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

  This chapter is missing from most editions of the Noli me tangere (Including the one we  posted here by Charles Derbyshire. This translation was done by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin 

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The Social Cancer

Chapter XXV - Elias and Salome

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter 25 - Missing Chapter - Elias and Salome}

Chapter XXV

Elias and Salome

If the honorable civil guards, after disturbing the fiesta, had directed themselves to a place that we know before the sun set that same afternoon, they would have without doubt encountered the one whom they were looking for.

It is a small but picturesque hut built along the shores of the lake on an elevation which spares it from the rise of the waters, among luxuriant bamboo groves, betelnut and coconut trees. Little red flowers like kamantigi and maravilla grow at the foot of the thick rustic wall made out of cut rocks, not appearing that it was really some sort of stairway which led to the lake. The upper part is made out of nipa palm leaves and cut wood, held down by strips of bamboo and adorned with leaves blessed on Palm Sunday, as well as with artificial flowers of tinsim, which come from China. An ilang-ilang tree pushes through the open window, an intrusive branch saturates the air with aroma. An the apex of the roof cocks and hens roost from time to time, while the rest keep the company of ducks, turkeys and pigeons to finish off the last grains of rice and corn scattered on some kind of
patio.

On a batalan or bamboo porch, taking advantage of the light of day, a young girl of some seventeen years is sewing a shirt of brilliant colors and transparent weave. Her clothes are ragged but clean and decent. Her blouse, like her skirt and tapis are covered with patches and stitches. All her adornment, all her jewelry, consist of a plain turtleshell comb to keep her simply dressed hair in place, and a
rosary of black beads hanging from her neck over her blouse.

She is graceful because she is young, has beautiful eyes, a small nose, a diminutive mouth; because there is harmony in her features, and a sweet expression animates them; but hers is not a beauty which instantly arrests attention at sight. She is like one of those little flowers in the field without color or fragrance, on which we step unwittingly, and whose beauty manifests itself to us only when we examine them with care - unknown flowers, flowers of elusive perfume.

Now and then she would look towards the lake whose waters are somewhat
disturbed, suspend her work and listen crefully, but not discovering anything, return anew to her sewing with a slight sigh.

Her face lights up at the sound of footsteps; she lets go of her sewing, stands up, smooths the creases on her skirts and waits, smiling, by the small stairway of bamboo.

The pigeons fly, the ducks and chickens squawk and cackle as the taciturn-looking helmsman appears, carrying firewood and a bunch of bananas which he deposits silently on the floor, while he turns over to the young girl a mudfish still stirring and wiggling its tail.

She examines the young man with a worried look, then places the fish in a basin filled with water and returns to pick up her sewing, seating herself beside the helmsman who has remained silent.

"I thought you would come from the lake, Elias," she says, opening the conversation.

"No, I could not, Salome," answers Elias in a low voice. "The launch came and scoured the lake. On board is one who knows me."

"God, my God," murmurs the young woman, looking anxiously at Elias.

A lengthy pause follows. The helmsman silently contemplates the swaying bamboos moving from one side t oanother, rustling their lance-shaped leaves.

"Did you enjoy yourself much?" asks Salome.

"Enjoy! They, they enjoyed themselves," replies the young man.

"Tell me how you passed the day; hearing it from your lips will please me much, as though I had been with all of you."

"Well...they went...they fished...they sang...and they enjoyed themselves," he answers, distracted.

Salome, not being able to contain herself any longer, questions him with a look and tells him:

"Elias, you are sad!"

"Sad?"

"I know you well!" exclaims the young woman. "Your life is sad...are you afraid they might discover you?"

Something like the shadow of a smile crosses the young man's lips.

"Is there anything you lack?"

"I do not have your friendship, perhaps? Are we not poor, one like the others?" replies Elias.

"Then why are you like this?"

"You have told me many times, Salome, that I do not say much."

Salome lowers herhead and continues sewing, then in a voice which attempts to appear indifferent, asks once more:

"Were there many of you?"

"There were many of them!"

"Many women?"

"Many."

"Who were... the young women...the beautiful ones?"

"I do not know all of them...one was the betrothed of the rich young man who arrived from Europe," answers Elias in an almost imperceptible voice.

"Ah, the daughter of the rich Capitan Tiago! They say she has become very beautiful?"

"Oh, yes! very beautiful and very kind-hearted," the young man answers, drowning a sigh.

Salome looks at him for a moment and then bows her head.

If Elias had not been looking at the clouds which at sunset often take capricious shapes, he would have surely seen that Salome was crying and that two teardrops fell from her eyes on what she was sewing. This time it is he who breaks the silence, standing up and saying:

"Farewell, Salome, the sun is gone, and as you think it is not good that the neighbors can say that the night has caught me here...but you have been crying!" changing his tone and frowning. "Do not deny it with your smile, you have been crying."

