The Social Cancer

“He hasn’t the look of a criminal,” commented Sinang.

“No, but he looks very sad. I didn’t see him smile the whole morning,”
added Maria Clara thoughtfully.

So the afternoon passed away and the hour for returning to the
town came. Under the last rays of the setting sun they left
the woods, passing in silence by the mysterious tomb of Ibarra’s
ancestors. Afterwards, the merry talk was resumed in a lively manner,
full of warmth, beneath those branches so little accustomed to hear
so many voices. The trees seemed sad, while the vines swung back and
forth as if to say, “Farewell, youth! Farewell, dream of a day!”

Now in the light of the great red torches of bamboo and with the
sound of the guitars let us leave them on the road to the town. The
groups grow smaller, the lights are extinguished, the songs die away,
and the guitar becomes silent as they approach the abodes of men. Put
on the mask now that you are once more amongst your kind!

CHAPTER XXV

In the House of the Sage

On the morning of the following day, Ibarra, after visiting his lands,
made his way to the home of old Tasio. Complete stillness reigned in
the garden, for even the swallows circling about the eaves scarcely
made any noise. Moss grew on the old wall, over which a kind of ivy
clambered to form borders around the windows. The little house seemed
to be the abode of silence.

Ibarra hitched his horse carefully to a post and walking almost on
tiptoe crossed the clean and well-kept garden to the stairway, which
he ascended, and as the door was open, he entered. The first sight that
met his gaze was the old man bent over a book in which he seemed to be
writing. On the walls were collections of insects and plants arranged
among maps and stands filled with books and manuscripts. The old man
was so absorbed in his work that he did not notice the presence of the
youth until the latter, not wishing to disturb him, tried to retire.

“Ah, you here?” he asked, gazing at Ibarra with a strange
expression. “Excuse me,” answered the youth, “I see that you’re
very busy–”

“True, I was writing a little, but it’s not urgent, and I want to
rest. Can I do anything for you?”

“A great deal,” answered Ibarra, drawing nearer, “but–”

A glance at the book on the table caused him to exclaim in surprise,
“What, are you given to deciphering hieroglyphics?”

“No,” replied the old man, as he offered his visitor a chair. “I don’t
understand Egyptian or Coptic either, but I know something about the
system of writing, so I write in hieroglyphics.”

“You write in hieroglyphics! Why?” exclaimed the youth, doubting what
he saw and heard.

“So that I cannot be read now.”

Ibarra gazed at him fixedly, wondering to himself if the old man were
not indeed crazy. He examined the book rapidly to learn if he was
telling the truth and saw neatly drawn figures of animals, circles,
semicircles, flowers, feet, hands, arms, and such things.

“But why do you write if you don’t want to be read?”

“Because I’m not writing for this generation, but for other ages. If
this generation could read, it would burn my books, the labor of
my whole life. But the generation that deciphers these characters
will be an intelligent generation, it will understand and say,
‘Not all were asleep in the night of our ancestors!’ The mystery of
these curious characters will save my work from the ignorance of men,
just as the mystery of strange rites has saved many truths from the
destructive priestly classes.”

“In what language do you write?” asked Ibarra after a pause.

“In our own, Tagalog.”

“Are the hieroglyphical signs suitable?”

“If it were not for the difficulty of drawing them, which takes time
and patience, I would almost say that they are more suitable than the
Latin alphabet. The ancient Egyptian had our vowels; our _o_, which
is only final and is not like that of the Spanish, which is a vowel
between _o_ and _u_. Like us, the Egyptians lacked the true sound of
_e_, and in their language are found our _ha_ and _kha_, which we
do not have in the Latin alphabet such as is used in Spanish. For
example, in this word _mukha_,” he went on, pointing to the book,
“I transcribe the syllable _ha_ more correctly with the figure of
a fish than with the Latin _h_, which in Europe is pronounced in
different ways. For a weaker aspirate, as for example in this word
_haín_, where the _h_ has less force, I avail myself of this lion’s
head or of these three lotus flowers, according to the quantity of
the vowel. Besides, I have the nasal sound which does not exist in
the Latin-Spanish alphabet. I repeat that if it were not for the
difficulty of drawing them exactly, these hieroglyphics could almost
be adopted, but this same difficulty obliges me to be concise and
not say more than what is exact and necessary. Moreover, this work
keeps me company when my guests from China and Japan go away.”

“Your guests from China and Japan?”

“Don’t you hear them? My guests are the swallows. This year one of
them is missing–some bad boy in China or Japan must have caught it.”

“How do you know that they come from those countries?”

“Easily enough! Several years ago, before they left I tied to
the foot of each one a slip of paper with the name ‘Philippines’
in English on it, supposing that they must not travel very far and
because English is understood nearly everywhere. For years my slips
brought no reply, so that at last I had it written in Chinese and here
in the following November they have returned with other notes which
I have had deciphered. One is written in Chinese and is a greeting
from the banks of the Hoang-Ho and the other, as the Chinaman whom
I consulted supposes, must be in Japanese. But I’m taking your time
with these things and haven’t asked you what I can do for you.”

“I’ve come to speak to you about a matter of importance,” said the
youth. “Yesterday afternoon–”

“Have they caught that poor fellow?”

“You mean Elias? How did you know about him?”

“I saw the Muse of the Civil Guard!”

“The Muse of the Civil Guard? Who is she?”

“The alferez’s woman, whom you didn’t invite to your picnic. Yesterday
morning the incident of the cayman became known through the town. The
Muse of the Civil Guard is as astute as she is malignant and she
guessed that the pilot must be the bold person who threw her husband
into the mudhole and who assaulted Padre Damaso. As she reads all the
reports that her husband is to receive, scarcely had he got back home,
drunk and not knowing what he was doing, when to revenge herself on
you she sent the sergeant with the soldiers to disturb the merriment
of your picnic. Be careful! Eve was a good woman, sprung from the
hands of God–they say that Doña Consolacion is evil and it’s not
known whose hands she came from! In order to be good, a woman needs
to have been, at least sometime, either a maid or a mother.”

Ibarra smiled slightly and replied by taking some documents from his
pocketbook. “My dead father used to consult you in some things and
I recall that he had only to congratulate himself on following your
advice. I have on hand a little enterprise, the success of which
I must assure.” Here he explained briefly his plan for the school,
which he had offered to his fiancée, spreading out in view of the
astonished Sage some plans which had been prepared in Manila.

“I would like to have you advise me as to what persons in the
town I must first win over in order to assure the success of the
undertaking. You know the inhabitants well, while I have just arrived
and am almost a stranger in my own country.”

Old Tasio examined the plans before him with tear-dimmed eyes. “What
you are going to do has been my dream, the dream of a poor lunatic!” he
exclaimed with emotion. “And now the first thing that I advise you
to do is never to come to consult with me.”

The youth gazed at him in surprise.

“Because the sensible people,” he continued with bitter irony, “would
take you for a madman also. The people consider madmen those who do
not think as they do, so they hold me as such, which I appreciate,
because the day in which they think me returned to sanity, they will
deprive me of the little liberty that I’ve purchased at the expense
of the reputation of being a sane individual. And who knows but they
are right? I do not live according to their rules, my principles
and ideals are different. The gobernadorcillo enjoys among them the
reputation of being a wise man because he learned nothing more than
to serve chocolate and to put up with Padre Damaso’s bad humor, so now
he is wealthy, he disturbs the petty destinies of his fellow-townsmen,
and at times he even talks of justice. ‘That’s a man of talent,’ think
the vulgar, ‘look how from nothing he has made himself great!’ But I,
I inherited fortune and position, I have studied, and now I am poor,
I am not trusted with the most ridiculous office, and all say, ‘He’s a
fool! He doesn’t know how to live!’ The curate calls me ‘philosopher’
as a nickname and gives to understand that I am a charlatan who is
making a show of what I learned in the higher schools, when that is
exactly what benefits me the least. Perhaps I really am the fool and
they the wise ones–who can say?”

The old man shook his head as if to drive away that thought, and
continued: “The second thing I can advise is that you consult the
curate, the gobernadorcillo, and all persons in authority. They will
give you bad, stupid, or useless advice, but consultation doesn’t
mean compliance, although you should make it appear that you are
taking their advice and acting according to it.”

Ibarra reflected a moment before he replied: “The advice is good, but
difficult to follow. Couldn’t I go ahead with my idea without a shadow
being thrown upon it? Couldn’t a worthy enterprise make its way over
everything, since truth doesn’t need to borrow garments from error?”

“Nobody loves the naked truth!” answered the old man. “That is good
in theory and practicable in the world of which youth dreams. Here is
the schoolmaster, who has struggled in a vacuum; with the enthusiasm
of a child, he has sought the good, yet he has won only jests and
laughter. You have said that you are a stranger in your own country,
and I believe it. The very first day you arrived you began by wounding
the vanity of a priest who is regarded by the people as a saint, and
as a sage among his fellows. God grant that such a misstep may not have
already determined your future! Because the Dominicans and Augustinians
look with disdain on the _guingón_ habit, the rope girdle, and the
immodest foot-wear, because a learned doctor in Santo Tomas [75]
may have once recalled that Pope Innocent III described the statutes
of that order as more fit for hogs than men, don’t believe but that
all of them work hand in hand to affirm what a preacher once said,
‘The most insignificant lay brother can do more than the government
with all its soldiers!’ _Cave ne cadas!_ [76] Gold is powerful–the
golden calf has thrown God down from His altars many times, and that
too since the days of Moses!”

“I’m not so pessimistic nor does life appear to me so perilous in
my country,” said Ibarra with a smile. “I believe that those fears
are somewhat exaggerated and I hope to be able to carry out my plans
without meeting any great opposition in that quarter.”

“Yes, if they extend their hands to you; no, if they withhold them. All
your efforts will be shattered against the walls of the rectory if
the friar so much as waves his girdle or shakes his habit; tomorrow
the alcalde will on some pretext deny you what today he has granted;
no mother will allow her son to attend the school, and then all your
labors will produce a counter-effect–they will dishearten those who
afterwards may wish to attempt altruistic undertakings.”

“But, after all,” replied the youth, “I can’t believe in that power of
which you speak, and even supposing it to exist and making allowance
for it, I should still have on my side the sensible people and the
government, which is animated by the best intentions, which has great
hopes, and which frankly desires the welfare of the Philippines.”

“The government! The government!” muttered the Sage, raising his eyes
to stare at the ceiling. “However inspired it may be with the desire
for fostering the greatness of the country for the benefit of the
country itself and of the mother country, however some official or
other may recall the generous spirit of the Catholic Kings [77] and
may agree with it, too, the government sees nothing, hears nothing,
nor does it decide anything, except what the curate or the Provincial
causes it to see, hear, and decide. The government is convinced that it
depends for its salvation wholly on them, that it is sustained because
they uphold it, and that the day on which they cease to support it,
it will fall like a manikin that has lost its prop. They intimidate
the government with an uprising of the people and the people with
the forces of the government, whence originates a simple game, very
much like what happens to timid persons when they visit gloomy places,
taking for ghosts their own shadows and for strange voices the echoes
of their own. As long as the government does not deal directly with
the country it will not get away from this tutelage, it will live
like those imbecile youths who tremble at the voice of their tutor,
whose kindness they are begging for. The government has no dream of
a healthy future; it is the arm, while the head is the convento. By
this inertia with which it allows itself to be dragged from depth to
depth, it becomes changed into a shadow, its integrity is impaired,
and in a weak and incapable way it trusts everything to mercenary
hands. But compare our system of government with those of the countries
you have visited–”

“Oh!” interrupted Ibarra, “that’s asking too much! Let us content
ourselves with observing that our people do not complain or suffer as
do the people of other countries, thanks to Religion and the benignity
of the governing powers.

“This people does not complain because it has no voice, it does not
move because it is lethargic, and you say that it does not suffer
because you haven’t seen how its heart bleeds. But some day you will
see this, you will hear its complaints, and then woe unto those who
found their strength on ignorance and fanaticism! Woe unto those
who rejoice in deceit and labor during the night, believing that all
are asleep! When the light of day shows up the monsters of darkness,
the frightful reaction will come. So many sighs suppressed, so much
poison distilled drop by drop, so much force repressed for centuries,
will come to light and burst! Who then will pay those accounts which
oppressed peoples present from time to time and which History preserves
for us on her bloody pages?”

“God, the government, and Religion will not allow that day to
come!” replied Ibarra, impressed in spite of himself. “The Philippines
is religious and loves Spain, the Philippines will realize how much
the nation is doing for her. There are abuses, yes, there are defects,
that cannot be denied, but Spain is laboring to introduce reforms
that will correct these abuses and defects, she is formulating plans,
she is not selfish!”

“I know it, and that is the worst of it! The reforms which emanate
from the higher places are annulled in the lower circles, thanks to
the vices of all, thanks, for instance, to the eager desire to get
rich in a short time, and to the ignorance of the people, who consent
to everything. A royal decree does not correct abuses when there is
no zealous authority to watch over its execution, while freedom of
speech against the insolence of petty tyrants is not conceded. Plans
will remain plans, abuses will still be abuses, and the satisfied
ministry will sleep in peace in spite of everything. Moreover,
if perchance there does come into a high place a person with great
and generous ideas, he will begin to hear, while behind his back he
is considered a fool, ‘Your Excellency does not know the country,
your Excellency does not understand the character of the Indians,
your Excellency is going to ruin them, your Excellency will do well
to trust So-and-so,’ and his Excellency in fact does not know the
country, for he has been until now stationed in America, and besides
that, he has all the shortcomings and weaknesses of other men, so he
allows himself to be convinced. His Excellency also remembers that
to secure the appointment he has had to sweat much and suffer more,
that he holds it for only three years, that he is getting old and
that it is necessary to think, not of quixotisms, but of the future:
a modest mansion in Madrid, a cozy house in the country, and a good
income in order to live in luxury at the capital–these are what
he must look for in the Philippines. Let us not ask for miracles,
let us not ask that he who comes as an outsider to make his fortune
and go away afterwards should interest himself in the welfare of the
country. What matters to him the gratitude or the curses of a people
whom he does not know, in a country where he has no associations,
where he has no affections? Fame to be sweet must resound in the
ears of those we love, in the atmosphere of our home or of the land
that will guard our ashes; we wish that fame should hover over our
tomb to warm with its breath the chill of death, so that we may
not be completely reduced to nothingness, that something of us may
survive. Naught of this can we offer to those who come to watch over
our destinies. And the worst of all this is that they go away just
when they are beginning to get an understanding of their duties. But
we are getting away from our subject.”

“But before getting back to it I must make some things plain,”
interrupted the youth eagerly. “I can admit that the government does
not know the people, but I believe that the people know the government
even less. There are useless officials, bad ones, if you wish, but
there are also good ones, and if these are unable to do anything it
is because they meet with an inert mass, the people, who take little
part in the affairs that concern them. But I didn’t come to hold a
discussion with you on that point, I came to ask for advice and you
tell me to lower my head before grotesque idols!”

“Yes, I repeat it, because here you must either lower your head or
lose it.”

“Either lower my head or lose it!” repeated Ibarra thoughtfully. “The
dilemma is hard! But why? Is love for my country incompatible with love
for Spain? Is it necessary to debase oneself to be a good Christian,
to prostitute one’s conscience in order to carry out a good purpose? I
love my native land, the Philippines, because to it I owe my life and
my happiness, because every man should love his country. I love Spain,
the fatherland of my ancestors, because in spite of everything the
Philippines owes to it, and will continue to owe, her happiness and
her future. I am a Catholic, I preserve pure the faith of my fathers,
and I do not see why I have to lower my head when I can raise it,
to give it over to my enemies when I can humble them!”

“Because the field in which you wish to sow is in possession of your
enemies and against them you are powerless. It is necessary that you
first kiss the hand that–”

But the youth let him go no farther, exclaiming passionately, “Kiss
their hands! You forget that among them they killed my father and
threw his body from the tomb! I who am his son do not forget it,
and that I do not avenge it is because I have regard for the good
name of the Church!”

The old Sage bowed his head as he answered slowly: “Señor Ibarra, if
you preserve those memories, which I cannot counsel you to forget,
abandon the enterprise you are undertaking and seek in some other
way the welfare of your countrymen. The enterprise needs another man,
because to make it a success zeal and money alone are not sufficient;
in our country are required also self-denial, tenacity of purpose,
and faith, for the soil is not ready, it is only sown with discord.”

Ibarra appreciated the value of these observations, but still would
not be discouraged. The thought of Maria Clara was in his mind and
his promise must be fulfilled.

“Doesn’t your experience suggest any other than this hard means?” he
asked in a low voice.

The old man took him by the arm and led him to the window. A fresh
breeze, the precursor of the north wind, was blowing, and before their
eyes spread out the garden bounded by the wide forest that was a kind
of park.

“Why can we not do as that weak stalk laden with flowers and buds
does?” asked the Sage, pointing to a beautiful jasmine plant. “The wind
blows and shakes it and it bows its head as if to hide its precious
load. If the stalk should hold itself erect it would be broken,
its flowers would be scattered by the wind, and its buds would be
blighted. The wind passes by and the stalk raises itself erect,
proud of its treasure, yet who will blame it for having bowed before
necessity? There you see that gigantic _kupang_, which majestically
waves its light foliage wherein the eagle builds his nest. I brought
it from the forest as a weak sapling and braced its stem for months
with slender pieces of bamboo. If I had transplanted it large and
full of life, it is certain that it would not have lived here,
for the wind would have thrown it down before its roots could have
fixed themselves in the soil, before it could have become accustomed
to its surroundings, and before it could have secured sufficient
nourishment for its size and height. So you, transplanted from Europe
to this stony soil, may end, if you do not seek support and do not
humble yourself. You are among evil conditions, alone, elevated, the
ground shakes, the sky presages a storm, and the top of your family
tree has shown that it draws the thunderbolt. It is not courage, but
foolhardiness, to fight alone against all that exists. No one censures
the pilot who makes for a port at the first gust of the whirlwind. To
stoop as the bullet passes is not cowardly–it is worse to defy it
only to fall, never to rise again.”

“But could this sacrifice produce the fruit that I hope for?” asked
Ibarra. “Would the priest believe in me and forget the affront? Would
they aid me frankly in behalf of the education that contests with the
conventos the wealth of the country? Can they not pretend friendship,
make a show of protection, and yet underneath in the shadows fight it,
undermine it, wound it in the heel, in order to weaken it quicker
than by attacking it in front? Granted the previous actions which
you surmise, anything may be expected!”

The old man remained silent from inability to answer these
questions. After meditating for some time, he said: “If such should
happen, if the enterprise should fail, you would be consoled by
the thought that you had done what was expected of you and thus
something would be gained. You would have placed the first stone,
you would have sown the seed, and after the storm had spent itself
perhaps some grain would have survived the catastrophe to grow and
save the species from destruction and to serve afterwards as the seed
for the sons of the dead sower. The example may encourage others who
are only afraid to begin.”

Weighing these reasons, Ibarra realized the situation and saw that
with all the old man’s pessimism there was a great deal of truth in
what he said.

“I believe you!” he exclaimed, pressing the old man’s hand. “Not in
vain have I looked to you for advice. This very day I’ll go and reach
an understanding with the curate, who, after all is said, has done
me no wrong and who must be good, since all of them are not like the
persecutor of my father. I have, besides, to interest him in behalf of
that unfortunate madwoman and her sons. I put my trust in God and men!”

After taking leave of the old man he mounted his horse and rode
away. As the pessimistic Sage followed him with his gaze, he muttered:
“Now let’s watch how Destiny will unfold the drama that began in the
cemetery.” But for once he was greatly mistaken–the drama had begun
long before!

CHAPTER XXVI

The Eve of the Fiesta

It is now the tenth of November, the eve of the fiesta. Emerging from
its habitual monotony, the town has given itself over to unwonted
activity in house, church, cockpit, and field. Windows are covered
with banners and many-hued draperies. All space is filled with noise
and music, and the air is saturated with rejoicings.

On little tables with embroidered covers the _dalagas_ arrange in
bright-hued glass dishes different kinds of sweetmeats made from
native fruits. In the yard the hens cackle, the cocks crow, and the
hogs grunt, all terrified by this merriment of man. Servants move
in and out carrying fancy dishes and silver cutlery. Here there is a
quarrel over a broken plate, there they laugh at the simple country
girl. Everywhere there is ordering, whispering, shouting. Comments and
conjectures are made, one hurries the other,–all is commotion, noise,
and confusion. All this effort and all this toil are for the stranger
as well as the acquaintance, to entertain every one, whether he has
been seen before or not, or whether he is expected to be seen again, in
order that the casual visitor, the foreigner, friend, enemy, Filipino,
Spaniard, the poor and the rich, may go away happy and contented. No
gratitude is even asked of them nor is it expected that they do no
damage to the hospitable family either during or after digestion! The
rich, those who have ever been to Manila and have seen a little more
than their neighbors, have bought beer, champagne, liqueurs, wines,
and food-stuffs from Europe, of which they will hardly taste a bite
or drink a drop.

Their tables are luxuriously furnished. In the center is a well-modeled
artificial pineapple in which are arranged toothpicks elaborately
carved by convicts in their rest-hours. Here they have designed a
fan, there a bouquet of flowers, a bird, a rose, a palm leaf, or a
chain, all wrought from a single piece of wood, the artisan being a
forced laborer, the tool a dull knife, and the taskmaster’s voice the
inspiration. Around this toothpick-holder are placed glass fruit-trays
from which rise pyramids of oranges, lansons, ates, chicos, and even
mangos in spite of the fact that it is November. On wide platters
upon bright-hued sheets of perforated paper are to be seen hams from
Europe and China, stuffed turkeys, and a big pastry in the shape of
an Agnus Dei or a dove, the Holy Ghost perhaps. Among all these are
jars of appetizing _acharas_ with fanciful decorations made from
the flowers of the areca palm and other fruits and vegetables, all
tastefully cut and fastened with sirup to the sides of the flasks.

Glass lamp globes that have been handed down from father to son are
cleaned, the copper ornaments polished, the kerosene lamps taken out
of the red wrappings which have protected them from the flies and
mosquitoes during the year and which have made them unserviceable;
the prismatic glass pendants shake to and fro, they clink together
harmoniously in song, and even seem to take part in the fiesta as
they flash back and break up the rays of light, reflecting them on
the white walls in all the colors of the rainbow. The children play
about amusing themselves by chasing the colors, they stumble and break
the globes, but this does not interfere with the general merriment,
although at other times in the year the tears in their round eyes
would be taken account of in a different way.

Along with these venerated lamps there also come forth from their
hiding-places the work of the girls: crocheted scarfs, rugs, artificial
flowers. There appear old glass trays, on the bottoms of which are
sketched miniature lakes with little fishes, caymans, shell-fish,
seaweeds, coral, and glassy stones of brilliant hues. These are heaped
with cigars, cigarettes, and diminutive buyos prepared by the delicate
fingers of the maidens. The floor of the house shines like a mirror,
curtains of piña and husi festoon the doorways, from the windows
hang lanterns covered with glass or with paper, pink, blue, green, or
red. The house itself is filled with plants and flower-pots on stands
of Chinese porcelain. Even the saints bedeck themselves, the images
and relics put on a festive air, the dust is brushed from them and
on the freshly-washed glass of their cases are hung flowery garlands.

In the streets are raised at intervals fanciful bamboo arches, known as
_sinkában_, constructed in various ways and adorned with _kaluskús_,
the curling bunches of shavings scraped on their sides, at the sight
of which alone the hearts of the children rejoice. About the front
of the church, where the procession is to pass, is a large and costly
canopy upheld on bamboo posts. Beneath this the children run and play,
climbing, jumping, and tearing the new camisas in which they should
shine on the principal day of the fiesta.

There on the plaza a platform has been erected, the scenery being
of bamboo, nipa, and wood; there the Tondo comedians will perform
wonders and compete with the gods in improbable miracles, there
will sing and dance Marianito, Chananay, Balbino, Ratia, Carvajal,
Yeyeng, Liceria, etc. The Filipino enjoys the theater and is a deeply
interested spectator of dramatic representations, but he listens in
silence to the song, he gazes delighted at the dancing and mimicry,
he never hisses or applauds.

If the show is not to his liking, he chews his buyo or withdraws
without disturbing the others who perhaps find pleasure in it. Only
at times the commoner sort will howl when the actors embrace or kiss
the actresses, but they never go beyond that. Formerly, dramas only
were played; the local poet composed a piece in which there must
necessarily be a fight every second minute, a clown, and terrifying
transformations. But since the Tondo artist have begun to fight every
fifteen seconds, with two clowns, and even greater marvels than before,
they have put to rout their provincial compeers. The gobernadorcillo
was very fond of this sort of thing, so, with the approval of the
curate, he chose a spectacle with magic and fireworks, entitled, “The
Prince Villardo or the Captives Rescued from the Infamous Cave.” [78]

From time to time the bells chime out merrily, those same bells that
ten days ago were tolling so mournfully. Pin-wheels and mortars rend
the air, for the Filipino pyrotechnist, who learned the art from
no known instructor, displays his ability by preparing fire bulls,
castles of Bengal lights, paper balloons inflated with hot air, bombs,
rockets, and the like.

Now distant strains of music are heard and the small boys rush headlong
toward the outskirts of the town to meet the bands of music, five
of which have been engaged, as well as three orchestras. The band of
Pagsanhan belonging to the escribano must not be lacking nor that of
San Pedro de Tunasan, at that time famous because it was directed by
the maestro Austria, the vagabond “Corporal Mariano” who, according to
report, carried fame and harmony in the tip of his baton. Musicians
praise his funeral march, “El Sauce,” [79] and deplore his lack of
musical education, since with his genius he might have brought glory
to his country. The bands enter the town playing lively airs, followed
by ragged or half-naked urchins, one in the camisa of his brother,
another in his father’s pantaloons. As soon as the band ceases, the
boys know the piece by heart, they hum and whistle it with rare skill,
they pronounce their judgment upon it.

Meanwhile, there are arriving in conveyances of all kinds relatives,
friends, strangers, the gamblers with their best game-cocks and their
bags of gold, ready to risk their fortune on the green cloth or within
the arena of the cockpit.

“The alferez has fifty pesos for each night,” murmurs a small,
chubby individual into the ears of the latest arrivals. “Capitan
Tiago’s coming and will set up a bank; Capitan Joaquin’s bringing
eighteen thousand. There’ll be _liam-pó_: Carlos the Chinaman will
set it up with ten thousand. Big stakes are coming from Tanawan, Lipa,
and Batangas, as well as from Santa Cruz. [80] It’s going to be on a
big scale, yes, sir, on a grand scale! But have some chocolate! This
year Capitan Tiago won’t break us as he did last, since he’s paid
for only three thanksgiving masses and I’ve got a cacao _mutyâ_. And
how’s your family?”

“Well, thank you,” the visitors respond, “and Padre Damaso?”

“Padre Damaso will preach in the morning and sit in with us at night.”

“Good enough! Then there’s no danger.”

“Sure, we’re sure! Carlos the Chinaman will loosen up also.” Here
the chubby individual works his fingers as though counting out pieces
of money.

Outside the town the hill-folk, the _kasamá_, are putting on their
best clothes to carry to the houses of their landlords well-fattened
chickens, wild pigs, deer, and birds. Some load firewood on the heavy
carts, others fruits, ferns, and orchids, the rarest that grow in
the forests, others bring broad-leafed caladiums and flame-colored
_tikas-tikas_ blossoms to decorate the doors of the houses.

But the place where the greatest activity reigns, where it is converted
into a tumult, is there on a little plot of raised ground, a few
steps from Ibarra’s house. Pulleys screech and yells are heard amid
the metallic sound of iron striking upon stone, hammers upon nails,
of axes chopping out posts. A crowd of laborers is digging in the
earth to open a wide, deep trench, while others place in line the
stones taken from the town quarries. Carts are unloaded, piles of
sand are heaped up, windlasses and derricks are set in place.

“Hey, you there! Hurry up!” cries a little old man with lively and
intelligent features, who has for a cane a copper-bound rule around
which is wound the cord of a plumb-bob. This is the foreman of the
work, Ñor Juan, architect, mason, carpenter, painter, locksmith,
stonecutter, and, on occasions, sculptor. “It must be finished right
now! Tomorrow there’ll be no work and the day after tomorrow is the
ceremony. Hurry!”

“Cut that hole so that this cylinder will fit it exactly,” he says
to some masons who are shaping a large square block of stone. “Within
that our names will be preserved.”

He repeats to every newcomer who approaches the place what he
has already said a thousand times: “You know what we’re going to
build? Well, it’s a schoolhouse, a model of its kind, like those in
Germany, and even better. A great architect has drawn the plans,
and I–I am bossing the job! Yes, sir, look at it, it’s going to
be a palace with two wings, one for the boys and the other for the
girls. Here in the middle a big garden with three fountains, there on
the sides shaded walks with little plots for the children to sow and
cultivate plants in during their recess-time, that they may improve
the hours and not waste them. Look how deep the foundations are,
three meters and seventy-five centimeters! This building is going
to have storerooms, cellars, and for those who are not diligent
students dungeons near the playgrounds so that the culprits may hear
how the studious children are enjoying themselves. Do you see that
big space? That will be a lawn for running and exercising in the
open air. The little girls will have a garden with benches, swings,
walks where they can jump the rope, fountains, bird-cages, and so
on. It’s going to be magnificent!”

Then Ñor Juan would rub his hands together as he thought of the
fame that he was going to acquire. Strangers would come to see it
and would ask, “Who was the great artisan that built this?” and all
would answer, “Don’t you know? Can it be that you’ve never heard
of Ñor Juan? Undoubtedly you’ve come from a great distance!” With
these thoughts he moved from one part to the other, examining and
reexamining everything.

“It seems to me that there’s too much timber for one derrick,” he
remarked to a yellowish man who was overseeing some laborers. “I
should have enough with three large beams for the tripod and three
more for the braces.”

“Never mind!” answered the yellowish man, smiling in a peculiar
way. “The more apparatus we use in the work, so much the greater effect
we’ll get. The whole thing will look better and of more importance,
so they’ll say, ‘How hard they’ve worked!’ You’ll see, you’ll see
what a derrick I’ll put up! Then I’ll decorate it with banners, and
garlands of leaves and flowers. You’ll say afterwards that you were
right in hiring me as one of your laborers, and Señor Ibarra couldn’t
ask for more!” As he said this the man laughed and smiled. Ñor Juan
also smiled, but shook his head.

Some distance away were seen two kiosks united by a kind of arbor
covered with banana leaves. The schoolmaster and some thirty boys
were weaving crowns and fastening banners upon the frail bamboo posts,
which were wrapped in white cloth.

“Take care that the letters are well written,” he admonished the boys
who were preparing inscriptions. “The alcalde is coming, many curates
will be present, perhaps even the Captain-General, who is now in the
province. If they see that you draw well, maybe they’ll praise you.”

“And give us a blackboard?”

“Perhaps, but Señor Ibarra has already ordered one from
Manila. Tomorrow some things will come to be distributed among you
as prizes. Leave those flowers in the water and tomorrow we’ll make
the bouquets. Bring more flowers, for it’s necessary that the table
be covered with them–flowers please the eye.”

“My father will bring some water-lilies and a basket of sampaguitas
tomorrow.”

“Mine has brought three cartloads of sand without pay.”

“My uncle has promised to pay a teacher,” added a nephew of Capitan
Basilio.

Truly, the project was receiving help from all. The curate had asked to
stand sponsor for it and himself bless the laying of the corner-stone,
a ceremony to take place on the last day of the fiesta as one of its
greatest solemnities. The very coadjutor had timidly approached Ibarra
with an offer of all the fees for masses that the devout would pay
until the building was finished. Even more, the rich and economical
Sister Rufa had declared that if money should be lacking she would
canvass other towns and beg for alms, with the mere condition that she
be paid her expenses for travel and subsistence. Ibarra thanked them
all, as he answered, “We aren’t going to have anything very great,
since I am not rich and this building is not a church. Besides,
I didn’t undertake to erect it at the expense of others.”

The younger men, students from Manila, who had come to take part
in the fiesta, gazed at him in admiration and took him for a model;
but, as it nearly always happens, when we wish to imitate great men,
that we copy only their foibles and even their defects, since we are
capable of nothing else, so many of these admirers took note of the
way in which he tied his cravat, others of the style of his collar,
and not a few of the number of buttons on his coat and vest.

The funereal presentiments of old Tasio seemed to have been dissipated
forever. So Ibarra observed to him one day, but the old pessimist
answered: “Remember what Baltazar says:

Kung ang isalúbong sa iyong pagdating
Ay masayang maukha’t may pakitang giliw,
Lalong pag-iñgata’t kaaway na lihim [81]–

Baltazar was no less a thinker than a poet.”

Thus in the gathering shadows before the setting of the sun events
were shaping themselves.

CHAPTER XXVII

In the Twilight

In Capitan Tiago’s house also great preparations had been made. We
know its owner, whose love of ostentation and whose pride as a
Manilan imposed the necessity of humiliating the provincials with his
splendor. Another reason, too, made it his duty to eclipse all others:
he had his daughter Maria Clara with him, and there was present his
future son-in-law, who was attracting universal attention.

In fact one of the most serious newspapers in Manila had devoted to
Ibarra an article on its front page, entitled, “Imitate him!” heaping
him with praise and giving him some advice. It had called him, “The
cultivated young gentleman and rich capitalist;” two lines further
on, “The distinguished philanthropist;” in the following paragraph,
“The disciple of Minerva who had gone to the mother country to
pay his respects to the true home of the arts and sciences;” and
a little further on, “The Filipino Spaniard.” Capitan Tiago burned
with generous zeal to imitate him and wondered whether he ought not
to erect a convento at his own expense.

Some days before there had arrived at the house where Maria Clara
and Aunt Isabel were staying a profusion of eases of European wines
and food-stuffs, colossal mirrors, paintings, and Maria Clara’s
piano. Capitan Tiago had arrived on the day before the fiesta and as
his daughter kissed his hand, had presented her with a beautiful locket
set with diamonds and emeralds, containing a sliver from St. Peter’s
boat, in which Our Savior sat during the fishing. His first interview
with his future son-in-law could not have been more cordial. Naturally,
they talked about the school, and Capitan Tiago wanted it named
“School of St. Francis.” “Believe me,” he said, “St. Francis is a good
patron. If you call it ‘School of Primary Instruction,’ you will gain
nothing. Who is Primary Instruction, anyhow?”

Some friends of Maria Clara came and asked her to go for a walk. “But
come back quickly,” said Capitan Tiago to his daughter, when she asked
his permission, “for you know that Padre Damaso, who has just arrived,
will dine with us.”

Then turning to Ibarra, who had become thoughtful, he said, “You dine
with us also, you’ll be all alone in your house.”

“I would with the greatest pleasure, but I have to be at home in
case visitors come,” stammered the youth, as he avoided the gaze of
Maria Clara.

“Bring your friends along,” replied Capitan Tiago heartily. “In my
house there’s always plenty to eat. Also, I want you and Padre Damaso
to get on good terms.”

“There’ll be time enough for that,” answered Ibarra with a forced
smile, as he prepared to accompany the girls.

They went downstairs, Maria Clara in the center between Victoria
and Iday, Aunt Isabel following. The people made way for them
respectfully. Maria Clara was startling in her beauty; her pallor
was all gone, and if her eyes were still pensive, her mouth on the
contrary seemed to know only smiles. With maiden friendliness the
happy young woman greeted the acquaintances of her childhood, now
the admirers of her promising youth. In less than a fortnight she had
succeeded in recovering that frank confidence, that childish prattle,
which seemed to have been benumbed between the narrow walls of the
nunnery. It might be said that on leaving the cocoon the butterfly
recognized all the flowers, for it seemed to be enough for her to
spread her wings for a moment and warm herself in the sun’s rays to
lose all the stiffness of the chrysalis. This new life manifested
itself in her whole nature. Everything she found good and beautiful,
and she showed her love with that maiden modesty which, having never
been conscious of any but pure thoughts, knows not the meaning of false
blushes. While she would cover her face when she was teased, still her
eyes smiled, and a light thrill would course through her whole being.

The houses were beginning to show lights, and in the streets where
the music was moving about there were lighted torches of bamboo and
wood made in imitation of those in the church. From the streets
the people in the houses might be seen through the windows in an
atmosphere of music and flowers, moving about to the sounds of piano,
harp, or orchestra. Swarming in the streets were Chinese, Spaniards,
Filipinos, some dressed in European style, some in the costumes
of the country. Crowding, elbowing, and pushing one another, walked
servants carrying meat and chickens, students in white, men and women,
all exposing themselves to be knocked down by the carriages which,
in spite of the drivers’ cries, made their way with difficulty.

In front of Capitan Basilio’s house some young women called to our
acquaintances and invited them to enter. The merry voice of Sinang as
she ran down the stairs put an end to all excuses. “Come up a moment
so that I may go with you,” she said. “I’m bored staying here among
so many strangers who talk only of game-cocks and cards.”

They were ushered into a large room filled with people, some of whom
came forward to greet Ibarra, for his name was now well known. All
gazed in ecstasy at the beauty of Maria Clara and some old women
murmured, as they chewed their buyo, “She looks like the Virgin!”

There they had to have chocolate, as Capitan Basilio had become a warm
friend and defender of Ibarra since the day of the picnic. He had
learned from the half of the telegram given to his daughter Sinang
that Ibarra had known beforehand about the court’s decision in the
latter’s favor, so, not wishing to be outdone in generosity, he had
tried to set aside the decision of the chess-match. But when Ibarra
would not consent to this, he had proposed that the money which would
have been spent in court fees should be used to pay a teacher in the
new school. In consequence, the orator employed all his eloquence to
the end that other litigants should give up their extravagant claims,
saying to them, “Believe me, in a lawsuit the winner is left without
a camisa.” But he had succeeded in convincing no one, even though he
cited the Romans.

After drinking the chocolate our young people had to listen to
piano-playing by the town organist. “When I listen to him in the
church,” exclaimed Sinang, pointing to the organist, “I want to dance,
and now that he’s playing here I feel like praying, so I’m going out
with you.”

“Don’t you want to join us tonight?” whispered Capitan Basilio into
Ibarra’s ear as they were leaving. “Padre Damaso is going to set up
a little bank.” Ibarra smiled and answered with an equivocal shake
of his head.

“Who’s that?” asked Maria Clara of Victoria, indicating with a rapid
glance a youth who was following them.

“He’s–he’s a cousin of mine,” she answered with some agitation.

“And the other?”

“He’s no cousin of mine,” put in Sinang merrily. “He’s my uncle’s son.”

They passed in front of the parish rectory, which was not one of the
least animated buildings. Sinang was unable to repress an exclamation
of surprise on seeing the lamps burning, those lamps of antique
pattern which Padre Salvi had never allowed to be lighted, in order
not to waste kerosene. Loud talk and resounding bursts of laughter
might be heard as the friars moved slowly about, nodding their heads
in unison with the big cigars that adorned their lips. The laymen
with them, who from their European garments appeared to be officials
and employees of the province, were endeavoring to imitate whatever
the good priests did. Maria Clara made out the rotund figure of Padre
Damaso at the side of the trim silhouette of Padre Sibyla. Motionless
in his place stood the silent and mysterious Fray Salvi.

“He’s sad,” observed Sinang, “for he’s thinking about how much so
many visitors are going to cost. But you’ll see how he’ll not pay
it himself, but the sacristans will. His visitors always eat at
other places.”

“Sinang!” scolded Victoria.

“I haven’t been able to endure him since he tore up the _Wheel of
Fortune_. I don’t go to confession to him any more.”

Of all the houses one only was to be noticed without lights and with
all the windows closed–that of the alferez. Maria Clara expressed
surprise at this.

“The witch! The Muse of the Civil Guard, as the old man says,”
exclaimed the irrepressible Sinang. “What has she to do with our
merrymakings? I imagine she’s raging! But just let the cholera come
and you’d see her give a banquet.”

“But, Sinang!” again her cousin scolded.

“I never was able to endure her and especially since she disturbed our
picnic with her civil-guards. If I were the Archbishop I’d marry Her
to Padre Salvi–then think what children! Look how she tried to arrest
the poor pilot, who threw himself into the water simply to please–”

She was not allowed to finish, for in the corner of the plaza
where a blind man was singing to the accompaniment of a guitar,
a curious spectacle was presented. It was a man miserably dressed,
wearing a broad salakot of palm leaves. His clothing consisted of a
ragged coat and wide pantaloons, like those worn by the Chinese, torn
in many places. Wretched sandals covered his feet. His countenance
remained hidden in the shadow of his wide hat, but from this shadow
there flashed intermittently two burning rays. Placing a flat basket
on the ground, he would withdraw a few paces and utter strange,
incomprehensible sounds, remaining the while standing entirely alone as
if he and the crowd were mutually avoiding each other. Then some women
would approach the basket and put into it fruit, fish, or rice. When
no one any longer approached, from the shadows would issue sadder
but less pitiful sounds, cries of gratitude perhaps. Then he would
take up the basket and make his way to another place to repeat the
same performance.

Maria Clara divined that there must be some misfortune there, and
full of interest she asked concerning the strange creature.

“He’s a leper,” Iday told her. “Four years ago he contracted the
disease, some say from taking care of his mother, others from lying
in a damp prison. He lives in the fields near the Chinese cemetery,
having intercourse with no one, because all flee from him for fear of
contagion. If you might only see his home! It’s a tumbledown shack,
through which the wind and rain pass like a needle through cloth. He
has been forbidden to touch anything belonging to the people. One day
when a little child fell into a shallow ditch as he was passing,
he helped to get it out. The child’s father complained to the
gobernadorcillo, who ordered that the leper be flogged through the
streets and that the rattan be burned afterwards. It was horrible! The
leper fled with his flogger in pursuit, while the gobernadorcillo
cried, ‘Catch him! Better be drowned than get the disease you have!'”

“Can it be true!” murmured Maria Clara, then, without saying what she
was about to do, went up to the wretch’s basket and dropped into it
the locket her father had given her.

“What have you done?” her friends asked.

“I hadn’t anything else,” she answered, trying to conceal her tears
with a smile.

“What is he going to do with your locket?” Victoria asked her. “One
day they gave him some money, but he pushed it away with a stick;
why should he want it when no one accepts anything that comes from
him? As if the locket could be eaten!”

Maria Clara gazed enviously at the women who were selling food-stuffs
and shrugged her shoulders. The leper approached the basket, picked
up the jeweled locket, which glittered in his hands, then fell upon
his knees, kissed it, and taking off his salakot buried his forehead
in the dust where the maiden had stepped. Maria Clara hid her face
behind her fan and raised her handkerchief to her eyes.

Meanwhile, a poor woman had approached the leper, who seemed to be
praying. Her long hair was loose and unkempt, and in the light of
the torches could be recognized the extremely emaciated features of
the crazy Sisa. Feeling the touch of her hand, the leper jumped up
with a cry, but to the horror of the onlooker’s Sisa caught him by
the arm and said:

“Let us pray, let us pray! Today is All Souls’ day! Those lights are
the souls of men! Let us pray for my sons!”

“Separate them! Separate them! The madwoman will get the
disease!” cried the crowd, but no one dared to go near them.

“Do you see that light in the tower? That is my son Basilio sliding
down a rope! Do you see that light in the convento? That is my son
Crispin! But I’m not going to see them because the curate is sick
and had many gold pieces and the gold pieces are lost! Pray, let us
pray for the soul of the curate! I took him the finest fruits, for
my garden was full of flowers and I had two sons! I had a garden,
I used to take care of my flowers, and I had two sons!”

Then releasing her hold of the leper, she ran away singing, “I had
a garden and flowers, I had two sons, a garden, and flowers!”

“What have you been able to do for that poor woman?” Maria Clara
asked Ibarra.

“Nothing! Lately she has been missing from the totem and wasn’t to
be found,” answered the youth, rather confusedly. “Besides, I have
been very busy. But don’t let it trouble you. The curate has promised
to help me, but advised that I proceed with great tact and caution,
for the Civil Guard seems to be mixed up in it. The curate is greatly
interested in her case.”

“Didn’t the alferez say that he would have search made for her sons?”

“Yes, but at the time he was somewhat–drunk.” Scarcely had he said
this when they saw the crazy woman being led, or rather dragged along,
by a soldier. Sisa was offering resistance.

“Why are you arresting her? What has she done?” asked Ibarra.

“Why, haven’t you seen how she’s been raising a disturbance?” was
the reply of the guardian of the public peace.

The leper caught up his basket hurriedly and ran away.

Maria Clara wanted to go home, as she had lost all her mirth and good
humor. “So there are people who are not happy,” she murmured. Arriving
at her door, she felt her sadness increase when her fiancé declined
to go in, excusing himself on the plea of necessity. Maria Clara went
upstairs thinking what a bore are the fiesta days, when strangers
make their visits.

CHAPTER XXVIII

Correspondence

Cada uno habla de la feria como le va en ella. [82]

As nothing of importance to our characters happened during the
first two days, we should gladly pass on to the third and last,
were it not that perhaps some foreign reader may wish to know how the
Filipinos celebrate their fiestas. For this reason we shall faithfully
reproduce in this chapter several letters, one of them being that
of the correspondent of a noted Manila newspaper, respected for its
grave tone and deep seriousness. Our readers will correct some natural
and trifling slips of the pen. Thus the worthy correspondent of the
respectable newspaper wrote:

“TO THE EDITOR, MY DISTINGUISHED FRIEND,–Never did I witness,
nor had I ever expected to see in the provinces, a religious
fiesta so solemn, so splendid, and so impressive as that
now being celebrated in this town by the Most Reverend and
virtuous Franciscan Fathers.

