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Sep 22nd
The Social Cancer (Noli Me Tangere) Chapter LI to LX PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jose Rizal   
Monday, 18 June 2007 23:04





The Social Cancer

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

Philippine Education Company
New York: World Book Company


Translated from Spanish into English




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




Author’s Dedication


A Social Gathering


Crisostomo Ibarra


The Dinner


Heretic and Filibuster


A Star in a Dark Night


Capitan Tiago


An Idyl on an Azotea




Local Affairs


The Town


The Rulers


All Saints


Signs of Storm


Tasio: Lunatic or Sage


The Sacristans






Souls In Torment


A Schoolmaster’s Difficulties


The Meeting in the Town Hall


The Story of a Mother[liv]


Lights and Shadows




In the Wood


In the House of the Sage


The Eve of the Fiesta


In the Twilight




The Morning


In the Church


The Sermon


The Derrick


Free Thought


The Dinner




The First Cloud


His Excellency


The Procession


Doña Consolación


Right and Might


Two Visits


The Espadañas




An Examination of Conscience


The Hunted


The Cockpit


The Two Señoras


The Enigma


The Voice of the Hunted[iv]


Elias’s Story




The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows


Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina




The Catastrophe


Rumors and Belief


Vae Victis!


The Accursed


Patriotism and Private Interests


Maria Clara Weds


The Chase on the Lake


Padre Damaso Explains


Christmas Eve





{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LI -Exchanges}

Chapter LI


The bashful Linares was anxious and ill at ease. He had just received from Doña Victorina a letter which ran thus:

DEER COZIN within 3 days i expec to here from you if the alferes has killed you or you him i dont want anuther day to pass befour that broot has his punishment if that tim passes an you havent challenjed him ill tel don santiago you was never segretary nor joked with canobas nor went on a spree with the general don arseño martinez ill tel clarita its all a humbug an ill not give you a sent more if you challenje him i promis all you want so lets see you challenje him i warn you there must be no excuses nor delays yore cozin who loves you


sampaloc monday 7 in the evening


The affair was serious. He was well enough acquainted with the character of Doña Victorina to know what she was capable of. To talk to her of reason was to talk of honesty and courtesy to a revenue carbineer when he proposes to find contraband where there is none, to plead with her would be useless, to deceive her worse—there was no way out of the difficulty but to send the challenge.

"But how? Suppose he receives me with violence?" he soliloquized, as he paced to and fro. "Suppose I find him with his señora? Who will be willing to be my second? The curate? Capitan Tiago? Damn the hour in which I listened to her advice! The old toady! To oblige me to get myself tangled up, to tell lies, to make a [396]blustering fool of myself! What will the young lady say about me? Now I’m sorry that I’ve been secretary to all the ministers!" While the good Linares was in the midst of his soliloquy, Padre Salvi came in. The Franciscan was even thinner and paler than usual, but his eyes gleamed with a strange light and his lips wore a peculiar smile.

"Señor Linares, all alone?" was his greeting as he made his way to the sala, through the half-opened door of which floated the notes from a piano. Linares tried to smile.

"Where is Don Santiago?" continued the curate.

Capitan Tiago at that moment appeared, kissed the curate’s hand, and relieved him of his hat and cane, smiling all the while like one of the blessed.

"Come, come!" exclaimed the curate, entering the sala, followed by Linares and Capitan Tiago, "I have good news for you all. I’ve just received letters from Manila which confirm the one Señor Ibarra brought me yesterday. So, Don Santiago, the objection is removed."

Maria Clara, who was seated at the piano between her two friends, partly rose, but her strength failed her, and she fell back again. Linares turned pale and looked at Capitan Tiago, who dropped his eyes.

"That young man seems to me to be very agreeable," continued the curate. "At first I misjudged him—he’s a little quick-tempered—but he knows so well how to atone for his faults afterwards that one can’t hold anything against him. If it were not for Padre Damaso—"

Here the curate shot a quick glance at Maria Clara, who was listening without taking her eyes off the sheet of music, in spite of the sly pinches of Sinang, who was thus expressing her joy—had she been alone she would have danced.

"Padre Damaso?" queried Linares.

"Yes, Padre Damaso has said," the curate went on, without taking his gaze from Maria Clara, "that as—being her sponsor in baptism, he can’t permit—but, after [397]all, I believe that if Señor Ibarra begs his pardon, which I don’t doubt he’ll do, everything will be settled." Maria Clara rose, made some excuse, and retired to her chamber, accompanied by Victoria.

"But if Padre Damaso doesn’t pardon him?" asked Capitan Tiago in a low voice.

"Then Maria Clara will decide. Padre Damaso is her father—spiritually. But I think they’ll reach an understanding."

At that moment footsteps were heard and Ibarra appeared, followed by Aunt Isabel. His appearance produced varied impressions. To his affable greeting Capitan Tiago did not know whether to laugh or to cry. He acknowledged the presence of Linares with a profound bow. Fray Salvi arose and extended his hand so cordially that the youth could not restrain a look of astonishment.

"Don’t be surprised," said Fray Salvi, "for I was just now praising you."

Ibarra thanked him and went up to Sinang, who began with her childish garrulity, "Where have you been all day? We were all asking, where can that soul redeemed from purgatory have gone? And we all said the same thing."

"May I know what you said?"

"No, that’s a secret, but I’ll tell you soon alone. Now tell me where you’ve been, so we can see who guessed right."

"No, that’s also a secret, but I’ll tell you alone, if these gentlemen will excuse us."

"Certainly, certainly, by all means!" exclaimed Padre Salvi.

Rejoicing over the prospect of learning a secret, Sinang led Crisostomo to one end of the sala.

"Tell me, little friend," he asked, "is Maria angry with me?"

"I don’t know, but she says that it’s better for you to forget her, then she begins to cry. Capitan Tiago wants [398]her to marry that man. So does Padre Damaso, but she doesn’t say either yes or no. This morning when we were talking about you and I said, ‘Suppose he has gone to make love to some other girl?’ she answered, ‘Would that he had!’ and began to cry." Ibarra became grave. "Tell Maria that I want to talk with her alone."

"Alone?" asked Sinang, wrinkling her eyebrows and staring at him.

"Entirely alone, no, but not with that fellow present."

"It’s rather difficult, but don’t worry, I’ll tell her."

"When shall I have an answer?"

"Tomorrow come to my house early. Maria doesn’t want to be left alone at all, so we stay with her. Victoria sleeps with her one night and I the other, and tonight it’s my turn. But listen, your secret? Are you going away without telling me?"

"That’s right! I was in the town of Los Baños. I’m going to develop some coconut-groves and I’m thinking of putting up an oil-mill. Your father will be my partner."

"Nothing more than that? What a secret!" exclaimed Sinang aloud, in the tone of a cheated usurer. "I thought—"

"Be careful! I don’t want you to make it known!"

"Nor do I want to do it," replied Sinang, turning up her nose. "If it were something more important, I would tell my friends. But to buy coconuts! Coconuts! Who’s interested in coconuts?" And with extraordinary haste she ran to join her friends.

A few minutes later Ibarra, seeing that the interest of the party could only languish, took his leave. Capitan Tiago wore a bitter-sweet look, Linares was silent and watchful, while the curate with assumed cheerfulness talked of indifferent matters. None of the girls had reappeared. [399]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LII -The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows}

Chapter LII

The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows

The moon was hidden in a cloudy sky while a cold wind, precursor of the approaching December, swept the dry leaves and dust about in the narrow pathway leading to the cemetery. Three shadowy forms were conversing in low tones under the arch of the gateway.

"Have you spoken to Elias?" asked a voice.

"No, you know how reserved and circumspect he is. But he ought to be one of us. Don Crisostomo saved his life."

"That’s why I joined," said the first voice. "Don Crisostomo had my wife cured in the house of a doctor in Manila. I’ll look after the convento to settle some old scores with the curate."

"And we’ll take care of the barracks to show the civil-guards that our father had sons."

"How many of us will there be?"

"Five, and five will be enough. Don Crisostomo’s servant, though, says there’ll be twenty of us."

"What if you don’t succeed?"

"Hist!" exclaimed one of the shadows, and all fell silent.

In the semi-obscurity a shadowy figure was seen to approach, sneaking along by the fence. From time to time it stopped as if to look back. Nor was reason for this movement lacking, since some twenty paces behind it came another figure, larger and apparently darker than the first, but so lightly did it touch the ground that it vanished as rapidly as though the earth had swallowed it every time the first shadow paused and turned.

[400]"They’re following me," muttered the first figure. "Can it be the civil-guards? Did the senior sacristan lie?" "They said that they would meet here," thought the second shadow. "Some mischief must be on foot when the two brothers conceal it from me."

At length the first shadow reached the gateway of the cemetery. The three who were already there stepped forward.

"Is that you?"

"Is that you?"

"We must scatter, for they’ve followed me. Tomorrow you’ll get the arms and tomorrow night is the time. The cry is, ‘Viva Don Crisostomo!’ Go!"

The three shadows disappeared behind the stone walls. The later arrival hid in the hollow of the gateway and waited silently. "Let’s see who’s following me," he thought.

The second shadow came up very cautiously and paused as if to look about him. "I’m late," he muttered, "but perhaps they will return."

A thin fine rain, which threatened to last, began to fall, so it occurred to him to take refuge under the gateway. Naturally, he ran against the other.

"Ah! Who are you?" asked the latest arrival in a rough tone.

"Who are you?" returned the other calmly, after which there followed a moment’s pause as each tried to recognize the other’s voice and to make out his features.

"What are you waiting here for?" asked he of the rough voice.

"For the clock to strike eight so that I can play cards with the dead. I want to win something tonight," answered the other in a natural tone. "And you, what have you come for?"

"For—for the same purpose."

"Abá! I’m glad of that, I’ll not be alone. I’ve [401]brought cards. At the first stroke of the bell I’ll make the lay, at the second I’ll deal. The cards that move are the cards of the dead and we’ll have to cut for them. Have you brought cards?" "No."

"Then how—"

"It’s simple enough—just as you’re going to deal for them, so I expect them to play for me."

"But what if the dead don’t play?"

"What can we do? Gambling hasn’t yet been made compulsory among the dead."

A short silence ensued.

"Are you armed? How are you going to fight with the dead?"

"With my fists," answered the larger of the two.

"Oh, the devil! Now I remember—the dead won’t bet when there’s more than one living person, and there are two of us."

"Is that right? Well, I don’t want to leave."

"Nor I. I’m short of money," answered the smaller. "But let’s do this: let’s play for it, the one who loses to leave."

"All right," agreed the other, rather ungraciously. "Then let’s get inside. Have you any matches?" They went in to seek in the semi-obscurity for a suitable place and soon found a niche in which they could sit. The shorter took some cards from his salakot, while the other struck a match, in the light from which they stared at each other, but, from the expressions on their faces, apparently without recognition. Nevertheless, we can recognize in the taller and deep-voiced one Elias and in the shorter one, from the scar on his cheek, Lucas.

"Cut!" called Lucas, still staring at the other. He pushed aside some bones that were in the niche and dealt an ace and a jack.

Elias lighted match after match. "On the jack!" he [402]said, and to indicate the card placed a vertebra on top of it. "Play!" called Lucas, as he dealt an ace with the fourth or fifth card. "You’ve lost," he added. "Now leave me alone so that I can try to make a raise."

Elias moved away without a word and was soon swallowed up in the darkness.

Several minutes later the church-clock struck eight and the bell announced the hour of the souls, but Lucas invited no one to play nor did he call on the dead, as the superstition directs; instead, he took off his hat and muttered a few prayers, crossing and recrossing himself with the same fervor with which, at that same moment, the leader of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary was going through a similar performance.

Throughout the night a drizzling rain continued to fall. By nine o’clock the streets were dark and solitary. The coconut-oil lanterns, which the inhabitants were required to hang out, scarcely illuminated a small circle around each, seeming to be lighted only to render the darkness more apparent. Two civil-guards paced back and forth in the street near the church.

"It’s cold!" said one in Tagalog with a Visayan accent. "We haven’t caught any sacristan, so there is no one to repair the alferez’s chicken-coop. They’re all scared out by the death of that other one. This makes me tired."

"Me, too," answered the other. "No one commits robbery, no one raises a disturbance, but, thank God, they say that Elias is in town. The alferez says that whoever catches him will be exempt from floggings for three months."

"Aha! Do you remember his description?" asked the Visayan.

"I should say so! Height: tall, according to the alferez, medium, according to Padre Damaso; color, brown; eyes, black; nose, ordinary; beard, none; hair, black."

"Aha! But special marks?"

"Black shirt, black pantaloons, wood-cutter."

[403]"Aha, he won’t get away from me! I think I see him now." "I wouldn’t mistake him for any one else, even though he might look like him."

Thus the two soldiers continued on their round.

By the light of the lanterns we may again see two shadowy figures moving cautiously along, one behind the other. An energetic "Quién vive?" stops both, and the first answers, "España!" in a trembling voice.

The soldiers seize him and hustle him toward a lantern to examine him. It is Lucas, but the soldiers seem to be in doubt, questioning each other with their eyes.

"The alferez didn’t say that he had a scar," whispered the Visayan. "Where you going?"

"To order a mass for tomorrow."

"Haven’t you seen Elias?"

"I don’t know him, sir," answered Lucas.

"I didn’t ask you if you know him, you fool! Neither do we know him. I’m asking you if you’ve seen him."

"No, sir."

"Listen, I’ll describe him: Height, sometimes tall, sometimes medium; hair and eyes, black; all the other features, ordinary," recited the Visayan. "Now do you know him?"

"No, sir," replied Lucas stupidly.

"Then get away from here! Brute! Dolt!" And they gave him a shove.

"Do you know why Elias is tall to the alferez and of medium height to the curate?" asked the Tagalog thoughtfully.

"No," answered the Visayan.

