An Eagle Flight
by Jose Rizal
TO MY COUNTRY.
I. THE HOUSE ON THE PASIG.
II. CRISÓSTOMO IBARRA.
III. THE DINNER.
IV. HERETIC AND FILIBUSTER.
V. A STAR IN THE DARK NIGHT.
VI. CAPTAIN TIAGO AND MARIA.
IX. AFFAIRS OF THE COUNTRY.
X. THE PUEBLO.
XI. THE SOVEREIGNS.
XII. ALL SAINTS' DAY.
XIII. THE LITTLE SACRISTANS.
XVI. AT THE MANSE.
XVII. STORY OF A SCHOOLMASTER.
XVIII. THE STORY OF A MOTHER.
XIX. THE FISHING PARTY.
XX. IN THE WOODS.
XXI. WITH THE PHILOSOPHER.
XXII. THE MEETING AT THE TOWN HALL.
XXIII. THE EVE OF THE FÊTE.
XXIV. IN THE CHURCH.
XXV. THE SERMON.
XXVI. THE CRANE.
XXVII. FREE THOUGHT.
XXVIII. THE BANQUET.
XXX. THE FIRST CLOUD.
XXXI. HIS EXCELLENCY.
XXXII. THE PROCESSION.
XXXIII. DOÑA CONSOLACION.
XXXIV. RIGHT AND MIGHT.
XXXV. HUSBAND AND WIFE.
XXXVII. SCRUTINY OF CONSCIENCE.
XXXVIII. THE TWO WOMEN.
XXXIX. THE OUTLAWED.
XL. THE ENIGMA.
XLI. THE VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED.
XLII. THE FAMILY OF ELIAS.
XLIII. IL BUON DI SI CONOSCE DA MATTINA.
XLIV. LA GALLERA.
XLV. A CALL.
XLVI. A CONSPIRACY.
XLVII. THE CATASTROPHE.
XLIX. VÆ VICTIS.
LI. PATRIOTISM AND INTEREST.
LII. MARIA CLARA MARRIES.
LIII. THE CHASE ON THE LAKE.
LIV. FATHER DÁMASO EXPLAINS HIMSELF.
LV. THE NOCHEBUENA.
AN EAGLE FLIGHT
I have in this rough work shaped out a man
Whom this beneath-world doth embrace and hug
With amplest entertainment: my free drift
Halts not particularly, but moves itself
In a wide sea of wax; no levell'd malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle flight, bold and forth on,
Leaving no track behind.
Timon of AthensAct 1, Scene 1.
An Eagle Flight
A Filipino Novel
NOLI ME TANGERE
DR. JOSÉ RIZAL
McCLURE, PHILLIPS &CO.
By McCLURE, PHILLIPS &CO.
In that horrible drama, the Philippine revolution, one man of the
purest and noblest character stands out pre-eminentlyJosé
Rizalpoet, artist, philologue, novelist, above all, patriot; his
influence might have changed the whole course of events in the islands,
had not a blind and stupid policy brought about the crime of his death.
This man, of almost pure Tagalo race, was born in 1861, at Calamba,
in the island of Luzon, on the southern shore of the Laguna de Bay,
where he grew up in his father's home, under the tutorage of a wise and
learned native priest, Leontio.
The child's fine nature, expanding in the troublous latter days of a
long race bondage, was touched early with the fire of genuine
patriotism. He was eleven when the tragic consequences of the Cavité
insurrection destroyed any lingering illusions of his people, and
stirred in them a spirit that has not yet been allayed.
The rising at Cavité, like many others in the islands, was a protest
against the holding of benefices by friarsa thing forbidden by a
decree of the Council of Trent, but authorized in the Philippines, by
papal bulls, until such time as there should be a sufficiency of native
priests. This time never came. As the friars held the best agricultural
lands, and had a voiceand that the most authoritativein civil
affairs, there developed in the rural districts a veritable feudal
system, bringing in its train the arrogance and tyranny that like
conditions develop. It became impossible for the civil authorities to
carry out measures in opposition to the friars. The Government is an
arm, the head is the convent, says the old philosopher of Rizal's
The rising at Cavité miscarried, and vengeance fell. Dr. Joseph
Burgos, a saintly old priest, was put to death, and three other native
priests with him, while many prominent native families were banished.
Never had the better class of Filipinos been so outraged and aroused,
and from this time on their purpose was fixed, not to free themselves
from Spain, not to secede from the church they loved, but to agitate
ceaselessly for reforms which none of them longer believed could be
realized without the expulsion of the friars. In the school of this
purpose, and with the belief on the part of his father and Leontio that
he was destined to use his life and talents in its behalf, José was
trained, until he left his home to study in Manila. At the College of
the Jesuits he carried off all the honors, with special distinction in
literary work. He wrote a number of odes; and a melodrama in verse, the
work of his thirteenth year, was successfully played at Manila. But he
had to wear his honors as an Indian among white men, and they made life
hard for him. He specially aroused the dislike of his Spanish college
mates by an ode in which he spoke of his patria. A Tagalo had no native
land, they contendedonly a country.
At twenty Rizal finished his course at Manila, and a few months
later went to Madrid, where he speedily won the degrees of Ph.D. and
M.D.; then to Germanytaking here another degree, doing his work in
the new language, which he mastered as he went along; to Austria, where
he gained great skill as an oculist; to France, Italy,
Englandabsorbing the languages and literature of these countries,
doing some fine sculpture by way of diversion. But in all this he was
single-minded; he never lost the voice of his call; he felt more and
more keenly the contrast between the hard lot of his country and the
freedom of these lands, and he bore it ill that no one of them even
knew about her, and the cancer eating away her beauty and strength. At
the end of this period of study he settled in Berlin, and began his
active work for his country.
Four years of the socialism and license of the universities had not
distorted Rizal's political vision; he remained, as he had grown up, an
opportunist. Not then, nor at any time, did he think his country ready
for self-government. He saw as her best present good her continued
union to Spain, through a stable policy based upon justice and
community of interests. He asked only for the reforms promised again
and again by the ministry, and as often frustrated. To plead for the
lifting of the hand of oppression from the necks of his people, he now
wrote his first novel, Noli Me Tangere.
The next year he returned to the Philippines to find himself the
idol of the natives and a thorn in the flesh of friars and greedy
officials. The reading of his book was proscribed. He stayed long
enough to concern himself in a dispute of his townspeople with the
Dominicans over titles to lands; then finding his efforts vain and his
safety doubtful, he left for Japan. Here he pursued for some time his
usual studies; came thence to America, and then crossed to England,
where he made researches in the British Museum, and edited in Spanish,
Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, by Dr. Antonio de Morga, an important
work, neglected by the Spaniards, but already edited in English by Dean
After publishing this work, in Paris, Rizal returned to Spain,
where, in 1890, he began a series of brilliant pleas for the
Philippines, in the Solidaridad, a liberal journal published at
Barcelona and afterward at Madrid. But he roused little sympathy or
interest in Spain, and his articles, repeated in pamphlets in the
Philippines, served to make his position more dangerous at home.
Disheartened but steadfast, he retired to Belgium, to write his
second novel, El Filibusterismo. Noli Me Tangere is a poet's story
of his people's loves, faults, aspirations, and wrongs; El
Filibusterismo is the work of a student of statecraft, pointing out
the way to political justice and the development of national life.
Inspired, it would seem, by his own creation of a future for his
country, he returned to the Solidaridad, where, in a series of
remarkable articles, he forecast the ultimate downfall of Spain in the
Philippines and the rise of his people. This was his crime against the
Government: for the spirit which in a Spanish boy would not permit a
Tagalo to have a patria, in a Spaniard grown could not brook the
suggestion of colonial independence, even in the far future.
And now having poured out these passionate pleas and splendid
forecasts, Rizal was homesick for this land of his. He went to
Hong-Kong. Calamba was in revolt. His many friends at the English port
did everything to keep him; but the call was too persistent. December
23d, 1891, he wrote to Despujols, then governor-general of the
Philippines: If Your Excellency thinks my slight services could be of
use in pointing out the evils of my country and helping heal the wounds
reopened by the recent injustices, you need but to say so, and trusting
in your honor as a gentleman, I will immediately put myself at your
disposal. If you decline my offer, ... I shall at least be conscious of
having done all in my power, while seeking the good of my country, to
preserve her union to Spain through a stable policy based upon justice
and community of interests.
The governor expressed his gratitude, promised protection, and Rizal
sailed for Manila. But immediately after his landing he was arrested on
a charge of sedition, whose source made the governor's promise
impotent. Nothing could be proved against Rizal; but it was not the
purpose of his enemies to have him acquitted. A half-way sentence was
imposed, and he was banished to Dapidan, on the island of Mindanao.
Despujols was recalled to Spain.
In this exile Rizal spent four years, beloved by the natives,
teaching them agriculture, treating their sick (the poor without
charge), improving their schools, and visited from time to time by
patients from abroad, drawn here by his fame as an oculist. Among these
last came a Mr. Taufer, a resident of Hong-Kong, and with him his
foster-child, Josephine Bracken, the daughter of an Irish sergeant. The
pretty and adventurous girl and the banished patriot fell in love with
These may well have been among the happiest years of Rizal's life.
He had always been an exile in fact: now that he was one in name,
strangely enough he was able for the first time to live in peace among
his brothers under the skies he loved. He sang, in his pathetic
Thou dear illusion with thy soothing cup!
I taste, and think I am a child again.
Oh! kindly tempest, favoring winds of heaven,
That knew the hour to check my shifting flight,
And beat me down upon my native soil,...
Always about his philological studies, he began here a work that
should be of peculiar interest to us: a treatise on Tagalog verbs, in
the English language. Did his knowledge of America's growing feeling
toward Cuba lead him to foreseeas no one else seems to have doneher
appearance in the Philippines, or was he thinking of England?
At Hong-Kong, and in his brief stays at Manila, Rizal had
established the Liga Filipina, a society of educated and progressive
islanders, whose ideas of needed reforms and methods of attaining them
were at one with his own. His banishment was a warning of danger and
checked the society's activity.
The Liga was succeeded, in the sense only of followed, by the
Katipunan,a native word also meaning league. The makers of this
league, though avowing the same purpose as the members of the other,
were men of very different stamp. Their initiation was a blood-rite:
they sought immediate independence; they preached a campaign of force,
if not of violence. That a recent reviewer should have connected Dr.
Rizal's name with the Katipunan is difficult to understand. Not alone
are his writings, acts, and character against such a possibility, but
so also is the testimony of the Spanish archives: for not only was it
admitted at his final trial that he was not suspected of any connection
with the Katipunan, but his well-known disapproval of that society's
premature and violent action was even made a point against him. He was
so much the more dangerous to the state because he had the sagacity to
know that the times were not yet ripe for independence, and the honesty
and purity of purpose to make only demands which the state herself well
knew to be just.
When the rebellion of 1896 broke out, Rizal, still at Dapidan, knew
that his life would not long be worth a breath of his beloved
Philippine air. He asked, therefore, of the Government permission to go
to Cuba as an army surgeon. It was granted, and he was taken to
Manilaovations all along his routeand embarked on the Isla de Panay
for Barcelona. He carried with him the following letter from General
Blanco, then governor-general of the Philippines, to the Minister of
War at Madrid:
Manila, August 30th, 1896.
Esteemed General and Distinguished Friend:
I recommend to you with genuine interest, Dr. José Rizal,
who is leaving for the Peninsula, to place himself at the
disposal of the Government as volunteer army surgeon to
Cuba. During the four years of his exile at Dapidan, he has
conducted himself in the most exemplary manner, and he is in
my opinion the more worthy of pardon and consideration, in
that he is in no way connected with the extravagant attempts
we are now deploring, neither those of conspirators nor of
the secret societies that have been formed.
I have the pleasure to reassure you of my high esteem,
Your affectionate friend and comrade,
But as soon as the Isla was on the seas, despatches began to pass
between Manila and Madrid, and before she reached her port the
promises, acceptances, and recommendations of the Government officials
were void. Upon landing, Rizal was immediately arrested and confined in
the infamous Montjuich prison. Despujols was now military governor of
Barcelona. The interview of hours which he is said to have had with his
Filipino prisoner must have been dramatic. Rizal was at once
re-embarked, on the Colon, and returned to Manila, a state prisoner.
Blanco was recalled, and Poliavieja, a sworn friend of the clericals,
was sent out.
Rizal was tried by court-martial, on a charge of sedition and
rebellion. His guilt was manifestly impossible. Except as a prisoner of
the state, he had spent only a few weeks in the Philippines since his
boyhood. His life abroad had been perfectly open, as were all his
writings. The facts stated in General Blanco's letter to the Minister
of War were well known to all Rizal's accusers. The best they could do
was to aver that he had written depreciative words against the
Government and the Church. Some testimony was given against him by men
who, since the American occupation, have made affidavit that it was
false and forced from them by torture. Rizal made a splendid defence,
but he was condemned, and sentenced to the death of a traitor. On that
day José Rizal y Mercado and Josephine Bracken were married. Then the
sweetness and strength of his character and his singleness of purpose
made a beautiful showing. In the night, which his bride spent on her
knees outside his prison, he wrote a long poem of farewell to his
patria adorado, fine in its abnegation and exquisite in the wanderings
of its fancy. He received the ministrations of a Jesuit priest. He was
perfectly calm. What is death to me? he said; I have sown, others
are left to reap. At dawn he was shot.
The poem in which he left a record of his last thoughts was the
MY LAST THOUGHT.
Land I adore, farewell! thou land of the southern sun's
Pearl of the Orient seas! our forfeited Garden of Eden!
Joyous I yield up for thee my sad life, and were it far
Young, rose-strewn, for thee and thy happiness still would
I give it.
Far afield, in the din and rush of maddening battle,
Others have laid down their lives, nor wavered nor paused in
What matters way or placethe cyprus, the lily, the laurel,
Gibbet or open field, the sword or inglorious torture,
When 'tis the hearth and the country that call for the life's
Dawn's faint lights bar the east, she smiles through the cowl
of the darkness,
Just as I die. Hast thou need of purple to garnish her pathway?
Here is my blood, on the hour! pour it out, and the sun in
Mayhap will touch it with gold, will lend it the sheen of
Dreams of my childhood and youth, and dreams of my strong
What were they all but to see, thou gem of the Orient ocean!
Tearless thine eyes so deep, unbent, unmarred thy sweet
Vision I followed from far, desire that spurred on and
Greeting! my parting soul cries, and greeting again!... O
Beautiful is it to fall, that the vision may rise to
Giving my life for thy life, and breathing thine air in
Sweet to eternally sleep in thy lap, O land of enchantment!
If in the deep, rich grass that covers my rest in thy bosom,
Some day thou seest upspring a lowly, tremulous blossom,
Lay there thy lips, 'tis my soul; may I feel on my forehead
Deep in the chilly tomb, the soft, warm breath of thy kisses.
Let the calm light of the moon fall around me, and dawn's
Let the winds murmur and sigh, on my cross let some bird tell
Loosed from the rain by the brazen sun, let clouds of soft
Bear to the skies, as they mount again, the chant of my spirit.
There may some friendly heart lament my parting untimely,
And if at eventide a soul for my tranquil sleep prayeth,
Pray thou too, O my fatherland! for my peaceful reposing.
Pray for those who go down to death through unspeakable
Pray for those who remain to suffer such torture in prisons;
Pray for the bitter grief of our mothers, our widows,
Oh, pray too for thyself, on the way to thy final redemption.
When our still dwelling-place wraps night's dusky mantle
Leaving the dead alone with the dead, to watch till the
Break not our rest, and seek not to lay death's mystery open.
If now and then thou shouldst hear the string of a lute or
Mine is the hand, dear country, and mine is the voice that
When my tomb, that all have forgot, no cross nor stone marketh,
There let the laborer guide his plough, there cleave the
So shall my ashes at last be one with thy hills and thy
Little 'twill matter then, my country, that thou shouldst
I shall be air in thy streets, and I shall be space in thy
I shall be vibrant speech in thine ears, shall be fragrance
Light and shout, and loved song forever repeating my message.
Rizal's own explanation of the lofty purpose of his searching story
of his Tagalog fatherland was in these words of his dedicatory preface:
TO MY COUNTRY.
The records of human suffering make known to us the existence of
ailments of such nature that the slightest touch irritates and causes
tormenting pains. Whenever, in the midst of modern civilizations, I
have tried to call up thy dear image, O my country! either for the
comradeship of remembrance or to compare thy life with that about me, I
have seen thy fair face disfigured and distorted by a hideous social
Eager for thy health, which is our happiness, and seeking the best
remedy for thy pain, I am about to do with thee what the ancients did
with their sick: they exposed them on the steps of their temples, that
every one who came to adore the divinity within might offer a remedy.
So I shall strive to describe faithfully thy state without
extenuation; to lift a corner of the covering that hides thy sore;
sacrificing everything to truth, even the love of thy glory, while
loving, as thy son, even thy frailties and sins.
AN EAGLE FLIGHT
I. THE HOUSE ON THE PASIG.
It was toward the end of October. Don Santiago de los Santos, better
known as Captain Tiago, was giving a dinner; and though, contrary to
custom, he had not announced it until that very afternoon, it had
become before evening the sole topic of conversation, not only at
Binondo, but in the other suburbs of Manila, and even in the city
itself. Captain Tiago passed for the most lavish of entertainers, and
it was well known that the doors of his home, like those of his
country, were closed to nobody and nothing save commerce and all new or
audacious ideas. The news spread, therefore, with lightning rapidity in
the world of the sycophants, the unemployed and idle, whom heaven has
multiplied so generously at Manila.
The dinner was given in a house of the Calle de Anloague, which may
yet be recognized, if an earthquake has not demolished it. This house,
rather large and of a style common to the country, stood near an arm of
the Pasig, called the Boco de Binondo, a rio which, like all others of
Manila, washing along the multiple output of baths, sewers, and fishing
grounds serves as a means of transport, and even furnishes
drinking-water, if such be the humor of the Chinese carrier. Scarcely
at intervals of a half-mile is this powerful artery of the quarter
where the traffic is most important, the movement most active, dotted
with bridges; and these, in ruins at one end six months of the year and
inapproachable the remaining six at the other, give horses a pretext
for plunging into the water, to the great surprise of preoccupied
mortals in carriages dozing tranquilly or philosophizing on the
progress of the century.
The house of Captain Tiago was rather low and on lines sufficiently
incorrect. A grand staircase with green balustrades, carpeted at
intervals, led from the vestibule, with its squares of colored faience,
to the main floor, between Chinese pedestals ornamented with fantastic
designs, supporting vases and jardinières of flowers.
At the top of the staircase was a large apartment, called here
caida, which for this night served at once as dining-and music-room. In
the centre, a long table, luxuriously set, seemed to promise to
diners-out the most soothing satisfaction, at the same time threatening
the timid girlthe dalagawho for six mortal hours must submit to the
companionship of strange and diverse people.
In contrast to these mundane preparations, richly colored pictures
of religious subjects hung about the walls, and at the end of the
apartment, imprisoned in ornate and splendid Renaissance carving, was a
curious canvas of vast dimensions, bearing the inscription, Our Lady
of Peace and of Safe Journeys, Venerated at Antipolo. The ceiling was
prettily decorated with jewelled Chinese lamps, cages without birds,
spheres of crystal faced with colored foil, faded air plants, botetes,
etc. On the river side, through fantastic arches, half Chinese, half
European, were glimpses of a terrace, with trellises and arbors,
illuminated by little colored lanterns. Brilliant chandeliers,
reflected in great mirrors, lighted the apartment. On a platform of
pine was a superb grand piano. In a panel of the wall, a large portrait
in oil represented a man of agreeable face, in frock coat, robust,
straight, symmetrical as the gavel between his jewelled fingers.
The crowd of guests almost filled the room; the men separated from
the women, as in Catholic churches and synagogues. An old cousin of
Captain Tiago's was receiving alone. Her appearance was kindly, but her
tongue not very flexible to the Castilian. She filled her rôle by
offering to the Spaniards trays of cigarettes and buyos, and giving the
Filipinos her hand to kiss. The poor old lady, wearied at last,
profited by the sound of breaking china to go out hurriedly, grumbling
at maladroits. She did not reappear.