“Great crowds are in attendance. I have here had the pleasure
of greeting nearly all the Spaniards who reside in this
province, three Reverend Augustinian Fathers from the province
of Batangas, and two Reverend Dominican Fathers. One of the
latter is the Very Reverend Fray Hernando Sibyla, who has come
to honor this town with his presence, a distinction which its
worthy inhabitants should never forget. I have also seen a
great number of the best people of Cavite and Pampanga, many
wealthy persons from Manila, and many bands of music,–among
these the very artistic one of Pagsanhan belonging to
the escribano, Don Miguel Guevara,–swarms of Chinamen and
Indians, who, with the curiosity of the former and the piety
of the latter, awaited anxiously the day on which was to be
celebrated the comic-mimic-lyric-lightning-change-dramatic
spectacle, for which a large and spacious theater had been
erected in the middle of the plaza.

“At nine on the night of the 10th, the eve of the fiesta,
after a succulent dinner set before us by the _hermano mayor_,
the attention of all the Spaniards and friars in the convento
was attracted by strains of music from a surging multitude
which, with the noise of bombs and rockets, preceded by
the leading citizens of the town, came to the convento to
escort us to the place prepared and arranged for us that we
might witness the spectacle. Such a courteous offer we had to
accept, although I should have preferred to rest in the arms
of Morpheus and repose my weary limbs, which were aching,
thanks to the joltings of the vehicle furnished us by the
gobernadorcillo of B—-.

“Accordingly we joined them and proceeded to look for our
companions, who were dining in the house, owned here by the
pious and wealthy Don Santiago de los Santos. The curate of
the town, the Very Reverend Fray Bernardo Salvi, and the Very
Reverend Fray Damaso Verdolagas, who is now by the special
favor of Heaven recovered from the suffering caused him by
an impious hand, in company with the Very Reverend Fray
Hernando Sibyla and the virtuous curate of Tanawan, with
other Spaniards, were guests in the house of the Filipino
Croesus. There we had the good fortune of admiring not only
the luxury and good taste of the host, which are not usual
among the natives, but also the beauty of the charming
and wealthy heiress, who showed herself to be a polished
disciple of St. Cecelia by playing on her elegant piano,
with a mastery that recalled Galvez to me, the best German
and Italian compositions. It is a matter of regret that such
a charming young lady should be so excessively modest as to
hide her talents from a society which has only admiration
for her. Nor should I leave unwritten that in the house
of our host there were set before us champagne and fine
liqueurs with the profusion and splendor that characterize
the well-known capitalist.

“We attended the spectacle. You already know our artists,
Ratia, Carvajal, and Fernandez, whose cleverness was
comprehended by us alone, since the uncultured crowd did
not understand a jot of it. Chananay and Balbino were very
good, though a little hoarse; the latter made one break,
but together, and as regards earnest effort, they were
admirable. The Indians were greatly pleased with the Tagalog
drama, especially the gobernadorcillo, who rubbed his hands
and informed us that it was a pity that they had not made the
princess join in combat with the giant who had stolen her
away, which in his opinion would have been more marvelous,
especially if the giant had been represented as vulnerable
only in the navel, like a certain Ferragus of whom the stories
of the Paladins tell. The Very Reverend Fray Damaso, in his
customary goodness of heart, concurred in this opinion, and
added that in such case the princess should be made to discover
the giant’s weak spot and give him the _coup de grace_.

“Needless to tell you that during the show the affability
of the Filipino Rothschild allowed nothing to be lacking:
ice-cream, lemonade, wines, and refreshments of all kinds
circulated profusely among us. A matter of reasonable and
special note was the absence of the well-known and cultured
youth, Don Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who, as you know, will
tomorrow preside at the laying of the corner-stone for the
great edifice which he is so philanthropically erecting. This
worthy descendant of the Pelayos and Elcanos (for I have
learned that one of his paternal ancestors was from our heroic
and noble northern provinces, perhaps one of the companions
of Magellan or Legazpi) did not show himself during the
entire day, owing to a slight indisposition. His name runs
from mouth to mouth, being uttered with praises that can only
reflect glory upon Spain and true Spaniards like ourselves,
who never deny our blood, however mixed it may be.

“Today, at eleven o’clock in the morning, we attended a
deeply-moving spectacle. Today, as is generally known, is
the fiesta of the Virgin of Peace and is being observed by
the Brethren of the Holy Rosary. Tomorrow will occur the
fiesta of the patron, San Diego, and it will be observed
principally by the Venerable Tertiary Order. Between these
two societies there exists a pious rivalry in serving God,
which piety has reached the extreme of holy quarrels among
them, as has just happened in the dispute over the preacher of
acknowledged fame, the oft-mentioned Very Reverend Fray Damaso,
who tomorrow will occupy the pulpit of the Holy Ghost with
a sermon, which, according to general expectation, will be
a literary and religious event.

“So, _as we were saying_, we attended a highly edifying
and moving spectacle. Six pious youths, three to recite the
mass and three for acolytes, marched out of the sacristy and
prostrated themselves before the altar, while the officiating
priest, the Very Reverend Fray Hernando Sibyla, chanted the
_Surge Domine_–the signal for commencing the procession
around the church–with the magnificent voice and religious
unction that all recognize and that make him so worthy of
general admiration. When the _Surge Domine_ was concluded,
the gobernadorcillo, in a frock coat, carrying the standard
and followed by four acolytes with incense-burners, headed
the procession. Behind them came the tall silver candelabra,
the municipal corporation, the precious images dressed in satin
and gold, representing St. Dominic and the Virgin of Peace in a
magnificent blue robe trimmed with gilded silver, the gift of
the pious ex-gobernadorcillo, the so-worthy-of-being-imitated
and never-sufficiently-praised Don Santiago de los Santos. All
these images were borne on silver cars. Behind the Mother of
God came the Spaniards and the rest of the clergy, while the
officiating priest was protected by a canopy carried by the
cabezas de barangay, and the procession was closed by a squad
of the worthy Civil Guard. I believe it unnecessary to state
that a multitude of Indians, carrying lighted candles with
great devotion, formed the two lines of the procession. The
musicians played religious marches, while bombs and pinwheels
furnished repeated salutes. It causes admiration to see the
modesty and the fervor which these ceremonies inspire in the
hearts of the true believers, the grand, pure faith professed
for the Virgin of Peace, the solemnity and fervent devotion
with which such ceremonies are performed by those of us who
have had the good fortune to be born under the sacrosanct
and immaculate banner of Spain.

“The procession concluded, there began the mass rendered by
the orchestra and the theatrical artists. After the reading
of the Gospel, the Very Reverend Fray Manuel Martin, an
Augustinian from the province of Batangas, ascended the
pulpit and kept the whole audience enraptured and hanging
on his words, especially the Spaniards, during the exordium
in Castilian, as he spoke with vigor and in such flowing
and well-rounded periods that our hearts were filled with
fervor and enthusiasm. This indeed is the term that should
be used for what is felt, or what we feel, when the Virgin
of our beloved Spain is considered, and above all when there
can be intercalated in the text, if the subject permits,
the ideas of a prince of the Church, the _Señor Monescillo_,
[83] which are surely those of all Spaniards.

“At the conclusion of the services all of us went up into
the convento with the leading citizens of the town and other
persons of note. There we were especially honored by the
refinement, attention, and prodigality that characterize the
Very Reverend Fray Salvi, there being set before us cigars
and an abundant lunch which the _hermano mayor_ had prepared
under the convento for all who might feel the necessity for
appeasing the cravings of their stomachs.

“During the day nothing has been lacking to make the fiesta
joyous and to preserve the animation so characteristic of
Spaniards, and which it is impossible to restrain on such
occasions as this, showing itself sometimes in singing and
dancing, at other times in simple and merry diversions of
so strong and noble a nature that all sorrow is driven away,
and it is enough for three Spaniards to be gathered together
in one place in order that sadness and ill-humor be banished
thence. Then homage was paid to Terpsichore in many homes,
but especially in that of the cultured Filipino millionaire,
where we were all invited to dine. Needless to say, the
banquet, which was sumptuous and elegantly served, was a
second edition of the wedding-feast in Cana, or of Camacho,
[84] corrected and enlarged. While we were enjoying the meal,
which was directed by a cook from ‘La Campana,’ an orchestra
played harmonious melodies. The beautiful young lady of the
house, in a mestiza gown [85] and a cascade of diamonds,
was as ever the queen of the feast.. All of us deplored from
the bottom of our hearts a light sprain in her shapely foot
that deprived her of the pleasures of the dance, for if we
have to judge by her other conspicuous perfections, the young
lady must dance like a sylph.

“The alcalde of the province arrived this afternoon for
the purpose of honoring with his presence the ceremony of
tomorrow. He has expressed regret over the poor health of the
distinguished landlord, Señor Ibarra, who in God’s mercy is
now, according to report, somewhat recovered.

“Tonight there was a solemn procession, but of that I will
speak in my letter tomorrow, because in addition to the
explosions that have bewildered me and made me somewhat deaf
I am tired and falling over with sleep. While, therefore,
I recover my strength in the arms of Morpheus–or rather on
a cot in the convento–I desire for you, my distinguished
friend, a pleasant night and take leave of you until tomorrow,
which will be the great day.

Your affectionate friend,

SAN DIEGO, November 11.

THE CORRESPONDENT.”

Thus wrote the worthy correspondent. Now let us see what Capitan
Martin wrote to his friend, Luis Chiquito:

“DEAR CHOY,–Come a-running if you can, for there’s something
doing at the fiesta. Just imagine, Capitan Joaquin is almost
broke. Capitan Tiago has doubled up on him three times and
won at the first turn of the cards each time, so that Capitan
Manuel, the owner of the house, is growing smaller every
minute from sheer joy. Padre Damaso smashed a lamp with his
fist because up to now he hasn’t won on a single card. The
Consul has lost on his cocks and in the bank all that he won
from us at the fiesta of Biñan and at that of the Virgin of
the Pillar in Santa Cruz.

“We expected Capitan Tiago to bring us his future son-in-law,
the rich heir of Don Rafael, but it seems that he wishes to
imitate his father, for he does not even show himself. It’s
a pity, for it seems he never will be any use to us.

“Carlos the Chinaman is making a big fortune with the
_liam-pó_. I suspect that he carries something hidden,
probably a charm, for he complains constantly of headaches and
keeps his head bandaged, and when the wheel of the _liam-pó_
is slowing down he leans over, almost touching it, as if he
were looking at it closely. I am shocked, because I know more
stories of the same kind.

“Good-by, Choy. My birds are well and my wife is happy and
having a good time.

Your friend,

MARTIN ARISTORENAS.”

Ibarra had received a perfumed note which Andeng, Maria Clara’s
foster-sister, delivered to him on the evening of the first day of
the fiesta. This note said:

“CRISOSTOMO,–It has been over a day since you have shown
yourself. I have heard that you are ill and have prayed for
you and lighted two candles, although papa says that you are
not seriously ill. Last night and today I’ve been bored by
requests to play on the piano and by invitations to dance. I
didn’t know before that there are so many tiresome people
in the world! If it were not for Padre Damaso, who tries to
entertain me by talking to me and telling me many things, I
would have shut myself up in my room and gone to sleep. Write
me what the matter is with you and I’ll tell papa to visit
you. For the present I send Andeng to make you some tea,
as she knows how to prepare it well, probably better than
your servants do.

MARIA CLARA.”

“P.S. If you don’t come tomorrow, I won’t go to the
ceremony. _Vale!_”

CHAPTER XXIX

The Morning

At the first flush of dawn bands of music awoke the tired people of the
town with lively airs. Life and movement reawakened, the bells began
to chime, and the explosions commenced. It was the last day of the
fiesta, in fact the fiesta proper. Much was hoped for, even more than
on the previous day. The Brethren of the Venerable Tertiary Order were
more numerous than those of the Holy Rosary, so they smiled piously,
secure that they would humiliate their rivals. They had purchased a
greater number of tapers, wherefor the Chinese dealers had reaped a
harvest and in gratitude were thinking of being baptized, although
some remarked that this was not so much on account of their faith in
Catholicism as from a desire to get a wife. To this the pious women
answered, “Even so, the marriage of so many Chinamen at once would
be little short of a miracle and their wives would convert them.”

The people arrayed themselves in their best clothes and dragged out
from their strong-boxes all their jewelry. The sharpers and gamblers
all shone in embroidered camisas with large diamond studs, heavy
gold chains, and white straw hats. Only the old Sage went his way
as usual in his dark-striped sinamay camisa buttoned up to the neck,
loose shoes, and wide gray felt hat.

“You look sadder than ever!” the teniente-mayor accosted him. “Don’t
you want us to be happy now and then, since we have so much to
weep over?”

“To be happy doesn’t mean to act the fool,” answered the old man. “It’s
the senseless orgy of every year! And all for no end but to squander
money, when there is so much misery and want. Yes, I understand it all,
it’s the same orgy, the revel to drown the woes of all.”

“You know that I share your opinion, though,” replied Don Filipo,
half jestingly and half in earnest. “I have defended it, but what
can one do against the gobernadorcillo and the curate?”

“Resign!” was the old man’s curt answer as he moved away.

Don Filipo stood perplexed, staring after the old man. “Resign!” he
muttered as he made his way toward the church. “Resign! Yes, if this
office were an honor and not a burden, yes, I would resign.”

The paved court in front of the church was filled with people; men
and women, young and old, dressed in their best clothes, all crowded
together, came and went through the wide doors. There was a smell
of powder, of flowers, of incense, and of perfumes, while bombs,
rockets, and serpent-crackers made the women run and scream, the
children laugh. One band played in front of the convento, another
escorted the town officials, and still others marched about the
streets, where floated and waved a multitude of banners. Variegated
colors and lights distracted the sight, melodies and explosions the
hearing, while the bells kept up a ceaseless chime. Moving all about
were carriages whose horses at times became frightened, frisked and
reared all of which, while not included in the program of the fiesta,
formed a show in itself, free and by no means the least entertaining.

The _hermano mayor_ for this day had sent servants to seek in the
streets for whomsoever they might invite, as did he who gave the
feast of which the Gospel tells us. Almost by force were urged
invitations to partake of chocolate, coffee, tea, and sweetmeats,
these invitations not seldom reaching the proportions of a demand.

There was to be celebrated the high mass, that known as the dalmatic,
like the one of the day before, about which the worthy correspondent
wrote, only that now the officiating priest was to be Padre Salvi,
and that the alcalde of the province, with many other Spaniards and
persons of note, was to attend it in order to hear Padre Damaso,
who enjoyed a great reputation in the province. Even the alferez,
smarting under the preachments of Padre Salvi, would also attend in
order to give evidence of his good-will and to recompense himself,
if possible, for the bad spells the curate had caused him.

Such was the reputation of Padre Damaso that the correspondent wrote
beforehand to the editor of his newspaper:

“As was announced in my badly executed account of yesterday, so it
has come to pass. We have had the especial pleasure of listening
to the Very Reverend Fray Damaso Verdolagas, former curate of this
town, recently transferred to a larger parish in recognition of
his meritorious services. The illustrious and holy orator occupied
the pulpit of the Holy Ghost and preached a most eloquent and
profound sermon, which edified and left marveling all the faithful
who had waited so anxiously to see spring from his fecund lips
the restoring fountain of eternal life. Sublimity of conception,
boldness of imagination, novelty of phraseology, gracefulness of style,
naturalness of gestures, cleverness of speech, vigor of ideas–these
are the traits of the Spanish Bossuet, who has justly earned such
a high reputation not only among the enlightened Spaniards but even
among the rude Indians and the cunning sons of the Celestial Empire.”

But the confiding correspondent almost saw himself obliged to erase
what he had written. Padre Damaso complained of a cold that he had
contracted the night before, for after singing a few merry songs he
had eaten three plates of ice-cream and attended the show for a short
time. As a result of all this, he wished to renounce his part as the
spokesman of God to men, but as no one else was to be found who was so
well versed in the life and miracles of San Diego,–the curate knew
them, it is true, but it was his place to celebrate mass,–the other
priests unanimously declared that the tone of Padre Damaso’s voice
could not be improved upon and that it would be a great pity for
him to forego delivering such an eloquent sermon as he had written
and memorized. Accordingly, his former housekeeper prepared for him
lemonade, rubbed his chest and neck with liniment and olive-oil,
massaged him, and wrapped him in warm cloths. He drank some raw
eggs beaten up in wine and for the whole morning neither talked nor
breakfasted, taking only a glass of milk and a cup of chocolate with a
dozen or so of crackers, heroically renouncing his usual fried chicken
and half of a Laguna cheese, because the housekeeper affirmed that
cheese contained salt and grease, which would aggravate his cough.

“All for the sake of meriting heaven and of converting us!” exclaimed
the Tertiary Sisters, much affected, upon being informed of these
sacrifices.

“May Our Lady of Peace punish him!” muttered the Sisters of the Holy
Rosary, unable to forgive him for leaning to the side of their rivals.

At half past eight the procession started from the shadow of the
canvas canopy. It was the same as that of the previous day but for
the introduction of one novelty: the older members of the Venerable
Tertiary Order and some maidens dressed as old women displayed long
gowns, the poor having them of coarse cloth and the rich of silk,
or rather of Franciscan _guingón_, as it is called, since it is most
used by the reverend Franciscan friars. All these sacred garments
were genuine, having come from the convento in Manila, where the
people may obtain them as alms at a fixed price, if a commercial term
may be permitted; this fixed price was liable to increase but not to
reduction. In the convento itself and in the nunnery of St. Clara [86]
are sold these same garments which possess, besides the special merit
of gaining many indulgences for those who may be shrouded in them,
the very special merit of being dearer in proportion as they are old,
threadbare, and unserviceable. We write this in case any pious reader
need such sacred relics–or any cunning rag-picker of Europe wish to
make a fortune by taking to the Philippines a consignment of patched
and grimy garments, since they are valued at sixteen pesos or more,
according to their more or less tattered appearance.

San Diego de Alcala was borne on a float adorned with plates of
repoussé silver. The saint, though rather thin, had an ivory bust
which gave him a severe and majestic mien, in spite of abundant kingly
bangs like those of the Negrito. His mantle was of satin embroidered
with gold.

Our venerable father, St. Francis, followed the Virgin as on yesterday,
except that the priest under the canopy this time was Padre Salvi
and not the graceful Padre Sibyla, so refined in manner. But if the
former lacked a beautiful carriage he had more than enough unction,
walking half bent over with lowered eyes and hands crossed in mystic
attitude. The bearers of the canopy were the same cabezas de barangay,
sweating with satisfaction at seeing themselves at the same time
semi-sacristans, collectors of the tribute, redeemers of poor erring
humanity, and consequently Christs who were giving their blood for
the sins of others. The surpliced coadjutor went from float to float
carrying the censer, with the smoke from which he from time to time
regaled the nostrils of the curate, who then became even more serious
and grave.

So the procession moved forward slowly and deliberately to the
sound of bombs, songs, and religious melodies let loose into the
air by bands of musicians that followed the floats. Meanwhile,
the _hermano mayor_ distributed candles with such zeal that many of
the participants returned to their homes with light enough for four
nights of card-playing. Devoutly the curious spectators knelt at the
passage of the float of the Mother of God, reciting Credos and Salves
fervently. In front of a house in whose gaily decorated windows were
to be seen the alcalde, Capitan Tiago, Maria Clara, and Ibarra, with
various Spaniards and young ladies, the float was detained. Padre
Salvi happened to raise his eyes, but made not the slightest movement
that might have been taken for a salute or a recognition of them. He
merely stood erect, so that his cope fell over his shoulders more
gracefully and elegantly.

In the street under the window was a young woman of pleasing
countenance, dressed in deep mourning, carrying in her arms a young
baby. She must have been a nursemaid only, for the child was white
and ruddy while she was brown and had hair blacker than jet. Upon
seeing the curate the tender infant held out its arms, laughed with
the laugh that neither causes nor is caused by sorrow, and cried out
stammeringly in the midst of a brief silence, “Pa-pa! Papa! Papa!” The
young woman shuddered, slapped her hand hurriedly over the baby’s
mouth and ran away in dismay, with the baby crying.

Malicious ones winked at each other, and the Spaniards who had
witnessed the short scene smiled, while the natural pallor of Padre
Salvi changed to the hue of poppies. Yet the people were wrong,
for the curate was not acquainted with the woman at all, she being
a stranger in the town.

CHAPTER XXX

In the Church

From end to end the huge barn that men dedicate as a home to the
Creator of all existing things was filled with people. Pushing,
crowding, and crushing one another, the few who were leaving and
the many who were entering filled the air with exclamations of
distress. Even from afar an arm would be stretched out to dip the
fingers in the holy water, but at the critical moment the surging crowd
would force the hand away. Then would be heard a complaint, a trampled
woman would upbraid some one, but the pushing would continue. Some old
people might succeed in dipping their fingers in the water, now the
color of slime, where the population of a whole town, with transients
besides, had washed. With it they would anoint themselves devoutly,
although with difficulty, on the neck, on the crown of the head,
on the forehead, on the chin, on the chest, and on the abdomen,
in the assurance that thus they were sanctifying those parts and
that they would suffer neither stiff neck, headache, consumption,
nor indigestion. The young people, whether they were not so ailing or
did not believe in that holy prophylactic, hardly more than moistened
the tip of a finger–and this only in order that the devout might
have no cause to talk–and pretended to make the sign of the cross on
their foreheads, of course without touching them. “It may be blessed
and everything you may wish,” some young woman doubtless thought,
“but it has such a color!”

It was difficult to breathe in the heat amid the smells of the human
animal, but the preacher was worth all these inconveniences, as the
sermon was costing the town two hundred and fifty pesos. Old Tasio
had said: “Two hundred and fifty pesos for a sermon! One man on one
occasion! Only a third of what comedians cost, who will work for
three nights! Surely you must be very rich!”

“What has that to do with the drama?” testily inquired the nervous
leader of the Tertiary Brethren. “With the drama souls go to hell but
with the sermon to heaven! If he had asked a thousand, we would have
paid him and should still owe him gratitude.”

“After all, you’re right,” replied the Sage, “for the sermon is more
amusing to me at least than the drama.”

“But I am not amused even by the drama!” yelled the other furiously.

“I believe it, since you understand one about as well as you do the
other!” And the impious old man moved away without paying any attention
to the insults and the direful prophecies that the irritated leader
offered concerning his future existence.

While they were waiting for the alcalde, the people sweated and yawned,
agitating the air with fans, hats, and handkerchiefs. Children shouted
and cried, which kept the sacristans busy putting them out of the
sacred edifice. Such action brought to the dull and conscientious
leader of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary this thought: “‘Suffer
little children to come unto me,’ said Our Savior, it is true, but
here must be understood, children who do not cry.”

An old woman in a _guingón_ habit, Sister Puté, chid her granddaughter,
a child of six years, who was kneeling at her side, “O lost one, give
heed, for you’re going to hear a sermon like that of Good Friday!” Here
the old lady gave her a pinch to awaken the piety of the child,
who made a grimace, stuck out her nose, and wrinkled up her eyebrows.

Some men squatted on their heels and dozed beside the confessional. One
old man nodding caused our old woman to believe that he was mumbling
prayers, so, running her fingers rapidly over the beads of her
rosary–as that was the most reverent way of respecting the designs
of Heaven–little by little she set herself to imitating hint.

Ibarra stood in one corner while Maria Clara knelt near the high
altar in a space which the curate had had the courtesy to order the
sacristans to clear for her. Capitan Tiago, in a frock coat, sat on
one of the benches provided for the authorities, which caused the
children who did not know him to take him for another gobernadorcillo
and to be wary about getting near him.

At last the alcalde with his staff arrived, proceeding from the
sacristy and taking their seats in magnificent chairs placed on strips
of carpet. The alcalde wore a full-dress uniform and displayed the
cordon of Carlos III, with four or five other decorations. The people
did not recognize him.

“_Abá!_” exclaimed a rustic. “A civil-guard dressed as a comedian!”

“Fool!” rejoined a bystander, nudging him with his elbow. “It’s the
Prince Villardo that we saw at the show last night!”

So the alcalde went up several degrees in the popular estimation by
becoming an enchanted prince, a vanquisher of giants.

When the mass began, those who were seated arose and those who
had been asleep were awakened by the ringing of the bells and the
sonorous voices of the singers. Padre Salvi, in spite of his gravity,
wore a look of deep satisfaction, since there were serving him as
deacon and subdeacon none less than two Augustinians. Each one, as
it came his turn, sang well, in a more or less nasal tone and with
unintelligible articulation, except the officiating priest himself,
whose voice trembled somewhat, even getting out of tune at times,
to the great wonder of those who knew him. Still he moved about
with precision and elegance while he recited the _Dominus vobiscum_
unctuously, dropping his head a little to the side and gazing toward
heaven. Seeing him receive the smoke from the incense one would
have said that Galen was right in averring the passage of smoke in
the nasal canals to the head through a screen of ethmoids, since
he straightened himself, threw his head back, and moved toward the
middle of the altar with such pompousness and gravity that Capitan
Tiago found him more majestic than the Chinese comedian of the
night before, even though the latter had been dressed as an emperor,
paint-bedaubed, with beribboned sword, stiff beard like a horse’s
mane, and high-soled slippers. “Undoubtedly,” so his thoughts ran,
“a single curate of ours has more majesty than all the emperors.”

At length came the expected moment, that of hearing Padre Damaso. The
three priests seated themselves in their chairs in an edifying
attitude, as the worthy correspondent would say, the alcalde and
other persons of place and position following their example. The
music ceased.

The sudden transition from noise to silence awoke our aged Sister Puté,
who was already snoring under cover of the music. Like Segismundo,
[87] or like the cook in the story of the Sleeping Beauty, the first
thing that she did upon awaking was to whack her granddaughter on
the neck, as the child had also fallen asleep. The latter screamed,
but soon consoled herself at the sight of a woman who was beating her
breast with contrition and enthusiasm. All tried to place themselves
comfortably, those who had no benches squatting down on the floor or
on their heels.

Padre Damaso passed through the congregation preceded by two
sacristans and followed by another friar carrying a massive volume. He
disappeared as he went up the winding staircase, but his round head
soon reappeared, then his fat neck, followed immediately by his
body. Coughing slightly, he looked about him with assurance. He
noticed Ibarra and with a special wink gave to understand that he
would not overlook that youth in his prayers. Then he turned a look
of satisfaction upon Padre Sibyla and another of disdain upon Padre
Martin, the preacher of the previous day. This inspection concluded,
he turned cautiously and said, “Attention, brother!” to his companion,
who opened the massive volume.

But the sermon deserves a separate chapter. A young man who was then
learning stenography and who idolizes great orators, took it down;
thanks to this fact, we can here present a selection from the sacred
oratory of those regions.

CHAPTER XXXI

The Sermon

Fray Damaso began slowly in a low voice: “‘_Et spiritum bonum dedisti,
qui doceret eos, et manna tuum non prohibuisti ab ore eorum, et aquam
dedisti eis in siti_. And thou gavest thy good Spirit to teach them,
and thy manna thou didst not withhold from their mouth, and thou
gavest them water for their thirst!’ Words which the Lord spoke
through the mouth of Esdras, in the second book, the ninth chapter,
and the twentieth verse.” [88]

Padre Sibyla glanced in surprise at the preacher. Padre Manuel Martin
turned pale and swallowed hard that was better than his! Whether Padre
Damaso noticed this or whether he was still hoarse, the fact is that
he coughed several times as he placed both hands on the rail of the
pulpit. The Holy Ghost was above his head, freshly painted, clean and
white, with rose-colored beak and feet. “Most honorable sir” (to the
alcalde), “most holy priests, Christians, brethren in Jesus Christ!”

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

“The first part of the sermon is to be in Spanish and the other in
Tagalog; _loquebantur omnes linguas_.”

After the salutations and the pause he extended his right hand
majestically toward the altar, at the same time fixing his gaze on
the alcalde. He slowly crossed his arms without uttering a word, then
suddenly passing from calmness to action, threw back his head and
made a sign toward the main door, sawing the air with his open hand
so forcibly that the sacristans interpreted the gesture as a command
and closed the doors. The alferez became uneasy, doubting whether
he should go or stay, when the preacher began in a strong voice,
full and sonorous; truly his old housekeeper was skilled in medicine.

“Radiant and resplendent is the altar, wide is the great door, the
air is the vehicle of the holy and divine words that will spring
from my mouth! Hear ye then with the ears of your souls and hearts
that the words of the Lord may not fall on the stony soil where the
birds of Hell may consume them, but that ye may grow and flourish
as holy seed in the field of our venerable and seraphic father,
St. Francis! O ye great sinners, captives of the Moros of the soul
that infest the sea of eternal life in the powerful craft of the
flesh and the world, ye who are laden with the fetters of lust and
avarice, and who toil in the galleys of the infernal Satan, look
ye here with reverent repentance upon him who saved souls from the
captivity of the devil, upon the intrepid Gideon, upon the valiant
David, upon the triumphant Roland of Christianity, upon the celestial
Civil Guard, more powerful than all the Civil Guards together, now
existing or to exist!” (The alferez frowned.) “Yes, señor alferez,
more valiant and powerful, he who with no other weapon than a wooden
cross boldly vanquishes the eternal tulisan of the shades and all
the hosts of Lucifer, and who would have exterminated them forever,
were not the spirits immortal! This marvel of divine creation, this
wonderful prodigy, is the blessed Diego of Alcala, who, if I may avail
myself of a comparison, since comparisons aid in the comprehension of
incomprehensible things, as another has said, I say then that this
great saint is merely a private soldier, a steward in the powerful
company which our seraphic father, St. Francis, sends from Heaven,
and to which I have the honor to belong as a corporal or sergeant,
by the grace of God!”

The “rude Indians,” as the correspondent would say, caught nothing
more from this paragraph than the words “Civil Guard,” “tulisan,”
“San Diego,” and “St. Francis,” so, observing the wry face of the
alferez and the bellicose gestures of the preacher, they deduced that
the latter was reprehending him for not running down the tulisanes. San
Diego and St. Francis would be commissioned in this duty and justly
so, as is proved by a picture existing in the convento at Manila,
representing St. Francis, by means of his girdle only, holding back the
Chinese invasion in the first years after the discovery. The devout
were accordingly not a little rejoiced and thanked God for this aid,
not doubting that once the tulisanes had disappeared, St. Francis would
also destroy the Civil Guard. With redoubled attention, therefore,
they listened to Padre Damaso, as he continued:

“Most honorable sir” Great affairs are great affairs even by the side
of the small and the small are always small even by the side of the
great. So History says, but since History hits the nail on the head
only once in a hundred times, being a thing made by men, and men make
mistakes–_errarle es hominum_, [89] as Cicero said–he who opens his
mouth makes mistakes, as they say in my country then the result is
that there are profound truths which History does not record. These
truths, most honorable sir, the divine Spirit spoke with that supreme
wisdom which human intelligence has not comprehended since the times
of Seneca and Aristotle, those wise priests of antiquity, even to our
sinful days, and these truths are that not always are small affairs
small, but that they are great, not by the side of the little things,
but by the side of the grandest of the earth and of the heavens and
of the air and of the clouds and of the waters and of space and of
life and of death!”

“Amen!” exclaimed the leader of the Tertiaries, crossing himself.

With this figure of rhetoric, which he had learned from a famous
preacher in Manila, Padre Damaso wished to startle his audience,
and in fact his holy ghost was so fascinated with such great truths
that it was necessary to kick him to remind him of his business.

“Patent to your eyes–” prompted the holy ghost below.

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

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

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

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

“All should know by heart the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the
saints and then I should not have to preach to you, O sinners! You
should know such important and necessary things as the Lord’s
Prayer, although many of you have forgotten it, living now as do
the Protestants or heretics, who, like the Chinese, respect not the
ministers of God. But the worse for you, O ye accursed, moving as
you are toward damnation!”

“_Abá_, Pale Lamaso, what!” [90] muttered Carlos, the Chinese,
looking angrily at the preacher, who continued to extemporize,
emitting a series of apostrophes and imprecations.

“You will die in final unrepentance, O race of heretics! God punishes
you even on this earth with jails and prisons! Women should flee from
you, the rulers should hang all of you so that the seed of Satan
be not multiplied in the vineyard of the Lord! Jesus Christ said:
‘If you have an evil member that leads you to sin, cut it off, and
cast it into the fire–‘”

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

“Who of you, O sinners, would lick the sores of a poor and ragged
beggar? Who? Let him answer by raising his hand! None! That I knew, for
only a saint like Diego de Alcala would do it. He licked all the sores,
saying to an astonished brother, ‘Thus is this sick one cured!’ O
Christian charity! O matchless example! O virtue of virtues! O
inimitable pattern! O spotless talisman!” Here he continued a long
series of exclamations, the while crossing his arms and raising and
lowering them as though he wished to fly or to frighten the birds away.

“Before dying he spoke in Latin, without knowing Latin! Marvel, O
sinners! You, in spite of what you study, for which blows are given
to you, you do not speak Latin, and you will die without speaking
it! To speak Latin is a gift of God and therefore the Church uses
Latin! I, too, speak Latin! Was God going to deny this consolation
to His beloved Diego? Could he die, could he be permitted to die,
without speaking Latin? Impossible! God wouldn’t be just, He Wouldn’t
be God! So he talked in Latin, and of that fact the writers of his
time bear witness!”

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

All fell upon their knees and raised a murmur like the humming of a
thousand bees. The alcalde laboriously bent one knee and wagged his
head in a disgusted manner, while the alferez looked pale and penitent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is common knowledge that none of those present understood the drift
of the sermon. They were so dull of understanding and the preacher
was so profound, as Sister Rufa said, that the audience waited in
vain for an opportunity to weep, and the lost grandchild of the
blessed old woman went to sleep again. Nevertheless, this part had
greater consequences than the first, at least for certain hearers,
as we shall see later.

He began with a “_Mana capatir con cristiano_,” [91] followed by an
avalanche of untranslatable phrases. He talked of the soul, of Hell,
of “_mahal na santo pintacasi_,” [92] of the Indian sinners and of
the virtuous Franciscan Fathers.

“The devil!” exclaimed one of the two irreverent Manilans to his
companion. “That’s all Greek to me. I’m going.” Seeing the doors
closed, he went out through the sacristy, to the great scandal of
the people and especially of the preacher, who turned pale and paused
in the midst of his sentence. Some looked for a violent apostrophe,
but Padre Damaso contented himself with watching the delinquent,
and then he went on with his sermon.

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

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

Meanwhile, the preacher’s enthusiasm was rising by degrees. He spoke
of the times when every Filipino upon meeting a priest took off
his hat, knelt on the ground, and kissed the priest’s hand. “But
now,” he added, “you only take off your salakot or your felt hat,
which you have placed on the side of your head in order not to
ruffle your nicely combed hair! You content yourself with saying,
‘good day, _among_,’ and there are proud dabblers in a little Latin
who, from having studied in Manila or in Europe, believe that they
have the right to shake a priest’s hand instead of kissing it. Ah,
the day of judgment will quickly come, the world will end, as many
saints have foretold; it will rain fire, stones, and ashes to chastise
your pride!” The people were exhorted not to imitate such “savages”
but to hate and shun them, since they were beyond the religious pale.

“Hear what the holy decrees say! When an Indian meets a curate in the
street he should bow his head and offer his neck for his master to
step upon. If the curate and the Indian are both on horseback, then
the Indian should stop and take off his hat or salakot reverently;
and finally, if the Indian is on horseback and the curate on foot,
the Indian should alight and not mount again until the curate has
told him to go on, or is far away. This is what the holy decrees say
and he who does not obey will be excommunicated.”

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

“Then–keep on going!” answered the latter, who was a casuist.

But in spite of the cries and gestures of the preacher many fell
asleep or wandered in their attention, since these sermons were
ever the same. In vain some devout women tried to sigh and sob
over the sins of the wicked; they had to desist in the attempt from
lack of supporters. Even Sister Puté was thinking of something quite
different. A man beside her had dropped off to sleep in such a way that
he had fallen over and crushed her habit, so the good woman caught
up one of her clogs and with blows began to wake him, crying out,
“Get away, savage, brute, devil, carabao, cur, accursed!”

Naturally, this caused somewhat of a stir. The preacher paused and
arched his eyebrows, surprised at so great a scandal. Indignation
choked the words in his throat and he was able only to bellow, while
he pounded the pulpit with his fists. This had the desired effect,
however, for the old woman, though still grumbling, dropped her clog
and, crossing herself repeatedly, fell devoutly upon her knees.

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

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

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

But at last God said “Enough”; the orator became weary and descended
from the pulpit. All knelt to render thanks to God. The alcalde rubbed
his eyes, stretched out one arm as if to waken himself, and yawned
with a deep _aah_. The mass continued.

When all were kneeling and the priests had lowered their heads while
the _Incarnatus est_ was being sung, a man murmured in Ibarra’s ear,
“At the laying of the cornerstone, don’t move away from the curate,
don’t go down into the trench, don’t go near the stone–your life
depends upon it!”

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

CHAPTER XXXII

The Derrick

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

There at the top in the shadow made by the posts, the garlands, and
the banners, hung fastened with cords and iron hooks an unusually
large three-wheeled pulley over the polished sides of which passed
in a crotch three cables even larger than the others. These held
suspended the smooth, massive stone hollowed out in the center
to form with a similar hole in the lower stone, already in place,
the little space intended to contain the records of contemporaneous
history, such as newspapers, manuscripts, money, medals, and the like,
and perhaps to transmit them to very remote generations. The cables
extended downward and connected with another equally large pulley
at the bottom of the apparatus, whence they passed to the drum of
a windlass held in place by means of heavy timbers. This windlass,
which could be turned with two cranks, increased the strength of a
man a hundredfold by the movement of notched wheels, although it is
true that what was gained in force was lost in velocity.

“Look,” said the yellowish individual, turning the crank, “look,
Ñor Juan, how with merely my own strength I can raise and lower the
great stone. It’s so well arranged that at will I can regulate the
rise or fall inch by inch, so that a man in the trench can easily
fit the stones together while I manage it from here.”

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

“Who taught you mechanics?” asked Ñor Juan.

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

“Who taught your father?”

“Don Saturnino, the grandfather of Don Crisostomo.”

“I didn’t know that Don Saturnino–”

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

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

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

Tasio, the Sage, who was walking about there thoughtfully, murmured:
“Perchance some day when this edifice, which is today begun, has grown
old and after many vicissitudes has fallen into ruins, either from
the visitations of Nature or the destructive hand of man, and above
the ruins grow the ivy and the moss,–then when Time has destroyed the
moss and ivy, and scattered the ashes of the ruins themselves to the
winds, wiping from the pages of History the recollection of it and
of those who destroyed it, long since lost from the memory of man:
perchance when the races have been buried in their mantle of earth or
have disappeared, only by accident the pick of some miner striking a
spark from this rock will dig up mysteries and enigmas from the depths
of the soil. Perchance the learned men of the nation that dwells in
these regions will labor, as do the present Egyptologists, with the
remains of a great civilization which occupied itself with eternity,
little dreaming that upon it was descending so long a night. Perchance
some learned professor will say to his students of five or six years of
age, in a language spoken by all mankind, ‘Gentlemen, after studying
and examining carefully the objects found in the depths of our soil,
after deciphering some symbols and translating a few words, we can
without the shadow of a doubt conclude that these objects belonged to
the barbaric age of man, to that obscure era which we are accustomed
to speak of as fabulous. In short, gentlemen, in order that you may
form an approximate idea of the backwardness of our ancestors, it will
be sufficient that I point out to you the fact that those who lived
here not only recognized kings, but also for the purpose of settling
questions of local government they had to go to the other side of the
earth, just as if we should say that a body in order to move itself
would need to consult a head existing in another part of the globe,
perhaps in regions now sunk under the waves. This incredible defect,
however improbable it may seem to us now, must have existed, if we
take into consideration the circumstances surrounding those beings,
whom I scarcely dare to call human! In those primitive times men were
still (or at least so they believed) in direct communication with their
Creator, since they had ministers from Him, beings different from the
rest, designated always with the mysterious letters “M. R. P.”, [93]
concerning the meaning of which our learned men do not agree. According
to the professor of languages whom we have here, rather mediocre, since
he does not speak more than a hundred of the imperfect languages of
the past, “M. R. P.” may signify “_Muy Rico Propietario_.” [94] These
ministers were a species of demigods, very virtuous and enlightened,
and were very eloquent orators, who, in spite of their great power and
prestige, never committed the slightest fault, which fact strengthens
my belief in supposing that they were of a nature distinct from the
rest. If this were not sufficient to sustain my belief, there yet
remains the argument, disputed by no one and day by day confirmed,
that these mysterious beings could make God descend to earth merely
by saying a few words, that God could speak only through their mouths,
that they ate His flesh and drank His blood, and even at times allowed
the common folk to do the same.'”

These and other opinions the skeptical Sage put into the mouths of
all the corrupt men of the future. Perhaps, as may easily be the case,
old Tasio was mistaken, but we must return to our story.

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

The crowd, resplendent in bright-colored garments, gathered as people
fled from the burning sun, some into the shade of the trees, others
under the arbor. The boys climbed up into the branches or on the stones
in order to see the ceremony better, making up in this way for their
short stature. They looked with envy at the clean and well-dressed
school children, who occupied a place especially assigned to them and
whose parents were overjoyed, as they, poor country folk, would see
their children eat from a white tablecloth, almost the same as the
curate or the alcalde. Thinking of this alone was enough to drive
away hunger, and such an event would be recounted from father to son.

Soon were heard the distant strains of the band, which was preceded
by a motley throng made up of persons of all ages, in clothing of
all colors. The yellowish individual became uneasy and with a glance
examined his whole apparatus. A curious countryman followed his glance
and watched all his movements; this was Elias, who had also come to
witness the ceremony, but in his salakot and rough attire he was almost
unrecognizable. He had secured a very good position almost at the side
of the windlass, on the edge of the excavation. With the music came
the alcalde, the municipal officials, the friars, with the exception
of Padre Damaso, and the Spanish employees. Ibarra was conversing with
the alcalde, of whom he had made quite a friend since he had addressed
to him some well-turned compliments over his decorations and ribbons,
for aristocratic pretensions were the weakness of his Honor. Capitan
Tiago, the alferez, and some other wealthy personages came in the
gilded cluster of maidens displaying their silken parasols. Padre
Salvi followed, silent and thoughtful as ever.

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

As they drew nearer the youth felt his heart beat faster. Instinctively
he glanced at the strange scaffolding raised there. He saw the
yellowish individual salute him respectfully and gaze at him fixedly
for a moment. With surprise he noticed Elias, who with a significant
wink gave him to understand that he should remember the warning in
the church.

The curate put on his sacerdotal robes and commenced the ceremony,
while the one-eyed sacristan held the book and an acolyte the
hyssop and jar of holy water. The rest stood about him uncovered,
and maintained such a profound silence that, in spite of his reading
in a low tone, it was apparent that Padre Salvi’s voice was trembling.

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

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

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

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

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

“People of San Diego! We have the honor to preside over a ceremony
whose importance you will not understand unless We tell you of it. A
school is being founded, and the school is the basis of society, the
school is the book in which is written the future of the nations! Show
us the schools of a people and We will show you what that people is.

“People of San Diego! Thank God, who has given you holy priests,
and the government of the mother country, which untiringly spreads
civilization through these fertile isles, protected beneath her
glorious mantle! Thank God, who has taken pity on you and sent you
these humble priests who enlighten you and teach you the divine
word! Thank the government, which has made, is making, and will
continue to make, so many sacrifices for you and your children!

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

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

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

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

Padre Salvi then seemed to seek for some one to whom he might give the
trowel. He looked doubtfully at Maria Clara, but changing his mind,
offered it to the escribano. The latter in gallantry offered it to
Maria Clara, who smilingly refused it. The friars, the employees,
and the alferez went down one after another, nor was Capitan Tiago
forgotten. Ibarra only was left, and the order was about to be given
for the yellowish individual to lower the stone when the curate
remembered the youth and said to him in a joking tone, with affected
familiarity:

“Aren’t you going to put on your trowelful, Señor Ibarra?”

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

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

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

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

Suddenly a crash was heard. The pulley tied at the base of the derrick
jumped up and after it the windlass, which struck the heavy posts like
a battering-ram. The timbers shook, the fastenings flew apart, and
the whole apparatus fell in a second with a frightful crash. A cloud
of dust arose, while a cry of horror from a thousand voices filled
the air. Nearly all fled; only a few dashed toward the trench. Maria
Clara and Padre Salvi remained in their places, pale, motionless,
and speechless.

When the dust had cleared away a little, they saw Ibarra standing among
beams, posts, and cables, between the windlass and the heavy stone,
which in its rapid descent had shaken and crushed everything. The youth
still held the trowel in his hand and was staring with frightened
eyes at the body of a man which lay at his feet half-buried among
the timbers.