"Because the alferez was down in the mudhole when he saw him and the curate was on foot."

"That’s right!" exclaimed the Visayan. "You’re talented—blow is it that you’re a civil-guard?"

"I wasn’t always one; I was a smuggler," answered the Tagalog with a touch of pride.

[404]But another shadowy figure diverted their attention. They challenged this one also and took the man to the light. This time it was the real Elias.

"Where you going?"

"To look for a man, sir, who beat and threatened my brother. He has a scar on his face and is called Elias."

"Aha!" exclaimed the two guards, gazing at each other in astonishment, as they started on the run toward the church, where Lucas had disappeared a few moments before. [405]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LIII -Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina}

Chapter LIII

Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina1

Early the next morning the report spread through the town that many lights had been seen in the cemetery on the previous night. The leader of the Venerable Tertiary Order spoke of lighted candles, of their shape and size, and, although he could not fix the exact number, had counted more than twenty. Sister Sipa, of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary, could not bear the thought that a member of a rival order should alone boast of having seen this divine marvel, so she, even though she did not live near the place, had heard cries and groans, and even thought she recognized by their voices certain persons with whom she, in other times,—but out of Christian charity she not only forgave them but prayed for them and would keep their names secret, for all of which she was declared on the spot to be a saint. Sister Rufa was not so keen of hearing, but she could not suffer that Sister Sipa had heard so much and she nothing, so she related a dream in which there had appeared before her many souls—not only of the dead but even of the living—souls in torment who begged for a part of those indulgences of hers which were so carefully recorded and treasured. She could furnish names to the families interested and only asked for a few alms to succor the Pope in his needs. A little fellow, a herder, who dared to assert that he had seen nothing more than one light and two men in salakots had difficulty in escaping with mere slaps and scoldings. Vainly he swore to it; there were his carabaos with him and could verify his statement. "Do you pretend to know more than the [406]Warden and the Sisters, paracmason,2 heretic?" he was asked amid angry looks. The curate went up into the pulpit and preached about purgatory so fervently that the pesos again flowed forth from their hiding-places to pay for masses. But let us leave the suffering souls and listen to the conversation between Don Filipo and old Tasio in the lonely home of the latter. The Sage, or Lunatic, was sick, having been for days unable to leave his bed, prostrated by a malady that was rapidly growing worse.

"Really, I don’t know whether to congratulate you or not that your resignation has been accepted. Formerly, when the gobernadorcillo so shamelessly disregarded the will of the majority, it was right for you to tender it, but now that you are engaged in a contest with the Civil Guard it’s not quite proper. In time of war you ought to remain at your post."

"Yes, but not when the general sells himself," answered Don Filipo. "You know that on the following morning the gobernadorcillo liberated the soldiers that I had succeeded in arresting and refused to take any further action. Without the consent of my superior officer I could do nothing."

"You alone, nothing; but with the rest, much. You should have taken advantage of this opportunity to set an example to the other towns. Above the ridiculous authority of the gobernadorcillo are the rights of the people. It was the beginning of a good lesson and you have neglected it."

"But what could I have done against the representative of the interests? Here you have Señor Ibarra, he has bowed before the beliefs of the crowd. Do you think that he believes in excommunications?"

"You are not in the same fix. Señor Ibarra is trying to sow the good seed, and to do so he must bend himself and make what use he can of the material at hand. Your [407]mission was to stir things up, and for that purpose initiative and force are required. Besides, the fight should not be considered as merely against the gobernadorcillo. The principle ought to be, against him who makes wrong use of his authority, against him who disturbs the public peace, against him who fails in his duty. You would not have been alone, for the country is not the same now that it was twenty years ago." "Do you think so?" asked Don Filipo.

"Don’t you feel it?" rejoined the old man, sitting up in his bed. "Ah, that is because you haven’t seen the past, you haven’t studied the effect of European immigration, of the coming of new books, and of the movement of our youth to Europe. Examine and compare these facts. It is true that the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, with its most sapient faculty, still exists and that some intelligences are yet exercised in formulating distinctions and in penetrating the subtleties of scholasticism; but where will you now find the metaphysical youth of our days, with their archaic education, who tortured their brains and died in full pursuit of sophistries in some corner of the provinces, without ever having succeeded in understanding the attributes of being, or solving the problem of essence and existence, those lofty concepts that made us forget what was essential,—our own existence and our own individuality? Look at the youth of today! Full of enthusiasm at the view of a wider horizon, they study history, mathematics, geography, literature, physical sciences, languages—all subjects that in our times we heard mentioned with horror, as though they were heresies. The greatest free-thinker of my day declared them inferior to the classifications of Aristotle and the laws of the syllogism. Man has at last comprehended that he is man; he has given up analyzing his God and searching into the imperceptible, into what he has not seen; he has given up framing laws for the phantasms of his brain; he comprehends that his heritage is the vast world, dominion over which is within [408]his reach; weary of his useless and presumptuous toil, he lowers his head and examines what surrounds him. See how poets are now springing up among us! The Muses of Nature are gradually opening up their treasures to us and begin to smile in encouragement on our efforts; the experimental sciences have already borne their first-fruits; time only is lacking for their development. The lawyers of today are being trained in the new forms of the philosophy of law, some of them begin to shine in the midst of the shadows which surround our courts of justice, indicating a change in the course of affairs. Hear how the youth talk, visit the centers of learning! Other names resound within the walls of the schools, there where we heard only those of St. Thomas, Suarez, Amat, Sanchez,3 and others who were the idols of our times. In vain do the friars cry out from the pulpits against our demoralization, as the fish-venders cry out against the cupidity of their customers, disregarding the fact that their wares are stale and unserviceable! In vain do the conventos extend their ramifications to check the new current. The gods are going! The roots of the tree may weaken the plants that support themselves under it, but they cannot take away life from those other beings, which, like birds, are soaring toward the sky." The Sage spoke with animation, his eyes gleamed.

"Still, the new seed is small," objected Don Filipo incredulously. "If all enter upon the progress we purchase so dearly, it may be stifled."

"Stifled! Who will stifle it? Man, that weak dwarf, stifle progress, the powerful child of time and action? When has he been able to do so? Bigotry, the gibbet, the stake, by endeavoring to stifle it, have hurried it along. E pur si muove,4 said Galileo, when the Dominicans forced him to declare that the earth does not move, and the same statement might be applied to human progress. Some wills [409]are broken down, some individuals sacrificed, but that is of little import; progress continues on its way, and from the blood of those who fall new and vigorous offspring is born. See, the press itself, however backward it may wish to be, is taking a step forward. The Dominicans themselves do not escape the operation of this law, but are imitating the Jesuits, their irreconcilable enemies. They hold fiestas in their cloisters, they erect little theaters, they compose poems, because, as they are not devoid of intelligence in spite of believing in the fifteenth century, they realize that the Jesuits are right, and they will still take part in the future of the younger peoples that they have reared." "So, according to you, the Jesuits keep up with progress?" asked Don Filipo in wonder. "Why, then, are they opposed in Europe?"

"I will answer you like an old scholastic," replied the Sage, lying down again and resuming his jesting expression. "There are three ways in which one may accompany the course of progress: in front of, beside, or behind it. The first guide it, the second suffer themselves to be carried along with it, and the last are dragged after it and to these last the Jesuits belong. They would like to direct it, but as they see that it is strong and has other tendencies, they capitulate, preferring to follow rather than to be crushed or left alone among the shadows by the wayside. Well now, we in the Philippines are moving along at least three centuries behind the car of progress; we are barely beginning to emerge from the Middle Ages. Hence the Jesuits, who are reactionary in Europe, when seen from our point of view, represent progress. To them the Philippines owes her dawning system of instruction in the natural sciences, the soul of the nineteenth century, as she owed to the Dominicans scholasticism, already dead in spite of Leo XIII, for there is no Pope who can revive what common sense has judged and condemned.

"But where are we getting to?" he asked with a change [410]of tone. "Ah, we were speaking of the present condition of the Philippines. Yes, we are now entering upon a period of strife, or rather, I should say that you are, for my generation belongs to the night, we are passing away. This strife is between the past, which seizes and strives with curses to cling to the tottering feudal castle, and the future, whose song of triumph may be heard from afar amid the splendors of the coming dawn, bringing the message of Good-News from other lands. Who will fall and be buried in the moldering ruins?" The old man paused. Noticing that Don Filipo was gazing at him thoughtfully, he said with a smile, "I can almost guess what you are thinking."


"You are thinking of how easily I may be mistaken," was the answer with a sad smile. "Today I am feverish, and I am not infallible: homo sum et nihil humani a me alienum puto,5 said Terence, and if at any time one is allowed to dream, why not dream pleasantly in the last hours of life? And after all, I have lived only in dreams! You are right, it is a dream! Our youths think only of love affairs and dissipations; they expend more time and work harder to deceive and dishonor a maiden than in thinking about the welfare of their country; our women, in order to care for the house and family of God, neglect their own: our men are active only in vice and heroic only in shame; childhood develops amid ignorance and routine, youth lives its best years without ideals, and a sterile manhood serves only as an example for corrupting youth. Gladly do I die! Claudite iam rivos, pueri!"6 "Don’t you want some medicine?" asked Don Filipo in order to change the course of the conversation, which had darkened the old man’s face.

[411]"The dying need no medicines; you who remain need them. Tell Don Crisostomo to come and see me tomorrow, for I have some important things to say to him. In a few days I am going away. The Philippines is in darkness!" After a few moments more of talk, Don Filipo left the sick man’s house, grave and thoughtful. [412]



1 The fair day is foretold by the morn.
2 Paracmason, i.e. freemason.
3 Scholastic theologians.—TR.
4 And yet it does move!
5 I am a man and nothing that concerns humanity do I consider foreign to me.
6 A portion of the closing words of Virgil’s third eclogue, equivalent here to "Let the curtain drop."—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LIV -Revelations}

Chapter LIV


Quidquid latet, adparebit, Nil inultum remanebit.1

The vesper bells are ringing, and at the holy sound all pause, drop their tasks, and uncover. The laborer returning from the fields ceases the song with which he was pacing his carabao and murmurs a prayer, the women in the street cross themselves and move their lips affectedly so that none may doubt their piety, a man stops caressing his game-cock and recites the angelus to bring better luck, while inside the houses they pray aloud. Every sound but that of the Ave Maria dies away, becomes hushed.

Nevertheless, the curate, without his hat, rushes across the street, to the scandalizing of many old women, and, greater scandal still, directs his steps toward the house of the alferez. The devout women then think it time to cease the movement of their lips in order to kiss the curate’s hand, but Padre Salvi takes no notice of them. This evening he finds no pleasure in placing his bony hand on his Christian nose that he may slip it down dissemblingly (as Doña Consolacion has observed) over the bosom of the attractive young woman who may have bent over to receive his blessing. Some important matter must be engaging his attention when he thus forgets his own interests and those of the Church!

[413]In fact, he rushes headlong up the stairway and knocks impatiently at the alferez’s door. The latter puts in his appearance, scowling, followed by his better half, who smiles like one of the damned. "Ah, Padre, I was just going over to see you. That old goat of yours—"

"I have a very important matter—"

"I can’t stand for his running about and breaking down the fence. I’ll shoot him if he comes back!"

"That is, if you are alive tomorrow!" exclaimed the panting curate as he made his way toward the sala.

"What, do you think that puny doll will kill me? I’ll bust him with a kick!"

Padre Salvi stepped backward with an involuntary glance toward the alferez’s feet. "Whom are you talking about?" he asked tremblingly.

"About whom would I talk but that simpleton who has challenged me to a duel with revolvers at a hundred paces?"

"Ah!" sighed the curate, then he added, "I’ve come to talk to you about a very urgent matter."

"Enough of urgent matters! It’ll be like that affair of the two boys."

Had the light been other than from coconut oil and the lamp globe not so dirty, the alferez would have noticed the curate’s pallor.

"Now this is a serious matter, which concerns the lives of all of us," declared Padre Salvi in a low voice.

"A serious matter?" echoed the alferez, turning pale. "Can that boy shoot straight?"

"I’m not talking about him."

"Then, what?"

The friar made a sign toward the door, which the alferez closed in his own way—with a kick, for he had found his hands superfluous and had lost nothing by ceasing to be bimanous.

[414]A curse and a roar sounded outside. "Brute, you’ve split my forehead open!" yelled his wife. "Now, unburden yourself," he said calmly to the curate.

The latter stared at him for a space, then asked in the nasal, droning voice of the preacher, "Didn’t you see me come—running?"

"Sure! I thought you’d lost something."

"Well, now," continued the curate, without heeding the alferez’s rudeness, "when I fail thus in my duty, it’s because there are grave reasons."

"Well, what else?" asked the other, tapping the floor with his foot.

"Be calm!"

"Then why did you come in such a hurry?"

The curate drew nearer to him and asked mysteriously, "Haven’t—you—heard—anything?"

The alferez shrugged his shoulders.

"You admit that you know absolutely nothing?"

"Do you want to talk about Elias, who put away your senior sacristan last night?" was the retort.

"No, I’m not talking about those matters," answered the curate ill-naturedly. "I’m talking about a great danger."

"Well, damn it, out with it!"

"Come," said the friar slowly and disdainfully, "you see once more how important we ecclesiastics are. The meanest lay brother is worth as much as a regiment, while a curate—"

Then he added in a low and mysterious tone, "I’ve discovered a big conspiracy!"

The alferez started up and gazed in astonishment at the friar.

"A terrible and well-organized plot, which will be carried out this very night."

"This very night!" exclaimed the alferez, pushing the curate aside and running to his revolver and sword hanging on the wall.

[415]"Who’ll I arrest? Who’ll I arrest?" he cried. "Calm yourself! There is still time, thanks to the promptness with which I have acted. We have till eight o’clock."

"I’ll shoot all of them!"