Whether the pictures roused a spirit of devotion, whether the women
of the Philippines are exceptional, the feminine part of the assembly
remained silent. Scarcely was heard even a yawn, stifled behind a fan.
The men made more stir. The most interesting and animated group was
formed by two monks, two Spanish provincials, and an officer, seated
round a little table, on which were wine and English biscuits.
The officer, an old lieutenant, tall and morose, looked a Duke of
Alba, retired into the Municipal Guard. He spoke little and dryly. One
of the monks was a young Dominican, handsome, brilliant, precociously
grave; it was the curate of Binondo. Consummate dialectician, he could
escape from a distinguo like an eel from a fisherman's nets. He spoke
seldom, and seemed to weigh his words.
The other monk talked much and gestured more. Though his hair was
turning gray, he seemed to have preserved all his vigor. His carriage,
his glance, his large jaws, his herculean frame, gave him the air of a
Roman patrician in disguise. Yet he seemed genial, and if the timbre of
his voice was autocratic, his frank and merry laugh removed any
disagreeable impression, so far even that one pardoned his appearing in
the salon with unshod feet.
One of the provincials, a little man with a black beard, had nothing
remarkable about him but his nose, which, to judge from its size, ought
not to have belonged to him entire. The other, young and blond, seemed
newly arrived in the country. The Franciscan was conversing with him
You will see, said he, when you have been here several months;
you will be convinced that to legislate at Madrid and to execute in the
Philippines is not one and the same thing.
I, for example, continued Brother Dámaso, raising his voice to cut
off the words of his objector, I, who count twenty-three years of
plane and palm, can speak with authority. I spent twenty years in one
pueblo. In twenty years one gets acquainted with a town. San Diego had
six thousand souls. I knew each inhabitant as if I'd borne and reared
himwith which foot this one limped, how that one's pot boiledand I
tell you the reforms proposed by the Ministers are absurd. The Indian
is too indolent!
Ah, pardon me, said the young man, speaking low and drawing
nearer; that word rouses all my interest. Does it really exist from
birth, this indolence of the native, or is it, as some travellers say,
only an excuse of our own for the lack of advancement in our colonial
Bah! ask Señor Laruja, who also knows the country well; ask him if
the ignorance and idleness of the Indians are not unparalleled?
In truth! the little dark man made haste to affirm; nowhere will
you find men more careless.
Nor more corrupt, nor more ungrateful.
Nor more ill-bred.
The young man looked about uneasily. Gentlemen, said he, still
speaking low, it seems to me we are the guests of Indians, and that
these young ladies
Bah, you are too timid: Santiago does not consider himself an
Indian, besides, he isn't here. These are the scruples of a newcomer.
Wait a little. When you have slept in our strapped beds, eaten the
tinola, and seen our balls and fêtes, you'll change your tone. And
more, you will find that the country is going to ruin; she is ruined
What does your reverence mean? cried the lieutenant and Dominican
The evil all comes from the fact that the Government sustains
wrong-doers in the face of the ministers of God, continued the
Franciscan, raising his voice and facing about. When a curate rids his
cemetery of a malefactor, no one, not even the king, has the right to
interfere; and a wretched general, a petty general from nowhere
Father, His Excellency is viceroy, said the officer, rising. His
Excellency represents His Majesty the king.
What Excellency? retorted the Franciscan, rising in turn. Who is
this king? For us there is but one King, the legitimate
If you do not retract that, Father, I shall make it known to the
governor-general, cried the lieutenant.
Go to him now, go! retorted Father Dámaso; I'll loan you my
The Dominican interposed.
Señores, said he in a tone of authority, you should not confuse
things, nor seek offence where there is none intended. We must
distinguish in the words of Father Dámaso those of the man from those
of the priest. The latter per se can never offend, because they are
infallible. In the words of the man, a sub-distinction must be made,
into those said ab irato, those said ex ore, but not in corde, and
those said in corde. It is these last only that can offend, and even
then everything depends. If they were not premeditated in mente, but
simply arose per accidens in the heat of the conversation
At this interesting point there joined the group an old Spaniard,
gentle and inoffensive of aspect. He was lame, and leaned on the arm of
an old native woman, smothered in curls and frizzes, preposterously
powdered, and in European dress. With relief every one turned to salute
them. It was Doctor de Espadaña and his wife, the Doctora Doña
Victorina. The atmosphere cleared.
Which, Señor Laruja, is the master of the house? asked the young
provincial. I haven't been presented.
They say he has gone out.
No presentations are necessary here, said Brother Dámaso;
Santiago is a good fellow.
Er hat das Pulfer nicht erfunden. He didn't invent gunpowder,
What, you too, Señor de Laruja? said Doña Victorina over her fan.
How could the poor man have invented gunpowder when, if what they say
is true, the Chinese made it centuries ago?
The Chinese? 'Twas a Franciscan who invented it, said Brother
A Franciscan, no doubt; he must have been a missionary to China,
said the Señora, not disposed to abandon her idea.
Who is this with Santiago? asked the lieutenant. Every one looked
toward the door, where two men had just entered. They came up to the
group around the table.
II. CRISÓSTOMO IBARRA.
One was the original of the portrait in oil, and he led by the hand
a young man in deep black. Good evening, señores; good evening,
fathers, said Captain Tiago, kissing the hands of the priests, I have
the honor of presenting to you Don Crisóstomo Ibarra.
At the name of Ibarra there were smothered exclamations. The
lieutenant, forgetting to salute the master of the house, surveyed the
young man from head to foot. Brother Dámaso seemed petrified. The
arrival was evidently unexpected. Señor Ibarra exchanged the usual
phrases with members of the group. Nothing marked him from other guests
save his black attire. His fine height, his manner, his movements,
denoted sane and vigorous youth. His face, frank and engaging, of a
rich brown, and lightly furrowedtrace of Spanish bloodwas rosy from
a sojourn in the north.
Ah! he cried, surprised and delighted, my father's old friend,
All eyes turned toward the Franciscan, who did not stir.
Pardon, said Ibarra, puzzled. I am mistaken.
You are not mistaken, said the priest at last, in an odd voice;
but your father was not my friend.
Ibarra, astonished, drew slowly back the hand he had offered, and
turned to find himself facing the lieutenant, whose eyes had never left
Young man, are you the son of Don Rafael Ibarra?
Then welcome to your country! I knew your father well, one of the
most honorable men of the Philippines.
Señor, replied Ibarra, what you say dispels my doubts as to his
fate, of which as yet I know nothing.
The old man's eyes filled with tears. He turned away to hide them,
and moved off into the crowd.
The master of the house had disappeared. Ibarra was left alone in
the middle of the room. No one presented him to the ladies. He
hesitated a moment, then went up to them and said:
Permit me to forget formalities, and salute the first of my
countrywomen I have seen for years.
No one spoke, though many eyes regarded him with interest. Ibarra
turned away, and a jovial man, in native dress, with studs of
brilliants down his shirt-front, almost ran up to say:
Señor Ibarra, I wish to know you. I am Captain Tinong, and live
near you at Tondo. Will you honor us at dinner to-morrow?
Thank you, said Ibarra, pleased with the kindness, but to-morrow
I must leave for San Diego.
What a pity! Well then, on your return
Dinner is served, announced a waiter of the Café La Campana.
The guests began to move toward the table, not without much ceremony
on the part of the ladies, especially the natives, who required a great
deal of polite urging.
III. THE DINNER.
The two monks finding themselves near the head of the table, like
two candidates for a vacant office, began politely resigning in each
This is your place, Brother Dámaso.
No, yours, Brother Sibyla.
You are so much the older friend of the family.
But you are the curate of the quarter.
This polite contention settled, the guests sat down, no one but
Ibarra seeming to think of the master of the house.
What, said he, you're not to be with us, Don Santiago?
But there was no place: Lucullus was not dining with Lucullus.
Don't trouble yourself, said Captain Tiago, laying his hand on the
young man's shoulder. This feast is a thank-offering for your safe
return. Ho, there! bring the tinola! I've ordered the tinola expressly
for you, Crisóstomo.
When did you leave the country? Laruja asked Ibarra.
Seven years ago.
Then you must have almost forgotten it.
On the contrary, it has been always in my thoughts; but my country
seems to have forgotten me.
Why do you say that? asked the old lieutenant.
Because for several months I have had no news, so that I do not
even know how and when my father died.
The lieutenant could not repress a groan.
And where were you that they couldn't telegraph you? asked Doña
Victorina. When we were married, we sent despatches to the peninsula.
Señora, I was in the far north, said Ibarra.
You have travelled much, said the blond provincial; which of the
European countries pleased you most?
After Spain, my second country, the nations that are free.
And what struck you as most interesting, most surprising, in the
general life of nationsthe genius of each, so to put it? asked
Before visiting a country I carefully studied its history, and,
except the different motives for national pride, there seems to me
nothing surprisingly characteristic in any nation. Given its history,
everything appears natural; each people's wealth and misery seem in
direct proportion to its freedom and its prejudices, and in
consequence, in proportion to the self-sacrifice or selfishness of its
Did you discover nothing more startling than that? demanded the
Franciscan, with a mocking laugh. It was hardly worth while
squandering money for so slight returns. Not a schoolboy but knows as
The guests eyed one another, fearful of what might follow. Ibarra,
astonished, remained silent a moment, then said quietly:
Señores, do not wonder at these words of Brother Dámaso. He was my
curate when I was a little boy, and with his reverence the years don't
count. I thank him for thus recalling the time when he was often an
honored guest at my father's table.
Brother Sibyla furtively observed the Franciscan, who was trembling
slightly. At the first possible opportunity Ibarra rose.
You will pardon me if I excuse myself, he said. I arrived only a
few hours ago, and have matters of importance to attend to. The dinner
is over. I drink little wine, and scarcely taste liquors. And raising
a glass as yet untouched, Señores, he said, Spain and the
You're not going! said Santiago in amazement. Maria Clara and her
friends will be with us in a moment. What shall I say to her?
That I was obliged to go, said Ibarra, and that I'm coming early
in the morning. And he went out.
The Franciscan unburdened himself.
You saw his arrogance, he said to the blond provincial. These
young fellows won't take reproof from a priest. That comes of sending
them to Europe. The Government ought to prohibit it.
That night the young provincial added to his Colonial Studies,
this paragraph: In the Philippines, the least important person at a
feast is he who gives it. You begin by showing your host to the door,
and all goes merrily.... In the present state of affairs, it would be
almost a kindness to prohibit young Filipinos from leaving their
country, if not even from learning to read.
IV. HERETIC AND FILIBUSTER.
Ibarra stood outside the house of Captain Tiago. The night wind,
which at this season brings a bit of freshness to Manila, seemed to
blow away the cloud that had darkened his face. Carriages passed him
like streaks of light, hired calashes rolled slowly by, and
foot-passengers of all nationalities jostled one another. With the
rambling gait of the preoccupied or the idle, he took his way toward
the Plaza de Binondo. Nothing was changed. It was the same street, with
the same blue and white houses, the same white walls with their
slate-colored fresco, poor imitations of granite. The church tower
showed the same clock with transparent face. The Chinese shop had the
same soiled curtains, the same iron triangles. One day, long ago,
imitating the street urchins of Manila, he had twisted one of these
triangles: nobody had ever straightened it. How little progress! he
murmured; and he followed the Calle de la Sacristia, pursued by the cry
of sherbet venders.
Marvellous! he thought; one would say my voyage was a dream.
Santo Dios! the street is as bad as when I went away.
While he contemplated this marvel of urban stability in an unstable
country, a hand fell lightly on his shoulder. He looked up and
recognized the old lieutenant. His face had put off its expression of
sternness, and he smiled kindly at Crisóstomo.
Young man, he said, I was your father's friend: I wish you to
consider me yours.
You seem to have known my father well, said Crisóstomo; perhaps
you can tell me something of his death.
You do not know about it?
Nothing at all, and Don Santiago would not talk with me till
You know, of course, where he died.
Not even that.
Lieutenant Guevara hesitated.
I am an old soldier, he said at last, in a voice full of
compassion, and only know how to say bluntly what I have to tell. Your
father died in prison.
Ibarra sprang back, his eyes fixed on the lieutenant's.
Died in prison? Who died in prison?
Your father, said the lieutenant, his voice still gentler.
My fatherin prison? What are you saying? Do you know who my
father was? and he seized the old man's arm.
I think I'm not mistaken: Don Rafael Ibarra.
Yes, Don Rafael Ibarra, Crisóstomo repeated mechanically.
You will soon learn that for an honest man to keep out of prison is
a difficult matter in the Philippines.
You mock me! Why did he die in prison?
Come with me; we will talk on the way.
They walked along in silence, the officer stroking his beard in
search of inspiration.
As you know, he began, your father was the richest man of the
province, and if he had many friends he had also enemies. We Spaniards
who come to the Philippines are seldom what we should be. I say this as
truthfully of some of your ancestors as of others. Most of us come to
make a fortune without regard to the means. Well, your father was a man
to make enemies among these adventurers, and he made enemies among the
monks. I never knew exactly the ground of the trouble with Brother
Dámaso, but it came to a point where the priest almost denounced him
from the pulpit.
You remember the old ex-artilleryman who collected taxes? He became
the laughing-stock of the pueblo, and grew brutal and churlish
accordingly. One day he chased some boys who were annoying him, and
struck one down. Unfortunately your father interfered. There was a
struggle and the man fell. He died within a few hours.
Naturally your father was arrested, and then his enemies unmasked.
He was called heretic, filibustero, his papers were seized, everything
was made to accuse him. Any one else in his place would have been set
at liberty, the physicians finding that the man died of apoplexy; but
your father's fortune, his honesty, and his scorn of everything illegal
undid him. When his advocate, by the most brilliant pleading, had
exposed these calumnies, new accusations arose. He had taken lands
unjustly, owed men for imaginary wrongs, had relations with the
tulisanes, by which his plantations and herds were unmolested. The
affair became so complicated that no one could unravel it. Your father
gave way under the strain, and died suddenlyalonein prison.
They had reached the quarters.
The lieutenant hesitated. Ibarra said nothing, but grasped the old
man's long, thin hand; then turned away, caught sight of a coach, and
signalled the driver.
Fonda de Lala, he said, and his words were scarcely audible.
V. A STAR IN THE DARK NIGHT.
Ibarra went up to his chamber, which faced the river, threw himself
down, and looked out through the open window. Across the river a
brilliantly lighted house was ringing with joyous music. Had the young
man been so minded, with the aid of a glass he might have seen, in that
radiant atmosphere, a vision. It was a young girl, of exceeding beauty,
wearing the picturesque costume of the Philippines. A semicircle of
courtiers was round her. Spaniards, Chinese, natives, soldiers,
curates, old and young, intoxicated with the light and music, were
talking, gesturing, disputing with animation. Even Brother Sibyla
deigned to address this queen, in whose splendid hair Doña Victorina
was wreathing a diadem of pearls and brilliants. She was white, too
white perhaps, and her deep eyes, often lowered, when she raised them
showed the purity of her soul. About her fair and rounded neck, through
the transparent tissue of the piña, winked, as say the Tagals, the
joyous eyes of a necklace of brilliants. One man alone seemed unreached
by all this light and loveliness; it was a young Franciscan, slim,
gaunt, pale, who watched all from a distance, still as a statue.
But Ibarra sees none of this. Another spectacle appears to his
fancy, commands his eyes. Four walls, bare and dank, enclose a narrow
cell, lighted by a single streak of day. On the moist and noisome floor
is a mat; on the mat an old man dying. Beaten down by fever, he lies
and looks about him, calling a name, in strangling voice, with tears.
No onea clanking chain, an echoed groan somewhere; that was all. And
away off in the bright world, laughing, singing, drenching flowers with
wine, a young man.... One by one the lights go out in the festal house:
no more of noise, or song, or harp; but in Ibarra's ears always the
Silence has drawn her deep breath over Manila; all its life seems
gone out, save that a cock's crow alternates with the bells of clock
towers and the melancholy watch-cry of the guard. A quarter moon comes
up, flooding with its pale light the universal sleep. Even Ibarra,
wearied more perhaps with his sad thoughts than his long voyage, sleeps
too. Only the young Franciscan, silent and motionless just now at the
feast, awake still. His elbow on the window-place of his little cell,
his chin sunk in his palm, he watches a glittering star. The star
pales, goes out, the slender moon loses her gentle light, but the monk
stays on; motionless, he looks toward the horizon, lost now behind the
morning mists, over the field of Bagumbayan, over the sleeping sea.
VI. CAPTAIN TIAGO AND MARIA.
While our friends are still asleep or breakfasting, we will sketch
the portrait of Captain Tiago. We have no reason to ignore him, never
having been among his guests. Short, less dark than most of his
compatriots, of full face and slightly corpulent, Captain Tiago seemed
younger than his age. His rounded cranium, very small and elongated
behind, was covered with hair black as ebony. His eyes, small and
straight set, kept always the same expression. His nose was straight
and finely cut, and if his mouth had not been deformed by the use of
tobacco and buyo, he had not been wrong in thinking himself a handsome
He was reputed the richest resident of Binondo, and had large
estates in La Pampanga, on the Laguna de Bay, and at San Diego. From
its baths, its famous gallera, and his recollections of the place, San
Diego was his favorite pueblo, and here he passed two months every
year. He had also properties at Santo Cristo, in the Calle de Anloague,
and in the Calle Rosario; the exploitation of the opium traffic was
shared between him and a Chinese, and, needless to say, brought him
great gains. He was purveyor to the prisoners at Bilibid, and furnished
zacate to many Manila houses. On good terms with all authority, shrewd,
pliant, daring in speculation, he was the sole rival of a certain Perez
in the awards of divers contracts which the Philippine Government
always places in privileged hands. From all of which it resulted that
Captain Tiago was as happy as can be a man whose small head announces
his native origin. He was rich, and at peace with God, with the
Government, and with men.
That he was at peace with God could not be doubted. One has no
motive for being at enmity with Him when one is well in the land, and
has never had to ask Him for anything. From the grand salon of the
Manila home, a little door, hid behind a silken curtain, led to a
chapelsomething obligatory in a Filipino house. There were Santiago's
Lares, and if we use this word, it is because the master of the house
was rather a poly-than a monotheist. Here, in sculpture and oils, were
saints, martyrdoms, and miracles; a chapter could scarcely enumerate
them all. Before these images Santiago burned his candles and made his
That he was at peace with the Government, however difficult the
problem, could not be doubted either. Incapable of a new idea, and
contented with his lot, he was disposed to obey even to the lowest
functionary, and to offer him capons, hams, and Chinese fruits at all
seasons. If he heard the natives maligned, not considering himself one,
he chimed in and said worse: one criticised the Chinese merchants or
the Spaniards, he, who thought himself pure Iberian, did it too. He was
for two years gobernadorcillo of the rich association of half-breeds,
in the face of protestations from many who considered him a native. The
impious called him fool; the poor, pitiless and cruel; his inferiors, a
As to his past, he was the only son of a rich sugar merchant, who
died when Santiago was still at school. He had then to quit his studies
and give himself to business. He married a young girl of Santa Cruz,
who brought him social rank and helped his fortunes.
The absence of an heir in the first six years of marriage made
Captain Tiago's thirst for riches almost blameworthy. In vain all this
time did Doña Pia make novenas and pilgrimages and scatter alms. But at
length she was to become a mother. Alas! like Shakespeare's fisherman
who lost his songs when he found a treasure, she never smiled again,
and died, leaving a beautiful baby girl, whom Brother Dámaso presented
at the font. The child was called Maria Clara.
Maria Clara grew, thanks to the care of good Aunt Isabel. Her eyes,
like her mother's, were large, black, and shaded by long lashes;
sparkling and mirthful when she laughed; when she did not, thoughtful
and profound, even sad. Her curly hair was almost blond, her nose
perfect; and her mouth, small and sweet like her mother's, was flanked
by charming dimples. The little thing, idol of every one, lived amid
smiles and love. The monks fêted her. They dressed her in white for
their processions, mingled jasmine and lilies in her hair, gave her
little silver wings, and in her hands blue ribbons, the reins of
fluttering white doves. She was so joyous, had such a candid baby
speech, that Captain Tiago, enraptured with her, passed his time in
blessing the saints.