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

“A miracle! A miracle!” shouted some.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They examined the corpse, placing their hands on the chest, but the
heart had ceased to beat. The blow had struck him on the head, and
blood was flowing from his nose, mouth, and ears. On his neck were
to be noticed some peculiar marks, four deep depressions toward the
back and one more somewhat larger on the other side, which induced
the belief that a hand of steel had caught him as in a pair of pincers.

The priests felicitated the youth warmly and shook his hand. The
Franciscan of humble aspect who had served as holy ghost for Padre
Damaso exclaimed with tearful eyes, “God is just, God is good!”

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

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

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

“Don Pascual!” exclaimed some of the Spaniards.

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

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

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

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

“The dead man is only an Indian!”

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

“An investigation shall be made right here!”

“Send for the directorcillo!”

“Arrest the foreman on the work! To the stocks with him!”

“To the stocks! Music! To the stocks with the foreman!”

“Señor Alcalde,” said Ibarra gravely, “if mourning will not resuscitate
the dead, much less will arresting this man about whose guilt we know
nothing. I will be security for his person and so I ask his liberty
for these days at least.”

“Very well! But don’t let him do it again!”

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

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

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

“A bad beginning, huh!” commented old Tasio, as he moved away.

CHAPTER XXXIII

Free Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do not talk in enigmas but try to express myself clearly; for your
greater security, it is better that your enemies think you unsuspecting
and unprepared.”

Ibarra recoiled. “My enemies? Have I enemies?”

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

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

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

“Do you know who my enemies are?”

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

For a long time after Elias had become silent Ibarra remained
thoughtful, not answering him or saying a word. “I’m sorry that that
man is dead!” he exclaimed at length. “From him something more might
have been learned.”

“If he had lived, he would have escaped from the trembling hand of
blind human justice. God has judged him, God has killed him, let God
be the only Judge!”

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

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

“You! So it was you–”

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

“But you in this instance–”

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

“Then you don’t believe in accidents?”

“Believing in accidents is like believing in miracles; both presuppose
that God does not know the future. What is an accident? An event
that no one has at all foreseen. What is a miracle? A contradiction,
an overturning of natural laws. Lack of foresight and contradiction
in the Intelligence that rules the machinery of the world indicate
two great defects.”

“Who are you?” Ibarra again asked with some awe.

“Have you ever studied?”

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

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

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

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

“When shall I see you again?” asked Ibarra.

“Whenever you wish and always when I can be of service to you. I am
still your debtor.”

CHAPTER XXXIV

The Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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

The friars gazed at one another with looks that seemed to say: “The
Captain-General is playing another one of his tricks, he is slighting
us, for he ought to stay at the convento,” but since this was the
thought of all they remained silent, none of them giving expression
to it.

“I was told of this yesterday,” said the alcalde, “but at that time
his Excellency had not yet fully decided.”

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

“With certainty, no. His Excellency likes to give surprises.”

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

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

The conversation again resumed its ordinary course.

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

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

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

“A splendid sermon–wonderful!” said the escribano.

“Magnificent–profound!” added the correspondent.

“To be able to talk so much, it’s necessary to have the lungs that he
has,” observed Padre Manuel Martin. The Augustinian did not concede
him anything more than lungs.

“And his fertility of expression!” added Padre Salvi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your Honor is becoming poetical!” exclaimed the escribano gleefully,
and both emptied their wine-glasses.

“I can’t help it,” said the alcalde as he wiped his lips. “Opportunity,
while it doesn’t always make the thief, makes the poet. In my youth
I composed verses which were really not bad.”

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

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

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

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

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

In the other kiosk the children were eating under the direction of
their teacher. For Filipino children they were rather noisy, since
at the table and in the presence of other persons their sins are
generally more of omission than of commission. Perhaps one who was
using the tableware improperly would be corrected by his neighbor
and from this there would arise a noisy discussion in which each
would have his partisans. Some would say the spoon, others the knife
or the fork, and as no one was considered an authority there would
arise the contention that God is Christ or, more clearly, a dispute
of theologians. Their fathers and mothers winked, made signs, nudged
one another, and showed their happiness by their smiles.

“Ya!” exclaimed a countrywoman to an old man who was mashing buyo in
his _kalikut_, “in spite of the fact that my husband is opposed to it,
my Andoy shall be a priest. It’s true that we’re poor, but we’ll work,
and if necessary we’ll beg alms. There are not lacking those who will
give money so that the poor may take holy orders. Does not Brother
Mateo, a man who does not lie, say that Pope Sextus was a herder of
carabaos in Batangas? Well then, look at my Andoy, see if he hasn’t
already the face of a St. Vincent!” The good mother watered at the
mouth to see her son take hold of a fork with both hands.

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

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

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

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

“Send him to my house tomorrow, Petra,” cried the old man
enthusiastically, “and I’ll teach him to weave the _nito!_”

“Huh! Get out! What are you dreaming about, grand-dad? Do you still
think that the Popes even move their hands? The curate, being nothing
more than a curate, only works in the mass–when he turns around! The
Archbishop doesn’t even turn around, for he says mass sitting down. So
the Pope–the Pope says it in bed with a fan! What are you thinking
about?”

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

Another countryman here joined in the conversation, saying, “It’s all
settled, cumare, [95] my son has got to be a doctor, there’s nothing
like being a doctor!”

“Doctor! What are you talking about, cumpare?” retorted Petra. “There’s
nothing like being a curate!”

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

“Excuse me! The curate, by making three or four turns and saying
_deminos pabiscum_, [96] eats God and makes money. All, even the women,
tell him their secrets.”

“And the doctor? What do you think a doctor is? The doctor sees all
that the women have, he feels the pulses of the _dalagas!_ I’d just
like to be a doctor for a week!”

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

“What of that? Do the doctors eat dried fish? Do they soil their
fingers eating salt?”

“Does the curate dirty his hands as your doctors do? He has great
estates and when he works he works with music and has sacristans to
help him.”

“But the confessing, cumare? Isn’t that work?”

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

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

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

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

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

“We were at the toasts,” answered the alcalde. “Señor Ibarra was
mentioning all who have helped him in his philanthropic enterprise
and was speaking of the architect when your Reverence–”

“Well, I don’t know anything about architecture,” interrupted Padre
Damaso, “but I laugh at architects and the fools who employ them. Here
you have it–I drew the plan of this church and it’s perfectly
constructed, so an English jeweler who stopped in the convento one
day assured me. To draw a plan one needs only to have two fingers’
breadth of forehead.”

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

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

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

“But your Reverence should consider–”

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

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

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

“But, Padre Damaso–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You, here! You have been silent, now it is my turn! I have tried to
avoid this, but God brings me to it–let God be the judge!” The youth
was breathing laboriously, but with a hand of iron he held down the
Franciscan, who was struggling vainly to free himself.

“My heart beats tranquilly, my hand is sure,” he began, looking
around him. “First, is there one among you, one who has not loved his
father, who was born in such shame and humiliation that he hates his
memory? You see? You understand this silence? Priest of a God of peace,
with your mouth full of sanctity and religion and your heart full of
evil, you cannot know what a father is, or you might have thought of
your own! In all this crowd which you despise there is not one like
you! You are condemned!”

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

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

He raised his hand, but with the swiftness of light a girlish form
put itself between them and delicate fingers restrained the avenging
arm. It was Maria Clara. Ibarra stared at her with a look that seemed
to reflect madness. Slowly his clenched fingers relaxed, letting
fall the body of the Franciscan and the knife. Covering his face,
he fled through the crowd.

CHAPTER XXXV

Comments

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

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

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

“What did he do? Did he beat up the coadjutor again?”

“What did he do? Tell us about it!”

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

“Yes, we saw him. Padre Damaso took note of him.”

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

“If that had happened to me–” hissed a student between his teeth.

“I don’t approve of the action of the Franciscan,” said another,
“since Religion ought not to be imposed on any one as a punishment
or a penance. But I am almost glad of it, for I know that young man,
I know that he’s from San Pedro Makati and that he talks Tagalog
well. Now he wants to be taken for a recent arrival from Russia and
prides himself on appearing not to know the language of his fathers.”

“Then God makes them and they rush together!” [97]

“Still we must protest against such actions,” exclaimed another
student. “To remain silent would be to assent to the abuse, and what
has happened may be repeated with any one of us. We’re going back to
the times of Nero!”

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

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

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

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

“Do you think so?” asked Capitan Basilio curiously.

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

“But, gentlemen,” interrupted the gobernadorcillo, “what can we
do? What can the people do? Happen what will, the friars are always
right!”

“They are _always_ right because we _always_ allow them to be,”
answered Don Filipo impatiently, putting double stress on the
italicized word. “Let us be right once and then we’ll talk.”

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

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

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

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

The women had opinions of still another kind.

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

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

“What are you saying, Capitana Maria!” exclaimed the first, clasping
her hands.

“It pleases me to see a son defend the memory of his parents, Capitana
Tinay. What would you say if some day when you were a widow you heard
your husband spoken ill of and your son Antonio should hang his head
and remain silent?”

“I would deny him my blessing!” exclaimed a third, Sister Rufa, “but–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, I don’t think so. Say what you like, and even though you may
appear to be right, I’ll always rather believe the curate. Before
everything else, I’ll save my soul. What do you say, Capitana Tinny?”

“Oh, what do you want me to say? You’re both right the curate is
right, but God must also be right. I don’t know, I’m only a foolish
woman. What I’m going to do is to tell my son not to study any more,
for they say that persons who know anything die on the gallows. _María
Santísima_, my son wants to go to Europe!”

“What are you thinking of doing?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All your ideas, Capitana Maria,” said Sister Rufa, as if preaching,
“are but little religious. Become a sister of the Holy Rosary or of
St. Francis or of St. Rita or of St. Clara.”

“Sister Rufa, when I am a worthy sister of men then I’ll try to be
a sister of the saints,” she answered with a smile.

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

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

“What’s that?” asked the bystanders with interest.

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

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

“I do! The white padres have called Don Crisostomo _plibastiero_. [98]
Now there won’t be any school.”

All stood looking questioningly at each other; that was a new term
to them.

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

“The worst thing that one Christian can say to another!”

“Worse than _tarantado_ and _sarayate?”_ [99]

“If it were only that! I’ve been called those names several times
and they didn’t even give me a bellyache.”

“Well, it can’t be worse than ‘_indio,_’ as the alferez says.”

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

“Then it must be like the _betelapora_ [100] that the alferez’s old
woman says. Worse than that is to spit on the Host.”

“Well, it’s worse than to spit on the Host on Good Friday,” was the
grave reply. “You remember the word _ispichoso_ [101] which when
applied to a man is enough to have the civil-guards take him into
exile or put him in jail well, _plibustiero_ is much worse. According
to what the telegrapher and the directorcillo said, _plibustiero_,
said by a Christian, a curate, or a Spaniard to another Christian like
us is a _santusdeus with requimiternam_, [102] for if they ever call
you a _plibustiero_ then you’d better get yourself shriven and pay
your debts, since nothing remains for you but to be hanged. You know
whether the telegrapher and the directorcillo ought to be informed;
one talks with wires and the other knows Spanish and works only with
a pen.” All were appalled.

“May they force me to wear shoes and in all my life to drink nothing
but that vile stuff they call beer, if I ever let myself be called
_pelbistero!_” swore the countryman, clenching his fists. “What,
rich as Don Crisostomo is, knowing Spanish as he does, and able to
eat fast with a knife and spoon, I’d laugh at five curates!”

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

CHAPTER XXXVI

The First Cloud

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

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

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

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

“What has happened, Santiago?” asked Aunt Isabel anxiously.

He answered by sighing and wiping away a tear.

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

“Just what I feared,” he broke out at last, half in tears. “All is
lost! Padre Damaso has ordered me to break the engagement, otherwise
he will damn me in this life and in the next. All of them told me
the same, even Padre Sibyla. I must close the doors of my house
against him, and I owe him over fifty thousand pesos! I told the
padres this, but they refused to take any notice of it. ‘Which do
you prefer to lose,’ they asked me, ‘fifty thousand pesos or your
life and your soul?’ Ay, St. Anthony, if I had only known, if I had
only known! Don’t cry, daughter,” he went on, turning to the sobbing
girl. “You’re not like your mother, who never cried except just before
you were born. Padre Damaso told me that a relative of his has just
arrived from Spain and you are to marry him.”

Maria Clara covered her ears, while Aunt Isabel screamed, “Santiago,
are you crazy? To talk to her of another sweetheart now! Do you think
that your daughter changes sweethearts as she does her camisa?”

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

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

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

Salvos, the sound of carriage wheels, the galloping of horses,
and a band playing the royal march, announced the arrival of his
Excellency, the Captain-General of the Philippines. Maria Clara
ran to hide herself in her chamber. Poor child, rough hands that
knew not its delicate chords were playing with her heart! While
the house became filled with people and heavy steps, commanding
voices, and the clank of sabers and spurs resounded on all sides,
the afflicted maiden reclined half-kneeling before a picture of the
Virgin represented in that sorrowful loneliness perceived only by
Delaroche, as if he had surprised her returning from the sepulcher of
her Son. But Maria Clara was not thinking of that mother’s sorrow,
she was thinking of her own. With her head hanging down over her
breast and her hands resting on the floor she made the picture of a
lily bent by the storm. A future dreamed of and cherished for years,
whose illusions, born in infancy and grown strong throughout youth,
had given form to the very fibers of her being, to be wiped away now
from her mind and heart by a single word! It was enough to stop the
beating of one and to deprive the other of reason.

Maria Clara was a loving daughter as well as a good and pious
Christian, so it was not the excommunication alone that terrified her,
but the command and the ominous calmness of her father demanding the
sacrifice of her love. Now she felt the whole force of that affection
which until this moment she had hardly suspected. It had been like
a river gliding along peacefully with its banks carpeted by fragrant
flowers and its bed covered with fine sand, so that the wind hardly
ruffled its current as it moved along, seeming hardly to flow at all;
but suddenly its bed becomes narrower, sharp stones block the way,
hoary logs fall across it forming a barrier–then the stream rises
and roars with its waves boiling and scattering clouds of foam,
it beats against the rocks and rushes into the abyss!

She wanted to pray, but who in despair can pray? Prayers are for the
hours of hope, and when in the absence of this we turn to God it is
only with complaints. “My God,” cried her heart, “why dost Thou thus
cut a man off, why dost Thou deny him the love of others? Thou dost
not deny him thy sunlight and thy air nor hide from him the sight of
thy heaven! Why then deny him love, for without a sight of the sky,
without air or sunlight, one can live, but without love–never!”

Would these cries unheard by men reach the throne of God or be heard
by the Mother of the distressed? The poor maiden who had never known
a mother dared to confide these sorrows of an earthly love to that
pure heart that knew only the love of daughter and of mother. In
her despair she turned to that deified image of womanhood, the most
beautiful idealization of the most ideal of all creatures, to that
poetical creation of Christianity who unites in herself the two most
beautiful phases of womanhood without its sorrows: those of virgin
and mother,–to her whom we call Mary!

“Mother, mother!” she moaned.

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

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

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

Maria Clara rose, looked at her aunt, and threw back her shapely arms,
murmuring, “Oh, if I only had–”

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

CHAPTER XXXVII

His Excellency

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

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

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

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

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

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

All were filled with surprise; surely his Excellency must be greatly
irritated to dare to make the friars wait! Padre Sibyla remarked,
“I haven’t anything to say to him, I’m wasting my time here.”

“I say the same,” added an Augustinian. “Shall we go?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reverend gentlemen, who were standing up physically, did so
mentally at this interruption.

“Won’t your Reverences be seated?” he added after a brief pause,
moderating his tone a little.

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

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

“And your Excellency’s, General,” answered Capitan Tiago
seriously. [103]

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

“Sir–” answered the trembling Maria Clara.

His Excellency guessed what she wanted to say, and so continued:
“It is well, señorita, that you are at peace with your conscience and
content with the good opinion of your fellow-countrymen, with the
faith which is its own best reward and beyond which we should not
aspire. But you must not deprive me of an opportunity to show that
if Justice knows how to punish she also knows how to reward and that
she is not always _blind!_” The italicized words were all spoken in
a loud and significant tone.

“Señor Don Juan Crisostomo Ibarra awaits the orders of your
Excellency!” announced the aide in a loud voice.

Maria Clara shuddered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the hall they met Ibarra, their amphitryon of a few hours before,
but no greetings were exchanged, only looks that said many things. But
when the friars had withdrawn the alcalde greeted him familiarly,
although the entrance of the aide looking for the young man left
no time for conversation. In the doorway he met Maria Clara; their
looks also said many things but quite different from what the friars’
eyes had expressed.

Ibarra was dressed in deep mourning, but presented himself serenely
and made a profound bow, even though the visit of the friars had not
appeared to him to be a good augury. The Captain-General advanced
toward him several steps.

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

“Sir, such kindness–”

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

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

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

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

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

Then, changing the subject of conversation quickly, he asked, “I’m
told that you have just returned from Europe; were you in Madrid?”

“Yes, sir, several months.”

“Perhaps you heard my family spoken of?”

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

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

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

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

Ibarra reflected a moment before he answered. “Sir, my dearest wish
is the happiness of my country, a happiness which I desire to see
owed to the mother country and to the efforts of my fellow-citizens,
the two united by the eternal bonds of common aspirations and common
interests. What I would request can only be given by the government
after years of unceasing toil and after the introduction of definite
reforms.”

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

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

The Captain-General rose and began to walk back and forth in the
room. “Señor Ibarra,” he exclaimed, pausing suddenly, and the young man
also rose, “perhaps within a month I shall leave. Your education and
your mode of thinking are not for this country. Sell what you have,
pack your trunk, and come with me to Europe; the climate there will
be more agreeable to you.”

“I shall always while I live preserve the memory of your Excellency’s
kindness,” replied Ibarra with emotion, “but I must remain in this
country where my fathers have lived.”

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

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

The alcalde presented himself immediately. As he entered, the
Captain-General said to him, “Señor Alcalde, in order to avoid any
repetition of _scenes_ such as you _witnessed_ this afternoon, scenes
that I regret, as they _hurt the prestige_ of the government and of
all good Spaniards, allow me to recommend to your _especial_ care
Señor Ibarra, so that you may afford him means for carrying out his
patriotic intentions and also that in the future you prevent his being
molested by persons of any class whatsoever, under any pretext at all.”

The alcalde understood the reprimand and bowed to conceal his
confusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I!”

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

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

The silence continued. Then light footsteps approached the door and the
merry voice of Sinang murmured through the keyhole, “Crisostomo, we’re
going to the theater tonight. Write what you have to say to Maria.”

The footsteps retreated again as rapidly as they approached.

“What does this mean?” murmured Ibarra thoughtfully as he retired
slowly from the door.

CHAPTER XXXVIII

The Procession

At nightfall, when all the lanterns in the windows had been lighted,
for the fourth time the procession started amid the ringing of bells
and the usual explosions of bombs. The Captain-General, who had gone
out on foot in company with his two aides, Capitan Tiago, the alcalde,
the alferez, and Ibarra, preceded by civil-guards and officials who
opened the way and cleared the street, was invited to review the
procession from the house of the gobernadorcillo, in front of which
a platform had been erected where a _loa_ [104] would be recited in
honor of the Blessed Patron.

Ibarra would gladly have renounced the pleasure of hearing this
poetical composition, preferring to watch the procession from Capitan
Tiago’s house, where Maria Clara had remained with some of her friends,
but his Excellency wished to hear the _loa_, so he had no recourse
but to console himself with the prospect of seeing her at the theater.

The procession was headed by the silver candelabra borne by three
begloved sacristans, behind whom came the school children in charge
of their teacher, then boys with paper lanterns of varied shapes
and colors placed on the ends of bamboo poles of greater or less
length and decorated according to the caprice of each boy, since
this illumination was furnished by the children of the barrios, who
gladly performed this service, imposed by the _matanda sa nayon_,
[105] each one designing and fashioning his own lantern, adorning it
as his fancy prompted and his finances permitted with a greater or
less number of frills and little streamers, and lighting it with a
piece of candle if he had a friend or relative who was a sacristan,
or if he could buy one of the small red tapers such as the Chinese
burn before their altars.

In the midst of the crowd came and went alguazils, guardians of
justice to take care that the lines were not broken and the people
did not crowd together. For this purpose they availed themselves of
their rods, with blows from which, administered opportunely and with
sufficient force, they endeavored to add to the glory and brilliance
of the procession–all for the edification of souls and the splendor
of religious show. At the same time that the alguazils were thus
distributing free their sanctifying blows, other persons, to console
the recipients, distributed candles and tapers of different sizes,
also free.

“Señor Alcalde,” said Ibarra in a low voice, “do they administer those
blows as a punishment for sin or simply because they like to do so?”

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

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

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

But the old man suspended his apostrophe at the approach
of St. Francis. “Didn’t I say so?” he then went on, smiling
sarcastically. “This one rides on a ear, and, good Heavens, what a
car! How many lights and how many glass lanterns! Never did I see
you surrounded by so many luminaries, Giovanni Bernardone! [106]
And what music! Other tunes were heard by your followers after your
death! But, venerable and humble founder, if you were to come back
to life now you would see only degenerate Eliases of Cortona, and
if your followers should recognize you, they would put you in jail,
and perhaps you would share the fate of Cesareus of Spyre.”

After the music came a banner on which was pictured the same saint, but
with seven wings, carried by the Tertiary Brethren dressed in _guingón_
habits and praying in high, plaintive voices. Rather inexplicably,
next came St. Mary Magdalene, a beautiful image with abundant hair,
wearing a pañuelo of embroidered piña held by fingers covered with
rings, and a silk gown decorated with gilt spangles. Lights and
incense surrounded her while her glass tears reflected the colors
of the Bengal lights, which, while giving a fantastic appearance to
the procession, also made the saintly sinner weep now green, now red,
now blue tears. The houses did not begin to light up until St. Francis
was passing; St. John the Baptist did not enjoy this honor and passed
hastily by as if ashamed to be the only one dressed in hides in such
a crowd of folk covered with gold and jewels.

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

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

“The alguazil may scold!” objected one of them.

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

So St. John, once on the ground, became one of the townsfolk.

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

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

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

Now all the images were in attitudes of attention, crowded one against
the other to listen to the verses. Everybody kept his eyes fixed on
the half-drawn curtain until at length a sigh of admiration escaped
from the lips of all. Deservedly so, too, for it was a boy with wings,
riding-boots, sash, belt, and plumed hat.

“It’s the alcalde!” cried some one, but this prodigy of creation began
to recite a poem like himself and took no offense at the comparison.

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

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

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

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

“Could I be the cause?” murmured the young man, staring without seeing
the Captain-General, whom he was following mechanically.

CHAPTER XXXIX

Doña Consolacion

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

A dim light shone in the disordered sala, rendering transparent
the dirty concha-panes on which the cobwebs had fastened and the
dust had become incrusted. The lady of the house, according to
her indolent custom, was dozing on a wide sofa. She was dressed as
usual, that is, badly and horribly: tied round her head a pañuelo,
from beneath which escaped thin locks of tangled hair, a camisa
of blue flannel over another which must once have been white, and
a faded skirt which showed the outlines of her thin, flat thighs,
placed one over the other and shaking feverishly. From her mouth
issued little clouds of smoke which she puffed wearily in whatever
direction she happened to be looking when she opened her eyes. If at
that moment Don Francisco de Cañamaque [107] could have seen her, he
would have taken her for a cacique of the town or the _mankukúlam_,
and then decorated his discovery with commentaries in the vernacular
of the markets, invented by him for her particular use.

That morning she had not attended mass, not because she had not so
desired, for on the contrary she had wished to show herself to the
multitude and to hear the sermon, but her spouse had not permitted
her to do so, his refusal being accompanied as usual by two or three
insults, oaths, and threats of kicking. The alferez knew that his
mate dressed ridiculously and had the appearance of what is known as a
“_querida_ of the soldiers,” so he did not care to expose her to the
gaze of strangers and persons from the capital. But she did not so
understand it. She knew that she was beautiful and attractive, that she
had the airs of a queen and dressed much better and with more splendor
than Maria Clara herself, who wore a tapis while she went in a flowing
skirt. It was therefore necessary for the alferez to threaten her,
“Either shut up, or I’ll kick you back to your damned town!” Doña
Consolacion did not care to return to her town at the toe of a boot,
but she meditated revenge.

Never had the dark face of this lady been such as to inspire confidence
in any one, not even when she painted, but that morning it greatly
worried the servants, especially when they saw her move about the house
from one part to another, silently, as if meditating something terrible
or malign. Her glance reflected the look that springs from the eyes of
a serpent when caught and about to be crushed; it was cold, luminous,
and penetrating, with something fascinating, loathsome, and cruel in
it. The most insignificant error, the least unusual noise, drew from
her a vile insult that struck into the soul, but no one answered her,
for to excuse oneself would have been an additional fault.

So the day passed. Not encountering any obstacle that would block her
way,–her husband had been invited out,–she became saturated with
bile, the cells of her whole organism seemed to become charged with
electricity which threatened to burst in a storm of hate. Everything
about her folded up as do the flowers at the first breath of the
hurricane, so she met with no resistance nor found any point or high
place to discharge her evil humor. The soldiers and servants kept away
from her. That she might not hear the sounds of rejoicing outside she
had ordered the windows closed and charged the sentinel to let no one
enter. She tied a handkerchief around her head as if to keep it from
bursting and, in spite of the fact that the sun was still shining,
ordered the lamps to be lighted.

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

Tonight, whether the nearness to the house of Capitan Tiago had brought
to her Maria Clara’s sad song or whether other recollections awoke
in her old melodies, whatever the cause, Sisa also began to sing in a
sweet and melancholy voice the _kundíman_ of her youth. The soldiers
heard her and fell silent; those airs awoke old memories of the days
before they had been corrupted. Doña Consolacion also heard them in her
tedium, and on learning who it was that sang, after a few moments of
meditation, ordered that Sisa be brought to her instantly. Something
like a smile wandered over her dry lips.

When Sisa was brought in she came calmly, showing neither wonder nor
fear. She seemed to see no lady or mistress, and this wounded the
vanity of the Muse, who endeavored to inspire respect and fear. She
coughed, made a sign to the soldiers to leave her, and taking down
her husband’s whip, said to the crazy woman in a sinister tone,
“Come on, _magcantar icau!_” [108]

Naturally, Sisa did not understand such Tagalog, and this ignorance
calmed the Medusa’s wrath, for one of the beautiful qualities of this
lady was to try not to know Tagalog, or at least to appear not to know
it. Speaking it the worst possible, she would thus give herself the
air of a genuine _orofea_, [109] as she was accustomed to say. But
she did well, for if she martyrized Tagalog, Spanish fared no better
with her, either in regard to grammar or pronunciation, in spite of
her husband, the chairs and the shoes, all of which had done what
they could to teach her.

One of the words that had cost her more effort than the hieroglyphics
cost Champollion was the name _Filipinas_. The story goes that on
the day after her wedding, when she was talking with her husband, who
was then a corporal, she had said _Pilipinas_. The corporal thought
it his duty to correct her, so he said, slapping her on the head,
“Say _Felipinas_, woman! Don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that’s what
your damned country is called, from _Felipe?_”

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

Consolacion, at that time a washerwoman, patted her bruises and
repeated with symptoms of losing her patience, “Fe-li-pe, Felipe–nas,
Fe-li-pe-nas, Felipinas, so?”

The corporal saw visions. How could it be _Felipenas_ instead of
_Felipinas?_ One of two things: either it was _Felipenas_ or it was
necessary to say _Felipi!_ So that day he very prudently dropped the
subject. Leaving his wife, he went to consult the books. Here his
astonishment reached a climax: he rubbed his eyes–let’s see–slowly,
now! _F-i-l-i-p-i-n-a-s_, Filipinas! So all the well-printed books
gave it–neither he nor his wife was right!

“How’s this?” he murmured. “Can history lie? Doesn’t this book say that
Alonso Saavedra gave the country that name in honor of the prince,
Don Felipe? How was that name corrupted? Can it be that this Alonso
Saavedra was an Indian?” [110]

With these doubts he went to consult the sergeant Gomez, who, as
a youth, had wanted to be a curate. Without deigning to look at
the corporal the sergeant blew out a mouthful of smoke and answered
with great pompousness, “In ancient times it was pronounced _Filipi_
instead of _Felipe_. But since we moderns have become Frenchified we
can’t endure two _i’s_ in succession, so cultured people, especially
in Madrid–you’ve never been in Madrid?–cultured people, as I say,
have begun to change the first _i_ to _e_ in many words. This is
called modernizing yourself.”

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

“In the ancient style, man! This country’s not yet cultured! In the
ancient style, _Filipinas!_” exclaimed Gomez disdainfully.

The corporal, even if he was a bad philologist, was yet a good
husband. What he had just learned his spouse must also know, so he
proceeded with her education: “Consola, what do you call your damned
country?”

“What should I call it? Just what you taught me: _Felifinas!_”

“I’ll throw a chair at you, you —-! Yesterday you pronounced it
even better in the modern style, but now it’s proper to pronounce it
like an ancient: _Feli_, I mean, _Filipinas!_”

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

“Never mind! Say _Filipinas!_”

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

“Say it, you —-, or I’ll throw this chair at you!”

Consolacion saw the movement, reflected, then began to stammer with
heavy breaths, “_Feli-, Fele-, File–_”

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

Similar incidents occurred every time the question of language came
up. The corporal, watching her linguistic progress, sorrowfully
calculated that in ten years his mate would have completely forgotten
how to talk, and this was about what really came to pass. When they
were married she still knew Tagalog and could make herself understood
in Spanish, but now, at the time of our story, she no longer spoke any
language. She had become so addicted to expressing herself by means
of signs–and of these she chose the loudest and most impressive–that
she could have given odds to the inventor of Volapuk.

Sisa, therefore, had the good fortune not to understand her, so
the Medusa smoothed out her eyebrows a little, while a smile of
satisfaction lighted up her face; undoubtedly she did not know Tagalog,
she was an _orofea!_

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

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

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

The crazy woman became silent. The boy ejaculated, “_Abá!_ She talks
Tagalog!” and stood staring with admiration at his mistress, who,
realizing that she had given herself away, was ashamed of it, and as
her nature was not that of a woman, the shame took the aspect of rage
and hate; so she showed the door to the imprudent boy and closed it
behind him with a kick.

Twisting the whip in her nervous hands, she took a few turns around
the room, then stopping suddenly in front of the crazy woman, said
to her in Spanish, “Dance!” But Sisa did not move.

“Dance, dance!” she repeated in a sinister tone.

The madwoman looked at her with wandering, expressionless eyes, while
the alfereza lifted one of her arms, then the other, and shook them,
but to no purpose, for Sisa did not understand. Then she began to
jump about and shake herself, encouraging Sisa to imitate her. In
the distance was to be heard the music of the procession playing
a grave and majestic march, but Doña Consolacion danced furiously,
keeping other time to other music resounding within her. Sisa gazed at
her without moving, while her eyes expressed curiosity and something
like a weak smile hovered around her pallid lips: the lady’s dancing
amused her. The latter stopped as if ashamed, raised the whip,–that
terrible whip known to thieves and soldiers, made in Ulango [111]
and perfected by the alferez with twisted wires,–and said, “Now it’s
your turn to dance–dance!”

She began to strike the madwoman’s bare feet gently with the
whip. Sisa’s face drew up with pain and she was forced to protect
herself with her hands.

“Aha, now you’re starting!” she exclaimed with savage joy, passing
from _lento_ to _allegro vivace_.

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

“You’ve got to dance, you Indian–!” The whip swung and whistled.

Sisa let herself fall to the floor and placed both hands on her knees
while she gazed at her tormentor with wildly-staring eyes. Two sharp
cuts of the whip on her shoulder made her stand up, and it was not
merely a cry but a howl that the unfortunate woman uttered. Her thin
camisa was torn, her skin broken, and the blood was flowing.

The sight of blood arouses the tiger; the blood of her victim aroused
Doña Consolacion. “Dance, damn you, dance! Evil to the mother who
bore you!” she cried. “Dance, or I’ll flog you to death!” She then
caught Sisa with one hand and, whipping her with the other, began to
dance about.

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

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

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

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

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

Then he closed the door carefully, bolted it, and approached his
wife. “You’re tempting me to kill you!” he exclaimed, doubling up
his fists.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked, rising and drawing away
from him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By degrees he appeared to become calm and contented himself with
walking up and down the room like a wild beast in its cage.

“Go out into the street and cool off your head!” the woman continued
to jeer at him, as she now seemed to have completed her preparations
for defense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the boy went out into the kitchen he made a significant sign to
the cook, who said to him, “You’ll pay for that.”

“I? In any case the whole town will! She asked me if he had gone out,
not if he had come back!”

CHAPTER XL

Right and Might

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

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

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

In front of the curtain the orchestra players were tuning their
instruments and playing preludes of airs. Behind them was the space
spoken of by the correspondent in his letter, where the leading
citizens of the town, the Spaniards, and the rich visitors occupied
rows of chairs. The general public, the nameless rabble, filled
up the rest of the place, some of them bringing benches on their
shoulders not so much for seats as to make, up for their lack of
stature. This provoked noisy protests on the part of the benchless,
so the offenders got down at once; but before long they were up again
as if nothing had happened.

Goings and comings, cries, exclamations, bursts of laughter, a
serpent-cracker turned loose, a firecracker set off–all contributed
to swell the uproar. Here a bench had a leg broken off and the
people fell to the ground amid the laughter of the crowd. They were
visitors who had come from afar to observe and now found themselves
the observed. Over there they quarreled and disputed over a seat,
a little farther on was heard the noise of breaking glass; it
was Andeng carrying refreshments and drinks, holding the wide tray
carefully with both hands, but by chance she had met her sweetheart,
who tried to take advantage of the situation.

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

“How did you answer him?”

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

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

“Don’t you want to see the show?”

“Thanks, no! For dreams and nonsense I am sufficient unto myself,” the
Sage answered with a sarcastic smile. “But now I think of it, has your
attention never been drawn to the character of our people? Peaceful,
yet fond of warlike shows and bloody fights; democratic, yet adoring
emperors, kings, and princes; irreligious, yet impoverishing itself
by costly religious pageants. Our women have gentle natures yet go
wild with joy when a princess flourishes a lance. Do you know to what
it is due? Well–”

The arrival of Maria Clara and her friends put an end to this
conversation. Don Filipo met them and ushered them to their
seats. Behind them came the curate with another Franciscan and some
Spaniards. Following the priests were a number of the townsmen who
make it their business to escort the friars. “May God reward them
also in the next life,” muttered old Tasio as he went away.

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

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

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

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

“Well, that’s a shame! The curate was with us and told us stories
of the damned–can you imagine it!–to fill us with fear so that we
might not enjoy ourselves–can you imagine it!”

The curate arose and approached Don Filipo, with whom he began an
animated conversation. The former spoke in a nervous manner, the
latter in a low, measured voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whom do you mean by _them?_” Ibarra asked in surprise.

“Those who’ve just left to avoid contact with you.”

“Left to avoid contact with me?”

“Yes, they say that you’re excommunicated.”

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

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

“Stay!” Sinang said to him. “Yeyeng is going to dance _La
Calandria_. She dances divinely.”

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

Yeyeng appeared fancifully dressed, with the “_Da usté su
permiso_?” and Carvajal was answering her, “_Pase usté adelante_,”
when two soldiers of the Civil Guard went up to Don Filipo and ordered
him to stop the performance.

“Why?” asked the teniente-mayor in surprise.

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

“Tell the alferez that we have permission from the alcalde and that
against such permission _no one_ in the town has any authority,
not even the gobernadorcillo himself, and _he_ is my _only superior_.”

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

After the selection of vaudeville, which was loudly applauded,
the Prince Villardo presented himself, challenging to mortal combat
the Moros who held his father prisoner. The hero threatened to cut
off all their heads at a single stroke and send them to the moon,
but fortunately for the Moros, who were disposing themselves for
the combat, a tumult arose. The orchestra suddenly ceased playing,
threw their instruments away, and jumped up on the stage. The valiant
Villardo, not expecting them and taking them for allies of the Moros,
dropped his sword and shield, and started to run. The Moros, seeing
that such a doughty Christian was fleeing, did not consider it improper
to imitate him. Cries, groans, prayers, oaths were heard, while the
people ran and pushed one another about. The lights were extinguished,
blazing lamps were thrown into the air. “Tulisanes! Tulisanes!” cried
some. “Fire, fire! Robbers!” shouted others. Women and children wept,
benches and spectators were rolled together on the ground amid the
general pandemonium.

The cause of all this uproar was two civil-guards, clubs in hand,
chasing the musicians in order to break up the performance. The
teniente-mayor, with the aid of the cuadrilleros, who were armed
with old sabers, managed at length to arrest them, in spite of their
resistance.

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

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

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

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

One man was beating himself on the arm and begging for
confession. Plaintive sounds issued from under the overturned
benches–it was a poor musician. The stage was crowded with actors
and spectators, all talking at the same time. There was Chananay
dressed as Leonor in _Il Trovatore_, talking in the language of the
markets to Ratia in the costume of a schoolmaster; Yeyeng, wrapped
in a silk shawl, was clinging to the Prince Villardo; while Balbino
and the Moros were exerting themselves to console the more or less
injured musicians. [112] Several Spaniards went from group to group
haranguing every one they met.

A large crowd was forming, whose intention Don Filipo seemed to be
aware of, for he ran to stop them. “Don’t disturb the peace!” he
cried. “Tomorrow we’ll ask for an accounting and we’ll get
justice. I’ll answer for it that we get justice!”

“No!” was the reply of several. “They did the same thing in Kalamba,
[113] the same promise was made, but the alcalde did nothing. We’ll
take the law into our own hands! To the barracks!”

In vain the teniente-mayor pleaded with them. The crowd maintained its
hostile attitude, so he looked about him for help and noticed Ibarra.

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

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

Ibarra ran to him, caught him by the arm, and said to him in Spanish:
“For God’s sake, do something, if you can! I can’t do anything.” The
pilot must have understood him, for he disappeared in the crowd. Lively
disputes and sharp exclamations were heard. Gradually the crowd began
to break up, its members each taking a less hostile attitude. It was
high time, indeed, for the soldiers were already rushing out armed
and with fixed bayonets.

Meanwhile, what had the curate been doing? Padre Salvi had not gone
to bed but had stood motionless, resting his forehead against the
curtains and gazing toward the plaza. From time to time a suppressed
sigh escaped him, and if the light of the lamp had not been so
dim, perhaps it would have been possible to see his eyes fill with
tears. Thus nearly an hour passed.

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

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

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

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

Perhaps only the newspaper correspondent, who concluded his account
of the fiesta and its accompanying incidents in the following manner:

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

CHAPTER XLI

Two Visits

Ibarra was in such a state of mind that he found it impossible to
sleep, so to distract his attention from the sad thoughts which are
so exaggerated during the night-hours he set to work in his lonely
cabinet. Day found him still making mixtures and combinations, to the
action of which he subjected pieces of bamboo and other substances,
placing them afterwards in numbered and sealed jars.

A servant entered to announce the arrival of a man who had the
appearance of being from the country. “Show him in,” said Ibarra
without looking around.

Elias entered and remained standing in silence.

“Ah, it’s you!” exclaimed Ibarra in Tagalog when he recognized
him. “Excuse me for making you wait, I didn’t notice that it was
you. I’m making an important experiment.”

“I don’t want to disturb you,” answered the youthful pilot. “I’ve
come first to ask you if there is anything I can do for you in the
province, of Batangas, for which I am leaving immediately, and also
to bring you some bad news.”

Ibarra questioned him with a look.

“Capitan Tiago’s daughter is ill,” continued Elias quietly, “but
not seriously.”

“That’s what I feared,” murmured Ibarra in a weak voice. “Do you know
what is the matter with her?”

“A fever. Now, if you have nothing to command–”

“Thank you, my friend, no. I wish you a pleasant journey. But first
let me ask you a question–if it is indiscreet, do not answer.”

Elias bowed.

“How were you able to quiet the disturbance last night?” asked Ibarra,
looking steadily at him.

“Very easily,” answered Elias in the most natural manner. “The leaders
of the commotion were two brothers whose father died from a beating
given him by the Civil Guard. One day I had the good fortune to
save them from the same hands into which their father had fallen,
and both are accordingly grateful to me. I appealed to them last
night and they undertook to dissuade the rest.”

“And those two brothers whose father died from the beating–”

“Will end as their father did,” replied Elias in a low voice. “When
misfortune has once singled out a family all its members must
perish,–when the lightning strikes a tree the whole is reduced
to ashes.”

Ibarra fell silent on hearing this, so Elias took his leave. When
the youth found himself alone he lost the serene self-possession he
had maintained in the pilot’s presence. His sorrow pictured itself
on his countenance. “I, I have made her suffer,” he murmured.

He dressed himself quickly and descended the stairs. A small man,
dressed in mourning, with a large scar on his left cheek, saluted
him humbly, and detained him on his way.

“What do you want?” asked Ibarra.

“Sir, my name is Lucas, and I’m the brother of the man who was killed
yesterday.”

“Ah, you have my sympathy. Well?”

“Sir, I want to know how much you’re going to pay my brother’s family.”

“Pay?” repeated the young man, unable to conceal his disgust. “We’ll
talk of that later. Come back this afternoon, I’m in a hurry now.”

“Only tell me how much you’re willing to pay,” insisted Lucas.

“I’ve told you that we’ll talk about that some other time. I haven’t
time now,” repeated Ibarra impatiently.

“You haven’t time now, sir?” asked Lucas bitterly, placing himself
in front of the young man. “You haven’t time to consider the dead?”

“Come this afternoon, my good man,” replied Ibarra, restraining
himself. “I’m on my way now to visit a sick person.”

“Ah, for the sick you forget the dead? Do you think that because we
are poor–”

Ibarra looked at him and interrupted, “Don’t try my patience!” then
went on his way.

Lucas stood looking after him with a smile full of hate. “It’s easy to
see that you’re the grandson of the man who tied my father out in the
sun,” he muttered between his teeth. “You still have the same blood.”

Then with a change of tone he added, “But, if you pay well–friends!”

CHAPTER XLII

The Espadañas

The fiesta is over. The people of the town have again found, as in
every other year, that their treasury is poorer, that they have worked,
sweated, and stayed awake much without really amusing themselves,
without gaining any new friends, and, in a word, that they have dearly
bought their dissipation and their headaches. But this matters nothing,
for the same will be done next year, the same the coming century,
since it has always been the custom.

In Capitan Tiago’s house sadness reigns. All the windows are closed,
the inmates move about noiselessly, and only in the kitchen do they
dare to speak in natural tones. Maria Clara, the soul of the house,
lies sick in bed and her condition is reflected in all the faces,
as the sorrows of the mind may be read in the countenance of an
individual.

“Which seems best to you, Isabel, shall I make a poor-offering to the
cross of Tunasan or to the cross of Matahong?” asks the afflicted
father in a low voice. “The Tunasan cross grows while the Matahong
cross sweats which do you think is more miraculous?”

Aunt Isabel reflects, shakes her head, and murmurs, “To grow, to grow
is a greater miracle than to sweat. All of us sweat, but not all of
us grow.”

“That’s right, Isabel; but remember that to sweat for the wood of
which bench-legs are made to sweat–is not a small miracle. Come,
the best thing will be to make poor-offerings to both crosses, so
neither will resent it, and Maria will get better sooner. Are the
rooms ready? You know that with the doctors is coming a new gentleman,
a distant relative of Padre Damaso’s. Nothing should be lacking.”

At the other end of the dining-room are the two cousins, Sinang and
Victoria, who have come to keep the sick girl company. Andeng is
helping them clean a silver tea-set.

“Do you know Dr. Espadaña?” the foster-sister of Maria Clara asks
Victoria curiously.

“No,” replies the latter, “the only thing that I know about him is
that he charges high, according to Capitan Tiago.”

“Then he must be good!” exclaims Andeng. “The one who performed an
operation on Doña Maria charged high; so he was learned.”

“Silly!” retorts Sinang. “Every one who charges high is not
learned. Look at Dr. Guevara; after performing a bungling operation
that cost the life of both mother and child, he charged the widower
fifty pesos. The thing to know is how to charge!”

“What do you know about it?” asks her cousin, nudging her.

“Don’t I know? The husband, who is a poor sawyer, after losing his
wife had to lose his home also, for the alcalde, being a friend of
the doctor’s, made him pay. Don’t I know about it, when my father
lent him the money to make the journey to Santa Cruz?” [114]

The sound of a carriage stopping in front of the house put an end
to these conversations. Capitan Tiago, followed by Aunt Isabel, ran
down the steps to welcome the new arrivals: the Doctor Don Tiburcio
de Espadaña, his señora the _Doctora_ Doña Victorina de los Reyes
_de_ De Espadaña, and a young Spaniard of pleasant countenance and
agreeable aspect.

Doña Victorina was attired in a loose silk gown embroidered with
flowers and a hat with a huge parrot half-crushed between blue and
red ribbons. The dust of the road mingled with the rice-powder on
her cheeks seemed to accentuate her wrinkles. As at the time we saw
her in Manila, she now supported her lame husband on her arm.

“I have the pleasure of introducing to you our cousin, Don Alfonso
Linares de Espadaña,” said Doña Victorina, indicating their young
companion. “The gentleman is a godson of a relative of Padre Damaso’s
and has been private secretary to all the ministers.”