"Listen! This afternoon a woman whose name I can’t reveal (it’s a secret of the confessional) came to me and told everything. At eight o’clock they will seize the barracks by surprise, plunder the convento, capture the police boat, and murder all of us Spaniards."

The alferez was stupefied.

"The woman did not tell me any more than this," added the curate.

"She didn’t tell any more? Then I’ll arrest her!"

"I can’t consent to that. The bar of penitence is the throne of the God of mercies."

"There’s neither God nor mercies that amount to anything! I’ll arrest her!"

"You’re losing your head! What you must do is to get yourself ready. Muster your soldiers quietly and put them in ambush, send me four guards for the convento, and notify the men in charge of the boat."

"The boat isn’t here. I’ll ask for help from the other sections."

"No, for then the plotters would be warned and would not carry out their plans. What we must do is to catch them alive and make them talk—I mean, you’ll make them talk, since I, as a priest, must not meddle in such matters. Listen, here’s where you win crosses and stars. I ask only that you make due acknowledgment that it was I who warned you."

"It’ll be acknowledged, Padre, it’ll be acknowledged—and perhaps you’ll get a miter!" answered the glowing alferez, glancing at the cuffs of his uniform.

"So, you send me four guards in plain clothes, eh? Be discreet, and tonight at eight o’clock it’ll rain stars and crosses."

[416]While all this was taking place, a man ran along the road leading to Ibarra’s house and rushed up the stairway. "Is your master here?" the voice of Elias called to a servant.

"He’s in his study at work."

Ibarra, to divert the impatience that he felt while waiting for the time when he could make his explanations to Maria Clara, had set himself to work in his laboratory.

"Ah, that you, Elias?" he exclaimed. "I was thinking about you. Yesterday I forgot to ask you the name of that Spaniard in whose house your grandfather lived."

"Let’s not talk about me, sir—"

"Look," continued Ibarra, not noticing the youth’s agitation, while he placed a piece of bamboo over a flame, "I’ve made a great discovery. This bamboo is incombustible."

"It’s not a question of bamboo now, sir, it’s a question of your collecting your papers and fleeing at this very moment."

Ibarra glanced at him in surprise and, on seeing the gravity of his countenance, dropped the object that he held in his hands.

"Burn everything that may compromise you and within an hour put yourself in a place of safety."

"Why?" Ibarra was at length able to ask.

"Put all your valuables in a safe place—"


"Burn every letter written by you or to you—the most innocent thing may be wrongly construed—"

"But why all this?"

"Why! Because I’ve just discovered a plot that is to be attributed to you in order to ruin you."

"A plot? Who is forming it?"

"I haven’t been able to discover the author of it, but just a moment ago I talked with one of the poor dupes who are paid to carry it out, and I wasn’t able to dissuade him."

[417]"But he—didn’t he tell you who is paying him?" "Yes! Under a pledge of secrecy he said that it was you."

"My God!" exclaimed the terrified Ibarra.

"There’s no doubt of it, sir. Don’t lose any time, for the plot will probably be carried out this very night."

Ibarra, with his hands on his head and his eyes staring unnaturally, seemed not to hear him.

"The blow cannot be averted," continued Elias. "I’ve come late, I don’t know who the leaders are. Save yourself, sir, save yourself for your country’s sake!"

"Whither shall I flee? She expects me tonight!" exclaimed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara.

"To any town whatsoever, to Manila, to the house of some official, but anywhere so that they may not say that you are directing this movement."

"Suppose that I myself report the plot?"

"You an informer!" exclaimed Elias, stepping back and staring at him. "You would appear as a traitor and coward in the eyes of the plotters and faint-hearted in the eyes of others. They would say that you planned the whole thing to curry favor. They would say—"

"But what’s to be done?"

"I’ve already told you. Destroy every document that relates to your affairs, flee, and await the outcome."

"And Maria Clara?" exclaimed the young man. "No, I’ll die first!"

Elias wrung his hands, saying, "Well then, at least parry the blow. Prepare for the time when they accuse you."

Ibarra gazed about him in bewilderment. "Then help me. There in that writing-desk are all the letters of my family. Select those of my father, which are perhaps the ones that may compromise me. Read the signatures."

So the bewildered and stupefied young man opened and shut boxes, collected papers, read letters hurriedly, tearing [418]up some and laying others aside. He took down some books and began to turn their leaves. Elias did the same, if not so excitedly, yet with equal eagerness. But suddenly he paused, his eyes bulged, he turned the paper in his hand over and over, then asked in a trembling voice:

"Was your family acquainted with Don Pedro Eibarramendia?"

"I should say so!" answered Ibarra, as he opened a chest and took out a bundle of papers. "He was my great-grandfather."

"Your great-grandfather Don Pedro Eibarramendia?" again asked Elias with changed and livid features.

"Yes," replied Ibarra absently, "we shortened the surname; it was too long."

"Was he a Basque?" demanded Elias, approaching him.

"Yes, a Basque—but what’s the matter?" asked Ibarra in surprise.

Clenching his fists and pressing them to his forehead, Elias glared at Crisostomo, who recoiled when he saw the expression on the other’s face. "Do you know who Don Pedro Eibarramendia was?" he asked between his teeth. "Don Pedro Eibarramendia was the villain who falsely accused my grandfather and caused all our misfortunes. I have sought for that name and God has revealed it to me! Render me now an accounting for our misfortunes!"

Elias caught and shook the arm of Crisostomo, who gazed at him in terror. In a voice that was bitter and trembling with hate, he said, "Look at me well, look at one who has suffered and you live, you live, you have wealth, a home, reputation—you live, you live!"

Beside himself, he ran to a small collection of arms and snatched up a dagger. But scarcely had he done so when he let it fall again and stared like a madman at the motionless Ibarra.

"What was I about to do?" he muttered, fleeing from the house. [419]



1 "Whatever is hidden will be revealed, nothing will remain unaccounted for." From Dies Irae, the hymn in the mass for the dead, best known to English readers from the paraphrase of it in Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel. The lines here quoted were thus metrically translated by Macaulay: "What was distant shall be near,
What was hidden shall be clear."—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LV -The Catastrophe}

Chapter LV

The Catastrophe

There in the dining-room Capitan Tiago, Linares, and Aunt Isabel were at supper, so that even in the sala the rattling of plates and dishes was plainly heard. Maria Clara had said that she was not hungry and had seated herself at the piano in company with the merry Sinang, who was murmuring mysterious words into her ear. Meanwhile Padre Salvi paced nervously back and forth in the room.

It was not, indeed, that the convalescent was not hungry, no; but she was expecting the arrival of a certain person and was taking advantage of this moment when her Argus was not present, Linares’ supper-hour.

"You’ll see how that specter will stay till eight," murmured Sinang, indicating the curate. "And at eight he will come. The curate’s in love with Linares."

Maria Clara gazed in consternation at her friend, who went on heedlessly with her terrible chatter: "Oh, I know why he doesn’t go, in spite of my hints—he doesn’t want to burn up oil in the convento! Don’t you know that since you’ve been sick the two lamps that he used to keep lighted he has had put out? But look how he stares, and what a face!"

At that moment a clock in the house struck eight. The curate shuddered and sat down in a corner.

"Here he comes!" exclaimed Sinang, pinching Maria Clara. "Don’t you hear him?"

The church bell boomed out the hour of eight and all rose to pray. Padre Salvi offered up a prayer in a weak [420]and trembling voice, but as each was busy with his own thoughts no one paid any attention to the priest’s agitation. Scarcely had the prayer ceased when Ibarra appeared. The youth was in mourning not only in his attire but also in his face, to such an extent that, on seeing him, Maria Clara arose and took a step toward him to ask what the matter was. But at that instant the report of firearms was heard. Ibarra stopped, his eyes rolled, he lost the power of speech. The curate had concealed himself behind a post. More shots, more reports were heard from the direction of the convento, followed by cries and the sound of persons running. Capitan Tiago, Aunt Isabel, and Linares rushed in pell-mell, crying, "Tulisan! Tulisan!" Andeng followed, flourishing the gridiron as she ran toward her foster-sister.

Aunt Isabel fell on her knees weeping and reciting the Kyrie eleyson; Capitan Tiago, pale and trembling, carried on his fork a chicken-liver which he offered tearfully to the Virgin of Antipolo; Linares with his mouth full of food was armed with a case-knife; Sinang and Maria Clara were in each other’s arms; while the only one that remained motionless, as if petrified, was Crisostomo, whose paleness was indescribable.

The cries and sound of blows continued, windows were closed noisily, the report of a gun was heard from time to time.

"Christie eleyson! Santiago, let the prophecy be fulfilled! Shut the windows!" groaned Aunt Isabel.

"Fifty big bombs and two thanksgiving masses!" responded Capitan Tiago. "Ora pro nobis!"

Gradually there prevailed a heavy silence which was soon broken by the voice of the alferez, calling as he ran: "Padre, Padre Salvi, come here!"

"Miserere! The alferez is calling for confession," cried Aunt Isabel. "The alferez is wounded?" asked Linares hastily. [421]"Ah!!!" Only then did he notice that he had not yet swallowed what he had in his mouth. "Padre, come here! There’s nothing more to fear!" the alferez continued to call out.

The pallid Fray Salvi at last concluded to venture out from his hiding-place, and went down the stairs.

"The outlaws have killed the alferez! Maria, Sinang, go into your room and fasten the door! Kyrie eleyson!"

Ibarra also turned toward the stairway, in spite of Aunt Isabel’s cries: "Don’t go out, you haven’t been shriven, don’t go out!" The good old lady had been a particular friend of his mother’s.

But Ibarra left the house. Everything seemed to reel around him, the ground was unstable. His ears buzzed, his legs moved heavily and irregularly. Waves of blood, lights and shadows chased one another before his eyes, and in spite of the bright moonlight he stumbled over the stones and blocks of wood in the vacant and deserted street.

Near the barracks he saw soldiers, with bayonets fixed, who were talking among themselves so excitedly that he passed them unnoticed. In the town hall were to be heard blows, cries, and curses, with the voice of the alferez dominating everything: "To the stocks! Handcuff them! Shoot any one who moves! Sergeant, mount the guard! Today no one shall walk about, not even God! Captain, this is no time to go to sleep!"

Ibarra hastened his steps toward home, where his servants were anxiously awaiting him. "Saddle the best horse and go to bed!" he ordered them.

Going into his study, he hastily packed a traveling-bag, opened an iron safe, took out what money he found there and put it into some sacks. Then he collected his jewels, took clown a portrait of Maria Clara, armed himself with a dagger and two revolvers, and turned toward a closet where he kept his instruments.

At that moment three heavy knocks sounded on the door. "Who’s there?" asked Ibarra in a gloomy tone.

[422]"Open, in the King’s name, open at once, or we’ll break the door down," answered an imperious voice in Spanish. Ibarra looked toward the window, his eyes gleamed, and he cocked his revolver. Then changing his mind, he put the weapons down and went to open the door just as the servant appeared. Three guards instantly seized him.

"Consider yourself a prisoner in the King’s name," said the sergeant.

"For what?"

"They’ll tell you over there. We’re forbidden to say." The youth reflected a moment and then, perhaps not wishing that the soldiers should discover his preparations for flight, picked up his hat, saying, "I’m at your service. I suppose that it will only be for a few hours."

"If you promise not to try to escape, we won’t tie you the alferez grants this favor—but if you run—"

Ibarra went with them, leaving his servants in consternation.

Meanwhile, what had become of Elias? Leaving the house of Crisostomo, he had run like one crazed, without heeding where he was going. He crossed the fields in violent agitation, he reached the woods; he fled from the town, from the light—even the moon so troubled him that he plunged into the mysterious shadows of the trees. There, sometimes pausing, sometimes moving along unfrequented paths, supporting himself on the hoary trunks or being entangled in the undergrowth, he gazed toward the town, which, bathed in the light of the moon, spread out before him on the plain along the shore of the lake. Birds awakened from their sleep flew about, huge bats and owls moved from branch to branch with strident cries and gazed at him with their round eyes, but Elias neither heard nor heeded them. In his fancy he was followed by the offended shades of his family, he saw on every branch the gruesome basket containing Balat’s gory head, as his father had described it to him; at every tree he seemed to stumble over the [423]corpse of his grandmother; he imagined that he saw the rotting skeleton of his dishonored grandfather swinging among the shadows—and the skeleton and the corpse and the gory head cried after him, "Coward! Coward!" Leaving the hill, Elias descended to the lake and ran along the shore excitedly. There at a distance in the midst of the waters, where the moonlight seemed to form a cloud, he thought he could see a specter rise and soar the shade of his sister with her breast bloody and her loose hair streaming about. He fell to his knees on the sand and extending his arms cried out, "You, too!"

Then with his gaze fixed on the cloud he arose slowly and went forward into the water as if he were following some one. He passed over the gentle slope that forms the bar and was soon far from the shore. The water rose to his waist, but he plunged on like one fascinated, following, ever following, the ghostly charmer. Now the water covered his chest—a volley of rifle-shots sounded, the vision disappeared, the youth returned to his senses. In the stillness of the night and the greater density of the air the reports reached him clearly and distinctly. He stopped to reflect and found himself in the water—over the peaceful ripples of the lake he could still make out the lights in the fishermen’s huts.

He returned to the shore and started toward the town, but for what purpose he himself knew not. The streets appeared to be deserted, the houses were closed, and even the dogs that were wont to bark through the night had hidden themselves in fear. The silvery light of the moon added to the sadness and loneliness.

Fearful of meeting the civil-guards, he made his way along through yards and gardens, in one of which he thought he could discern two human figures, but he kept on his way, leaping over fences and walls, until after great labor he reached the other end of the town and went toward Crisostomo’s house. In the doorway were the servants, lamenting their master’s arrest.