In the lands of the sun, at thirteen or fourteen, the child becomes
a woman. At this age full of mysteries, Maria Clara entered the convent
of Santa Catalina, to remain several years. With tears she parted from
the sole companion of her childish games, Crisóstomo Ibarra, who in
turn was soon to leave his home. Some years after his departure, Don
Rafael and Captain Tiago, knowing the inclinations of their children,
agreed upon their marriage. This arrangement was received with eager
joy by two hearts beating at two extremities of the world.
The sky was blue. A fresh breeze stirred the leaves and shook the
nodding angels' heads, the aerial plants, and the many other
adornments of the terrace. Maria and Crisóstomo were there, alone
together for the first time since his return. They began with charming
futilities, so sweet to those who understand, so meaningless to others.
She is sister to Cain, a little jealous; she says to her lover: Did
you never forget me among the many beautiful women you have seen?
He too, he is brother to Cain, a bit subtle.
Could I ever forget you! he answered, gazing into the dark eyes.
Your remembrance made powerless that lotus flower, Europe, which
steeps out of the memory of many of my countrymen the hopes and wrongs
of our land. It seemed as if the spirit, the poetic incarnation of my
country was you, frank and lovely daughter of the Philippines! My love
for you and that for her fused in one.
I know only your pueblo, Manila and Antipolo, replied the young
girl, radiant; but I have always thought of you, and though my
confessor commanded it, I was never able to forget you. I used to think
over all our childish plays and quarrels. Do you remember the day you
were really angry? Your mother had taken us to wade in the brook,
behind the reeds. You put a crown of orange flowers on my head and
called me Chloe. But your mother took the flowers and ground them with
a stone, to mix with gogo, for washing our hair. You cried. 'Stupid,'
said she, 'you shall see how good your hair smells!' I laughed; at that
you were angry and wouldn't speak to me, while I wanted to cry. On the
way home, when the sun was very hot, I picked some sage leaves for your
head. You smiled your thanks, and we were friends again.
Ibarra opened his pocketbook and took out a paper in which were some
leaves, blackened and dry, but fragrant still.
Your sage leaves, he replied to her questioning look.
In her turn, she drew out a little white satin purse.
Hands off! as he reached out for it, there's a letter in it!
My letter of good-by?
Have you written me any others, señor mio?
What is in it?
Lots of fibs, excuses of a bad debtor, she laughed. If you're
good I will read it to you, suppressing the gallantries, though, so you
won't suffer too much. And lifting the paper to hide her face, she
'My' I'll not read what follows, because it's a fib; and she
ran her eyes over several lines. In spite of my prayers, I must go.
'You are no longer a boy,' my father said, 'you must think of the
future. You have to learn things your own country cannot teach you, if
you would be useful to her some day. What, almost a man and I see you
in tears?' Upon that I confessed my love for you. He was silent, then
placing his hand on my shoulder he said in a voice full of emotion: 'Do
you think you alone know how to love; that it costs your father nothing
to let you go away from him? It is not long since we lost your mother,
and I am growing old, yet I accept my solitude and run the risk of
never seeing you again. For you the future opens, for me it shuts; the
fire of youth is yours, frost touches me, and it is you who weep, you
who do not know how to sacrifice the present to a to-morrow good for
you and for your country.
Ibarra's agitation stopped the reading; he had become very pale and
was walking back and forth.
What is it? You are ill! cried Maria, going toward him.
With you I have forgotten my duty; I should be on my way to the
pueblo. To-morrow is the Feast of the Dead.
Maria was silent. She fixed on him her great, thoughtful eyes, then
turned to pick some flowers.
Go, she said, and her voice was deep and sweet; I keep you no
longer. In a few days we shall see each other again. Put these flowers
on your father's grave.
A little later, Captain Tiago found Maria in the chapel, at the foot
of a statue of the Virgin, weeping. Come, come, said he, to console
her; burn some candles to St. Roch and St. Michael, patrons of
travellers, for the tulisanes are numerous: better spend four réales
for wax than pay a ransom.
Ibarra's carriage was crossing one of the most animated quarters of
Manila. The street life that had saddened him the night before, now, in
spite of his sorrow, made him smile. Everything awakened a world of
These streets were not yet paved, so if the sun shone two days
continuously, they turned to powder which covered everything. But let
it rain a day, you had a mire, reflecting at night the shifting lamps
of the carriages and bespattering the foot-passengers on the narrow
walks. How many women had lost their embroidered slippers in these
The good and honorable pontoon bridge, so characteristically
Filipino, doing its best to be useful in spite of natural faults, and
rising or falling with the caprices of the Pasig,that brave bridge
was no more. The new Spanish bridge drew Ibarra's attention. Carriages
passed continuously, drawn by groups of dwarf horses, in splendid
harness. In these sat at ease government clerks going to their bureaus,
officers, Chinese, self-satisfied and ridiculously grave monks, canons.
In an elegant victoria, Ibarra thought he recognized Father Dámaso,
deep in thought. From an open carriage, where his wife and two
daughters accompanied him, Captain Tinong waved a friendly greeting.
Then came the Botanical Gardens, then old Manila, still enclosed in
its ditches and walls; beyond that the sea; beyond that, Europe,
thought Ibarra. But the little hill of Bagumbayan drove away all
fancies. He remembered the man who had opened the eyes of his
intelligence, taught him to find out the true and the just. It was an
old priest, and the holy man had died there, on that field of
To these thoughts he replied by murmuring: No, after all, first the
country, first the Philippines, daughters of Spain, first the Spanish
His carriage rolled on. It passed a cart drawn by two horses whose
hempen harness told of the back country. Sometimes there sounded the
slow and heavy tread of a pensive carabao, drawing a great tumbrel; its
conductor, on his buffalo skin, accompanying, with a monotonous and
melancholy chant, the strident creaking of the wheels. Sometimes there
was the dull sound of a native sledge's worn runners. In the fields
grazed the herds, and among them white herons gravely promenaded, or
sat tranquil on the backs of sleepy oxen beatifically chewing their
cuds of prairie grass. Let us leave the young man, wholly occupied now
with his thoughts. The sun which makes the tree-tops burn, and sends
the peasants running, when they feel the hot ground through their thick
shoes; the sun which halts the countrywoman under a clump of great
reeds, and makes her think of things vague and strangethat sun has no
enchantment for him.
While the carriage, staggering like a drunken man over the uneven
ground, passes a bamboo bridge, mounts a rough hillside or descends its
steep slope, let us return to Manila.
IX. AFFAIRS OF THE COUNTRY.
Ibarra had not been mistaken. It was indeed Father Dámaso he had
seen, on his way to the house which he himself had just left.
Maria Clara and Aunt Isabel were entering their carriage when the
monk arrived. Where are you going? he asked, and in his preoccupation
he gently tapped the young girl's cheek.
To the convent to get my things, said she.
Ah! ah! well, well! we shall see who is the stronger, we shall
see! he murmured, as he left the two women somewhat surprised and went
up the steps.
He's probably committing his sermon, said Aunt Isabel. Come, we
We cannot say whether Father Dámaso was committing a sermon, but he
must have been absorbed in important things, for he did not offer his
hand to Captain Tiago.
Santiago, he said, we must have a serious talk. Come into your
Captain Tiago felt uneasy. He answered nothing, but followed the
gigantic priest, who closed the door behind them.
While they talk, let us see what has become of Father Sibyla.
The learned Dominican, his mass once said, had set out for the
convent of his order, which stands at the entrance to the city, near
the gate bearing alternately, according to the family reigning at
Madrid, the name of Magellan or Isabella II.
Brother Sibyla entered, crossed several halls, and knocked at a
Come in, said a faint voice.
God give health to your reverence, said the young Dominican,
entering. Seated in a great armchair was an old priest, meagre,
jaundiced, like Rivera's saints. His eyes, deep-sunken in their orbits,
were arched with heavy brows, intensifying the flashes of their dying
Brother Sibyla was moved. He inclined his head, and seemed to wait.
Ah! gasped the sick man, they recommend an operation! An
operation at my age! Oh, this country, this terrible country! You see
what it does for all of us, Hernando!
And what has your reverence decided?
To die! Could I do otherwise? I suffer too much, butI've made
others suffer. I'm paying my debt. And you? How are you? What do you
I came to talk of the mission you gave me.
Ah! and what is there to say?
They've told us fairy tales, answered Brother Sibyla wearily.
Young Ibarra seems a sensible fellow. He is not stupid at all, and
Is it so!
Hostilities began yesterday.
Ah! and how?
Brother Sibyla briefly recounted what had passed between Brother
Dámaso and Crisóstomo.
Besides, he said in conclusion, the young man is going to marry
the daughter of Captain Tiago, who was educated at the convent of our
sisters. He is rich; he would not go about making himself enemies and
compromise at once his happiness and his fortune.
The sick man moved his hand in sign of assent.
Yes, you are right. He should be ours, body and soul. But if he
declare himself our enemy, so much the better!
Brother Sibyla looked at the old man in surprise.
For the good of our sacred order, you understand, he added,
breathing with difficulty; I prefer attack to the flatteries and
adulations of friends; besides, those are bought.
Your reverence believes that?
The old man looked at him sadly.
Remember this well, he went on, catching his breath; our power
lasts as long as it's believed in. If we're attacked, the Government
reasons: 'They are assailed because in them is seen an obstacle to
liberty: therefore we must support them!'
But if the Government should listen to our enemies, if it should
come to covet what we have amassedif there should be a man hardy
Ah! then beware!
Both were silent.
And too, the sick man continued, we have need of attack to show
us our faults and make us better them. Too much flattery deceives us;
we sleep; and more, it makes us ridiculous, and the day we become
ridiculous we fall as we have fallen in Europe. Money will no longer
come to our churches. No one will buy scapulary, penitential cords,
anything; and when we cease to be rich, we can no longer convince the
conscience. And the worst is, that we're working our own destruction.
For one thing, this immoderate thirst for gain, which I've combated in
vain in all our chapters, this thirst will be our ruin. I fear we are
already declining. God blinds whom He will destroy.
We shall always have our lands.
But every year we raise their price, and force the Indian to buy of
others. The people are beginning to murmur. We ought not to increase
the burdens we've already laid on their shoulders.
So your reverence believes that the revenues
Talk no more of money, interrupted the old man with aversion. You
say the lieutenant threatened Father Dámaso?
Yes, Father, replied Sibyla, half smiling; but this morning he
told me the sherry had mounted to his head, and he thought it must have
been the same with Brother Dámaso. 'And your threat?' I asked
jestingly. 'Father,' said he, 'I know how to keep my word when it
doesn't smirch my honor; I was never an informerand that's why I am
only a lieutenant.'
Though the lieutenant had not carried out his threat to go to
Malacañang, the captain-general none the less knew what had happened. A
young officer told the story.
From whom do you have it? demanded His Excellency, smiling.
From De Laruja.
The captain-general smiled again, and added:
Woman's tongue, monk's tongue doesn't wound. I don't wish to get
entangled with these men in skirts. Besides, the provincial made light
of my orders; to punish this priest I demanded that his parish be
changed. Well, they gave him a better. Monkishness! as we say in
Alone, His Excellency ceased to smile.
Oh! if the people were not so dense, how easy to bridle their
reverences! But every nation merits its lot!
Meanwhile Captain Tiago finished his conference with Father Dámaso.
And now you are warned, said the Franciscan upon leaving. This
would have been avoided if you hadn't equivocated when I asked you how
the matter stood. Don't make any more false moves, and trust her
Captain Tiago took two or three turns about the room, reflecting and
sighing. Then suddenly, as if a happy thought had struck him, running
to the oratory, he extinguished the two candles lighted for the
safeguard of Ibarra.
X. THE PUEBLO.
Almost on the banks of the lake, in the midst of meadows and
streams, is the pueblo of San Diego. It exports sugar, rice, coffee,
and fruits, or sells these articles of merchandise at low prices to
When, on a clear day, the children climb to the top stage of the
moss-grown and vine-clad church tower, there are joyous exclamations.
Each picks out his own little roof of nipa, tile, zinc, or palm. Beyond
they see the rio, a monstrous crystal serpent asleep on a carpet of
green. Trunks of palm trees, dipping and swaying, join the two banks,
and if, as bridges, they leave much to be desired for trembling old men
and poor women who must cross with heavy baskets on their heads, on the
other hand they make fine gymnastic apparatus for the young.
But what besides the rio the children never fail to talk about is a
certain wooded peninsula in this sea of cultivated land. Its ancient
trees never die, unless the lightning strikes their high tops. Dust
gathers layer on layer in their hollow trunks, the rain makes soil of
it, the birds bring seeds, a tropical vegetation grows there in wild
freedom: bushes, briers, curtains of netted bind-weed, spring from the
roots, reach from tree to tree, hang swaying from the branches, and
Flora, as if yet unsatisfied, sows on the trees themselves; mosses and
fungi live on the creased bark, and graceful aerial guests pierce with
their tendrils the hospitable branches.
This wood is the subject of a legend.
When the pueblo was but a group of poor cabins, there arrived one
day a strange old Spaniard with marvellous eyes, who scarcely spoke the
Tagal. He wished to buy lands having thermal springs, and did so,
paying in money, dress, and jewelry. Suddenly he disappeared, leaving
no trace. The people of the pueblo had begun to think of him as a
magician, when one day his body was found hanging high to the branch of
a giant fig tree. After it had been buried at the foot of the tree, no
one cared much to venture in that quarter.
A few months later there arrived a young Spanish halfbreed, who
claimed to be the old man's son. He settled, and gave himself to
agriculture. Don Saturnino was taciturn and of violent temper, but very
industrious. Late in life he married a woman of Manila, who bore him
Don Rafael, the father of Crisóstomo.
Don Rafael, from his youth, was much beloved. He rapidly developed
his father's lands, the population multiplied, the Chinese came, the
hamlet grew to a pueblo, the native curate died and was replaced by
Father Dámaso. And all this time the people respected the sepulchre of
the old Spaniard, and held it in superstitious awe. Sometimes, armed
with sticks and stones, the children dared run near it to gather wild
fruits; but while they were busy at this, or stood gazing at the bit of
rope still dangling from the limb, a stone or two would fall from no
one knew where. Then with cries of The old man! the old man! they
threw down sticks and fruit, ran in all directions, between the rocks
and bushes, and did not stop till they were out of the woods, all pale
and breathless, some crying, few daring to laugh.
XI. THE SOVEREIGNS.
Who was the ruler of the pueblo? Not Don Rafael during his lifetime,
though he possessed the most land, and nearly every one owed him. As he
was modest, and gave little value to his deeds, no party formed around
him, and we have seen how he was deserted and attacked when his
Was it Captain Tiago? It is true his arrival was always heralded
with music, he was given banquets by his debtors, and loaded with
presents; but he was laughed at in secret, and called Sacristan Tiago.
Was it by chance the town mayor, the gobernadorcillo? Alas! he was
an unfortunate, who governed not, but obeyed; did not dispose, but was
disposed of. And yet he had to answer to the alcalde for all these
dispositions, as if they emanated from his own brain. Be it said in his
favor that he had neither stolen nor usurped his honors, but that they
cost him five thousand pesos and much humiliation.
Perhaps then it was God? But to most of these good people, God
seemed one of those poor kings surrounded by favorites to whom their
subjects always take their supplications, never to them.
No, San Diego was a sort of modern Rome. The curate was the pope at
the Vatican; the alférez of the civil guard, the King in the Quirinal.
Here as there, difficulties arose from the situation.
The present curate, Brother Bernardo Salvi, was the young and silent
Franciscan we have already seen. In mode of life and in appearance he
was very unlike his predecessor, Brother Dámaso. He seemed ill, was
always thoughtful, accomplished strictly his religious duties, and was
careful of his reputation. Through his zeal, almost all his
parishioners had speedily become members of the Third Order of St.
Francis, to the great dismay of the rival order, that of the Holy
Rosary. Four or five scapularies were suspended around every neck,
knotted cords encircled all the waists, and the innumerable processions
of the order were a joy to see. The head sacristan took in a small
fortune, sellingor giving as alms, to put it more correctlyall the
paraphernalia necessary to save the soul and combat the devil. It is
well known that this evil spirit, who once dared attack God face to
face, and accuse His divine word, as the book of Job tells us, is now
so cowardly and feeble that he flees at sight of a bit of painted
cloth, and fears a knotted cord.
Brother Salvi again greatly differed from Brother Dámasowho set
everything right with fists or ferrule, believing it the only way to
reach the Indianin that he punished with fines the faults of his
subordinates, rarely striking them.
From his struggles with the curate, the alférez had a bad reputation
among the devout, which he deserved, and shared with his wife, a
hideous and vile old Filipino woman named Doña Consolacion. The husband
avenged his conjugal woes on himself by drinking like a fish; on his
subordinates, by making them exercise in the sun; and most frequently
on his wife, by kicks and drubbings. The two fought famously between
themselves, but were of one mind when it was a question of the curate.
Inspired by his wife, the officer ordered that no one be abroad in the
streets after nine at night. The priest, who did not like this
restriction, retorted in lengthy sermons, whenever the alférez went to
church. Like all impenitents, the alférez did not mend his ways for
that, but went out swearing under his breath, arrested the first
sacristan he met, and made him clean the yard of the barracks. So the
war went on. All this, however, did not prevent the alférez and the
curate chatting courteously enough when they met.
And they were the rulers of the pueblo of San Diego.
XII. ALL SAINTS' DAY.
The cemetery of San Diego is in the midst of rice-fields. It is
approached by a narrow path, powdery on sunny days, navigable on rainy.
A wooden gate and a wall half stone, half bamboo stalks, succeed in
keeping out men, but not the curate's goats, nor the pigs of his
neighbors. In the middle of the enclosure is a stone pedestal
supporting a great wooden cross. Storms have bent the strip of tin on
which were the I. N. R. I., and the rain has washed off the letters. At
the foot of the cross is a confused heap of bones and skulls thrown out
by the grave-digger. Everywhere grow in all their vigor the
bitter-sweet and rose-bay. Some tiny flowerets, too, tint the
groundblossoms which, like the mounded bones, are known to their
Creator only. They are like little pale smiles, and their odor scents
of the tomb. Grass and climbing plants fill the corners, cover the
walls, adorning this otherwise bare ugliness; they even penetrate the
tombs, through earthquake fissures, and fill their yawning gaps.
At this hour two men are digging near the crumbling wall. One, the
grave-digger, works with the utmost indifference, throwing aside a
skull as a gardener would a stone. The other is preoccupied; he
perspires, he breathes hard.
Oh! he says at length in Tagalo. Hadn't we better dig in some
other place? This grave is too recent.
All the graves are the same, one is as recent as another.
I can't endure this!
What a woman! You should go and be a clerk! If you had dug up, as I
did, a boy of twenty days, at night, in the rain
Uh-h-h! And why did you do that?
The grave-digger seemed surprised.
Why? How do I know, I was ordered to.
Who ordered you?
At this question the grave-digger straightened himself, and examined
the rash young man from head to foot.
Come! come! You're curious as a Spaniard. A Spaniard asked me the
same question, but in secret. I'm going to say to you what I said to
him: the curate ordered it.
Oh! and what did you do with the body?
The devil! if I didn't know you, I should take you for the police.
The curate told me to bury it in the Chinese cemetery, but it's a long
way there, and the body was heavy. 'Better be drowned,' I said to
myself, 'than lie with the Chinese,' and I threw it into the lake.
No, no, stop digging! interrupted the younger man, with a cry of
horror, and throwing down his spade he sprang out of the grave.
The grave-digger watched him run off signing himself, laughed, and
went to work again.
The cemetery began to fill with men and women in mourning. Some of
them came for a moment to the open grave, discussed some matter, seemed
not to be agreed, and separated, kneeling here and there. Others were
lighting candles; all began to pray devoutly. One heard sighing and
sobs, and over all a confused murmur of requiem æternam.
A little old man, with piercing eyes, entered uncovered. At sight of
him some laughed, others frowned. The old man seemed to take no account
of this. He went to the heap of skulls, knelt, and searched with his
eyes. Then with the greatest care he lifted the skulls one by one,
wrinkling his brows, shaking his head, and looking on all sides. At
length he rose and approached the grave-digger.
Ho! said he.
The other raised his eyes.
Did you see a beautiful skull, white as the inside of a cocoanut?
The grave-digger shrugged his shoulders.
Look, said the old man, showing a piece of money; it's all I
have, but I'll give it to you if you find it.
