Monday, March 15, 2010

Noli Me Tangere - Part 4 ( From Chapter XXXIII to Chapter XLI )

Chapter XXXIII.
Playing Cards with the Shades.

A cloudy sky hides the moon, and a cold wind, the omen of approaching December, whirls the dry leaves and dust in the narrow path leading to the cemetery.

Under the gate, three forms are conversing in a low tone.

“Have you spoken to Elias?” asked a voice.

“No; you know he is very odd and discreet. But he ought to be with us. Don Crisostomo saved his life.”

“I accepted the offer for the same reason,” said the first voice. “Don Crisostomo is having my wife treated at a doctor’s house in Manila. I have agreed to take charge of the convent in the attack, so that I can settle my accounts with the curate.”

“And we, we will have charge of the attack on the cuartel, so that we can say to the members of the Guardia Civil that our father had sons.”

“How many will there be of you?”

“Five! Five will be enough. Don Crisostomo’s servant says that there will be twenty in all.”

“And if things don’t turn out well?”

“St!” said one, and they all became silent.

In the semi-darkness, a form could be seen crawling along the fence. From time to time it stopped, as if to look behind.

And it did so not without reason. Behind, at some twenty paces, came another form. This one was taller and seemed to be darker than the first. Each time that the first stopped this second one would disappear as if the earth had swallowed it.

“They are following me,” murmured the one ahead. “Is it a Guardia Civil? Has the sacristan lied?”

“It appears that the appointment is here,” said the second, [212]in a low voice. “They are up to something bad, when the two brothers hide it from me.”

The first form finally arrived at the gate of the cemetery. The three who were already there advanced.

“Is it you?”

“Is it you?”

“Let us separate. Some one is following me. To-morrow we will have the arms and to-morrow night will be our time. The cry is ‘Viva Don Crisostomo!’ Begone!”

The three persons disappeared behind the wall. The recent arrival hid himself in the hollow of the gate and waited silently.

“Let’s see who is following me!” he murmured.

The second person came along very cautiously, and stopped to look around.

“I have arrived late!” said he in a half intelligible voice. “But perhaps they will return.”

And, as a fine rain began to fall and threatened to continue, he took refuge under the gate. Naturally, he met the other.

“Ah! who are you?” asked the one who had just come up, in a manly voice.

“And who are you?” replied the other tranquilly.

There was a moment’s pause. Each tried to recognize the other by the tone of his voice and to distinguish the other’s features.

“What are you waiting here for?” asked the one with the heavy voice.

“Till the clock strikes eight, so as to have a game of cards with the dead. I want to win some money to-night,” replied the other, in an ordinary tone. “And you: what do you come here for?”

“A—a—for the same thing.”

“Well! I am glad. So I will not be without a companion. I have brought some cards. At the first stroke of the bell, I put down the albur (the first two cards put on the board in monte). At the second stroke, I put down the gallo (the second pair). The cards which move after I have put them down, are those which the dead choose for themselves. Did you also bring some cards?”

“No.” [213]


“It is simple. Just as you act as ‘banker’ for them, so I hope that they will ‘bank’ for me.” (In monte the banker deals the cards and bets that one of the cards in either the albur or gallo is turned up by dealing off the pack, before the card chosen by the other person is turned up. A banker can play against two others.)

“And if the shades do not care to ‘bank’?”

“What can be done? The game is not obligatory upon the dead.”

There was a moment’s silence.

“Did you come armed? What if you have to fight with the shades of the dead?”

“I’ll use my fists,” replied the taller of the two.

“Ah! The devil! Now, I remember! The dead do not bet when there is more than one live person around. There are two of us.”

“Is that true? Well, I don’t want to go away.”

“Nor I. I need some money,” replied the smaller one. “But let us do this: We will decide by the cards which one shall go away.”

“All right!” replied the other, showing a certain amount of displeasure.

“Then let us go in. Have you any matches?”

They entered the cemetery and in the obscurity they searched for a place where they might decide the question with the cards. They soon found a niche upon which they sat down. The shorter one took from his hat some playing cards and the other lighted a match.

Each one looked at the other in the light which the match made, but, judging from the expression on their faces, they did not recognize each other. However, we can recognize in the taller one, the one with the manly voice, Elias; and in the smaller one, Lucas, with the scar on his cheek.

“Cut the cards!” said the latter, without ceasing to look at the other.

He pushed aside some bones which were found on the niche and turned up an ace and a jack for the albur. Elias lighted one match after another.

“On the jack!” said he and, in order to show which of [214]the cards he was betting on, he placed upon it a piece of vertebræ.

“I deal!” said Lucas and, after turning up four or five cards, an ace came up.

“You have lost,” he added. “Now leave me alone so that I may win some money.”

Elias, without saying a word, disappeared in the darkness.

Some minutes afterward, the clock in the church struck eight and the bell announced the hour of prayer. But Lucas did not invite anybody to play with him. He did not call out the shades, as superstition demanded. Instead, he uncovered his head, murmured some prayers and crossed himself with the same fervor as the chief of the Brotherhood of the Most Sacred Rosary would have done at that moment.

The drizzling rain continued all night. At nine o’clock the streets were dark and lonely. The little cocoanut oil lanterns, which each citizen had to hang out in front of his house gave light scarcely a meter around. It seemed as though they had been lighted so one might see the darkness.

Two Civil Guards were walking from one side of the street to the other near the church.

“It is cold,” said one in Tagalog with a Visayan accent. “We aren’t catching any sacristans. There is nobody to clean out the alferez’s hen yard and we ought to catch some sacristan and make him do it. Since that one was killed, they have taken warning. I am getting tired of this.”

“So am I,” replied the other. “Nobody commits any robbery; no one disturbs the peace; but, thank God, they say that Elias is in town. The alferez says that the one who catches him will be free from whippings for three months.”

“Ah! Do you know his identification marks?” asked the Visayan.

“I certainly do! Stature, tall, according to the alferez’s description; ordinary, according to the description of Father Dámaso; color, brunette; eyes, black; nose, regular; mouth, regular; beard, none; hair, black.”

“Ah! And particular marks?” [215]

“Camisa, black; pantaloons, black; a wood-cutter——”

“Ah! He will not escape. I think I see him already.”

“I don’t confuse him with anybody else, although you might think so.”

Both soldiers continued their beats.

By the light of the lantern two forms could again be seen, one following the other cautiously. A forcible “Quien vive?” stops them both. The first one replied “España,” in a trembling voice.

The two soldiers drag him along and bring him up to the light, to recognize him. It was Lucas, but the soldiers were in doubt and questioned each other with a glance.

“The alferez said nothing about his having a scar,” said the Visayan in a low voice. “Where are you going?”

“To order a mass for to-morrow.”

“Have you not seen Elias?”

“I do not know him, señor,” replied Lucas.

“You dunce! I am not asking if you know him. Nor do we know him. I am asking you if you have seen him.”

“No, señor.”

“Listen closely. I will give you his description. Stature, at times tall, at times regular; skin and eyes, black; all the others are regular,” said the Visayan. “Do you know him now?”

“No, señor,” replied Lucas, frightened.

“Then, sulung! (Go along). You brute! You ass!” And they gave him a shove.

“Do you know why Elias is tall, according to the alferez, and why he is short, according to the curate?” asked the Tagalog of the other.


“Because the alferez was stuck in a mud hole when he observed him, and the curate was on foot when he saw him.”

“That’s right!” exclaimed the Visayan. “You are bright. Why are you a Guardia Civil?”

“I haven’t been always. I was a smuggler at one time,” replied the Tagalog boastingly.

But another form attracted their attention. They called out “Quien Vive?” and brought him up to the light. This time it was Elias himself. [216]

“Where are you going?”

“I am pursuing, señor, a man who has whipped and threatened my brother. He has a scar on his face and his name is Elias——”

“Ha?” exclaimed the two, and looked at each other frightened.

And at once they started on a run toward the church, where a few minutes before Lucas had disappeared. [217]
Chapter XXXIV.
The Discovery.

The bell announces the hour of evening prayer. On hearing the religious sound, all stop, leave their work and uncover their heads; the laborer, coming from the fields on the carabao’s back, suspends the song to which the animal keeps step, and prays; the women in the middle of the street make the sign of the cross, and move their lips with affectation so that no one may doubt their devotion: the man stops fondling his game-cock and recites the Angelus so that he may have good luck; in the houses, they pray in a loud voice ... every sound which is not a part of the Ave Maria is dissipated, silenced.

However, the curate, without his hat, hastily crosses the street, scandalizing many old women. And still more scandalous, he directs his steps towards the alferez’s house. The devout women think that it is time for them to stop the movement of their lips and to kiss the curate’s hand, but Father Salví takes no notice of them. To-day he finds no pleasure in placing his bony hand under a Christian’s nose. Some important business must be occupying him that he should so forget his own interests and those of the Church!

He goes up the stairs and knocks impatiently at the alferez’s door. The latter appears, his eyebrows knit and followed by his better half, who smiles malignantly.

“Ah, Father Curate! I was just going to see you. Your he-goat....”

“I have a most important matter....”

“I can’t allow your goat to go on breaking down my fence.... I’ll shoot him if he gets in there again.”

“That is if you are alive to-morrow,” said the curate, breathless, and directing himself toward the sala.

“What! do you think that that seven-months-old puppy will kill me? I’ll kick him to pieces.” [218]

Father Salví stepped back and looked instinctively at the feet of the alferez.

“Whom are you talking about?” asked he, trembling.

“Of whom could I be talking but that big blockhead who proposes to challenge me to a duel with revolvers at one hundred paces?”

“Ah!” sighed the curate, and added: “I have come to speak about a most urgent matter which seriously concerns the life of all of us.”

“Seriously!” repeated the alferez, turning pale in turn. “Does this young fellow shoot well...?”

“I am not speaking about him.”


The friar pointed to the door which the alferez shut in his customary manner, by a kick. The alferez usually found his hands superfluous. An imprecation and a groan from without were heard.

“You brute. You have cut open my head!” cried his wife.

“Now unbosom yourself,” said he to the curate in a quiet manner. The latter looked at him for some time. Afterward he asked, in that nasal and monotonous priest’s voice:

“Did you see how I came running?”

“Umph! I thought something was the matter with you.”

“When I leave my duties in this manner there are grave motives.”

“And what is it?” asked the other, stamping his foot on the floor.

“Calm yourself!”

“Then, why did you come in such a hurry?”

The curate approached him and asked in a mysterious way:


The alferez shrugged his shoulders.

“You confess that you know absolutely nothing?”

“What! do you mean to tell me about Elias, whom your sacristan mayor hid last night?” he asked.

“No, no! I don’t speak of such matters now,” replied the curate, in a bad humor. “I am talking about a great danger.” [219]

“Then d——n it! Let it out.”

“Now then,” said the friar slowly and with a certain disdain, “you will see again how important we priests are. The lowest layman is worth a regiment, so that a curate....”

And then lowering his voice in a very mysterious manner:

“I have discovered a great conspiracy.”

The alferez started and looked at the friar astonished.

“A terrible and well-laid conspiracy, which is to break out this very night.”

“This very night!” exclaimed the alferez, moving at first toward Father Salví, and then running after his revolver and saber, which were hanging on the wall: “Whom shall I arrest? Whom shall I arrest?” he cried.

