunks as if she was building a barricade with the furniture. The house shook under the kicks and curses of the alferez.

"Don’t come in, don’t come in!" called the sour voice inside. "If you show yourself, I’ll shoot you."

[310]By degrees he appeared to become calm and contented himself with walking up and down the room like a wild beast in its cage. "Go out into the street and cool off your head!" the woman continued to jeer at him, as she now seemed to have completed her preparations for defense.

"I swear that if I catch you, even God won’t save you, you old sow!"

"Yes, now you can say what you like. You didn’t want me to go to mass! You didn’t let me attend to my religious duties!" she answered with such sarcasm as only she knew how to use.

The alferez put on his helmet, arranged his clothing a little, and went out with heavy steps, but returned after a few minutes without making the least noise, having taken off his shoes. The servants, accustomed to these brawls, were usually bored, but this novelty of the shoes attracted their attention, so they winked to one another. The alferez sat down quietly in a chair at the side of the Sublime Port and had the patience to wait for more than half an hour.

"Have you really gone out or are you still there, old goat?" asked the voice from time to time, changing the epithets and raising the tone. At last she began to take away the furniture piece by piece. He heard the noise and smiled.

"Boy, has your master gone out?" cried Doña Consolacion.

At a sign from the alferez the boy answered, "Yes, señora, he’s gone out."

A gleeful laugh was heard from her as she pulled back the bolt. Slowly her husband arose, the door opened a little way—

A yell, the sound of a falling body, oaths, howls, curses, blows, hoarse voices—who can tell what took place in the darkness of that room?

As the boy went out into the kitchen he made a significant [311]sign to the cook, who said to him, "You’ll pay for that." "I? In any case the whole town will! She asked me if he had gone out, not if he had come back!" [312]

 

 

1 A Spanish official, author of several works relating to the Philippines, one of which, Recuerdos de Filipinas (Madrid, 1877 and 1880), a loose series of sketches and impressions giving anything but a complimentary picture of the character and conduct of the Spaniards in the Islands, and in a rather naive and perhaps unintentional way throwing some lurid side-lights on the governmental administration and the friar régime,—enjoyed the distinction of being officially prohibited from circulation in the archipelago.—TR. 2 "Magcanta-ca!" "(You) sing!"—TR.
3 Europea: European woman.—TR.
4 In 1527–29 Alvaro de Saavedra led an unsuccessful expedition to take possession of the "Western Isles." The name "Filipina," in honor of the Prince of the Asturias, afterwards Felipe II (Philip II), was first applied to what is probably the present island of Leyte by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, who led another unsuccessful expedition thither in 1542–43, this name being later extended to the whole group.—TR.
5 A barrio of Tanawan, Batangas, noted for the manufacture of horsewhips.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter XL-Right and Might}

Chapter XL

Right and Might

Ten o’clock at night: the last rockets rose lazily in the dark sky where a few paper balloons recently inflated with smoke and hot air still glimmered like new stars. Some of those adorned with fireworks took fire, threatening all the houses, so there might be seen on the ridges of the roofs men armed with pails of water and long poles with pieces of cloth on the ends. Their black silhouettes stood out in the vague clearness of the air like phantoms that had descended from space to witness the rejoicings of men. Many pieces of fireworks of fantastic shapes—wheels, castles, bulls, carabaos—had been set off, surpassing in beauty and grandeur anything ever before seen by the inhabitants of San Diego.

Now the people were moving in crowds toward the plaza to attend the theater for the last time, Here and there might be seen Bengal lights fantastically illuminating the merry groups while the boys were availing themselves of torches to hunt in the grass for unexploded bombs and other remnants that could still be used. But soon the music gave the signal and all abandoned the open places.

The great stage was brilliantly illuminated. Thousands of lights surrounded the posts, hung from the roof, or sowed the floor with pyramidal clusters. An alguazil was looking after these, and when he came forward to attend to them the crowd shouted at him and whistled, "There he is! there he is!"