The young man bowed politely and Capitan Tiago came very near to
kissing his hand.

While their numerous trunks and traveling-bags are being carried
in and Capitan Tiago is conducting them to their rooms, let us talk
a little of this couple whose acquaintance we made slightly in the
first chapters.

Doña Victorina was a lady of forty and five winters, which were
equivalent to thirty and two summers according to her arithmetical
calculations. She had been beautiful in her youth, having had, as
she used to say, ‘good flesh,’ but in the ecstasies of contemplating
herself she had looked with disdain on her many Filipino admirers,
since her aspirations were toward another race. She had refused to
bestow on any one her little white hand, not indeed from distrust,
for not a few times had she given jewelry and gems of great value to
various foreign and Spanish adventurers. Six months before the time of
our story she had seen realized her most beautiful dream,–the dream
of her whole life,–for which she might scorn the fond illusions
of her youth and even the promises of love that Capitan Tiago had
in other days whispered in her ear or sung in some serenade. Late,
it is true, had the dream been realized, but Doña Victorina, who,
although she spoke the language badly, was more Spanish than Augustina
of Saragossa, [115] understood the proverb, “Better late than never,”
and found consolation in repeating it to herself. “Absolute happiness
does not exist on earth,” was another favorite proverb of hers,
but she never used both together before other persons.

Having passed her first, second, third, and fourth youth in casting
her nets in the sea of the world for the object of her vigils, she had
been compelled at last to content herself with what fate was willing
to apportion her. Had the poor woman been only thirty and one instead
of thirty and two summers–the difference according to her mode of
reckoning was great–she would have restored to Destiny the award it
offered her to wait for another more suited to her taste, but since
man proposes and necessity disposes, she saw herself obliged in her
great need for a husband to content herself with a poor fellow who had
been cast out from Estremadura [116] and who, after wandering about
the world for six or seven years like a modern Ulysses, had at last
found on the island of Luzon hospitality and a withered Calypso for
his better half. This unhappy mortal, by name Tiburcio Espadaña, was
only thirty-five years of age and looked like an old man, yet he was,
nevertheless, younger than Doña Victorina, who was only thirty-two. The
reason for this is easy to understand but dangerous to state.

Don Tiburcio had come to the Philippines as a petty official in the
Customs, but such had been his bad luck that, besides suffering
severely from seasickness and breaking a leg during the voyage,
he had been dismissed within a fortnight, just at the time when he
found himself without a cuarto. After his rough experience on the sea
he did not care to return to Spain without having made his fortune,
so he decided to devote himself to something. Spanish pride forbade
him to engage in manual labor, although the poor fellow would gladly
have done any kind of work in order to earn an honest living. But the
prestige of the Spaniards would not have allowed it, even though this
prestige did not protect him from want.

At first he had lived at the expense of some of his countrymen, but in
his honesty the bread tasted bitter, so instead of getting fat he grew
thin. Since he had neither learning nor money nor recommendations he
was advised by his countrymen, who wished to get rid of him, to go to
the provinces and pass himself off as a doctor of medicine. He refused
at first, for he had learned nothing during the short period that he
had spent as an attendant in a hospital, his duties there having been
to dust off the benches and light the fires. But as his wants were
pressing and as his scruples were soon laid to rest by his friends
he finally listened to them and went to the provinces. He began by
visiting some sick persons, and at first made only moderate charges,
as his conscience dictated, but later, like the young philosopher
of whom Samaniego [117] tells, he ended by putting a higher price
on his visits. Thus he soon passed for a great physician and would
probably have made his fortune if the medical authorities in Manila
had not heard of his exorbitant fees and the competition that he was
causing others. Both private parties and professionals interceded for
him. “Man,” they said to the zealous medical official, “let him make
his stake and as soon as he has six or seven thousand pesos he can
go back home and live there in peace. After all, what does it matter
to you if he does deceive the unwary Indians? They should be more
careful! He’s a poor devil–don’t take the bread from his mouth–be a
good Spaniard!” This official was a good Spaniard and agreed to wink at
the matter, but the news soon reached the ears of the people and they
began to distrust him, so in a little while he lost his practise and
again saw himself obliged almost to beg his daily bread. It was then
that he learned through a friend, who was an intimate acquaintance of
Doña Victorina’s, of the dire straits in which that lady was placed
and also of her patriotism and her kind heart. Don Tiburcio then saw
a patch of blue sky and asked to be introduced to her.

Doña Victorina and Don Tiburcio met: _tarde venientibus ossa_,
[118] he would have exclaimed had he known Latin! She was no longer
passable, she was passée. Her abundant hair had been reduced to a knot
about the size of an onion, according to her maid, while her face was
furrowed with wrinkles and her teeth were falling loose. Her eyes,
too, had suffered considerably, so that she squinted frequently in
looking any distance. Her disposition was the only part of her that
remained intact.

At the end of a half-hour’s conversation they understood and accepted
each other. She would have preferred a Spaniard who was less lame,
less stuttering, less bald, less toothless, who slobbered less when he
talked, and who had more “spirit” and “quality,” as she used to say,
but that class of Spaniards no longer came to seek her hand. She
had more than once heard it said that opportunity is pictured as
being bald, and firmly believed that Don Tiburcio was opportunity
itself, for as a result of his misfortunes he suffered from premature
baldness. And what woman is not prudent at thirty-two years of age?

Don Tiburcio, for his part, felt a vague melancholy when he thought of
his honeymoon, but smiled with resignation and called to his support
the specter of hunger. Never had he been ambitious or pretentious; his
tastes were simple and his desires limited; but his heart, untouched
till then, had dreamed of a very different divinity. Back there in his
youth when, worn out with work, he lay doom on his rough bed after
a frugal meal, he used to fall asleep dreaming of an image, smiling
and tender. Afterwards, when troubles and privations increased and
with the passing of years the poetical image failed to materialize,
he thought modestly of a good woman, diligent and industrious, who
would bring him a small dowry, to console him for the fatigues of
his toil and to quarrel with him now and then–yes, he had thought of
quarrels as a kind of happiness! But when obliged to wander from land
to land in search not so much of fortune as of some simple means of
livelihood for the remainder of his days; when, deluded by the stories
of his countrymen from overseas, he had set out for the Philippines,
realism gave, place to an arrogant mestiza or a beautiful Indian with
big black eyes, gowned in silks and transparent draperies, loaded
down with gold and diamonds, offering him her love, her carriages,
her all. When he reached Manila he thought for a time that his dream
was to be realized, for the young women whom he saw driving on the
Luneta and the Malecon in silver-mounted carriages had gazed at him
with some curiosity. Then after his position was gone, the mestiza and
the Indian disappeared and with great effort he forced before himself
the image of a widow, of course an agreeable widow! So when he saw
his dream take shape in part he became sad, but with a certain touch
of native philosophy said to himself, “Those were all dreams and in
this world one does not live on dreams!” Thus he dispelled his doubts:
she used rice-powder, but after their marriage he would break her
of the habit; her face had many wrinkles, but his coat was torn and
patched; she was a pretentious old woman, domineering and mannish,
but hunger was more terrible, more domineering and pretentious still,
and anyway, he had been blessed with a mild disposition for that very
end, and love softens the character. She spoke Spanish badly, but he
himself did not talk it well, as he had been told when notified of his
dismissal Moreover, what did it matter to him if she was an ugly and
ridiculous old woman? He was lame, toothless, and bald! Don Tiburcio
preferred to take charge of her rather than to become a public charge
from hunger. When some friends joked with him about it, he answered,
“Give me bread and call me a fool.”

Don Tiburcio was one of those men who are popularly spoken of as
unwilling to harm a fly. Modest, incapable of harboring an unkind
thought, in bygone days he would have been made a missionary. His stay
in the country had not given him the conviction of grand superiority,
of great valor, and of elevated importance that the greater part
of his countrymen acquire in a few weeks. His heart had never been
capable of entertaining hate nor had he been able to find a single
filibuster; he saw only unhappy wretches whom he must despoil if he
did not wish to be more unhappy than they were. When he was threatened
with prosecution for passing himself off as a physician he was not
resentful nor did he complain. Recognizing the justness of the charge
against him, he merely answered, “But it’s necessary to live!”

So they married, or rather, bagged each other, and went to Santa Ann
to spend their honeymoon. But on their wedding-night Doña Victorina
was attacked by a horrible indigestion and Don Tiburcio thanked God
and showed himself solicitous and attentive. A few days afterward,
however, he looked into a mirror and smiled a sad smile as he gazed
at his naked gums, for he had aged ten years at least.

Very well satisfied with her husband, Doña Victorina had a fine
set of false teeth made for him and called in the best tailors of
the city to attend to his clothing. She ordered carriages, sent to
Batangas and Albay for the best ponies, and even obliged him to keep a
pair for the races. Nor did she neglect her own person while she was
transforming him. She laid aside the native costume for the European
and substituted false frizzes for the simple Filipino coiffure, while
her gowns, which fitted her marvelously ill, disturbed the peace of
all the quiet neighborhood.

Her husband, who never went out on foot,–she did not care to have his
lameness noticed,–took her on lonely drives in unfrequented places to
her great sorrow, for she wanted to show him off in public, but she
kept quiet out of respect for their honeymoon. The last quarter was
coming on when he took up the subject of the rice-powder, telling her
that the use of it was false and unnatural. Doña Victorina wrinkled
up her eyebrows and stared at his false teeth. He became silent,
and she understood his weakness.

She placed a _de_ before her husband’s surname, since the _de_ cost
nothing and gave “quality” to the name, signing herself “Victorina
de los Reyes _de_ De Espadaña.” This _de_ was such a mania with her
that neither the stationer nor her husband could get it out of her
head. “If I write only one _de_ it may be thought that you don’t have
it, you fool!” she said to her husband. [119]

Soon she believed that she was about to become a mother, so she
announced to all her acquaintances, “Next month De Espadaña and I are
going to the _Penyinsula_. I don’t want our son to be born here and
be called a revolutionist.” She talked incessantly of the journey,
having memorized the names of the different ports of call, so that
it was a treat to hear her talk: “I’m going to see the isthmus in the
Suez Canal–De Espadaña thinks it very beautiful and De Espadaña has
traveled over the whole world.” “I’ll probably not return to this
land of savages.” “I wasn’t born to live here–Aden or Port Said
would suit me better–I’ve thought so ever since I was a girl.” In
her geography Doña Victorina divided the world into the Philippines
and Spain; rather differently from the clever people who divide it
into Spain and America or China for another name.

Her husband realized that these things were barbarisms, but held his
peace to escape a scolding or reminders of his stuttering. To increase
the illusion of approaching maternity she became whimsical, dressed
herself in colors with a profusion of flowers and ribbons, and appeared
on the Escolta in a wrapper. But oh, the disenchantment! Three months
went by and the dream faded, and now, having no reason for fearing
that her son would be a revolutionist, she gave up the trip. She
consulted doctors, midwives, old women, but all in vain. Having to the
great displeasure of Capitan Tiago jested about St. Pascual Bailon,
she was unwilling to appeal to any saint. For this reason a friend
of her husband’s remarked to her:

“Believe me, señora, you are the only _strong-spirited_ person in
this tiresome country.”

She had smiled, without knowing what _strong-spirited_ meant, but that
night she asked her husband. “My dear,” he answered, “the s-strongest
s-spirit that I know of is ammonia. My f-friend must have s-spoken
f-figuratively.”

After that she would say on every possible occasion, “I’m the only
ammonia in this tiresome country, speaking figuratively. So Señor
N. de N., a Peninsular gentleman of quality, told me.”

Whatever she said had to be done, for she had succeeded in dominating
her husband completely. He on his part did not put up any great
resistance and so was converted into a kind of lap-dog of hers. If
she was displeased with him she would not let him go out, and when
she was really angry she tore out his false teeth, thus leaving him
a horrible sight for several days.

It soon occurred to her that her husband ought to be a doctor of
medicine and surgery, and she so informed him.

“My dear, do you w-want me to be arrested?” he asked fearfully.

“Don’t be a fool! Leave me to arrange it,” she answered. “You’re
not going to treat any one, but I want people to call you _Doctor_
and me _Doctora_, see?”

So on the following day Rodoreda [120] received an order to engrave on
a slab of black marble: DR. DE ESPADAÑA, SPECIALIST IN ALL KINDS OF
DISEASES. All the servants had to address them by their new titles,
and as a result she increased the number of frizzes, the layers of
rice-powder, the ribbons and laces, and gazed with more disdain than
ever on her poor and unfortunate countrywomen whose husbands belonged
to a lower grade of society than hers did. Day by day she felt more
dignified and exalted and, by continuing in this way, at the end of
a year she would have believed herself to be of divine origin.

These sublime thoughts, however, did not keep her from becoming older
and more ridiculous every day. Every time Capitan Tiago saw her and
recalled having made love to her in vain he forthwith sent a peso to
the church for a mass of thanksgiving. Still, he greatly respected her
husband on account of his title of specialist in all kinds of diseases
and listened attentively to the few phrases that he was able to stutter
out. For this reason and because this doctor was more exclusive than
others, Capitan Tiago had selected him to treat his daughter.

In regard to young Linares, that is another matter. When arranging for
the trip to Spain, Doña Victorina had thought of having a Peninsular
administrator, as she did not trust the Filipinos. Her husband
bethought himself of a nephew of his in Madrid who was studying law
and who was considered the brightest of the family. So they wrote to
him, paying his passage in advance, and when the dream disappeared
he was already on his way.

Such were the three persons who had just arrived. While they were
partaking of a late breakfast, Padre Salvi came in. The Espadañas
were already acquainted with him, and they introduced the blushing
young Linares with all his titles.

As was natural, they talked of Maria Clara, who was resting and
sleeping. They talked of their journey, and Doña Victorina exhibited
all her verbosity in criticising the customs of the provincials,–their
nipa houses, their bamboo bridges; without forgetting to mention to
the curate her intimacy with this and that high official and other
persons of “quality” who were very fond of her.

“If you had come two days ago, Doña Victorina,” put in Capitan
Tiago during a slight pause, “you would have met his Excellency,
the Captain-General. He sat right there.”

“What! How’s that? His Excellency here! In your house? No!”

“I tell you that he sat right there. If you had only come two days
ago–”

“Ah, what a pity that Clarita did not get sick sooner!” she exclaimed
with real feeling. Then turning to Linares, “Do you hear, cousin? His
Excellency was here! Don’t you see now that De Espadaña was right
when he told you that you weren’t going to the house of a miserable
Indian? Because, you know, Don Santiago, in Madrid our cousin was
the friend of ministers and dukes and dined in the house of Count
El Campanario.”

“The Duke of La Torte, Victorina,” corrected her husband. [121]

“It’s the same thing. If you will tell me–”

“Shall I find Padre Damaso in his town?” interrupted Linares,
addressing Padre Salvi. “I’ve been told that it’s near here.”

“He’s right here and will be over in a little while,” replied the
curate.

“How glad I am of that! I have a letter to him,” exclaimed the youth,
“and if it were not for the happy chance that brings me here, I would
have come expressly to visit him.”

In the meantime the _happy_ chance had awakened.

“De Espadaña,” said Doña Victorina, when the meal was over, “shall
we go in to see Clarita?” Then to Capitan Tiago, “Only for you, Don
Santiago, only for you! My husband only attends persons of quality,
and yet, and yet–! He’s not like those here. In Madrid he only
visited persons of quality.”

They adjourned to the sick girl’s chamber. The windows were closed
from fear of a draught, so the room was almost dark, being only
dimly illuminated by two tapers which burned before an image of the
Virgin of Antipolo. Her head covered with a handkerchief saturated
in cologne, her body wrapped carefully in white sheets which swathed
her youthful form with many folds, under curtains of jusi and piña,
the girl lay on her kamagon bed. Her hair formed a frame around her
oval countenance and accentuated her transparent paleness, which
was enlivened only by her large, sad eyes. At her side were her two
friends and Andeng with a bouquet of tuberoses.

De Espadaña felt her pulse, examined her tongue, asked a few questions,
and said, as he wagged his head from side to side, “S-she’s s-sick,
but s-she c-can be c-cured.” Doña Victorina looked proudly at the
bystanders.

“Lichen with milk in the morning, syrup of marshmallow, two cynoglossum
pills!” ordered De Espadaña.

“Cheer up, Clarita!” said Doña Victorina, going up to her. “We’ve
come to cure you. I want to introduce our cousin.”

Linares was so absorbed in the contemplation of those eloquent eyes,
which seemed to be searching for some one, that he did not hear Doña
Victorina name him.

“Señor Linares,” said the curate, calling him out of his abstraction,
“here comes Padre Damaso.”

It was indeed Padre Damaso, but pale and rather sad. On leaving his
bed his first visit was for Maria Clara. Nor was it the Padre Damaso
of former times, hearty and self-confident; now he moved silently
and with some hesitation.

CHAPTER XLIII

Plans

Without heeding any of the bystanders, Padre Damaso went directly
to the bed of the sick girl and taking her hand said to her with
ineffable tenderness, while tears sprang into his eyes, “Maria,
my daughter, you mustn’t die!”

The sick girl opened her eyes and stared at him with a strange
expression. No one who knew the Franciscan had suspected in him such
tender feelings, no one had believed that under his rude and rough
exterior there might beat a heart. Unable to go on, he withdrew from
the girl’s side, weeping like a child, and went outside under the
favorite vines of Maria Clara’s balcony to give free rein to his grief.

“How he loves his goddaughter!” thought all present, while Fray Salvi
gazed at him motionlessly and in silence, lightly gnawing his lips
the while.

When he had become somewhat calm again Doña Victorina introduced
Linares, who approached him respectfully. Fray Damaso silently looked
him over from head to foot, took the letter offered and read it,
but apparently without understanding, for he asked, “And who are you?”

“Alfonso Linares, the godson of your brother-in-law,” stammered the
young man.

Padre Damaso threw back his body and looked the youth over again
carefully. Then his features lighted up and he arose. “So you are the
godson of Carlicos!” he exclaimed. “Come and let me embrace you! I
got your letter several days ago. So it’s you! I didn’t recognize
you,–which is easily explained, for you weren’t born when I left the
country,–I didn’t recognize you!” Padre Damaso squeezed his robust
arms about the young man, who became very red, whether from modesty
or lack of breath is not known.

After the first moments of effusion had passed and inquiries about
Carlicos and his wife had been made and answered, Padre Damaso asked,
“Come now, what does Carlicos want me to do for you?”

“I believe he says something about that in the letter,” Linares
again stammered.

“In the letter? Let’s see! That’s right! He wants me to get you a job
and a wife. Ahem! A job, a job that’s easy! Can you read and write?”

“I received my degree of law from the University.”

“_Carambas!_ So you’re a pettifogger! You don’t show it; you look
more like a shy maiden. So much the better! But to get you a wife–”

“Padre, I’m not in such a great hurry,” interrupted Linares in
confusion.

But Padre Damaso was already pacing from one end of the hallway to
the other, muttering, “A wife, a wife!” His countenance was no longer
sad or merry but now wore an expression of great seriousness, while
he seemed to be thinking deeply. Padre Salvi gazed on the scene from
a distance.

“I didn’t think that the matter would trouble me so much,” murmured
Padre Damaso in a tearful voice. “But of two evils, the lesser!” Then
raising his voice he approached Linares and said to him, “Come, boy,
let’s talk to Santiago.”

Linares turned pale and allowed himself to be dragged along by the
priest, who moved thoughtfully. Then it was Padre Salvi’s turn to
pace back and forth, pensive as ever.

A voice wishing him good morning drew him from his monotonous walk. He
raised his head and saw Lucas, who saluted him humbly.

“What do you want?” questioned the curate’s eyes.

“Padre, I’m the brother of the man who was killed on the day of the
fiesta,” began Lucas in tearful accents.

The curate recoiled and murmured in a scarcely audible voice, “Well?”

Lucas made an effort to weep and wiped his eyes with a
handkerchief. “Padre,” he went on tearfully, “I’ve been to Don
Crisostomo to ask for an indemnity. First he received me with kicks,
saying that he wouldn’t pay anything since he himself had run the risk
of getting killed through the fault of my dear, unfortunate brother. I
went to talk to him yesterday, but he had gone to Manila. He left
me five hundred pesos for charity’s sake and charged me not to come
back again. Ah, Padre, five hundred pesos for my poor brother–five
hundred pesos! Ah, Padre–”

At first the curate had listened with surprise and attention while
his lips curled slightly with a smile of such disdain and sarcasm
at the sight of this farce that, had Lucas noticed it, he would have
run away at top speed. “Now what do you want?” he asked, turning away.

“Ah, Padre, tell me for the love of God what I ought to do. The padre
has always given good advice.”

“Who told you so? You don’t belong in these parts.”

“The padre is known all over the province.”

With irritated looks Padre Salvi approached him and pointing to the
street said to the now startled Lucas, “Go home and be thankful that
Don Crisostomo didn’t have you sent to jail! Get out of here!”

Lucas forgot the part he was playing and murmured, “But I thought–”

“Get out of here!” cried Padre Salvi nervously.

“I would like to see Padre Damaso.”

“Padre Damaso is busy. Get out of here!” again ordered the curate
imperiously.

Lucas went down the stairway muttering, “He’s another of them–as he
doesn’t pay well–the one who pays best!”

At the sound of the curate’s voice all had hurried to the spot,
including Padre Damaso, Capitan Tiago, and Linares.

“An insolent vagabond who came to beg and who doesn’t want to work,”
explained Padre Salvi, picking up his hat and cane to return to
the convento.

CHAPTER XLIV

An Examination of Conscience

Long days and weary nights passed at the sick girl’s bed. After having
confessed herself, Maria Clara had suffered a relapse, and in her
delirium she uttered only the name of the mother whom she had never
known. But her girl friends, her father, and her aunt kept watch at
her side. Offerings and alms were sent to all the miraculous images,
Capitan Tiago vowed a gold cane to the Virgin of Antipolo, and at
length the fever began to subside slowly and regularly.

Doctor De Espadaña was astonished at the virtues of the syrup of
marshmallow and the infusion of lichen, prescriptions that he had not
varied. Doña Victorina was so pleased with her husband that one day
when he stepped on the train of her gown she did not apply her penal
code to the extent of taking his set of false teeth away from him,
but contented herself with merely exclaiming, “If you weren’t lame
you’d even step on my corset!”–an article of apparel she did not wear.

One afternoon while Sinang and Victoria were visiting their friend,
the curate, Capitan Tiago, and Doña Victorina’s family were conversing
over their lunch in the dining-room.

“Well, I feel very sorry about it,” said the doctor; “Padre Damaso
also will regret it very much.”

“Where do you say they’re transferring him to?” Linares asked the
curate.

“To the province of Tayabas,” replied the curate negligently.

“One who will be greatly affected by it is Maria Clara, when she
learns of it,” said Capitan Tiago. “She loves him like a father.”

Fray Salvi looked at him askance.

“I believe, Padre,” continued Capitan Tiago, “that all her illness
is the result of the trouble on the last day of the fiesta.”

“I’m of the same opinion, and think that you’ve done well not to let
Señor Ibarra see her. She would have got worse.

“If it wasn’t for us,” put in Doña Victorina, “Clarita would already
be in heaven singing praises to God.”

“Amen!” Capitan Tiago thought it his duty to exclaim. “It’s lucky
for you that my husband didn’t have any patient of greater quality,
for then you’d have had to call in another, and all those here are
ignoramuses. My husband–”

“Just as I was saying,” the curate in turn interrupted, “I think that
the confession that Maria Clara made brought on the favorable crisis
which has saved her life. A clean conscience is worth more than a lot
of medicine. Don’t think that I deny the power of science, above all,
that of surgery, but a clean conscience! Read the pious books and
you’ll see how many cures are effected merely by a clean confession.”

“Pardon me,” objected the piqued Doña Victorina, “this power of the
confessional–cure the alferez’s woman with a confession!”

“A wound, madam, is not a form of illness which the conscience
can affect,” replied Padre Salvi severely. “Nevertheless, a clean
confession will preserve her from receiving in the future such blows
as she got this morning.”

“She deserves them!” went on Doña Victorina as if she had not heard
what Padre Salvi said. “That woman is so insolent! In the church she
did nothing but stare at me. You can see that she’s a nobody. Sunday
I was going to ask her if she saw anything funny about my face,
but who would lower oneself to speak to people that are not of rank?”

The curate, on his part, continued just as though he had not heard
this tirade. “Believe me, Don Santiago, to complete your daughter’s
recovery it’s necessary that she take communion tomorrow. I’ll bring
the viaticum over here. I don’t think she has anything to confess,
but yet, if she wants to confess herself tonight–”

“I don’t know,” Doña Victorina instantly took advantage of a slight
hesitation on Padre Salvi’s part to add, “I don’t understand how
there can be men capable of marrying such a fright as that woman
is. It’s easily seen where she comes from. She’s just dying of envy,
you can see it! How much does an alferez get?”

“Accordingly, Don Santiago, tell your cousin to prepare the sick girl
for the communion tomorrow. I’ll come over tonight to absolve her of
her peccadillos.”

Seeing Aunt Isabel come from the sick-room, he said to her in Tagalog,
“Prepare your niece for confession tonight. Tomorrow I’ll bring over
the viaticum. With that she’ll improve faster.”

“But, Padre,” Linares gathered up enough courage to ask faintly,
“you don’t think that she’s in any danger of dying?”

“Don’t you worry,” answered the padre without looking at him. “I
know what I’m doing; I’ve helped take care of plenty of sick people
before. Besides, she’ll decide herself whether or not she wishes to
receive the holy communion and you’ll see that she says yes.”

Capitan Tiago immediately agreed to everything, while Aunt Isabel
returned to the sick girl’s chamber. Maria Clara was still in bed,
pale, very pale, and at her side were her two friends.

“Take one more grain,” Sinang whispered, as she offered her a white
tablet that she took from a small glass tube. “He says that when you
feel a rumbling or buzzing in your ears you are to stop the medicine.”

“Hasn’t he written to you again?” asked the sick girl in a low voice.

“No, he must be very busy.”

“Hasn’t he sent any message?”

“He says nothing more than that he’s going to try to get the Archbishop
to absolve him from the excommunication, so that–”

This conversation was suspended at the aunt’s approach. “The
padre says for you to get ready for confession, daughter,” said the
latter. “You girls must leave her so that she can make her examination
of conscience.”

“But it hasn’t been a week since she confessed!” protested Sinang. “I’m
not sick and I don’t sin as often as that.”

“Abá! Don’t you know what the curate says: the righteous sin seven
times a day? Come, what book shall I bring you, the _Ancora_, the
_Ramillete_, or the _Camino Recto para ir al Cielo?_”

Maria Clara did not answer.

“Well, you mustn’t tire yourself,” added the good aunt to console
her. “I’ll read the examination myself and you’ll have only to recall
your sins.”

“Write to him not to think of me any more,” murmured Maria Clara in
Sinang’s ear as the latter said good-by to her.

“What?”

But the aunt again approached, and Sinang had to go away without
understanding what her friend had meant. The good old aunt drew a
chair up to the light, put her spectacles on the end of her nose, and
opened a booklet. “Pay close attention, daughter. I’m going to begin
with the Ten Commandments. I’ll go slow so that you can meditate. If
you don’t hear well tell me so that I can repeat. You know that in
looking after your welfare I’m never weary.”

She began to read in a monotonous and snuffling voice the
considerations of cases of sinfulness. At the end of each paragraph
she made a long pause in order to give the girl time to recall her
sins and to repent of them.

Maria Clara stared vaguely into space. After finishing the first
commandment, _to love God above all things_, Aunt Isabel looked at
her over her spectacles and was satisfied with her sad and thoughtful
mien. She coughed piously and after a long pause began to read the
second commandment. The good old woman read with unction and when she
had finished the commentaries looked again at her niece, who turned
her head slowly to the other side.

“Bah!” said Aunt Isabel to herself. “With taking His holy name in vain
the poor child has nothing to do. Let’s pass on to the third.” [122]

The third commandment was analyzed and commented upon. After citing
all the cases in which one can break it she again looked toward the
bed. But now she lifted up her glasses and rubbed her eyes, for she
had seen her niece raise a handkerchief to her face as if to wipe
away tears.

“Hum, ahem! The poor child once went to sleep during the sermon.” Then
replacing her glasses on the end of her nose, she said, “Now let’s
see if, just as you’ve failed to keep holy the Sabbath, you’ve failed
to honor your father and mother.”

So she read the fourth commandment in an even slower and more snuffling
voice, thinking thus to give solemnity to the act, just as she had
seen many friars do. Aunt Isabel had never heard a Quaker preach or
she would also have trembled.

The sick girl, in the meantime, raised the handkerchief to her eyes
several times and her breathing became more noticeable.

“What a good soul!” thought the old woman. “She who is so obedient
and submissive to every one! I’ve committed more sins and yet I’ve
never been able really to cry.”

She then began the fifth commandment with greater pauses and even
more pronounced snuffling, if that were possible, and with such great
enthusiasm that she did not hear the stifled sobs of her niece. Only
in a pause which she made after the comments on homicide, by violence
did she notice the groans of the sinner. Then her tone passed into the
sublime as she read the rest of the commandment in accents that she
tried to reader threatening, seeing that her niece was still weeping.

“Weep, daughter, weep!” she said, approaching the bed. “The more you
weep the sooner God will pardon you. Hold the sorrow of repentance as
better than that of mere penitence. Weep, daughter, weep! You don’t
know how much I enjoy seeing you weep. Beat yourself on the breast
also, but not hard, for you’re still sick.”

But, as if her sorrow needed mystery and solitude to make it increase,
Maria Clara, on seeing herself observed, little by little stopped
sighing and dried her eyes without saying anything or answering her
aunt, who continued the reading. Since the wails of her audience had
ceased, however, she lost her enthusiasm, and the last commandments
made her so sleepy that she began to yawn, with great detriment to
her snuffling, which was thus interrupted.

“If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it,”
thought the good old lady afterwards. “This girl sins like a soldier
against the first five and from the sixth to the tenth not a venial
sin, just the opposite to us! How the world does move now!”

So she lighted a large candle to the Virgin of Antipolo and two other
smaller ones to Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of the Pillar,
[123] taking care to put away in a corner a marble crucifix to make
it understand that the candles were not lighted for it. Nor did the
Virgin of Delaroche have any share; she was an unknown foreigner,
and Aunt Isabel had never heard of any miracle of hers.

We do not know what occurred during the confession that night and we
respect such secrets. But the confession was a long one and the aunt,
who stood watch over her niece at a distance, could note that the
curate, instead of turning his ear to hear the words of the sick girl,
rather had his face turned toward hers, and seemed only to be trying
to read, or divine, her thoughts by gazing into her beautiful eyes.

Pale and with contracted lips Padre Salvi left the chamber. Looking
at his forehead, which was gloomy and covered with perspiration,
one would have said that it was he who had confessed and had not
obtained absolution.

“_Jesús, María, y José!_” exclaimed Aunt Isabel, crossing herself to
dispel an evil thought, “who understands the girls nowadays?”

CHAPTER XLV

The Hunted

In the dim light shed by the moonbeams sifting through the thick
foliage a man wandered through the forest with slow and cautious
steps. From time to time, as if to find his way, he whistled a peculiar
melody, which was answered in the distance by some one whistling the
same air. The man would listen attentively and then make his way in
the direction of the distant sound, until at length, after overcoming
the thousand obstacles offered by the virgin forest in the night-time,
he reached a small open space, which was bathed in the light of the
moon in its first quarter. The high, tree-crowned rocks that rose
about formed a kind of ruined amphitheater, in the center of which
were scattered recently felled trees and charred logs among boulders
covered with nature’s mantle of verdure.

Scarcely had the unknown arrived when another figure started suddenly
from behind a large rock and advanced with drawn revolver. “Who are
you?” he asked in Tagalog in an imperious tone, cocking the weapon.

“Is old Pablo among you?” inquired the unknown in an even tone,
without answering the question or showing any signs of fear.

“You mean the capitan? Yes, he’s here.”

“Then tell him that Elias is here looking for him,” was the answer
of the unknown, who was no other than the mysterious pilot.

“Are you Elias?” asked the other respectfully, as he approached him,
not, however, ceasing to cover him with the revolver. “Then come!”

Elias followed him, and they penetrated into a kind of cave sunk
down in the depths of the earth. The guide, who seemed to be familiar
with the way, warned the pilot when he should descend or turn aside
or stoop down, so they were not long in reaching a kind of hall
which was poorly lighted by pitch torches and occupied by twelve to
fifteen armed men with dirty faces and soiled clothing, some seated
and some lying down as they talked fitfully to one another. Resting
his arms on a stone that served for a table and gazing thoughtfully
at the torches, which gave out so little light for so much smoke,
was seen an old, sad-featured man with his head wrapped in a bloody
bandage. Did we not know that it was a den of tulisanes we might have
said, on reading the look of desperation in the old man’s face, that
it was the Tower of Hunger on the eve before Ugolino devoured his sons.

Upon the arrival of Elias and his guide the figures partly rose,
but at a signal from the latter they settled back again, satisfying
themselves with the observation that the newcomer was unarmed. The
old man turned his head slowly and saw the quiet figure of Elias,
who stood uncovered, gazing at him with sad interest.

“It’s you at last,” murmured the old man, his gaze lighting up somewhat
as he recognized the youth.

“In what condition do I find you!” exclaimed the youth in a suppressed
tone, shaking his head.

The old man dropped his head in silence and made a sign to the others,
who arose and withdrew, first taking the measure of the pilot’s
muscles and stature with a glance.

“Yes!” said the old man to Elias as soon as they were alone. “Six
months ago when I sheltered you in my house, it was I who pitied
you. Now we have changed parts and it is you who pity me. But sit
down and tell me how you got here.”

“It’s fifteen days now since I was told of your misfortune,” began the
young man slowly in a low voice as he stared at the light. “I started
at once and have been seeking you from mountain to mountain. I’ve
traveled over nearly the whole of two provinces.”

“In order not to shed innocent blood,” continued the old man, “I
have had to flee. My enemies were afraid to show themselves. I was
confronted merely with some unfortunates who have never done me the
least harm.”

After a brief pause during which he seemed to be occupied in trying
to read the thoughts in the dark countenance of the old man, Elias
replied: “I’ve come to make a proposition to you. Having sought in vain
for some survivor of the family that caused the misfortunes of mine,
I’ve decided to leave the province where I live and move toward the
North among the independent pagan tribes. Don’t you want to abandon
the life you have entered upon and come with me? I will be your son,
since you have lost your own; I have no family, and in you will find
a father.”

The old man shook his, head in negation, saying, “When one at my
age makes a desperate resolution, it’s because there is no other
recourse. A man who, like myself, has spent his youth and his mature
years toiling for the future of himself and his sons; a man who has
been submissive to every wish of his superiors, who has conscientiously
performed difficult tasks, enduring all that he might live in peace and
quiet–when that man, whose blood time has chilled, renounces all his
past and foregoes all his future, even on the very brink of the grave,
it is because he has with mature judgment decided that peace does
not exist and that it is not the highest good. Why drag out miserable
days on foreign soil? I had two sons, a daughter, a home, a fortune,
I was esteemed and respected; now I am as a tree shorn of its branches,
a wanderer, a fugitive, hunted like a wild beast through the forest,
and all for what? Because a man dishonored my daughter, because her
brothers called that man’s infamy to account, and because that man
is set above his fellows with the title of minister of God! In spite
of everything, I, her father, I, dishonored in my old age, forgave
the injury, for I was indulgent with the passions of youth and the
weakness of the flesh, and in the face of irreparable wrong what could
I do but hold my peace and save what remained to me? But the culprit,
fearful of vengeance sooner or later, sought the destruction of my
sons. Do you know what he did? No? You don’t know, then, that he
pretended that there had been a robbery committed in the convento
and that one of my sons figured among the accused? The other could
not be included because he was in another place at the time. Do you
know what tortures they were subjected to? You know of them, for
they are the same in all the towns! I, I saw my son hanging by the
hair, I heard his cries, I heard him call upon me, and I, coward and
lover of peace, hadn’t the courage either to kill or to die! Do you
know that the theft was not proved, that it was shown to be a false
charge, and that in punishment the curate was transferred to another
town, but that my son died as a result of his tortures? The other,
the one who was left to me, was not a coward like his father, so our
persecutor was still fearful that he would wreak vengeance on him,
and, under the pretext of his not having his cedula, [124] which he
had not carried with him just at that time, had him arrested by the
Civil Guard, mistreated him, enraged and harassed him with insults
until he was driven to suicide! And I, I have outlived so much shame;
but if I had not the courage of a father to defend my sons, there yet
remains to me a heart burning for revenge, and I will have it! The
discontented are gathering under my command, my enemies increase
my forces, and on the day that I feel myself strong enough I will
descend to the lowlands and in flames sate my vengeance and end my
own existence. And that day will come or there is no God!” [125]

The old man arose trembling. With fiery look and hollow voice, he
added, tearing his long hair, “Curses, curses upon me that I restrained
the avenging hands of my sons–I have murdered them! Had I let the
guilty perish, had I confided less in the justice of God and men, I
should now have my sons–fugitives, perhaps, but I should have them;
they would not have died under torture! I was not born to be a father,
so I have them not! Curses upon me that I had not learned with my
years to know the conditions under which I lived! But in fire and
blood by my own death I will avenge them!”

In his paroxysm of grief the unfortunate father tore away the bandage,
reopening a wound in his forehead from which gushed a stream of blood.

“I respect your sorrow,” said Elias, “and I understand your desire
for revenge. I, too, am like you, and yet from fear of injuring the
innocent I prefer to forget my misfortunes.”

“You can forget because you are young and because you haven’t lost a
son, your last hope! But I assure you that I shall injure no innocent
one. Do you see this wound? Rather than kill a poor cuadrillero,
who was doing his duty, I let him inflict it.”

“But look,” urged Elias, after a moment’s silence, “look what a
frightful catastrophe you are going to bring down upon our unfortunate
people. If you accomplish your revenge by your own hand, your enemies
will make terrible reprisals, not against you, not against those who
are armed, but against the peaceful, who as usual will be accused–and
then the eases of injustice!”

“Let the people learn to defend themselves, let each one defend
himself!”

“You know that that is impossible. Sir, I knew you in other days when
you were happy; then you gave me good advice, will you now permit me–”

The old man folded his arms in an attitude of attention. “Sir,”
continued Elias, weighing his words well, “I have had the good
fortune to render a service to a young man who is rich, generous,
noble, and who desires the welfare of his country. They say that
this young man has friends in Madrid–I don’t know myself–but I
can assure you that he is a friend of the Captain-General’s. What
do you say that we make him the bearer of the people’s complaints,
if we interest him in the cause of the unhappy?”

The old man shook his head. “You say that he is rich? The rich think
only of increasing their wealth, pride and show blind them, and as
they are generally safe, above all when they have powerful friends,
none of them troubles himself about the woes of the unfortunate. I
know all, because I was rich!”

“But the man of whom I speak is not like the others. He is a son who
has been insulted over the memory of his father, and a young man who,
as he is soon to have a family, thinks of the future, of a happy
future for his children.”

“Then he is a man who is going to be happy–our cause is not for
happy men.”

“But it is for men who have feelings!”

“Perhaps!” replied the old man, seating himself. “Suppose that he
agrees to carry our cry even to the Captain-General, suppose that
he finds in the Cortes [126] delegates who will plead for us; do you
think that we shall get justice?”

“Let us try it before we resort to violent measure,” answered
Elias. “You must be surprised that I, another unfortunate, young
and strong, should propose to you, old and weak, peaceful measures,
but it’s because I’ve seen as much misery caused by us as by the
tyrants. The defenseless are the ones who pay.”

“And if we accomplish nothing?”

“Something we shall accomplish, believe me, for all those who are in
power are not unjust. But if we accomplish nothing, if they disregard
our entreaties, if man has become deaf to the cry of sorrow from his
kind, then I will put myself under your orders!”

The old man embraced the youth enthusiastically. “I accept your
proposition, Elias. I know that you will keep your word. You will
come to me, and I shall help you to revenge your ancestors, you will
help me to revenge my sons, my sons that were like you!”

“In the meantime, sir, you will refrain from violent measures?”

“You will present the complaints of the people, you know them. When
shall I know your answer?”

“In four days send a man to the beach at San Diego and I will tell
him what I shall have learned from the person in whom I place so
much hope. If he accepts, they will give us justice; and if not,
I’ll be the first to fall in the struggle that we will begin.”

“Elias will not die, Elias will be the leader when Capitan Pablo fails,
satisfied in his revenge,” concluded the old man, as he accompanied
the youth out of the cave into the open air.

CHAPTER XLVI

The Cockpit

To keep holy the afternoon of the Sabbath one generally goes to
the cockpit in the Philippines, just as to the bull-fights in
Spain. Cockfighting, a passion introduced into the country and
exploited for a century past, is one of the vices of the people, more
widely spread than opium-smoking among the Chinese. There the poor
man goes to risk all that he has, desirous of getting rich without
work. There the rich man goes to amuse himself, using the money that
remains to him from his feasts and his masses of thanksgiving. The
fortune that he gambles is his own, the cock is raised with much
more care perhaps than his son and successor in the cockpit, so we
have nothing to say against it. Since the government permits it and
even in a way recommends it, by providing that the spectacle may take
place only in the _public plazas_, on _holidays_ (in order that all
may see it and be encouraged by the example?), _from the high mass
until nightfall (eight_ hours), let us proceed thither to seek out
some of our acquaintances.

The cockpit of San Diego does not differ from those to be found in
other towns, except in some details. It consists of three parts,
the first of which, the entrance, is a large rectangle some twenty
meters long by fourteen wide. On one side is the gateway, generally
tended by an old woman whose business it is to collect the _sa pintu_,
or admission fee. Of this contribution, which every one pays, the
government receives a part, amounting to some hundreds of thousands of
pesos a year. It is said that with this money, with which vice pays
its license, magnificent schoolhouses are erected, bridges and roads
are constructed, prizes for encouraging agriculture and commerce are
distributed: blessed be the vice that produces such good results! In
this first enclosure are the vendors of buyos, cigars, sweetmeats,
and foodstuffs. There swarm the boys in company with their fathers
or uncles, who carefully initiate them into the secrets of life.

This enclosure communicates with another of somewhat larger
dimensions,–a kind of foyer where the public gathers while waiting
for the combats. There are the greater part of the fighting-cocks tied
with cords which are fastened to the ground by means of a piece of
bone or hard wood; there are assembled the gamblers, the devotees,
those skilled in tying on the gaffs, there they make agreements,
they deliberate, they beg for loans, they curse, they swear, they
laugh boisterously. That one fondles his chicken, rubbing his hand
over its brilliant plumage, this one examines and counts the scales
on its legs, they recount the exploits of the champions.

There you will see many with mournful faces carrying by the feet
corpses picked of their feathers; the creature that was the favorite
for months, petted and cared for day and night, on which were founded
such flattering hopes, is now nothing more than a carcass to be
sold for a peseta or to be stewed with ginger and eaten that very
night. _Sic transit gloria mundi!_ The loser returns to the home
where his anxious wife and ragged children await him, without his
money or his chicken. Of all that golden dream, of all those vigils
during months from the dawn of day to the setting of the sun, of all
those fatigues and labors, there results only a peseta, the ashes
left from so much smoke.

In this foyer even the least intelligent takes part in the discussion,
while the man of most hasty judgment conscientiously investigates
the matter, weighs, examines, extends the wings, feels the muscles of
the cocks. Some go very well-dressed, surrounded and followed by the
partisans of their champions; others who are dirty and bear the imprint
of vice on their squalid features anxiously follow the movements of
the rich to note the bets, since the purse may become empty but the
passion never satiated. No countenance here but is animated–not
here is to be found the indolent, apathetic, silent Filipino–all
is movement, passion, eagerness. It may be, one would say, that they
have that thirst which is quickened by the water of the swamp.

From this place one passes into the arena, which is known as the
_Rueda_, the wheel. The ground here, surrounded by bamboo-stakes, is
usually higher than that in the two other divisions. In the back part,
reaching almost to the roof, are tiers of seats for the spectators,
or gamblers, since these are the same. During the fights these seats
are filled with men and boys who shout, clamor, sweat, quarrel,
and blaspheme–fortunately, hardly any women get in this far. In the
_Rueda_ are the men of importance, the rich, the famous bettors, the
contractor, the referee. On the perfectly leveled ground the cocks
fight, and from there Destiny apportions to the families smiles or
tears, feast or famine.

At the time of entering we see the gobernadorcillo, Capitan Pablo,
Capitan Basilio, and Lucas, the man with the sear on his face who
felt so deeply the death of his brother.

Capitan Basilio approaches one of the townsmen and asks, “Do you know
which cock Capitan Tiago is going to bring?”

“I don’t know, sir. This morning two came, one of them the _lásak_
that whipped the Consul’s _talisain_.” [127]

“Do you think that my _bulik_ is a match for it?”

“I should say so! I’ll bet my house and my camisa on it!”

At that moment Capitan Tiago arrives, dressed like the heavy gamblers,
in a camisa of Canton linen, woolen pantaloons, and a wide straw
hat. Behind him come two servants carrying the _lásak_ and a white
cock of enormous size.

“Sinang tells me that Maria is improving all the time,” says Capitan
Basilio.

“She has no more fever but is still very weak.”