“Be calm. It is not yet time, thanks to my great haste. At eight o’clock.”

“I’ll shoot them all!”

“Listen! This afternoon a woman, whose name I must not mention (it is a secret of the confessional) came to me and disclosed it all. At eight o’clock they will take the cuartel by surprise, sack the convent, seize the Government’s steamboat and assassinate all the Spaniards.”

The alferez was stupified.

“The woman has not told more than that,” added the curate.

“Has not told you more? Then I’ll arrest her!”

“No; I cannot consent to it. The tribunal of penitence is the throne of God of forgiveness.”

“Neither God nor forgiveness count in this matter. I’ll arrest her.”

“You are losing your head. What you ought to do is to prepare yourself. Arm your soldiers quietly and put them in ambush. Send me four Guards for the convent and notify the people on the Government steamboat.”

“The boat is not here. I’ll send to other sections for aid.”

“They would notice that and would not go on with their plans. No, don’t do that. What is important is that we catch them alive and make them talk; I say, you will make them disclose the conspiracy. I, in the capacity [220]of a priest, ought not to mix myself in these matters. Now’s your chance! Here you can win crosses and stars. I ask only that you make it evident that I am the one who warned you.”

“It will be made evident, Father, it will be made evident! And perhaps a mitre will fall to you!” replied the radiant alferez.

“Be sure and send me four un-uniformed Civil Guards, eh? Be discreet! To-night at eight o’clock, it will rain stars and crosses.”

While this was going on, a man came running down the road which led to Ibarra’s house, and quickly went up the stairs.

“Is the Señor at home?” asked Elias of the servant.

“He is in his laboratory at work.”

Ibarra, in order to pass the time while he impatiently waited for the hour when he could make explanations to Maria Clara, had gone to work in his cabinet.

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

“Don’t bother yourself, Señor, about me....”

“Look!” continued Ibarra, without noting the agitation of the young man, and putting a piece of bamboo to a flame. “I have made a great discovery. This bamboo is incombustible....”

“Don’t talk about bamboo now, Señor. Talk about collecting your papers and fleeing in a minute.”

Ibarra looked at him surprised, and, on seeing the seriousness in Elias’s countenance, he dropped the object which he had in his hands.

“Burn everything that can possibly implicate you in any way and put yourself in a more secure place within an hour.”

“And what for?” he asked at last.

“Put all that you have of value in a secure place....”

“And what for?”

“Burn all papers written by you or to you. The most innocent can be interpreted in a bad sense.”

“But what for?”

“What for? Because I have just discovered a conspiracy [221]which will be attributed to you in order to ruin you.”

“A conspiracy? And who has planned it?”

“I have been unable to learn the author of it. Only a moment ago I was talking with one of the unfortunate men who have been paid for it. I could not dissuade him.”

“And didn’t that fellow say who paid him?”

“Yes. Asking me to keep the secret, he told me that it was you.”

“My God!” exclaimed Ibarra. He stood stupefied.

“Señor, don’t hesitate, don’t doubt, don’t lose time, for undoubtedly the conspiracy will break out this very night.”

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

“The blow cannot be thwarted,” continued Elias. “I have arrived too late. I do not know their leaders ... save yourself, Señor, save yourself for the sake of your country.”

“Where shall I flee? They are expecting me this evening,” exclaimed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara.

“To any other town, to Manila, to the house of some official; only flee somewhere so that they will not say that you are directing the movement.”

“And if I myself denounce the conspiracy?”

“You denounce it?” exclaimed Elias, looking at him, and stepping back. “You would pass for a traitor and a coward in the eyes of the conspirators, and for a pusillanimous person in the eyes of others. They would say that you had played a trick to win some praise, they would say....”

“But what can be done?”

“Already I have told you. Destroy all the papers you have which relate to you; flee and await developments.”

“And Maria Clara?” exclaimed the young man. “No; death first!”

Elias wrung his hands and said:

“Well, then, at least avoid the blow. Prepare yourself against their accusations.”

Ibarra looked around him in a stupefied manner.

“Then, help me! There in those bags I have my family [222]letters. Sort out those from my father, which are, perhaps, the ones that would incriminate me. Read the signatures.”

Ibarra, stunned and overwhelmed, opened and closed drawers, collected papers, hastily read letters, tore up some, kept others, took down books and thumbed through some of them. Elias did the same, if indeed with less confusion, with equal zeal. But he stopped, with eyes wide open, turned over a paper which he had in his hand and asked in a trembling voice:

“Did your family know Don Pedro Eibarramendia?”

“Certainly!” replied Ibarra, opening a drawer and taking out a pile of papers. “He was my great-grandfather.”

“Your great grandfather? Don Pedro Eibarramendia?” he again asked, with livid features and a changed appearance.

“Yes,” replied Ibarra, distracted. “We cut short the name, for it was too long.”

“He was a Basque?” said Elias approaching him.

“Yes; but what’s the matter?” he asked, surprised.

Elias closed his fist, shook it in Ibarra’s face and looked at him. Crisostomo stepped back as soon as he read the expression on that face.

“Do you know who Don Pedro Eibarramendia was?” he asked between his teeth. “Don Pedro Eibarramendia was that wretch who accused my grandfather and caused all our misery.... I was looking for one of his name. God has given you into my hands.... Account to me for our misfortunes.”

Ibarra looked at him terrified. Elias shook him by the arm and, in a bitter voice, filled with hate, said:

“Look at me well; see if I have suffered, and you, you live, you love, you have fortune, home, consideration. You live ... you live!”

And, beside himself, he ran toward a small collection of arms, but he had scarcely grasped two swords when he let them fall, and, like a madman, looked at Ibarra, who remained immovable.

“What am I to do?” he said and fled from the house. [223]
Chapter XXXV.
The Catastrophe.

There in the dining-room Captain Tiago, Linares, and Aunt Isabel were eating supper. In the sala the rattling of plate and tableware was heard. Maria Clara had said that she did not care to eat and had seated herself at the piano. By her side was jolly Sinang, who murmured little secrets in Maria’s ear, while Father Salví uneasily paced the sala.

It was not because the convalescent had no appetite that she was not eating. It was because she was awaiting the arrival of a certain person and had taken advantage of the moment in which her Argus could not be present, the hour when Linares ate.

“You will see how that ghost will stay till eight o’clock,” murmured Sinang, pointing to the curate. “At eight o’clock he ought to come. This priest is as much in love as Linares.”

Maria Clara looked at her friend, frightened. The latter, without noticing her expression, continued her terrible gossip:

“Ah! Now I know why he doesn’t go, in spite of all my hints. He doesn’t want to burn the lamps in the convent. Don’t you see? Ever since you fell ill, he has had the two lights which he used to burn, put out. But look at his eyes and his face!”

Just at that moment the clock in the house struck eight. The curate trembled and went and sat down in a corner of the room.

“He is coming,” said Sinang, pinching Maria Clara. “Do you hear?”

The bell in the church tolled eight and all arose to pray. Father Salví, with a weak and trembling voice, led, but, as each one had his own thoughts, nobody paid any attention to him. [224]

The prayer had scarcely ended, when Ibarra presented himself. The young man was wearing mourning, not only in his dress, but in his face. In fact, it was so evident that Maria Clara, on seeing him, arose and took a step toward him as if to ask what ailed him, but at the same instant a discharge of musketry was heard. Ibarra stopped, his eyes rolled and he was unable to speak. The curate hid himself behind a pillar. More shooting and more noise was heard in the direction of the convent, followed by cries and the sound of people running. Captain Tiago, Aunt Isabel and Linares entered the room, hurriedly crying “tulisan! tulisan!” Andeng followed them, brandishing a spit and ran toward her foster sister.

Aunt Isabel fell on her knees and prayed the Kyrie eleison. Captain Tiago, pale and trembling, carried a chicken’s liver on his fork, and, in tears, offered it to the Virgin of Antipolo. Linares had his mouth full and was armed with a spoon. Sinang and Maria Clara embraced each other. The only person who did not move was Ibarra. He stood as if petrified, his face indescribably pale.

The cries and blows continued, the windows were shut with a bang, a whistle was heard, and occasionally a shot.

“Christe eleison! Santiago, fasten the windows,” groaned Aunt Isabel.

“Fifty great bombs and a thanksgiving mass,” replied Captain Tiago. “Ora pro nobis!”

After a time, things quieted down and there was a terrible silence. The voice of the alferez was distinguished, as he came running in, and crying: “Father curate! Father Salví! Come!”

“Misere! The alferez is asking for confession!” cried Aunt Isabel.

“Is he wounded?” asked Linares at last. “Ah!”

“Come, Father Salví! There is nothing to fear now,” continued the alferez, shouting.

Father Salví, pale, and decided at last, came out of his hiding-place and went downstairs.

“The tulisanes have killed the alferez!” said Aunt Isabel.

“Maria Clara, Sinang, go to your room! Fasten the door! Kyrie eleison!”

Ibarra also went toward the stairs, in spite of Aunt [225]Isabel, who was saying: “Don’t go out! You haven’t confessed yet. Don’t go out!”

The good old woman had been a great friend of Ibarra’s mother.

But Ibarra left the house. It seemed to him that all about him was revolving through the air, that even the ground was gone from under his feet. His ears buzzed. His legs moved heavily and irregularly. Waves of blood, light and darkness, succeeded one another on the retina of his eye.

Despite the fact that the moon was shining brightly in the heavens, the young man stumbled on every stone in the solitary and deserted street.

Near the cuartel he saw some soldiers with their bayonets fixed, talking excitedly. He passed by unseen.

In the tribunal, blows, cries, wails, and curses were heard. The alferez’s voice drowned all the others.

“Put him in the stocks! Put handcuffs on that fellow! Two shots for whoever moves! Sergeant, you will mount your guard! Let no one pass, not even God! Corporal, let no one sleep!”

Ibarra hastened his steps toward his house. His servants were uneasily awaiting him.

“Saddle the best horse and go to bed!” said he to them.

He entered his laboratory and hurriedly began to get his travelling bag ready. He opened an iron box, took out all the money which he found there and put it in a bag. He gathered his jewels together, took down a picture of Maria Clara which was hanging upon the wall, and, arming himself with a dirk and two revolvers, he turned to the cupboard where he had some tools.

At that instant, three blows, loud and strong, sounded on the door.

“Who’s there?” asked Ibarra, in a doleful voice.

“Open in the name of the King! Open the door at once, or we will knock it down!” replied an imperious Spanish voice.

Ibarra looked toward the window. His eyes flashed and he cocked his revolver. But changing his mind, he left the arms and went to open the door at the same moment that the servants came up. [226]

Three Guards seized him instantly.

“You are made a prisoner in the name of the King!” said the sergeant.

“What for?”

“They will tell you later. We are prohibited from saying a word.”

The young man reflected a moment and not wishing, perhaps, the soldiers to discover his preparations for flight, he took his hat and said:

“I am at your disposal. I suppose it will be only for a short time.”

“If you promise not to escape, we will not handcuff you. The alferez grants this favor, but if you flee——”

Ibarra followed, leaving the servants in consternation.

In the meantime, what had become of Elias?