The gleam of silver made the man reflect. He looked toward the heap
It isn't there? No? Then I don't know where it is.
You don't know? When those who owe me pay, I'll give you more.
'Twas the skull of my wife, and if you find it
It isn't there? Then I know nothing about it, but I can give you
You are like the grave you dig, cried the old man, furious. You
know not the value of what you destroy! For whom is this grave?
How do I know? For a dead man! replied the other with temper.
Like the grave, like the grave, the old man repeated with a dry
laugh. You know neither what you cast out nor what you keep. Dig!
dig! And he went toward the gate.
Meanwhile the grave-digger had finished his task, and two mounds of
fresh, reddish earth rose beside the grave. Drawing from his pocket
some buyo, he regarded dully what was going on around him, sat down,
and began to chew.
At that moment a carriage, which had apparently made a long journey,
stopped at the entrance to the cemetery. Ibarra got out, followed by an
old servant, and silently made his way along the path.
It is there, behind the great cross, señor, said the servant, as
they approached the spot where the grave-digger was sitting.
Arrived at the cross, the old servant looked on all sides, and
became greatly confused. It was there, he muttered; no, there, but
the ground has been broken.
Ibarra looked at him in anguish.
The servant appealed to the grave-digger.
Where is the grave that was marked with a cross like this? he
demanded; and stooping, he traced a Byzantine cross on the ground.
Were there flowers growing on it?
Yes, jasmine and pansies.
The grave-digger scratched his ear and said with a yawn:
Well, the cross I burned.
Burned! and why?
Because the curate ordered it.
Ibarra drew his hand across his forehead.
But at least you can show us the grave.
The body's no longer there, said the grave-digger calmly.
What are you saying!
Yes, the man went on, with a smile, I put a woman in its place,
eight days ago.
Are you mad? cried the servant; it isn't a year since he was
Father Dámaso ordered it; he told me to take the body to the
Chinese cemetery; I
He got no farther, and started back in terror at sight of
Crisóstomo's face. Crisóstomo seized his arm. And you did it? he
demanded, in a terrible voice.
Don't be angry, señor, replied the grave-digger, pale and
trembling. I didn't bury him with the Chinese. Better be drowned than
that, I thought to myself, and I threw him into the water.
Ibarra stared at him like a madman. You're only a poor fool! he
said at length, and pushing him away, he rushed headlong for the gate,
stumbling over graves and bones, and painfully followed by the old
That's what the dead bring us, grumbled the gravedigger. The
curate orders me to dig the man up, and this fellow breaks my arm for
doing it. That's the way with the Spaniards. I shall lose my place!
XIII. THE LITTLE SACRISTANS.
The little old man of the cemetery wandered absent-minded along the
He was a character of the pueblo. He had once been a student in
philosophy, but abandoned his course at the demands of his mother. The
good woman, finding that her son had talent, feared lest he become a
savant and forget God; she let him choose, therefore, between studying
for the priesthood and leaving the college of San José. He was in love,
took the latter course, and married. Widowed and orphaned within a
year, he found in books a deliverance from sadness, idleness, and the
gallera. Unhappily he studied too much, bought too many books,
neglected to care for his fortune, and came to financial ruin. Some
people called him Don Astasio, or Tasio the philosopher; others, and by
far the greater number, Tasio the fool.
The afternoon threatened a tempest. Pale flashes of lightning
illumined the leaden sky; the atmosphere was heavy and close.
Arrived at the church door, Tasio entered and spoke to two little
boys, one ten years old perhaps, the other seven.
Coming with me? he asked. Your mother has ready a dinner fit for
The head sacristan won't let us leave yet, said the elder. We're
going into the tower to ring the bells.
Take care! don't go too near the bells in the storm, said Tasio,
and, head down, he went off, thinking, toward the outskirts of the
Soon the rain came down in torrents, the thunder echoed clap on
clap, each detonation preceded by an awful zig-zag of fire. The tempest
grew in fury, and, scarce able to ride on the shifting wind, the
plaintive voices of the bells rang out a lamentation.
The boys were in the tower, the younger, timid, in spite of his
great black eyes, hugging close to his brother. They resembled one
another, but the elder had the stronger and more thoughtful face. Their
dress was poor, patched, and darned. The wind beat in the rain a
little, where they were, and set the flame of their candle dancing.
Pull your rope, Crispin, said the elder to his little brother.
Crispin pulled, and heard a feeble plaint, quickly silenced by a
thunder crash. If we were only home with mama, he mourned, I
shouldn't be afraid.
The other did not answer. He watched the candle melt, and seemed
At least, no one there would call me a thief; mama would not have
it. If she knew they had beaten me The elder gave the great cord a
sharp pull; a deep, sonorous tone trembled out.
Pay what they say I stole! Pay it, brother!
Are you mad, Crispin? Mama would have nothing to eat; they say you
stole two onces, and two onces make thirty-two pesos.
The little fellow counted thirty-two on his fingers.
Six hands and two fingers. And each finger makes a peso, and each
peso how many cuartos?
A hundred sixty.
And how much is a hundred sixty?
Crispin regarded his little paws.
Thirty-two hands, he said, and each finger a cuarto! O mama! how
many cuartos! and with them one could buy shoes, and a hat for the sun,
and an umbrella for the rain, and clothes for mama.
Crispin became pensive.
What I'm afraid of is that mama will be angry with you when she
hears about it.
You think so? said Crispin, surprised. But I've never had a
cuarto except the one they gave me at Easter. Mama won't believe I
stole; she won't believe it!
But if the curate says so
Crispin began to cry, and said through his sobs:
Then go alone, I won't go. Tell mama I'm sick.
Crispin, don't cry, said his brother. If mama seems to believe
what they say, you'll tell her that the sacristan lies, that the curate
believes him, that they say we are thieves because our father
A head came out of the shadows in the little stairway, and as if it
had been Medusa's, it froze the words on the children's lips.
The head was long and lean, with a shock of black hair. Blue glasses
concealed one sightless eye. It was the chief sacristan who had thus
stolen upon the children.
You, Basilio, are fined two réales for not ringing regularly. And
you, Crispin, stay to-night till you find what you've stolen.
We have permission, began Basilio; our mother expects us at
You won't go at nine o'clock either; you shall stay till ten.
But, señor, after nine one can't pass through the streets
Are you trying to dictate to me? demanded the sacristan, and he
seized Crispin's arm.
Señor, we have not seen our mother for a week, entreated Basilio,
taking hold of his brother as if to protect him.
With a stroke on the cheek the sacristan made him let go, and
dragged off Crispin, who commenced to cry, let himself fall, tried to
cling to the floor, and besought Basilio to keep him. But the
sacristan, dragging the child, disappeared in the shadows.
Basilio stood mute. He heard his little brother's body strike
against the stairs; he heard a cry, blows, heart-rending words, growing
fainter and fainter, lost at last in the distance.
When shall I be strong enough? he murmured, and dashed down the
He reached the choir and listened. He could still hear his little
brother's voice; then over the cry, Mama!Brother! a door shut.
Trembling, damp with sweat, holding his mouth with his hand to stifle a
cry, he stood a moment looking about in the dim church. The doors were
closed, the windows barred. He went back to the tower, did not stop at
the second stage, where the bells were rung, but climbed to the third,
loosed the ropes that held the tongues of the bells, then went down
again, pale, his eyes gleaming, but without tears.
The rain commenced to slacken and the sky to clear. Basilio knotted
the ropes, fastened an end to a beam of the balcony, and, forgetting to
blow out the candle, glided down into the darkness.
Some minutes later voices were heard in a street of the pueblo, and
two rifle shots rang out; but it raised no alarm, and all again became
Nearly an hour's walk from the pueblo lived the mother of Basilio
and Crispin, wife of a man who passed his time in lounging or watching
cock-fights while she struggled to bring up their children. The husband
and wife saw each other rarely, and their interviews were painful. To
feed his vices, he had robbed her of her few trinkets, and when the
unhappy Sisa had nothing more with which to satisfy his caprices he
began to abuse her. Without much strength of will, dowered with more
heart than reason, she only knew how to love and to weep. Her husband
was a god, her children were angels. He, who knew how much he was
adored and feared, like other false gods, grew more and more arbitrary
The stars were glittering in the sky cleared by the tempest. Sisa
sat on the wooden bench, her chin in her hand, watching some branches
smoulder on her hearth of uncut stones. On these stones was a little
pan where rice was cooking, and among the cinders were three dry
She was still young, and one saw she had been beautiful. Her eyes,
which, with her soul, she had given to her sons, were fine, deep, and
fringed with dark lashes; her face was regular; her skin pure olive. In
spite of her youth, suffering, hunger sometimes, had begun to hollow
her cheeks. Her abundant hair, once her glory, was still carefully
dressedbut from habit, not coquetry.
All day Sisa had been thinking of the pleasure coming at night. She
picked the finest tomatoes in her gardenfavorite dish of little
Crispin; from her neighbor, Tasio, she got a fillet of wild boar and a
wild duck's thigh for Basilio, and she chose and cooked the whitest
rice on the threshing-floor.
Alas! the father arrived. Good-by to the dinner! He ate the rice,
the filet of wild boar, the duck's thigh, and the tomatoes. Sisa said
nothing, happy to see her husband satisfied, and so much happier that,
having eaten, he remembered he had children and asked where they were.
The poor mother smiled. She had promised herself to eat nothingthere
was not enough left for three; but the father had thought of his sons,
that was better than food.
Sisa, left alone, wept a little; but she thought of her children,
and dried her tears. She cooked the little rice she had left, and the
Attentive to every sound, she now sat listening: a footfall strong
and regular, it was Basilio's; light and unsteady, Crispin's.
But the children did not come.
To pass the time, she hummed a song. Her voice was beautiful, and
when her children heard her sing Kundiman they cried, without knowing
why. To-night her voice trembled, and the notes came tardily.
She went to the door and scanned the road. A black dog was there,
searching about. It frightened Sisa, and she threw a stone, sending the
dog off howling.
Sisa was not superstitious, but she had so often heard of black dogs
and presentiments that terror seized her. She shut the door in haste
and sat down by the light. She prayed to the Virgin, to God Himself, to
take care of her boys, and most for the little Crispin. Then, drawn
away from prayer by her sole preoccupation, she thought no longer of
aught but her children, of all their ways, which seemed to her so
pleasing. Then the terror returned. Vision or reality, Crispin stood by
the hearth, where he often sat to chatter to her. He said nothing, but
looked at her with great, pensive eyes, and smiled.
Mother, open! Open the door, mother! said Basilio's voice outside.
Sisa shuddered, and the vision disappeared.
Life is a Dream.
Basilio had scarcely strength to enter and fall into his mother's
arms. A strange cold enveloped Sisa when she saw him come alone. She
wished to speak, but found no words; to caress her son, but found no
force. Yet at the sight of blood on his forehead, her voice came, and
she cried in a tone which seemed to tell of a breaking heartstring:
Don't be frightened, mama; Crispin stayed at the convent.
At the convent? He stayed at the convent? Living?
The child raised his eyes to hers.
Ah! she cried, passing from the greatest anguish to the utmost
joy. She wept, embraced her child, covered with kisses his wounded
And why are you hurt, my son? Did you fall?
Basilio told her he had been challenged by the guard, ran, was shot
at, and a ball had grazed his forehead.
O God! I thank Thee that Thou didst save him! murmured the mother.
She went for lint and vinegar water, and while she bandaged his
Why, she asked, did Crispin stay at the convent?
Basilio looked at her, kissed her, then little by little told the
story of the lost money; he said nothing of the torture of his little
brother. Mother and child mingled their tears.
Accuse my good Crispin! It's because we are poor, and the poor must
bear everything, murmured Sisa. Both were silent a moment.
But you have not eaten, said the mother. Here are sardines and
I'm not hungry, mama; I only want some water.
Yes, eat, said the mother. I know you don't like dry sardines,
and I had something else for you; but your father came, my poor child.
My father came? and Basilio instinctively examined his mother's
face and hands.
The question pained the mother; she sighed.
You won't eat? Then we must go to bed; it is late.
Sisa barred the door and covered the fire. Basilio murmured his
prayers, and crept on the mat near his mother, who was still on her
knees. She was warm, he was cold. He thought of his little brother, who
had hoped to sleep this night close to his mother's side, trembling
with fear in some dark corner of the convent. He heard his cries as he
had heard them in the tower; but Nature soon confused his ideas and he
In the middle of the night Sisa wakened him.
What is it, Basilio? Why are you crying?
I was dreaming. O mama! it was a dream, wasn't it? Say it was
nothing but a dream!
What were you dreaming?
He did not answer, but sat up to dry his tears.
Tell me the dream, said Sisa, when he had lain down again. I
It is gone now, mama; I don't remember it all.
Sisa did not insist: she attached no importance to dreams.
Mama, said Basilio after a moment of silence, I'm not sleepy
either. I had a project last evening. I don't want to be a sacristan.
Listen, mama. The son of Don Rafael came home from Spain to-day; he
should be as kind as his father. Well, to-morrow I find Crispin, get my
pay, and say I'm not going to be a sacristan. Then I'll go see Don
Crisóstomo and ask him to make me a buffalo-keeper. Crispin could go on
studying with old Tasio. Tasio's better than the curate thinks; I've
often seen him praying in the church when no one else was there. What
shall I lose in not being a sacristan? One earns little and loses it
all in fines. I'll be a herdsman, mama, and take good care of the cows
and carabaos, and make my master love me; then perhaps he'll let us
have a cow to milk: Crispin loves milk. And I could fish in the rivers
and go hunting when I get big. And by and by perhaps I could have a
little land and sow sugar-cane. We could all live together, then. And
old Tasio says Crispin is very bright. By and by we would send him to
study at Manila, and I would work for him. Shall we, mama? He might be
a doctor; what do you say?
What can I say, except that you are right, answered Sisa, kissing
Basilio went on with his projects, talking with the confidence of a
child. Sisa said yes to everything. But little by little sleep came
back to the child's lids, and this time he did not cry in his dreams:
that Ole-Luk-Oie, of whom Andersen tells us, unfurled over his head the
umbrella with its lining of gay pictures. But the mother, past the age
of careless slumbers, did not sleep.
XVI. AT THE MANSE.
It was seven o'clock when Brother Salvi finished his last mass. He
took off his priestly robes without a word to any one.
Look out! whispered the sacristans; it is going to rain fines!
And all for the fault of those children!
The father came out of the sacristy and crossed to the manse. On the
porch six or seven women sat waiting for him, and a man was walking to
and fro. The woman rose, and one bent to kiss his hand, but the priest
made such a gesture of impatience that she stopped short.
He must have lost a real miser, she cried mockingly, when he had
passed. This is something unheard of: refuse his hand to the zealous
He was not in the confessional this morning, said a toothless old
woman, Sister Sipa. I wanted to confess, so as to get some
I have gained three plenary indulgences, said a young woman of
pleasing face, and applied them all to the soul of my husband.
You have done wrong, said Sister Rufa, one plenary is enough; you
should not squander the holy indulgences. Do as I do.
I said to myself, the more there are the better, replied young
sister Juana, smiling; but what do you do?
Sister Rufa did not respond at once; she chewed her buyo, and
scanned her audience attentively; at length she decided to speak.
Well, this is what I do. Suppose I gain a year of indulgences; I
say: Blessed Señor Saint Dominic, have the kindness to see if there is
some one in purgatory who has need of precisely a year. Then I play
heads or tails. If it falls heads, no; if tails, yes. If it falls
heads, I keep the indulgence, and so I make groups of a hundred years,
for which there is always use. It's a pity one can't loan indulgences
at interest. But do as I do, it's the best plan.
At this point Sisa appeared. She said good morning to the women, and
entered the manse.
She's gone in, let us go too, said the sisters, and they followed
Sisa felt her heart beat violently. She did not know what to say to
the curate in defence of her child. She had risen at daybreak, picked
all the fine vegetables left in her garden, and arranged them in a
basket with platane leaves and flowers, and had been to the river to
get a fresh salad of pakô. Then, dressed in the best she had, the
basket on her head, without waking her son, she had set out for the
She went slowly through the manse, listening if by chance she might
hear a well-known voice, fresh and childish. But she met no one, heard
nothing, and went on to the kitchen.
The servants and sacristans received her coldly, scarcely answering
Where may I put these vegetables? she asked, without showing
Therewherever you want to, replied the cook curtly.
Sisa, half-smiling, placed all in order on the table, and laid on
top the flowers and the tender shoots of the pakô; then she asked a
servant who seemed more friendly than the cook:
Do you know if Crispin is in the sacristy?
The servant looked at her in surprise.
Crispin? said he, wrinkling his brows; isn't he at home?
Basilio is, but Crispin stayed here.
Oh, yes, he stayed, but he ran off afterward with all sorts of
things he'd stolen. The curate sent me to report it at the quarters.
The guards must be on their way to your house by this time.
Sisa could not believe it; she opened her mouth, but her lips moved
Go find your children, said the cook. Everybody sees you're a
faithful woman; the children are like their father!
Sisa stifled a sob, and, at the end of her strength, sat down.
Don't cry here, said the cook still more roughly, the curate is
ill; don't bother him! Go cry in the street!
The poor woman got up, almost by force, and went down the steps with
the sisters, who were still gossiping of the curate's illness. Once on
the street she looked about uncertain; then, as if from a sudden
resolution, moved rapidly away.
XVII. STORY OF A SCHOOLMASTER.
The lake, girt with hills, lies tranquil, as if it had not been
shaken by yesterday's tempest. At the first gleam of light which wakes
the phosphorescent spirits of the water, almost on the bounds of the
horizon, gray silhouettes slowly take shape. These are the barks of
fishermen drawing in their nets; cascos and paraos shaking out their
From a height, two men in black are silently surveying the lake. One
is Ibarra, the other a young man of humble dress and melancholy face.
This is the place, said the stranger, where the gravedigger
brought us, Lieutenant Guevara and me.
Ibarra uncovered, and stood a long time as if in prayer.
When the first horror at the story of his father's desecrated grave
had passed, he had bravely accepted what could not be undone. Private
wrongs must go unavenged, if one would not add to the wrongs of the
country: Ibarra had been trained to live for these islands, daughters
of Spain. In his country, too, a charge against a monk was a charge
against the Church, and Crisóstomo was a loyal Catholic; if he knew how
in his mind to separate the Church from her unworthy sons, most of his
fellow-countrymen did not. And, again, his intimate life was all here.
The last of his race, his home was his family; he loved ideally, and he
loved the goddaughter of the malevolent priest. He was rich, and
therefore powerful stilland he was young. Ibarra had taken up his
life again as he had found it.
His prayer finished, he warmly grasped the young man's hand.
Do not thank me, said the other; I owe everything to your father.
I came here unknown; your father protected me, encouraged my work,
furnished the poor children with books. How far away that good time
Ah! now we get along as best we can.
Ibarra was silent.
How many pupils have you?
More than two hundred on the listin the classes, fifty-five.
And how is that?
The schoolmaster smiled sadly.
It is a long story.
Don't think I ask from curiosity, said Ibarra. I have thought
much about it, and it seems to me better to try to carry out my
father's ideas than to weep or to avenge his death. I wish to inspire
myself with his spirit. That is why I ask this question.
The country will bless your memory, señor, if you carry out the
splendid projects of your father. You wish to know the obstacles I
meet? In a word, the plan of instruction is hopeless. The children
read, write, learn by heart passages, sometimes whole books, in
Castilian, without understanding a single word. Of what use is such a
school to the children of our peasants!
You see the evil, what remedy do you propose?
I have none, said the young man; one cannot struggle alone
against so many needs and against certain influences. I tried to remedy
the evil of which I just spoke; I tried to carry out the order of the
Government, and began to teach the children Spanish. The beginning was
excellent, but one day Brother Dámaso sent for me. I went up
immediately, and I said good-day to him in Castilian. Without replying,
he burst into laughter. At length he said, with a sidelong glance:
'What buenos dias! buenos dias! It's very pretty. You know Spanish?'
and he began to laugh again.
Ibarra could not repress a smile.