[424]After learning about what had occurred Elias pretended to go away, but really went around behind the house, jumped over the wall, and crawled through a window into the study where the candle that Ibarra had lighted was still burning. He saw the books and papers and found the arms, the jewels, and the sacks of money. Reconstructing in his imagination the scene that had taken place there and seeing so many papers that might be of a compromising nature, he decided to gather them up, throw them from the window, and bury them. But, on glancing toward the street, he saw two guards approaching, their bayonets and caps gleaming in the moonlight. With them was the directorcillo. He made a sudden resolution: throwing the papers and some clothing into a heap in the center of the room, he poured over them the oil from a lamp and set fire to the whole. He was hurriedly placing the arms in his belt when he caught sight of the portrait of Maria Clara and hesitated a moment, then thrust it into one of the sacks and with them in his hands leaped from the window into the garden.

It was time that he did so, too, for the guards were forcing an entrance. "Let us in to get your master’s papers!" cried the directorcillo.

"Have you permission? If you haven’t, you won’t get in,’" answered an old man.

But the soldiers pushed him aside with the butts of their rifles and ran up the stairway, just as a thick cloud of smoke rolled through the house and long tongues of flame shot out from the study, enveloping the doors and windows.

"Fire! Fire!" was the cry, as each rushed to save what he could. But the blaze had reached the little laboratory and caught the inflammable materials there, so the guards had to retire. The flames roared about, licking up everything in their way and cutting off the passages. Vainly was water brought from the well and cries for help [425]raised, for the house was set apart from the rest. The fire swept through all the rooms and sent toward the sky thick spirals of smoke. Soon the whole structure was at the mercy of the flames, fanned now by the wind, which in the heat grew stronger. Some few rustics came up, but only to gaze on this great bonfire, the end of that old building which had been so long respected by the elements. [426]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LVI -Rumors and Belief}

Chapter LVI

Rumors and Beliefs

Day dawned at last for the terrified town. The streets near the barracks and the town hail were still deserted and solitary, the houses showed no signs of life. Nevertheless, the wooden panel of a window was pushed back noisily and a child’s head was stretched out and turned from side to side, gazing about in all directions. At once, however, a smack indicated the contact of tanned hide with the soft human article, so the child made a wry face, closed its eyes, and disappeared. The window slammed shut.

But an example had been set. That opening and shutting of the window had no doubt been heard on all sides, for soon another window opened slowly and there appeared cautiously the head of a wrinkled and toothless old woman: it was the same Sister Puté who had raised such a disturbance while Padre Damaso was preaching. Children and old women are the representatives of curiosity in this world: the former from a wish to know things and the latter from a desire to recollect them.

Apparently there was no one to apply a slipper to Sister Puté, for she remained gazing out into the distance with wrinkled eyebrows. Then she rinsed out her mouth, spat noisily, and crossed herself. In the house opposite, another window was now timidly opened to reveal Sister Rufa, she who did not wish to cheat or be cheated. They stared at each other for a moment, smiled, made some signs, and again crossed themselves.

"Jesús, it seemed like a thanksgiving mass, regular fireworks!" commented Sister Rufa.

[427]"Since the town was sacked by Balat, I’ve never seen another night equal to it," responded Sister Puté. "What a lot of shots! They say that it was old Pablo’s band."

"Tulisanes? That can’t be! They say that it was the cuadrilleros against the civil-guards. That’s why Don Filipo has been arrested."

"Sanctus Deus! They say that at least fourteen were killed."

Other windows were now opened and more faces appeared to exchange greetings and make comments. In the clear light, which promised a bright day, soldiers could be seen in the distance, coming and going confusedly like gray silhouettes.

"There goes one more corpse!" was the exclamation from a window.

"One? I see two."

"And I—but really, can it be you don’t know what it was?" asked a sly-featured individual.

"Oh, the cuadrilleros!"

"No, sir, it was a mutiny in the barracks!"

"What kind of mutiny? The curate against the alferez?"

"No, it was nothing of the kind," answered the man who had asked the first question. "It was the Chinamen who have rebelled." With this he shut his window.

"The Chinamen!" echoed all in great astonishment. "That’s why not one of them is to be seen!" "They’ve probably killed them all!"

"I thought they were going to do something bad. Yesterday—"

"I saw it myself. Last night—"

"What a pity!" exclaimed Sister Rufa. "To get killed just before Christmas when they bring around their presents! They should have waited until New Year’s."

Little by little the street awoke to life. Dogs, chickens, pigs, and doves began the movement, and these animals [428]were soon followed by some ragged urchins who held fast to each other’s arms as they timidly approached the barracks. Then a few old women with handkerchiefs tied about their heads and fastened under their chins appeared with thick rosaries in their hands, pretending to be at their prayers so that the soldiers would let them pass. When it was seen that one might walk about without being shot at, the men began to come out with assumed airs of indifference. First they limited their steps to the neighborhood of their houses, caressing their game-cocks, then they extended their stroll, stopping from time to time, until at last they stood in front of the town hall. In a quarter of an hour other versions of the affair were in circulation. Ibarra with his servants had tried to kidnap Maria Clara, and Capitan Tiago had defended her, aided by the Civil Guard. The number of killed was now not fourteen but thirty. Capitan Tiago was wounded and would leave that very day with his family for Manila.

The arrival of two cuadrilleros carrying a human form on a covered stretcher and followed by a civil-guard produced a great sensation. It was conjectured that they came from the convento, and, from the shape of the feet, which were dangling over one end, some guessed who the dead man might be, some one else a little distance away told who it was; further on the corpse was multiplied and the mystery of the Holy Trinity duplicated, later the miracle of the loaves and fishes was repeated—and the dead were then thirty and eight.

By half-past seven, when other guards arrived from neighboring towns, the current version was clear and detailed. "I’ve just come from the town hall, where I’ve seen Don Filipo and Don Crisostomo prisoners," a man told Sister Puté. "I’ve talked with one of the cuadrilleros who are on guard. Well, Bruno, the son of that fellow who was flogged to death, confessed everything last night. As you know, Capitan Tiago is going to marry his daughter to the young Spaniard, so Don Crisostomo in his rage [429]wanted to get revenge and tried to kill all the Spaniards, even the curate. Last night they attacked the barracks and the convento, but fortunately, by God’s mercy, the curate was in Capitan Tiago’s house. They say that a lot of them escaped. The civil-guards burned Don Crisostomo’s house down, and if they hadn’t arrested him first they would have burned him also." "They burned the house down?"

"All the servants are under arrest. Look, you can still see the smoke from here!" answered the narrator, approaching the window. "Those who come from there tell of many sad things."

All looked toward the place indicated. A thin column of smoke was still slowly rising toward the sky. All made comments, more or less pitying, more or less accusing.

"Poor youth!" exclaimed an old man, Puté’s husband.

"Yes," she answered, "but look how he didn’t order a mass said for the soul of his father, who undoubtedly needs it more than others."

"But, woman, haven’t you any pity?"

"Pity for the excommunicated? It’s a sin to take pity on the enemies of God, the curates say. Don’t you remember? In the cemetery he walked about as if he was in a corral."

"But a corral and the cemetery are alike," replied the old man, "only that into the former only one kind of animal enters."

"Shut up!" cried Sister Puté. "You’ll still defend those whom God has clearly punished. You’ll see how they’ll arrest you, too. You’re upholding a falling house."

Her husband became silent before this argument.

"Yes," continued the old lady, "after striking Padre Damaso there wasn’t anything left for him to do but to kill Padre Salvi."

"But you can’t deny that he was good when he was a little boy."

[430]"Yes, he was good," replied the old woman, "but he went to Spain. All those that go to Spain become heretics, as the curates have said." "Oho!" exclaimed her husband, seeing his chance for a retort, "and the curate, and all the curates, and the Archbishop, and the Pope, and the Virgin—aren’t they from Spain? Are they also heretics? Abá!"

Happily for Sister Puté the arrival of a maidservant running, all pale and terrified, cut short this discussion.

"A man hanged in the next garden!" she cried breathlessly.

"A man hanged?" exclaimed all in stupefaction. The women crossed themselves. No one could move from his place.

"Yes, sir," went on the trembling servant; "I was going to pick peas—I looked into our neighbor’s garden to see if it was—I saw a man swinging—I thought it was Teo, the servant who always gives me—I went nearer to—pick the peas, and I saw that it wasn’t Teo, but a dead man. I ran and I ran and—"

"Let’s go see him," said the old man, rising. "Show us the way."

"Don’t you go!" cried Sister Puté, catching hold of his camisa. "Something will happen to you! Is he hanged? Then the worse for him!"

"Let me see him, woman. You, Juan, go to the barracks and report it. Perhaps he’s not dead yet."

So he proceeded to the garden with the servant, who kept behind him. The women, including even Sister Puté herself, followed after, filled with fear and curiosity.

"There he is, sir," said the servant, as she stopped and pointed with her finger.

The committee paused at a respectful distance and allowed the old man to go forward alone.

A human body hanging from the branch of a santol tree swung about gently in the breeze. The old man stared at it for a time and saw that the legs and arms were [431]stiff, the clothing soiled, and the head doubled over. "We mustn’t touch him until some officer of the law arrives," he said aloud. "He’s already stiff, he’s been dead for some time."

The women gradually moved closer.

"He’s the fellow who lived in that little house there. He came here two weeks ago. Look at the scar on his face."

"Ave Maria!" exclaimed some of the women.

"Shall we pray for his soul?" asked a young woman, after she had finished staring and examining the body.

"Fool, heretic!" scolded Sister Puté. "Don’t you know what Padre Damaso said? It’s tempting God to pray for one of the damned. Whoever commits suicide is irrevocably damned and therefore he isn’t buried in holy ground."

Then she added, "I knew that this man was coming to a bad end; I never could find out how he lived."

"I saw him twice talking with the senior sacristan," observed a young woman.

"It wouldn’t be to confess himself or to order a mass!"

Other neighbors came up until a large group surrounded the corpse, which was still swinging about. After half an hour, an alguazil and the directorcillo arrived with two cuadrilleros, who took the body down and placed it on a stretcher.

"People are getting in a hurry to die," remarked the directorcillo with a smile, as he took a pen from behind his ear.

He made captious inquiries, and took down the statement of the maidservant, whom he tried to confuse, now looking at her fiercely, now threatening her, now attributing to her things that she had not said, so much so that she, thinking that she would have to go to jail, began to cry and wound up by declaring that she wasn’t looking for peas but and she called Teo as a witness.

While this was taking place, a rustic in a wide salakot [432]with a big bandage on his neck was examining the corpse and the rope. The face was not more livid than the rest of the body, two scratches and two red spots were to be seen above the noose, the strands of the rope were white and had no blood on them. The curious rustic carefully examined the camisa and pantaloons, and noticed that they were very dusty and freshly torn in some parts. But what most caught his attention were the seeds of amores-secos that were sticking on the camisa even up to the collar. "What are you looking at?" the directorcillo asked him. "I was looking, sir, to see if I could recognize him," stammered the rustic, partly uncovering, but in such a way that his salakot fell lower.

"But haven’t you heard that it’s a certain Lucas? Were you asleep?"

The crowd laughed, while the abashed rustic muttered a few words and moved away slowly with his head down.

"Here, where you going?" cried the old man after him.

"That’s not the way out. That’s the way to the dead man’s house."

"The fellow’s still asleep," remarked the directorcillo facetiously. "Better pour some water over him."

Amid the laughter of the bystanders the rustic left the place where he had played such a ridiculous part and went toward the church. In the sacristy he asked for the senior sacristan.

"He’s still asleep," was the rough answer. "Don’t you know that the convento was assaulted last night?"

"Then I’ll wait till he wakes up." This with a stupid stare at the sacristans, such as is common to persons who are used to rough treatment.

In a corner which was still in shadow the one-eyed senior sacristan lay asleep in a big chair. His spectacles were placed on his forehead amid long locks of hair, while his thin, squalid chest, which was bare, rose and fell regularly.

The rustic took a seat near by, as if to wait patiently, but he dropped a piece of money and started to look for it [433]with the aid of a candle under the senior sacristan’s chair. He noticed seeds of amores-secos on the pantaloons and on the cuffs of the sleeper’s camisa. The latter awoke, rubbed his one good eye, and began to scold the rustic with great ill-humor. "I wanted to order a mass, sir," was the reply in a tone of excuse.

"The masses are already over," said the sacristan, sweetening his tone a little at this. "If you want it for tomorrow—is it for the souls in purgatory?"

"No, sir," answered the rustic, handing him a peso.

Then gazing fixedly at the single eye, he added, "It’s for a person who’s going to die soon."

Hereupon he left the sacristy. "I could have caught him last night!" he sighed, as he took off the bandage and stood erect to recover the face and form of Elias. [434]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LVII -Vae Victis!}

Chapter LVII

Vae Victis!

Mi gozo en un pozo.

Guards with forbidding mien paced to and fro in front of the door of the town hall, threatening with their rifle-butts the bold urchins who rose on tiptoe or climbed up on one another to see through the bars.

The hall itself did not present that agreeable aspect it wore when the program of the fiesta was under discussion—now it was gloomy and rather ominous. The civil-guards and cuadrilleros who occupied it scarcely spoke and then with few words in low tones. At the table the directorcillo, two clerks, and several soldiers were rustling papers, while the alferez strode from one side to the other, at times gazing fiercely toward the door: prouder Themistocles could not have appeared in the Olympic games after the battle of Salamis. Doña Consolacion yawned in a corner, exhibiting a dirty mouth and jagged teeth, while she fixed her cold, sinister gaze on the door of the jail, which was covered with indecent drawings. She had succeeded in persuading her husband, whose victory had made him amiable, to let her witness the inquiry and perhaps the accompanying tortures. The hyena smelt the carrion and licked herself, wearied by the delay.

The gobernadorcillo was very compunctious. His seat, that large chair placed under his Majesty’s portrait, was vacant, being apparently intended for some one else. About nine o’clock the curate arrived, pale and scowling.

"Well, you haven’t kept yourself waiting!" the alferez greeted him.