On leaving Crisostomo’s house, like a madman, he ran about without knowing where. He crossed fields, and in violent agitation arrived at a forest. He was fleeing from people, and from light. The moon troubled him and he entered the mysterious shade of the forest. Sometimes stopping, sometimes following unbroken paths, leaning upon century-old trunks, entangled in the briars, he looked toward the town, which lay at his feet bathed in the light of the moon, stretching itself out on the plain, lying on the shore of the lake. Birds, disturbed in their sleep, flew away. Owls screeched and flew from one limb to another. But Elias neither heard nor saw them. He thought he was being followed by the infuriated shades of his ancestors. He saw the horrible basket hanging from every branch with the blood-covered head of Bálat, just as his father had described it to him. He thought he saw the dead body of his grandmother lying at the foot of every tree. He seemed to see the skeleton of his dishonored grandfather in the darkness, and the skeleton, the old woman, and the head all cried out to him, “Coward! Coward!”

He left the mountain and fled down toward the sea. He ran along the beach in agitation. But there in the distance, amid the waves, where the light of the moon seemed to raise a fog, he thought he saw a shade raise itself, the shade of his sister, with her breast covered with blood, her hair hanging loose in the air. [227]

Elias fell upon his knees on the sand.

“And you, too!” he cried stretching out his arms.

Then, with his eyes fixed on the fog, he arose slowly and, advancing toward it, went into the water as if to follow somebody. He waded on over the gentle slope of the beach which forms the bar. He was already far from the shore and the water was up to his belt. He went on and on, as if fascinated by a seducing spirit. The water was now up to his breast. Suddenly, the discharge of musketry awoke him from his dream, the vision disappeared, and the young man returned to reality. He stopped, reflected, and noticed that he was in the water. The lake was smooth and he could still see the lights in the fishermen’s huts.

He returned to the shore and made his way toward the town. What for? He himself did not know.

The town seemed uninhabited. The houses were all closed. Even the animals, the dogs which are accustomed to bark at night, had hid themselves through fear. The silvery light of the moon increased the sadness and solitude.

Afraid of meeting the Civil Guards, he went through the orchards and gardens. In one of the gardens he thought he saw two human forms, but he continued his way. Jumping over fences and walls, he arrived after great labor at the other side of the town, and directed his steps toward Ibarra’s house. The servants were in the door, lamenting and commenting on the arrest of their master.

Aware of what had passed, Elias went away, but returned to the house, leaped over the wall, crawled through a window and went into the cabinet or laboratory, where the candle which Ibarra had left was still burning.

Elias saw the papers and the books. He found the arms and the little sacks which contained the money and the jewelry. All that had passed ran through his imagination again, and, seeing all the papers which might incriminate Ibarra, he thought of collecting them, throwing them through the window and burying them.

He glanced toward the garden and, by the light of the [228]moon, he saw two Civil Guards coming with an adjutant. Their bayonets and helmets were glistening in the light.

Then he decided. He piled up the clothes and papers in the middle of the cabinet, emptied the oil in a lamp upon the pile and set fire to it. He quickly buckled the arms around him. He saw the picture of Maria Clara, hesitated—put it in one of the little sacks, and jumped out of the window with them all.

It was already time, for the two Civil Guards were forcing their entrance.

“Let us go up to get your master’s papers,” said the adjutant.

“Have you permission? If not, you shall not go up!” said an old servant.

But the soldiers pushed the servants aside with the butts of their guns and went upstairs. A thick smoke was already filling the whole house, and gigantic tongues of flame were coming out from the sala, licking the doors and windows.

“Fire! Fire! Fire!” they all cried.

Each hurried to save what he could, but the fire had filled the small laboratory, breaking out furiously among the inflammable materials. The Civil Guards had to turn back. The fire, roaring and sweeping all before it, closed the passage to them. In vain they brought water from the well. All were shouting, and crying for help, but they were isolated. The fire reached the other rooms and in thick columns of smoke ascended to the heavens. Some peasants came from a distance, but they arrived only in time to see the frightful spectacle, the end of that old building, so long respected by the elements. [229]
Chapter XXXVI.
What People Say and Think.

Day dawned at last for the terrorized people. The streets in which the cuartel and the tribunal were situated were still deserted and solitary. The houses showed no signs of life. However, a shutter was opened with a creaking noise and an infant head stuck out and looked in all directions.... Slap!... A sound announces hard contact between a strip of leather and a human body. The child made a grimace, closed its eyes and disappeared. The shutter was closed again.

The example had been set. Without any doubt the opening and closing of the shutter has been heard, for another window was opened very slowly and cautiously and a wrinkled and toothless old woman thrust out her head. She was called Sister Ruté. She looked about, knit her brows, spit noisily and then crossed herself. In the house opposite, a little window was timidly opened and her friend, Sister Rufa appeared. They looked at each other for a moment, smiled, made some signals, and again crossed themselves.

“Jesús! It was like a thanksgiving mass,” said Sister Rufa.

“Since the time that Bálat sacked the town I have never seen a night like it,” replied Sister Puté.

“What a lot of shots! They say that it was old Pablo’s gang.”

“Tulisanes? It couldn’t be. They say that it was the cuaderilleros against the Civil Guards. For this reason, they have arrested Don Filipo.”

“Sanctus Deus! They say that there are no less than fourteen killed.”

Other windows were opened and different faces appeared, exchanging salutations and commenting on the affair.

In the light of the day—which promised to be a splendid [230]one—could be seen in the distance, like ash-colored shadows, soldiers hurrying about in confusion.

“There goes another corpse!” said some one from one of the windows.

“One? I see two.”

“And so do I. But do you know what it was?” asked a man with a crafty face.

“Certainly. The cuaderilleros.”

“No, Señor. An uprising at the cuartel.”

“What uprising? The curate against the alferez?”

“No, nothing of the sort,” said he who had asked the question. “The Chinese have risen in revolt.”

And he closed his window again.

“The Chinese!” repeated all, with the greatest astonishment.

In a quarter of an hour other versions of the affair were in circulation. Ibarra, with his servants, it was said, had tried to steal Maria Clara, and Captain Tiago, aided by the Guardia Civil had defended her.

By this time the number of the dead was no longer fourteen, but thirty. Captain Tiago, it was said, was wounded and was going right off to Manila with his family.

The arrival of two cuaderilleros, carrying a human form in a wheelbarrow, and followed by a Civil Guard, produced a great sensation. It was supposed that they came from the convent. From the form of the feet which were hanging down, they tried to guess who it could be. By half-past seven, when other Civil Guards arrived from neighboring towns, the current version of the affair was already clear and detailed.

“I have just come from the tribunal, where I have seen Don Filipo and Don Crisostomo prisoners,” said a man to Sister Puté. “I talked with one of the cuaderilleros on guard. Well, Bruno, the son of the man who was whipped to death, made a declaration last night. As you know, Captain Tiago is going to marry his daughter to a Spaniard. Don Crisostomo, offended, wanted to take revenge and tried to kill all the Spaniards, even the curate. Last night they attacked the convent and the cuartel. Happily, by mercy of God, the curate was in Captain Tiago’s house. They say that many escaped. The Civil [231]Guards burned Don Crisostomo’s house, and if they had not taken him prisoner, they would have burned him, too.”

“They burned the house?”

“All the servants were arrested. Why, you can still see the smoke from here!” said the narrator, approaching the window. “Those who come from there relate very sad things.”

All looked toward the place indicated. A light column of smoke was still ascending to the heavens. All made comments more or less pious, more or less accusatory.

“Poor young man!” exclaimed an old man, the husband of Puté.

“Yes!” replied his wife. “But he did not order a mass for the soul of his father, who undoubtedly needs it more than others.”

“But wife, you don’t have any pity....”

“Sympathy for the excommunicated? It is a sin to have pity for the enemies of God, say the curates. Don’t you remember? He ran over the sacred burial ground as if he were in a cattle pen.”

“But a cattle pen and a cemetery are much alike,” responded the old man, “except that but one class of animals enter the cemetery.”

“What!” cried Sister Puté. “Are you still going to defend him whom God so clearly punishes? You will see that they will arrest you, too. You may support a falling house, if you want to!”

The husband became silent in view of this argument.

“Yes,” continued the old woman, “after striking Father Dámaso, there was nothing left for him to do but to kill Father Salví.”

“But you can’t deny that he was a good boy when he was a child.”

“Yes, he was a good child,” replied the old woman, “but he went to Spain. All those who go to Spain return heretics, so the curates say.”

“Oh!” exclaimed the husband, seeing his revenge. “And the curate, and all the curates, and the Archbishops, and the Pope, and the Virgin—are they not Spaniards? Bah! Are they heretics, too? Bah!”

Happily for Sister Puté, the arrival of a servant, who rushed in confused and pale, cut off the discussion. [232]

“A man hanged in a neighboring orchard!” she exclaimed breathless.

“A man hanged!” exclaimed all, full of amazement.

The women crossed themselves. No one could stir.

“Yes, Señor,” continued the servant, trembling. “I was going to gather some peas in.... I looked into the orchard next door ... to see if there ... I saw a man swinging.... I thought it was Teo ... I went nearer to gather peas, and I saw that it was not he but it was another, and was dead ... I ran, ran and....”

“Let us go and see it,” said the old man, rising. “Take us there.”

“Don’t go!” cried Sister Puté, seizing him by the shirt.

“You’ll get into trouble! He has hanged himself? Then all the worse for him!”

“Let me see it, wife! Go to the tribunal, Juan, and report it. Perhaps he is not dead yet.”

And he went ino[typo, should be into?] the orchard, followed by the servant, who kept hid behind him. The women and Sister Puté herself came along behind, full of terror and curiosity.

“There it is, Señor,” said the servant stopping him and pointing with her finger.

The group stopped at a respectful distance, allowing the old man to advance alone.

The body of a man, hanging from the limb of a santol tree, was swinging slowly in the breeze. The old man contemplated it for some time. He looked at the rigid feet, the arms, the stained clothing and the drooping head.

“We ought not to touch the corpse until some official has arrived,” said he, in a loud voice. “He is already stiff. He has been dead for some time.”

The women approached hesitatingly.

“It is the neighbor who lived in that little house; the one who arrived only 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 girl as soon as she had finished looking at the dead body from all directions.

“You fool! You heretic!” Sister Puté scolded her. “Don’t you know what Father Dámaso said? To pray for [233]a damned person is to tempt God. He who commits suicide is irrevocably condemned. For this reason, he cannot be buried in a sacred place. I had begun to think that this man was going to have a bad ending. I never could guess what he lived on.”

“I saw him twice speaking with the sacristan mayor,” observed a girl.

“It couldn’t have been to confess himself or to order a mass!”

The neighbors gathered together and a large circle surrounded the corpse which was still swinging. In half an hour some officers and two cuaderilleros arrived. They took the body down and put it in a wheelbarrow.

“Some people are in a hurry to die,” said one of the officers, laughing, while he took out the pen from behind his ear.

He asked some trifling questions; took the declaration of the servant, whom he tried to implicate, now looking at her with evil in his eyes, now threatening her and now attributing to her words which she did not say—so much so that the servant, believing that she was going to be taken to jail, began to weep and finished by declaring that she was looking for peas, but that ... and she called Teo to witness.