“Did you lose last night?”

“A little. I hear that you won. I’m going to see if I can’t get
even here.”

“Do you want to fight the _lásak?_” asks Capitan Basilio, looking at
the cock and taking it from the servant. “That depends–if there’s
a bet.”

“How much will you put up?”

“I won’t gamble for less than two.”

“Have you seen my _bulik?_” inquires Capitan Basilio, calling to a
man who is carrying a small game-cock.

Capitan Tiago examines it and after feeling its weight and studying
its scales returns it with the question, “How much will you put up?”

“Whatever you will.”

“Two, and five hundred?”

“Three?”

“Three!”

“For the next fight after this!”

The chorus of curious bystanders and the gamblers spread the news
that two celebrated cocks will fight, each of which has a history
and a well-earned reputation. All wish to see and examine the two
celebrities, opinions are offered, prophecies are made.

Meanwhile, the murmur of the voices grows, the confusion increases,
the _Rueda_ is broken into, the seats are filled. The skilled
attendants carry the two cocks into the arena, a white and a red,
already armed but with the gaffs still sheathed. Cries are heard,
“On the white!” “On the white!” while some other voice answers,
“On the red!” The odds are on the white, he is the favorite; the red
is the “outsider,” the _dejado_.

Members of the Civil Guard move about in the crowd. They are not
dressed in the uniform of that meritorious corps, but neither are
they in civilian costume. Trousers of _guingón_ with a red stripe,
a camisa stained blue from the faded blouse, and a service-cap, make
up their costume, in keeping with their deportment; they make bets
and keep watch, they raise disturbances and talk of keeping the peace.

While the spectators are yelling, waving their hands, flourishing and
clinking pieces of silver; while they search in their pockets for the
last coin, or, in the lack of such, try to pledge their word, promising
to sell the carabao or the next crop, two boys, brothers apparently,
follow the bettors with wistful eyes, loiter about, murmur timid words
to which no one listens, become more and more gloomy and gaze at one
another ill-humoredly and dejectedly. Lucas watches them covertly,
smiles malignantly, jingles his silver, passes close to them, and
gazing into the _Rueda_, cries out:

“Fifty, fifty to twenty on the white!”

The two brothers exchange glances.

“I told you,” muttered the elder, “that you shouldn’t have put up all
the money. If you had listened to me we should now have something to
bet on the red.”

The younger timidly approached Lucas and touched him on the arm.

“Oh, it’s you!” exclaimed the latter, turning around with feigned
surprise. “Does your brother accept my proposition or do you want
to bet?”

“How can we bet when we’ve lost everything?”

“Then you accept?”

“He doesn’t want to! If you would lend us something, now that you
say you know us–”

Lucas scratched his head, pulled at his camisa, and replied, “Yes,
I know you. You are Tarsilo and Bruno, both young and strong. I know
that your brave father died as a result of the hundred lashes a day
those soldiers gave him. I know that you don’t think of revenging him.”

“Don’t meddle in our affairs!” broke in Tarsilo, the elder. “That might
lead to trouble. If it were not that we have a sister, we should have
been hanged long ago.”

“Hanged? They only hang a coward, one who has no money or
influence. And at all events the mountains are near.”

“A hundred to twenty on the white!” cried a passer-by.

“Lend us four pesos, three, two,” begged the younger.

“We’ll soon pay them back double. The fight is going to commence.”

Lucas again scratched his head. “Tush! This money isn’t mine. Don
Crisostomo has given it to me for those who are willing to serve
him. But I see that you’re not like your father–he was really
brave–let him who is not so not seek amusement!” So saying, he drew
away from them a little.

“Let’s take him up, what’s the difference?” said Bruno. “It’s the same
to be shot as to be hanged. We poor folks are good for nothing else.”

“You’re right–but think of our sister!”

Meanwhile, the ring has been cleared and the combat is about to
begin. The voices die away as the two starters, with the expert who
fastens the gaffs, are left alone in the center. At a signal from
the referee, the expert unsheathes the gaffs and the fine blades
glitter threateningly.

Sadly and silently the two brothers draw nearer to the ring until their
foreheads are pressed against the railing. A man approaches them and
calls into their ears, “_Pare_, [128] a hundred to ten on the white!”

Tarsilo stares at him in a foolish way and responds to Bruno’s nudge
with a grunt.

The starters hold the cocks with skilful delicacy, taking care not
to wound themselves. A solemn silence reigns; the spectators seem
to be changed into hideous wax figures. They present one cock to
the other, holding his head down so that the other may peck at it
and thus irritate him. Then the other is given a like opportunity,
for in every duel there must be fair play, whether it is a question
of Parisian cocks or Filipino cocks. Afterwards, they hold them up
in sight of each other, close together, so that each of the enraged
little creatures may see who it is that has pulled out a feather,
and with whom he must fight. Their neck-feathers bristle up as they
gaze at each other fixedly with flashes of anger darting from their
little round eyes. Now the moment has come; the attendants place them
on the ground a short distance apart and leave them a clear field.

Slowly they advance, their footfalls are, audible on the hard
ground. No one in the crowd speaks, no one breathes. Raising and
lowering their heads as if to gauge one another with a look, the two
cocks utter sounds of defiance and contempt. Each sees the bright
blade throwing out its cold, bluish reflections. The danger animates
them and they rush directly toward each other, but a pace apart they
check themselves with fixed gaze and bristling plumage. At that moment
their little heads are filled with a rush of blood, their anger flashes
forth, and they hurl themselves together with instinctive valor. They
strike beak to beak, breast to breast, gaff to gaff, wing to wing, but
the blows are skilfully parried, only a few feathers fall. Again they
size each other up: suddenly the white rises on his wings, brandishing
the deadly knife, but the red has bent his legs and lowered his head,
so the white smites only the empty air.. Then on touching the ground
the white, fearing a blow from behind, turns quickly to face his
adversary. The red attacks him furiously, but he defends himself
calmly–not undeservedly is he the favorite of the spectators, all
of whom tremulously and anxiously follow the fortunes of the fight,
only here and there an involuntary cry being heard.

The ground becomes strewn with red and white feathers dyed in blood,
but the contest is not for the first blood; the Filipino, carrying out
the laws dictated by his government, wishes it to be to the death or
until one or the other turns tail and runs. Blood covers the ground,
the blows are more numerous, but victory still hangs in the balance. At
last, with a supreme effort, the white throws himself forward for
a final stroke, fastens his gaff in the wing of the red and catches
it between the bones. But the white himself has been wounded in the
breast and both are weak and feeble from loss of blood. Breathless,
their strength spent, caught one against the other, they remain
motionless until the white, with blood pouring from his beak, falls,
kicking his death-throes. The red remains at his side with his wing
caught, then slowly doubles up his legs and gently closes his eyes.

Then the referee, in accordance with the rule prescribed by the
government, declares the red the winner. A savage yell greets
the decision, a yell that is heard over the whole town, even and
prolonged. He who hears this from afar then knows that the winner is
the one against which the odds were placed, or the joy would not be
so lasting. The same happens with the nations: when a small one gains
a victory over a large one, it is sung and recounted from age to age.

“You see now!” said Bruno dejectedly to his brother, “if you had
listened to me we should now have a hundred pesos. You’re the cause
of our being penniless.”

Tarsilo did not answer, but gazed about him as if looking for some one.

“There he is, talking to Pedro,” added Bruno. “He’s giving him money,
lots of money!”

True it was that Lucas was counting silver coins into the hand of
Sisa’s husband. The two then exchanged some words in secret and
separated, apparently satisfied.

“Pedro must have agreed. That’s what it is to be decided,” sighed
Bruno.

Tarsilo remained gloomy and thoughtful, wiping away with the cuff of
his camisa the perspiration that ran down his forehead.

“Brother,” said Bruno, “I’m going to accept, if you don’t decide. The
_law_ [129] continues, the _lásak_ must win and we ought not
to lose any chance. I want to bet on the next fight. What’s the
difference? We’ll revenge our father.”

“Wait!” said Tarsilo, as he gazed at him fixedly, eye to eye, while
both turned pale. “I’ll go with you, you’re right. We’ll revenge our
father.” Still, he hesitated, and again wiped away the perspiration.

“What’s stopping you?” asked Bruno impatiently.

“Do you know what fight comes next? Is it worth while?”

“If you think that way, no! Haven’t you heard? The _bulik_ of Capitan
Basilio’s against Capitan Tiago’s _lásak_. According to the _law_
the _lásak_ must win.”

“Ah, the _lásak_! I’d bet on it, too. But let’s be sure first.”

Bruno made a sign of impatience, but followed his brother, who
examined the cock, studied it, meditated and reflected, asked some
questions. The poor fellow was in doubt. Bruno gazed at him with
nervous anger.

“But don’t you see that wide scale he has by the side of his
spur? Don’t you see those feet? What more do you want? Look at those
legs, spread out his wings! And this split scale above this wide one,
and this double one?”

Tarsilo did not hear him, but went on examining the cock. The clinking
of gold and silver came to his ears. “Now let’s look at the _bulik_,”
he said in a thick voice.

Bruno stamped on the ground and gnashed his teeth, but obeyed. They
approached another group where a cock was being prepared for the
ring. A gaff was selected, red silk thread for tying it on was waxed
and rubbed thoroughly. Tarsilo took in the creature with a gloomily
impressive gaze, as if he were not looking at the bird so much as at
something in the future. He rubbed his hand across his forehead and
said to his brother in a stifled voice, “Are you ready?”

“I? Long ago! Without looking at them!”

“But, our poor sister–”

“_Abá!_ Haven’t they told you that Don Crisostomo is the leader? Didn’t
you see him walking with the Captain-General? What risk do we run?”

“And if we get killed?”

“What’s the difference? Our father was flogged to death!”

“You’re right!”

The brothers now sought for Lucas in the different groups. As soon
as they saw him Tarsilo stopped. “No! Let’s get out of here! We’re
going to ruin ourselves!” he exclaimed.

“Go on if you want to! I’m going to accept!”

“Bruno!”

Unfortunately, a man approached them, saying, “Are you betting? I’m
for the _bulik!_” The brothers did not answer.

“I’ll give odds!”

“How much?” asked Bruno.

The man began to count out his pesos. Bruno watched him breathlessly.

“I have two hundred. Fifty to forty!”

“No,” said Bruno resolutely. “Put–”

“All right! Fifty to thirty!”

“Double it if you want to.”

“All right. The _bulik_ belongs to my protector and I’ve just won. A
hundred to sixty!”

“Taken! Wait till I get the money.”

“But I’ll hold the stakes,” said the other, not confiding much in
Bruno’s looks.

“It’s all the same to me,” answered the latter, trusting to his
fists. Then turning to his brother he added, “Even if you do keep out,
I’m going in.”

Tarsilo reflected: he loved his brother and liked the sport, and,
unable to desert him, he murmured, “Let it go.”

They made their way to Lucas, who, on seeing them approach, smiled.

“Sir!” called Tarsilo.

“What’s up?”

“How much will you give us?” asked the two brothers together.

“I’ve already told you. If you will undertake to get others for the
purpose of making a surprise-attack on the barracks, I’ll give each
of you thirty pesos and ten pesos for each companion you bring. If
all goes well, each one will receive a hundred pesos and you double
that amount. Don Crisostomo is rich.”

“Accepted!” exclaimed Bruno. “Let’s have the money.”

“I knew you were brave, as your father was! Come, so that those
fellows who killed him may not overhear us,” said Lucas, indicating
the civil-guards.

Taking them into a corner, he explained to them while he was counting
out the money, “Tomorrow Don Crisostomo will get back with the
arms. Day after tomorrow, about eight o’clock at night, go to the
cemetery and I’ll let you know the final arrangements. You have time
to look for companions.”

After they had left him the two brothers seemed to have changed
parts–Tarsilo was calm, while Bruno was uneasy.

CHAPTER XLVII

The Two Señoras

While Capitan Tiago was gambling on his _lásak_, Doña Victorina was
taking a walk through the town for the purpose of observing how the
indolent Indians kept their houses and fields. She was dressed as
elegantly as possible with all her ribbons and flowers over her silk
gown, in order to impress the provincials and make them realize what a
distance intervened between them and her sacred person. Giving her arm
to her lame husband, she strutted along the streets amid the wonder
and stupefaction of the natives. Her cousin Linares had remained in
the house.

“What ugly shacks these Indians have!” she began with a grimace. “I
don’t see how they can live in them–one must have to be an Indian! And
how rude they are and how proud! They don’t take off their hats when
they meet us! Hit them over the head as the curates and the officers
of the Civil Guard do–teach them politeness!”

“And if they hit me back?” asked Dr. De Espadaña.

“That’s what you’re a man for!”

“B-but, I’m l-lame!”

Doña Victorina was falling into a bad humor. The streets were unpaved
and the train of her gown was covered with dust. Besides, they had met
a number of young women, who, in passing them, had dropped their eyes
and had not admired her rich costume as they should have done. Sinang’s
cochero, who was driving Sinang and her cousin in an elegant carriage,
had the impudence to yell “_Tabi!_” in such a commanding tone that
she had to jump out of the way, and could only protest: “Look at
that brute of a cochero! I’m going to tell his master to train his
servants better.”

“Let’s go back to the house,” she commanded to her husband, who,
fearing a storm, wheeled on his crutch in obedience to her mandate.

They met and exchanged greetings with the alferez. This increased
Doña Victorina’s ill humor, for the officer not only did not proffer
any compliment on her costume, but even seemed to stare at it in a
mocking way.

“You ought not to shake hands with a mere alferez,” she said to her
husband as the soldier left them. “He scarcely touched his helmet
while you took off your hat. You don’t know how to maintain your rank!”

“He’s the b-boss here!”

“What do we care for that? We are Indians, perhaps?”

“You’re right,” he assented, not caring to quarrel. They passed in
front of the officer’s dwelling. Doña Consolacion was at the window,
as usual, dressed in flannel and smoking her cigar. As the house was
low, the two señoras measured one another with looks; Doña Victorina
stared while the Muse of the Civil Guard examined her from head to
foot, and then, sticking out her lower lip, turned her head away
and spat on the ground. This used up the last of Doña Victorina’s
patience. Leaving her husband without support, she planted herself
in front of the alfereza, trembling with anger from head to foot and
unable to speak. Doña Consolacion slowly turned her head, calmly looked
her over again, and once more spat, this time with greater disdain.

“What’s the matter with you, Doña?” she asked.

“Can you tell me, señora, why you look at me so? Are you envious?” Doña
Victorina was at length able to articulate.

“I, envious of you, I, of you?” drawled the Muse. “Yes, I envy you
those frizzes!”

“Come, woman!” pleaded the doctor. “D-don’t t-take any n-notice!”

“Let me teach this shameless slattern a lesson,” replied his wife,
giving him such a shove that he nearly kissed the ground. Then she
again turned to Doña Consolacion.

“Remember who you’re dealing with!” she exclaimed. “Don’t think that
I’m a provincial or a soldier’s _querida!_ In my house in Manila the
alfereces don’t eater, they wait at the door.”

“Oho, _Excelentísima Señora!_ Alfereces don’t enter, but cripples
do–like that one–ha, ha, ha!”

Had it not been for the rouge, Doña Victorian would have been seen to
blush. She tried to get to her antagonist, but the sentinel stopped
her. In the meantime the street was filling up with a curious crowd.

“Listen, I lower myself talking to you–people of quality–Don’t you
want to wash my clothes? I’ll pay you well! Do you think that I don’t
know that you were a washerwoman_?_”

Doña Consolacion straightened up furiously; the remark about washing
hurt her. “Do you think that we don’t know who you are and what
class of people you belong with? Get out, my husband has already
told me! Señora, I at least have never belonged to more than one,
but you? One must be dying of hunger to take the leavings, the mop
of the whole world!”

This shot found its mark with Doña Victorina. She rolled up her
sleeves, clenched her fists, and gritted her teeth. “Come down,
old sow!” she cried. “I’m going to smash that dirty mouth of
yours! _Querida_ of a battalion, filthy hag!”

The Muse immediately disappeared from the window and was soon seen
running down the stairs flourishing her husband’s whip.

Don Tiburcio interposed himself supplicatingly, but they would have
come to blows had not the alferez arrived on the scene.

“Ladies! Don Tiburcio!”

“Train your woman better, buy her some decent clothes, and if you
haven’t any money left, rob the people–that’s what you’ve got soldiers
for!” yelled Doña Victorina.

“Here I am, señora! Why doesn’t your Excellency smash my mouth? You’re
only tongue and spittle, Doña Excelencia!”

“Señora!” cried the alferez furiously to Doña Victorina, “be
thankful that I remember that you’re a woman or else I’d kick you to
pieces–frizzes, ribbons, and all!”

“S-señor Alferez!”

“Get out, you quack! You don’t wear the pants!”

The women brought into play words and gestures, insults and abuse,
dragging out all the evil that was stored in the recesses of their
minds. Since all four talked at once and said so many things that
might hurt the prestige of certain classes by the truths that were
brought to light, we forbear from recording what they said. The curious
spectators, while they may not have understood all that was said,
got not a little entertainment out of the scene and hoped that the
affair would come to blows. Unfortunately for them, the curate came
along and restored order.

“Señores! Señoras! What a shame! Señor Alferez!”

“What are you doing here, you hypocrite, Carlist!”

“Don Tiburcio, take your wife away! Señora, hold your tongue!”

“Say that to these robbers of the poor!”

Little by little the lexicon of epithets was exhausted, the review
of shamelessness of the two couples completed, and with threats and
insults they gradually drew away from one another. Fray Salvi moved
from one group to the other, giving animation to the scene. Would
that our friend the correspondent had been present!

“This very day we’ll go to Manila and see the
Captain-General!” declared the raging Doña Victorina to her
husband. “You’re not a man! It’s a waste of money to buy trousers
for you!”

“B-but, woman, the g-guards? I’m l-lame!”

“You must challenge him for pistol or sword, or–or–” Doña Victorina
stared fixedly at his false teeth.

“My d-dear, I’ve never had hold of a–”

But she did not let him finish. With a majestic sweep of her hand
she snatched out his false teeth and trampled them in the street.

Thus, he half-crying and she breathing fire, they reached the
house. Linares was talking with Maria Clara, Sinang, and Victoria, and
as he had heard nothing of the quarrel, became rather uneasy at sight
of his cousins. Maria Clara, lying in an easy-chair among pillows and
wraps, was greatly surprised to see the new physiognomy of her doctor.

“Cousin,” began Doña Victorina, “you must challenge the alferez right
away, or–”

“Why?” asked the startled Linares.

“You challenge him right now or else I’ll tell everybody here who
you are.”

“But, Doña Victorina!”

The three girls exchanged glances.

“You’ll see! The alferez has insulted us and said that you are what
you are! His old hag came down with a whip and he, this thing here,
permitted the insult–a man!”

“_Abá!_” exclaimed Sinang, “they’re had a fight and we didn’t see it!”

“The alferez smashed the doctor’s teeth,” observed Victoria.

“This very day we go to Manila. You, you stay here to challenge him
or else I’ll tell Don Santiago that all we’re told him is a lie,
I’ll tell him–”

“But, Doña Victorina, Doña Victorina,” interrupted the now pallid
Linares, going up to her, “be calm, don’t call up–” Then he added
in a whisper, “Don’t be imprudent, especially just now.”

At that moment Capitan Tiago came in from the cockpit, sad and
sighing; he had lost his _lásak_. But Doña Victorina left him no
time to grieve. In a few words but with no lack of strong language
she related what had happened, trying of course to put herself in
the best light possible.

“Linares is going to challenge him, do you hear? If he doesn’t, don’t
let him marry your daughter, don’t you permit it! If he hasn’t any
courage, he doesn’t deserve Clarita!”

“So you’re going to marry this gentleman?” asked Sinang, but her
merry eyes filled with tears. “I knew that you were prudent but not
that you were fickle.”

Pale as wax, Maria Clara partly rose and stared with frightened eyes
at her father, at Doña Victorina, at Linares. The latter blushed,
Capitan Tiago dropped his eyes, while the señora went on:

“Clarita, bear this in mind: never marry a man that doesn’t wear
trousers. You expose yourself to insults, even from the dogs!”

The girl did not answer her, but turned to her friends and said,
“Help me to my room, I can’t walk alone.”

By their aid she rose, and with her waist encircled by the round arms
of her friends, resting her marble-like head on the shoulder of the
beautiful Victoria, she went to her chamber.

That same night the married couple gathered their effects together
and presented Capitan Tiago with a bill which amounted to several
thousand pesos. Very early the following day they left for Manila in
his carriage, committing to the bashful Linares the office of avenger.

CHAPTER XLVIII

The Enigma

Volverán las oscuras golondrinas. [130]

BECQUER.

As Lucas had foretold, Ibarra arrived on the following day. His first
visit was to the family of Capitan Tiago for the purpose of seeing
Maria Clara and informing her that his Grace had reconciled him with
religion, and that he brought to the curate a letter of recommendation
in the handwriting of the Archbishop himself. Aunt Isabel was not
a little rejoiced at this, for she liked the young man and did not
look favorably on the marriage of her niece with Linares. Capitan
Tiago was not at home.

“Come in,” said the aunt in her broken Spanish. “Maria, Don Crisostomo
is once more in the favor of God. The Archbishop has _discommunicated_
him.”

But the youth was unable to advance, the smile froze on his lips,
words failed him. Standing on the balcony at the side of Maria Clara
was Linares, arranging bouquets of flowers and leaves. Roses and
sampaguitas were scattered about on the floor. Reclining in a big
chair, pale, with a sad and pensive air, Maria Clara toyed with an
ivory fan which was not whiter than her shapely fingers.

At the appearance of Ibarra, Linares turned pale and Maria Clara’s
cheeks flushed crimson. She tried to rise, but strength failed her,
so she dropped her eyes and let the fan fall. An embarrassed silence
prevailed for a few moments. Ibarra was then able to move forward and
murmur tremblingly, “I’ve just got back and have come immediately to
see you. I find you better than I had thought I should.”

The girl seemed to have been stricken dumb; she neither said anything
nor raised her eyes.

Ibarra looked Linares over from head to foot with a stare which the
bashful youth bore haughtily.

“Well, I see that my arrival was unexpected,” said Ibarra
slowly. “Maria, pardon me that I didn’t have myself announced. At
some other time I’ll be able to make explanations to you about my
conduct. We’ll still see one another surely.”

These last words were accompanied by a look at Linares. The girl
raised toward him her lovely eyes, full of purity and sadness. They
were so beseeching and eloquent that Ibarra stopped in confusion.

“May I come tomorrow?”

“You know that for my part you are always welcome,” she answered
faintly.

Ibarra withdrew in apparent calm, but with a tempest in his head and
ice in his heart. What he had just seen and felt was incomprehensible
to him: was it doubt, dislike, or faithlessness?

“Oh, only a woman after all!” he murmured.

Taking no note of where he was going, he reached the spot where the
schoolhouse was under construction. The work was well advanced, Ñor
Juan with his mile and plumb-bob coming and going among the numerous
laborers. Upon catching sight of Ibarra he ran to meet him.

“Don Crisostomo, at last you’ve come! We’ve all been waiting for
you. Look at the walls, they’re already more than a meter high and
within two days they’ll be up to the height of a man. I’ve put in
only the strongest and most durable woods–molave, dungon, ipil,
langil–and sent for the finest–tindalo, malatapay, pino, and
narra–for the finishings. Do you want to look at the foundations?”

The workmen saluted Ibarra respectfully, while Ñor Juan made voluble
explanations. “Here is the piping that I have taken the liberty
to add,” he said. “These subterranean conduits lead to a sort of
cesspool, thirty yards away. It will help fertilize the garden. There
was nothing of that in the plan. Does it displease you?”

“Quite the contrary, I approve what you’ve done and congratulate
you. You are a real architect. From whom did you learn the business?”

“From myself, sir,” replied the old man modestly.

“Oh, before I forget about it–tell those who may have scruples,
if perhaps there is any one who fears to speak to me, that I’m no
longer excommunicated. The Archbishop invited me to dinner.”

“_Abá_, sir, we don’t pay any attention to excommunications! All of
us are excommunicated. Padre Damaso himself is and yet he stays fat.”

“How’s that?”

“It’s true, sir, for a year ago he caned the coadjutor, who is
just as much a sacred person as he is. Who pays any attention to
excommunications, sir?”

Among the laborers Ibarra caught sight of Elias, who, as he saluted
him along with the others, gave him to understand by a look that he
had something to say to him.

“Ñor Juan,” said Ibarra, “will you bring me your list of the laborers?”

Ñor Juan disappeared, and Ibarra approached Elias, who was by himself,
lifting a heavy stone into a cart.

“If you can grant me a few hours’ conversation, sir, walk down to
the shore of the lake this evening and get into my banka.” The youth
nodded, and Elias moved away.

Ñor Juan now brought the list, but Ibarra scanned it in vain; the
name of Elias did not appear on it!

CHAPTER XLIX

The Voice of the Hunted

As the sun was sinking below the horizon Ibarra stepped into Elias’s
banka at the shore of the lake. The youth looked out of humor.

“Pardon me, sir,” said Elias sadly, on seeing him, “that I have been
so bold as to make this appointment. I wanted to talk to you freely
and so I chose this means, for here we won’t have any listeners. We
can return within an hour.”

“You’re wrong, friend,” answered Ibarra with a forced smile. “You’ll
have to take me to that town whose belfry we see from here. A mischance
forces me to this.”

“A mischance?”

“Yes. On my way here I met the alferez and he forced his company on
me. I thought of you and remembered that he knows you, so to get away
from him I told him that I was going to that town. I’ll have to stay
there all day, since he will look for me tomorrow afternoon.”

“I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you might simply have invited
him to accompany you,” answered Elias naturally.

“What about you?”

“He wouldn’t have recognized me, since the only time he ever saw me
he wasn’t in a position to take careful note of my appearance.”

“I’m in bad luck,” sighed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara. “What did
you have to tell me?”

Elias looked about him. They were already at a distance from the
shore, the sun had set, and as in these latitudes there is scarcely
any twilight, the shades were lengthening, bringing into view the
bright disk of the full moon.

“Sir,” replied Elias gravely, “I am the bearer of the wishes of many
unfortunates.”

“Unfortunates? What do you mean?”

In a few words Elias recounted his conversation with the leader of the
tulisanes, omitting the latter’s doubts and threats. Ibarra listened
attentively and was the first to break the long silence that reigned
after he had finished his story.

“So they want–”

“Radical reforms in the armed forces, in the priesthood, and in the
administration of justice; that is to say, they ask for paternal
treatment from the government.”

“Reforms? In what sense?”

“For example, more respect for a man’s dignity, more security for the
individual, less force in the armed forces, fewer privileges for that
corps which so easily abuses what it has.”

“Elias,” answered the youth, “I don’t know who you are, but I
suspect that you are not a man of the people; you think and act so
differently from others. You will understand me if I tell you that,
however imperfect the condition of affairs may be now, it would be
more so if it were changed. I might be able to get the friends that
I have in Madrid to talk, _by paying them_; I might even be able to
see the Captain-General; but neither would the former accomplish
anything nor has the latter sufficient power to introduce so many
novelties. Nor would I ever take a single step in that direction,
for the reason that, while I fully understand that it is true that
these corporations have their faults, they are necessary at this
time. They are what is known as a necessary evil.”

Greatly surprised, Elias raised his head and looked at him in
astonishment. “Do you, then, also believe in a necessary evil,
sir?” he asked in a voice that trembled slightly. “Do you believe
that in order to do good it is necessary to do evil?”

“No, I believe in it as in a violent remedy that we make use of when we
wish to cure a disease. Now then, the country is an organism suffering
from a chronic malady, and in order to cure it, the government sees
the necessity of employing such means, harsh and violent if you wish,
but useful and necessary.”

“He is a bad doctor, sir, who seeks only to destroy or stifle the
symptoms without an effort to examine into the origin of the malady,
or, when knowing it, fears to attack it. The Civil Guard has only
this purpose: the repression of crime by means of terror and force, a
purpose that it does not fulfil or accomplishes only incidentally. You
must take into account the truth that society can be severe with
individuals only when it has provided them with the means necessary
for their moral perfection. In our country, where there is no society,
since there is no unity between the people and the government, the
latter should be indulgent, not only because indulgence is necessary
but also because the individual, abandoned and uncared for by it,
has less responsibility, for the very reason that he has received less
guidance. Besides, following out your comparison, the treatment that
is applied to the ills of the country is so destructive that it is
felt only in the sound parts of the organism, whose vitality is thus
weakened and made receptive of evil. Would it not be more rational to
strengthen the diseased parts of the organism and lessen the violence
of the remedy a little?”

“To weaken the Civil Guard would be to endanger the security of
the towns.”

“The security of the towns!” exclaimed Elias bitterly. “It will
soon be fifteen years since the towns have had their Civil Guard,
and look: still we have tulisanes, still we hear that they sack
towns, that they infest the highways. Robberies continue and the
perpetrators are not hunted down; crime flourishes, and the real
criminal goes scot-free, but not so the peaceful inhabitant of the
town. Ask any honorable citizen if he looks upon this institution as
a benefit, a protection on the part of the government, and not as an
imposition, a despotism whose outrageous acts do more damage than
the violent deeds of criminals. These latter are indeed serious,
but they are rare, and against them one has the right to defend
himself, but against the molestations of legal force he is not even
allowed a protest, and if they are not serious they are nevertheless
continued and sanctioned. What effect does this institution produce
among our people? It paralyzes communication because all are afraid
of being abused on trifling pretexts. It pays more attention to
formalities than to the real nature of things, which is the first
symptom of incapacity. Because one has forgotten his cedula he must
be manacled and knocked about, regardless of the fact that he may be
a decent and respectable citizen. The superiors hold it their first
duty to make people salute them, either willingly or forcibly, even
in the darkness of the night, and their inferiors imitate them by
mistreating and robbing the country folk, nor are pretexts lacking
to this end. Sanctity of the home does not exist; not long ago in
Kalamba they entered, by forcing their way through the windows, the
house of a peaceful inhabitant to whom their chief owed money and
favors. There is no personal security; when they need to have their
barracks or houses cleaned they go out and arrest any one who does not
resist them, in order to make him work the whole day. Do you care to
hear more? During these holidays gambling, which is prohibited by law,
has gone on while they forcibly broke up the celebrations permitted by
the authorities. You saw what the people thought about these things;
what have they got by repressing their anger and hoping for human
justice? Ah, sir, if that is what you call keeping the peace–”

“I agree with you that there are evils,” replied Ibarra, “but let
us bear with those evils on account of the benefits that accompany
them. This institution may be imperfect, but, believe me, by the fear
that it inspires it keeps the number of criminals from increasing.”

“Say rather that by this fear the number is increased,” corrected
Elias. “Before the creation of this corps almost all the evil-doers,
with the exception of a very few, were criminals from hunger. They
plundered and robbed in order to live, but when their time of want
was passed, they again left the highways clear. Sufficient to put
them to flight were the poor, but brave cuadrilleros, they who have
been so calumniated by the writers about our country, who have for a
right, death, for duty, fighting, and for reward, jests. Now there are
tulisanes who are such for life. A single fault, a crime inhumanly
punished, resistance against the outrages of this power, fear of
atrocious tortures, east them out forever from society and condemn
them to slay or be slain. The terrorism of the Civil Guard closes
against them the doors of repentance, and as outlaws they fight to
defend themselves in the mountains better than the soldiers at whom
they laugh. The result is that we are unable to put an end to the evil
that we have created. Remember what the prudence of the Captain-General
de la Torre [131] accomplished. The amnesty granted by him to those
unhappy people has proved that in those mountains there still beat the
hearts of men and that they only wait for pardon. Terrorism is useful
when the people are slaves, when the mountains afford no hiding-places,
when power places a sentinel behind every tree, and when the body of
the slave contains nothing more than a stomach and intestines. But
when in desperation he fights for his life, feeling his arm strong,
his heart throb, his whole being fill with hate, how can terrorism
hope to extinguish the flame to which it is only adding fuel?”

“I am perplexed, Elias, to hear you talk thus, and I should almost
believe that you were right had I not my own convictions. But note this
fact–and don’t be offended, for I consider you an exception–look
who the men are that ask for these reforms” nearly all criminals or
on the way to be such!”

“Criminals now, or future criminals; but why are they such? Because
their peace has been disturbed, their happiness destroyed, their
dearest affections wounded, and when they have asked justice for
protection, they have become convinced that they can expect it only
from themselves. But you are mistaken, sir, if you think that only the
criminals ask for justice. Go from town to town, from house to house,
listen to the secret sighings in the bosoms of the families, and you
will be convinced that the evils which the Civil Guard corrects are
the same as, if not less than, those it causes all the time. Should
we decide from this that all the people are criminals? If so, then
why defend some from the others, why not destroy them all?”

“Some error exists here which I do not see just now some fallacy in the
theory to invalidate the practise, for in Spain, the mother country,
this corps is displaying, and has ever displayed, great usefulness.”

“I don’t doubt it. Perhaps there, it is better organized, the men
of better grade, perhaps also Spain needs it while the Philippines
does not. Our customs, our mode of life, which are always invoked
when there is a desire to deny us some right, are entirely overlooked
when the desire is to impose something upon us. And tell me, sir, why
have not the other nations, which from their nearness to Spain must be
more like her than the Philippines is, adopted this institution? Is it
because of this that they still have fewer robberies on their railway
trains, fewer riots, fewer murders, and fewer assassinations in their
great capitals?”

Ibarra bowed his head in deep thought, raising it after a few
moments to reply: “This question, my friend, calls for serious
study. If my inquiries convince me that these complaints are well
founded I will write to my friends in Madrid, since we have no
representatives. Meanwhile, believe me that the government needs a
corps with strength enough to make itself respected and to enforce
its authority.”

“Yes, sir, when the government is at war with the country. But for
the welfare of the government itself we must not have the people think
that they are in opposition to authority. Rather, if such were true,
if we prefer force to prestige, we ought to take care to whom we grant
this unlimited power, this authority. So much power in the hands
of men, ignorant men filled with passions, without moral training,
of untried principles, is a weapon in the hands of a madman in a
defenseless multitude. I concede and wish to believe with you that
the government needs this weapon, but then let it choose this weapon
carefully, let it select the most worthy instruments, and since it
prefers to take upon itself authority, rather than have the people
grant it, at least let it be seen that it knows how to exercise it.”

Elias spoke passionately, enthusiastically, in vibrating tones; his
eyes flashed. A solemn pause followed. The banka, unimpelled by the
paddle, seemed to stand still on the water. The moon shone majestically
in a sapphire sky and a few lights glimmered on the distant shore.

“What more do they ask for?” inquired Ibarra.

“Reform in the priesthood,” answered Elias in a sad and discouraged
tone. “These unfortunates ask for more protection against–”

“Against the religious orders?”

“Against their oppressors, sir.”

“Has the Philippines forgotten what she owes to those orders? Has she
forgotten the immense debt of gratitude that is due from her to those
who snatched her from error to give her the true faith, to those who
have protected her against the tyrannical acts of the civil power? This
is the evil result of not knowing the history of our native land!”

The surprised Elias could hardly credit what he heard. “Sir,” he
replied in a grave tone, “you accuse these people of ingratitude;
let me, one of the people who suffer, defend them. Favors rendered,
in order to have any claims to recognition, must be disinterested. Let
us pass over its missionary work, the much-invoked Christian charity;
let us brush history aside and not ask what Spain has done with the
Jewish people, who gave all Europe a Book, a Religion, and a God;
what she has done with the Arabic people, who gave her culture,
who were tolerant with her religious beliefs, and who awoke her
lethargic national spirit, so nearly destroyed during the Roman and
Gothic dominations. You say that she snatched us from error and gave
us the true faith: do you call faith these outward forms, do you
call religion this traffic in girdles and scapularies, truth these
miracles and wonderful tales that we hear daily? Is this the law of
Jesus Christ? For this it was hardly necessary that a God should allow
Himself to be crucified or that we should be obliged to show eternal
gratitude. Superstition existed long before–it was only necessary
to systematize it and raise the price of its merchandise!

“You will tell me that however imperfect our religion may be at
present, it is preferable to what we had before. I believe that, too,
and would agree with you in saying so, but the cost is too great,
since for it we have given up our nationality, our independence. For
it we have given over to its priests our best towns, our fields, and
still give up our savings by the purchase of religious objects. An
article of foreign manufacture has been introduced among us, we have
paid well for it, and we are even.

“If you mean the protection that they afforded us against the
_encomenderos_, [132] I might answer that through them we fell under
the power of the _encomenderos_. But no, I realize that a true faith
and a sincere love for humanity guided the first missionaries to our
shores; I realize the debt of gratitude we owe to those noble hearts;
I know that at that time Spain abounded in heroes of all kinds, in
religious as well as in political affairs, in civil and in military
life. But because the forefathers were virtuous, should we consent
to the abuses of their degenerate descendants? Because they have
rendered us great service, should we be to blame for preventing them
from doing us wrong? The country does not ask for their expulsion but
only for reforms required by the changed circumstances and new needs.”

“I love our native land as well as you can, Elias; I understand
something of what it desires, and I have listened with attention to
all you have said. But, after all, my friend, I believe that we are
looking at things through rather impassioned eyes. Here, less than
in other parts, do I see the necessity for reforms.”

“Is it possible, sir,” asked Elias, extending his arms in a gesture
of despair, “that you do not see the necessity for reforms, you,
after the misfortunes of your family?”

“Ah, I forget myself and my own troubles in the presence of the
security of the Philippines, in the presence of the interests of
Spain!” interrupted Ibarra warmly. “To preserve the Philippines it
is meet that the friars continue as they are. On the union with Spain
depends the welfare of our country.”

When Ibarra had ceased Elias still sat in an attitude of attention
with a sad countenance and eyes that had lost their luster. “The
missionaries conquered the country, it is true,” he replied, “but do
you believe that by the friars the Philippines will be preserved?”

“Yes, by them alone. Such is the belief of all who have written about
the country.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Elias dejectedly, throwing the paddle clown in the
banka, “I did not believe that you would have so poor an idea of
the government and of the country. Why don’t you condemn both? What
would you say of the members of a family that dwells in peace only
through the intervention of an outsider: a country that is obedient
because it is deceived; a government that commands be, cause it avails
itself of fraud, a government that does not know how to make itself
loved or respected for its own sake? Pardon me, sir, but I believe
that our government is stupid and is working its own ruin when it
rejoices that such is the belief. I thank you for your kindness,
where do you wish me to take you now?”

“No,” replied Ibarra, “let us talk; it is necessary to see who is
right on such an important subject.”

“Pardon me, sir,” replied Elias, shaking his head, “but I haven’t the
eloquence to convince you. Even though I have had some education I am
still an Indian, my way of life seems to you a precarious one, and my
words will always seem to you suspicious. Those who have given voice
to the opposite opinion are Spaniards, and as such, even though they
may speak idly and foolishly, their tones, their titles, and their
origin make their words sacred and give them such authority that I
have desisted forever from arguing against them. Moreover, when I
see that you, who love your country, you, whose father sleeps beneath
these quiet waters, you, who have seen yourself attacked, insulted,
and persecuted, hold such opinions in spite of all these things, and
in spite of your knowledge, I begin to doubt my own convictions and
to admit the possibility that the people may be mistaken. I’ll have
to tell those unfortunates who have put their trust in men that they
must place it in God and their own strength. Again I thank you–tell
me where I shall take you.”

“Elias, your bitter words touch my heart and make me also doubt. What
do you want? I was not brought up among the people, so I am perhaps
ignorant of their needs. I spent my childhood in the Jesuit college,
I grew up in Europe, I have been molded by books, learning only what
men have been able to bring to light. What remains among the shadows,
what the writers do not tell, that I am ignorant of. Yet I love our
country as you do, not only because it is the duty of every man to
love the country to which he owes his existence and to which he will
no doubt owe his final rest, not only because my father so taught
me, but also because my mother was an Indian, because my fondest
recollections cluster around my country, and I love it also because
to it I owe and shall ever owe my happiness!”

“And I, because to it I owe my misfortunes,” muttered Elias.

“Yes, my friend, I know that you suffer, that you are unfortunate,
and that those facts make you look into the future darkly and
influence your way of thinking, so I am somewhat forearmed against
your complaints. If I could understand your motives, something of
your past–”

“My misfortunes had another source. If I thought that the story of
them would be of any use, I would relate it to you, since, apart from
the fact that I make no secret of it, it is quite well known to many.”

“Perhaps on hearing it I might correct my opinions. You know that I do
not trust much to theories, preferring rather to be guided by facts.”

Elias remained thoughtful for a few moments. “If that is the case,
sir, I will tell you my story briefly.”

CHAPTER L

Elias’s Story

“Some sixty years ago my grandfather dwelt in Manila, being employed
as a bookkeeper in a Spanish commercial house. He was then very young,
was married, and had a son. One night from some unknown cause the
warehouse burned down. The fire was communicated to the dwelling of his
employer and from there to many other buildings. The losses were great,
a scapegoat was sought, and the merchant accused my grandfather. In
vain he protested his innocence, but he was poor and unable to pay the
great lawyers, so he was condemned to be flogged publicly and paraded
through the streets of Manila. Not so very long since they still used
the infamous method of punishment which the people call the ‘_caballo
y vaca_,’ [133] and which is a thousand times more dreadful than death
itself. Abandoned by all except his young wife, my grandfather saw
himself tied to a horse, followed by an unfeeling crowd, and whipped
on every street-corner in the sight of men, his brothers, and in the
neighborhood of numerous temples of a God of peace. When the wretch,
now forever disgraced, had satisfied the vengeance of man with his
blood, his tortures, and his cries, he had to be taken off the horse,
for he had become unconscious. Would to God that he had died! But
by one of those refinements of cruelty he was given his liberty. His
wife, pregnant at the time, vainly begged from door to door for work or
alms in order to care for her sick husband and their poor son, but who
would trust the wife of an incendiary and a disgraced man? The wife,
then, had to become a prostitute!”

Ibarra rose in his seat.

“Oh, don’t get excited! Prostitution was not now a dishonor for her
or a disgrace to her husband; for them honor and shame no longer
existed. The husband recovered from his wounds and came with his wife
and child to hide himself in the mountains of this province. Here they
lived several months, miserable, alone, hated and shunned by all. The
wife gave birth to a sickly child, which fortunately died. Unable
to endure such misery and being less courageous than his wife, my
grandfather, in despair at seeing his sick wife deprived of all care
and assistance, hanged himself. His corpse rotted in sight of the son,
who was scarcely able to care for his sick mother, and the stench
from it led to their discovery. Her husband’s death was attributed
to her, for of what is the wife of a wretch, a woman who has been
a prostitute besides, not believed to be capable? If she swears,
they call her a perjurer; if she weeps, they say that she is acting;
and that she blasphemes when she calls on God. Nevertheless, they
had pity on her condition and waited for the birth of another child
before they flogged her. You know how the friars spread the belief
that the Indians can only be managed by blows: read what Padre Gaspar
de San Agustin says! [134]

“A woman thus condemned will curse the day on which her child is born,
and this, besides prolonging her torture, violates every maternal
sentiment. Unfortunately, she brought forth a healthy child. Two months
afterwards, the sentence was executed to the great satisfaction of
the men who thought that thus they were performing their duty. Not
being at peace in these mountains, she then fled with her two sons
to a neighboring province, where they lived like wild beasts, hating
and hated. The elder of the two boys still remembered, even amid so
much misery, the happiness of his infancy, so he became a tulisan as
soon as he found himself strong enough. Before long the bloody name
of Balat spread from province to province, a terror to the people,
because in his revenge he did everything with blood and fire. The
younger, who was by nature kind-hearted, resigned himself to his
shameful fate along with his mother, and they lived on what the woods
afforded, clothing themselves in the cast-off rags of travelers. She
had lost her name, being known only as _the convict, the prostitute,
the scourged_. He was known as the son of his mother only, because
the gentleness of his disposition led every one to believe that he
was not the son of the incendiary and because any doubt as to the
morality of the Indians can be held reasonable.

“At last, one day the notorious Balat fell into the clutches of the
authorities, who exacted of him a strict accounting for his crimes,
and of his mother for having done nothing to rear him properly. One
morning the younger brother went to look for his mother, who had
gone into the woods to gather mushrooms and had not returned. He
found her stretched out on the ground under a cotton-tree beside the
highway, her face turned toward the sky, her eyes fixed and staring,
her clenched hands buried in the blood-stained earth. Some impulse
moved him to look up in the direction toward which the eyes of the
dead woman were staring, and he saw hanging from a branch a basket
and in the basket the gory head of his brother!”

“My God!” ejaculated Ibarra.

“That might have been the exclamation of my father,” continued Elias
coldly. “The body of the brigand had been cut up and the trunk buried,
but his limbs were distributed and hung up in different towns. If
ever you go from Kalamba to Santo Tomas you will still see a withered
lomboy-tree where one of my uncle’s legs hung rotting–nature has
blasted the tree so that it no longer grows or bears fruit. The same
was done with the other limbs, but the head, as the best part of the
person and the portion most easily recognizable, was hung up in front
of his mother’s hut!”

Ibarra bowed his head.