"Well, yes!" she answers smiling, as her eyes fill anew with tears. "It is because I, too, am very sad."

"And why are you sad, my good friend?"

"Because soon I will have to leave this home where I was born and where I have grown up," answers Salome, wiping away her tears.

"And why?"

"Because it is not good that I live alone. I will go and live with my relatives in Mindoro...soon I will be able to pay the debts my mother left me when she died; the town fiesta comes, and my chickens and turkeys are well-fattened. To leave a home where one has been born and raised is much more than to leave half of one's own self...the flowers, the gardens, my doves! A storm comes, a flood, and everything goes down to the lake!"

Elias becomes thoughtful, and then, taking her by the hand and fixing his eyes on her, asks:

"Have you heard anybody speak ill of you? No? Did I ever molest you once? Neither? Therefore you have become tired of my friendship and want to avoid me."

"No, do not speak that way! If only I would get tired of your friendship!" she interrupts. "Jesus, Mary! I live the day and night thinking of the hour in the afternoon in which you would come. When I did not know you, whey my poor mother lived, the morning and the evening were for me the best that God had created: the morning, because I would see the sun rising, reflecting itself on the waters of the lake in whose dark depths rests my father; because I woud see my fresh flowers, their leaves which had wilted the day before grown green again; my doves and chickens would greet me happily as if offering me good mornings. I loved the morning because after fixing the hut, I would go in my little boat to sell food to the fishermen who would give me fish or who would allow me to take what was left in the folds of their nets. I loved the evening which provided me with the sleep of the day, which would allow me to dream in silence under these bamboo trees to the music of their leaves, making me forget reality - and because the night would bring back my mother, whom the panginggi separated from my side during the day.

"But since I met you, the mornings and the evenings have lost their
enchantment, and only the afternoon is beautiful to me. I sometimes think that the morning was created to prepare oneself to enjoy the delights of the afternoon, and the evening to dream and relish the memories and awakened feelings. If only it were my choice to forever live the life I bear...God knows I am happy with my lot; I do not desire more than health to work; I don't envy the rich girls their wealth but..."

"But?"

"Nothing, I do not envy them anything while I have your friendship."

"Salome," the young man says with sharp regret, "you know my cruel past and you know my misfortune is not of my own making. If it were not for that fate which at times makes me think with bitterness about the love of my parents, if it were not because I do not want my children to suffer that which my sister and I suffered and what I still suffer, months ago you would have been my spouse in the eyes of God, and today we should be living deep in the forest and far away from men. But for this same love, for this future family, I have sworn to extinguish in me the misfortune that from father to son we have come to inherit, and it is necessary that this has to be, because
neither you nor I would like to hear our children cursing our love from which only miseries can be thier legacy. You do well to go to your relatives' home. Forget me, forget a foolish and useless love. Perhaps there you may find someone who is not like me."

"Elias!" exclaims the maiden with reproach.

"You have understood me wrongly; I speak to you as I would speak to my
sister if she were alive; in my words, there is not a single complaint against you, nor hidden thoughts. Why should I hurt you with a reproach? Believe me, go to the home of your relatives; forget me. That, with your forgetfulness, I may be less unfortunate. Here, you have nobdy but me, and the day that I fall into the hands of those who persecute me, you will be left alone and solitary for the rest of your life, if it is discovered that you were a friend of Elias's. Take advantage of your youth and your beauty to look for a good husband whom you deserve. No, no, you stilll do not know wht it is to live alone, alone in the midst of humanity."

"I was counting on your accompanying me..."

"Ay!" replies Elias,shaking his head, "impossible, and today more than
ever. I have not yet found that which I came to look for here. Impossible. This day I have lost my freedom."

And Elias recounts in a few words what transpired that morning.

"I did not ask him to save my life; I am not grateful for what he did, but for the feeling that inspired him, and I should pay that debt. For the rest of it, in Mindoro s anywhere else, the past will always be there, and will inevitably be discovered."

"Well then," Salome says to him, looking at him lovingly, "at the very least, when I have left, live here, live in this home. It will make you remember me and I will not think, in those faraway places, that my little house has been carried away by the hurricane or the waves. When my thoughts go back to these shores, the memory of you and that of my home will present themselves together. Sleep here where I have slept and dreamed....it would be as if I myself were living with you, as if I were at your side."

"Oh!" exclaims Elias, twisting his arms with despair, "woman, you are going to make me forget..." His eyes burn, but only for a moment.

And pulling himself away from the arms of the young woman, he flees, losing himself in the shadows of the trees.

Salome follows him with her eyes, remaining still and listening to the sound of the footsteps gradually fading away.

 



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