In the meantime, a peasant with a wide hat and a large plaster on his neck, was examining the body, and the rope by which it was hanging.

The face was no more livid than the rest of the body. Above the rope could be seen two scars and two small bruises. Where the rope had rubbed, there was no blood and the skin was white. The curious peasant examined closely the camisa and the pantaloons. He noted that they were full of dust and recently torn in some places. But what most attracted his attention were the “stick-tights”1 on his clothing, even up to his neck.

“What do you see?” asked the officer.

“I was trying to identify him, señor,” stammered the peasant, lowering his hat further from his uncovered head. [234]

“But haven’t you heard that it was one Lucas? Were you sleeping?”

All began to laugh. The peasant, embarrassed, muttered a few words, and went away with head down, walking slowly.

“Here! Where are you going?” cried the old man. “You can’t get out that way. That’s the way to the dead man’s house.”

“That fellow is still asleep,” said the officer with a jeer. “We’ll have to throw some water on him!”

Those standing around laughed again.

The peasant left the place where he had played so poor a part and directed his steps toward the church. In the sacristy, he asked for the sacristan mayor.

“He is still sleeping!” they replied gruffly. “Don’t you know that they sacked the convent last night?”

“I will wait till he awakes.”

The sacristans looked at him with that rudeness characteristic of people who are in the habit of being ill-treated.

In a dark corner, the one-eyed sacristan mayor was sleeping in a large chair. His spectacles were across his forehead among his long locks of hair. His squalid, bony breast was bare, and rose and fell with regularity.

The peasant sat down near by, disposed to wait patiently, but a coin fell on the floor and he began looking for it with the aid of a candle, under the sacristan mayor’s big chair. The peasant also noted “stick-tights” on the sleeping man’s pantaloons and on the arms of his camisa. The sacristan awoke at last, rubbed his good eye, and, in a very bad humor, reproached the man.

“I would like to order a mass said, señor,” replied he in a tone of excuse.

“They have already finished all the masses,” said the one-eyed man, softening his accent a little. “If you want it for to-morrow.... Is it for souls in Purgatory?”

“No, señor;” replied the peasant, giving him a peso.

And looking fixedly in his one eye, he added:

“It is for a person who is going to die soon.” And he left the sacristy. “I could have seized him last night,” he added, sighingly as he removed the plaster from his neck. And he straightened up and regained the stature and appearance of Elias. [235]
1 A plant (Desmodium caresceus), the dry seeds of which cling to the clothing.

Chapter XXXVII.
Vae Victis!

Civil Guards were passing with a sinister air to and fro in front of the door of the tribunal, threatening with the butts of their guns the daring boys who stood on tip-toe or raised each other up in order to look through the grates in the windows.

The sala did not present that same joyful aspect as it did when the program for the festival was being discussed. It was gloomy and the silence was almost death-like. The Civil Guards and the cuaderilleros who were occupying the room scarcely spoke and the few words that they did pronounce were in a low tone. Around the table sat the directorcillo, two writers and some soldiers scribbling papers. The alferez walked from one side to the other, looking from time to time ferociously toward the door. Themistocles after the battle of Salamis could not have shown more pride at the Olympic games. Doña Consolacion yawned in one corner of the room, and disclosed her black palate and her crooked teeth. Her cold and evil look was fixed on the door of the jail, covered with indecent pictures. Her husband, made amiable by the victory, had yielded to her request to be allowed to witness the interrogation and, perhaps, the tortures which were to follow. The hyena smelled the dead body, she licked her chops and was wearied at the delay in the punishment.

The gobernadorcillo’s chair, that large chair under the portrait of His Majesty, was empty and seemed destined for some other person.

At nearly nine o’clock, the curate, pale and with eyebrows knit, arrived.

“Well, you haven’t made any one wait!” said the alferez sarcastically to the friar. [236]

“I would have preferred not to be present,” replied Father Salví, in a low voice, without taking notice of the bitter tone.... “I am very nervous.”

“As no one came, I decided that, in order not to leave the chair empty, your presence.... You already know that the prisoners are to leave town this afternoon.”

“Young Ibarra and the teniente mayor?”

The alferez pointed toward the jail.

“Eight are in there,” said he. “Bruno died last night at midnight, but his declaration has been obtained.”

The curate saluted Doña Consolacion, who responded with a yawn and an “aah!” The friar took the big chair under the picture of His Majesty.

“We can begin,” said he.

“Bring out the two who are in the stocks!” ordered the alferez in his most terrifying voice. And turning to the curate, he added, changing his tone:

“They are fastened in the stocks with two holes vacant!”

For those who are interested in instruments of torture, we will say that the stocks is one of the most innocent. The holes in which are fastened the legs of the prisoner are a little more or less than a palm apart. Leaving two holes vacant, and putting the prisoner’s legs in the holes on either side, would make the position strained, so that the ankles would suffer peculiarly and the lower extremities be stretched apart more than a yard. It does not kill instantly, as may well be imagined.

The turnkey, followed by four soldiers, drew back the bolt and opened the door. A nauseating odor, and the thick, damp air escaped from the dense darkness of the prison and, at the same time, groans and sighs were heard. A soldier lighted a match, but the flame was extinguished in that foul, vitiated atmosphere, and they had to wait till the air was renewed.

In the vague light of a candle, several human forms could be discerned. They were men, some of whom locked their arms around their knees and hid their heads between them, others were lying down, with their mouths to the ground, some standing, and some leaning against the wall. A blow and a creaking sound was heard, accompanied by oaths; the stocks were being opened. [237]

Doña Consolacion’s body was bent forward, the muscles of her neck were rigid, her eyes riveted to the half open door.

Between the soldiers came out Tarsilo, the brother of Bruno. He wore handcuffs. His torn clothes disclosed well-developed muscles. His eyes were fixed insolently on the alferez’s wife.

“This is the one who defended himself most bravely, and who ordered his companions to flee,” said the alferez to Father Salví.

Behind came another miserable sight, a man crying and weeping like a child. He was limping and his pantaloons were stained with blood.

“Mercy, señor, have mercy! I will not enter the cuartel yard again,” he cried.

“He is a crafty fellow,” said the alferez, speaking to the curate. “He wanted to flee, but had received a flesh wound.”

“What is your name?” asked the alferez, speaking to Tarsilo.

“Tarsilo Alasigan.”

“What did Don Crisostomo promise you for attacking the cuartel?”

“Don Crisostomo has never communicated with us.”

“Don’t deny it! You wanted to surprise us for him!”

“You are mistaken. You whipped our father to death. We avenged him and nothing more. Look for your two soldiers!”

The alferez looked at the sergeant, surprised.

“They are at the bottom of that precipice. We threw them there yesterday. There they will rot. Now kill me! You will know nothing more.”

Silence and general surprise.

“You are not going to tell who were your accomplices?” said the alferez in a threatening manner and brandishing a whip.

A scornful smile curled the lips of the culprit.

The alferez conferred for some minutes with the curate in a low voice. Then turning to the soldiers, he ordered:

“Take him to where the dead bodies are!”

In a corner of the yard, upon an old wagon, were five [238]bodies close together and half covered by a filthy piece of torn matting. A soldier on guard was pacing up and down, and constantly spitting.

“Do you recognize them?” asked the alferez, lifting the matting.

Tarsilo did not respond. He saw the dead body of Pedro, with two others; one, his own brother, riddled with bayonet wounds, and the other, Lucas, with the rope still around his neck. His look became gloomy and a sigh seemed to escape from his breast.

“Do you know them?” they asked him.

Tarsilo remained silent.

There was a whistling sound and the whip came down across his back. He trembled, and his muscles contracted. The lashes were repeated, but Tarsilo continued impassive.

“Let them whip him till they cut him to pieces or till he makes a declaration,” cried the alferez, exasperated.

“Speak then!” said the directorcillo to him. “They will surely kill you.”

They led him back to the sala of the tribunal, where the other prisoner was invoking God, grating his teeth and shaking on his legs.

“Do you know this man?” asked Father Salví.

“This is the first time I have ever seen him,” replied Tarsilo, looking with a certain pity on the other.

The alferez gave him a cuff with his fist and kicked him.

“Tie him to the bench!”

Without taking off the bloody handcuffs, he was fastened to the wooden bench. The unhappy fellow looked about him as if in search of some one, and his eyes fell on Doña Consolacion. He smiled sardonically. Those present were surprised and followed his glance and saw the señora. She was biting her lips.

“I have never seen an uglier woman,” exclaimed Tarsilo amid the general silence. “I prefer to lie down on this bench as I am doing than to lie by her side, like the alferez.”

The Muse turned pale.

“You are going to whip me to death, alferez,” he continued, [239]“but to-night I will be avenged by your woman.”

“Gag him!” shouted the alferez, furious and trembling with rage.

It seemed as though Tarsilo had wanted the gag, for when he had it in his mouth, his eyes gleamed with a ray of satisfaction.

At a signal from the alferez a guard, armed with a whip, began his cruel task. The whole body of Tarsilo shrank. A groan, suppressed and prolonged, could be heard in spite of the rag which stopped up his mouth. He lowered his head. His clothes were being stained with blood.

Father Salví, pale and with a wild look, rose to his feet laboriously, made a sign with his hand and left the sala with vacillating steps. In the street, he saw a girl, leaning her back against the wall, rigid, immovable, listening attentively, looking into space, her marble-like hands extended along the old wall. The sun was shining full upon her. She was counting, it seemed without breathing, the sharp blows and listening to that heart-rending groan. She was Tarsilo’s sister.

In the meantime, the scene was continuing in the sala. The unfortunate fellow, overcome with pain, had become silent and waited for his punishers to tire. At last, the soldier breathless, let fall his arm. The alferez, pale with wrath and astonishment, made a signal for them to unloose him.

Doña Consolacion then arose and whispered something into her husband’s ear. He nodded his head, signifying that he understood.

“To the well with him!” said he.

The Filipinos know what that means. In Tagalog they call it timbain. We do not know who could have been the inventor of this method of punishment, but we are of the opinion that he must have lived long ago. In the middle of the tribunal yard there was a picturesque stone-wall, roughly made out of cobble stones, around a well. A rustic apparatus of bamboo in the form of a lever serves to draw out the vile, dirty and bad smelling water. Broken dishes, refuse and all sorts of filth collected there, since the well was a common receptacle for everything [240]that the people threw away or found useless. An object which fell into the place, no matter how good it may have been, was thereafter surely lost. However, the well was never closed up. At times, prisoners were condemned to go down and make it deeper, not because it was thought that the work would be useful in any way, but because the work was so difficult. If a prisoner went down in the well once, he invariably contracted a fever, from which he died.

Tarsilo contemplated all the preparations of the soldiers with a firm look. He was very pale and his lips were trembling or murmuring a prayer. The haughtiness of his desperation seemed to have disappeared, or at least to have weakened. A number of times he bent his head, fixed his eyes on the ground, resigned to his suffering.

They took him to one side of the stone wall. Doña Consolacion followed smiling. The unfortunate wretch glanced enviously toward the pile of dead bodies, and a sigh escaped from his breast.

“Speak now!” said the directorcillo again. “They will certainly drown you. At least, die without having suffered so much.”

“When you come out of this, you will die,” said a cuaderillero.