In front of the curtain the orchestra players were tuning their instruments and playing preludes of airs. Behind them was the space spoken of by the correspondent in his [313]letter, where the leading citizens of the town, the Spaniards, and the rich visitors occupied rows of chairs. The general public, the nameless rabble, filled up the rest of the place, some of them bringing benches on their shoulders not so much for seats as to make, up for their lack of stature. This provoked noisy protests on the part of the benchless, so the offenders got down at once; but before long they were up again as if nothing had happened. Goings and comings, cries, exclamations, bursts of laughter, a serpent-cracker turned loose, a firecracker set off—all contributed to swell the uproar. Here a bench had a leg broken off and the people fell to the ground amid the laughter of the crowd. They were visitors who had come from afar to observe and now found themselves the observed. Over there they quarreled and disputed over a seat, a little farther on was heard the noise of breaking glass; it was Andeng carrying refreshments and drinks, holding the wide tray carefully with both hands, but by chance she had met her sweetheart, who tried to take advantage of the situation.

The teniente-mayor, Don Filipo, presided over the show, as the gobernadorcillo was fond of monte. He was talking with old Tasio. "What can I do? The alcalde was unwilling to accept my resignation. ‘Don’t you feel strong enough to attend to your duties?’ he asked me."

"How did you answer him?"

"‘Señor Alcalde,’ I answered, ‘the strength of a teniente-mayor, however insignificant it may be, is like all other authority it emanates from higher spheres. The King himself receives his strength from the people and the people theirs from God. That is exactly what I lack, Señor Alcalde.’ But he did not care to listen to me, telling me that we would talk about it after the fiesta."

"Then may God help you!" said the old man, starting away.

"Don’t you want to see the show?"

"Thanks, no! For dreams and nonsense I am sufficient [314]unto myself," the Sage answered with a sarcastic smile. "But now I think of it, has your attention never been drawn to the character of our people? Peaceful, yet fond of warlike shows and bloody fights; democratic, yet adoring emperors, kings, and princes; irreligious, yet impoverishing itself by costly religious pageants. Our women have gentle natures yet go wild with joy when a princess flourishes a lance. Do you know to what it is due? Well—" The arrival of Maria Clara and her friends put an end to this conversation. Don Filipo met them and ushered them to their seats. Behind them came the curate with another Franciscan and some Spaniards. Following the priests were a number of the townsmen who make it their business to escort the friars. "May God reward them also in the next life," muttered old Tasio as he went away.

The play began with Chananay and Marianito in Crispino é la comare. All now had their eyes and ears turned to the stage, all but one: Padre Salvi, who seemed to have gone there for no other purpose than that of watching Maria Clara, whose sadness gave to her beauty an air so ideal and interesting that it was easy to understand how she might be looked upon with rapture. But the eyes of the Franciscan, deeply hidden in their sunken sockets, spoke nothing of rapture. In that gloomy gaze was to be read something desperately sad—with such eyes Cain might have gazed from afar on the Paradise whose delights his mother pictured to him!

The first scene was over when Ibarra entered. His appearance caused a murmur, and attention was fixed on him and the curate. But the young man seemed not to notice anything as he greeted Maria Clara and her friends in a natural way and took a seat beside them.

The only one who spoke to him was Sinang. "Did you see the fireworks?" she asked.

"No, little friend, I had to go with the Captain-General."

"Well, that’s a shame! The curate was with us and [315]told us stories of the damned—can you imagine it!—to fill us with fear so that we might not enjoy ourselves—can you imagine it!" The curate arose and approached Don Filipo, with whom he began an animated conversation. The former spoke in a nervous manner, the latter in a low, measured voice.

"I’m sorry that I can’t please your Reverence," said Don Filipo, "but Señor Ibarra is one of the heaviest contributors and has a right to be here as long as he doesn’t disturb the peace."

"But isn’t it disturbing the peace to scandalize good Christians? It’s letting a wolf enter the fold. You will answer for this to God and the authorities!"

"I always answer for the actions that spring from my own will, Padre," replied Don Filipo with a slight bow. "But my little authority does not empower me to mix in religious affairs. Those who wish to avoid contact with him need not talk to him. Señor Ibarra forces himself on no one."

"But it’s giving opportunity for danger, and he who loves danger perishes in it."