“The boy fled like one accursed,” Elias went on. “He fled from town
to town by mountain and valley. When he thought that he had reached
a place where he was not known, he hired himself out as a laborer in
the house of a rich man in the province of Tayabas. His activity and
the gentleness of his character gained him the good-will of all who
did not know his past, and by his thrift and economy he succeeded in
accumulating a little capital. He was still young, he thought his
sorrows buried in the past, and he dreamed of a happy future. His
pleasant appearance, his youth, and his somewhat unfortunate condition
won him the love of a young woman of the town, but he dared not ask
for her hand from fear that his past might become known. But love
is stronger than anything else and they wandered from the straight
path, so, to save the woman’s honor, he risked everything by asking
for her in marriage. The records were sought and his whole past
became known. The girl’s father was rich and succeeded in having him
prosecuted. He did not try to defend himself but admitted everything,
and so was sent to prison. The woman gave birth to twins, a boy and a
girl, who were nurtured in secret and made to believe that their father
was dead no difficult matter, since at a tender age they saw their
mother die, and they gave little thought to tracing genealogies. As our
maternal grandfather was rich our childhood passed happily. My sister
and I were brought up together, loving one another as only twins can
love when they have no other affections. When quite young I was sent
to study in the Jesuit College, and my sister, in order that we might
not be completely separated, entered the Concordia College. [135] After
our brief education was finished, since we desired only to be farmers,
we returned to the town to take possession of the inheritance left
us by our grandfather. We lived happily for a time, the future smiled
on us, we had many servants, our’ fields produced abundant harvests,
and my sister was about to be married to a young man whom she adored
and who responded equally to her affection.

“But in a dispute over money and by reason of my haughty disposition
at that time, I alienated the good will of a distant relative, and
one day he east in my face my doubtful birth and shameful descent. I
thought it all a slander and demanded satisfaction. The tomb which
covered so much rottenness was again opened and to my consternation
the whole truth came out to overwhelm me. To add to our sorrow, we
had had for many years an old servant who had endured all my whims
without ever leaving us, contenting himself merely with weeping and
groaning at the rough jests of the other servants. I don’t know how my
relative had found it out, but the fact is that he had this old man
summoned into court and made him tell the truth: that old servant,
who had clung to his beloved children, and whom I had abused many
times, was my father! Our happiness faded away, I gave up our fortune,
my sister lost her betrothed, and with our father we left the town
to seek refuge elsewhere. The thought that he had contributed to
our misfortunes shortened the old man’s days, but before he died I
learned from his lips the whole story of the sorrowful past.

“My sister and I were left alone. She wept a great deal, but even
in the midst of such great sorrows as heaped themselves upon us,
she could not forget her love. Without complaining, without uttering
a word, she saw her former sweetheart married to another girl, but I
watched her gradually sicken without being able to console her. One
day she disappeared, and it was in vain that I sought everywhere,
in vain I made inquiries about her. About six months afterwards I
learned that about that time, after a flood on the lake, there had
been found in some rice fields bordering on the beach at Kalamba,
the corpse of a young woman who had been either drowned or murdered,
for she had had, so they said, a knife sticking in her breast. The
officials of that town published the fact in the country round about,
but no one came to claim the body, no young woman apparently had
disappeared. From the description they gave me afterward of her dress,
her ornaments, the beauty of her countenance, and her abundant hair,
I recognized in her my poor sister.

“Since then I have wandered from province to province. My reputation
and my history are in the mouths of many. They attribute great deeds
to me, sometimes calumniating me, but I pay little attention to men,
keeping ever on my way. Such in brief is my story, a story of one of
the judgments of men.”

Elias fell silent as he rowed along.

“I still believe that you are not wrong,” murmured Crisostomo in a low
voice, “when you say that justice should seek to do good by rewarding
virtue and educating the criminals. Only, it’s impossible, Utopian! And
where could be secured so much money, so many new employees?”

“For what, then, are the priests who proclaim their mission of peace
and charity? Is it more meritorious to moisten the head of a child
with water, to give it salt to eat, than to awake in the benighted
conscience of a criminal that spark which God has granted to every
man to light him to his welfare? Is it more humane to accompany
a criminal to the scaffold than to lead him along the difficult
path from vice to virtue? Don’t they also pay spies, executioners,
civil-guards? These things, besides being dirty, also cost money.”

“My friend, neither you nor I, although we may wish it, can accomplish
this.”

“Alone, it is true, we are nothing, but take up the cause of the
people, unite yourself with the people, be not heedless of their
cries, set an example to the rest, spread the idea of what is called
a fatherland!”

“What the people ask for is impossible. We must wait.”

“Wait! To wait means to suffer!”

“If I should ask for it, the powers that be would laugh at me.”

“But if the people supported you?”

“Never! I will never be the one to lead the multitude to get by force
what the government does not think proper to grant, no! If I should
ever see that multitude armed I would place myself on the side of the
government, for in such a mob I should not see my countrymen. I desire
the country’s welfare, therefore I would build a schoolhouse. I seek
it by means of instruction, by progressive advancement; without light
there is no road.”

“Neither is there liberty without strife!” answered Elias.

“The fact is that I don’t want that liberty!”

“The fact is that without liberty there is no light,” replied the
pilot with warmth. “You say that you are only slightly acquainted
with your country, and I believe you. You don’t see the struggle that
is preparing, you don’t see the cloud on the horizon. The fight is
beginning in the sphere of ideas, to descend later into the arena,
which will be dyed with blood. I hear the voice of God–woe unto them
who would oppose it! For them History has not been written!”

Elias was transfigured; standing uncovered, with his manly face
illuminated by the moon, there was something extraordinary about
him. He shook his long hair, and went on:

“Don’t you see how everything is awakening? The sleep has lasted for
centuries, but one day the thunderbolt [136] struck, and in striking,
infused life. Since then new tendencies are stirring our spirits,
and these tendencies, today scattered, will some day be united, guided
by the God who has not failed other peoples and who will not fail us,
for His cause is the cause of liberty!”

A solemn silence followed these words, while the banka, carried along
insensibly by the waves, neared the shore.

Elias was the first to break the silence. “What shall I tell those
who sent me?” he asked with a change from his former tone.

“I’ve already told you: I greatly deplore their condition, but
they should wait. Evils are not remedied by other evils, and in our
misfortunes each of us has his share of blame.”

Elias did not again reply, but dropped his head and rowed along until
they reached the shore, where he took leave of Ibarra: “I thank you,
sir, for the condescension you have shown me. Now, for your own good,
I beg of you that in the future you forget me and that you do not
recognize me again, no matter in what situation you may find me.”

So saying, he drew away in the banka, rowing toward a thicket on the
shore. As he covered the long distance he remained silent, apparently
intent upon nothing but the thousands of phosphorescent diamonds
that the oar caught up and dropped back into the lake, where they
disappeared mysteriously into the blue waves.

When he had reached the shadow of the thicket a man came out of it
and approached the banka. “What shall I tell the capitan?” he asked.

“Tell him that Elias, if he lives, will keep his word,” was the
sad answer.

“When will you join us, then?”

“When your capitan thinks that the hour of danger has come.”

“Very well. Good-by!”

“If I don’t die first,” added Elias in a low voice.

CHAPTER LI

Exchanges

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

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

VICTORINA DE LOS REYES DE DE ESPADAÑA

sampaloc monday 7 in the evening

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

“But how? Suppose he receives me with violence?” he soliloquized,
as he paced to and fro. “Suppose I find him with his señora? Who will
be willing to be my second? The curate? Capitan Tiago? Damn the hour
in which I listened to her advice! The old toady! To oblige me to
get myself tangled up, to tell lies, to make a blustering fool of
myself! What will the young lady say about me? Now I’m sorry that
I’ve been secretary to all the ministers!”

While the good Linares was in the midst of his soliloquy, Padre Salvi
came in. The Franciscan was even thinner and paler than usual, but his
eyes gleamed with a strange light and his lips wore a peculiar smile.

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

“Where is Don Santiago?” continued the curate.

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

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

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

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

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

“Padre Damaso?” queried Linares.

“Yes, Padre Damaso has said,” the curate went on, without taking
his gaze from Maria Clara, “that as–being her sponsor in baptism,
he can’t permit–but, after all, I believe that if Señor Ibarra begs
his pardon, which I don’t doubt he’ll do, everything will be settled.”

Maria Clara rose, made some excuse, and retired to her chamber,
accompanied by Victoria.

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

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

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

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

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

“May I know what you said?”

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

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

“Certainly, certainly, by all means!” exclaimed Padre Salvi.

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

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

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

Ibarra became grave. “Tell Maria that I want to talk with her alone.”

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

“Entirely alone, no, but not with that fellow present.”

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

“When shall I have an answer?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER LII

The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows

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

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

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

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

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

“How many of us will there be?”

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

“What if you don’t succeed?”

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

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

“They’re following me,” muttered the first figure. “Can it be the
civil-guards? Did the senior sacristan lie?”

“They said that they would meet here,” thought the second shadow. “Some
mischief must be on foot when the two brothers conceal it from me.”

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

“Is that you?”

“Is that you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For–for the same purpose.”

“_Abá!_ I’m glad of that, I’ll not be alone. I’ve brought cards. At
the first stroke of the bell I’ll make the lay, at the second I’ll
deal. The cards that move are the cards of the dead and we’ll have
to cut for them. Have you brought cards?”

“No.”

“Then how–”

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

“But what if the dead don’t play?”

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

A short silence ensued.

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

“With my fists,” answered the larger of the two.

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

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

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

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

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

Elias lighted match after match. “On the jack!” he said, and to
indicate the card placed a vertebra on top of it.

“Play!” called Lucas, as he dealt an ace with the fourth or fifth
card. “You’ve lost,” he added. “Now leave me alone so that I can try
to make a raise.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Aha! But special marks?”

“Black shirt, black pantaloons, wood-cutter.”

“Aha, he won’t get away from me! I think I see him now.”

“I wouldn’t mistake him for any one else, even though he might look
like him.”

Thus the two soldiers continued on their round.

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

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

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

“To order a mass for tomorrow.”

“Haven’t you seen Elias?”

“I don’t know him, sir,” answered Lucas.

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

“No, sir.”

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

“No, sir,” replied Lucas stupidly.

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

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

“No,” answered the Visayan.

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

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

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

But another shadowy figure diverted their attention. They challenged
this one also and took the man to the light.

This time it was the real Elias.

“Where you going?”

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

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

CHAPTER LIII

Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina [137]

Early the next morning the report spread through the town that many
lights had been seen in the cemetery on the previous night. The leader
of the Venerable Tertiary Order spoke of lighted candles, of their
shape and size, and, although he could not fix the exact number, had
counted more than twenty. Sister Sipa, of the Brotherhood of the Holy
Rosary, could not bear the thought that a member of a rival order
should alone boast of having seen this divine marvel, so she, even
though she did not live near the place, had heard cries and groans,
and even thought she recognized by their voices certain persons with
whom she, in other times,–but out of Christian charity she not only
forgave them but prayed for them and would keep their names secret,
for all of which she was declared on the spot to be a saint. Sister
Rufa was not so keen of hearing, but she could not suffer that Sister
Sipa had heard so much and she nothing, so she related a dream in
which there had appeared before her many souls–not only of the
dead but even of the living–souls in torment who begged for a part
of those indulgences of hers which were so carefully recorded and
treasured. She could furnish names to the families interested and
only asked for a few alms to succor the Pope in his needs. A little
fellow, a herder, who dared to assert that he had seen nothing more
than one light and two men in salakots had difficulty in escaping
with mere slaps and scoldings. Vainly he swore to it; there were his
carabaos with him and could verify his statement. “Do you pretend
to know more than the Warden and the Sisters, _paracmason_, [138]
heretic?” he was asked amid angry looks. The curate went up into the
pulpit and preached about purgatory so fervently that the pesos again
flowed forth from their hiding-places to pay for masses.

But let us leave the suffering souls and listen to the conversation
between Don Filipo and old Tasio in the lonely home of the latter. The
Sage, or Lunatic, was sick, having been for days unable to leave his
bed, prostrated by a malady that was rapidly growing worse.

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you think so?” asked Don Filipo.

“Don’t you feel it?” rejoined the old man, sitting up in his bed. “Ah,
that is because you haven’t seen the past, you haven’t studied the
effect of European immigration, of the coming of new books, and
of the movement of our youth to Europe. Examine and compare these
facts. It is true that the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo
Tomas, with its most sapient faculty, still exists and that some
intelligences are yet exercised in formulating distinctions and in
penetrating the subtleties of scholasticism; but where will you now
find the metaphysical youth of our days, with their archaic education,
who tortured their brains and died in full pursuit of sophistries
in some corner of the provinces, without ever having succeeded in
understanding the attributes of _being_, or solving the problem of
_essence_ and _existence_, those lofty concepts that made us forget
what was essential,–our own existence and our own individuality? Look
at the youth of today! Full of enthusiasm at the view of a wider
horizon, they study history, mathematics, geography, literature,
physical sciences, languages–all subjects that in our times we heard
mentioned with horror, as though they were heresies. The greatest
free-thinker of my day declared them inferior to the classifications of
Aristotle and the laws of the syllogism. Man has at last comprehended
that he is man; he has given up analyzing his God and searching into
the imperceptible, into what he has not seen; he has given up framing
laws for the phantasms of his brain; he comprehends that his heritage
is the vast world, dominion over which is within his reach; weary of
his useless and presumptuous toil, he lowers his head and examines what
surrounds him. See how poets are now springing up among us! The Muses
of Nature are gradually opening up their treasures to us and begin
to smile in encouragement on our efforts; the experimental sciences
have already borne their first-fruits; time only is lacking for their
development. The lawyers of today are being trained in the new forms of
the philosophy of law, some of them begin to shine in the midst of the
shadows which surround our courts of justice, indicating a change in
the course of affairs. Hear how the youth talk, visit the centers of
learning! Other names resound within the walls of the schools, there
where we heard only those of St. Thomas, Suarez, Amat, Sanchez, [139]
and others who were the idols of our times. In vain do the friars cry
out from the pulpits against our demoralization, as the fish-venders
cry out against the cupidity of their customers, disregarding the
fact that their wares are stale and unserviceable! In vain do the
conventos extend their ramifications to check the new current. The
gods are going! The roots of the tree may weaken the plants that
support themselves under it, but they cannot take away life from
those other beings, which, like birds, are soaring toward the sky.”

The Sage spoke with animation, his eyes gleamed.

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

“Stifled! Who will stifle it? Man, that weak dwarf, stifle progress,
the powerful child of time and action? When has he been able to do
so? Bigotry, the gibbet, the stake, by endeavoring to stifle it,
have hurried it along. _E pur si muove_, [140] said Galileo, when
the Dominicans forced him to declare that the earth does not move,
and the same statement might be applied to human progress. Some wills
are broken down, some individuals sacrificed, but that is of little
import; progress continues on its way, and from the blood of those
who fall new and vigorous offspring is born. See, the press itself,
however backward it may wish to be, is taking a step forward. The
Dominicans themselves do not escape the operation of this law, but are
imitating the Jesuits, their irreconcilable enemies. They hold fiestas
in their cloisters, they erect little theaters, they compose poems,
because, as they are not devoid of intelligence in spite of believing
in the fifteenth century, they realize that the Jesuits are right,
and they will still take part in the future of the younger peoples
that they have reared.”

“So, according to you, the Jesuits keep up with progress?” asked Don
Filipo in wonder. “Why, then, are they opposed in Europe?”

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

“But where are we getting to?” he asked with a change of tone. “Ah,
we were speaking of the present condition of the Philippines. Yes,
we are now entering upon a period of strife, or rather, I should say
that you are, for my generation belongs to the night, we are passing
away. This strife is between the past, which seizes and strives
with curses to cling to the tottering feudal castle, and the future,
whose song of triumph may be heard from afar amid the splendors of the
coming dawn, bringing the message of Good-News from other lands. Who
will fall and be buried in the moldering ruins?”

The old man paused. Noticing that Don Filipo was gazing at him
thoughtfully, he said with a smile, “I can almost guess what you
are thinking.”

“Really?”

“You are thinking of how easily I may be mistaken,” was the answer
with a sad smile. “Today I am feverish, and I am not infallible: _homo
sum et nihil humani a me alienum puto_, [141] said Terence, and if
at any time one is allowed to dream, why not dream pleasantly in the
last hours of life? And after all, I have lived only in dreams! You
are right, it is a dream! Our youths think only of love affairs and
dissipations; they expend more time and work harder to deceive and
dishonor a maiden than in thinking about the welfare of their country;
our women, in order to care for the house and family of God, neglect
their own: our men are active only in vice and heroic only in shame;
childhood develops amid ignorance and routine, youth lives its best
years without ideals, and a sterile manhood serves only as an example
for corrupting youth. Gladly do I die! _Claudite iam rivos, pueri!_”
[142]

“Don’t you want some medicine?” asked Don Filipo in order to change
the course of the conversation, which had darkened the old man’s face.

“The dying need no medicines; you who remain need them. Tell Don
Crisostomo to come and see me tomorrow, for I have some important
things to say to him. In a few days I am going away. The Philippines
is in darkness!”

After a few moments more of talk, Don Filipo left the sick man’s house,
grave and thoughtful.

CHAPTER LIV

Revelations

Quidquid latet, adparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit. [143]

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

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

In fact, he rushes headlong up the stairway and knocks impatiently
at the alferez’s door. The latter puts in his appearance, scowling,
followed by his better half, who smiles like one of the damned.

“Ah, Padre, I was just going over to see you. That old goat of yours–”

“I have a very important matter–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not talking about him.”

“Then, what?”

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

A curse and a roar sounded outside. “Brute, you’ve split my forehead
open!” yelled his wife.

“Now, unburden yourself,” he said calmly to the curate.

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

“Sure! I thought you’d lost something.”

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

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

“Be calm!”

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

The curate drew nearer to him and asked mysteriously,
“Haven’t–you–heard–anything?”

The alferez shrugged his shoulders.

“You admit that you know absolutely nothing?”

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

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

“Well, damn it, out with it!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Who’ll I arrest? Who’ll I arrest?” he cried.

“Calm yourself! There is still time, thanks to the promptness with
which I have acted. We have till eight o’clock.”

“I’ll shoot all of them!”

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

The alferez was stupefied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While all this was taking place, a man ran along the road leading to
Ibarra’s house and rushed up the stairway.

“Is your master here?” the voice of Elias called to a servant.

“He’s in his study at work.”

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

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

“Let’s not talk about me, sir–”

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

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

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

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

“Why?” Ibarra was at length able to ask.

“Put all your valuables in a safe place–”

“Why?”

“Burn every letter written by you or to you–the most innocent thing
may be wrongly construed–”

“But why all this?”

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

“A plot? Who is forming it?”

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

“But he–didn’t he tell you who is paying him?”

“Yes! Under a pledge of secrecy he said that it was you.”

“My God!” exclaimed the terrified Ibarra.

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

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

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

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

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

“Suppose that I myself report the plot?”

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

“But what’s to be done?”

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

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

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

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

So the bewildered and stupefied young man opened and shut boxes,
collected papers, read letters hurriedly, tearing up some and laying
others aside. He took down some books and began to turn their leaves.

Elias did the same, if not so excitedly, yet with equal eagerness. But
suddenly he paused, his eyes bulged, he turned the paper in his hand
over and over, then asked in a trembling voice:

“Was your family acquainted with Don Pedro Eibarramendia?”

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

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

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

“Was he a Basque?” demanded Elias, approaching him.

“Yes, a Basque–but what’s the matter?” asked Ibarra in surprise.

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

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

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

“What was I about to do?” he muttered, fleeing from the house.

CHAPTER LV

The Catastrophe

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

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

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

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

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

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

The church bell boomed out the hour of eight and all rose to
pray. Padre Salvi offered up a prayer in a weak and trembling voice,
but as each was busy with his own thoughts no one paid any attention
to the priest’s agitation.

Scarcely had the prayer ceased when Ibarra appeared. The youth was
in mourning not only in his attire but also in his face, to such an
extent that, on seeing him, Maria Clara arose and took a step toward
him to ask what the matter was. But at that instant the report of
firearms was heard. Ibarra stopped, his eyes rolled, he lost the power
of speech. The curate had concealed himself behind a post. More shots,
more reports were heard from the direction of the convento, followed
by cries and the sound of persons running. Capitan Tiago, Aunt Isabel,
and Linares rushed in pell-mell, crying, “Tulisan! Tulisan!” Andeng
followed, flourishing the gridiron as she ran toward her foster-sister.

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

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

“_Christie eleyson!_ Santiago, let the prophecy be fulfilled! Shut
the windows!” groaned Aunt Isabel.

“Fifty big bombs and two thanksgiving masses!” responded Capitan
Tiago. “_Ora pro nobis!_”

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

“_Miserere!_ The alferez is calling for confession,” cried Aunt
Isabel. “The alferez is wounded?” asked Linares hastily. “Ah!!!” Only
then did he notice that he had not yet swallowed what he had in
his mouth.

“Padre, come here! There’s nothing more to fear!” the alferez continued
to call out.

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

“The outlaws have killed the alferez! Maria, Sinang, go into your
room and fasten the door! _Kyrie eleyson!_”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Open, in the King’s name, open at once, or we’ll break the door down,”
answered an imperious voice in Spanish.

Ibarra looked toward the window, his eyes gleamed, and he cocked his
revolver. Then changing his mind, he put the weapons down and went
to open the door just as the servant appeared. Three guards instantly
seized him.

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

“For what?”

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

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

Ibarra went with them, leaving his servants in consternation.

Meanwhile, what had become of Elias? Leaving the house of Crisostomo,
he had run like one crazed, without heeding where he was going. He
crossed the fields in violent agitation, he reached the woods; he fled
from the town, from the light–even the moon so troubled him that he
plunged into the mysterious shadows of the trees. There, sometimes
pausing, sometimes moving along unfrequented paths, supporting himself
on the hoary trunks or being entangled in the undergrowth, he gazed
toward the town, which, bathed in the light of the moon, spread out
before him on the plain along the shore of the lake. Birds awakened
from their sleep flew about, huge bats and owls moved from branch to
branch with strident cries and gazed at him with their round eyes, but
Elias neither heard nor heeded them. In his fancy he was followed by
the offended shades of his family, he saw on every branch the gruesome
basket containing Balat’s gory head, as his father had described it
to him; at every tree he seemed to stumble over the corpse of his
grandmother; he imagined that he saw the rotting skeleton of his
dishonored grandfather swinging among the shadows–and the skeleton
and the corpse and the gory head cried after him, “Coward! Coward!”

Leaving the hill, Elias descended to the lake and ran along the
shore excitedly. There at a distance in the midst of the waters,
where the moonlight seemed to form a cloud, he thought he could see a
specter rise and soar the shade of his sister with her breast bloody
and her loose hair streaming about. He fell to his knees on the sand
and extending his arms cried out, “You, too!”

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

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

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

After learning about what had occurred Elias pretended to go away,
but really went around behind the house, jumped over the wall, and
crawled through a window into the study where the candle that Ibarra
had lighted was still burning. He saw the books and papers and found
the arms, the jewels, and the sacks of money. Reconstructing in his
imagination the scene that had taken place there and seeing so many
papers that might be of a compromising nature, he decided to gather
them up, throw them from the window, and bury them.

But, on glancing toward the street, he saw two guards approaching,
their bayonets and caps gleaming in the moonlight. With them was the
directorcillo. He made a sudden resolution: throwing the papers and
some clothing into a heap in the center of the room, he poured over
them the oil from a lamp and set fire to the whole. He was hurriedly
placing the arms in his belt when he caught sight of the portrait
of Maria Clara and hesitated a moment, then thrust it into one of
the sacks and with them in his hands leaped from the window into
the garden.

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER LVI

Rumors and Beliefs

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

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

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

“_Jesús_, it seemed like a thanksgiving mass, regular
fireworks!” commented Sister Rufa.

“Since the town was sacked by Balat, I’ve never seen another night
equal to it,” responded Sister Puté.

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

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

“_Sanctus Deus!_ They say that at least fourteen were killed.”

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

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

“One? I see two.”

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

“Oh, the cuadrilleros!”

“No, sir, it was a mutiny in the barracks!”

“What kind of mutiny? The curate against the alferez?”

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

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

“I thought they were going to do something bad. Yesterday–”

“I saw it myself. Last night–”

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

Little by little the street awoke to life. Dogs, chickens, pigs, and
doves began the movement, and these animals were soon followed by some
ragged urchins who held fast to each other’s arms as they timidly
approached the barracks. Then a few old women with handkerchiefs
tied about their heads and fastened under their chins appeared with
thick rosaries in their hands, pretending to be at their prayers so
that the soldiers would let them pass. When it was seen that one
might walk about without being shot at, the men began to come out
with assumed airs of indifference. First they limited their steps
to the neighborhood of their houses, caressing their game-cocks,
then they extended their stroll, stopping from time to time, until
at last they stood in front of the town hall.

In a quarter of an hour other versions of the affair were in
circulation. Ibarra with his servants had tried to kidnap Maria Clara,
and Capitan Tiago had defended her, aided by the Civil Guard. The
number of killed was now not fourteen but thirty. Capitan Tiago was
wounded and would leave that very day with his family for Manila.

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

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

“They burned the house down?”

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

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

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

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

“But, woman, haven’t you any pity?”

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

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

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

Her husband became silent before this argument.

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

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

“Yes, he was good,” replied the old woman, “but he went to Spain. All
those that go to Spain become heretics, as the curates have said.”

“Oho!” exclaimed her husband, seeing his chance for a retort, “and
the curate, and all the curates, and the Archbishop, and the Pope,
and the Virgin–aren’t they from Spain? Are they also heretics? _Abá!_”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A human body hanging from the branch of a santol tree swung about
gently in the breeze. The old man stared at it for a time and saw
that the legs and arms were stiff, the clothing soiled, and the head
doubled over.

“We mustn’t touch him until some officer of the law arrives,” he said
aloud. “He’s already stiff, he’s been dead for some time.”

The women gradually moved closer.

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

“_Ave Maria!_” exclaimed some of the women.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While this was taking place, a rustic in a wide salakot with a big
bandage on his neck was examining the corpse and the rope. The face
was not more livid than the rest of the body, two scratches and two
red spots were to be seen above the noose, the strands of the rope were
white and had no blood on them. The curious rustic carefully examined
the camisa and pantaloons, and noticed that they were very dusty and
freshly torn in some parts. But what most caught his attention were
the seeds of _amores-secos_ that were sticking on the camisa even up
to the collar.

“What are you looking at?” the directorcillo asked him. “I was looking,
sir, to see if I could recognize him,” stammered the rustic, partly
uncovering, but in such a way that his salakot fell lower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rustic took a seat near by, as if to wait patiently, but he dropped
a piece of money and started to look for it with the aid of a candle
under the senior sacristan’s chair. He noticed seeds of _amores-secos_
on the pantaloons and on the cuffs of the sleeper’s camisa. The latter
awoke, rubbed his one good eye, and began to scold the rustic with
great ill-humor.

“I wanted to order a mass, sir,” was the reply in a tone of excuse.

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

“No, sir,” answered the rustic, handing him a peso.

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

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

CHAPTER LVII

Vae Victis!

Mi gozo en un pozo.

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

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

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

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

“I should prefer not to be present,” replied Padre Salvi in a low
voice, paying no heed to the bitter tone of the alferez. “I’m very
nervous.”

“As no one else has come to fill the place, I judged that your
presence–You know that they leave this afternoon.”

“Young Ibarra and the teniente-mayor?”

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

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

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

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

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

In the dim light of the candle several human forms became vaguely
outlined: men hugging their knees or hiding their heads between them,
some lying face downward, some standing, and some turned toward the
wall. A blow and a creak were heard, accompanied by curses–the stocks
were opened, Doña Consolacion bent forward with the muscles of her
neck swelling and her bulging eyes fixed on the half-opened door.

A wretched figure, Tarsilo, Bruno’s brother, came out between two
soldiers. On his wrists were handcuffs and his clothing was in shreds,
revealing quite a muscular body. He turned his eyes insolently on
the alferez’s woman.

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

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

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

“What’s your name?” the alferez asked Tarsilo.

“Tarsilo Alasigan.”

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

“Don Crisostomo never had anything to do with us.”

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

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

The alferez gazed at the sergeant in surprise.

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

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

A smile of disdain curled the prisoner’s lips. The alferez consulted
with the curate in a low tone for a few moments, then turned to the
soldiers. “Take him out where the corpses are,” he commanded.

On a cart in a corner of the yard were heaped five corpses, partly
covered with a filthy piece of torn matting. A soldier walked about
near them, spitting at every moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you know this fellow?” asked Padre Salvi.

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

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

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

“I’ve never seen an uglier woman!” exclaimed Tarsilo in the midst of
a general silence. “I’d rather lie down on a bench as I do now than
at her side as the alferez does.”

The Muse turned pale.

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

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

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

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

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

“To the well with him!” he ordered.

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

In the center of the yard rose the picturesque curb of a well,
roughly fashioned from living rock. A rude apparatus of bamboo in
the form of a well-sweep served for drawing up the thick, slimy,
foul-smelling water. Broken pieces of pottery, manure, and other
refuse were collected there, since this well was like the jail,
being the place for what society rejected or found useless, and
any object that fell into it, however good it might have been, was
then a thing lost. Yet it was never closed up, and even at times the
prisoners were condemned to go down and deepen it, not because there
was any thought of getting anything useful out of such punishment,
but because of the difficulties the work offered. A prisoner who once
went down there would contract a fever from which he would surely die.

Tarsilo gazed upon all the preparations of the soldiers with a fixed
look. He was pale, and his lips trembled or murmured a prayer. The
haughtiness of his desperation seemed to have disappeared or, at least,
to have weakened. Several times he bent his stiff neck and fixed his
gaze on the ground as though resigned to his sufferings. They led
him to the well-curb, followed by the smiling Doña Consolacion. In
his misery he cast a glance of envy toward the heap of corpses and
a sigh escaped from his breast.

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

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

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

“If you are Christians, if you have any heart,” he begged in a low
voice, “let me down quickly or make my head strike against the sides
so that I’ll die. God will reward you for this good deed–perhaps
some day you may be as I am!”

The alferez returned, watch in hand, to superintend the lowering.

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

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

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

“Will you talk?” he was asked.

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

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

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

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

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

A minute passed. The watchful Muse saw large bubbles rise to the
surface of the water. “He’s thirsty,” she commented with a laugh. The
water again became still.

This time the alferez did not give the signal for a minute and
a half. Tarsilo’s features were now no longer contracted. The
half-raised lids left the whites of his eyes showing, from his mouth
poured muddy water streaked with blood, but his body did not tremble
in the chill breeze.

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

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

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

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

“Good! Let’s see, what’s your name?”

“Andong, [144] sir!”

“Bernardo–Leonardo–Ricardo–Eduardo–Gerardo–or what?”

“Andong, sir!” repeated the imbecile.

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

“Surname?”

The man gazed at him in terror.

“What name have you that is added to the name Andong?”

“Ah, sir! Andong the Witless, sir!”

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

“Occupation?”

“Pruner of coconut trees, sir, and servant of my mother-in-law.”

“Who ordered you to attack the barracks?”

“No one, sir!”

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

“Truly, sir!”

“Who?”

“Who, sir!”

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

“What revolution, sir?”

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

“Ah, sir!” exclaimed Andong, blushing.

“Who’s guilty of that?”

“My mother-in-law, sir!”

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

A blow from the rattan cut his speech short.

“To the jail,” ordered the alferez. “This afternoon, to the capital!”

CHAPTER LVIII

The Accursed

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

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

“Your husband is innocent. Perhaps he’ll come back.”

“Yes, after we’re all dead!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’s the one that’s to blame!” cried many voices. “He’s to blame
and he goes loose!”

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

“We haven’t any order.”

“Bind me!” And the soldiers obeyed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This example was quickly followed, and a rain of dirt and stones fell
on the wretched young man. Without anger or complaint, impassively he
bore the righteous vengeance of so many suffering hearts. This was the
parting, the farewell, offered to him by the people among whom were
all his affections. With bowed head, he was perhaps thinking of a man
whipped through the streets of Manila, of an old woman falling dead
at the sight of her son’s head; perhaps Elias’s history was passing
before his eyes.

The alferez found it necessary to drive the crowd back, but the
stone-throwing and the insults did not cease. One mother alone did not
wreak vengeance on him for her sorrows, Capitana Maria. Motionless,
with lips contracted and eyes full of silent tears, she saw her two
sons move away; her firmness, her dumb grief surpassed that of the
fabled Niobe.

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

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

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

CHAPTER LIX

Patriotism and Private Interests

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

Without public tranquillity seeming disturbed, at least outwardly,
yet the peace of mind of each home was whirled about like the water in
a pond: while the surface appears smooth and clear, in the depths the
silent fishes swarm, dive about, and chase one another. For one part
of the population crosses, decorations, epaulets, offices, prestige,
power, importance, dignities began to whirl about like butterflies
in a golden atmosphere. For the other part a dark cloud arose on the
horizon, projecting from its gray depths, like black silhouettes,
bars, chains, and even the fateful gibbet. In the air there seemed to
be heard investigations, condemnations, and the cries from the torture
chamber; Marianas [145] and Bagumbayan presented themselves wrapped
in a torn and bloody veil, fishers and fished confused. Fate pictured
the event to the imaginations of the Manilans like certain Chinese
fans–one side painted black, the other gilded with bright-colored
birds and flowers.

In the convents the greatest excitement prevailed. Carriages
were harnessed, the Provincials exchanged visits and held secret
conferences; they presented themselves in the palaces to offer their
aid to _the government in its perilous crisis_. Again there was talk
of comets and omens.

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

“The little general _Mal-Aguero_ [146] can gnaw his lips over this
lesson,” responded another.

“What would have become of him if not for the religious corporations?”

“And to celebrate the fiesta better, serve notice on the cook and
the refectioner. _Gaudeamus_ for three days!”

“Amen!” “Viva Salvi!” “Amen!”

In another convent they talked differently.

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

“And the anti-friars.”

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

“And God knows how they are made!”

“Yes, but don’t contradict them. When everything is shaking and moving
about, who draws diagrams? Nothing, Padre Secchi–” [147]

And they smiled with sovereign disdain.

“But what about the weather forecasts and the typhoons?” asked another
ironically. “Aren’t they divine?”

“Any fisherman foretells them!”

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

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

“Do you think so?”

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

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

“If the miters were natural objects,” added another in a nasal tone,
“_Natura abhorrer vacuum_.”

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

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

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

“Ay, Virgin of Antipolo!” cried the woman. “Ay, Virgin of the Rosary
and of the Girdle! [148] Ay, ay! Our Lady of Novaliches!”

“Mother!” responded the elder of the daughters.

“I told you so!” continued the wife in an accusing tone. “I told you
so! Ay, Virgin of Carmen, [149] ay!”

“But you didn’t tell me anything,” Capitan Tinong dared to answer
tearfully. “On the contrary, you told me that I was doing well to
frequent Capitan Tiago’s house and cultivate friendship with him,
because he’s rich–and you told me–”

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

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

“It’s true that I told you so, because–because there wasn’t anything
else for me to do. You did nothing but sing his praises: _Don Ibarra_
here, _Don Ibarra_ there, _Don Ibarra_ everywhere. _Abaá!_ But I
didn’t advise you to hunt him up and talk to him at that reception! You
can’t deny that!”

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

“But you ought to have known it!”

“How so, if I didn’t even know him?”

“But you ought to have known him!”

“But, Tinchang, it was the first time that I ever saw him, that I
ever heard him spoken of!”

“Well then, you ought to have known him before and heard him spoken
of. That’s what you’re a man for and wear trousers and read _El Diario
de Manila_,” [150] answered his unterrified spouse, casting on him
a terrible look.

To this Capitan Tinong did not know what to reply. Capitana Tinchang,
however, was not satisfied with this victory, but wished to silence him
completely. So she approached him with clenched fists. “Is this what
I’ve worked for, year after year, toiling and saving, that you by your
stupidity may throw away the fruits of my labor?” she scolded. “Now
they’ll come to deport you, they’ll take away all our property, just
as they did from the wife of–Oh, if I were a man, if I were a man!”

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

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

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

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

“That doesn’t matter! You ought to offer yourself as they did in ’72;
[151] they saved themselves.”

“Yes, that’s what was done by Padre Burg–”

But he was unable to finish this name, for his wife ran to him and
slapped her hand over his mouth. “Shut up! Are you saying that name
so that they may garrote you tomorrow on Bagumbayan? Don’t you know
that to pronounce it is enough to get yourself condemned without
trial? Keep quiet!”

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

“_Quid video?_” he exclaimed as he entered. “What’s
happening? _Quare?_” [152]

“Ay, cousin!” cried the woman, running toward him in tears, “I’ve
sent for you because I don’t know what’s going to become of us. What
do you advise? Speak, you’ve studied Latin and know how to argue.”

“But first, _quid quaeritis? Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non
fuerit in sensu; nihil volitum quin praecognitum_.” [153]

He sat down gravely and, just as if the Latin phrases had possessed
a soothing virtue, the couple ceased weeping and drew nearer to him
to hang upon the advice from his lips, as at one time the Greeks did
before the words of salvation from the oracle that was to free them
from the Persian invaders.

“Why do you weep? _Ubinam gentium sumus?_” [154]

“You’ve already heard of the uprising?”

“_Alzamentum Ibarrae ab alferesio Guardiae Civilis destructum? Et
nunc?_ [155] What! Does Don Crisostomo owe you anything?”

“No, but you know, Tinong invited him to dinner and spoke to him
on the Bridge of Spain–in broad daylight! They’ll say that he’s a
friend of his!”

“A friend of his!” exclaimed the startled Latinist, rising. “_Amice,
amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas_. Birds of a feather flock
together. _Malum est negotium et est timendum rerum istarum
horrendissimum resultatum!_ [156] Ahem!”

Capitan Tinong turned deathly pale at hearing so many words in _um_;
such a sound presaged ill. His wife clasped her hands supplicatingly
and said:

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

“It’s a pity that you don’t understand Latin, cousin. Truths in
Latin are lies in Tagalog; for example, _contra principia negantem
fustibus est arguendum_ [157] in Latin is a truth like Noah’s ark,
but I put it into practise once and I was the one who got whipped. So,
it’s a pity that you don’t know Latin. In Latin everything would be
straightened out.”

“We, too, know many _oremus, parcenobis_, and _Agnus Dei Catolis_,
[158] but now we shouldn’t understand one another. Provide Tinong
with an argument so that they won’t hang him!”

“You’re done wrong, very wrong, cousin, in cultivating friendship
with that young man,” replied the Latinist.

“The righteous suffer for the sinners. I was almost going to advise you
to make your will. _Vae illis! Ubi est fumus ibi est ignis! Similis
simili audet; atqui Ibarra ahorcatur, ergo ahorcaberis–_” [159]
With this he shook his head from side to side disgustedly.

“Saturnino, what’s the matter?” cried Capitana Tinchang in dismay. “Ay,
he’s dead! A doctor! Tinong, Tinongoy!”

The two daughters ran to her, and all three fell to weeping. “It’s
nothing more than a swoon, cousin! I would have been more pleased
that–that–but unfortunately it’s only a swoon. _Non timeo mortem
in catre sed super espaldonem Bagumbayanis_. [160] Get some water!”

“Don’t die!” sobbed the wife. “Don’t die, for they’ll come and arrest
you! Ay, if you die and the soldiers come, ay, ay!”

The learned cousin rubbed the victim’s face with water until he
recovered consciousness. “Come, don’t cry. _Inveni remedium_: I’ve
found a remedy. Let’s carry him to bed. Come, take courage! Here I am
with you–and all the wisdom of the ancients. Call a doctor, and you,
cousin, go right away to the Captain-General and take him a present–a
gold ring, a chain. _Dadivae quebrantant peñas_. [161] Say that it’s
a Christmas gift. Close the windows, the doors, and if any one asks
for my cousin, say that he is seriously ill. Meanwhile, I’ll burn all
his letters, papers, and books, so that they can’t find anything,
just as Don Crisostomo did. _Scripti testes sunt! Quod medicamenta
non sanant, ferrum sanat, quod ferrum non sanat, ignis sanat._” [162]

“Yes, do so, cousin, burn everything!” said Capitana Tinchang. “Here
are the keys, here are the letters from Capitan Tiago. Burn them! Don’t
leave a single European newspaper, for they’re very dangerous. Here
are the copies of _The Times_ that I’ve kept for wrapping up soap
and old clothes. Here are the books.”

“Go to the Captain-General, cousin,” said Don Primitivo, “and leave
us alone. _In extremis extrema_. [163] Give me the authority of a
Roman dictator, and you’ll see how soon I’ll save the coun–I mean,
my cousin.”

He began to give orders and more orders, to upset bookcases, to tear
up papers, books, and letters. Soon a big fire was burning in the
kitchen. Old shotguns were smashed with axes, rusty revolvers were
thrown away. The maidservant who wanted to keep the barrel of one
for a blowpipe received a reprimand:

“_Conservare etiam sperasti, perfida?_ [164] Into the fire!” So
he continued his auto da fé. Seeing an old volume in vellum,
he read the title, _Revolutions of the Celestial Globes_,
by Copernicus. Whew! “_Ite, maledicti, in ignem kalanis!_”
[165] he exclaimed, hurling it into the flames. “Revolutions and
Copernicus! Crimes on crimes! If I hadn’t come in time! _Liberty in
the Philippines!_ Ta, ta, ta! What books! Into the fire!”

Harmless books, written by simple authors, were burned; not even the
most innocent work escaped. Cousin Primitivo was right: the righteous
suffer for the sinners.

Four or five hours later, at a pretentious reception in the Walled
City, current events were being commented upon. There were present
a lot of old women and maidens of marriageable age, the wives and
daughters of government employees, dressed in loose gowns, fanning
themselves and yawning. Among the men, who, like the women, showed
in their faces their education and origin, was an elderly gentleman,
small and one-armed, whom the others treated with great respect. He
himself maintained a disdainful silence.

“To tell the truth, formerly I couldn’t endure the friars and the
civil-guards, they’re so rude,” said a corpulent dame, “but now that
I see their usefulness and their services, I would almost marry any
one of them gladly. I’m a patriot.”

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

“And the whole race of filibusters would be exterminated!”

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

“Let’s hear it!”

“What do they say?”

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

“_Jesús!_ Just see that!” the señoras exclaimed, already believing
in the trick.

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

“What infamy! Only an Indian is capable of such cowardly thoughts,”
exclaimed the fat lady. “If I were the Captain-General they would
soon seem they would soon see–”

“That’s what I say!” exclaimed the thin lady, turning to the one-armed
man. “Arrest all the little lawyers, priestlings, merchants, and
without trial banish or deport them! Tear out the evil by the roots!”

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

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed the fat lady, unterrified. “It’s always the
creoles! No Indian knows anything about revolution! Rear crows,
rear crows!” [166]

“Do you know what I’ve heard?” asked a creole lady, to change the topic
of conversation. “The wife of Capitan Tinong, you remember her, the
woman in whose house we danced and dined during the fiesta of Tondo–”

“The one who has two daughters? What about her?”

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

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

“She said that it was a Christmas gift–”

“But Christmas doesn’t come for a month yet!”

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

“And is getting under cover,” added the thin señora.

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

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

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

“And so was I,” said the other, taking the words out of her mouth,
“the wife of Capitan Tinong is so stingy–she hasn’t yet sent us
any present and that after we’ve been in her house. So, when such
a grasping and covetous woman lets go of a little present worth a
thousand pesos–”

“But, is it a fact?” inquired the one-armed man.

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

“A walking show-case!”

“A way of attracting attention, like any other! Instead of buying a
fashion plate or paying a dressmaker–”

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

CHAPTER LX

Maria Clara Weds

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

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

“_Crede, prime_,” the Latinist told him, “if I hadn’t got here to
burn all your papers, they would have squeezed your neck; and if I
had burned the whole house they wouldn’t have touched a hair of your
head. But _quod_ _eventum, eventum; gratias agamus Domino Deo quia
non in Marianis Insulis es, camotes seminando_.” [167]

Stories similar to Capitan Tinong’s were not unknown to Capitan Tiago,
so he bubbled over with gratitude, without knowing exactly to whom he
owed such signal favors. Aunt Isabel attributed the miracle to the
Virgin of Antipolo, to the Virgin of the Rosary, or at least to the
Virgin of Carmen, and at the very, very least that she was willing
to concede, to Our Lady of the Girdle; according to her the miracle
could not get beyond that.

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

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

In the same way that Capitan Tiago and his cousin diverged in
their opinions, the friends of the family were also divided into
two parties,–one miraculous, the other governmental, although this
latter was insignificant. The miraculous party was again subdivided:
the senior sacristan of Binondo, the candle-woman, and the leader
of the Brotherhood saw the hand of God directed by the Virgin of the
Rosary; while the Chinese wax-chandler, his caterer on his visits to
Antipolo, said, as he fanned himself and shook his leg:

“Don’t fool yourself–it’s the Virgin of Antipolo! She can do more
than all the rest–don’t fool yourself!” [168]

Capitan Tiago had great respect for this Chinese, who passed himself
off as a prophet and a physician. Examining the palm of the deceased
lady just before her daughter was born, he had prognosticated:
“If it’s not a boy and doesn’t die, it’ll be a fine girl!” [169] and
Maria Clara had come into the world to fulfill the infidel’s prophecy.