They took the gag out of his mouth and hung him by his feet. He had to go down head first and remain under the water some time just like a bucket, except that a man is left under the water a longer time.

The alferez went to look for a watch that he might count the minutes.

In the meantime, Tarsilo was hanging, his long hair waving in the air and his eyes half closed.

“If you are Christians, if you have hearts,” he begged, in a low voice, “let me down rapidly and make my head strike against the wall that I may die. God would reward such a good deed.... Perhaps some day you will be in the same straits as I am now.”

The alferez returned and with watch in hand witnessed the descent.

“Slowly, slowly!” cried Doña Consolacion following the poor fellow with her eyes. “Be careful!” [241]

The pole was being lowered slowly. Tarsilo rubbed against the projecting stones and the dirty plants which grew in the crevices. Then, the pole ceased to move. The alferez was counting the seconds.

“Up!” he ordered dryly, at the end of a half minute.

The silvery harmony of the drops of water falling back into the well, announced the return of the unfortunate man to the light. As the weight on the end of the lever was heavy, he came up quickly. The rough pieces of stone and pebbles, torn loose from the walls, fell with splashes to the bottom.

His face and hair full of filthy mud, his body wet and dripping, he appeared again in the sight of the silent crowd. The wind made him shiver with cold.

“Do you want to make a declaration?” they asked him.

“Take care of my sister!” the unhappy one murmured, looking at the cuaderillero, with supplication.

The bamboo pole creaked again, and again the condemned man disappeared. Doña Consolacion observed that the water remained still. The alferez counted a minute.

When Tarsilo came up again, his face was livid and his features contracted. He glanced at those standing around and kept open his bloodshot eyes.

“Will you make a declaration?” asked the alferez again, with vexation.

Tarsilo shook his head and again they let him down. His eyelids were almost closed and his eyes were gazing at the white clouds floating in the heavens. He bent his neck to keep sight of the light of day, but he was soon submerged in the water. That filthy curtain closed from him the sight of the world.

A minute passed. The Muse saw large bubbles of air come up to the surface of the water.

“He is thirsty,” said she, laughing.

The water was again smooth.

This time a minute and a half had passed when the alferez gave the signal.

Tarsilo’s features were no longer contracted. The half opened lids showed the white of his eyes. Muddy water, clotted with blood, ran out of his mouth. The cool wind was blowing, but his body no longer shivered. [242]

Those present, pale and terrified, looked at each other in silence. The alferez made a signal for them to take him down from where he was hanging, and stepped aside for a few moments. Doña Consolacion a number of times applied the lighted end of her cigar to the bare legs of Tarsilo, but his body did not quiver. It put out the light.

“He has asphyxiated himself,” murmured a cuaderillero. “See how his tongue is turned, as if he wanted to swallow it.”

The other prisoner, trembling and perspiring, contemplated the scene. Like a madman he looked about him.

The alferez ordered the directorcillo to question him.

“Señor, Señor,” he groaned. “I will tell you all that you wish.”

“Good. Let us see! What is your name?”

“Andong, Señor!”

“Bernardo ... Leonardo ... Ricardo ... Educardo. Gerardo ... or what?”

“Andong, Señor,” repeated the imbecile.

“Call it Bernardo or whatever you please,” said the alferez, decided not to bother more about it.

“What family name?”

The man looked at him frightened.

“What’s your name? What do you add to the name Andong?”

“Ah, Señor! Andong Medio-tonto (half-fool), Señor.”

Those standing around could not resist a laugh. The alferez himself stopped short.

“What is your business?”

“Cocoanut tree pruner, Señor, and servant for my mother-in-law.”

“Who ordered you to attack the cuartel?”

“Nobody, Señor.”

“What’s that; nobody? Don’t you lie or we will put you in the well. Who ordered you to do it? Speak the truth.”

“That’s the truth, Señor.”


“Who?” [243]

“I ask you who ordered you to revolt.”

“What revolt, Señor?”

“That one last night, when you were in the tribunal yard.”

“Ah, Señor!” exclaimed Andong, blushing.

“Who was to blame for that?”

“My mother-in-law, Señor.”

A laugh of surprise followed this reply. The alferez stopped and looked sharply at the simple peasant, who believed that his words had produced a good effect. More animated, he was about to continue when the crack of a whip cut him short.

“To the jail!” ordered the alferez. “This afternoon, send him to the capital.” [244]

Chapter XXXVIII.
The Accursed.

The news that the prisoners were going to depart spread quickly through the town. At first, the news was heard with terror; afterward, came tears and lamentations.

The members of the families of the prisoners were running about madly. They would go from the convent to the cuartel from the cuartel to the tribunal, and not finding consolation anywhere, they filled the air with cries and moans. The curate had shut himself up because he was ill. The alferez had increased his guards, who received the supplicants with the butts of their guns. The gobernadorcillo, a useless being, anyway, seemed more stupid and useless than ever.

The sun was burning hot, but none of the unhappy women who were gathered in front of the cuartel thought of that. Doray, the gay and happy wife of Don Filipo, wandered about, with her tender little child in her arms. Both were crying.

“Get out of the sun,” they said to her. “Your son will catch a fever.”

“What is the use of his living if he has no father to educate him?” replied the dispirited woman.

“Your husband is innocent. Perhaps he will return.”

“Yes, when we are in our graves.”

Capitana Tinay wept and cried for her son, Antonio. The courageous Capitana Maria gazed toward the small grate, behind which were her twins, her only sons.

There, too, was the mother-in-law of the cocoanut tree pruner. She was not crying; she was walking to and fro, gesticulating, with shirt sleeves rolled up, and haranguing the public.

“Have you ever seen anything equal to it?” said she. “They arrest my Andong, wound him, put him in the [245]stocks, and take him to the capital, all because he happened to be in the cuartel yard.”

But few people had any sympathy for the Mussulman mother-in-law.

“Don Crisostomo is to blame for all of this,” sighed a woman.

The school teacher also was wandering about in the crowd. Ñor Juan was no longer rubbing his hands, nor was he carrying his yard stick and plumb line. He had heard the bad news and, faithful to his custom of seeing the future as a thing that had already happened, he was dressed in mourning, mourning for the death of Ibarra.

At two o’clock in the afternoon, an uncovered cart, drawn by two oxen, stopped in front of the tribunal.

The cart was surrounded by the crowd. They wanted to destroy it.

“Don’t do that!” said Capitana Maria. “Do you want them to walk?”

This remark stopped the relatives of the prisoners. Twenty soldiers came out and surrounded the cart. Then came the prisoners.

The first was Don Filipo; he was tied. He greeted his wife with a smile. Doray broke into a bitter lamentation and two soldiers had to work hard to keep her from embracing her husband. Antonio, the son of Captain Tinay, next appeared, crying like a child—a fact which made the family cry all the more. The imbecile, Andong, broke out in a wail when he saw his mother-in-law, the cause of his misfortune. Albino, the former seminary student, came out with his hands tied, as did also the twin sons of Capitana Maria. These three youths were serious and grave. The last who came was Ibarra. The young man was pale. He looked about for the face of Maria Clara.

“That is the one who is to blame!” cried many voices. “He is to blame and he will go free.”

“My son-in-law has done nothing and he is handcuffed.”

Ibarra turned to the guards.

“Tie me, and tie me well, elbow to elbow,” said he.

“We have no orders.” [246]

“Tie me!”

The soldiers obeyed.

The alferez appeared on horse-back, armed to the teeth. Ten or fifteen more soldiers followed him.

Each of the prisoners had there in the crowd his family praying for him, weeping for him, and calling him by the most affectionate names. Ibarra was the only exception. Even Ñor Juan himself and the school-teacher had disappeared.

“What have you done to my husband and my son?” said Doray to Ibarra, crying. “See my poor boy! You have deprived him of a father!”

The grief of the people was changed to wrath against the young man, accused of having provoked the riot. The alferez gave orders to depart.

“You are a coward!” cried the mother-in-law of Andong to Ibarra. “While the others were fighting for you, you were hiding. Coward!”

“Curses upon you!” shouted an old man following him. “Cursed be the gold hoarded up by your family to disturb our peace! Curse him! Curse him!”

“May they hang you, heretic!” cried one of Albino’s relatives. And unable to restrain himself, he picked up a stone and threw it at Ibarra.

The example was quickly imitated, and a shower of dust and stones fell on the unfortunate youth.

Ibarra suffered it all, impassive, without wrath, without a complaint—the unjust vengeance of suffering hearts. This was the leave-taking, the “adios” tendered to him by his town, the center of all his affections. He bowed his head. Perhaps he was thinking of another man, whipped through the streets of Manila, of an old woman falling dead at the sight of the head of her son. Perhaps the history of Elias was passing before his eyes.

The cortége moved slowly on and away.

Of the persons who appeared in a few opened windows, those who showed the most compassion for the unfortunate young man were the indifferent and the curious. All his friends had hidden themselves; yes, even Captain Basilio, who forbade his daughter Sinang to weep.

Ibarra saw the smouldering ruins of his house, of the [247]house of his fathers where he had been born, where he had lived the sweetest days of his infancy and childhood. Tears, for a long time suppressed, burst from his eyes. He bowed his head and wept, wept without the consolation of being able to hide his weeping, tied as he was by the elbows. Nor did that grief awaken compassion in anybody. Now he had neither fatherland, home, love, friends or future.

From a height a man contemplated the funeral-like caravan. He was old, pale, thin, wrapped in a woollen blanket and was leaning with fatigue on a cane. It was old Tasio, who as soon as he heard of what had happened wanted to leave his bed and attend, but his strength would not permit it. The old man followed with his eyes the cart until it disappeared in the distance. He stood for some time, pensive and his head bowed down; then he arose, and laboriously started on the road to his house, resting at every step.

The following day, shepherds found him dead on the very threshold of his solitary retreat. [248]

Chapter XXXIX.
Maria Clara is Married.

Captain Tiago was very happy. During all this terrible time nobody had busied himself with him. They had not arrested him, nor had they submitted him to excommunications, court trials, electrical machines, continual hot foot baths in subterranean places, or to any of the other punishments which are well known to certain people who call themselves civilized. He had returned to his Manila house. Those who had been the Captain’s friends—for he had renounced all his Filipino friends from the moment that they were suspected by the Government—had also returned to their homes after some days of vacation spent in the Government buildings. The Governor General had himself ordered these people to leave their possessions, for he had not thought it fitting that they should remain in them during the great danger.

Captain Tiago was overflowing with gratitude, but he did not know exactly to whom he was indebted for 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. The least that she would concede was that it was due to Our Lady of Corea. According to the Aunt, the miracle was certainly due to one of these Virgins. Captain Tiago did not deny that it was a miracle, but he added:

“I do not believe, Isabel, that the Virgin of Antipolo could have done it alone. My friends have aided in it; my future son-in-law, Señor Linares has, as you know, joked with Señor Antonio Canovas himself, whose portrait we saw in ‘Illustracion.’”

And the good man could not suppress a smile every time that he heard any important news about the event. And there was good reason for it. It was whispered about that Ibarra was going to be hanged; that, even if many proofs [249]had been lacking, at last one had appeared which could confirm the accusation; and that skilled workmen had declared that, as a matter of fact, the work for the school-house could pass for a fort or a fortification. Even if defective in some parts, that was as much as could be expected from ignorant Indians. These rumors quieted the Captain and made him smile.