"I don’t see any danger, Padre. The alcalde and the Captain-General, my superior officers, have been talking with him all the afternoon and it’s not for me to teach them a lesson."

"If you don’t put him out of here, we’ll leave."

"I’m very sorry, but I can’t put any one out of here." The curate repented of his threat, but it was too late to retract, so he made a sign to his companion, who arose with regret, and the two went out together. The persons attached to them followed their example, casting looks of hatred at Ibarra.

The murmurs and whispers increased. A number of people approached the young man and said to him, "We’re with you, don’t take any notice of them."

"Whom do you mean by them?" Ibarra asked in surprise.

[316]"Those who’ve just left to avoid contact with you." "Left to avoid contact with me?"

"Yes, they say that you’re excommunicated."

"Excommunicated?" The astonished youth did not know what to say. He looked about him and saw that Maria Clara was hiding her face behind her fan. "But is it possible?" he exclaimed finally. "Are we still in the Dark Ages? So—"

He approached the young women and said with a change of tone, "Excuse me, I’ve forgotten an engagement. I’ll be back to see you home."

"Stay!" Sinang said to him. "Yeyeng is going to dance La Calandria. She dances divinely."

"I can’t, little friend, but I’ll be back." The uproar increased.

Yeyeng appeared fancifully dressed, with the "Da usté su permiso?" and Carvajal was answering her, "Pase usté adelante," when two soldiers of the Civil Guard went up to Don Filipo and ordered him to stop the performance.

"Why?" asked the teniente-mayor in surprise.

"Because the alferez and his wife have been fighting and can’t sleep."

"Tell the alferez that we have permission from the alcalde and that against such permission no one in the town has any authority, not even the gobernadorcillo himself, and he is my only superior."

"Well, the show must stop!" repeated the soldiers. Don Filipo turned his back and they went away. In order not to disturb the merriment he told no one about the incident.

After the selection of vaudeville, which was loudly applauded, the Prince Villardo presented himself, challenging to mortal combat the Moros who held his father prisoner. The hero threatened to cut off all their heads at a single stroke and send them to the moon, but fortunately for the Moros, who were disposing themselves for the combat, a tumult arose. The orchestra suddenly ceased playing, [317]threw their instruments away, and jumped up on the stage. The valiant Villardo, not expecting them and taking them for allies of the Moros, dropped his sword and shield, and started to run. The Moros, seeing that such a doughty Christian was fleeing, did not consider it improper to imitate him. Cries, groans, prayers, oaths were heard, while the people ran and pushed one another about. The lights were extinguished, blazing lamps were thrown into the air. "Tulisanes! Tulisanes!" cried some. "Fire, fire! Robbers!" shouted others. Women and children wept, benches and spectators were rolled together on the ground amid the general pandemonium. The cause of all this uproar was two civil-guards, clubs in hand, chasing the musicians in order to break up the performance. The teniente-mayor, with the aid of the cuadrilleros, who were armed with old sabers, managed at length to arrest them, in spite of their resistance.

"Take them to the town hall!" cried Don Filipo. "Take care that they don’t get away!"

Ibarra had returned to look for Maria Clara. The frightened girls clung to him pale and trembling while Aunt Isabel recited the Latin litany.

When the people were somewhat calmed down from their fright and had learned the cause of the disturbance, they were beside themselves with indignation. Stones rained on the squad of cuadrilleros who were conducting the two offenders from the scene, and there were even those who proposed to set fire to the barracks of the Civil Guard so as to roast Doña Consolacion along with the alferez.

"That’s what they’re good for!" cried a woman, doubling up her fists and stretching out her arms. "To disturb the town! They don’t chase any but honest folks! Out yonder are the tulisanes and the gamblers. Let’s set fire to the barracks!"

One man was beating himself on the arm and begging for confession. Plaintive sounds issued from under the [318]overturned benches—it was a poor musician. The stage was crowded with actors and spectators, all talking at the same time. There was Chananay dressed as Leonor in Il Trovatore, talking in the language of the markets to Ratia in the costume of a schoolmaster; Yeyeng, wrapped in a silk shawl, was clinging to the Prince Villardo; while Balbino and the Moros were exerting themselves to console the more or less injured musicians.1 Several Spaniards went from group to group haranguing every one they met. A large crowd was forming, whose intention Don Filipo seemed to be aware of, for he ran to stop them. "Don’t disturb the peace!" he cried. "Tomorrow we’ll ask for an accounting and we’ll get justice. I’ll answer for it that we get justice!"