[435]"I should prefer not to be present," replied Padre Salvi in a low voice, paying no heed to the bitter tone of the alferez. "I’m very nervous." "As no one else has come to fill the place, I judged that your presence—You know that they leave this afternoon."

"Young Ibarra and the teniente-mayor?"

The alferez pointed toward the jail. "There are eight there," he said. "Bruno died at midnight, but his statement is on record."

The curate saluted Doña Consolacion, who responded with a yawn, and took his seat in the big chair under his Majesty’s portrait. "Let us begin," he announced.

"Bring out those two who are in the stocks," ordered the alferez in a tone that he tried to make as terrible as possible. Then turning to the curate he added with a change of tone, "They are fastened in by skipping two holes."

For the benefit of those who are not informed about these instruments of torture, we will say that the stocks are one of the most harmless. The holes in which the offender’s legs are placed are a little more or less than a foot apart; by skipping two holes, the prisoner finds himself in a rather forced position with peculiar inconvenience to his ankles and a distance of about a yard between his lower extremities. It does not kill instantaneously, as may well be imagined.

The jailer, followed by four soldiers, pushed back the bolt and opened the door. A nauseating odor and currents of thick, damp air escaped from the darkness within at the same time that laments and sighs were heard. A soldier struck a match, but the flame was choked in such a foul atmosphere, and they had to wait until the air became fresher.

In the dim light of the candle several human forms became vaguely outlined: men hugging their knees or hiding their heads between them, some lying face downward, some standing, and some turned toward the wall. A blow [436]and a creak were heard, accompanied by curses—the stocks were opened, Doña Consolacion bent forward with the muscles of her neck swelling and her bulging eyes fixed on the half-opened door. A wretched figure, Tarsilo, Bruno’s brother, came out between two soldiers. On his wrists were handcuffs and his clothing was in shreds, revealing quite a muscular body. He turned his eyes insolently on the alferez’s woman.

"This is the one who defended himself with the most courage and told his companions to run," said the alferez to Padre Salvi.

Behind him came another of miserable aspect, moaning and weeping like a child. He limped along exposing pantaloons spotted with blood. "Mercy, sir, mercy! I’ll not go back into the yard," he whimpered.

"He’s a rogue," observed the alferez to the curate. "He tried to run, but he was wounded in the thigh. These are the only two that we took alive."

"What’s your name?" the alferez asked Tarsilo.

"Tarsilo Alasigan."

"What did Don Crisostomo promise you for attacking the barracks?"

"Don Crisostomo never had anything to do with us."

"Don’t deny it! That’s why you tried to surprise us."

"You’re mistaken. You beat our father to death and we were avenging him, nothing more. Look for your two associates."

The alferez gazed at the sergeant in surprise.

"They’re over there in the gully where we threw them yesterday and where they’ll rot. Now kill me, you’ll not learn anything more."

General surprise and silence, broken by the alferez. "You are going to tell who your other accomplices are," he threatened, flourishing a rattan whip.

A smile of disdain curled the prisoner’s lips. The alferez consulted with the curate in a low tone for a few moments, [437]then turned to the soldiers. "Take him out where the corpses are," he commanded. On a cart in a corner of the yard were heaped five corpses, partly covered with a filthy piece of torn matting. A soldier walked about near them, spitting at every moment.

"Do you know them?" asked the alferez, lifting up the matting.

Tarsilo did not answer. He saw the corpse of the madwoman’s husband with two others: that of his brother, slashed with bayonet-thrusts, and that of Lucas with the halter still around his neck. His look became somber and a sigh seemed to escape from his breast.

"Do you know them?" he was again asked, but he still remained silent.

The air hissed and the rattan cut his shoulders. He shuddered, his muscles contracted. The blows were redoubled, but he remained unmoved.

"Whip him until he bursts or talks!" cried the exasperated alferez.

"Talk now," the directorcillo advised him. "They’ll kill you anyhow."

They led him back into the hall where the other prisoner, with chattering teeth and quaking limbs, was calling upon the saints.

"Do you know this fellow?" asked Padre Salvi.

"This is the first time that I’ve ever seen him," replied Tarsilo with a look of pity at the other.

The alferez struck him with his fist and kicked him. "Tie him to the bench!"

Without taking off the handcuffs, which were covered with blood, they tied him to a wooden bench. The wretched boy looked about him as if seeking something and noticed Doña Consolacion, at sight of whom he smiled sardonically. In surprise the bystanders followed his glance and saw the señora, who was lightly gnawing at her lips.

"I’ve never seen an uglier woman!" exclaimed Tarsilo in the midst of a general silence. "I’d rather lie down [438]on a bench as I do now than at her side as the alferez does." The Muse turned pale.

"You’re going to flog me to death, Señor Alferez," he went on, "but tonight your woman will revenge me by embracing you."

"Gag him!" yelled the furious alferez, trembling with wrath.

Tarsilo seemed to have desired the gag, for after it was put in place his eyes gleamed with satisfaction. At a signal from the alferez, a guard armed with a rattan whip began his gruesome task. Tarsilo’s whole body contracted, and a stifled, prolonged cry escaped from him in spite of the piece of cloth which covered his mouth. His head drooped and his clothes became stained with blood.

Padre Salvi, pallid and with wandering looks, arose laboriously, made a sign with his hand, and left the hall with faltering steps. In the street he saw a young woman leaning with her shoulders against the wall, rigid, motionless, listening attentively, staring into space, her clenched hands stretched out along the wall. The sun beat down upon her fiercely. She seemed to be breathlessly counting those dry, dull strokes and those heartrending groans. It was Tarsilo’s sister.

Meanwhile, the scene in the hall continued. The wretched boy, overcome with pain, silently waited for his executioners to become weary. At last the panting soldier let his arm fall, and the alferez, pale with anger and astonishment, made a sign for them to untie him. Doña Consolacion then arose and murmured a few words into the ear of her husband, who nodded his head in understanding.

"To the well with him!" he ordered.

The Filipinos know what this means: in Tagalog they call it timbaín. We do not know who invented this procedure, but we judge that it must be quite ancient. Truth at the bottom of a well may perhaps be a sarcastic interpretation.

[439]In the center of the yard rose the picturesque curb of a well, roughly fashioned from living rock. A rude apparatus of bamboo in the form of a well-sweep served for drawing up the thick, slimy, foul-smelling water. Broken pieces of pottery, manure, and other refuse were collected there, since this well was like the jail, being the place for what society rejected or found useless, and any object that fell into it, however good it might have been, was then a thing lost. Yet it was never closed up, and even at times the prisoners were condemned to go down and deepen it, not because there was any thought of getting anything useful out of such punishment, but because of the difficulties the work offered. A prisoner who once went down there would contract a fever from which he would surely die. Tarsilo gazed upon all the preparations of the soldiers with a fixed look. He was pale, and his lips trembled or murmured a prayer. The haughtiness of his desperation seemed to have disappeared or, at least, to have weakened. Several times he bent his stiff neck and fixed his gaze on the ground as though resigned to his sufferings. They led him to the well-curb, followed by the smiling Doña Consolacion. In his misery he cast a glance of envy toward the heap of corpses and a sigh escaped from his breast.

"Talk now," the directorcillo again advised him. "They’ll hang you anyhow. You’ll at least die without suffering so much."

"You’ll come out of this only to die," added a cuadrillero.

They took away the gag and hung him up by his feet, for he must go down head foremost and remain some time under the water, just as the bucket does, only that the man is left a longer time. While the alferez was gone to look for a watch to count the minutes, Tarsilo hung with his long hair streaming down and his eyes half closed.

"If you are Christians, if you have any heart," he begged in a low voice, "let me down quickly or make my head strike against the sides so that I’ll die. God will [440]reward you for this good deed—perhaps some day you may be as I am!" The alferez returned, watch in hand, to superintend the lowering.

"Slowly, slowly!" cried Doña Consolacion, as she kept her gaze fixed on the wretch. "Be careful!"

The well-sweep moved gently downwards. Tarsilo rubbed against the jutting stones and filthy weeds that grew in the crevices. Then the sweep stopped while the alferez counted the seconds.

"Lift him up!" he ordered, at the end of a half-minute. The silvery and harmonious tinkling of the drops of water falling back indicated the prisoner’s return to the light. Now that the sweep was heavier he rose rapidly. Pieces of stone and pebbles torn from the walls fell noisily. His forehead and hair smeared with filthy slime, his face covered with cuts and bruises, his body wet and dripping, he appeared to the eyes of the silent crowd. The wind made him shiver with cold.

"Will you talk?" he was asked.

"Take care of my sister," murmured the unhappy boy as he gazed beseechingly toward one of the cuadrilleros.

The bamboo sweep again creaked, and the condemned boy once more disappeared. Doña Consolacion observed that the water remained quiet. The alferez counted a minute.

When Tarsilo again came up his features were contracted and livid. With his bloodshot eyes wide open, he looked at the bystanders.

"Are you going to talk?" the alferez again demanded in dismay.

Tarsilo shook his head, and they again lowered him. His eyelids were closing as the pupils continued to stare at the sky where the fleecy clouds floated; he doubled back his neck so that he might still see the light of day, but all too soon he had to go down into the water, and that foul curtain shut out the sight of the world from him forever.

A minute passed. The watchful Muse saw large bubbles [441]rise to the surface of the water. "He’s thirsty," she commented with a laugh. The water again became still. This time the alferez did not give the signal for a minute and a half. Tarsilo’s features were now no longer contracted. The half-raised lids left the whites of his eyes showing, from his mouth poured muddy water streaked with blood, but his body did not tremble in the chill breeze.

Pale and terrified, the silent bystanders gazed at one another. The alferez made a sign that they should take the body down, and then moved away thoughtfully. Doña Consolation applied the lighted end of her cigar to the bare legs, but the flesh did not twitch and the fire was extinguished.

"He strangled himself," murmured a cuadrillero. "Look how he turned his tongue back as if trying to swallow it."

The other prisoner, who had watched this scene, sweating and trembling, now stared like a lunatic in all directions. The alferez ordered the directorcillo to question him.

"Sir, sir," he groaned, "I’ll tell everything you want me to."

"Good! Let’s see, what’s your name?"

"Andong,1 sir!" "Bernardo—Leonardo—Ricardo—Eduardo—Gerardo—or what?"

"Andong, sir!" repeated the imbecile.

"Put it down Bernardo, or whatever it may be," dictated the alferez.


The man gazed at him in terror.

"What name have you that is added to the name Andong?"

"Ah, sir! Andong the Witless, sir!"

The bystander’s could not restrain a smile. Even the alferez paused in his pacing about.

[442]"Occupation?" "Pruner of coconut trees, sir, and servant of my mother-in-law."

"Who ordered you to attack the barracks?"

"No one, sir!"

"What, no one? Don’t lie about it or into the well you go! Who ordered you? Say truly!"

"Truly, sir!"


"Who, sir!"

"I’m asking you who ordered you to start the revolution?"

"What revolution, sir?"

"This one, for you were in the yard by the barracks last night."

"Ah, sir!" exclaimed Andong, blushing.

"Who’s guilty of that?"

"My mother-in-law, sir!"

Surprise and laughter followed these words. The alferez stopped and stared not unkindly at the wretch, who, thinking that his words had produced a good effect, went on with more spirit: "Yes, sir, my mother-in-law doesn’t give me anything to eat but what is rotten and unfit, so last night when I came by here with my belly aching I saw the yard of the barracks near and I said to myself, ‘It’s night-time, no one will see me.’ I went in—and then many shots sounded—"

A blow from the rattan cut his speech short.

"To the jail," ordered the alferez. "This afternoon, to the capital!" [443]



1 A common nickname. See the Glossary, under Nicknames.—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LVIII -The Accursed}

Chapter LVIII

The Accursed

Soon the news spread through the town that the prisoners were about to set out. At first it was heard with terror; afterward came the weeping and wailing. The families of the prisoners ran about in distraction, going from the convento to the barracks, from the barracks to the town hall, and finding no consolation anywhere, filled the air with cries and groans. The curate had shut himself up on a plea of illness; the alferez had increased the guards, who received the supplicating women with the butts of their rifles; the gobernadorcillo, at best a useless creature, seemed to be more foolish and more useless than ever. In front of the jail the women who still had strength enough ran to and fro, while those who had not sat down on the ground and called upon the names of their beloved.

Although the sun beat down fiercely, not one of these unfortunates thought of going away. Doray, the erstwhile merry and happy wife of Don Filipo, wandered about dejectedly, carrying in her arms their infant son, both weeping. To the advice of friends that she go back home to avoid exposing her baby to an attack of fever, the disconsolate woman replied, "Why should he live, if he isn’t going to have a father to rear him?"

"Your husband is innocent. Perhaps he’ll come back."

"Yes, after we’re all dead!"

Capitana Tinay wept and called upon her son Antonio. The courageous Capitana Maria gazed silently toward the small grating behind which were her twin-boys, her only sons.

There was present also the mother-in-law of the pruner [444]of coco-palms, but she was not weeping; instead, she paced back and forth, gesticulating with uplifted arms, and haranguing the crowd: "Did you ever see anything like it? To arrest my Andong, to shoot at him, to put him in the stocks, to take him to the capital, and only because—because he had a new pair of pantaloons! This calls for vengeance! The civil-guards are committing abuses! I swear that if I ever again catch one of them in my garden, as has often happened, I’ll chop him up, I’ll chop him up, or else—let him try to chop me up!" Few persons, however, joined in the protests of the Mussulmanish mother-in-law. "Don Crisostomo is to blame for all this," sighed a woman.

The schoolmaster was also in the crowd, wandering about bewildered. Ñor Juan did not rub his hands, nor was he carrying his rule and plumb-bob; he was dressed in black, for he had heard the bad news and, true to his habit of looking upon the future as already assured, was in mourning for Ibarra’s death.