Just as the Captain and his cousin, Aunt Isabel, were of different opinions about the miracle, so, too, the other friends of the family were divided into different parties—those who followed the miracle monger, and those who followed the Government. The latter party, however, was quite insignificant. The miracle mongers were sub-divided into other factions: the Sacristan Mayor of Binondo, the woman who sold the wax candles, and the chief of one of the brotherhoods, all saw the hand of God in the miracle, moved by the Virgin of the Rosary. The Chinese candle maker, who provided the Captain whenever he went on a pilgrimage to Antipolo, was saying as he sat fanning himself and wiggling his foot:

“What for you b’long foolish? Thisee belong Mergin Antipolo. She can do muchy more: others, no can do. No b’long plopper say pidgin b’long other man.”

Captain Tiago held the Chinaman in great estimation and made him pass for a prophet and doctor. Examining the hand of his deceased wife in the sixth month of her pregnancy, he had prophesied:

“If thisee one no b’long man, and no go dead side, will b’long bery good woman.”

And so it was that Maria Clara came to this earth and fulfilled the Chinaman’s prophecy.

Captain Tiago, being a prudent and timid person, could not decide the question of the miracle as easily as the Trojan Paris. He could not give preference to one of the Virgins for fear of offending some other of them, a thing which might bring about grave results. “Prudence,” he said to himself. “Be prudent! Let us not lose all now.”

He was in the midst of these doubts when the party in favor of the Government, or the Governmental party, arrived, viz., Doña Victorina, Don Tiburcio, and Linares. [250]

Doña Victorina did all the talking for the three men and for herself also. She mentioned the visits which Linares had made to the Governor General, and repeatedly brought out the benefits derived from having a relative of categoría.

For some days past, she had been trying to be Andalusian by suppressing the d in all words and in changing the s to z. No one could get the idea out of her head; she would prefer to lose her front curls first.

“Yes,” she said, in speaking of Ibarra. “That fellow merits very well all that he is going to get. I told you so when I saw him for the first time. I told you he was a filibustero. What did the General tell you, cousin? What did he say? What news did you give him about Ibarra?”

Seeing that the cousin hesitated in his reply, she went on, directing her words to Captain Tiago.

“Believe me, if they convict him, as is to be hoped, it will be through my cousin.”

“Señora, Señora!” protested Linares.

But she did not give him any time.

“Oh, what a diplomat you have turned out to be! But we all know that you are the adviser of the Governor General, that he could not live without you. Ah! What a pleasure to see you, Clarita.”

Maria Clara seemed paler than ever, although she was now quite recovered from her illness. Sadly smiling, she approached and greeted Doña Victorina with a formal kiss.

After the customary words had been exchanged, Doña went on with her false Andalusian.

“We came to visit you. You have been saved by the efforts of your friends,”—looking significantly at Linares.

“God has protected my father,” said the girl, in a low voice.

“Yes, Clarita, but the time for miracles has passed long ago. As we Spaniards say: ‘Have no trust in the Virgin and save yourself by running.’”

“The—th—the ot—ot—other way,” said the doctor, correcting her proverbial quotation.

Captain Tiago, who had not yet found opportunity to say a word, ventured to ask her, giving much attention [251]to her reply: “So you, Doña Victorina, believe that the Virgin...?”

“That is precisely what we came for, to speak to you about the Virgin,” replied she, indicating Maria Clara. “We have a matter to talk over.”

The maiden understood that she ought to retire. She sought an excuse and went away, supporting herself on the furniture as she walked along.

What was said in the conference which followed was so low and mean that we prefer to omit it. It is sufficient for us to say that when they took their leave all were happy, and that Captain Tiago afterward said to his cousin:

“Isabel, send word to the restaurant that we are going to give a fiesta to-morrow. You get Maria ready to be married in a short time.”

Aunt Isabel looked at him, surprised.

“You will see! When Señor Linares is our son-in-law all the palaces will be open to us. They will be envying us; they will all die with envy.”

And thus it was that at eight o’clock on the following evening, Captain Tiago’s house was again full of guests, only that this time the men whom he had invited were either Spaniards or Chinamen, while the fair sex was represented by Spaniards born in the Peninsula or in the Philippines.

The larger part of our acquaintances was there: Father Sibyla, Father Salví and several other Franciscans and Dominicans, the old lieutenant of the Civil Guard, Señor Guevara, more melancholy than ever; the alferez, who related his battle for the thousandth time, feeling himself head and shoulders above everybody and a veritable Don Juan de Austria, now a lieutenant with the rank of commander; De Espadaña, who looked at the former with respect and fear and avoided his glance; and the indignant Doña Victorina. Linares was not yet present, for, being a very important personage, it was fitting that he should arrive later than the others.

Maria Clara, the subject of all the gossip, was the center of a group of women. She had greeted and received them ceremoniously, but did not throw off her air of sadness. [252]

“Psh!” said one of the girls. “A little stuck-up!”

“A cute little thing,” replied another, “but he might have selected some one of a more intelligent appearance.”

“It’s the money; he’s a good-looking fellow and sells himself for a good price.”

In another part of the room they were talking like this:

“Marry, when her former betrothed is about to be hanged!”

“I call that prudence; to have one on hand as a substitute.”

Possibly the young maiden heard these remarks as she sat in a chair near by, arranging a tray of flowers, for her hand was seen to tremble, she turned pale and bit her lips a number of times.

The conversation among the men was in a loud tone. Naturally, they were conversant with the recent happenings. All were talking, even Don Tiburcio, with the exception of Father Sibyla, who maintained a disdainful silence.

“I have heard that Your Reverence leaves the town, Father Salví?” asked the newly made lieutenant, now made more amiable by the star on his sleeve.

“I have nothing more to do now in San Diego. I am permanently settled in Manila now ... and you?”

“I also leave the town,” replied the former alferez, straightening up. “The Government needs me to take command of a flying column to clear the provinces of filibusteros.”

Friar Salví looked him over from head to foot, and turned his back to him completely.

“Is it yet known for a certainty what is to become of the leader of the revolutionists?” asked a Government employee.

“Are you referring to Crisostomo Ibarra?” asked another. “What is most probable and most just is that he be hanged, as those were in ’72.”

“He will be exiled,” said the old lieutenant, dryly.

“Exiled! Nothing more than exiled! But it will be a perpetual exile!” exclaimed several at the same time.

“If that young fellow,” Lieutenant Guevara went on to [253]say in a loud voice, “had been more cautious; if he had trusted certain people less with whom he had correspondence; and if the officers had not made a subtle interpretation of what was written—if it had not been for all of this, that young man would surely have gone free.”

This statement by the old lieutenant and the tone of his voice produced a great surprise in the room. Those who heard it did not know what to say. Father Salví looked in another direction, perhaps so as not to meet the dark look which the old man directed toward him. Maria Clara dropped her flowers and sat motionless. Father Sibyla, the one who knew how to keep silent, appeared to be the only one who knew how to ask questions.

“Are you referring to the letters, Señor Guevara?”

“I am telling what the defendant’s attorney told me. He has taken up the case with zeal and interest. Aside from some ambiguous lines which this young man wrote to a young woman before departing for Europe, they have found no proof to sustain the accusation. In these few lines, the officers saw a plan and threat against the Government.”

“And what about the declaration made by the bandit before he died?”

“That statement has proved of no account, since, according to the bandit himself, the conspirators never had communicated with the young man, but only with one, Lucas, who was Ibarra’s enemy, as they have been able to prove, and who committed suicide, perhaps from remorse. It has been proved that the papers found in the possession of the dead man were forged, since the handwriting was like that of Ibarra seven years ago, but not like that of to-day—a fact which shows that it was copied from the letter used as evidence against him. Besides, his attorney says that if Ibarra had not admitted the genuineness of the letter, he would have been able to do much for him; but, at the sight of it, the young man turned pale, lost heart and acknowledged that he had written it.”

“Do you say,” asked a Franciscan, “that the letter was directed to a young woman? How did it get into the hands of the officers?”

The lieutenant did not reply. He looked for a moment [254]at Friar Salví and then walked off, twisting nervously the end of his grey beard. In the meantime, others were commenting something like this:

“There you see the hand of God!” said one. “Even the women hate him.”

“He had his house burned, thinking that he could thus save himself. But he did not reckon with his host—that is, with his querida,1 with his babai,”1 added another, smiling. “That is God’s work. Santiago protects Spain!”

The old army officer stopped and approached Maria Clara. She was listening to the conversation, immovable in her seat. The flowers were at her feet.

“You are a very prudent young woman,” said the old lieutenant to her in a low voice. “You have done well to hand over the letter.... In this way you will assure yourself of a peaceful future.”

With dull eyes, and biting her lips, she looked at him as he walked away. Luckily, Aunt Isabel passed her at this moment. Maria Clara summoned enough strength to catch hold of her aunt’s dress.

“Aunt,” she murmured.

“What is the matter with you?” asked the latter, frightened, as she saw the young woman’s face.

“Take me to my room!” she begged, clinging to the arm of the old woman in order to raise herself to her feet.

“Are you sick, my child? You seem to have lost all your strength. What is the matter with you?”

“A little sick to my stomach ... the crowd in the sala ... so much light ... I need to rest. Tell father that I am going to sleep.”

“You are cold! Do you want some tea?”

Maria Clara shook her head negatively. She closed the door of her room and locked it, and, her strength failing her, she fell to the floor, at the feet of an image, weeping and sobbing:

“Mother, mother, my mother!”

The moonlight was shining through the open window and door which led out upon the azotea.

The orchestra continued playing gay waltzes. The laughter and the hum of conversation could be heard in [255]her bedroom. A number of times her family, Aunt Isabel, Doña Victorina, and even Linares, knocked at her door, but Maria Clara did not move. There was a rattle in her throat.

Hours passed. The pleasures of the table ended, and dancing followed. Her little candle burned out, but the maiden lay quietly on the floor, the rays of moonlight shining upon her at the foot of an image of the Mother of Jesus.

Gradually the noises in the house died away, the lights were put out, and Aunt Isabel again knocked at the door of her room.

“Let us leave her; she is sleeping,” said her aunt. “At her age, with nothing to trouble her, she sleeps like a corpse.”

When all was again silent, Maria arose slowly and glanced around her. She saw the azotea and the small climbing plants bathed in the melancholy light of the moon.

“A peaceful future! Sleeping like a corpse!” she murmured in a low voice, and turned toward the azotea.

The city was quiet. Only the noise of an occasional carriage passing over the wooden bridge could be heard in the stillness of the night, while the tranquil waters of the river were reflecting the moonlight.

The maiden raised her eyes to the pure, sapphire-colored sky. Slowly she took off her rings, her hair-combs, her earrings, and her breast-pin, and placing them upon the balustrade of the azotea she looked out toward the river.

A banca, loaded with rice grass, stopped at the foot of the landing on the bank of the river at the rear of the house. One of the two men who were propelling the boat went up the stone steps, leaped over the wall, and a few seconds afterward, steps were heard coming up the azotea.