Capitan Tiago, then, as a prudent and cautious man, could not decide
so easily as Trojan Paris–he could not so lightly give the preference
to one Virgin for fear of offending another, a situation that might be
fraught with grave consequences. “Prudence!” he said to himself. “Let’s
not go and spoil it all now.”

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

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

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

“Yez,” she went on, speaking of Ibarra, “he deserves it all. I told
you zo when I first zaw him, he’s a filibuzter. What did the General
zay to you, cousin? What did he zay? What news did he tell you about
thiz Ibarra?”

Seeing that her cousin was slow in answering, she continued, directing
her remarks to Capitan Tiago, “Believe me, if they zentenz him to
death, as is to be hoped, it’ll be on account of my cousin.”

“Señora, señora!” protested Linares.

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

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

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

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

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

“T-the other w-way!”

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

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

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

What was said and what was agreed upon in this conference was so
sordid and mean that we prefer not to recount it. It is enough to
record that as they took their leave they were all merry, and that
afterwards Capitan Tiago said to Aunt Isabel:

“Notify the restaurant that we’ll have a fiesta tomorrow. Get Maria
ready, for we’re going to marry her off before long.”

Aunt Isabel stared at him in consternation.

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

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

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

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

“Pish!” remarked one young woman. “The proud little thing!”

“Pretty little thing!” responded another. “But he might have picked
out some other girl with a less foolish face.”

“The gold, child! The good youth is selling himself.”

In another part the comments ran thus:

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

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

“Well, when she gets to be a widow–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If that young man,” continued the lieutenant, Guevara, in a loud
and severe tone, “had been more cautious, if he had confided less
in certain persons with whom he corresponded, if our prosecutors did
not know how to interpret so subtly what is written, that young man
would surely have been acquitted.”

This declaration on the part of the old lieutenant and the tone
of his voice produced great surprise among his hearers, who were
apparently at a loss to know what to say. Padre Salvi stared in
another direction, perhaps to avoid the gloomy look that the old
soldier turned on him. Maria Clara let her flowers fall and remained
motionless. Padre Sibyla, who knew so well how to be silent, seemed
also to be the only one who knew how to ask a question.

“You’re speaking of letters, Señor Guevara?”

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

“But the declaration of the outlaw before he died?”

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

“Did you say that the letter was directed to a woman?” asked a
Franciscan. “How did it get into the hands of the prosecutor?”

The lieutenant did not answer. He stared for a moment at Padre Salvi
and then moved away, nervously twisting the sharp point of his gray
beard. The others made their comments.

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

“He had his house burned down, thinking in that way to save himself,
but he didn’t count on the guest, on his _querida_, his _babaye_,”
added another, laughing. “It’s the work of God! _Santiago y cierra
España!_” [170]

Meanwhile the old soldier paused in his pacing about and approached
Maria Clara, who was listening to the conversation, motionless in
her chair, with the flowers scattered at her feet.

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

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

“Aunt!” she murmured.

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

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

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

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

“You’re cold. Do you want some tea?”

Maria Clara shook her head, entered and locked the door of her
chamber, and then, her strength failing her, she fell sobbing to the
floor at the feet of an image.

“Mother, mother, mother mine!” she sobbed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A small banka loaded with zacate stopped at the foot of the landing
such as every house on the bank of the river has. One of two men who
were in it ran up the stone stairway and jumped over the wall, and a
few seconds later his footsteps were heard on the stairs leading to
the azotea.

Maria Clara saw him pause on discovering her, but only for a
moment. Then he advanced slowly and stopped within a few paces of
her. Maria Clara recoiled.

“Crisostomo!” she murmured, overcome with fright.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That you believe that I have always loved you!”

At this he smiled bitterly.

“Ah, you doubt me! You doubt the friend of your childhood, who
has never hidden a single thought from you!” the maiden exclaimed
sorrowfully. “I understand now! But when you hear my story, the sad
story that was revealed to me during my illness, you will have mercy
on me, you will not have that smile for my sorrow. Why did you not
let me die in the hands of my ignorant physician? You and I both
would have been happier!”

Resting a moment, she then went on: “You have desired it, you have
doubted me! But may my mother forgive me! On one of the sorrowfulest
of my nights of suffering, a man revealed to me the name of my real
father and forbade me to love you–except that my father himself
should pardon the injury you had done him.”

Ibarra recoiled a pace and gazed fearfully at her.

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

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

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

The maiden snatched two papers from her bosom.

“Two letters of my mother’s, two letters written in the midst of her
remorse, while I was yet unborn! Take them, read them, and you will
see how she cursed me and wished for my death, which my father vainly
tried to bring about with drugs. These letters he had forgotten in a
building where he had lived; the other man found and preserved them
and only gave them up to me in exchange for your letter, in order
to assure himself, so he said, that I would not marry you without
the consent of my father. Since I have been carrying them about with
me, in place of your letter, I have, felt the chill in my heart. I
sacrificed you, I sacrificed my love! What else could one do for a
dead mother and two living fathers? Could I have suspected the use
that was to be made of your letter?”

Ibarra stood appalled, while she continued: “What more was left for me
to do? Could I perhaps tell you who my father was, could I tell you
that you should beg forgiveness of him who made your father suffer
so much? Could I ask my father that he forgive you, could I tell him
that I knew that I was his daughter–him, who desired my death so
eagerly? It was only left to me to suffer, to guard the secret, and
to die suffering! Now, my friend, now that you know the sad history
of your poor Maria, will you still have for her that disdainful smile?”

“Maria, you are an angel!”

“Then I am happy, since you believe me–”

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

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

“But what?”

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

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

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

“I am only a fugitive, I am fleeing. In a little while my flight will
have been discovered. Maria–”

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

Ibarra gazed at her with shining eyes, but at a gesture from her
moved away–intoxicated, wavering.

Once again he leaped over the wall and stepped into the banka. Maria
Clara, leaning over the balustrade, watched him depart. Elias took
off his hat and bowed to her profoundly.

CHAPTER LXI

The Chase on the Lake

“Listen, sir, to the plan that I have worked out,” said Elias
thoughtfully, as they moved in the direction of San Gabriel. “I’ll
hide you now in the house of a friend of mine in Mandaluyong. I’ll
bring you all your money, which I saved and buried at the foot of
the balete in the mysterious tomb of your grandfather. Then you will
leave the country.”

“To go abroad?” inquired Ibarra.

“To live out in peace the days of life that remain to you. You have
friends in Spain, you are rich, you can get yourself pardoned. In every
way a foreign country is for us a better fatherland than our own.”

Crisostomo did not answer, but meditated in silence. At that moment
they reached the Pasig and the banka began to ascend the current. Over
the Bridge of Spain a horseman galloped rapidly, while a shrill,
prolonged whistle was heard.

“Elias,” said Ibarra, “you owe your misfortunes to my family, you have
saved my life twice, and I owe you not only gratitude but also the
restitution of your fortune. You advise me to go abroad–then come
with me and we will live like brothers. Here you also are wretched.”

Elias shook his head sadly and answered: “Impossible! It’s true that I
cannot love or be happy in my country, but I can suffer and die in it,
and perhaps for it–that is always something. May the misfortunes of
my native land be my own misfortunes and, although no noble sentiment
unites us, although our hearts do not beat to a single name, at least
may the common calamity bind me to my countrymen, at least may I weep
over our sorrows with them, may the same hard fate oppress all our
hearts alike!”

“Then why do you advise me to go away?”

“Because in some other country you could be happy while I could not,
because you are not made to suffer, and because you would hate your
country if some day you should see yourself ruined in its cause,
and to hate one’s native land is the greatest of calamities.”

“You are unfair to me!” exclaimed Ibarra with bitter reproach. “You
forget that scarcely had I arrived here when I set myself to seek
its welfare.”

“Don’t be offended, sir, I was not reproaching you at all. Would
that all of us could imitate you! But I do not ask impossibilities
of you and I mean no offense when I say that your heart deceives
you. You loved your country because your father taught you to do so;
you loved it because in it you had affection, fortune, youth, because
everything smiled on you, your country had done you no injustice;
you loved it as we love anything that makes us happy. But the day in
which you see yourself poor and hungry, persecuted, betrayed, and
sold by your own countrymen, on that day you will disown yourself,
your country, and all mankind.”

“Your words pain me,” said Ibarra resentfully.

Elias bowed his head and meditated before replying. “I wish to
disillusion you, sir, and save you from a sad future. Recall that
night when I talked to you in this same banka under the light of
this same moon, not a month ago. Then you were happy, the plea of
the unfortunates did not touch you; you disdained their complaints
because they were the complaints of criminals; you paid more attention
to their enemies, and in spite of my arguments and petitions, you
placed yourself on the side of their oppressors. On you then depended
whether I should turn criminal or allow myself to be killed in order
to carry out a sacred pledge, but God has not permitted this because
the old chief of the outlaws is dead. A month has hardly passed and
you think otherwise.”

“You’re right, Elias, but man is a creature of circumstances! Then
I was blind, annoyed–what did I know? Now misfortune has torn
the bandage from my eyes; the solitude and misery of my prison have
taught me; now I see the horrible cancer which feeds upon this society,
which clutches its flesh, and which demands a violent rooting out. They
have opened my eyes, they have made me see the sore, and they force me
to be a criminal! Since they wish it, I will be a filibuster, a real
filibuster, I mean. I will call together all the unfortunates, all who
feel a heart beat in their breasts, all those who were sending you to
me. No, I will not be a criminal, never is he such who fights for his
native land, but quite the reverse! We, during three centuries, have
extended them our hands, we have asked love of them, we have yearned
to call them brothers, and how do they answer us? With insults and
jests, denying us even the chance character of human beings. There
is no God, there is no hope, there is no humanity; there is nothing
but the right of might!” Ibarra was nervous, his whole body trembled.

As they passed in front of the Captain-General’s palace they thought
that they could discern movement and excitement among the guards.

“Can they have discovered your flight?” murmured Elias. “Lie down,
sir, so that I can cover you with zacate. Since we shall pass near
the powder-magazine it may seem suspicious to the sentinel that there
are two of us.”

The banka was one of those small, narrow canoes that do not seem to
float but rather to glide over the top of the water. As Elias had
foreseen, the sentinel stopped him and inquired whence he came.

“From Manila, to carry zacate to the judges and curates,” he answered,
imitating the accent of the people of Pandakan.

A sergeant came out to learn what was happening. “Move on!” he said
to Elias. “But I warn you not to take anybody into your banka. A
prisoner has just escaped. If you capture him and turn him over to
me I’ll give you a good tip.”

“All right, sir. What’s his description?”

“He wears a sack coat and talks Spanish. So look out!” The banka moved
away. Elias looked back and watched the silhouette of the sentinel
standing on the bank of the river.

“We’ll lose a few minutes’ time,” he said in a low voice. “We must
go into the Beata River to pretend that I’m from Peñafrancia. You
will see the river of which Francisco Baltazar sang.”

The town slept in the moonlight, and Crisostomo rose up to admire the
sepulchral peace of nature. The river was narrow and the level land
on either side covered with grass. Elias threw his cargo out on the
bank and, after removing a large piece of bamboo, took from under
the grass some empty palm-leaf sacks. Then they continued on their way.

“You are the master of your own will, sir, and of your future,” he said
to Crisostomo, who had remained silent. “But if you will allow me an
observation, I would say: think well what you are planning to do–you
are going to light the flames of war, since you have money and brains,
and you will quickly find many to join you, for unfortunately there
are plenty of malcontents. But in this struggle which you are going
to undertake, those who will suffer most will be the defenseless and
the innocent. The same sentiments that a month ago impelled me to
appeal to you asking for reforms are those that move me now to urge
you to think well. The country, sir, does not think of separating from
the mother country; it only asks for a little freedom, justice, and
affection. You will be supported by the malcontents, the criminals,
the desperate, but the people will hold aloof. You are mistaken if,
seeing all dark, you think that the country is desperate. The country
suffers, yes, but it still hopes and trusts and will only rebel when
it has lost its patience, that is, when those who govern it wish it
to do so, and that time is yet distant. I myself will not follow you,
never will I resort to such extreme measures while I see hope in men.”

“Then I’ll go on without you!” responded Ibarra resolutely.

“Is your decision final?”

“Final and firm; let the memory of my mother bear witness! I will
not let peace and happiness be torn away from me with impunity,
I who desired only what was good, I who have respected everything
and endured everything out of love for a hypocritical religion
and out of love of country. How have they answered me? By burying
me in an infamous dungeon and robbing me of my intended wife! No,
not to avenge myself would be a crime, it would be encouraging them
to new acts of injustice! No, it would be cowardice, pusillanimity,
to groan and weep when there is blood and life left, when to insult
and menace is added mockery. I will call out these ignorant people,
I will make them see their misery. I will teach them to think not of
brotherhood but only that they are wolves for devouring, I will urge
them to rise against this oppression and proclaim the eternal right
of man to win his freedom!”

“But innocent people will suffer!”

“So much the better! Can you take me to the mountains?”

“Until you are in safety,” replied Elias.

Again they moved out into the Pasig, talking from time to time of
indifferent matters.

“Santa Ana!” murmured Ibarra. “Do you recognize this building?” They
were passing in front of the country-house of the Jesuits.

“There I spent many pleasant and happy days!” sighed Elias. “In my
time we came every month. Then I was like others, I had a fortune,
family, I dreamed, I looked forward to a future. In those days I saw
my sister in the near-by college, she presented me with a piece of
her own embroidery-work. A friend used to accompany her, a beautiful
girl. All that has passed like a dream.”

They remained silent until they reached Malapad-na-bato. [171] Those
who have ever made their way by night up the Pasig, on one of those
magical nights that the Philippines offers, when the moon pours out
from the limpid blue her melancholy light, when the shadows hide the
miseries of man and the silence is unbroken by the sordid accents of
his voice, when only Nature speaks–they will understand the thoughts
of both these youths.

At Malapad-na-bato the carbineer was sleepy and, seeing that the banka
was empty and offered no booty which he might seize, according to the
traditional usage of his corps and the custom of that post, he easily
let them pass on. Nor did the civil-guard at Pasig suspect anything,
so they were not molested.

Day was beginning to break when they reached the lake, still and calm
like a gigantic mirror. The moon paled and the east was dyed in rosy
tints. Some distance away they perceived a gray mass advancing slowly
toward them.

“The police boat is coming,” murmured Elias. “Lie down and I’ll cover
you with these sacks.”

The outlines of the boat became clearer and plainer.

“It’s getting between us and the shore,” observed Elias uneasily.

Gradually he changed the course of his banka, rowing toward
Binangonan. To his great surprise he noticed that the boat also
changed its course, while a voice called to him.

Elias stopped rowing and reflected. The shore was still far away and
they would soon be within range of the rifles on the police boat. He
thought of returning to Pasig, for his banka was the swifter of the
two boats, but unluckily he saw another boat coming from the river
and made out the gleam of caps and bayonets of the Civil Guard.

“We’re caught!” he muttered, turning pale.

He gazed at his robust arms and, adopting the only course left,
began to row with all his might toward Talim Island, just as the sun
was rising.

The banka slipped rapidly along. Elias saw standing on the boat,
which had veered about, some men making signals to him.

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

“Yes, why?”

“Because we are lost if I don’t jump into the water and throw them
off the track. They will pursue me, but I swim and dive well. I’ll
draw them away from you and then you can save yourself.”

“No, stay here, and we’ll sell our lives dearly!”

“That would be useless. We have no arms and with their rifles they
would shoot us down like birds.”

At that instant the water gave forth a hiss such as is caused by
the falling of hot metal into it, followed instantaneously by a
loud report.

“You see!” said Elias, placing the paddle in the boat. “We’ll see each
other on Christmas Eve at the tomb of your grandfather. Save yourself.”

“And you?”

“God has carried me safely through greater perils.”

As Elias took off his camisa a bullet tore it from his hands and
two loud reports were heard. Calmly he clasped the hand of Ibarra,
who was still stretched out in the bottom of the banka. Then he arose
and leaped into the water, at the same time pushing the little craft
away from him with his foot.

Cries resounded, and soon some distance away the youth’s head appeared,
as if for breathing, then instantly disappeared.

“There, there he is!” cried several voices, and again the bullets
whistled.

The police boat and the boat from the Pasig now started in pursuit of
him. A light track indicated his passage through the water as he drew
farther and farther away from Ibarra’s banka, which floated about as
if abandoned. Every time the swimmer lifted his head above the water
to breathe, the guards in both boats shot at him.

So the chase continued. Ibarra’s little banka was now far away
and the swimmer was approaching the shore, distant some thirty
yards. The rowers were tired, but Elias was in the same condition,
for he showed his head oftener, and each time in a different direction,
as if to disconcert his pursuers. No longer did the treacherous track
indicate the position of the diver. They saw him for the last time
when he was some ten yards from the shore, and fired. Then minute
after minute passed, but nothing again appeared above the still and
solitary surface of the lake.

Half an hour afterwards one of the rowers claimed that he could
distinguish in the water near the shore traces of blood, but his
companions shook their heads dubiously.

CHAPTER LXII

Padre Damaso Explains

Vainly were the rich wedding presents heaped upon a table; neither
the diamonds in their cases of blue velvet, nor the piña embroideries,
nor the rolls of silk, drew the gaze of Maria Clara. Without reading
or even seeing it the maiden sat staring at the newspaper which gave
an account of the death of Ibarra, drowned in the lake.

Suddenly she felt two hands placed over her eyes to hold her fast
and heard Padre Damaso’s voice ask merrily, “Who am I? Who am I?”

Maria Clara sprang from her seat and gazed at him in terror.

“Foolish little girl, you’re not afraid, are you? You weren’t expecting
me, eh? Well, I’ve come in from the provinces to attend your wedding.”

He smiled with satisfaction as he drew nearer to her and held out
his hand for her to kiss. Maria Clara approached him tremblingly and
touched his hand respectfully to her lips.

“What’s the matter with you, Maria?” asked the Franciscan, losing his
merry smile and becoming uneasy. “Your hand is cold, you’re pale. Are
you ill, little girl?”

Padre Damaso drew her toward himself with a tenderness that one would
hardly have thought him capable of, and catching both her hands in
his questioned her with his gaze.

“Don’t you have confidence in your godfather any more?” he asked
reproachfully. “Come, sit down and tell me your little troubles as
you used to do when you were a child, when you wanted tapers to make
wax dolls, You know that I’ve always loved you, I’ve never been cross
with you.”

His voice was now no longer brusque, and even became tenderly
modulated. Maria Clara began to weep.

“You’re crying, little girl? Why do you cry? Have you quarreled
with Linares?”

Maria Clara covered her ears. “Don’t speak of him not now!” she cried.

Padre Damaso gazed at her in startled wonder.

“Won’t you trust me with your secrets? Haven’t I always tried to
satisfy your lightest whim?”

The maiden raised eyes filled with tears and stared at him for a long
time, then again fell to weeping bitterly.

“Don’t cry so, little girl. Your tears hurt me. Tell me your troubles,
and you’ll see how your godfather loves you!”

Maria Clara approached him slowly, fell upon her knees, and raising
her tear-stained face toward his asked in a low, scarcely audible tone,
“Do you still love me?”

“Child!”

“Then, protect my father and break off my marriage!” Here the
maiden told of her last interview with Ibarra, concealing only her
knowledge of the secret of her birth. Padre Damaso could scarcely
credit his ears.

“While he lived,” the girl continued, “I thought of struggling, I
was hoping, trusting! I wanted to live so that I might hear of him,
but now that they have killed him, now there is no reason why I should
live and suffer.” She spoke in low, measured tones, calmly, tearlessly.

“But, foolish girl, isn’t Linares a thousand times better than–”

“While he lived, I could have married–I thought of running away
afterwards–my father wants only the relationship! But now that he
is dead, no other man shall call me wife! While he was alive I could
debase myself, for there would have remained the consolation that he
lived and perhaps thought of me, but now that he is dead–the nunnery
or the tomb!”

The girl’s voice had a ring of firmness in it such that Padre Damaso
lost his merry air and became very thoughtful.

“Did you love him as much as that?” he stammered.

Maria Clara did not answer. Padre Damaso dropped his head on his
chest and remained silent for a long time.

“Daughter in God,” he exclaimed at length in a broken voice, “forgive
me for having made you unhappy without knowing it. I was thinking
of your future, I desired your happiness. How could I permit you
to marry a native of the country, to see you an unhappy wife and
a wretched mother? I couldn’t get that love out of your head even
though I opposed it with all my might. I committed wrongs, for you,
solely for you. If you had become his wife you would have mourned
afterwards over the condition of your husband, exposed to all kinds
of vexations without means of defense. As a mother you would have
mourned the fate of your sons: if you had educated them, you would have
prepared for them a sad future, for they would have become enemies
of Religion and you would have seen them garroted or exiled; if you
had kept them ignorant, you would have seen them tyrannized over and
degraded. I could not consent to it! For this reason I sought for
you a husband that could make you the happy mother of sons who would
command and not obey, who would punish and not suffer. I knew that
the friend of your childhood was good, I liked him as well as his
father, but I have hated them both since I saw that they were going
to bring about your unhappiness, because I love you, I adore you,
I love you as one loves his own daughter! Yours is my only affection;
I have seen you grow–not an hour has passed that I have not thought
of you–I dreamed of you–you have been my only joy!”

Here Padre Damaso himself broke out into tears like a child.

“Then, as you love me, don’t make me eternally wretched. He no longer
lives, so I want to be a nun!”

The old priest rested his forehead on his hand. “To be a nun, a
nun!” he repeated. “You don’t know, child, what the life is, the
mystery that is hidden behind the walls of the nunnery, you don’t
know! A thousand times would I prefer to see you unhappy in the
world rather than 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 for that–to be a bride of Christ! Believe me,
little girl, time will wipe away everything. Later on you will forget,
you will love, you will love your husband–Linares.”

“The nunnery or–death!”

“The nunnery, the nunnery, or death!” exclaimed Padre Damaso. “Maria,
I am now an old man, I shall not be able much longer to watch over
you and your welfare. Choose something else, seek another love,
some other man, whoever he may be–anything but the nunnery.”

“The nunnery or death!”

“My God, my God!” cried the priest, covering his head with his hands,
“Thou chastisest me, so let it be! But watch over my daughter!”

Then, turning again to the young woman, he said, “You wish to be a nun,
and it shall be so. I don’t want you to die.”

Maria Clara caught both his hands in hers, clasping and kissing them
as she fell upon her knees, repeating over and over, “My godfather,
I thank you, my godfather!”

With bowed head Fray Damaso went away, sad and sighing. “God, Thou
dost exist, since Thou chastisest! But let Thy vengeance fall on me,
harm not the innocent. Save Thou my daughter!”

CHAPTER LXIII

Christmas Eve

High up on the slope of the mountain near a roaring stream a hut built
on the gnarled logs hides itself among the trees. Over its kogon
thatch clambers the branching gourd-vine, laden with flowers and
fruit. Deer antlers and skulls of wild boar, some with long tusks,
adorn this mountain home, where lives a Tagalog family engaged in
hunting and cutting firewood.

In the shade of a tree the grandsire was making brooms from the fibers
of palm leaves, while a young woman was placing eggs, limes, and some
vegetables in a wide basket. Two children, a boy and a girl, were
playing by the side of another, who, pale and sad, with large eyes
and a deep gaze, was seated on a fallen tree-trunk. In his thinned
features we recognize Sisa’s son, Basilio, the brother of Crispin.

“When your foot gets well,” the little girl was saying to him,
“we’ll play hide-and-seek. I’ll be the leader.”

“You’ll go up to the top of the mountain with us,” added the little
boy, “and drink deer blood with lime-juice and you’ll get fat, and
then I’ll teach you how to jump from rock to rock above the torrent.”

Basilio smiled sadly, stared at the sore on his foot, and then turned
his gaze toward the sun, which shone resplendently.

“Sell these brooms,” said the grandfather to the young woman, “and
buy something for the children, for tomorrow is Christmas.”

“Firecrackers, I want some firecrackers!” exclaimed the boy.

“I want a head for my doll,” cried the little girl, catching hold of
her sister’s tapis.

“And you, what do you want?” the grandfather asked Basilio, who at
the question arose laboriously and approached the old man.

“Sir,” he said, “I’ve been sick more than a month now, haven’t I?”

“Since we found you lifeless and covered with wounds, two moons have
come and gone. We thought you were going to die.”

“May God reward you, for we are very poor,” replied Basilio. “But now
that tomorrow is Christmas I want to go to the town to see my mother
and my little brother. They will be seeking for me.”

“But, my son, you’re not yet well, and your town is far away. You
won’t get there by midnight.”

“That doesn’t matter, sir. My mother and my little brother must be
very sad. Every year we spend this holiday together. Last year the
three of us had a whole fish to eat. My mother will have been mourning
and looking for me.”

“You won’t get to the town alive, boy! Tonight we’re going to have
chicken and wild boar’s meat. My sons will ask for you when they come
from the field.”

“You have many sons while my mother has only us two. Perhaps she
already believes that I’m dead! Tonight I want to give her a pleasant
surprise, a Christmas gift, a son.”

The old man felt the tears springing up into his eyes, so, placing
his hands on the boy’s head, he said with emotion: “You’re like an
old man! Go, look for your mother, give her the Christmas gift–from
God, as you say. If I had known the name of your town I would have
gone there when you were sick. Go, my son, and may God and the Lord
Jesus go with you. Lucia, my granddaughter, will go with you to the
nearest town.”

“What! You’re going away?” the little boy asked him. “Down there are
soldiers and many robbers. Don’t you want to see my firecrackers? Boom,
boom, boom!”

“Don’t you want to play hide-and-seek?” asked the little girl. “Have
you ever played it? Surely there’s nothing any more fun than to be
chased and hide yourself?”

Basilio smiled, but with tears in his eyes, and caught up his
staff. “I’ll come back soon,” he answered. “I’ll bring my little
brother, you’ll see him and play with him. He’s just about as big as
you are.”

“Does he walk lame, too?” asked the little girl. “Then we’ll make him
‘it’ when we play hide-and-seek.”

“Don’t forget us,” the old man said to him. “Take this dried meat as
a present to your mother.”

The children accompanied him to the bamboo bridge swung over the
noisy course of the stream. Lucia made him support himself on her arm,
and thus they disappeared from the children’s sight, Basilio walking
along nimbly in spite of his bandaged leg.

The north wind whistled by, making the inhabitants of San Diego
shiver with cold. It was Christmas Eve and yet the town was wrapped
in gloom. Not a paper lantern hung from the windows nor did a single
sound in the houses indicate the rejoicing of other years.

In the house of Capitan Basilio, he and Don Filipo–for the misfortunes
of the latter had made them friendly–were standing by a window-grating
and talking, while at another were Sinang, her cousin Victoria,
and the beautiful Iday, looking toward the street.

The waning moon began to shine over the horizon, illumining the clouds
and making the trees and houses east long, fantastic shadows.

“Yours is not a little good fortune, to get off free in these
times!” said Capitan Basilio to Don Filipo. “They’ve burned your books,
yes, but others have lost more.”

A woman approached the grating and gazed into the interior. Her
eyes glittered, her features were emaciated, her hair loose and
dishevelled. The moonlight gave her a weird aspect.

“Sisal” exclaimed Don Filipo in surprise. Then turning to Capitan
Basilio, as the madwoman ran away, he asked, “Wasn’t she in the house
of a physician? Has she been cured?”

Capitan Basilio smiled bitterly. “The physician was afraid they
would accuse him of being a friend of Don Crisostomo’s, so he drove
her from his house. Now she wanders about again as crazy as ever,
singing, harming no one, and living in the woods.”

“What else has happened in the town since we left it? I know that we
have a new curate and another alferez.”

“These are terrible times, humanity is retrograding,” murmured Capitan
Basilio, thinking of the past. “The day after you left they found the
senior sacristan dead, hanging from a rafter in his own house. Padre
Salvi was greatly affected by his death and took possession of all
his papers. Ah, yes, the old Sage, Tasio, also died and was buried
in the Chinese cemetery.”

“Poor old man!” sighed Don Filipo. “What became of his books?”

“They were burned by the pious, who thought thus to please God. I was
unable to save anything, not even Cicero’s works. The gobernadorcillo
did nothing to prevent it.”

Both became silent. At that moment the sad and melancholy song of
the madwoman was heard.

“Do you know when Maria Clara is to be married?” Iday asked Sinang.

“I don’t know,” answered the latter. “I received a letter from her
but haven’t opened it for fear of finding out. Poor Crisostomo!”

“They say that if it were not for Linares, they would hang Capitan
Tiago, so what was Maria Clara going to do?” observed Victoria.

A boy limped by, running toward the plaza, whence came the notes of
Sisa’s song. It was Basilio, who had found his home deserted and in
ruins. After many inquiries he had only learned that his mother was
insane and wandering about the town–of Crispin not a word.

Basilio choked back his tears, stifled any expression of his sorrow,
and without resting had started in search of his mother. On reaching
the town he was just asking about her when her song struck his
ears. The unhappy boy overcame the trembling in his limbs and ran to
throw himself into his mother’s arms.

The madwoman left the plaza and stopped in front of the house of
the new alferez. Now, as formerly, there was a sentinel before the
door, and a woman’s head appeared at the window, only it was not the
Medusa’s but that of a comely young woman: alferez and unfortunate
are not synonymous terms.

Sisa began to sing before the house with her gaze fixed on the
moon, which soared majestically in the blue heavens among golden
clouds. Basilio saw her, but did not dare to approach’ her. Walking
back and forth, but taking care not to get near the barracks, he
waited for the time when she would leave that place.

The young woman who was at the window listening attentively to the
madwoman’s song ordered the sentinel to bring her inside, but when
Sisa saw the soldier approach her and heard his voice she was filled
with terror and took to flight at a speed of which only a demented
person is capable. Basilio, fearing to lose her, ran after her,
forgetful of the pains in his feet.

“Look how that boy’s chasing the madwoman!” indignantly exclaimed
a woman in the street. Seeing that he continued to pursue her, she
picked up a stone and threw it at him, saying, “Take that! It’s a
pity that the dog is tied up!”

Basilio felt a blow on his head, but paid no attention to it as he
continued running. Dogs barked, geese cackled, several windows opened
to let out curious faces but quickly closed again from fear of another
night of terror.

Soon they were outside of the town. Sisa began to moderate her flight,
but still a great distance separated her from her pursuer.

“Mother!” he called to her when he caught sight of her. Scarcely had
the madwoman heard his voice when she again took to flight.

“Mother, it’s I!” cried the boy in desperation, but the madwoman
did not heed him, so he followed panting. They had now passed the
cultivated fields and were near the wood; Basilio saw his mother enter
it and he also went in. The bushes and shrubs, the thorny vines and
projecting roots of trees, hindered the movements of both. The son
followed his mother’s shadowy form as it was revealed from time to
time by the moonlight that penetrated through the foliage and into
the open spaces. They were in the mysterious wood of the Ibarra family.

The boy stumbled and fell several times, but rose again, each time
without feeling pain. All his soul was centered in his eyes, following
the beloved figure. They crossed the sweetly murmuring brook where
sharp thorns of bamboo that had fallen on the sand at its margin
pierced his bare feet, but he did not stop to pull them out.

To his great surprise he saw that his mother had plunged into the
thick undergrowth and was going through the wooden gateway that opened
into the tomb of the old Spaniard at the foot of the balete. Basilio
tried to follow her in, but found the gate fastened. The madwoman
defended the entrance with her emaciated arms and disheveled head,
holding the gate shut with all her might.

“Mother, it’s I, it’s I! I’m Basilio, your son!” cried the boy as he
let himself fall weakly.

But the madwoman did not yield. Bracing herself with her feet on
the ground, she offered an energetic resistance. Basilio beat the
gate with his fists, with his Mood-stained head, he wept, but in
vain. Painfully he arose and examined the wall, thinking to scale it,
but found no way to do so. He then walked around it and noticed that
a branch of the fateful balete was crossed with one from another
tree. This he climbed and, his filial love working miracles, made
his way from branch to branch to the balete, from which he saw his
mother still holding the gate shut with her head.

The noise made by him among the branches attracted Sisa’s
attention. She turned and tried to run, but her son, letting himself
fall from the tree, caught her in his arms and covered her with kisses,
losing consciousness as he did so.

Sisa saw his blood-stained forehead and bent over him. Her eyes seemed
to start from their sockets as she peered into his face. Those pale
features stirred the sleeping cells of her brain, so that something
like a spark of intelligence flashed up in her mind and she recognized
her son. With a terrible cry she fell upon the insensible body of
the boy, embracing and kissing him. Mother and son remained motionless.

When Basilio recovered consciousness he found his mother lifeless. He
called to her with the tenderest names, but she did not awake. Noticing
that she was not even breathing, he arose and went to the neighboring
brook to get some water in a banana leaf, with which to rub the pallid
face of his mother, but the madwoman made not the least movement and
her eyes remained closed.

Basilio gazed at her in terror. He placed his ear over her heart,
but the thin, faded breast was cold, and her heart no longer beat. He
put his lips to hers, but felt no breathing. The miserable boy threw
his arms about the corpse and wept bitterly.

The moon gleamed majestically in the sky, the wandering breezes sighed,
and down in the grass the crickets chirped. The night of light and joy
for so many children, who in the warm bosom of the family celebrate
this feast of sweetest memories–the feast which commemorates the
first look of love that Heaven sent to earth–this night when in all
Christian families they eat, drink, dance, sing, laugh, play, caress,
and kiss one another–this night, which in cold countries holds such
magic for childhood with its traditional pine-tree covered with lights,
dolls, candies, and tinsel, whereon gaze the round, staring eyes in
which innocence alone is reflected–this night brought to Basilio
only orphanhood. Who knows but that perhaps in the home whence came
the taciturn Padre Salvi children also played, perhaps they sang

“La Nochebuena se viene,
La Nochebuena se va.” [172]

For a long time the boy wept and moaned. When at last he raised his
head he saw a man standing over him, gazing at the scene in silence.

“Are you her son?” asked the unknown in a low voice.

The boy nodded.

“What do you expect to do?”

“Bury her!”

“In the cemetery?”

“I haven’t any money and, besides, the curate wouldn’t allow it.”

“Then?”

“If you would help me–”

“I’m very weak,” answered the unknown as he sank slowly to the ground,
supporting himself with both hands. “I’m wounded. For two days I
haven’t eaten or slept. Has no one come here tonight?”

The man thoughtfully contemplated the attractive features of the boy,
then went on in a still weaker voice, “Listen! I, too, shall be dead
before the day comes. Twenty paces from here, on the other side of
the brook, there is a big pile of firewood. Bring it here, make a
pyre, put our bodies upon it, cover them over, and set fire to the
whole–fire, until we are reduced to ashes!”

Basilio listened attentively.

“Afterwards, if no one comes, dig here. You will find a lot of gold
and it will all be yours. Take it and go to school.”

The voice of the unknown was becoming every moment more
unintelligible. “Go, get the firewood. I want to help you.”

As Basilio moved away, the unknown turned his face toward the east
and murmured, as though praying:

“I die without seeing the dawn brighten over my native land! You,
who have it to see, welcome it–and forget not those who have fallen
during the night!”

He raised his eyes to the sky and his lips continued to move, as if
uttering a prayer. Then he bowed his head and sank slowly to the earth.

Two hours later Sister Rufa was on the back veranda of her house
making her morning ablutions in order to attend mass. The pious woman
gazed at the adjacent wood and saw a thick column of smoke rising
from it. Filled with holy indignation, she knitted her eyebrows
and exclaimed:

“What heretic is making a clearing on a holy day? That’s why so many
calamities come! You ought to go to purgatory and see if you could
get out of there, savage!”

EPILOGUE

Since some of our characters are still living and others have been lost
sight of, a real epilogue is impossible. For the satisfaction of the
groundlings we should gladly kill off all of them, beginning with Padre
Salvi and ending with Doña Victorina, but this is not possible. Let
them live! Anyhow, the country, not ourselves, has to support them.

After Maria Clara entered the nunnery, Padre Damaso left his town
to live in Manila, as did also Padre Salvi, who, while he awaits a
vacant miter, preaches sometimes in the church of St. Clara, in whose
nunnery he discharges the duties of an important office. Not many
months had passed when Padre Damaso received an order from the Very
Reverend Father Provincial to occupy a curacy in a remote province. It
is related that he was so grievously affected by this that on the
following day he was found dead in his bedchamber. Some said that
he had died of an apoplectic stroke, others of a nightmare, but his
physician dissipated all doubts by declaring that he had died suddenly.

None of our readers would now recognize Capitan Tiago. Weeks before
Maria Clara took the vows he fell into a state of depression so great
that he grew sad and thin, and became pensive and distrustful, like
his former friend, Capitan Tinong. As soon as the doors of the nunnery
closed he ordered his disconsolate cousin, Aunt Isabel, to collect
whatever had belonged to his daughter and his dead wife and to go to
make her home in Malabon or San Diego, since he wished to live alone
thenceforward, tie then devoted himself passionately to _liam-pó_ and
the cockpit, and began to smoke opium. He no longer goes to Antipolo
nor does he order any more masses, so Doña Patrocinia, his old rival,
celebrates her triumph piously by snoring during the sermons. If at
any time during the late afternoon you should walk along Calle Santo
Cristo, you would see seated in a Chinese shop a small man, yellow,
thin, and bent, with stained and dirty finger nails, gazing through
dreamy, sunken eyes at the passers-by as if he did not see them. At
nightfall you would see him rise with difficulty and, supporting
himself on his cane, make his way to a narrow little by-street to
enter a grimy building over the door of which may be seen in large
red letters: FUMADERO PUBLICO DE ANFION. [173] This is that Capitan
Tiago who was so celebrated, but who is now completely forgotten,
even by the very senior sacristan himself.

Doña Victorina has added to her false frizzes and to her
_Andalusization_, if we may be permitted the term, the new custom
of driving the carriage horses herself, obliging Don Tiburcio to
remain quiet. Since many unfortunate accidents occurred on account
of the weakness of her eyes, she has taken to wearing spectacles,
which give her a marvelous appearance. The doctor has never been
called upon again to attend any one and the servants see him many
days in the week without teeth, which, as our readers know, is a
very bad sign. Linares, the only defender of the hapless doctor,
has long been at rest in Paco cemetery, the victim of dysentery and
the harsh treatment of his cousin-in-law.

The victorious alferez returned to Spain a major, leaving his
amiable spouse in her flannel camisa, the color of which is now
indescribable. The poor Ariadne, finding herself thus abandoned,
also devoted herself, as did the daughter of Minos, to the cult of
Bacchus and the cultivation of tobacco; she drinks and smokes with
such fury that now not only the girls but even the old women and
little children fear her.

Probably our acquaintances of the town of San Diego are still alive,
if they did not perish in the explosion of the steamer “_Lipa_,” which
was making a trip to the province. Since no one bothered himself to
learn who the unfortunates were that perished in that catastrophe or to
whom belonged the legs and arms left neglected on Convalescence Island
and the banks of the river, we have no idea whether any acquaintance
of our readers was among them or not. Along with the government and
the press at the time, we are satisfied with the information that
the only friar who was on the steamer was saved, and we do not ask
for more. The principal thing for us is the existence of the virtuous
priests, whose reign in the Philippines may God conserve for the good
of our souls. [174]

Of Maria Clara nothing more is known except that the sepulcher seems
to guard her in its bosom. We have asked several persons of great
influence in the holy nunnery of St. Clara, but no one has been
willing to tell us a single word, not even the talkative devotees
who receive the famous fried chicken-livers and the even more famous
sauce known as that “of the nuns,” prepared by the intelligent cook
of the Virgins of the Lord.

Nevertheless: On a night in September the hurricane raged over
Manila, lashing the buildings with its gigantic wings. The thunder
crashed continuously. Lightning flashes momentarily revealed the havoc
wrought by the blast and threw the inhabitants into wild terror. The
rain fell in torrents. Each flash of the forked lightning showed a
piece of roofing or a window-blind flying through the air to fall
with a horrible crash. Not a person or a carriage moved through the
streets. When the hoarse reverberations of the thunder, a hundred
times re-echoed, lost themselves in the distance, there was heard
the soughing of the wind as it drove the raindrops with a continuous
tick-tack against the concha-panes of the closed windows.

Two patrolmen sheltered themselves under the eaves of a building near
the nunnery, one a private and the other a _distinguido_.

“What’s the use of our staying here?” said the private.

“No one is moving about the streets. We ought to get into a house. My
_querida_ lives in Calle Arzobispo.”

“From here over there is quite a distance and we’ll get wet,” answered
the _distinguido_.

“What does that matter just so the lightning doesn’t strike us?”

“Bah, don’t worry! The nuns surely have a lightningrod to protect
them.”

“Yes,” observed the private, “but of what use is it when the night
is so dark?”

As he said this he looked upward to stare into the darkness. At
that moment a prolonged streak of lightning flashed, followed by a
terrific roar.

“_Nakú! Susmariosep!_” exclaimed the private, crossing himself and
catching hold of his companion. “Let’s get away from here.”

“What’s happened?”

“Come, come away from here,” he repeated with his teeth rattling
from fear.

“What have you seen?”

“A specter!” he murmured, trembling with fright.

“A specter?”

“On the roof there. It must be the nun who practises magic during
the night.”

The _distinguido_ thrust his head out to look, just as a flash of
lightning furrowed the heavens with a vein of fire and sent a horrible
crash earthwards. “_Jesús!_” he exclaimed, also crossing himself.

In the brilliant glare of the celestial light he had seen a white
figure standing almost on the ridge of the roof with arms and face
raised toward the sky as if praying to it. The heavens responded with
lightning and thunderbolts!

As the sound of the thunder rolled away a sad plaint was heard.

“That’s not the wind, it’s the specter,” murmured the private, as if
in response to the pressure of his companion’s hand.

“Ay! Ay!” came through the air, rising above the noise of the rain,
nor could the whistling wind drown that sweet and mournful voice
charged with affliction.

Again the lightning flashed with dazzling intensity.

“No, it’s not a specter!” exclaimed the _distinguido_.

“I’ve seen her before. She’s beautiful, like the Virgin! Let’s get
away from here and report it.”

The private did not wait for him to repeat the invitation, and both
disappeared.

Who was moaning in the middle of the night in spite of the wind and
rain and storm? Who was the timid maiden, the bride of Christ, who
defied the unchained elements and chose such a fearful night under the
open sky to breathe forth from so perilous a height her complaints
to God? Had the Lord abandoned his altar in the nunnery so that He
no longer heard her supplications? Did its arches perhaps prevent the
longings of the soul from rising up to the throne of the Most Merciful?

The tempest raged furiously nearly the whole night, nor did a single
star shine through the darkness. The despairing plaints continued to
mingle with the soughing of the wind, but they found Nature and man
alike deaf; God had hidden himself and heard not.

On the following day, after the dark clouds had cleared away and the
sun shone again brightly in the limpid sky, there stopped at the door
of the nunnery of St. Clara a carriage, from which alighted a man
who made himself known as a representative of the authorities. He
asked to be allowed to speak immediately with the abbess and to see
all the nuns.

It is said that one of these, who appeared in a gown all wet and torn,
with tears and tales of horror begged the man’s protection against
the outrages of hypocrisy. It is also said that she was very beautiful
and had the most lovely and expressive eyes that were ever seen.

The representative of the authorities did not accede to her request,
but, after talking with the abbess, left her there in spite of her
tears and pleadings. The youthful nun saw the door close behind him
as a condemned person might look upon the portals of Heaven closing
against him, if ever Heaven should come to be as cruel and unfeeling
as men are. The abbess said that she was a madwoman. The man may
not have known that there is in Manila a home for the demented;
or perhaps he looked upon the nunnery itself as an insane asylum,
although it is claimed that he was quite ignorant, especially in a
matter of deciding whether a person is of sound mind.

It is also reported that General J—- thought otherwise, when the
matter reached his ears. He wished to protect the madwoman and asked
for her. But this time no beautiful and unprotected maiden appeared,
nor would the abbess permit a visit to the cloister, forbidding it
in the name of Religion and the Holy Statutes. Nothing more was said
of the affair, nor of the ill-starred Maria Clara.

GLOSSARY

_abá_: A Tagalog exclamation of wonder, surprise, etc., often used
to introduce or emphasize a contradictory statement.

_abaka_: “Manila hemp,” the fiber of a plant of the banana family.

_achara_: Pickles made from the tender shoots of bamboo, green
papayas, etc.

_alcalde_: Governor of a province or district with both executive
and judicial authority.

_alferez_: Junior officer of the Civil Guard, ranking next below
a lieutenant.

_alibambang_: A leguminous plant whose acid leaves are used in cooking.

_alpay_: A variety of nephelium, similar but inferior to the Chinese
lichi.

_among_: Term used by the natives in addressing a priest, especially
a friar: from the Spanish _amo_, master.

_amores-secos_: “Barren loves,” a low-growing weed whose small,
angular pods adhere to clothing.

_andas_: A platform with handles, on which an image is borne in
a procession.

_asuang_: A malignant devil reputed to feed upon human flesh, being
especially fond of new-born babes.

_até_: The sweet-sop.

_Audiencia_: The administrative council and supreme court of the
Spanish régime.

_Ayuntamiento_: A city corporation or council, and by extension
the building in which it has its offices; specifically, in Manila,
the capitol.