"No!" was the reply of several. "They did the same thing in Kalamba,2 the same promise was made, but the alcalde did nothing. We’ll take the law into our own hands! To the barracks!" In vain the teniente-mayor pleaded with them. The crowd maintained its hostile attitude, so he looked about him for help and noticed Ibarra.

"Señor Ibarra, as a favor! Restrain them while I get some cuadrilleros."

"What can I do?" asked the perplexed youth, but the teniente-mayor was already at a distance. He gazed about him seeking he knew not whom, when accidentally he discerned Elias, who stood impassively watching the disturbance.

Ibarra ran to him, caught him by the arm, and said to him in Spanish: "For God’s sake, do something, if you can! I can’t do anything." The pilot must have understood him, for he disappeared in the crowd. Lively disputes [319]and sharp exclamations were heard. Gradually the crowd began to break up, its members each taking a less hostile attitude. It was high time, indeed, for the soldiers were already rushing out armed and with fixed bayonets. Meanwhile, what had the curate been doing? Padre Salvi had not gone to bed but had stood motionless, resting his forehead against the curtains and gazing toward the plaza. From time to time a suppressed sigh escaped him, and if the light of the lamp had not been so dim, perhaps it would have been possible to see his eyes fill with tears. Thus nearly an hour passed.

The tumult in the plaza awoke him from his reverie. With startled eyes he saw the confused movements of the people, while their voices came up to him faintly. A breathless servant informed him of what was happening. A thought shot across his mind: in the midst of confusion and tumult is the time when libertines take advantage of the consternation and weakness of woman. Every one seeks to save himself, no one thinks of any one else; a cry is not heard or heeded, women faint, are struck and fall, terror and fright heed not shame, under the cover of night—and when they are in love! He imagined that he saw Crisostomo snatch the fainting Maria Clara up in his arms and disappear into the darkness. So he went down the stairway by leaps and bounds, and without hat or cane made for the plaza like a madman. There he met some Spaniards who were reprimanding the soldiers, but on looking toward the seats that the girls had occupied he saw that they were vacant.

"Padre! Padre!" cried the Spaniards, but he paid no attention to them as he ran in the direction of Capitan Tiago’s. There he breathed more freely, for he saw in the open hallway the adorable silhouette, full of grace and soft in outline, of Maria Clara, and that of the aunt carrying cups and glasses.

"Ah!" he murmured, "it seems that she has been taken sick only."

[320]Aunt Isabel at that moment closed the windows and the graceful shadow was no longer to be seen. The curate moved away without heeding the crowd. He had before his eyes the beautiful form of a maiden sleeping and breathing sweetly. Her eyelids were shaded by long lashes which formed graceful curves like those of the Virgins of Raphael, the little mouth was smiling, all the features breathed forth virginity, purity, and innocence. That countenance formed a sweet vision in the midst of the white coverings of her bed like the head of a cherub among the clouds. His imagination went still further—but who can write what a burning brain can imagine? Perhaps only the newspaper correspondent, who concluded his account of the fiesta and its accompanying incidents in the following manner:

"A thousand thanks, infinite thanks, to the opportune and active intervention of the Very Reverend Padre Fray Bernardo Salvi, who, defying every danger in the midst of the unbridled mob, without hat or cane, calmed the wrath of the crowd, using only his persuasive word with the majesty and authority that are never lacking to a minister of a Religion of Peace. With unparalleled self-abnegation this virtuous priest tore himself from sweet repose, such as every good conscience like his enjoys, and rushed to protect his flock from the least harm. The people of San Diego will hardly forget this sublime deed of their heroic Pastor, remembering to hold themselves grateful to him for all eternity!" [321]

 

 

1 The actors named were real persons. Ratia was a Spanish-Filipino who acquired quite a reputation not only in Manila but also in Spain. He died in Manila in 1910.—TR.
2 In the year 1879.—Author’s note.


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