At two o’clock in the afternoon an open cart drawn by two oxen stopped in front of the town hall. This was at once set upon by the people, who attempted to unhitch the oxen and destroy it. "Don’t do that!" said Capitana Maria. "Do you want to make them walk?" This consideration acted as a restraint on the prisoners’ relatives.

Twenty soldiers came out and surrounded the cart; then the prisoners appeared. The first was Don Filipo, bound. He greeted his wife smilingly, but Doray broke out into bitter weeping and two guards had difficulty in preventing her from embracing her husband. Antonio, the son of Capitana Tinay, appeared crying like a baby, which only added to the lamentations of his family. The witless Andong broke out into tears at sight of his mother-in-law, the cause of his misfortune. Albino, the quondam theological student, was also bound, as were Capitana Maria’s twins. All three were grave and serious. The last to come [445]out was Ibarra, unbound, but conducted between two guards. The pallid youth looked about him for a friendly face. "He’s the one that’s to blame!" cried many voices. "He’s to blame and he goes loose!"

"My son-in-law hasn’t done anything and he’s got handcuffs on!" Ibarra turned to the guards. "Bind me, and bind me well, elbow to elbow," he said.

"We haven’t any order."

"Bind me!" And the soldiers obeyed.

The alferez appeared on horseback, armed to the teeth, ten or fifteen more soldiers following him.

Each prisoner had his family there to pray for him, to weep for him, to bestow on him the most endearing names—all save Ibarra, who had no one, even Ñor Juan and the schoolmaster having disappeared.

"Look what you’ve done to my husband and my son!" Doray cried to him. "Look at my poor son! You’ve robbed him of his father!"

So the sorrow of the families was converted into anger toward the young man, who was accused of having started the trouble. The alferez gave the order to set out.

"You’re a coward!" the mother-in-law of Andong cried after Ibarra. "While others were fighting for you, you hid yourself, coward!"

"May you be accursed!" exclaimed an old man, running along beside him. "Accursed be the gold amassed by your family to disturb our peace! Accursed! Accursed!"

"May they hang you, heretic!" cried a relative of Albino’s. Unable to restrain himself, he caught up a stone and threw it at the youth.

This example was quickly followed, and a rain of dirt and stones fell on the wretched young man. Without anger or complaint, impassively he bore the righteous vengeance of so many suffering hearts. This was the parting, the farewell, offered to him by the people among whom were all his affections. With bowed head, he was perhaps thinking [446]of a man whipped through the streets of Manila, of an old woman falling dead at the sight of her son’s head; perhaps Elias’s history was passing before his eyes. The alferez found it necessary to drive the crowd back, but the stone-throwing and the insults did not cease. One mother alone did not wreak vengeance on him for her sorrows, Capitana Maria. Motionless, with lips contracted and eyes full of silent tears, she saw her two sons move away; her firmness, her dumb grief surpassed that of the fabled Niobe.

So the procession moved on. Of the persons who appeared at the few open windows those who showed most pity for the youth were the indifferent and the curious. All his friends had hidden themselves, even Capitan Basilio himself, who forbade his daughter Sinang to weep.

Ibarra saw the smoking ruins of his house—the home of his fathers, where he was born, where clustered the fondest recollections of his childhood and his youth. Tears long repressed started into his eyes, and he bowed his head and wept without having the consolation of being able to hide his grief, tied as he was, nor of having any one in whom his sorrow awoke compassion. Now he had neither country, nor home, nor love, nor friends, nor future!

From a slight elevation a man gazed upon the sad procession. He was an old man, pale and emaciated, wrapped in a woolen blanket, supporting himself with difficulty on a staff. It was the old Sage, Tasio, who, on hearing of the event, had left his bed to be present, but his strength had not been sufficient to carry him to the town hall. The old man followed the cart with his gaze until it disappeared in the distance and then remained for some time afterward with his head bowed, deep in thought. Then he stood up and laboriously made his way toward his house, pausing to rest at every step. On the following day some herdsmen found him dead on the very threshold of his solitary home. [447]

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LIX -Patriotism and Private Interests}

Chapter LIX

Patriotism and Private Interests

Secretly the telegraph transmitted the report to Manila, and thirty-six hours later the newspapers commented on it with great mystery and not a few dark hints—augmented, corrected, or mutilated by the censor. In the meantime, private reports, emanating from the convents, were the first to gain secret currency from mouth to mouth, to the great terror of those who heard them. The fact, distorted in a thousand ways, was believed with greater or less ease according to whether it was flattering or worked contrary to the passions and ways of thinking of each hearer.

Without public tranquillity seeming disturbed, at least outwardly, yet the peace of mind of each home was whirled about like the water in a pond: while the surface appears smooth and clear, in the depths the silent fishes swarm, dive about, and chase one another. For one part of the population crosses, decorations, epaulets, offices, prestige, power, importance, dignities began to whirl about like butterflies in a golden atmosphere. For the other part a dark cloud arose on the horizon, projecting from its gray depths, like black silhouettes, bars, chains, and even the fateful gibbet. In the air there seemed to be heard investigations, condemnations, and the cries from the torture chamber; Marianas1 and Bagumbayan presented themselves wrapped in a torn and bloody veil, fishers and fished confused. Fate pictured the event to the imaginations of the Manilans like certain Chinese fans—one side painted [448]black, the other gilded with bright-colored birds and flowers. In the convents the greatest excitement prevailed. Carriages were harnessed, the Provincials exchanged visits and held secret conferences; they presented themselves in the palaces to offer their aid to the government in its perilous crisis. Again there was talk of comets and omens.

"A Te Deum! A Te Deum!" cried a friar in one convent. "This time let no one be absent from the chorus! It’s no small mercy from God to make it clear just now, especially in these hopeless times, how much we are worth!"

"The little general Mal-Aguero2 can gnaw his lips over this lesson," responded another. "What would have become of him if not for the religious corporations?"

"And to celebrate the fiesta better, serve notice on the cook and the refectioner. Gaudeamus for three days!"

"Amen!" "Viva Salvi!" "Amen!"

In another convent they talked differently.

"You see, now, that fellow is a pupil of the Jesuits. The filibusters come from the Ateneo."

"And the anti-friars."

"I told you so. The Jesuits are ruining the country, they’re corrupting the youth, but they are tolerated because they trace a few scrawls on a piece of paper when there is an earthquake."

"And God knows how they are made!"

"Yes, but don’t contradict them. When everything is shaking and moving about, who draws diagrams? Nothing, Padre Secchi—"3

[449]And they smiled with sovereign disdain. "But what about the weather forecasts and the typhoons?" asked another ironically. "Aren’t they divine?"

"Any fisherman foretells them!"

"When he who governs is a fool—tell me how your head is and I’ll tell you how your foot is! But you’ll see if the friends favor one another. The newspapers very nearly ask a miter for Padre Salvi."

"He’s going to get it! He’ll lick it right up!"

"Do you think so?"

"Why not! Nowadays they grant one for anything whatsoever. I know of a fellow who got one for less. He wrote a cheap little work demonstrating that the Indians are not capable of being anything but mechanics. Pshaw, old-fogyisms!"

"That’s right! So much favoritism injures Religion!" exclaimed another. "If the miters only had eyes and could see what heads they were upon—"

"If the miters were natural objects," added another in a nasal tone, "Natura abhorrer vacuum."

"That’s why they grab for them, their emptiness attracts!" responded another.

These and many more things were said in the convents, but we will spare our reader other comments of a political, metaphysical, or piquant nature and conduct him to a private house. As we have few acquaintances in Manila, let us enter the home of Capitan Tinong, the polite individual whom we saw so profusely inviting Ibarra to honor him with a visit.

In the rich and spacious sala of his Tondo house, Capitan Tinong was seated in a wide armchair, rubbing his hands in a gesture of despair over his face and the nape of his neck, while his wife, Capitana Tinchang, was weeping and preaching to him. From the corner their two daughters listened silently and stupidly, yet greatly affected.

"Ay, Virgin of Antipolo!" cried the woman. "Ay, [450]Virgin of the Rosary and of the Girdle!4 Ay, ay! Our Lady of Novaliches!" "Mother!" responded the elder of the daughters.

"I told you so!" continued the wife in an accusing tone. "I told you so! Ay, Virgin of Carmen,5 ay!" "But you didn’t tell me anything," Capitan Tinong dared to answer tearfully. "On the contrary, you told me that I was doing well to frequent Capitan Tiago’s house and cultivate friendship with him, because he’s rich—and you told me—"

"What! What did I tell you? I didn’t tell you that, I didn’t tell you anything! Ay, if you had only listened to me!"

"Now you’re throwing the blame on me," he replied bitterly, slapping the arm of his chair. "Didn’t you tell me that I had done well to invite him to dine with us, because he was wealthy? Didn’t you say that we ought to have friends only among the wealthy? Abá!"

"It’s true that I told you so, because—because there wasn’t anything else for me to do. You did nothing but sing his praises: Don Ibarra here, Don Ibarra there, Don Ibarra everywhere. Abaá! But I didn’t advise you to hunt him up and talk to him at that reception! You can’t deny that!"

"Did I know that he was to be there, perhaps?"

"But you ought to have known it!"

"How so, if I didn’t even know him?"

[451]"But you ought to have known him!" "But, Tinchang, it was the first time that I ever saw him, that I ever heard him spoken of!"

"Well then, you ought to have known him before and heard him spoken of. That’s what you’re a man for and wear trousers and read El Diario de Manila,"6 answered his unterrified spouse, casting on him a terrible look. To this Capitan Tinong did not know what to reply. Capitana Tinchang, however, was not satisfied with this victory, but wished to silence him completely. So she approached him with clenched fists. "Is this what I’ve worked for, year after year, toiling and saving, that you by your stupidity may throw away the fruits of my labor?" she scolded. "Now they’ll come to deport you, they’ll take away all our property, just as they did from the wife of—Oh, if I were a man, if I were a man!"

Seeing that her husband bowed his head, she again fell to sobbing, but still repeating, "Ay, if I were a man, if I were a man!"

"Well, if you were a man," the provoked husband at length asked, "what would you do?"

"What would I do? Well—well—well, this very minute I’d go to the Captain-General and offer to fight against the rebels, this very minute!"

"But haven’t you seen what the Diario says? Read it: ‘The vile and infamous treason has been suppressed with energy, strength, and vigor, and soon the rebellious enemies of the Fatherland and their accomplices will feel all the weight and severity of the law.’ Don’t you see it? There isn’t any more rebellion."

"That doesn’t matter! You ought to offer yourself as they did in ’72;7 they saved themselves."

[452]"Yes, that’s what was done by Padre Burg—" But he was unable to finish this name, for his wife ran to him and slapped her hand over his mouth. "Shut up! Are you saying that name so that they may garrote you tomorrow on Bagumbayan? Don’t you know that to pronounce it is enough to get yourself condemned without trial? Keep quiet!"

However Capitan Tinong may have felt about obeying her, he could hardly have done otherwise, for she had his mouth covered with both her hands, pressing his little head against the back of the chair, so that the poor fellow might have been smothered to death had not a new personage appeared on the scene. This was their cousin, Don Primitivo, who had memorized the "Amat," a man of some forty years, plump, big-paunched, and elegantly dressed.

"Quid video?" he exclaimed as he entered. "What’s happening? Quare?"8 "Ay, cousin!" cried the woman, running toward him in tears, "I’ve sent for you because I don’t know what’s going to become of us. What do you advise? Speak, you’ve studied Latin and know how to argue."

"But first, quid quaeritis? Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu; nihil volitum quin praecognitum."9 He sat down gravely and, just as if the Latin phrases had possessed a soothing virtue, the couple ceased weeping and drew nearer to him to hang upon the advice from his lips, as at one time the Greeks did before the words of salvation from the oracle that was to free them from the Persian invaders.

"Why do you weep? Ubinam gentium sumus?"10

[453]"You’ve already heard of the uprising?" "Alzamentum Ibarrae ab alferesio Guardiae Civilis destructum? Et nunc?11 What! Does Don Crisostomo owe you anything?" "No, but you know, Tinong invited him to dinner and spoke to him on the Bridge of Spain—in broad daylight! They’ll say that he’s a friend of his!"

"A friend of his!" exclaimed the startled Latinist, rising. "Amice, amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas. Birds of a feather flock together. Malum est negotium et est timendum rerum istarum horrendissimum resultatum!12 Ahem!" Capitan Tinong turned deathly pale at hearing so many words in um; such a sound presaged ill. His wife clasped her hands supplicatingly and said:

"Cousin, don’t talk to us in Latin now. You know that we’re not philosophers like you. Let’s talk in Spanish or Tagalog. Give us some advice."

"It’s a pity that you don’t understand Latin, cousin. Truths in Latin are lies in Tagalog; for example, contra principia negantem fustibus est arguendum13 in Latin is a truth like Noah’s ark, but I put it into practise once and I was the one who got whipped. So, it’s a pity that you don’t know Latin. In Latin everything would be straightened out." "We, too, know many oremus, parcenobis, and Agnus Dei Catolis,14 but now we shouldn’t understand one another. Provide Tinong with an argument so that they won’t hang him!" "You’re done wrong, very wrong, cousin, in cultivating friendship with that young man," replied the Latinist.

[454]"The righteous suffer for the sinners. I was almost going to advise you to make your will. Vae illis! Ubi est fumus ibi est ignis! Similis simili audet; atqui Ibarra ahorcatur, ergo ahorcaberis—"15 With this he shook his head from side to side disgustedly. "Saturnino, what’s the matter?" cried Capitana Tinchang in dismay. "Ay, he’s dead! A doctor! Tinong, Tinongoy!"

The two daughters ran to her, and all three fell to weeping. "It’s nothing more than a swoon, cousin! I would have been more pleased that—that—but unfortunately it’s only a swoon. Non timeo mortem in catre sed super espaldonem Bagumbayanis.16 Get some water!" "Don’t die!" sobbed the wife. "Don’t die, for they’ll come and arrest you! Ay, if you die and the soldiers come, ay, ay!"