You laugh, said the teacher, and I, too, now; but I assure you I
had no desire to then. I started to reply, I don't know what, but
Brother Dámaso interrupted:
'Don't wear clothes that are not your own,' he said in Tagal; 'be
content to speak your own language. Do you know about Ciruela? Well,
Ciruela was a master who could neither read nor write, yet he kept
school.' And he left the room, slamming the door behind him. What was I
to do? What could I, against him, the highest authority of the pueblo,
moral, political, and civil; backed by his order, feared by the
Government, rich, powerful, always obeyed and believed. To withstand
him was to lose my place, and break off my career without hope of
another. Every one would have sided with the priest. I should have been
called proud, insolent, no Christian, perhaps even anti-Spanish and
filibustero. Heaven forgive me if I denied my conscience and my reason,
but I was born here, must live here, I have a mother, and I abandoned
myself to my fate, as a cadaver to the wave that rolls it.
And you lost all hope? You have tried nothing since?
I was rash enough to try two more experiments, one after our change
of curates; but both proved offensive to the same authority. Since then
I have done my best to convert the poor babies into parrots.
Well, I have cheerful news for you, said Ibarra. I am soon to
present to the Government a project that will help you out of your
difficulties, if it is approved.
The school-teacher shook his head.
You will see, Señor Ibarra, that your projectsI've heard
something of themwill no more be realized than were mine!
XVIII. THE STORY OF A MOTHER.
Sisa was running toward her poor little home. She had experienced
one of those convulsions of being which we know at the hour of a great
misfortune, when we see no possible refuge and all our hopes take
flight. If then a ray of light illumine some little corner, we fly
toward it without stopping to question.
Sisa ran swiftly, pursued by many fears and dark presentiments. Had
they already taken her Basilio? Where had her Crispin hidden?
As she neared her home, she saw two soldiers coming out of the
little garden. She lifted her eyes to heaven; heaven was smiling in its
ineffable light; little white clouds swam in the transparent blue.
The soldiers had left her house; they were coming away without her
children. Sisa breathed once more; her senses came back.
She looked again, this time with grateful eyes, at the sky, furrowed
now by a band of garzas, those clouds of airy gray peculiar to the
Philippines; confidence sprang again in her heart; she walked on. Once
past those dreadful men, she would have run, but prudence checked her.
She had not gone far, when she heard herself called imperiously. She
turned, pale and trembling in spite of herself. One of the guards
Mechanically she obeyed: she felt her tongue grow paralyzed, her
Speak the truth, or we'll tie you to this tree and shoot you, said
one of the guards.
Sisa could do nothing but look at the tree.
You are the mother of the thieves?
The mother of the thieves? repeated Sisa, without comprehending.
Where is the money your sons brought home last night?
Ah! the money
Give us the money, and we'll let you alone.
Señores, said the unhappy woman, gathering her senses again, my
boys do not steal, even when they're hungry; we are used to suffering.
I have not seen my Crispin for a week, and Basilio did not bring home a
cuarto. Search the house, and if you find a réal, do what you will with
us; the poor are not all thieves.
Well then, said one of the soldiers, fixing his eyes on Sisa's,
Ifollow you? And she drew back in terror, her eyes on the
uniforms of the guards. Oh, have pity on me! I'm very poor, I've
nothing to give you, neither gold nor jewelry. Take everything you find
in my miserable cabin, but let melet medie here in peace!
March! do you hear? and if you don't go without making trouble,
we'll tie your hands.
Let me walk a little way in front of you, at least, she cried, as
they laid hold of her.
The soldiers spoke together apart.
Very well, said one, when we get to the pueblo, you may. March on
now, and quick!
Poor Sisa thought she must die of shame. There was no one on the
road, it is true; but the air? and the light? She covered her face, in
her humiliation, and wept silently. She was indeed very miserable;
every one, even her husband, had abandoned her; but until now she had
always felt herself respected.
As they neared the pueblo, fear seized her. In her agony she looked
on all sides, seeking some succor in naturedeath in the river would
be so sweet. But no! She thought of her children; here was a light in
the darkness of her soul.
Afterward, she said to herself,afterward, we will go to live in
the heart of the forest.
She dried her eyes, and turning to the guards:
We are at the pueblo, she said. Her tone was indescribable; at
once a complaint, an argument, and a prayer.
The soldiers took pity on her; they replied with a gesture. Sisa
went rapidly forward, then forced herself to walk tranquilly.
A tolling of bells announced the end of the high mass. Sisa
hastened, in the hope of avoiding the crowd from the church, but in
vain. Two women she knew passed, looked at her questioningly; she bowed
with an anguished smile, then, to avoid new mortifications, she fixed
her eyes on the ground.
At sight of her people turned, whispered, followed with their eyes,
and though her eyes were turned away, she divined, she felt, she saw it
all. A woman who by her bare head, her dress, and her manners showed
what she was, cried boldly to the soldiers:
Where did you find her? Did you get the money?
Sisa seemed to have taken a blow in the face. The ground gave way
under her feet.
This way! cried a guard.
Like an automaton whose mechanism is broken she turned quickly, and,
seeing nothing, feeling nothing but instinct, tried to hide herself. A
gate was before her; she would have entered but a voice still more
imperious checked her. While she sought to find whence the voice came,
she felt herself pushed along by the shoulders. She closed her eyes,
took two steps, then her strength left her and she fell.
It was the barracks. In the yard were soldiers, women, pigs, and
chickens. Some of the women were helping the men mend their clothes or
clean their arms, and humming ribald songs.
Where is the sergeant? demanded one of the guards angrily. Has
the alférez been informed?
A shrug of the shoulders was the sole response; no one would take
any trouble for the poor woman.
Two long hours she stayed there, half mad, crouched in a corner, her
face hidden in her hands, her hair undone. At noon the alférez arrived.
He refused to believe the curate's accusations.
Bah! monks' tricks! said he; and ordered that the woman be
released and the affair dropped.
If he wants to find what he's lost, he added, let him complain to
the nuncio! That's all I have to say.
Sisa, who could scarcely move, was almost carried out of the
barracks. When she found herself in the street, she set out as fast as
she could for her home, her head bare, her hair loose, her eyes fixed.
The sun, then in the zenith, burned with all his fire: not a cloud
veiled his resplendent disc. The wind just moved the leaves of the
trees; not a bird dared venture from the shade of the branches.
At length Sisa arrived. Troubled, silent, she entered her poor
cabin, ran all about it, went out, came in, went out again. Then she
ran to old Tasio's, knocked at the door. Tasio was not there. The poor
thing went back and commenced to call, Basilio! Crispin! standing
still, listening attentively. An echo repeating her calls, the sweet
murmur of water from the river, the music of the reeds stirred by the
breeze, were the sole voices of the solitude. She called anew, mounted
a hill, went down into a ravine; her wandering eyes took a sinister
expression; from time to time sharp lights flashed in them, then they
were obscured, like the sky in a tempest. One might have said the light
of reason, ready to go out, revived and died down in turn.
She went back, and sat down on the mat where they had slept the
night beforeshe and Basilioand raised her eyes. Caught in the
bamboo fence on the edge of the precipice, she saw a piece of Basilio's
blouse. She got up, took it, and examined it in the sunlight. There
were blood spots on it, but Sisa did not seem to see them. She bent
over and continued to look at this rag from her child's clothing,
raised it in the air, bathing it in the brazen rays. Then, as if the
last gleam of light within her had finally gone out, she looked
straight at the sun, with wide-staring eyes.
At length she began to wander about, crying out strange sounds. One
hearing her would have been frightened; her voice had a quality the
human larynx would hardly know how to produce.
The sun went down; night surprised her. Perhaps Heaven gave her
sleep, and an angel's wing, brushing her pale forehead, took away that
memory which no longer recalled anything but griefs. The next day Sisa
roamed about, smiling, singing, and conversing with all the beings of
Three days passed, and the inhabitants of San Diego had ceased to
talk or think of unhappy Sisa and her boys. Maria Clara, who,
accompanied by Aunt Isabel, had just arrived from Manila, was the chief
subject of conversation. Every one rejoiced to see her, for every one
loved her. They marvelled at her beauty, and speculated about her
marriage with Ibarra. On this evening, Crisóstomo presented himself at
the home of his fiancée; the curate arrived at the same moment. The
house was a delicious little nest among orange-trees and ylang-ylang.
They found Maria by an open window, overlooking the lake, surrounded by
the fresh foliage and delicate perfume of vines and flowers.
The winds blow fresh, said the curate; aren't you afraid of
I don't feel the wind, father, said Maria.
We Filipinos, said Crisóstomo, find this season of autumn and
spring together delicious. Falling leaves and budding trees in
February, and ripe fruit in March, with no cold winter between, is very
agreeable. And when the hot months come we know where to go.
The priest smiled, and the conversation turned to the pueblo and the
festival of its patron saint, which was near.
Speaking of fêtes, said Crisóstomo to the curate, we hope you
will join us in a picnic to-morrow, near the great fig-tree in the
wood. The arrangements are all made as you wished, Maria. A small party
is to start for the fishing-ground before sunrise, he went on to the
curate, and later we hope to be joined by all our friends of the
The curate said he should be happy to come after his services were
said. They chatted a few moments longer, and then Ibarra excused
himself to finish giving his invitations and make his final
As he left the house a man saluted him respectfully.
Who are you? asked Crisóstomo.
You would not know my name, señor; I have been trying to see you
for three days.
And what do you want?
Señor, my wife has gone mad, my children are lost, and no one will
help me find them. I want your aid.
Come with me, said Ibarra.
The man thanked him, and they disappeared together in the darkness
of the unlighted streets.
XIX. THE FISHING PARTY.
The stars were yet brilliant in the sapphire vault, and in the
branches the birds were still asleep when a merry party went through
the streets of the pueblo, toward the lake, lighted by the glimmer of
the pitch torches here called huepes.
There were five young girls, walking rapidly, holding each other by
the hand or waist, followed by several elderly ladies, and servants
bearing gracefully on their heads baskets of provisions. To see these
girls' faces, laughing with youth, to judge by their abundant black
hair flying free in the wind, and the ample folds of their garments, we
might take them for divinities of the night fleeing at the approach of
day; but they were Maria Clara and her four friends, the merry Sinang,
her cousin, the calm Victoria, beautiful Iday, and pensive Neneng. They
talked with animation, pinched each other, whispered in each other's
ears, and pealed out merry rounds of laughter.
After a while there came to meet the party a group of young men,
carrying torches of reeds. They were walking, silent, to the sound of a
When the two groups met, the girls became serious and grave. The
men, on the contrary, talked, laughed, and asked six questions to get
half a reply.
Is the lake smooth? Do you think we shall have a fine day?
demanded the mamas.
Don't be disturbed, señoras, I'm a splendid swimmer, said a tall,
slim fellow, a merry-looking rascal with an air of mock gravity.
But they were already at the borders of the lake, and cries of
delight escaped the lips of the women. They saw two great barks, bound
together, picturesquely decked with garlands of flowers and
various-colored festoons of fluffy drapery. Little paper lanterns hung
alternating with roses, pinks, pineapples, bananas, and guavas. Rudders
and oars were decorated too, and there were mats, rugs, and cushions to
make comfortable seats for the ladies. In the boat, most beautifully
trimmed, were a harp, guitars, accordeons, and a carabao's horn; in the
other burned a ship's fire; and tea, coffee and salabata tea of
ginger sweetened with honeywere making for the first breakfast.
The women here, the men there, said the mamas, embarking; move
carefully, don't stir the boat or we shall capsize!
And we're to be in here all alone? pouted Sinang.
Slowly the boats left the beach, reflecting in the mirror of the
lake the many lights of their lanterns. In the east were the first
streaks of dawn.
Comparative silence reigned. The separation established by the
ladies seemed to have dedicated youth to meditation. The water was
perfectly tranquil, the fishing-grounds were near; it was soon decided
to abandon the oars, and breakfast. Day had come, and the lanterns were
It was a beautiful morning. The light falling from the sky and
reflected from the water made radiant the surface of the lake, and
bathed everything in an atmosphere of clearness saturated with color,
such as some marines suggest. Everybody, even the mamas, laughed and
grew merry. Do you remember, when we were girls they began to each
other; and Maria and her young companions exchanged smiling glances.
One man alone remained a stranger to this gayetyit was the
helmsman. Young, of athletic build, his melancholy eyes and the severe
lines of his lips gave an interest to his face, and this was heightened
by his long black hair falling naturally about his muscular neck. His
wrists of steel managed like a feather the large and heavy oar which
served as rudder to guide the two barks.
Maria Clara had several times met his eyes, but he quickly turned
them away to the shores or the mountains. Pitying his solitude, she
offered him some cakes. With a certain surprise he took one, refusing
the others, and thanked her in a voice scarcely audible. No one else
seemed to think of him.
The early breakfast done, the party moved off toward the fishing
enclosures. There were two, a little distance apart, both the property
of Captain Tiago. In advance, a flock of white herons could be seen,
some moving among the reeds, some flying here and there, skimming the
water with their wings, and filling the air with their strident cries.
Maria Clara followed them with her eyes, as, at the approach of the two
barks, they flew away from the shore.
Do these birds have their nests in the mountains? she asked the
helmsman, less perhaps from the wish to know than to make the silent
Probably, señora, he replied, but no one has ever yet seen them.
They have no nests, then?
I suppose they must have; if not, they are unhappy indeed.
Maria Clara did not catch the note of sadness in his voice.
They say, señora, that the nests of these birds are invisible, and
have the power to render invisible whoever holds them; that as the soul
can be seen only in the mirror of the eyes, so these nests can be seen
only in the mirror of the water.
Maria Clara became pensive. But they had come to the first baklad,
as the enclosures are called. The old sailor in charge attached the
boats to the reeds, while his son prepared to mount with lines and
Wait a moment, cried Aunt Isabel, the fish must come directly out
of the water into the pan.
What, good Aunt Isabel! said Albino reproachfully, won't you give
the poor things a moment in the air?
Andeng, Maria's foster-sister, was a famous cook. She began to
prepare rice water, the tomatoes, and the camias; the young men,
perhaps to win her good graces, aided her, while the other girls
arranged the melons, and cut paayap into cigarette-like strips.
To while away the time Iday took up the harp, the instrument most
often played in this part of the islands. She played well, and was much
applauded. Maria thanked her with a kiss.
Sing, Victoria, sing the 'Marriage Song,' demanded the ladies.
This is a beautiful Tagal elegy of married life, but sad, painting its
miseries rather than its joys. The men clamored for it too, and
Victoria had a lovely voice; but she was hoarse. So Maria Clara was
begged to sing.
All my songs are sad, she said.
Never mind, said her companions, and without more urging she took
the harp and sang in a rich and vibrant voice, full of feeling.
The chant ceased, the harp became mute; yet no one applauded; they
seemed listening still. The young girls felt their eyes fill with
tears; Ibarra seemed disturbed; the helmsman, motionless, was gazing
Suddenly there came a crash like thunder. The women cried out and
stopped their ears. It was Albino, filling with all the force of his
lungs the carabao's horn. There needed nothing more to bring back
laughter, and dry tears.
Do you wish to make us deaf, pagan? cried Aunt Isabel.
Señora, he replied, I've heard of a poor trumpeter who, from
simply playing on his instrument, became the husband of a rich and
So he didthe Trumpeter of Säckingen! laughed Ibarra.
Well, said Albino, we shall see if I am as happy! and he began
to blow again with still more force. There was a panic: the mamas
attacked him hand and foot.
Ouch! ouch! he cried, rubbing his hurts; the Philippines are far
from the borders of the Rhine! For the same deed one is knighted,
another put in the san-benito!
At last Andeng announced the kettle ready for the fish.
The fisherman's son now climbed the weir or purse of the
enclosure. It was almost circular, a yard across, so arranged that a
man could stand on top to draw out the fish with a little net or with a
All watched him, some thinking they saw already the quiver of the
little fishes and the shimmer of their silver scales.
The net was drawn up; nothing in it; the line, no fish adorned it.
The water fell back in a shower of drops, and laughed a silvery laugh.
A cry of disappointment escaped from every mouth.
You don't understand your business, said Albino, climbing up by
the young man; and he took the net. Look now! Ready, Andeng!
But Albino was no better fisherman. Everybody laughed.
Don't make a noise, you'll drive away the fish. The net must be
broken. But every mesh was intact.
Let me try, said Léon, the fiancée of Iday. Are you sure no one
has been here for five days?
Then either the lake is enchanted or I draw out something.
He cast the line, looked annoyed, dragged the hook along in the
water and murmured:
The word passed from mouth to mouth amid general stupefaction.
What's to be done?
But nobody offered to go down. The water was deep.
We ought to drag him in triumph at our stern, said Sinang; he has
eaten our fish!
I've never seen a crocodile alive, mused Maria Clara.
The helmsman got up, took a rope, lithely climbed the little
platform, and in spite of warning cries dived into the weir. The water,
troubled an instant, became smooth; the abyss closed mysteriously.
Heaven! cried the women, we are going to have a catastrophe!
The water was agitated: a combat seemed to be going on below. Above,
there was absolute silence. Ibarra held his blade in a convulsive
grasp. Then the struggle seemed to end, and the young man's head
appeared. He was saluted with joyous cries. He climbed the platform,
holding in one hand an end of the rope. Then he pulled with all his
strength, and the monster came in view. The rope was round its neck and
the fore part of its body; it was large, and on its back could be seen
green mossto a crocodile what white hair is to man. It bellowed like
an ox, beat the reeds with its tail, crouched, and opened its jaws,
black and terrifying, showing its long and saw-like teeth. No one
thought of aiding the helmsman. When he had drawn the reptile out of
the water he put his foot on it, closed with his robust hand the
redoubtable jaws, and tried to tie the muzzle. The creature made a last
effort, arched its body, beat about with its powerful tail, and
escaping, plunged outside the enclosure into the lake, dragging its
vanquisher after it. The helmsman was a dead man. A cry of horror
escaped from every mouth.
Like a flash, another body disappeared in the water. There scarce
was time to see it was Ibarra's. If Maria Clara did not faint, it was
that the natives of the Philippines do not yet know how.
The waters grew red. Then the young fisherman leaped in, his father
followed him. But they had scarcely disappeared, when Ibarra and the
helmsman came to the surface, clinging to the crocodile's body. Its
white belly was lacerated, Ibarra's knife was in the gorge.
Many arms stretched out to help the two young men from the water.
The mamas, hysterical, wept, laughed, and prayed. Ibarra was unharmed.
The helmsman had a slight scratch on the arm.
I owe you my life, said he to Ibarra, who was being wrapped in
mantles and rugs.
You are too intrepid, said Ibarra. Another time do not tempt
If you had not come back! murmured Maria Clara, pale and
The ladies did not approve of going to the second baklad; to their
minds the day had begun ill; there could not fail to be other
misfortunes; it were better to go home.
But what misfortune have we had? said Ibarra. The crocodile alone
has the right to complain.
At length the mamas were persuaded, and the barks took their course
toward the second baklad.
XX. IN THE WOODS.
There had not been much hope in this second baklad. Every one
expected to find there the crocodile's mate; but the net always came up
full. The fishing ended, the boats were turned toward the shore. There
was the party of the townspeople whom Ibarra had invited to meet his
guests of the morning, and lunch with them under improvised tents
beside a brook, in the shade of the ancient trees of the wooded
peninsula. Music was resounding in the place, and water sang in the
kettles. The body of the crocodile, in tow of the boats, turned from
side to side; sometimes presenting its belly, white and torn, sometimes
its spotted back and mossy shoulders. Man, the favorite of nature, is
little disturbed by his many fratricides.
The party dispersed, some going to the baths, some wandering among
the trees. The silent young helmsman disappeared. A path with many
windings crossed the thicket of the wood and led to the upper course of
the warm brook, formed from some of the many thermal springs on the
flanks of the Makiling. Along the banks of the stream grew wood
flowers, many of which have no Latin names, but are none the less known
to golden bugs, to butterflies, shaded, jewelled, and bronzed, and to
thousands of coleopters powdered with gold and gleaming with facets of
steel. The hum of these insects, the song of birds, or the dry sound of
dead branches catching in their fall, alone broke the mysterious
silence. Suddenly the tones of fresh, young voices were added to the
wood notes. They seemed to come down the brook.
We shall see if I find a nest! said a sweet and resonant voice. I
should like to see him without his seeing me. I should like to follow
I don't believe in heron's nests, said another voice; but if I
were in love, I should know how at once to see and to be invisible.