Maria Clara saw him stop on discovering her, but it was for only a moment. The man advanced slowly and at about three steps from the maiden, stopped again. Maria Clara stepped back.

“Crisostomo!” she gasped, full of terror.

“Yes, I am Crisostomo!” replied the young man, in a [256]grave voice. “An enemy, a man who has good reason to hate me, Elias, has helped me out of the prison into which my friends had thrown me.”

Silence followed these words. Maria Clara bowed her head and allowed both her hands to drop at her side.

Ibarra continued:

“Beside the dead body of my mother, I swore to make you happy, whatever might be my destiny. You can break your oath; she was not your mother. But I, who am her son, I hold her memory sacred, and, running great risk, I have come here to fulfill my oath. Fortune permits me to speak with you personally. Maria, we shall not see each other again. You are young and perhaps some day your conscience may accuse you.... I come to tell you, before leaving, that I forgive you. Now, may you be happy, and good-bye!”

Ibarra tried to leave, but the maiden stopped him.

“Crisostomo!” she said. “God has sent you to save me from desperation.... Hear me and judge me!”

Ibarra wished to withdraw gently from her.

“I have not come,” said he, “to call you to account.... I have come to give you peace.”

“I do not want the peace which you give me. I will give myself peace. You despise me, and your contempt will make my life bitter till death.”

Ibarra saw the poor girl’s desperation, and asked her what she desired.

“That you may believe that I have always loved you.”

Crisostomo smiled bitterly.

“Ah! You doubt me, you doubt the friend of your infancy, who has never hidden a single thought from you,” exclaimed she in grief. “I understand you. When you know my history, the history which they revealed to me during my illness, you will pity me and you will no longer answer my grief with that bitter smile. Why did you not let me die in the hands of my ignorant doctor? You and I would have been happier then.”

Maria Clara rested a moment and then continued:

“You have doubted me; you have wished my mother to pardon me. During one of those nights of suffering, a man revealed to me the name of my true father, and forbade [257]me to love you ... unless my true father should pardon you for the offense you committed against him.”

Ibarra recoiled and looked in terror at the maiden.

“Yes,” she continued. “This man told me that he could not permit our marriage, since his conscience would not allow it, and he would find himself compelled to publish the truth at the risk of causing a great scandal, because my father is ...”

And she whispered a name in the young man’s ear in a scarcely audible voice.

“What was I to do? Ought I to sacrifice to my love the memory of my mother, the honor of the man who innocently supposes himself my father, and the good name of my real father? Could I do that without you despising me for it?”

“But the proof? Have you proof? You need proof!” exclaimed Crisostomo, deeply agitated.

The maiden drew two letters from her bosom.

“Two of my mother’s letters: two letters written in remorse before I was born. Take them, read them and you will see how she cursed me and desired my death, which my father in vain tried to cause by drugs. These letters were forgotten in the house where he lived; a man found them and kept them. They would only give them to me in exchange for your letter ... to make certain, as they said, that I would not marry you without the consent of my father. From the time that I began to carry them in my bosom instead of your letter, my heart was chilled. I sacrificed you, I sacrificed my love.... What would not a person do for a dead mother and two living fathers? Did I suspect the use to which they were going to put your letter?”

Ibarra was prostrated. Maria Clara went on:

“What was there left for me? Could I tell you who was my father? Could I ask you to seek the pardon of him who had so much desired my death, and who made your father suffer? There was nothing left for me but to keep the secret to myself, and to die suffering.... Now, my friend, you know the sad history of your poor Maria. Will you still have that contemptuous smile for her?”

“Maria, you are a saint.” [258]

“I am happy now that you believe me.”

“However,” added the young man, changing his tone. “I have heard that you are about to marry.”

“Yes,” sobbed the maiden. “My father asked this sacrifice of me. He has fed me and loved me, and it was not his duty. I pay him this debt of gratitude which I owe him by assuring him peace through this new relative, but ...”


“I shall not forget the oaths of fidelity which I made to you.”

“What do you think of doing?” asked Ibarra, trying to read her eyes.

“The future is obscure and Destiny is hidden in darkness. I do not know what I am to do; but I know that I can love only once, and that without love I never will belong to any one. And you, what is to become of you?”

“I am nothing but a fugitive.... I am fleeing. In a very short time, they will discover my escape, Maria....”

Maria Clara clasped her arms about her lover’s neck, kissed his lips repeatedly, hugged him, and then, abruptly breaking away from him, said:

“Flee! flee! Adios!”

Ibarra looked at her, his eyes sparkling, but she motioned and he went away, staggering like a drunken man. Again he leaped over the wall and entered the banca. Maria Clara, leaning on the door casing, watched him depart.

Elias took off his hat and bowed profoundly. [259]
1 Both words mean mistress.
Chapter XL.
The Pursuit on the Lake.

“Listen, Señor, to my plan,” said Elias, as they directed the banca toward San Miguel. “I will for the present hide you in the house of my friend in Mandaluyong. I will bring you all your money, which I have saved and kept for you at the foot of the old balitî tree, in the mysterious tomb of your grandfather. You shall leave the country.”

“To go to a strange land?” interrupted Ibarra.

“To live in peace the remaining days of your life. You have friends in Spain, you are rich, you can get yourself pardoned. By all means, a foreign land is better for you than your own country.”

Crisostomo did not reply. He meditated in silence.

Just then they reached the Pasig and the banca was headed up the stream. Over the Bridge of Spain a horse-man was galloping at high speed, and a prolonged, sharp whistle was heard.

“Elias,” replied Ibarra, “you owe your misfortunes to my family; you have saved my life twice; I owe you not only gratitude, but also restitution of your fortune. You advise me to go to a foreign land and live; then come with me and we will live like brothers. Here, you, too, are miserable.”

Elias sadly replied:

“Impossible! It is true that I can neither love nor be happy in my country; but I can suffer and die in it, and perhaps die for it; that would be something. Let my country’s misfortune be my own misfortune. Since no noble thought unites us, and since our hearts do not beat in harmony at the mention of a single word, at least, let a common misery unite me to my fellow countrymen; [260]at least, let me weep with them over our grief; let the same misery oppress all our hearts.”

“Then why do you advise me to leave?”

“Because in other lands you can be happy, and I cannot; because you are not made to suffer, and because you would hate your country, if some day you should see the cause of your misfortune: and to hate one’s own country is the greatest misery.”

“You are unjust to me,” exclaimed Ibarra, with bitter reproach. “You forget that I have scarcely arrived here, and that I have already sought its welfare.”

“Do not be offended, Señor. I am not reproaching you. Would to God that all might imitate you. But I do not ask for the impossible and you should not be offended if I tell you that your heart deceives you. You love your country because your father has taught you to love it; you love it because you had in it your love, your fortune, your youth; because it smiled on you, and because it has not until now done you an injustice. You love your country as we all love that which makes us happy. But, on that day when you see yourself poor, ragged, hungry, persecuted, denounced and betrayed by your very countrymen, on that day you will curse yourself, your country and all.”

“Your words grieve me,” said Ibarra, resentfully.

Elias bowed his head, meditated and replied:

“I wish to set you right, Señor, and to avoid a miserable future for you. You remember the time when I was talking to you in this same banca and under the light of the same moon. It was a month ago, a few days more or less. Then you were happy. The plea of the unfortunates did not reach you. You disdained their complaints because they were complaints from criminals. You gave ear to their enemies, and, in spite of my reasons and pleas, you put yourself on the side of their oppressors. On you depended at that time whether I should turn criminal or allow my life to be taken in fulfillment of my sacred pledge. God has not permitted it, because the old chief of the bandits has been killed. A month has passed and now you think differently.”

“You are right, Elias, but man is influenced by changes [261]in circumstances. Then I was blind, and obstinate. What did I know? Now misfortune has torn the veil from my eyes. The solitude and misery of my prison life have taught me; now I see the horrible cancer which is sapping the life of society, which hangs to its flesh and which requires violent extirpation. They have opened my eyes; they have made me see the ulcer; they force me to become a criminal. I will be a filibustero, but a true filibustero. I will call upon all the unfortunates, on all who have beating hearts within their breasts, on all who sent you to me.... No, no! I will not be criminal! It is never a crime to fight for one’s country! We for three centuries have given them our hand, we have asked them for their love, we have anxiously wished to call them our brothers. How have they replied? With insults and jests, denying us even the quality of being human beings. There is no God, there is no hope, there is no humanity. There is nothing but the right of force.”

Ibarra was excited. His whole body was trembling.

They passed by the Governor General’s palace, and believed they saw agitation and movement among the guards.

“Have they discovered our flight?” murmured Elias. “Lie down, Señor, so that I can cover you up with the grass, for, when we cross over to the side of the river near the powder house, the sentry may be surprised at seeing two of us in this small banca.”

As Elias had foreseen, the sentry stopped him and asked him where he came from.

“From Manila, with grass for the magistrates and curates,” replied he, imitating the accent of one from Pandakan.

A sergeant came out and was informed what was going on.

“Sulung!” (Go on!) said he. “I warn you not to receive any one in your banca. A prisoner has just escaped. If you capture him and hand him over to me I will give you a good reward.”

“All right, Señor. What is his description?”

“He wears a frock coat and speaks Spanish. With that much, be on the watch!” [262]

The banca went on. Elias turned his face and saw the shadow of the sentry, still standing on the bank of the river.

“We will lose several minutes,” said he, in a low voice. “We will have to go up the Beata river in order to carry out my pretense of being from Peña Francia.”

The town was sleeping in the light of the moon. Crisostomo arose to admire the sepulchral peace of Nature. The river was narrow and its banks formed a plain planted with rice.

Elias threw the load on the bank, picked up a piece of bamboo and drew out from under the grass in the banca some empty sacks. They went on rowing.

“You are master of your own will, Señor, and of your own future,” said he to Crisostomo, who kept silent. “But if you will permit me to offer a suggestion, I say to you: Look well at what you are going to do. You are about to start a war, for you have money, talent, and you will quickly find aid, for, unfortunately, many are discontented. Furthermore, in this fight, which you are to begin, those who are going to suffer most are the defenseless, the innocent. The same sentiments which a month ago prompted me to come to you and ask for reforms, are those which now move me to ask you to reflect. The country, Señor, is not thinking of separating itself from the mother country. It asks only a little liberty, a little justice, a little love. The discontented will assist you, the criminals and the desperate, but the people will hold aloof. You are mistaken if, seeing everything dark, you believe that the country is desperate. The country suffers, yes, but it still hopes, believe me, and will only rise in revolt when it has lost patience; that is, when those who govern wish it—which is still far off. I myself would not follow you. I shall never take recourse to these extreme remedies while I see hope in men.”

“Then I will go without you!” replied Crisostomo, resolutely.

“Is it your firm decision?”

“Yes, my firm and only decision: I call to witness the memory of my father! I cannot allow them to deprive [263]me of peace and happiness with impunity, I who have desired only my country’s welfare, I who have respected all and have suffered on account of a hypocritical religion, on account of love for my country. How have they responded to me? By burying me in an infamous prison and by prostituting my fiancée. No, not to avenge myself would be a crime. It would be encouraging them to commit new injustices. No! it would be cowardice, it would be pusillanimity to weep and groan while there is life and vigor, when to insult and challenge are added scoffery and contemptuous ridicule! I will arouse this ignorant people, I will make them see their misery—this people who do not think of each other as brothers, who are mere wolves devouring each other. I will tell them to rise against this oppression and appeal to the eternal right of mankind to conquer their liberty!”