The learned cousin rubbed the victim’s face with water until he recovered consciousness. "Come, don’t cry. Inveni remedium: I’ve found a remedy. Let’s carry him to bed. Come, take courage! Here I am with you—and all the wisdom of the ancients. Call a doctor, and you, cousin, go right away to the Captain-General and take him a present—a gold ring, a chain. Dadivae quebrantant peñas.17 Say that it’s a Christmas gift. Close the windows, the doors, and if any one asks for my cousin, say that he is seriously ill. Meanwhile, I’ll burn all his letters, papers, and books, so that they can’t find anything, just as Don Crisostomo did. Scripti testes sunt! Quod medicamenta non sanant, ferrum sanat, quod ferrum non sanat, ignis sanat."18 "Yes, do so, cousin, burn everything!" said Capitana [455]Tinchang. "Here are the keys, here are the letters from Capitan Tiago. Burn them! Don’t leave a single European newspaper, for they’re very dangerous. Here are the copies of The Times that I’ve kept for wrapping up soap and old clothes. Here are the books." "Go to the Captain-General, cousin," said Don Primitivo, "and leave us alone. In extremis extrema.

19 Give me the authority of a Roman dictator, and you’ll see how soon I’ll save the coun—I mean, my cousin." He began to give orders and more orders, to upset bookcases, to tear up papers, books, and letters. Soon a big fire was burning in the kitchen. Old shotguns were smashed with axes, rusty revolvers were thrown away. The maidservant who wanted to keep the barrel of one for a blowpipe received a reprimand:

"Conservare etiam sperasti, perfida?20 Into the fire!" So he continued his auto da fé. Seeing an old volume in vellum, he read the title, Revolutions of the Celestial Globes, by Copernicus. Whew! "Ite, maledicti, in ignem kalanis!"21 he exclaimed, hurling it into the flames. "Revolutions and Copernicus! Crimes on crimes! If I hadn’t come in time! Liberty in the Philippines! Ta, ta, ta! What books! Into the fire!" Harmless books, written by simple authors, were burned; not even the most innocent work escaped. Cousin Primitivo was right: the righteous suffer for the sinners.

Four or five hours later, at a pretentious reception in the Walled City, current events were being commented upon. There were present a lot of old women and maidens of marriageable age, the wives and daughters of government employees, dressed in loose gowns, fanning themselves and yawning. Among the men, who, like the women, showed in their faces their education and origin, was an elderly gentleman, small and one-armed, whom the others treated [456]with great respect. He himself maintained a disdainful silence. "To tell the truth, formerly I couldn’t endure the friars and the civil-guards, they’re so rude," said a corpulent dame, "but now that I see their usefulness and their services, I would almost marry any one of them gladly. I’m a patriot."

"That’s what I say!" added a thin lady. "What a pity that we haven’t our former governor. He would leave the country as clean as a platter."

"And the whole race of filibusters would be exterminated!"

"Don’t they say that there are still a lot of islands to be populated? Why don’t they deport all these crazy Indians to them? If I were the Captain-General—"

"Señoras," interrupted the one-armed individual, "the Captain-General knows his duty. As I’ve heard, he’s very much irritated, for he had heaped favors on that Ibarra."

"Heaped favors on him!" echoed the thin lady, fanning herself furiously. "Look how ungrateful these Indians are! Is it possible to treat them as if they were human beings? Jesús!"

"Do you know what I’ve heard?" asked a military official.

"What’s that?"

"Let’s hear it!"

"What do they say?"

"Reputable persons," replied the officer in the midst of a profound silence, "state that this agitation for building a schoolhouse was a pure fairy tale."

"Jesús! Just see that!" the señoras exclaimed, already believing in the trick.

"The school was a pretext. What he wanted to build was a fort from which he could safely defend himself when we should come to attack him."

"What infamy! Only an Indian is capable of such cowardly thoughts," exclaimed the fat lady. "If I were the [457]Captain-General they would soon seem they would soon see—" "That’s what I say!" exclaimed the thin lady, turning to the one-armed man. "Arrest all the little lawyers, priestlings, merchants, and without trial banish or deport them! Tear out the evil by the roots!"

"But it’s said that this filibuster is the descendant of Spaniards," observed the one-armed man, without looking at any one in particular.

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed the fat lady, unterrified. "It’s always the creoles! No Indian knows anything about revolution! Rear crows, rear crows!"22 "Do you know what I’ve heard?" asked a creole lady, to change the topic of conversation. "The wife of Capitan Tinong, you remember her, the woman in whose house we danced and dined during the fiesta of Tondo—"

"The one who has two daughters? What about her?"

"Well, that woman just this afternoon presented the Captain-General with a ring worth a thousand pesos!"

The one-armed man turned around. "Is that so? Why?" he asked with shining eyes.

"She said that it was a Christmas gift—"

"But Christmas doesn’t come for a month yet!"

"Perhaps she’s afraid the storm is blowing her way," observed the fat lady.

"And is getting under cover," added the thin señora.

"When no return is asked, it’s a confession of guilt."

"This must be carefully looked into," declared the one-armed man thoughtfully. "I fear that there’s a cat in the bag."

"A cat in the bag, yes! That’s just what I was going to say," echoed the thin lady.

"And so was I," said the other, taking the words out of her mouth, "the wife of Capitan Tinong is so stingy—she hasn’t yet sent us any present and that after we’ve been [458]in her house. So, when such a grasping and covetous woman lets go of a little present worth a thousand pesos—" "But, is it a fact?" inquired the one-armed man.

"Certainly! Most certainly! My cousin’s sweetheart, his Excellency’s adjutant, told her so. And I’m of the opinion that it’s the very same ring that the older daughter wore on the day of the fiesta. She’s always covered with diamonds."

"A walking show-case!"

"A way of attracting attention, like any other! Instead of buying a fashion plate or paying a dressmaker—"

Giving some pretext, the one-armed man left the gathering. Two hours later, when the world slept, various residents of Tondo received an invitation through some soldiers. The authorities could not consent to having certain persons of position and property sleep in such poorly guarded and badly ventilated houses—in Fort Santiago and other government buildings their sleep would be calmer and more refreshing. Among these favored persons was included the unfortunate Capitan Tinong. [459]



1 The Marianas, or Ladrone Islands, were used as a place of banishment for political prisoners.—TR.
2 "Evil Omen," a nickname applied by the friars to General Joaquin Jovellar, who was governor of the Islands from 1883 to 1885. It fell to the lot of General Jovellar, a kindly old man, much more soldier than administrator, to attempt the introduction of certain salutary reforms tending toward progress, hence his disfavor with the holy fathers. The mention of "General J———" in the last part of the epilogue probably refers also to him.—TR.
3 A celebrated Italian astronomer, member of the Jesuit Order. The Jesuits are still in charge of the Observatory of Manila.—TR.
4 "Our Lady of the Girdle" is the patroness of the Augustinian Order.—TR.
5 This image is in the six-million-peso steel church of St. Sebastian in Manila. Something of her early history is thus given by Fray Luis de Jesus in his Historia of the Recollect Order (1681): "A very holy image is revered there under the title of Carmen. Although that image is small in stature, it is a great and perennial spring of prodigies for those who invoke her. Our religious took it from Nueva España (Mexico), and even in that very navigation she was able to make herself known by her miracles .... That most holy image is daily frequented with vows, presents, and novenas, thank-offerings of the many who are daily favored by that queen of the skies."—Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XXI, p. 195.
6 The oldest and most conservative newspaper in Manila at the time this work was written.—TR.
7 Following closely upon the liberal administration of La Torre, there occurred in the Cavite arsenal in 1872 a mutiny which was construed as an incipient rebellion, and for alleged complicity in it three [451n]native priests, Padres Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, were garroted, while a number of prominent Manilans were deported.—TR.
8 What do I see? ... Wherefore?
9 What do you wish? Nothing is in the intellect which has not first passed through the senses; nothing is willed that is not already in the mind.
10 Where in the world are we?
11 The uprising of Ibarra suppressed by the alferez of the Civil Guard? And now?
12 Friend, Plato is dear but truth is dearer ... It’s a bad business and a horrible result from these things is to be feared.
13 Against him who denies the fundamentals, clubs should be used as arguments.
14 Latin prayers. "Agnus Dei Catolis" for "Agnus Dei qui tollis" (John I. 29).
15 Woe unto them! Where there’s smoke there’s fire! Like seeks like; and if Ibarra is hanged, therefore you will be hanged.
16 I do not fear death in bed, but upon the mount of Bagumbayan.
17 The first part of a Spanish proverb: "Gifts break rocks, and enter without gimlets."
18 What is written is evidence! What medicines do not cure, iron cures; what iron does not cure, fire cures.
19 In extreme cases, extreme measures.
20 Do you wish to keep it also, traitress?
21 Go, accursed, into the fire of the kalan.
22 The first part of a Spanish proverb: "Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos," "Rear crows and they will pick your eyes out."—TR.

{mospagebreak_scroll title=Chapter LX -Maria Clara Weds}

Chapter LX

Maria Clara Weds

Capitan Tiago was very happy, for in all this terrible storm no one had taken any notice of him. He had not been arrested, nor had he been subjected to solitary confinement, investigations, electric machines, continuous foot-baths in underground cells, or other pleasantries that are well-known to certain folk who call themselves civilized. His friends, that is, those who had been his friends—for the good man had denied all his Filipino friends from the instant when they were suspected by the government—had also returned to their homes after a few days’ vacation in the state edifices. The Captain-General himself had ordered that they be cast out from his precincts, not considering them worthy of remaining therein, to the great disgust of the one-armed individual, who had hoped to celebrate the approaching Christmas in their abundant and opulent company.

Capitan Tinong had returned to his home sick, pale, and swollen; the excursion had not done him good. He was so changed that he said not a word, nor even greeted his family, who wept, laughed, chattered, and almost went mad with joy. The poor man no longer ventured out of his house for fear of running the risk of saying good-day to a filibuster. Not even Don Primitivo himself, with all the wisdom of the ancients, could draw him out of his silence.

"Crede, prime," the Latinist told him, "if I hadn’t got here to burn all your papers, they would have squeezed your neck; and if I had burned the whole house they wouldn’t have touched a hair of your head. But quod [460]eventum, eventum; gratias agamus Domino Deo quia non in Marianis Insulis es, camotes seminando."1 Stories similar to Capitan Tinong’s were not unknown to Capitan Tiago, so he bubbled over with gratitude, without knowing exactly to whom he owed such signal favors. Aunt Isabel attributed the miracle to the Virgin of Antipolo, to the Virgin of the Rosary, or at least to the Virgin of Carmen, and at the very, very least that she was willing to concede, to Our Lady of the Girdle; according to her the miracle could not get beyond that.

Capitan Tiago did not deny the miracle, but added: "I think so, Isabel, but the Virgin of Antipolo couldn’t have done it alone. My friends have helped, my future son-in-law, Señor Linares, who, as you know, joked with Señor Antonio Canovas himself, the premier whose portrait appears in the Ilustración, he who doesn’t condescend to show more than half his face to the people."

So the good man could not repress a smile of satisfaction every time that he heard any important news. And there was plenty of news: it was whispered about in secret that Ibarra would be hanged; that, while many proofs of his guilt had been lacking, at last some one had appeared to sustain the accusation; that experts had declared that in fact the work on the schoolhouse could pass for a bulwark of fortification, although somewhat defective, as was only to be expected of ignorant Indians. These rumors calmed him and made him smile.

In the same way that Capitan Tiago and his cousin diverged in their opinions, the friends of the family were also divided into two parties,—one miraculous, the other governmental, although this latter was insignificant. The miraculous party was again subdivided: the senior sacristan of Binondo, the candle-woman, and the leader of the Brotherhood [461]saw the hand of God directed by the Virgin of the Rosary; while the Chinese wax-chandler, his caterer on his visits to Antipolo, said, as he fanned himself and shook his leg: "Don’t fool yourself—it’s the Virgin of Antipolo! She can do more than all the rest—don’t fool yourself!"2 Capitan Tiago had great respect for this Chinese, who passed himself off as a prophet and a physician. Examining the palm of the deceased lady just before her daughter was born, he had prognosticated: "If it’s not a boy and doesn’t die, it’ll be a fine girl!"

3 and Maria Clara had come into the world to fulfill the infidel’s prophecy. Capitan Tiago, then, as a prudent and cautious man, could not decide so easily as Trojan Paris—he could not so lightly give the preference to one Virgin for fear of offending another, a situation that might be fraught with grave consequences. "Prudence!" he said to himself. "Let’s not go and spoil it all now."

He was still in the midst of these doubts when the governmental party arrived,—Doña Victorina, Don Tiburcio, and Linares. Doña Victorina did the talking for the three men as well as for herself. She mentioned Linares’ visits to the Captain-General and repeatedly insinuated the advantages of a relative of "quality." "Now," she concluded, "as we was zaying: he who zhelterz himzelf well, builds a good roof."

"T-the other w-way, w-woman!" corrected the doctor.

For some days now she had been endeavoring to Andalusize her speech, and no one had been able to get this idea out of her head—she would sooner have first let them tear off her false frizzes.

"Yez," she went on, speaking of Ibarra, "he deserves [462]it all. I told you zo when I first zaw him, he’s a filibuzter. What did the General zay to you, cousin? What did he zay? What news did he tell you about thiz Ibarra?" Seeing that her cousin was slow in answering, she continued, directing her remarks to Capitan Tiago, "Believe me, if they zentenz him to death, as is to be hoped, it’ll be on account of my cousin."

"Señora, señora!" protested Linares.

But she gave him no time for objections. "How diplomatic you have become! We know that you’re the adviser of the General, that he couldn’t live without you. Ah, Clarita, what a pleasure to zee you!"