_azotea_: The flat roof of a house or any similar platform;
a roof-garden.

_babaye_: Woman (the general Malay term).

_baguio_: The local name for the typhoon or hurricane.

_bailúhan_: Native dance and feast: from the Spanish _baile_.

_balete_: The Philippine banyan, a tree sacred in Malay folk-lore.

_banka_: A dugout canoe with bamboo supports or outriggers.

_Bilibid_: The general penitentiary at Manila.

_buyo_: The masticatory prepared by wrapping a piece of areca-nut
with a little shell-lime in a betel-leaf: the _pan_ of British India.

_cabeza de barangay_: Headman and tax collector for a group of about
fifty families, for whose “tribute” he was personally responsible.

_calle_: Street.

_camisa_: 1. A loose, collarless shirt of transparent material worn
by men outside the trousers.

2. A thin, transparent waist with flowing sleeves, worn by women.

_camote_: A variety of sweet potato.

_capitan_: “Captain,” a title used in addressing or referring to the
gobernadorcillo or a former occupant of that office.

_carambas_: A Spanish exclamation denoting surprise or displeasure.

_carbineer_: Internal-revenue guard.

_cedula_: Certificate of registration and receipt for poll-tax.

_chico_: The sapodilla plum.

_Civil Guard_: Internal quasi-military police force of Spanish officers
and native soldiers.

_cochero_: Carriage driver: coachman.

_Consul_: A wealthy merchant; originally, a member of the _Consulado_,
the tribunal, or corporation, controlling the galleon trade.

_cuadrillero_: Municipal guard.

_cuarto_: A copper coin, one hundred and sixty of which were equal
in value to a silver peso.

_cuidao_: “Take care!” “Look out!” A common exclamation, from the
Spanish _cuidado_.

_dálag_: The Philippine _Ophiocephalus_, the curious walking mudfish
that abounds in the paddy-fields during the rainy season.

_dalaga_: Maiden, woman of marriageable age.

_dinding_: House-wall or partition of plaited bamboo wattle.

_director, directorcillo_: The town secretary and clerk of the
gobernadorcillo.

_distinguido_: A person of rank serving as a private soldier but
exempted from menial duties and in promotions preferred to others of
equal merit.

_escribano_: Clerk of court and official notary.

_filibuster_: A native of the Philippines who was accused of advocating
their separation from Spain.

_gobernadorcillo_: “Petty governor,” the principal municipal official.

_gogo_: A climbing, woody vine whose macerated stems are used as soap;
“soap-vine.”

_guingón_: Dungaree, a coarse blue cotton cloth.

_hermano mayor_: The manager of a fiesta.

_husi_: A fine cloth made of silk interwoven with cotton, abaka,
or pineapple-leaf fibers.

_ilang-ilang_: The Malay “flower of flowers,” from which the well-known
essence is obtained.

_Indian_: The Spanish designation for the Christianized Malay of the
Philippines was _indio_ (Indian), a term used rather contemptuously,
the name _Filipino_ being generally applied in a restricted sense to
the children of Spaniards born in the Islands.

_kaingin_: A woodland clearing made by burning off the trees and
underbrush, for planting upland rice or camotes.

_kalan_: The small, portable, open, clay fireplace commonly used
in cooking.

_kalao_: The Philippine hornbill. As in all Malay countries, this bird
is the object of curious superstitions. Its raucous cry, which may
be faintly characterized as hideous, is said to mark the hours and,
in the night-time, to presage death or other disaster.

_kalikut_: A short section of bamboo in which the _buyo_ is mixed;
a primitive betel-box.

_kamagon_: A tree of the ebony family, from which fine cabinet-wood
is obtained. Its fruit is the _mabolo_, or date-plum.

_kasamá_: Tenants on the land of another, to whom they render payment
in produce or by certain specified services.

_kogon_: A tall, rank grass used for thatch.

_kris_: A Moro dagger or short sword with a serpentine blade.

_kundíman_: A native song.

_kupang_: A large tree of the Mimosa family.

_kuriput_: Miser, “skinflint.”

_lanson_: The langsa, a delicious cream-colored fruit about the size
of a plum. In the Philippines, its special habitat is the country
around the Lake of Bay.

_liam-pó_: A Chinese game of chance (?).

_lomboy_: The jambolana, a small, blue fruit with a large stone.

_Malacañang_: The palace of the Captain-General in Manila: from the
vernacular name of the place where it stands, “fishermen’s resort.”

_mankukúlan_: An evil spirit causing sickness and other misfortunes,
and a person possessed of such a demon.

_morisqueta_: Rice boiled without salt until dry, the staple food of
the Filipinos.

_Moro_: Mohammedan Malay of southern Mindanao and Sulu.

_mutya_: Some object with talismanic properties, “rabbit’s foot.”

_nakú_: A Tagalog exclamation of surprise, wonder, etc.

_nipa_: Swamp-palm, with the imbricated leaves of which the roots
and sides of the common Filipino houses are constructed.

_nito_: A climbing fern whose glossy, wiry leaves are used for making
fine hats, cigar-cases, etc.

_novena_: A devotion consisting of prayers recited on nine consecutive
days, asking for some special favor; also, a booklet of these prayers.

_oy_: An exclamation to attract attention, used toward inferiors
and in familiar intercourse: probably a contraction of the Spanish
imperative, _oye_, “listen!”

_pakó_: An edible fern.

_palasán_: A thick, stout variety of rattan, used for walking-sticks.

_pandakaki_: A low tree or shrub with small, star-like flowers.

_pañuelo_: A starched neckerchief folded stiffly over the shoulders,
fastened in front and falling in a point behind: the most distinctive
portion of the customary dress of the Filipino women.

_papaya_: The tropical papaw, fruit of the “melon-tree.”

_paracmason_: Freemason, the _bête noire_ of the Philippine friar.

_peseta_: A silver coin, in value one-fifth of a peso or thirty-two
cuartos.

_peso_: A silver coin, either the Spanish peso or the Mexican dollar,
about the size of an American dollar and of approximately half
its value.

_piña_: Fine cloth made from pineapple-leaf fibers.

_proper names_: The author has given a simple and sympathetic touch
to his story throughout by using the familiar names commonly employed
among the Filipinos in their home-life. Some of these are nicknames
or pet names, such as Andong, Andoy, Choy, Neneng (“Baby”), Puté,
Tinchang, and Yeyeng. Others are abbreviations or corruptions of
the Christian names, often with the particle ng or ay added, which
is a common practice: Andeng, Andrea; Doray, Teodora; Iday, Brigida
(Bridget); Sinang, Lucinda (Lucy); Sipa, Josefa; Sisa, Narcisa; Teo,
Teodoro (Theodore); Tiago, Santiago (James); Tasio, Anastasio; Tiká,
Escolastica; Tinay, Quintina; Tinong, Saturnino.

_Provincial_: Head of a religious order in the Philippines.

_querida_: Paramour, mistress: from the Spanish, “beloved.”

_real_: One-eighth of a peso, twenty cuartos.

_sala_: The principal room in the more pretentious Philippine houses.

_salabat_: An infusion of ginger.

_salakot_: Wide hat of palm or bamboo and rattan, distinctively
Filipino.

_sampaguita_: The Arabian jasmine: a small, white, very fragrant
flower, extensively cultivated, and worn in chaplets and rosaries by
the women and girls–the typical Philippine flower.

_santol_: The Philippine sandal-tree.

_sawali_: Plaited bamboo wattle.

_sinamay_: A transparent cloth woven from abaka fibers.

_sinigang_: Water with vegetables or some acid fruit, in which fish
are boiled; “fish soup.”

_Susmariosep_: A common exclamation: contraction of the Spanish,
_Jesús, María, y José_, the Holy Family.

_tabí_: The cry of carriage drivers to warn pedestrians.

_talibon_: A short sword, the “war bolo.”

_tapa_: Jerked meat.

_tápis_: A piece of dark cloth or lace, often richly worked or
embroidered, worn at the waist somewhat in the fashion of an apron:
a distinctive portion of the native women’s attire, especially among
the Tagalogs.

_tarambulo_: A low weed whose leaves and fruit pedicles are covered
with short, sharp spines.

_teniente-mayor_: Senior lieutenant, the senior member of the town
council and substitute for the gobernadorcillo.

_tikas-tikas_: A variety of canna bearing bright red flowers.

_tertiary brethren_: Members of a lay society affiliated with a
regular monastic order, especially the Venerable Tertiary Order of
the Franciscans.

_timbaín_: The “water-cure,” and hence, any kind of torture. The
primary meaning is “to draw water from a well,” from _timba_, pail.

_tikbalang_: An evil spirit, capable of assuming various forms,
but said to appear usually in the shape of a tall black man with
disproportionately long legs: the “bogey man” of Tagalog children.

_tulisan_: Outlaw, bandit. Under the old régime in the Philippines the
tulisanes were those who, on account of real or fancied grievances
against the authorities, or from fear of punishment for crime,
or from an instinctive desire to return to primitive simplicity,
foreswore life in the towns “under the bell,” and made their homes
in the mountains or other remote places. Gathered in small bands with
such arms as they could secure, they sustained themselves by highway
robbery and the levying of blackmail from the country folk.

_zacate_: Native grass used for feeding livestock.

NOTES

[1] Quoted by Macaulay: _Essay on the Succession in Spain_.

[2] The ruins of the _Fuerza de Playa Honda, ó Real de Paynavén_, are
still to be seen in the present municipality of Botolan, Zambales. The
walls are overgrown with rank vegetation, but are well preserved, with
the exception of a portion looking toward the Bankal River, which has
been undermined by the currents and has fallen intact into the stream.

[3] _Relation of the Zambals_, by Domingo Perez, O.P.; manuscript
dated 1680. The excerpts are taken from the translation in Blair and
Robertson, _The Philippine Islands_, Vol. XLVII, by courtesy of the
Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

[4] _”Estadismo de las Islas Filipinas, ó Mis Viages por Este Pais_,
por Fray Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga, Agustino calzado.” Padre Zuñiga
was a parish priest in several towns and later Provincial of his
Order. He wrote a history of the conquest, and in 1800 accompanied
Alava, the _General de Marina_, on his tours of investigation looking
toward preparations for the defense of the islands against another
attack of the British, with whom war threatened. The _Estadismo_,
which is a record of these journeys, with some account of the rest of
the islands, remained in manuscript until 1893, when it was published
in Madrid.

[5] Secular, as distinguished from the regulars, i.e., members of
the monastic orders.

[6] Sinibaldo de Mas, _Informe sobre el estado de las Islas Filipinas
en 1842_, translated in Blair and Robertson’s _The Philippine Islands_,
Vol. XXVIII, p. 254.

[7] _Sic_. St. John xx, 17.

[8] This letter in the original French in which it was written is
reproduced in the _Vida y Escritos del Dr. José Rizal_, by W. E. Retana
(Madrid, 1907).

[9] _Filipinas dentro de Cien Años_, published in the organ of the
Filipinos in Spain, _La Solidaridad_, in 1889-90. This is the most
studied of Rizal’s purely political writings, and the completest
exposition of his views concerning the Philippines.

[10] An English version of _El Filibusterismo_, under the title _The
Reign of Greed_, has been prepared to accompany the present work.

[11] “Que todo el monte era orégano.” W.E. Retana, in the appendix to
Fray Martinez de Zuñiga’s _Estadismo_, Madrid, 1893, where the decree
is quoted. The rest of this comment of Retana’s deserves quotation
as an estimate of the living man by a Spanish publicist who was at
the time in the employ of the friars and contemptuously hostile
to Rizal, but who has since 1898 been giving quite a spectacular
demonstration of waving a red light after the wreck, having become his
most enthusiastic, almost hysterical, biographer: “Rizal is what is
commonly called a character, but he has repeatedly demonstrated very
great inexperience in the affairs of life. I believe him to be now
about thirty-two years old. He is the Indian of most ability among
those who have written.”

[12] From Valenzuela’s deposition before the military tribunal,
September sixth, 1896.

[13] _Capilla_: the Spanish practise is to place a condemned person
for the twenty-four hours preceding his execution in a _chapel_, or
a cell fitted up as such, where he may devote himself to religious
exercises and receive the final ministrations of the Church.

[14] But even this conclusion is open to doubt: there is no proof
beyond the unsupported statement of the Jesuits that he made a written
retraction, which was later destroyed, though why a document so
interesting, and so important in support of their own point of view,
should not have been preserved furnishes an illuminating commentary
on the whole confused affair. The only unofficial witness present was
the condemned man’s sister, and her declaration, that she was at the
time in such a state of excitement and distress that she is unable to
affirm positively that there was a real marriage ceremony performed,
can readily be accepted. It must be remembered that the Jesuits were
themselves under the official and popular ban for the part they had
played in Rizal’s education and development and that they were seeking
to set themselves right in order to maintain their prestige. Add to
this the persistent and systematic effort made to destroy every scrap
of record relating to the man–the sole gleam of shame evidenced in
the impolitic, idiotic, and pusillanimous treatment of him–and the
whole question becomes such a puzzle that it may just as well be left
in darkness, with a throb of pity for the unfortunate victim caught
in such a maelstrom of panic-stricken passion and selfish intrigue.

[15] A similar picture is found in the convento at Antipolo.–_Author’s
note_.

[16] A school of secondary instruction conducted by the Dominican
Fathers, by whom it was taken over in 1640. “It had its first beginning
in the house of a pious Spaniard, called Juan Geronimo Guerrero,
who had dedicated himself, with Christian piety, to gathering orphan
boys in his house, where he raised, clothed, and sustained them, and
taught them to read and to write, and much more, to live in the fear
of God.”–Blair and Robertson, _The Philippine Islands_, Vol. XLV,
p. 208.–TR.

[17] The Dominican friars, whose order was founded by Dominic de
Guzman.–TR.

[18] In the story mentioned, the three monks were the old Roman god
Bacchus and two of his satellites, in the disguise of Franciscan
friars,–TR.

[19] According to a note to the Barcelona edition of this novel,
Mendieta was a character well known in Manila, doorkeeper at
the Alcaldía, impresario of children’s theaters, director of a
merry-go-round, etc.–TR.

[20] See Glossary.

[21] The “tobacco monopoly” was established during the administration
of Basco de Vargas (1778-1787), one of the ablest governors Spain
sent to the Philippines, in order to provide revenue for the local
government and to encourage agricultural development. The operation
of the monopoly, however, soon degenerated into a system of “graft”
and petty abuse which bore heartily upon the natives (see Zuñiga’s
_Estadismo_), and the abolition of it in 1881 was one of the heroic
efforts made by the Spanish civil administrators to adjust the archaic
colonial system to the changing conditions in the Archipelago.–TR.

[22] As a result of his severity in enforcing the payment of sums
due the royal treasury on account of the galleon trade, in which
the religious orders were heavily interested, Governor Fernando de
Bustillos Bustamente y Rueda met a violent death at the hands of a
mob headed by friars, October 11, 1719. See Blair and Robertson,
_The Philippine Islands_, Vol. XLIV; Montero y Vidal, _Historia
General de Filipinas_, Vol. I, Chap. XXXV.–TR.

[23] A reference to the fact that the clerical party in Spain refused
to accept the decree of Ferdinand VII setting aside the Salic law
and naming his daughter Isabella as his successor, and, upon the
death of Ferdinand, supported the claim of the nearest male heir,
Don Carlos de Bourbon, thus giving rise to the Carlist movement. Some
writers state that severe measures had to be adopted to compel many
of the friars in the Philippines to use the feminine pronoun in their
prayers for the sovereign, just whom the reverend gentlemen expected
to deceive not being explained.–TR.

[24] An apothegm equivalent to the English, “He’ll never set any
rivers on fire.”–TR.

[25] The name of a Carlist leader in Spain.–TR.

[26] A German Franciscan monk who is said to have invented gunpowder
about 1330.

[27] “He says that he doesn’t want it when it is exactly what he
does want.” An expression used in the mongrel Spanish-Tagalog
‘market language’ of Manila and Cavite, especially among the
children,–somewhat akin to the English ‘sour grapes.’–TR.

[28] Arms should yield to the toga (military to civil power). Arms
should yield to the surplice (military to religious power),–TR.

[29] For _Peninsula_, i.e., Spain. The change of _n_ to _ñ_ was common
among ignorant Filipinos.–TR.

[30] The syllables which constitute the first reading lesson in
Spanish primers.–TR.

[31] A Spanish colloquial term (“cracked”), applied to a native of
Spain who was considered to be mentally unbalanced from too long
residence in the islands,–TR.

[32] This celebrated Lady was first brought from Acapulco, Mexico,
by Juan Niño de Tabora, when he came to govern the Philippines in
1626. By reason of her miraculous powers of allaying the storms she was
carried back and forth in the state galleons on a number of voyages,
until in 1672 she was formally installed in a church in the hills
northeast of Manila, under the care of the Augustinian Fathers. While
her shrine was building she is said to have appeared to the faithful in
the top of a large breadfruit tree, which is known to the Tagalogs as
“antipolo”; hence her name. Hers is the best known and most frequented
shrine in the country, while she disputes with the Holy Child of Cebu
the glory of being the wealthiest individual in the whole archipelago.

There has always existed a pious rivalry between her and the
Dominicans’ Lady of the Rosary as to which is the patron saint of the
Philippines, the contest being at times complicated by counterclaims
on the part of St. Francis, although the entire question would seem
to have been definitely settled by a royal decree, published about
1650, officially conferring that honorable post upon St. Michael the
Archangel (San Miguel). A rather irreverent sketch of this celebrated
queen of the skies appears in Chapter XI of Foreman’s _The Philippine
Islands_.–TR.

[33] Santa Cruz, Paco, and Ermita are districts of Manila, outside
the Walled City.–TR.

[34] John xviii. 10.

[35] A town in Laguna Province, noted for the manufacture of
furniture.–TR.

[36] God grant that this prophecy may soon be fulfilled for the author
of the booklet and all of us who believe it. Amen.–_Author’s note_.

[37] “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “blessed are the
possessors.”–TR.

[38] The annual celebration of the Dominican Order held in October in
honor of its patroness, the Virgin of the Rosary, to whose intervention
was ascribed the victory over a Dutch fleet in 1646, whence the
name. See _Guía Oficial de Filipinas_, 1885, pp. 138, 139; Montero
y Vidal, _Historia General de Filipinas_, Vol. I, Chap. XXIII; Blair
and Robertson, _The Philippine Islands_, Vol. XXXV, pp. 249, 250.–TR.

[39] Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose chief
business is preaching and teaching. They entered the Philippines
in 1862.–TR.

[40] “Kaysaysay: A celebrated sanctuary in the island of Luzon,
province of Batangas, jurisdiction, of Taal, so called because there
is venerated in it a Virgin who bears that name ….

“The image is in the center of the high altar, where there is seen an
eagle in half-relief, whose abdomen is left open in order to afford a
tabernacle for the Virgin: an idea enchanting to many of the Spaniards
established in the Philippines during the last century, but which in
our opinion any sensible person will characterize as extravagant.

“This image of the Virgin of Kaysaysay enjoys the fame of being very
miraculous, so that the Indians gather from great distances to hear
mass in her sanctuary every Saturday. Her discovery, over two and a
half centuries ago, is notable in that she was found in the sea during
some fisheries, coming up in a drag-net with the fish. It is thought
that this venerable image of the Filipinos may have been in some ship
which was wrecked and that the currents carried her up to the coast,
where she was found in the manner related.

“The Indians, naturally credulous and for the most part quite
superstitious, in spite of the advancements in civilization and
culture, relate that she appeared afterwards in some trees, and
in memory of these manifestations an arch representing them was
erected at a short distance from the place where her sanctuary is
now located.”–Buzeta and Bravo’s _Diccionario_, Madrid, 1850, but
copied “with proper modifications for the times and the new truths”
from Zuñiga’s _Estadismo_, which, though written in 1803 and not
published until 1893, was yet used by later writers, since it was
preserved in manuscript in the convent of the Augustinians in Manila,
Buzeta and Bravo, as well as Zuñiga, being members of that order.

So great was the reverence for this Lady that the Acapulco galleons on
their annual voyages were accustomed to fire salutes in her honor as
they passed along the coast near her shrine.–Foreman. _The Philippine
Islands_, quoting from the account of an eruption of Taal Volcano in
1749, by Fray Francisco Vencuchillo.

This Lady’s sanctuary, where she is still “enchanting” in her “eagle
in half-relief,” stands out prominently on the hill above the town
of Taal, plainly visible from Balayan Bay.–TR.

[41] A Tagalog term meaning “to tumble,” or “to caper about,”
doubtless from the actions of the Lady’s devotees. Pakil is a town
in Laguna Province.–TR.

[42] A work on scholastic philosophy, by a Spanish prelate of that
name.–TR.

[43] The nunnery and college of St. Catherine of Sienna (“Santa
Catalina de la Sena”) was founded by the Dominican Fathers in
1696.–TR.

[44] The “Ateneo Municipal,” where the author, as well as nearly every
other Filipino of note in the past generation, received his early
education, was founded by the Jesuits shortly after their return to
the islands in 1859.–TR.

[45] The patron saint of Tondo, Manila’s Saint-Antoine. He is invoked
for aid in driving away plagues,–TR.

[46] Now Plaza Cervantes.–TR.

[47] Now Plaza Lawton and Bagumbayan; see note, _infra.–_ TR.

[48] The Field of Bagumbayan, adjoining the Luneta, was the place where
political prisoners were shot or garroted, and was the scene of the
author’s execution on December 30, 1906. It is situated just outside
and east of the old Walled City (Manila proper), being the location to
which the natives who had occupied the site of Manila moved their town
after having been driven back by the Spaniards–hence the name, which
is a Tagalog compound meaning “new town.” This place is now called
Wallace Field, the name Bagumbayan being applied to the driveway
which was known to the Spaniards as the _Paseo de las Aguadas_,
or _de Vidal_, extending from the Luneta to the Bridge of Spain,
just outside the moat that, formerly encircled the Walled City.–TR.

[49] Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.–TR.

[50] We have been unable to find any town of this name, but many of
these conditions.–_Author’s note_.

San Diego and Santiago are variant forms of the name of the patron
saint of Spain, St. James.–TR.

[51] The “sacred tree” of Malaya, being a species of banyan that begins
life as a vine twining on another tree, which it finally strangles,
using the dead trunk as a support until it is able to stand alone. When
old it often covers a large space with gnarled and twisted trunks
of varied shapes and sizes, thus presenting a weird and grotesque
appearance. This tree was held in reverent awe by the primitive
Filipinos, who believed it to be the abode of the _nono_, or ancestral
ghosts, and is still the object of superstitious beliefs,–TR.

[52] “Petty governor,” the chief municipal official, chosen annually
from among their own number, with the approval of the parish priest
and the central government, by the _principalía_, i.e., persons who
owned considerable property or who had previously held some municipal
office. The manner of his selection is thus described by a German
traveler (Jagor) in the Philippines in 1860: “The election is held
in the town hall. The governor or his representative presides, having
on his right the parish priest and on his left a clerk, who also acts
as interpreter. All the cabezas de barangay, the gobernadorcillo, and
those who have formerly occupied the latter position, seat themselves
on benches. First, there are chosen by lot six cabezas de barangay and
six ex-gobernadorcillos as electors, the actual gobernadorcillo being
the thirteenth. The rest leave the hall. After the presiding officer
has read the statutes in a loud voice and reminded the electors of
their duty to act in accordance with their consciences and to heed
only the welfare of the town, the electors move to a table and write
three names on a slip of paper. The person receiving a majority
of votes is declared elected gobernadorcillo for the ensuing year,
provided that there is no protest from the curate or the electors,
and always conditioned upon the approval of the superior authority
in Manila, which is never withheld, since the influence of the curate
is enough to prevent an unsatisfactory election.”–TR.

[53] St. Barbara is invoked during thunder-storms as the special
protectress against lightning.–TR.

[54] In possibility (i.e., latent) and not: in fact.–TR.

[55]

“For this are various penances enjoined;
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind;
Some plunged in waters, others purged in fires,
Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires.”

Dryden, _Virgil’s Aeneid_, VI.

[56] “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”–Luke xxiii, 43.

[57] It should be believed that for some light faults there is a
purgatorial fire before the judgment.

[58] Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth.–Matt, xvi, 19.

[59] Even up to purgatory.

[60] Dream or reality, we do not know whether this may have happened
to any Franciscan, but something similar is related of the Augustinian
Padre Piernavieja.–_Author’s note_.

Fray Antonio Piernavieja, O.S.A., was a parish curate in the province
of Bulacan when this work was written. Later, on account of alleged
brutality similar to the incident used here, he was transferred
to the province of Cavite, where, in 1896, he was taken prisoner
by the insurgents and by them made “bishop” of their camp. Having
taken advantage of this position to collect and forward to the
Spanish authorities in Manila information concerning the insurgents’
preparations and plans, he was tied out in an open field and left to
perish of hunger and thirst under the tropical sun. See _Guía Oficial
de Filipinas_, 1885, p. 195; _El Katipunan ó El Filibusterismo en
Filipinas_ (Madrid, 1897), p. 347; Foreman’s _The Philippine Islands_,
Chap. XII.–TR.

[61] The Philippine civet-cat, quite rare, and the only wild carnivore
in the Philippine Islands.–TR.

[62] The common crowd is a fool and since it pays for it, it is proper
to talk to it foolishly to please it.

[63] “The schools are under the inspection of the parish
priests. Reading and writing in Spanish are taught, or at least it
is so ordered; but the schoolmaster himself usually does not know
it, and on the other hand the Spanish government employees do not
understand the vernacular. Besides, the curates, in order to preserve
their influence intact, do not look favorably upon the spread of
Castilian. About the only ones who know Spanish are the Indians who
have been in the service of Europeans. The first reading exercise
is some devotional book, then the catechism; the reader is called
_Casaysayan_. On the average half of the children between seven and ten
years attend school; they learn to read fairly well and some to write
a little, but they soon forget it.”–Jagor, _Viajes por Filipinas_
(Vidal’s Spanish version). Jagor was speaking particularly of the
settled parts of the Bicol region. Referring to the islands generally,
his “half of the children” would be a great exaggeration.–TR.

[64] A delicate bit of sarcasm is lost in the translation here. The
reference to _Maestro Ciruela_ in Spanish is somewhat similar to a
mention in English of Mr. Squeers, of Dotheboys Hall fame.–TR.

[65] By one of the provisions of a royal decree of December 20,
1863, the _Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristina_, by Gaspar Astete,
was prescribed as the text-book for primary schools, in the
Philippines. See Blair and Robertson’s _The Philippine Islands_,
Vol. XLVI, p. 98; _Census of the Philippine Islands_ (Washington,
1905), p. 584.–TR.

[66] The municipal police of the old régime. They were thus described
by a Spanish writer, W. E. Retana, in a note to Ventura F. Lopez’s
_El Filibustero_ (Madrid, 1893): “Municipal guards, whose duties are
principally rural. Their uniform is a disaster; they go barefoot;
on horseback, they hold the reins in the right hand and a lance in
the left. They are usually good-for-nothing, but to their credit it
must be said that they do no damage. Lacking military instruction,
provided with fire-arms of the first part of the century, of which one
in a hundred might go off in case of need, and for other arms bolos,
talibons, old swords, etc., the cuadrilleros are truly a parody on
armed force.”–TR.

[67] Headman and tax-collector of a district, generally including
about fifty families, for whose annual tribute he was personally
responsible. The “barangay” is a Malay boat of the kind supposed to
have been used by the first emigrants to the Philippines. Hence, at
first, the “head of a barangay” meant the leader or chief of a family
or group of families. This office, quite analogous to the old Germanic
or Anglo-Saxon “head of a hundred,” was adopted and perpetuated by
the Spaniards in their system of local administration.–TR.

[68] The _hermano mayor_ was a person appointed to direct the
ceremonies during the fiesta, an appointment carrying with it great
honor and importance, but also entailing considerable expense,
as the appointee was supposed to furnish a large share of the
entertainments. Hence, the greater the number of _hermanos mayores_
the more splendid the fiesta,–TR.

[69] Mt. Makiling is a volcanic cone at the southern end of the Lake
of Bay. At its base is situated the town of Kalamba, the author’s
birthplace. About this mountain cluster a number of native legends
having as their principal character a celebrated sorceress or
enchantress, known as “Mariang Makiling.”–TR.

[70] With uncertain pace, in wandering flight, for an instant
only–without rest.

[71] The _chinela_, the Philippine slipper, is a soft leather sole,
heelless, with only a vamp, usually of plush or velvet, to hold
it on.–TR.

[72] “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” The words inscribed over
the gate of Hell: Dante’s _Inferno_, III, 9.–TR.

[73] “Listening Sister,” the nun who acts as spy and monitor over
the girls studying in a convent.–TR.

[74] “Más sabe el loco en su casa que el cuerdo en la ajena.” The fool
knows more in his own house than a wise man does in another’s.–TR.

[75] The College of Santo Tomas was established in 1619 through a
legacy of books and money left for that purpose by Fray Miguel de
Benavides, O. P., second archbishop of Manila. By royal decree and
papal bull, it became in 1645 the Royal and Pontifical University
of Santo Tomas, and never, during the Spanish régime, got beyond the
Thomistic theology in its courses of instruction.–TR.

[76] Take heed lest you fall!

[77] Ferdinand and Isabella, the builders of Spain’s greatness,
are known in Spanish history as “Los Reyes Católicos.”–TR.

[78] These spectacular performances, known as “Moro-Moro,” often
continued for several days, consisting principally of noisy combats
between Moros and Christians, in which the latter were, of course,
invariably victorious. Typical sketches of them may be found in
Foreman’s _The Philippine Islands_, Chap. XXIII, and Stuntz’s _The
Philippines and the Far East_, Chap. III.–TR.

[79] “The Willow.”

[80] The capital of Laguna Province, not to be confused with the Santa
Cruz mentioned before, which is a populous and important district in
the city of Manila. Tanawan, Lipa, and Batangas are towns in Batangas
Province, the latter being its capital.–TR.

[81] “If on your return you are met with a smile, beware! for it
means that you have a secret enemy.”–From the _Florante_, being the
advice given to the hero by his old teacher when he set out to return
to his home.

Francisco Baltazar was a Tagalog poet, native of the province of
Bulacan, born about 1788, and died in 1862. The greater part of his
life was spent in Manila,–in Tondo and in Pandakan, a quaint little
village on the south bank of the Pasig, now included in the city,
where he appears to have shared the fate largely of poets of other
lands, from suffering “the pangs of disprized love” and persecution
by the religious authorities, to seeing himself considered by the
people about him as a crack-brained dreamer. He was educated in the
Dominican school of San Juan de Letran, one of his teachers being Fray
Mariano Pilapil, about whose services to humanity there may be some
difference of opinion on the part of those who have ever resided in
Philippine towns, since he was the author of the “Passion Song” which
enlivens the Lenten evenings. This “Passion Song,” however, seems to
have furnished the model for Baltazar’s _Florante_, with the pupil
surpassing the master, for while it has the subject and characters
of a medieval European romance, the spirit and settings are entirely
Malay. It is written in the peculiar Tagalog verse, in the form of a
_corrido_ or metrical romance, and has been declared by Fray Toribio
Menguella, Rizal himself, and others familiar with Tagalog, to be
a work of no mean order, by far the finest and most characteristic
composition in that, the richest of the Malay dialects.–TR.

[82] Every one talks of the fiesta according to the way he fared at it.

[83] A Spanish prelate, notable for his determined opposition in
the Constituent Cortes of 1869 to the clause in the new Constitution
providing for religious liberty.–TR.

[84] “Camacho’s wedding” is an episode in _Don Quixote_, wherein a
wealthy man named Camacho is cheated out of his bride after he has
prepared a magnificent wedding-feast.–TR.

[85] The full dress of the Filipino women, consisting of the _camisa,
pañuelo_, and _saya suelta_, the latter a heavy skirt with a long
train. The name _mestiza_ is not inappropriate, as well from its
composition as its use, since the first two are distinctly native,
antedating the conquest, while the _saya suelta_ was no doubt
introduced by the Spaniards.

[86] The nunnery of St. Clara, situated on the Pasig River just east
of Fort Santiago, was founded in 1621 by the Poor Clares, an order of
nuns affiliated with the Franciscans, and was taken under the royal
patronage as the “Real Monasterio de Santa Clara” in 1662. It is still
in existence and is perhaps the most curious of all the curious relics
of the Middle Ages in old Manila.–TR.

[87] The principal character in Calderon de la Barca’s _La Vida
es Sueño_. There is also a Tagalog _corrido_, or metrical romance,
with this title.–TR.

[88] The Douay version.–TR.

[89] “Errare humanum est”: “To err is human.”

[90] To the Philippine Chinese “d” and “l” look and sound about
the same.–TR.

[91] “Brothers in Christ.”

[92] “Venerable patron saint.”

[93] _Muy Reverendo Padre_: Very Reverend Father.

[94] Very rich landlord. The United States Philippine Commission,
constituting the government of the Archipelago, paid to the religious
orders “a lump sum of $7,239,000, more or less,” for the bulk of
the lands claimed by them. See the _Annual Report of the Philippine
Commission to the Secretary of War_, December 23, 1903.–TR.

[95] _Cumare_ and _cumpare_ are corruptions of the Spanish _comadre_
and _compadre_, which have an origin analogous to the English “gossip”
in its original meaning of “sponsor in baptism.” In the Philippines
these words are used among the simpler folk as familiar forms of
address, “friend,” “neighbor.”–TR.

[96] Dominus vobiscum.

[97] The Spanish proverb equivalent to the English “Birds of a feather
flock together.”–TR.

[98] For “filibustero.”

[99] _Tarantado_ is a Spanish vulgarism meaning “blunderhead,”
“bungler.” _Saragate_ (or _zaragate_) is a Mexican provincialism
meaning “disturber,” “mischief-maker.”–TR.

[100] _Vete á la porra_ is a vulgarism almost the same in meaning
and use as the English slang, “Tell it to the policeman,” _porra_
being the Spanish term for the policeman’s “billy.”–TR.

[101] For _sospechoso_, “a suspicious character.”–TR.

[102] _Sanctus Deus_ and _Requiem aeternam_ (so called from their
first words) are prayers for the dead.–TR.

[103] Spanish etiquette requires that the possessor of an object
immediately offer it to any person who asks about it with the
conventional phrase, “It is yours.” Capitan Tiago is rather overdoing
his Latin refinement.–TR.

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

[105] “The old man of the village,” patriarch.–TR.

[106] The secular name of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the
Franciscan order.–TR.

[107] A Spanish official, author of several works relating to the
Philippines, one of which, _Recuerdos de Filipinas_ (Madrid, 1877 and
1880), a loose series of sketches and impressions giving anything but
a complimentary picture of the character and conduct of the Spaniards
in the Islands, and in a rather naive and perhaps unintentional way
throwing some lurid side-lights on the governmental administration
and the friar régime,–enjoyed the distinction of being officially
prohibited from circulation in the archipelago.–TR.

[108] “_Magcanta-ca!_” “(You) sing!”–TR.

[109] Europea: European woman.–TR.

[110] In 1527-29 _Alvaro_ de Saavedra led an unsuccessful expedition to
take possession of the “Western Isles.” The name “Filipina,” in honor
of the Prince of the Asturias, afterwards Felipe II (Philip II), was
first applied to what is probably the present island of Leyte by Ruy
Lopez de Villalobos, who led another unsuccessful expedition thither
in 1542-43, this name being later extended to the whole group.–TR.

[111] A barrio of Tanawan, Batangas, noted for the manufacture of
horsewhips.–TR.

[112] The actors named were real persons. Ratia was a Spanish-Filipino
who acquired quite a reputation not only in Manila but also in
Spain. He died in Manila in 1910.–TR.

[113] In the year 1879.–_Author’s note_.

[114] A similar incident occurred in Kalamba.–_Author’s note_.

[115] “The Maid of Saragossa,” noted for her heroic exploits during
the siege of that city by the French in 1808-09.–TR.

[116]  A region in southwestern Spain, including the provinces of
Badajoz and Caceres.–TR.

[117] Author of a little book of fables in Castilian verse for the
use of schools. The fable of the young philosopher illustrates the
thought in Pope’s well-known lines:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”–TR.

[118] Bones for those who come late.

[119] According to Spanish custom, a matron is known by prefixing
her maiden name with _de_ (possessive _of_) to her husband’s name.–TR.

[120] The marble-shop of Rodoreda is still in existence on Calle
Carriedo, Santa Cruz.–TR.

[121] There is a play on words here, _Campanario_ meaning belfry and
_Torre_ tower.–TR.

[122] The Roman Catholic decalogue does not contain the commandment
forbidding the worship of “graven images,” its second being the
prohibition against “taking His holy name in vain.” To make up the ten,
the commandment against covetousness is divided into two.–TR.

[123] The famous Virgin of Saragossa, Spain, and patroness of Santa
Cruz, Manila.–TR.

[124] In 1883 the old system of “tribute” was abolished and in its
place a graduated personal tax imposed. The certificate that this
tax had been paid, known as the _cédula personal_, which also served
for personal identification, could be required at any time or place,
and failure to produce it was cause for summary arrest. It therefore
became, in unscrupulous hands, a fruitful source of abuse, since any
“undesirable” against whom no specific charge could be brought might
be put out of the way by this means.–TR.

[125] Tanawan or Pateros?–_Author’s note_. The former is a town in
Batangas Province, the latter a village on the northern shore of the
Lake of Bay, in what is now Rizal Province.–TR.

[126] The Spanish Parliament.–TR.

[127] _Lásak, talisain_, and _bulik_ are some of the numerous terms
used in the vernacular to describe fighting-cocks.–TR.

[128] Another form of the corruption of _compadre_, “friend,”
“neighbor.”–TR.

[129] It is a superstition of the cockpit that the color of the victor
in the first bout decides the winners for that session: thus, the red
having won, the _lásak_, in whose plumage a red color predominates,
should be the victor in the succeeding bout.–TR.

[130] The dark swallows will return.

[131] General Carlos Maria de let Torte y Nava Carrada, the first
“liberal” governor of the Philippines, was Captain-General from 1869
to 1871. He issued an amnesty to the outlaws and created the Civil
Guard, largely from among those who surrendered themselves in response
to it.–TR.

[132] After the conquest (officially designated as the “pacification”),
the Spanish soldiers who had rendered faithful service were allotted
districts known as _encomiendas_, generally of about a thousand
natives each. The _encomendero_ was entitled to the tribute from the
people in his district and was in return supposed to protect them and
provide religious instruction. The early friars alleged extortionate
greed and brutal conduct on the part of the _encomenderos_ and made
vigorous protests in the natives’ behalf.–TR.

[133] Horse and cow.

[134] Fray Gaspar de San Agustin, O.S.A., who came to the Philippines
in 1668 and died in Manila in 1724, was the author of a history
of the conquest, but his chief claim to immortality comes from a
letter written in 1720 on the character and habits of “the Indian
inhabitants of these islands,” a letter which was widely circulated
and which has been extensively used by other writers. In it the
writer with senile querulousness harped up and down the whole gamut
of abuse in describing and commenting upon the vices of the natives,
very artlessly revealing the fact in many places, however, that his
observations were drawn principally from the conduct of the servants
in the conventos and homes of Spaniards. To him in this letter is
due the credit of giving its wide popularity to the specious couplet:

El bejuco crece             (The rattan thrives
Donde el indio nace,        Where the Indian lives,)

which the holy men who delighted in quoting it took as an additional
evidence of the wise dispensation of the God of Nature, rather
inconsistently overlooking its incongruity with the teachings of Him
in whose name they assumed their holy office.

It seems somewhat strange that a spiritual father should have written
in such terms about his charges until the fact appears that the letter
was addressed to an influential friend in Spain for use in opposition
to a proposal to carry out the provisions of the Council of Trent by
turning the parishes in the islands over to the secular, and hence,
native, clergy. A translation of this bilious tirade, with copious
annotations showing to what a great extent it has been used by other
writers, appears in Volume XL of Blair and Robertson’s _The Philippine
Islands.–_ TR.

[135] The Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Concordia, situated
near Santa Aria in the suburbs of Manila, was founded in 1868 for
the education of native girls, by a pious Spanish-Filipino lady,
who donated a building and grounds, besides bearing the expense of
bringing out seven Sisters of Charity to take charge of it.–TR.

[136] The execution of the Filipino priests Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora,
in 1872.–TR.

[137] The fair day is foretold by the morn.

[138] _Paracmason_, i.e. freemason.

[139] Scholastic theologians.–TR.

[140] And yet it does move!

[141] I am a man and nothing that concerns humanity do I consider
foreign to me.

[142] A portion of the closing words of Virgil’s third eclogue,
equivalent here to “Let the curtain drop.”–TR.

[143] “Whatever is hidden will be revealed, nothing will remain
unaccounted for.” From _Dies Irae_, the hymn in the mass for the dead,
best known to English readers from the paraphrase of it in Scott’s
_Lay of the Last Minstrel_. The lines here quoted were thus metrically
translated by Macaulay:

“What was distant shall be near,
What was hidden shall be clear.”–TR.

[144] A common nickname. See the Glossary, under _Nicknames.–TR_.

[145] The Marianas, or Ladrone Islands, were used as a place of
banishment for political prisoners.–TR.

[146] “Evil Omen,” a nickname applied by the friars to General Joaquin
Jovellar, who was governor of the Islands from 1883 to 1885. It fell
to the lot of General Jovellar, a kindly old man, much more soldier
than administrator, to attempt the introduction of certain salutary
reforms tending toward progress, hence his disfavor with the holy
fathers. The mention of “General J—-” in the last part of the
epilogue probably refers also to him.–TR.

[147] A celebrated Italian astronomer, member of the Jesuit Order. The
Jesuits are still in charge of the Observatory of Manila.–TR.

[148] “Our Lady of the Girdle” is the patroness of the Augustinian
Order.–TR.

[149] This image is in the six-million-peso steel church of
St. Sebastian in Manila. Something of her early history is thus given
by Fray Luis de Jesus in his _Historia_ of the Recollect Order (1681):
“A very holy image is revered there under the title of Carmen. Although
that image is small in stature, it is a great and perennial spring
of prodigies for those who invoke her. Our religious took it from
Nueva España (Mexico), and even in that very navigation she was able
to make herself known by her miracles …. That most holy image is
daily frequented with vows, presents, and novenas, thank-offerings
of the many who are daily favored by that queen of the skies.”–Blair
and Robertson, _The Philippine Islands_, Vol. XXI, p. 195.

[150] The oldest and most conservative newspaper in Manila at the
time this work was written.–TR.

[151] Following closely upon the liberal administration of La Torre,
there occurred in the Cavite arsenal in 1872 a mutiny which was
construed as an incipient rebellion, and for alleged complicity in it
three native priests, Padres Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora, were garroted,
while a number of prominent Manilans were deported.–TR.

[152] What do I see? … Wherefore?

[153] What do you wish? Nothing is in the intellect which has not first
passed through the senses; nothing is willed that is not already in
the mind.

[154] Where in the world are we?

[155] The uprising of Ibarra suppressed by the alferez of the Civil
Guard? And now?

[156] Friend, Plato is dear but truth is dearer … It’s a bad business
and a horrible result from these things is to be feared.

[157] Against him who denies the fundamentals, clubs should be used
as arguments.

[158] Latin prayers. “Agnus Dei Catolis” for “Agnus Dei qui tollis”
(John I. 29).

[159] Woe unto them! Where there’s smoke there’s fire! Like seeks like;
and if Ibarra is hanged, therefore you will be hanged.

[160] I do not fear death in bed, but upon the mount of Bagumbayan.

[161] The first part of a Spanish proverb: “Gifts break rocks, and
enter without gimlets.”

[162] What is written is evidence! What medicines do not cure, iron
cures; what iron does not cure, fire cures.

[163] In extreme cases, extreme measures.

[164] Do you wish to keep it also, traitress?

[165] Go, accursed, into the fire of the kalan.

[166] The first part of a Spanish proverb: “Cría cuervos y te sacarán
los ojos,” “Rear crows and they will pick your eyes out.”–TR.

[167] Believe me, cousin … what has happened, has happened; let
us give thanks to God that you are not in the Marianas Islands,
planting camotes. (It may be observed that here, as in some of his
other speeches, Don Primitivo’s Latin is rather Philippinized.)–TR.

[168] The original is in the _lingua franca_ of the Philippine Chinese,
a medium of expression _sui generis_, being, like, Ulysses, “a part
of all that he has met,” and defying characteristic translation:
“No siya ostí gongon; miligen li Antipolo esi! Esi pueli más con tolo;
no siya ostí gongong!”–TR.

[169] “Si esi no hómole y no pataylo, mujé juete-juete!”

[170] The Spanish battle-cry: “St. James, and charge, Spain!”–TR.

[171] The “wide rock” that formerly jutted out into the river just
below the place where the streams from the Lake of Bay join the
Mariquina to form the Pasig proper. This spot was celebrated in the
demonology of the primitive Tagalogs and later, after the tutelar
devils had been duly exorcised by the Spanish padres, converted into
a revenue station. The name is preserved in that of the little barrio
on the river bank near Fort McKinley.–TR.

[172] A Christmas carol: “Christmas night is coming, Christmas night
is going.”–TR.

[173] Public Opium-Smoking Room.

[174] January 2, 1883.–_Author’s note_.

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