“Innocent people will suffer.”

“All the better! Can you lead me to the mountain?”

“Till you are safe!” replied Elias.

They again went up the Pasig. They spoke from time to time of indifferent things.

“Santa Aña!” murmured Ibarra. “Do you recognize that house?”

They passed by the country house of the Jesuits.

“There I passed many happy and joyful years!” sighed Elias. “In my time we used to come here every month ... then I was like the others. I had fortune, family; I was dreaming and planning a future for myself. In those days I used to visit my sister in the neighboring convent. She made me a present of a piece of her own handiwork. A girl friend used to accompany her, a beautiful girl. All has passed like a dream.”

They remained silent till they arrived at Malapad-na-bató. Those who have glided over the bosom of the Pasig on one of those magical nights when the moon pours forth its melancholy poetry from the pure blue of the sky, when the darkness hides the misery of men and silence drowns the harsh accents of their voices, when Nature alone speaks—those who have seen such nights on the Pasig will understand the feelings which filled the hearts of both young men. [264]

In Malapad-na-bató the carbineer was half asleep, and, seeing that the banca was empty and offered no booty for him to seize, according to the traditional custom of his corps and the use made of that position, he readily let them pass on.

Nor did the Civil Guard at Pasig suspect anything, and they were not molested.

It was just beginning to dawn when they reached the lake, calm and smooth as a gigantic mirror. The moon was growing dim and the Orient was rosy with the tints of morning. At a distance, a mass of grey could be discerned advancing toward the banca.

“The falúa (or Government steamboat) is coming,” murmured Elias. “Lie down and I will cover you with these sacks.”

The outline of the vessel became more clear and perceptible.

“She is putting in between the beach and us,” observed Elias uneasily.

And then he changed the course of the banca a little, rowing toward Binangonan. To his great surprise he noticed that the falúa was also changing its course, while a voice cried out to him.

Elias stopped and meditated. The shore of the lake was very far off, and they would soon be in the range of the rifles on the falúa. He thought of returning to the Pasig. His banca was swifter than the falúa. But fate was against him! Another boat was coming up the Pasig, and they could see the helmets and shining bayonets of the Civil Guards.

“We are caught!” he murmured, turning pale.

He looked at his robust arms and taking the only course which remained to him, he began to row with all his strength toward the Island of Talim. In the meantime, the sun had risen.

The banca glided along rapidly. Elias saw some men standing up on the falúa, making signals to him.

“Do you know how to manage a banca?” he asked Ibarra.

“Yes; why?”

“Because we are lost if I do not leap into the water [265]and make them lose the trail. They will follow me. I swim and dive well.... I will take them away from you, and then you can save yourself.”

“No; you remain and we will sell our lives dearly.”

“Useless! We have no arms, and with those rifles they will kill us like birds.”

At that moment a chiss was heard in the water like the fall of a hot body, and was followed immediately by a report.

“Do you see?” said Elias, putting his paddle in the banca. “We will see each other again at the tomb of your grandfather on Nochebeuna (Christmas eve.) Save yourself.”

“And you?”

“God has taken me through greater dangers.”

Elias took off his camisa. A ball grazed his hands and the report sounded out. Without being disturbed, he stretched out his hand to Ibarra, who was still in the bottom of the boat. Then he arose and leaped into the water, pushing away the small craft with his foot.

A number of cries were heard. Soon at some distance the head of the young man appeared above the water as if to get breath, dropping out of sight at the next instant.

“There, there he is!” cried a number of voices, and the balls from their rifles whistled again.

The falúa and the other banca took up the chase. A light track of foam marked his course, every moment leading farther and farther away from Ibarra’s banca, which drifted along as if abandoned. Every time that the swimmer raised his head to breathe the Civil Guards and the men on board the falúa discharged their guns at him.

The pursuit continued. Ibarra’s little banca was already far off. The swimmer was approaching the shore of the lake and was now some fifty yards distant from it. The rowers were already tired, but Elias was not, for his head often appeared above the water and each time in a different direction so as to disconcert his pursuers. No longer was there a light trail to betray the course of the diver. For the last time they saw him near the shore, [266]some ten yards off, and they opened fire.... Then minutes and minutes passed. Nothing appeared again on the tranquil surface of the lake.

Half an hour afterward one of the rowers pretended to have discovered signs of blood in the water near the shore, but his companions shook their heads in a manner which might mean either yes or no. [267]
Chapter XLI.
Father Dámaso Explains.

In vain the costly wedding gifts were heaped upon the table. Neither the diamonds in their blue velvet caskets, nor the embroidered piña, nor the pieces of silk had any attractions for Maria Clara. The maiden looked at the paper which gave the account of Ibarra’s death, drowned in the lake, but she neither saw nor read it.

Of a sudden, she felt two hands over her eyes. They held her fast while a joyous voice, Father Dámaso’s, said to her:

“Who am I? Who am I?”

Maria Clara jumped from her seat and looked at him with terror in her eyes.

“You little goose, were you frightened, eh? You were not expecting me? Well, I have come from the provinces to attend your wedding.”

And coming up to her again with a smile of satisfaction, he stretched out his hand to her. Maria Clara approached timidly and, raising it to her lips, kissed it.

“What is the matter with you, Maria?” asked the Franciscan, losing his gay smile, and becoming very uneasy. “Your hand is cold, you are pale.... Are you ill, my little girl?”

And Father Dámaso drew her up to him with a fondness of which no one would have thought him capable. He grasped both the maiden’s hands and gave her a questioning look.

“Haven’t you any confidence in your godfather?” he asked in a reproachful tone. “Come, sit down here and tell me your little troubles, just as you used to do when you were a child, when you wanted wax-candles to make wax figures. You surely know that I have always loved you.... I have never scolded you....”

Father Dámaso’s voice ceased to be brusque; its modulations [268]were even caressing. Maria Clara began to weep.

“Are you weeping, my child? Why are you weeping? Have you quarrelled with Linares?”

Maria Clara covered her eyes with her hands.

“No! It is not he now!” cried the maiden.

Father Dámaso looked at her full of surprise.

“Do you not want to entrust your secrets to me? Have I not always managed to satisfy your smallest caprices?”

The young woman raised her eyes full of tears toward him. She looked at him for some time, and then began to weep bitterly.

“Do not cry so, my child, for your tears pain me! Tell me your troubles. You will see how your godfather loves you.”

Maria Clara approached him slowly and fell on her knees at his feet. Then raising her face, bathed in tears, she said to him in a low voice, scarcely audible:

“Do you still love me?”


“Then ... protect my father, and break off the marriage!”

Then she related her last interview with Ibarra, omitting the reference to her birth.

Father Dámaso could scarcely believe what he heard.

“While he lived,” continued the maiden, “I intended to fight, to wait, to trust. I wanted to live to hear him spoken of ... but now that they have killed him, now there is no reason for my living and suffering.”

She said this slowly, in a low voice, calmly and without a tear.

“But, you goose; isn’t Linares a thousand times better than....?”

“When he was living, I could have married ... I was thinking of fleeing afterward ... my father wanted nothing more than the relative. Now that he is dead, no other man will call me his wife.... While he lived, I could have debased myself and still had the consolation of knowing that he existed and perhaps was thinking of me. Now that he is dead ... the convent or the tomb.”

Her voice had a firmness in its accent which took away Father Dámaso’s joy and set him to thinking. [269]

“Did you love him so much as that?” he asked, stammering.

Maria Clara did not reply. Father Dámaso bowed his head upon his breast and remained silent.

“My child!” he exclaimed, his voice breaking. “Forgive me for making you unhappy without knowing it. I was thinking of your future; I wanted you to be happy. How could I permit you to marry a native; how could I see you an unhappy wife and a miserable mother? I could not get your love out of your head, and I opposed it with all my strength. All that I have done has been for you, for you alone. If you had become his wife, you would have wept afterward on account of the condition of your husband, exposed to all kinds of vengeance, without any means of defense. As a mother, you would have wept over the fortune of your sons; if you educated them, you would prepare a sad future for them, you would have made them enemies of the Church and would have seen them hanged or exiled; if you left them ignorant, you would have seen them oppressed and degraded. I could not consent to it! This is why I sought as a husband for you one who might make you the happy mother of sons born not to obey but to command, not to suffer but to punish. I knew that your friend was good from infancy. I liked him as I had liked his father, but I hated them both when I saw that they were going to make you unhappy, because I love you, I idolize you, I love you as my daughter. I have nothing dearer than you. I have seen you grow. No hour passes but I think of you; I dream of you; you are my only joy.”

And Father Dámaso began to weep like a child.

“Well, then, if you love me do not make me eternally unhappy. He no longer lives; I want to be a nun.”

The old man rested his head on his hand.

“To be a nun, to be a nun!” he repeated. “You do not know, my child, the life, the misery, which is hidden behind the walls of the convent. You do not know it! I prefer a thousand times to see you unhappy in the world than to see you unhappy in the cloister. Here your complaints can be heard, there you will have only the walls. You are beautiful, very beautiful, and you were not born [270]for it, you were not born to be the bride of Christ! Believe me, my child, time will blot it all out. Later you will forget, you will love your husband ... Linares.”

“Either the convent or ... death!” repeated Maria Clara.

“The convent, the convent or death!” exclaimed Father Dámaso. “Maria, I am already old, I will not be able to watch you or your happiness much longer.... Choose another course, seek another love, another young man, whoever he may be, but not the convent.”

“The convent or death!”

“My God, my God!” cried the priest, covering his head with his hands. “Thou punisheth me. So be it! But watch over my child.”

And turning to the young woman: “You want to be a nun? You shall be one. I do not want you to die.”

Maria Clara took his two hands, clasped them in her own and kissed them as she knelt.

“Godfather, my godfather!” she repeated.

Immediately, Father Dámaso went out, sad, with drooping head and sighing.

“God, O God! Thou existeth, for Thou punisheth. But avenge Thyself on me and do not harm the innocent. Save my child!”


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This eBook was prepared from the scans of a copy from the University of California Lbrary made available on The Internet Archive. The same set of scans is also available from Google Print. Unfortunately, the last page, with the epilogue, is missing from this copy.

Numerous translations of José Rizal’s Noli me Tangere work have been made. Available at Project Gutenberg are the unabridged translation by Charles E. Derbyshire, under the title The Social Cancer, published in 1912; Another abbreviated translation under the title An Eagle Flight, published in 1901; a French translation by Henri Lucas and Ramon Sempau under the title Au Pays des Moines, published in 1898; A Tagalog translation under the title Noli me Tangere published in 1906; finally a Dutch translation by A. A. Fokker, under the title Noli me tangere: Filippijnsche roman, published in Surabaya in 1912.

Further translations have been made in all the major Philippine languages, at least four more in English, and in German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Friars and Filipinos, by Jose Rizal


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Related Links :

Noli Me Tangere - Part 1 ( Chapter I to X )

Noli Me Tangere - Part 2 (Chapter XI to XX1

Noli Me Tangere - Part 3 ( Chapter XXII to XXXII )


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