Maria Clara was still pale, although now quite recovered from her illness. Her long hair was tied up with a light blue silk ribbon. With a timid bow and a sad smile she went up to Doña Victorina for the ceremonial kiss.

After the usual conventional remarks, the pseudo-Andalusian continued: "We’ve come to visit you. You’ve been zaved, thankz to your relations." This was said with a significant glance toward Linares.

"God has protected my father," replied the girl in a low voice.

"Yez, Clarita, but the time of the miracles is pazt. We Zpaniards zay: ‘Truzt in the Virgin and take to your heels.’"

"T-the other w-way!"

Capitan Tiago, who had up to this point had no chance to speak, now made bold enough to ask, while he threw himself into an attitude of strict attention, "So you, Doña Victorina, think that the Virgin—"

"We’ve come ezpezially to talk with you about the virgin," she answered mysteriously, making a sign toward Maria Clara. "We’ve come to talk business."

The maiden understood that she was expected to retire, so with an excuse she went away, supporting herself on the furniture.

[463]What was said and what was agreed upon in this conference was so sordid and mean that we prefer not to recount it. It is enough to record that as they took their leave they were all merry, and that afterwards Capitan Tiago said to Aunt Isabel: "Notify the restaurant that we’ll have a fiesta tomorrow. Get Maria ready, for we’re going to marry her off before long."

Aunt Isabel stared at him in consternation.

"You’ll see! When Señor Linares is our son-in-law we’ll get into all the palaces. Every one will envy us, every one will die of envy!"

Thus it happened that at eight o’clock on the following evening the house of Capitan Tiago was once again filled, but this time his guests were only Spaniards and Chinese. The fair sex was represented by Peninsular and Philippine-Spanish ladies.

There were present the greater part of our acquaintances: Padre Sibyla and Padre Salvi among various Franciscans and Dominicans; the old lieutenant of the Civil Guard, Señor Guevara, gloomier than ever; the alferez, who was for the thousandth time describing his battle and gazing over his shoulders at every one, believing himself to be a Don John of Austria, for he was now a major; De Espadaña, who looked at the alferez with respect and fear, and avoided his gaze; and Doña Victorina, swelling with indignation. Linares had not yet come; as a personage of importance, he had to arrive later than the others. There are creatures so simple that by being an hour behind time they transform themselves into great men.

In the group of women Maria Clara was the subject of a murmured conversation. The maiden had welcomed them all ceremoniously, without losing her air of sadness.

"Pish!" remarked one young woman. "The proud little thing!"

"Pretty little thing!" responded another. "But he [464]might have picked out some other girl with a less foolish face." "The gold, child! The good youth is selling himself."

In another part the comments ran thus:

"To get married when her first fiancé is about to be hanged!"

"That’s what’s called prudence, having a substitute ready."

"Well, when she gets to be a widow—"

Maria Clara was seated in a chair arranging a salver of flowers and doubtless heard all these remarks, for her hand trembled, she turned pale, and several times bit her lips.

In the circle of men the conversation was carried on in loud tones and, naturally, turned upon recent events. All were talking, even Don Tiburcio, with the exception of Padre Sibyla, who maintained his usual disdainful silence.

"I’ve heard it said that your Reverence is leaving the town, Padre Salvi?" inquired the new major, whose fresh star had made him more amiable.

"I have nothing more to do there. I’m going to stay permanently in Manila. And you?"

"I’m also leaving the town," answered the ex-alferez, swelling up. "The government needs me to command a flying column to clean the provinces of filibusters."

Fray Sibyla looked him over rapidly from head to foot and then turned his back completely.

"Is it known for certain what will become of the ringleader, the filibuster?" inquired a government employee.

"Do you mean Crisostomo Ibarra?" asked another. "The most likely and most just thing is that he will be hanged, like those of ’72."

"He’s going to be deported," remarked the old lieutenant, dryly.

"Deported! Nothing more than deported? But it will be a perpetual deportation!" exclaimed several voices at the same time.

[465]"If that young man," continued the lieutenant, Guevara, in a loud and severe tone, "had been more cautious, if he had confided less in certain persons with whom he corresponded, if our prosecutors did not know how to interpret so subtly what is written, that young man would surely have been acquitted." This declaration on the part of the old lieutenant and the tone of his voice produced great surprise among his hearers, who were apparently at a loss to know what to say. Padre Salvi stared in another direction, perhaps to avoid the gloomy look that the old soldier turned on him. Maria Clara let her flowers fall and remained motionless. Padre Sibyla, who knew so well how to be silent, seemed also to be the only one who knew how to ask a question.

"You’re speaking of letters, Señor Guevara?"

"I’m speaking of what was told me by his lawyer, who looked after the case with interest and zeal. Outside of some ambiguous lines which this youth wrote to a woman before he left for Europe, lines in which the government’s attorney saw a plot and a threat against the government, and which he acknowledged to be his, there wasn’t anything found to accuse him of."

"But the declaration of the outlaw before he died?"

"His lawyer had that thrown out because, according to the outlaw himself, they had never communicated with the young man, but with a certain Lucas, who was an enemy of his, as could be proved, and who committed suicide, perhaps from remorse. It was proved that the papers found on the corpse were forged, since the handwriting was like that of Señor Ibarra’s seven years ago, but not like his now, which leads to the belief that the model for them may have been that incriminating letter. Besides, the lawyer says that if Señor Ibarra had refused to acknowledge the letter, he might have been able to do a great deal for him—but at sight of the letter he turned pale, lost his courage, and confirmed everything written in it."

[466]"Did you say that the letter was directed to a woman?" asked a Franciscan. "How did it get into the hands of the prosecutor?" The lieutenant did not answer. He stared for a moment at Padre Salvi and then moved away, nervously twisting the sharp point of his gray beard. The others made their comments.

"There is seen the hand of God!" remarked one. "Even the women hate him."

"He had his house burned down, thinking in that way to save himself, but he didn’t count on the guest, on his querida, his babaye," added another, laughing. "It’s the work of God! Santiago y cierra España!"4 Meanwhile the old soldier paused in his pacing about and approached Maria Clara, who was listening to the conversation, motionless in her chair, with the flowers scattered at her feet.

"You are a very prudent girl," the old officer whispered to her. "You did well to give up the letter. You have thus assured yourself an untroubled future."

With startled eyes she watched him move away from her, and bit her lip. Fortunately, Aunt Isabel came along, and she had sufficient strength left to catch hold of the old lady’s skirt.

"Aunt!" she murmured.

"What’s the matter?" asked the old lady, frightened by the look on the girl’s face.

"Take me to my room!" she pleaded, grasping her aunt’s arm in order to rise.

"Are you sick, daughter? You look as if you’d lost your bones! What’s the matter?"

"A fainting spell—the people in the room—so many lights—I need to rest. Tell father that I’m going to sleep."

"You’re cold. Do you want some tea?"

Maria Clara shook her head, entered and locked the [467]door of her chamber, and then, her strength failing her, she fell sobbing to the floor at the feet of an image. "Mother, mother, mother mine!" she sobbed.

Through the window and a door that opened on the azotea the moonlight entered. The musicians continued to play merry waltzes, laughter and the hum of voices penetrated into the chamber, several times her father, Aunt Isabel, Doña Victorina, and even Linares knocked at the door, but Maria did not move. Heavy sobs shook her breast.

Hours passed—the pleasures of the dinner-table ended, the sound of singing and dancing was heard, the candle burned itself out, but the maiden still remained motionless on the moonlit floor at the feet of an image of the Mother of Jesus.

Gradually the house became quiet again, the lights were extinguished, and Aunt Isabel once more knocked at the door.

"Well, she’s gone to sleep," said the old woman, aloud. "As she’s young and has no cares, she sleeps like a corpse."

When all was silence she raised herself slowly and threw a look about her. She saw the azotea with its little arbors bathed in the ghostly light of the moon.

"An untroubled future! She sleeps like a corpse!" she repeated in a low voice as she made her way out to the azotea.

The city slept. Only from time to time there was heard the noise of a carriage crossing the wooden bridge over the river, whose undisturbed waters reflected smoothly the light of the moon. The young woman raised her eyes toward a sky as clear as sapphire. Slowly she took the rings from her fingers and from her ears and removed the combs from her hair. Placing them on the balustrade of the azotea, she gazed toward the river.

A small banka loaded with zacate stopped at the foot of the landing such as every house on the bank of the river has. [468]One of two men who were in it ran up the stone stairway and jumped over the wall, and a few seconds later his footsteps were heard on the stairs leading to the azotea. Maria Clara saw him pause on discovering her, but only for a moment. Then he advanced slowly and stopped within a few paces of her. Maria Clara recoiled.

"Crisostomo!" she murmured, overcome with fright.

"Yes, I am Crisostomo," replied the young man gravely. "An enemy, a man who has every reason for hating me, Elias, has rescued me from the prison into which my friends threw me."

A sad silence followed these words. Maria Clara bowed her head and let her arms fall.

Ibarra went on: "Beside my mother’s corpse I swore that I would make you happy, whatever might be my destiny! You can have been faithless to your oath, for she was not your mother; but I, I who am her son, hold her memory so sacred that in spite of a thousand difficulties I have come here to carry mine out, and fate has willed that I should speak to you yourself. Maria, we shall never see each other again—you are young and perhaps some day your conscience may reproach you—I have come to tell you, before I go away forever, that I forgive you. Now, may you be happy and—farewell!"

Ibarra started to move away, but the girl stopped him.

"Crisostomo," she said, "God has sent you to save me from desperation. Hear me and then judge me!"

Ibarra tried gently to draw away from her. "I didn’t come to call you to account! I came to give you peace!"

"I don’t want that peace which you bring me. Peace I will give myself. You despise me and your contempt will embitter all the rest of my life."

Ibarra read the despair and sorrow depicted in the suffering girl’s face and asked her what she wished.

"That you believe that I have always loved you!"

At this he smiled bitterly.

"Ah, you doubt me! You doubt the friend of your [469]childhood, who has never hidden a single thought from you!" the maiden exclaimed sorrowfully. "I understand now! But when you hear my story, the sad story that was revealed to me during my illness, you will have mercy on me, you will not have that smile for my sorrow. Why did you not let me die in the hands of my ignorant physician? You and I both would have been happier!" Resting a moment, she then went on: "You have desired it, you have doubted me! But may my mother forgive me! On one of the sorrowfulest of my nights of suffering, a man revealed to me the name of my real father and forbade me to love you—except that my father himself should pardon the injury you had done him."

Ibarra recoiled a pace and gazed fearfully at her.

"Yes," she continued, "that man told me that he could not permit our union, since his conscience would forbid it, and that he would be obliged to reveal the name of my real father at the risk of causing a great scandal, for my father is—" And she murmured into the youth’s ear a name in so low a tone that only he could have heard it.

"What was I to do? Must I sacrifice to my love the memory of my mother, the honor of my supposed father, and the good name of the real one? Could I have done that without having even you despise me?"

"But the proof! Had you any proof? You needed proofs!" exclaimed Ibarra, trembling with emotion.

The maiden snatched two papers from her bosom.

"Two letters of my mother’s, two letters written in the midst of her remorse, while I was yet unborn! Take them, read them, and you will see how she cursed me and wished for my death, which my father vainly tried to bring about with drugs. These letters he had forgotten in a building where he had lived; the other man found and preserved them and only gave them up to me in exchange for your letter, in order to assure himself, so he said, that I would not marry you without the consent of my father. Since I have been carrying them about with me, in place of your [470]letter, I have, felt the chill in my heart. I sacrificed you, I sacrificed my love! What else could one do for a dead mother and two living fathers? Could I have suspected the use that was to be made of your letter?" Ibarra stood appalled, while she continued: "What more was left for me to do? Could I perhaps tell you who my father was, could I tell you that you should beg forgiveness of him who made your father suffer so much? Could I ask my father that he forgive you, could I tell him that I knew that I was his daughter—him, who desired my death so eagerly? It was only left to me to suffer, to guard the secret, and to die suffering! Now, my friend, now that you know the sad history of your poor Maria, will you still have for her that disdainful smile?"

"Maria, you are an angel!"

"Then I am happy, since you believe me—"

"But yet," added the youth with a change of tone, "I’ve heard that you are going to be married."

"Yes," sobbed the girl, "my father demands this sacrifice. He has loved me and cared for me when it was not his duty to do so, and I will pay this debt of gratitude to assure his peace, by means of this new relationship, but—"

"But what?"

"I will never forget the vows of faithfulness that I have made to you."

"What are you thinking of doing?" asked Ibarra, trying to read the look in her eyes.

"The future is dark and my destiny is wrapped in gloom! I don’t know what I should do. But know, that I have loved but once and that without love I will never belong to any man. And you, what is going to become of you?"

"I am only a fugitive, I am fleeing. In a little while my flight will have been discovered. Maria—"

Maria Clara caught the youth’s head in her hands and kissed him repeatedly on the lips, embraced him, and drew abruptly away. "Go, go!" she cried. "Go, and farewell!"

[471]Ibarra gazed at her with shining eyes, but at a gesture from her moved away—intoxicated, wavering. Once again he leaped over the wall and stepped into the banka. Maria Clara, leaning over the balustrade, watched him depart. Elias took off his hat and bowed to her profoundly. [472]


Continue Reading Chapter LXI to Glossary


1 Believe me, cousin ... what has happened, has happened; let us give thanks to God that you are not in the Marianas Islands, planting camotes. (It may be observed that here, as in some of his other speeches, Don Primitivo’s Latin is rather Philippinized.)—TR.
2 The original is in the lingua franca of the Philippine Chinese, a medium of expression sui generis, being, like, Ulysses, "a part of all that he has met," and defying characteristic translation: "No siya ostí gongon; miligen li Antipolo esi! Esi pueli más con tolo; no siya ostí gongong!"—TR.
3 "Si esi no hómole y no pataylo, mujé juete-juete!" 4 The Spanish battle-cry: "St. James, and charge, Spain!"—TR.

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