It was Maria Clara, Victoria, and Sinang walking in the brook. Their
eyes were on the water, where they were searching for the mysterious
nest. In blouses striped with dainty colors, their full bath skirts wet
to the knees, outlining the graceful curves of their bodies, they moved
along, seeking the impossible, meanwhile picking flowers along the
banks. Soon the little stream bent its course, and the tall reeds hid
the charming trio and cut off the sound of their voices.
A little farther on, in the middle of the stream, was a sort of
bath, well enclosed, its roof of leafy bamboo; palm leaves, flowers,
and streamers decked its sides. From here, too, came girls' voices.
Farther on was a bamboo bridge, and beyond that the men were bathing,
while a multitude of servants were busy plucking fowls, washing rice,
roasting pigs. In the clearing on the opposite bank a group of men and
women had formed under a great canvas roof, attached in part to the
branches of the ancient trees, in part to pickets. There chatted the
curate, the alférez, the vicar, the gobernadorcillo, the lieutenant,
all the chief men of the town, including the famous orator, Captain
Basilio, father of Sinang and opponent of Don Rafael Ibarra in a
lawsuit not yet ended.
We dispute a point at law, Crisóstomo had said in inviting him,
but to dispute is not to be enemies, and the famous orator had
accepted the invitation.
Bottles of lemonade were opened and green cocoanut shells were
broken, so that those who came from the baths might drink the fresh
water; the girls were given wreaths of ylang-ylang and roses to perfume
their unbound hair.
The lunch hour came. The curate, the alférez, the gobernadorcillo,
some captains, and the lieutenant sat at a table with Ibarra. The mamas
allowed no men at the table with the girls.
Have you learned anything, señor alférez, about the criminal who
attacked Brother Dámaso? said Brother Salvi.
Of what criminal are you speaking? asked the alférez, looking at
the father over his glass of wine.
What? Why, the one who attacked Brother Dámaso on the highway day
Father Dámaso has been attacked? asked several voices.
Yes; he is in bed yet. It is thought the maker of the assault is
Elias, the one who threw you into the swamp some time ago, señor
The alférez reddened with shame, if it were not from emptying his
glass of wine.
But I supposed you were informed, the curate went on; I said to
myself that the alférez of the Municipal Guard
The officer bit his lip.
At that moment a woman, pale, thin, miserably dressed, appeared,
like a phantom, in the midst of the feast.
Give the poor woman something to eat, said the ladies.
She kept on toward the table where the curate was seated. He turned,
recognized her, and the knife fell from his hand.
Give the woman something to eat, ordered Ibarra.
The night is dark and the children are gone, murmured the poor
woman. But at sight of the alférez she became frightened and ran,
disappearing among the trees.
Who is it? demanded several voices.
Isn't her name Sisa? asked Ibarra with interest.
Your soldiers arrested her, said the lieutenant to the alférez,
with some bitterness; they brought her all the way across the pueblo
for some story about her sons that nobody could clear up.
What! demanded the alférez, turning to the curate. It is perhaps
the mother of your sacristans?
The curate nodded assent.
They have disappeared, and there hasn't been the slightest effort
to find them, said Don Filipo severely, looking at the
gobernadorcillo, who lowered his eyes.
Bring back the woman, Crisóstomo ordered his servants.
They have disappeared, did you say? demanded the alférez. Your
sacristans have disappeared, Father Salvi?
The curate emptied his glass and made another affirmative sign.
Ho, ho! father, cried the alférez with a mocking laugh, rejoiced
at the prospect of revenge. Your reverence loses a few pesos, and my
sergeant is routed out to find them; your two sacristans disappear,
your reverence says nothing; and you also, señor gobernadorcillo, you
He did not finish, but broke off laughing, and buried his spoon in
the red flesh of a papaw.
The curate began with some confusion:
I was responsible for the money.
Excellent reply, reverend pastor of souls! interrupted the
alférez, his mouth full. Excellent reply, holy man!
Ibarra was on the point of interfering, but the priest recovered
Do you know, señor alférez, he asked, what is said about the
disappearance of these children? No? Then ask your soldiers.
What! cried the alférez, thus challenged, abandoning his mocking
They say that on the night when they disappeared shots were heard
in the pueblo.
Shots? repeated the alférez, looking at the faces around him.
There were several signs of assent.
Brother Salvi went on with a sarcastic smile:
Come! I see that you do not know how to arrest criminals, that you
are unaware of what your soldiers do, but that you are ready to turn
yourself into a preacher and teach others their duty.
Señores, interrupted Ibarra, seeing the alférez grow pale, I wish
to know what you think of a project I've formed. I should like to give
the mother into the care of a good physician. I've promised the father
to try to find his children.
The return of the servants without Sisa gave a new turn to the
conversation. The luncheon was finished. While the tea and coffee were
being served the guests separated into groups, the elders to play cards
or chess, while the girls, curious to learn their destiny, posed
questions to the Wheel of Fortune.
Come, Señor Ibarra! cried Captain Basilio, a little gayer than
usual; we've had a case in court for fifteen years and no judge is
able to solve it; let's see if we cannot end it at chess.
In a moment, with great pleasure, said Ibarra; the alférez is
As soon as the officer had gone the men grouped around the two
players. It was to be an interesting game. The elder ladies meanwhile
had surrounded the curate, to talk with him of the things of religion;
but Brother Salvi seemed to judge the time unfitting and made but vague
replies, his rather irritated glance being directed almost everywhere
except toward his questioners.
The chess players began with much solemnity.
If the game is a tie, the affair is forgotten! said Ibarra.
In the midst of the play he received a despatch. His eyes shone and
he became pale, but he put the message in his pocket without opening
Check! he cried. Captain Basilio had no recourse but to hide his
king behind the queen.
Check! said Ibarra, threatening with his castle.
Captain Basilio asked a moment to reflect.
Willingly, said Ibarra; I, too, should like a moment, and
excusing himself he went toward the group round the Wheel of Fortune.
Iday had the disc on which were the forty-eight questions, Albino
the book of replies.
Ask something, they all cried to Ibarra, as he came up. The one
who has the best answer is to receive a present from the others.
And who has had the best so far?
Maria Clara! cried Sinang. We made her ask whether her lover is
constant and true, and the book said
But Maria, all blushes, put her hand over Sinang's mouth.
Give me the 'Wheel' then, said Crisóstomo, smiling. And he asked:
Shall I succeed in my present undertaking?
What a stupid question! pouted Sinang.
The corresponding answer was found in the book. 'Dreams are
dreams,' read Albino.
Ibarra brought out his telegram and opened it, trembling.
This time your wheel lies! he cried. Read!
'Project for school approved.' What does that mean? they asked.
This is my present, said he, giving the despatch to Maria Clara.
I'm to build a school in the pueblo; the school is my offering. And
the young fellow ran back to his game of chess.
After making this present to his fiancée, Ibarra was so happy that
he played without reflection, and, thanks to his many false moves, the
captain re-established himself, and the game was a draw. The two men
shook hands with effusion.
While they were thus making an end of the long and tedious suit, the
sudden appearance of a sergeant and four armed guards, bayonets fixed,
broke rudely in upon the merry-makers.
Whoever stirs is a dead man! cried the sergeant.
In spite of this bluster, Ibarra went up to him and asked what he
We want a criminal named Elias, who was your helmsman this
morning, replied the officer, still threatening.
A criminal? The helmsman? You must be mistaken.
No, señor, this Elias is accused of having raised his hand against
a priest. You admit questionable people to your fêtes.
Ibarra looked him over from head to foot and replied with great
I am in no way accountable to you for my actions. Every one is
welcome at my fêtes. And he turned away.
The sergeant, finding he was making no headway, ordered his men to
search on all sides. They had the helmsman's description on paper.
Notice that this description answers well for nine-tenths of the
natives, said Don Filipo; see that you make no mistakes!
Quiet came back little by little. There were no end of questions.
So this is the Elias who threw the alférez into the swamp, said
He's a tulisane then? asked Victoria, trembling.
I think not, for I know that he once fought against the tulisanes.
He hasn't the face of a criminal, said Sinang.
No; but his face is very sad, said Maria. I did not see him smile
all the morning.
The day was ending, and in the last rays of the setting sun
everybody left the wood, passing in silence the tomb of Ibarra's
ancestor. Farther on conversation again became animated, gay, full of
warmth, under these branches little used to merry-making. But the trees
appeared sad, and the swaying bindweed seemed to say: Adieu, youth!
Adieu, dream of a day!
XXI. WITH THE PHILOSOPHER.
The next morning, Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra, after visiting his land,
turned his horse toward old Tasio's.
Complete quiet reigned in the old man's garden; scarcely did the
swallows make a sound as they flew round the roof. The old walls of the
house were mossy, and ivy framed the windows. It seemed the abode of
Ibarra tied his horse, crossed the neat garden, almost on tiptoe,
and entered the open door. He found the old man in his study,
surrounded by his collections of insects and leaves, his maps,
manuscript, and books. He was writing, and so absorbed in his work that
he did not notice the entrance of Ibarra until the young man, loath to
disturb him, was leaving as quietly as he had come.
What! you were there? he cried, looking at Crisóstomo with a
Don't disturb yourself; I see you are busy
I was writing a little, but it is not at all pressing. Can I be of
service to you?
Of great service, said Ibarra, approaching; butyou are
deciphering hieroglyphics! he exclaimed in surprise, catching sight of
the old man's work.
No, I'm writing in hieroglyphics.
Writing in hieroglyphics? And why? demanded the young man,
doubting his senses.
So that no one can read me.
Ibarra looked at him attentively, wondering if he were not a little
mad after all.
And why do you write if you do not wish to be read?
I write not for this generation, but for future ages. If the men of
to-day could read my books, they would burn them; the generation that
deciphers these characters will understand, and will say: 'Our
ancestors did not all sleep.' But you have something to ask of me, and
we are talking of other things.
Ibarra drew out some papers.
I know, he said, that my father greatly valued your advice, and I
have come to ask it for myself.
And he briefly explained his project for the school, unrolling
before the stupefied philosopher plans sent from Manila. Whom shall I
consult first, in the pueblo, whose support will avail me most? You
know them all, I am almost a stranger.
Old Tasio examined with tearful eyes the drawings before him.
You are going to realize my dream, he said, greatly moved; the
dream of a poor fool. And now the first advice I give you is never to
ask advice of me.
Ibarra looked at him in surprise.
Because, if you do, he continued with bitter irony, all sensible
people will take you for a fool, too. For all sensible people think
those who differ with them fools; they think me one, and I am grateful
for it, because the day they see in me a reasonable being woe is me!
That day I shall lose the little liberty I now enjoy at the expense of
my reputation. The gobernadorcillo passes with them for a wise man
because having learned nothing but to serve chocolate and to suffer the
caprices of Brother Dámaso, he is now rich and has the right to trouble
the life of his fellow-citizens. 'There is a man of talent!' says the
crowd. 'He has sprung from nothing to greatness.' But perhaps I am
really the fool and they are the wise men. Who can say?
And the old man shook his head as though to dismiss an unwelcome
The second thing I advise is to consult the curate, the
gobernadorcillo, all the people of position in the pueblo. They will
give you bad advice, unintelligible, useless. But to ask advice is not
to follow it. All you need is to make it understood that you are
working in accordance with their ideas.
Ibarra reflected, then replied:
No doubt your counsel is good, but it is very hard to take. May I
not offer my own ideas to the light of day? Cannot the good make its
way anywhere? Has truth need of the dross of error?
No one likes the naked truth, replied the old man. It is good in
theory, easy in the ideal world of which youth dreams. You say you are
a stranger to your country; I believe it. The day that you arrived
here, you began by wounding the self-esteem of a priest. God grant this
seemingly small thing has not decided your future. If it has, all your
efforts will break against the convent walls, without disturbing the
monk, swaying his girdle, or making his robe tremble. The alcalde,
under one pretext or another, will deny you to-morrow what he grants
you to-day; not a mother will let her child go to your school, and the
result of all your efforts will be simply negative.
I cannot help feeling your fears exaggerated, said Ibarra. In
spite of all you say, I cannot believe in this power; but even
admitting it to be so great, the most intelligent of the people would
be on my side, and also the Government, which is animated by the best
intentions, and wishes the veritable good of the Philippines.
The Government! the Government! murmured the philosopher, raising
his eyes. However great its desire to better the country, however
generous may have been the spirit of the Catholic kings, the Government
sees, hears, judges nothing more than the curate or the provincial
gives it to see, hear, or judge. The Government is convinced that its
tranquillity comes through the monks; that if it is upheld, it is
because they uphold it; that if it live, is it because they consent to
let it, and that the day when they fail it, it will fall like a manikin
that has lost its base. The monks hold the Government in hand by
threatening a revolt of the people they control; the people, by
displaying the power of the Government. So long as the Government has
not an understanding with the country, it will not free itself from
this tutelage. The Government looks to no vigorous future; it's an arm,
the head is the convent. Through its inertia, it allows itself to be
dragged from abyss to abyss; its existence is no more than a shadow.
Compare our system of government with the systems of countries you have
Oh! interrupted Ibarra, that is going far. Let us be satisfied
that, thanks to religion and the humanity of our rulers, our people do
not complain, do not suffer like those of other countries.
The people do not complain because they have no voice; if they
don't revolt, it is because they are lethargic; if you say they do not
suffer, it is because you have not seen their heart's blood. But the
day will come when you will see and hear. Then woe to those who base
their strength on ignorance and fanaticism; woe to those who govern
through falsehood, and work in the night, thinking that all sleep! When
the sun's light shows the sham of all these phantoms, there will be a
frightful reaction; all this strength conserved for centuries, all this
poison distilled drop by drop, all these sighs strangled, will find the
light and the air. Who pay these accounts which the people from time to
time present, and which History preserves for us in its bloody pages?
God will never permit such a day to come! replied Ibarra,
impressed in spite of himself. The Filipinos are religious, and they
love Spain. There are abuses, yes, but Spain is preparing reforms to
correct them; her projects are now ripening.
I know; but the reforms which come from the head are annulled lower
down, thanks to the greedy desire of officials to enrich themselves in
a short time, and to the ignorance of the people, who accept
everything. Abuses are not to be corrected by royal decrees, not where
the liberty of speech, which permits the denunciation of petty tyrants,
does not exist. Projects remain projects; abuses, abuses. Moreover, if
by chance some one coming to occupy an office begins to show high and
generous ideas, immediately he hears on all sideswhile to his back he
is held a fool: 'Your Excellency does not know the country, Your
Excellency does not know the character of the Indians, Your Excellency
will ruin them, Your Excellency will do well to consult this one and
that one,' and so forth, and so on. And as in truth His Excellency does
not know the country, which hitherto he had supposed to be in America,
and since, like all men, he has his faults and weaknesses, he allows
himself to be convinced. Don't ask for miracles; don't ask that he who
comes here a stranger to make his fortune should interest himself in
the welfare of the country. What does it mean to him, the gratitude or
the execration of a people he does not know, among whom he has neither
attachments nor hopes? To make glory sweet to us, its plaudits must
resound in the ears of those we love, in the atmosphere of our home, of
the country that is to preserve our ashes; we wish this glory seated on
our tomb, to warm a little with its rays the cold of death, to keep us
from being reduced to nothingness quite. But we wander from the
It is true I did not come to argue this point; I came to ask
advice, and you tell me to bow before grotesque idols.
Yes, and I repeat it; you must either lower your head or lose it.
'Lower my head or lose it!' repeated Ibarra, thoughtful. The
dilemma is hard. Is it impossible to reconcile love of my country and
love of Spain? Must one abase himself to be a good Christian;
prostitute his conscience to achieve a good work? I love my country; I
love Spain; I am a Catholic, and keep pure the faith of my fathers; but
I see in all this no reason for delivering myself into the hands of my
But the field where you would sow is in the keeping of your
enemies. You must begin by kissing the hand which
Ibarra did not let him finish.
Kiss their hands! You forget that among them are those who killed
my father and tore his body from the grave; but I, his son, do not
forget, and if I do not avenge, it is because of my allegiance to
The old philosopher lowered his eyes.
Señor Ibarra, he said slowly, if you are going to keep the
remembrance of these things, things I cannot counsel you to forget,
abandon this enterprise and find some other means of benefiting your
compatriots. This work demands another man.
Ibarra saw the force of these words, but he could not give up his
project. The remembrance of Maria Clara was in his heart; he must make
good his offering to her.
If I go on, does your experience suggest nothing but this hard
road? he asked in a low voice.
Old Tasio took his arm and led him to the window. A fresh breeze was
blowing, courier of the north wind. Below lay the garden.
Why must we do as does that slender stalk, charged with buds and
blossoms? said the philosopher, pointing out a superb rose-tree. The
wind makes it tremble, and it bends, as if to hide its precious charge.
If the stalk stood rigid, it would break, the wind would scatter the
flowers, and the buds would die without opening. The gust of wind
passed, the stalk rises again, proudly wearing her treasure. Who
accuses her for having bowed to necessity? To lower the head when a
ball whistles is not cowardice. What is reprehensible is defying the
shot, to fall and rise no more.
And will this sacrifice bear the fruit I seek? Will they have faith
in me? Can the priest forget his own offence? Will they sincerely aid
me to spread that instruction which is sure to dispute with the
convents the wealth of the country? Might they not feign friendship,
simulate protection, and, underneath, wound my enterprise in the heel,
that it fall more promptly than if attacked face to face? Admitting
your views, one might expect anything.
The old man reflected, then he said:
If this happens, if the enterprise fails, you will have the
consolation of having done what you could. Something will have been
gained. Your example will embolden others, who fear only to commence.
Ibarra weighed these reasonings, examined the situation, and saw
that with all his pessimism the old man was right.
I believe you, he said, grasping his hand. It was not in vain
that I came to you for counsel. I will go straight to the curate, who,
after all, may be a fair-minded man. They are not all like the
persecutor of my father. I go with faith in God and man.
He took leave of Tasio, mounted, and rode away, followed by the
regard of the pessimistic old philosopher, who stood muttering to
We shall see, we shall see how the fates unroll the drama begun in
This time the wise Tasio was wrong; the drama had begun long before.
XXII. THE MEETING AT THE TOWN HALL.
It was a room of twelve or fifteen by eight or ten yards. The
whitewashed walls were covered with charcoal drawings, more or less
ugly, more or less decent. In the corner were a dozen old shot-guns and
some rusty swords, the arms of the cuadrilleros.
At one end, draped with soiled red curtains, was a portrait of His
Majesty the King, and on the platform underneath an old fauteuil opened
its worn arms; before this was a great table, daubed with ink, carved
and cut with inscriptions and monograms, like the tables of a German
students' inn. Lame chairs and tottering benches completed the
In this hall meetings were held, courts sat, tortures were
inflicted. At the moment the authorities of the pueblo and its vicinity
were met there. The party of the old did not mingle with the party of
the young; the two represented the Conservatives and Liberals.
My friends, Don Filipo, the chief of the Liberals, was saying to a
little group, we shall vanquish the old men this time; I'm going to
present their plan myself, with exaggerations, you may imagine.
What are you saying? demanded his surprised auditors.
Listen, said Don Filipo. This morning I ran across old Tasio. He
said to me: 'Your enemies are more opposed to your person than to your
ideas. Is there something you don't want to have go through? Propose it
yourself. If it's as desirable as a mitre, they will reject it. Then
let the most modest young fellow among you present what you really
want. To humiliate you, your enemies will help to carry it.' Hush! Keep
The gobernadorcillo had come in. Conversation ceased, all took
places, and silence reigned.
The captain, as the gobernadorcillo is called, sat down in the chair
under the king's portrait. His look was harried. He coughed, passed his
hand over his cranium, coughed again, and at length began in a failing
Señores, I've taken the risk of convening you allhem,
hem!because we are to celebrate, the twelfth of this month, the feast
of our patron, San Diegohem, hem!
At this point of his discourse a cough, dry and regular, reduced him
Then from among the elders arose Captain Basilio:
Will your honors permit me, said he, to speak a word under these
interesting circumstances? I speak first, though many of those present
have more right than I, but the things I have to say are of such
importance that they should neither be left aside nor said last, and
for that reason I wish to speak first, to give them the place they
merit. Your honors will, then, permit me to speak first in this
assembly, where I see very distinguished people, like the señor, the
present gobernadorcillo; his predecessor, my distinguished friend, Don
Valentine; his other predecessor, Don Julio; our renowned captain of
the cuadrilleros, Don Melchior, and so many others, whom, for brevity,
I will not mention, and whom you see here present. I entreat your
honors to give me the floor before any one else speaks. Am I happy
enough to have the assembly accede to my humble request? And the
speaker bowed respectfully, half smiling.
You may speak, we shall hear you with pleasure! cried his
flattering friends, who held him a great orator. The old men hemmed
with satisfaction and rubbed their hands.
Captain Basilio wiped the sweat from his brow and continued:
Since your honors have been so kind and complaisant toward my
humble self as to grant me the right of speech before all others here
present, I shall profit by this permission, so generously accorded, and
I shall speak. I imagine in my imagination that I find myself in the
midst of the very venerable Roman senatesenatus populusque Romanus,
as we said in those good old times which, unhappily for humanity, will
never come back,and I will ask the patres conscriptias the sage
Cicero would say if he were in my placeI would ask them, since time
presses, and time is golden as Solomon says, that in this important
matter each one give his opinion clearly, briefly, and simply. I have
And satisfied with himself and with the attention of the house the
orator sat down, not without directing toward his friends a look which
plainly said: Ha! Did I speak well? Ha!
Now the floor belongs to any one whohem! said the
gobernadorcillo, without being able to finish his sentence.
To judge by the general silence, no one wished to be one of the
patres conscripti. Don Filipo profited thereby and rose.
The Conservatives looked at one another with significant nods and
Señores, I will present my project for the fête, he began.
We cannot accept it! said an uncompromising Conservative.
We vote against it! cried another adversary.
Don Filipo could not repress a smile.
We have a budget of 3,500 pesos. With this sum we can assure a fête
that will surpass any we have yet seen in our own province or in
There were cries of Impossible! Such a pueblo spent 4,000 pesos;
Listen, señores, and you will be convinced, continued Don Filipo,
unshaken. I propose that in the middle of the plaza we erect a grand
theatre, costing 150 pesos.
Not enough! Say 160!
Observe, gentlemen, 200 pesos for the theatre. I propose that
arrangements be made with the Comedy Company of Tondo for seven
representations, seven consecutive evenings, at 200 pesos an evening.
Seven representations, at 200 pesos each, makes 1,400 pesos. Observe,
señor director, 1,400 pesos.
Old and young looked at one another in surprise. Only those in the
secret remained unmoved.
I further propose magnificent fireworks; not those little rockets
and crackers that amuse nobody but children and old maids, but great
bombs, colossal rockets. I propose, then, 200 bombs at two pesos each,
and 200 rockets at the same price. Observe, señores, 1,000 pesos for
The Conservatives could not contain themselves. They got up and
conferred with one another.
And further, to show our neighbors that we are not people who must
count their expenditures, I propose, first, four great preachers for
the two feast days; second, that each day we throw into the lake 200
roasted fowls, 100 stuffed capons, and 50 sucking pigs, as did Sylla,
contemporary of Cicero, to whom Captain Basilio alluded.
That's it! Like Sylla! repeated Captain Basilio, flattered.
The astonishment grew.
As many rich people will come to the fêtes, each bringing thousands
of pesos and his best cocks, I propose fifteen days of the gallera, the
liberty of open gaming houses
Cries rising from all sides drowned his voice; there was a veritable
tumult. The gobernadorcillo, more crushed than ever, did nothing to
quell it; he waited for order to establish itself.
Happily Captain Valentine, most moderate of the Conservatives, rose
What the lieutenant proposes seems to us extravagant. So many bombs
and so much comedy could only be proposed by a young man, like the
lieutenant, who could pass all his evenings at the theatre and hear
countless detonations without becoming deaf. And what of these fowls
thrown into the lake? Why should we imitate Sylla and the Romans? Did
they ever invite us to their fêtes? I'm an old man, and I've never
received any summons from them!
The Romans live at Rome with the Pope, Captain Basilio whispered.
This did not disconcert Don Valentine.
At all events, he went on, the project is inadmissible,
impossible; it's a folly!
Don Filipo must needs retire his project.
Satisfied with the defeat of their enemy, the Conservatives were not
displeased to see another young man rise, the municipal head of a group
of fifty or sixty families, known as a balangay.
He modestly excused himself for speaking. With delicate
blandishments he referred to the ideas so elegantly expressed by
Captain Basilio, upon which the delighted captain made signs to show
him how to gesture and to change position: then he unfolded his
project: to have something absolutely new, and to spend the 3,500 pesos
in such a way as to benefit their own province.
That's it! interrupted the young men; that's what we want!
What did they care about seeing the King of Bohemia cut off the
heads of his daughters! They were neither kings nor barbarians, and if
they did such things themselves, would be hung high on the field of
Bagumbayan. He proposed that two native plays be given which dealt with
the manners of the times. There were two he had in mind, works of their
best writers. They demanded only native costumes, and could be played
by amateurs of talent, of whom the province had no lack.
A good idea! some of the Conservatives began to murmur.
I'll pay for the theatre! cried Captain Basilio, with enthusiasm.
Accepted! Accepted! cried numerous voices. The young man went on:
A part of the money taken at the theatre might be distributed in
prizes: to the best pupil in the school, the best shepherd, the best
fisherman. We might have boat races, and games, and fireworks, of
Almost all were agreed, though some talked about innovations.
When silence was established, only the decision of the
gobernadorcillo was wanting.
The poor man passed his hand across his forehead, he fidgeted, he
perspired; finally he stammered, lowering his eyes:
I also; I approve; but, hem!
The assembly listened in silence.
But demanded Captain Basilio.
I approve entirely, repeated the functionary, that is to say, I
do not approve; I say yes, but
He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.
But, continued the unhappy man, coming to the point at last, the
curate wants something else.
Is the curate to pay for the festival? Has he given even a cuarto?
cried a penetrating voice.
Every one turned. It was Tasio. The lieutenant remained immovable,
his eyes on the gobernadorcillo.
And what does the curate want? demanded Don Basilio.
The curate wants six processions, three sermons, three solemn
masses, and if any money is left, a comedy with songs between the
But we don't want it! cried the young men and some of their
The curate wishes it, repeated the gobernadorcillo, and I've
promised that his wishes shall be carried out.
Then why did you call us together? asked one, impatient.
Why didn't you say so in the beginning? demanded another.
I wished to, señores, but, Captain Basilio, I did not have a
chance. We must obey the curate!
We must obey! repeated some of the Conservatives.
Don Filipo approached the gobernadorcillo and said bitterly:
I sacrificed my pride in a good cause; you sacrifice your manliness
in a bad one; you spoil every good thing that might be done!
Ibarra said to the schoolmaster:
Have you any commission for the capital? I leave immediately.
On the way home the old philosopher said to Don Filipo, who was
cursing his fate:
The fault is ours. You didn't protest when they gave you a slave
for mayor, and I, fool that I am, forgot about him!
XXIII. THE EVE OF THE FÊTE.
It is the 10th of November, the eve of the fête. The pueblo of San
Diego is stirred by an incredible activity; in the houses, the streets,
the church, the gallera, all is unwonted movement. From windows flags
and rugs are hanging; the air, resounding with bombs and music, seems
saturated with gayety. Inside on little tables covered with bordered
cloths the dalaga arranges in jars of tinted crystal the confitures
made from the native fruits. Servants come and go; orders, whispers,
comments, conjectures are everywhere. And all this activity and labor
are for guests as often unknown as known; the stranger, the friend, the
Filipino, the Spaniard, the rich man, the poor man, will be equally
fortunate; and no one will ask his gratitude, nor even demand that he
speak well of his host till the end of his dinner.
The red covers which all the year protect the lamps are taken off,
and the swinging prisms and crystal pendants strike out harmonies from
one another and throw dancing rainbow colors on the white walls. The
glass globes, precious heirlooms, are rubbed and polished; the dainty
handiwork of the young girls of the house is brought out. Floors shine
like mirrors, curtains of piña or silk jusi ornament the doors, and in
the windows hang lanterns of crystal or of colored paper. The vases on
the Chinese pedestals are heaped with flowers, the saints themselves in
their reliquaries are dusted and wreathed with blossoms.
At intervals along the streets rise graceful arches of reed; around
the parvis of the church is the costly covered passageway, supported by
trunks of bamboos, under which the procession is to pass, and in the
centre of the plaza rises the platform of the theatre, with its stage
of reed, of nipa, or of wood. The native pyrotechnician, who learns his
art from no one knows what master, is getting ready his castles,
balloons, and fiery wheels; all the bells of the pueblo are ringing
gaily. There are sounds of music in the distance, and the gamins run to
meet the bands and give them escort. In comes the fanfare with spirited
marches, followed by the ragged and half-naked urchins, who, the moment
a number is ended, know it by heart, hum it, whistle it with wonderful
accuracy, and are ready to pass judgment on it.
Meanwhile the people of the mountains, the kasamà, in gala dress,
bring down to the rich of the pueblo wild game and fruits, and the
rarest plants of the woods, the biga, with its great leaves, and the
tikas-tikas, whose flaming flowers will ornament the doorways of the
houses. And from all sides, in all sorts of vehicles, arrive the
guests, known and unknown, many bringing with them their best cocks and
sacks of gold to risk in the gallera, or on the green cloth.
The alférez has fifty pesos a night, a little plump man is
murmuring in the ears of his guests. Captain Tiago will hold the bank;
Captain Joaquin brings eighteen thousand. There will be liam-pô; the
Chinese Carlo puts up the game, with a capital of ten thousand.
Sporting men are coming from Lipa and Batanzos and Santa Cruz. There
will be big play! big play!but will you take chocolate?Captain
Tiago won't fleece us this year as he did last; and how is your
Very well, very well, thank you! And Father Dámaso?
The father will preach in the morning and be with us at the games
in the evening.
He's out of danger now?
Without question! Ah, it's the Chinese who will let their hands
go! And in dumb show the little man counted money with his hands.
But the greatest animation of all was at the outskirts of the crowd,
around a sort of platform a few paces from the home of Ibarra. Pulleys
creaked, cries went up, one heard the metallic ring of stone-cutting,
of nail-driving; a band of workmen were opening a long, deep trench;
others were placing in line great stones from the quarries of the
pueblo, emptying carts, dumping sand, placing capstans.
This way! That's it! Quick about it! a little old man of
intelligent and animated face was crying. It was the foreman, Señor
Juan, architect, mason, carpenter, metalworker, stonecutter, and on
occasions sculptor. To each stranger he repeated what he had already
said a thousand times.
Do you know what we are going to build? A model school, like those
of Germany, and even better. The plans were traced by Señor R. I
direct the work. Yes, señor, you see it is to be a palace with two
wings, one for the boys, the other for the girls. Here in the centre
will be a great garden with three fountains, and at the sides little
gardens for the children to cultivate plants. That great space you see
there is for playgrounds. It will be magnificent! And the Señor Juan
rubbed his hands, thinking of his fame to come. Soothed by its
contemplation, he went back and forth, passing everything in review.
That's too much wood for a crane, he said to a Mongol, who was
directing a part of the work. The three beams that make the tripod and
the three joining them would be enough for me.
But not for me, replied the Mongol, with a peculiar smile, the
more ornament, the more imposing the effect. You will see! I shall trim
it, too, with wreaths and streamers. You will say in the end that you
were right to give the work into my hands, and Señor Ibarra will have
nothing left to desire.
The man smiled still, and Señor Juan laughed and threw back his
In truth, Ibarra's project had found an echo almost everywhere. The
curate had asked to be a patron and to bless the cornerstone, a
ceremony that was to take place the last day of the fête, and to be one
of its chief solemnities. One of the most conservative papers of Manila
had dedicated to Ibarra on its first page an article entitled, Imitate
Him! He was therein called the young and rich capitalist, already a
marked man, the distinguished philanthropist, the Spanish
Filipino, and so forth. The students who had come from Manila for the
fête were full of admiration for Ibarra, and ready to take him for
their model. But, as almost always when we try to imitate a man who
towers above the crowd, we ape his weaknesses, if not his faults, many
of these admirers of Crisóstomo's held rigorously to the tie of his
cravat, or the shape of his collar; almost all to the number of buttons
on his vest. Even Captain Tiago burned with generous emulation, and
asked himself if he ought not to build a convent.
The dark presentiments of old Tasio seemed dissipated. When Ibarra
said so to him, the old pessimist replied: Timeo Danaos et dona
Toward evening Captain Tiago arrived from Manila, bringing Maria
Clara, in honor of the fête, a beautiful reliquary of gold, set with
emeralds and diamonds, enshrining a splinter from the fishing-boat of
St. Peter. Scarcely had he come when a party of Maria's friends came to
take her out to see the streets.
Go, said Captain Tiago, but come back soon. Father Dámaso, you
know, is to dine with us. You, too, Crisóstomo, must join us.
With the greatest pleasure, stammered Ibarra, avoiding Maria
Clara's eyes, if I did not feel that I must be at home to receive
whoever may come.
Bring your friends here; there is always room at my table, said
Captain Tiago, somewhat coldly. I wish Father Dámaso and you to come
to an understanding.
There is yet time, said Ibarra, forcing a smile.
As they descended to the street, Aunt Isabel following, people moved
aside to let them pass. Maria Clara was a vision of loveliness: her
pallor had disappeared, and if her eyes remained pensive, her mouth
seemed to know only smiles. With the amiability characteristic of happy
young womanhood she saluted the people she had known as a child, and
they smiled back their admiration. In these few days of freedom she had
regained the frank friendliness, the gracious speech, which seemed to
have slumbered inside the narrow walls of her convent. She felt a new,
intense life within her, and everything without seemed good and
beautiful. She showed her love for Ibarra with that maiden sweetness
which comes from pure thoughts and knows no reason for false blushes.
At regular intervals in the streets were kindled great clustered
lights with bamboo supports, like candelabra. People were beginning to
illuminate their houses, and through the open windows one could see the
guests moving about in the radiance among the flowers to the music of
harp, piano, or orchestra. Outside, in gala costume, native or
European, Chinese, Spaniards, and Filipinos were moving in all
directions, escaping with difficulty the crush of carriages and
When the party reached Captain Basilio's house, Sinang saw them, and
ran down the steps.
Come up till I'm ready to go out with you, she said. I'm weary of
all these strangers who talk of nothing but cocks and cards.
The house was full of people. Many came up to greet Crisóstomo, and
all admired Maria Clara. Beautiful as the Virgin! the old dames
whispered, chewing their buyo.
Here they must take chocolate. As they were leaving, Captain Basilio
said in Ibarra's ear:
Won't you join us this evening? Father Dámaso is going to make up a
Ibarra smiled and answered by a movement of the head, which might
have meant anything.
Chatting and laughing, the merry party went on past the brilliantly
illuminated houses. At length they came to one fast closed and dark. It
was the home of the alférez. Maria was astonished.
It's that old sorceress. The Muse of the Municipal Guard, as Tasio
calls her, said Sinang. Her house is in mourning because the people
At a corner of the plaza, where a blind man was singing, an uncommon
sight offered itself. A man stood there, miserably dressed, his head
covered by a great salakot of palm leaves, which completely hid his
face, though from its shadow two lights gleamed and went out fitfully.
He was tall, and, from his figure, young. He pushed forward a basket,
and after speaking some unintelligible words drew back and stood
completely isolated. Women passing put fruit and rice into his basket,
and at this he came forward a little, speaking what seemed to be his
Maria Clara felt the presence of some great suffering. Who is it?
she asked Iday.
It's a leper. He lives outside the pueblo, near the Chinese
cemetery; every one fears to go near him. If you could see his cabin!
The wind, the rain, and the sun must visit him as they like.
Poor man! murmured Maria Clara, and hardly knowing what she did,
she went up and put into the basket the reliquary her father had just
Maria! exclaimed her friends.
I had nothing else, she said, forcing back the tears.
What will he do with the reliquary? He can't sell it! Nobody will
touch it now! If only it could be eaten! said Sinang.
But the leper went to the basket, took the glittering thing in his
hands, fell on his knees, kissed it, and bent his head to the ground,
uncovering humbly. Maria Clara turned her face to hide the tears.
As the leper knelt, a woman crept up and knelt beside him. By her
long, loose hair and emaciated face the people recognized Sisa. The
leper, feeling her touch, sprang up with a cry; but, to the horror of
the crowd, she clung to his arm.
Pray! Pray! said she. It is the Feast of the Dead! These lights
are the souls of men. Pray for my sons!
Separate them! Separate them! cried the crowd; but no one dared do
Do you see the light in the tower? That is my son Basilio, ringing
the bells. Do you see that other in the manse? That is my son Crispin;
but I cannot go to them, because the curate is ill, and his money is
lost. I carried the curate fruit from my garden. My garden was full of
flowers, and I had two sons. I had a garden, I tended my flowers, and I
had two sons.
And leaving the leper she moved away, singing:
I had a garden and flowers. I had two sons, a garden and flowers.
What have you done for that poor woman? Maria asked Ibarra.
Nothing yet, he replied, somewhat confused. But don't be
troubled; the curate has promised to aid me.
As they spoke, a soldier came dragging Sisa back, rather than
leading her. She was resisting.
Where are you taking her? What has she done? asked Ibarra.
What has she done? Didn't you hear the noise she made? said the
guardian of public tranquillity.
The leper took up his basket and vanished. Maria Clara asked to go
home. She had lost all her gayety. Her sadness increased when, arrived
at her door, her fiancé refused to go in.
It must be so to-night, he said as he bade her good-by.
Maria, mounting the steps, thought how tiresome were fête days, when
one must receive so many strangers.
The next evening a little perfumed note came to Ibarra by the hand
of Andeng, Maria's foster sister.
Crisóstomo, for a whole day I have not seen you. They tell
me you are ill. I have lighted two candles and prayed for
you. I'm so tired of being asked to play and dance. I did not
know there were so many tiresome people in the world. If Father
Dámaso had not tried to amuse me with stories, I should have
left them all and gone away to sleep. Write me how you are,
and if I shall send papa to see you. I send you Andeng now to
make your tea; she will do it better than your servants. If
you don't come to-morrow, I shall not go to the ceremony.
XXIV. IN THE CHURCH.
The orchestras sounded the reveille at the first rays of the sun,
waking with joyous airs the tired inhabitants of the pueblo.
It was the last day of the fêteindeed, the fête itself. Every one
expected much more than on the eve, when the Brothers of the Sacred
Rosary had had their sermon and procession; for the Brothers of the
Third Order were more numerous, and counted on humiliating their
rivals. The Chinese candle merchants had reaped a rich harvest.
Everybody put on his gala dress; all the jewels came out of their
coffers; the fops and sporting men wore rows of diamond buttons on
their shirt fronts, heavy gold chains, and white jipijapa hats, as the
Indians call Panamas. No one but old Tasio was in everyday costume.
You seem even sadder than usual, the lieutenant said to him.
Because we have so many reasons to weep, may we not laugh once in a
Yes, laugh, but not play the fool! It's the same insane orgy every
year, the same waste of money when there's so much need and so much
suffering! But I see! It's the orgy, the bacchanal, that is to still
the lamentations of the poor!
You know I share your opinion, said Don Filipo, half serious, half
laughing, and that I defended it; but what can I do against the
gobernadorcillo and the curate?
Resign! cries the irate old man, leaving him.
Resign! muttered Don Filipo, going on toward the church. Resign?
Yes, certainly, if my post were an honor and not a charge.
There was a crowd in the parvis, and men, women, and children in a
stream were coming and going through the narrow doors of the church.
The smell of powder mingled with that of flowers and incense. Rockets,
bombs, and serpents made women run and scream and delighted the
children. An orchestra was playing before the convent; bands
accompanied dignitaries on their way to the church, or paraded the
streets under innumerable floating and dipping flags. Light and color
distracted the eye, music and explosions the ear.
High mass was about to be celebrated. Among the congregation were to
be the chief alcalde of the province and other Spanish notables; and
last, the sermon would be given by Brother Dámaso, who had the greatest
renown as a preacher.
The church was crammed. People were jostled, crushed, trampled on,
and cried out at each encounter. From far they stretched their arms to
dip their fingers in the holy water, but getting nearer, saw its color,
and the hands retired. They scarcely breathed; the heat and atmosphere
were insupportable; but the preacher was worth the endurance of all
these miseries; besides, his sermon was to cost the pueblo two hundred
and fifty pesos. Fans, hats, and handkerchiefs agitated the air;
children cried, and gave the sacristans a hard enough task getting them
Ibarra was in a corner. Maria Clara knelt near the high altar, where
the curate had reserved a place for her. Captain Tiago, in frock coat,
sat on the bench of authorities, and the children, who did not know
him, taking him for another gobernadorcillo, dared not go near him.
At length the alcalde arrived with his suite. He came from the
sacristy, and sat down in a splendid fauteuil, beneath which was spread
a rich carpet. He was in full dress, and wore the cordon of Charles
III., with four or five other decorations.
Ha! cried a countryman. A citizen in fancy dress!
Imbecile! replied his neighbor. It's Prince Villardo whom we saw
last night in the play! And the alcalde, in the character of
giant-slayer, rose accordingly in the popular estimation.
Presently those seated arose, those sleeping awoke, the mass had
begun. Brother Salvi celebrated, attended by two Augustins. At length
came the long-looked-for moment of the sermon. The three priests sat
down, the alcalde and other notables followed them, the music ceased.
The people made themselves as comfortable as possible, those who had no
benches sitting outright on the pavement, or arranging themselves
Preceded by two sacristans and followed by another monk, who bore a
great book, Father Dámaso made his way through the crowd. He
disappeared a moment in the spiral staircase of the pulpit, then his
great head reappeared and his herculean bust. He looked over his
audience, and, the review terminated, said to his companion, hidden at
The monk opened his book.
XXV. THE SERMON.
The first part of the sermon was to be in Castilian, the remainder
in Tagalo. Brother Dámaso began slowly and in ordinary voice:
Et spiritum tuum bonum dedisti qui docevet eos, et manna tuum non
prohibuisti ab ore eorum, et aquam dedisti eis in siti. Words of the
Lord spoken by the mouth of Esdras, Book II., chapter ix., verse 20.
Most worshipful señor (to the alcalde), very reverend priests,
brothers in Christ!
Here an impressive pose and a new glance round the audience, then,
his eyes on the alcalde, the father majestically extended his right
hand toward the altar, slowly crossed his arms, without saying a word,
and, passing from this calm to action, threw back his head, pointed
toward the main entrance, and, impetuously cutting the air with the
edge of his hand, began to speak in a voice strong, full, and resonant.
Brilliant and splendid is the altar, wide the door, the air is the
vehicle of the sacred word which shall spring from my lips. Hear, then,
with the ears of the soul and the heart, that the words of the Lord may
not fall on a stony ground, but that they may grow and shoot upward in
the field of our seraphic father, St. Francis. You, sinners, captives
of those Moors of the soul who infest the seas of the eternal life, in
the doughty ships of the flesh and the world; you who row in the
galleys of Satan, behold with reverent compunction him who redeems
souls from the captivity of the demonthe intrepid Gideon, the
courageous David, the victorious Roland of Christianity! the celestial
guard, more valiant than all the civil guards of past and future. (The
alférez frowned.) Yes, Señor Alférez, more valiant and more powerful
than all! This conqueror, who, without other weapon than a wooden
cross, vanquished the eternal tulisanes of darkness, and would have
utterly destroyed them were spirits not immortal. This marvel, this
incredible phenomenon, is the blessed Diego of Alcala!
The rude Indians, as the correspondents say, fished out of this
paragraph only the words civil guard, tulisane, San Diego, and San
Francisco. They had noticed the grimace of the alférez and the militant
gesture of the preacher, and had from this deduced that the father was
angry with the guard for not pursuing the tulisanes, and that San Diego
and San Francisco had taken upon themselves to do it. They were
enchanted, not doubting that, the tulisanes once dispersed, St. Francis
would also destroy the municipal guard. Their attention, therefore,
The monk continued so long his eulogy of San Diego that his
auditors, not even excepting Captain Tiago, began to yawn a little.
Then he reproached them with living like the Protestants and heretics,
who respect not the ministers of God; like the Chinese, for which
condemnation be upon them!
What is he telling us, the Palé Lámaso? murmured the Chinese
Carlos, looking angrily at the preacher, who went on improvising a
series of apostrophes and imprecations.
You will die in impenitence, race of heretics! Your punishment is
already being meted out to you in jails and prisons. The family and its
women should flee you; rulers should destroy you. If you have a member
that causeth you to offend, cut it off and cast it into the fire!
Brother Dámaso was nervous. He had forgotten his sermon and was
improvising. Ibarra became restless; he looked about in search of some
corner, but the church was full. Maria Clara no longer heard the
sermon. She was analyzing a picture of the souls of the Blessed in
In the improvisation the monk who played the part of prompter lost
his place and skipped some paragraphs. The text returned to San Diego,
and with a long series of exclamations and contrasts the father brought
to a close the first part of his sermon.
The second part was entirely improvised; not that Brother Dámaso
knew Tagalo better than Castilian; but, considering the natives of the
province entirely ignorant of rhetoric, he did not mind making errors
before them. Yet the second part of his discourse had for certain
people graver consequences than the first.
He began with a Maná capatir concristians, My Christian
brothers, followed by an avalanche of untranslatable phrases about the
soul, sin, and the patron saint. Then he launched a new series of
maledictions against lack of respect and growing irreligion. On this
point he seemed to be inspired, and expressed himself with force and
clearness. He spoke of sinners who die in prison without confession or
the sacraments; of accursed families, of petty students, and of toy
Ibarra listened and understood. He kept a calm exterior, but his
eyes turned toward the bench of magistrates. No one seemed to pay
attention; as to the alcalde, he was asleep.
The inspiration of the preacher increased. He spoke of the early
times when every Filipino encountering a priest uncovered, knelt, and
kissed his hand. Now, he said, there were those who, because they had
studied in Manila or in Europe, thought fit to shake the hand of a
priest instead of kissing it.
But in spite of the cries and gestures of the orator, by this time
many of his auditors slept, and few listened. Some of the devout would
have wept over the sins of the ungodly, but nobody joined them, and
they were forced to give it up. A man seated beside an old woman went
so sound asleep that he fell over against her. The good woman took her
slipper and tried to waken him, at the same time crying out:
Get away! Savage, animal, demon, carabao!
Naturally this raised a tumult. The preacher elevated his brows,
struck dumb by such a scandal; indignation strangled the words in his
throat; he could only strike the pulpit with his fists. This had its
effect. The old woman dropped the shoe and, still grumbling and signing
herself, sank on her knees.
Ah, ah, ah, ah! the irate priest could at last articulate. It is
for this that I have preached to you all the morning! Savages! You
respect nothing! Behold the work of the incontinence of the century!
And launched again upon this theme, he preached a half hour longer. The
alcalde breathed loud. Maria Clara, having studied all the pictures in
sight, had dropped her head. Crisóstomo had ceased to be moved by the
sermon. He was picturing a little house, high up among the mountains,
with Maria Clara in the garden. Why concern himself with men, dragging
out their lives in the miserable pueblos of the valley?
At length the sermon ended, and the mass went on. At the moment when
all were kneeling and the priests bowed their heads at the Incarnatus
est, a man murmured in Ibarra's ear: At the blessing of the
cornerstone do not separate yourself from the curate; do not go down
into the trench. Your life is at stake!
It was the helmsman.
XXVI. THE CRANE.
It was indeed not an ordinary crane that the Mongol had built for
letting the enormous cornerstone of the school into the trench. The
framework was complicated and the cables passed over extraordinary
pulleys. Flags, streamers, and garlands of flowers, however, hid the
mechanism. By means of a cleverly contrived capstan, the enormous stone
held suspended over the open trench could be raised or lowered with
ease by a single man.
See! said the Mongol to Señor Juan, inserting the bar and turning
it. See how I can manipulate the thing up here and unaided!
Señor Juan was full of admiration.
Who taught you mechanics? he asked.
My father, my late father, replied the man, with his peculiar
smile, and Don Saturnino, the grandfather of Don Crisóstomo, taught
You must know then about Don Saturnino
Oh, many things! Not only did he beat his workmen and expose them
to the sun, but he knew how to awaken sleepers and put waking men to
sleep. Ah, you will see presently what he could teach! You will see!
On a table with Persian spread, beside the trench, were the things
to be put into the cornerstone, and the glass box and leaden cylinder
which were to preserve for the future these souvenirs, this mummy of an
Under two long booths near at hand were sumptuous tables, one for
the school-children, without wine, and heaped with fruits; the other
for the distinguished visitors. The booths were joined by a sort of
bower of leafy branches, where were chairs for the musicians, and
tables with cakes, confitures, and carafes of water, for the public in
The crowd, gay in garments of many colors, was massed under the
trees to avoid the ardent rays of the sun, and the children, to better
see the ceremony of the dedication, had climbed up among the branches.
Soon bands were heard in the distance. The Mongol carefully examined
his construction; he seemed nervous. A man with the appearance of a
peasant standing near him on the edge of the excavation and close
beside the capstan watched all his movements. It was Elias, well
disguised by his salakot and rustic costume.
The musicians arrived, preceded by a crowd of old and young in
motley array. Behind came the alcalde, the municipal guard officers,
the monks, and the Spanish Government clerks. Ibarra was talking with
the alcalde; Captain Tiago, the alférez, the curate and a number of the
rich country gentlemen accompanied the ladies, whose gay parasols
gleamed in the sunshine.
As they approached the trench, Ibarra felt his heart beat.
Instinctively he raised his eyes to the strange scaffolding. The Mongol
saluted him respectfully, and looked at him intently a moment. Ibarra
recognized Elias through his disguise, and the mysterious helmsman, by
a significant glance, recalled the warning in the church.
The curate put on his robes and began the office. The one-eyed
sacristan held his book; a choir boy had in charge the holy water and
sprinkler. The men uncovered, and the crowd stood so silent that,
though the father read low, his voice was heard to tremble.
The manuscripts, journals, money, and medals to be preserved in
remembrance of this day had been placed in the glass box and the box
itself hermetically sealed within the leaden cylinder.
Señor Ibarra, will you place the box in the stone? The curate is
waiting for you, said the alcalde in Ibarra's ear.
I should do so with great pleasure, said Ibarra, but it would be
a usurpation of the honor; that belongs to the notary, who must draw up
the written process.
The notary gravely took the box, descended the carpeted stairway
which led to the bottom of the trench, and with due solemnity deposited
his burden in the hollow of the stone already laid. The curate took the
sprinkler and sprinkled the stone with holy water.
Each one was now to deposit his trowel of cement on the surface of
the lower stone, to seal it to the stone held suspended by the crane
when that should be lowered.
Ibarra offered the alcalde a silver trowel, on which was engraved
the date of the fête, but before using it His Excellency pronounced a
short allocution in Castilian.
Citizens of San Diego, he said, we have the honor of presiding at
a ceremony whose importance you know without explanations. We are
founding a school, and the school is the basis of society, the book
wherein is written the future of each race.
Citizens of San Diego! Thank God, who has given you these priests!
Thank the Mother Country, who spreads civilization in these fertile
isles and protects them with the covering of her glorious mantle. Thank
God, again, who has enlightened you by his priests from his divine
And now that the first stone of this building has been blessed, we,
the alcalde of this province, in the name of His Majesty the King, whom
God guard; in the name of the illustrious Spanish Government, and under
the protection of its spotless and ever-victorious flag, consecrate
this act and begin the building of this school!
Citizens of San Diego, long live the king! Long live Spain! Long
live the religious orders! Long live the Catholic church!
Long live the Señor Alcalde! replied many voices.
Then the high official descended majestically, to the strains of the
orchestras, put his trowel of cement on the stone, and came back as
majestically as he had gone down.
The Government clerks applauded.
Ibarra offered the trowel to the curate, who descended slowly in his
turn. In the middle of the staircase he raised his eyes to the great
stone suspended above, but he stopped only a second, and continued the
descent. This time the applause was a little warmer, Captain Tiago and
the monks adding theirs to that of the clerks.
The notary followed. He gallantly offered the trowel to Maria Clara,
but she refused, with a smile. The monks, the alférez, and others
descended in turn, Captain Tiago not being forgotten.
Ibarra was left. He had ordered the stone to be lowered when the
curate remembered him.
You do not put on your trowelful, Señor Ibarra? said the curate,
with a familiar and jocular air.
I should be Juan Palomo, who made the soup and then ate it,
replied Crisóstomo in the same light tone.
You go down, of course, said the alcalde, taking him by the arm in
friendly fashion. If not, I shall order that the stone be kept
suspended, and we shall stay here till the Day of Judgment!
Such a menace forced Ibarra to obey. He exchanged the silver trowel
for a larger one of iron, as some people noticed, and started out
calmly. Elias gave him an indefinable look; his whole being seemed in
it. The Mongol's eyes were on the abyss at his feet.
Ibarra, after glancing rapidly at the block over his head, at Elias,
and at the Mongol, said to Señor Juan, in a voice that trembled:
Give me the tray and bring me the other trowel.
He stood alone. Elias no longer looked at him, his eyes were riveted
on the hands of the Mongol, who, bending over, was anxiously following
the movements of Ibarra. Then the sound of Ibarra's trowel was heard,
accompanied by the low murmur of the clerks' voices as they felicitated
the alcalde on his speech.
Suddenly a frightful noise rent the air. A pulley attached to the
base of the crane sprang out, dragging after it the capstan, which
struck the crane like a lever. The beams tottered, the cables broke,
and the whole fabric collapsed with a deafening roar and in a whirlwind
A thousand voices filled the place with cries of horror. People fled
in all directions. Only Maria Clara and Brother Salvi remained where
they were, pale, mute, incapable of motion.
As the cloud of dust thinned, Ibarra was seen upright among the
beams, joists and cables, between the capstan and the great stone that
had fallen. He still held the trowel in his hand. With eyes frightful
to look at, he regarded a corpse half buried under the beams at his
Are you unhurt? Are you alive? For God's sake, speak! cried some
one at last.
A miracle! A miracle! cried others.
Come, take out the body of this man, said Ibarra, as if waking
from a dream. At the sound of his voice Maria Clara would have fallen
but for the arms of her friends.
Then everything was confusion. All talked at once, gestured, went
hither and thither, and knew not what to do.
Who is killed? demanded the alférez.
Arrest the head builder! were the first words the alcalde could
They brought up the body and examined it. It was that of the Mongol.
The heart no longer beat.
The priests shook Ibarra's hand, and warmly congratulated him.
When I think that I was there a moment before! said one of the
It is well they gave the trowel to you instead of me, said a
trembling old man.
Don Pascal! cried some of the Spaniards.
Señores, the Señor Ibarra lives, while I, if I had not been
crushed, should have died of fright.
Ibarra had been to inform himself of Maria Clara.
Let the fête continue, Señor Ibarra, said the alcalde, as he came
back. Thank God, the dead is neither priest nor Spaniard! You ought to
celebrate your escape! What if the stone had fallen on you!
He had presentiments! cried the notary. He did not want to go
down, that was plain to be seen!
It's only an Indian!
Let the fête go on! Give us music! Mourning won't raise the dead.
Captain, let the inquest be held! Arrest the head builder!
Shall he be put in the stocks?
Yes, in the stocks! Music, music! The head builder in the stocks!
Señor Alcalde, said Ibarra, if mourning won't raise the dead,
neither will the imprisonment of a man whose guilt is not proven. I go
security for his person and ask his liberty, for these fête days at
Very well! But let him not repeat it! said the alcalde.
All kinds of rumors circulated among the people. The idea of a
miracle was generally accepted. Many said they had seen descend into
the trench at the fatal moment a figure in a dark costume, like that of
the Franciscans. 'Twas no doubt San Diego himself.
A bad beginning, muttered old Tasio, shaking his head as he moved
XXVII. FREE THOUGHT.
Ibarra, who had gone home for a change of clothing, had just
finished dressing when a servant announced that a peasant wished to see
him. Supposing it to be one of his laborers, he had him taken to his
work room, which was at the same time his library and chemical
laboratory. To his great surprise he found himself face to face with
the mysterious Elias.
You saved my life, said the man, speaking in Tagalo, and
understanding the movement of Ibarra. I have not half paid my debt. Do
not thank me. It is I who should thank you. I have come to ask a
Speak! said his listener.
Elias fixed his melancholy eyes on Ibarra's and went on:
When the justice of man tries to clear up this mystery, and your
testimony is taken, I entreat you not to speak to any one of the
warning I gave you.
Do not be alarmed, said Crisóstomo, losing interest; I know you
are pursued, but I'm not an informer.
I don't speak for myself, but for you, said Elias, with some
haughtiness. I have no fear of men.
Ibarra grew surprised. This manner of speaking was new, and did not
comport with the state or fortunes of the helmsman.
Explain yourself! he demanded.
I am not speaking enigmas. To insure your safety, it is necessary
that your enemies believe you blind and confiding.
To insure my safety? said Ibarra, thoroughly aroused.
You undertake a great enterprise, Elias went on. You have a past.
Your grandfather and your father had enemies. It is not criminals who
provoke the most hatred; it is honorable men.
You know my enemies, then?
I knew one; the dead man.
I regret his death, said Ibarra; from him I might have learned
Had he lived, he would have escaped the trembling hand of men's
justice. God has judged him!
Do you also believe in the miracle of which the people talk?
If I believed in such a miracle, I should not believe in God, and I
believe in Him; I have more than once felt His hand. At the moment when
the scaffolding gave way I placed myself beside the criminal. Elias
looked at Ibarra.
Youyou mean that you
Yes, when his deadly work was about to be done, he was going to
flee; I held him there; I had seen his crime! Let God be the only one
who has the right over life!
And yet, this time you
No! cried Elias. I exposed the criminal to the risk he had
prepared for others; I ran the risk myself; and I did not strike him; I
left him to be struck by the hand of God!
Ibarra regarded the man in silence.
You are not a peasant, he said at last. Who are you? Have you
I've need of much belief in God, since I've lost faith in men,
said Elias, evading the question.
But God cannot speak to resolve each of the countless contests our
passions raise; it is necessary, it is just, that man should sometimes
judge his kind.
For good, yes; not for evil. To correct and ameliorate, not to
destroy; because, if man's judgments are erroneous, he has not the
power to remedy the evil he has done. But this discussion is over my
head, and I am detaining you. Do not forget what I came to entreat;
save yourself for the good of your country! And he started to go.
And when shall I see you again?
Whenever you wish; whenever I can be of use to you; I am always
XXVIII. THE BANQUET.
All the distinguished people of the province were united in the
carpeted and decorated booth. The alcalde was at one end of the table,
Ibarra at the other. The talk was animated, even gay. The meal was half
finished when a despatch was handed to Captain Tiago. He asked
permission to read it; his face paled; then lighted up. Señores, he
cried, quite beside himself, His Excellency the captain-general is to
honor my house with his presence! And he started off running, carrying
his despatch and his napkin, forgetting his hat, and pursued by
exclamations and questions. The announcement of the tulisanes could not
have put him to greater confusion.
Wait a moment! When is he coming? Tell us?
Captain Tiago was already in the distance.
His Excellency asks the hospitality of Captain Tiago! the guests
exclaimed, apparently forgetting that they spoke before his daughter
and his future son-in-law.
He could hardly make a better choice, said Ibarra, with dignity.
This was spoken of yesterday, said the alcalde, but His
Excellency had not fully decided.
Do you know how long he is to stay? asked the alférez, uneasily.
I'm not at all sure! His Excellency is fond of surprising people.
Three other despatches were brought. They were for the alcalde, the
alférez, and the gobernadorcillo, and identical, announcing the coming
of the governor. It was remarked that there was none for the curate.
His Excellency arrives at four this afternoon, said the alcalde,
solemnly. We can finish our repast. It might have been Leonidas
saying: To-night we sup with Pluto!
The conversation returned to its former course.
I notice the absence of our great preacher, said one of the
clerks, an honest, inoffensive fellow, who had not yet said a word.
Those who knew the story of Ibarra's father looked significantly at one
another. Fools rush in, said the glances of some; but others, more
considerate, tried to cover the error.
He must be somewhat fatigued
Somewhat! cried the alférez. He must be spent, as they say here,
malunqueado. What a sermon!
Superb! Herculean! was the opinion of the notary.
Magnificent! Profound! said a newspaper correspondent.
In the other booth the children were more noisy than little
Filipinos are wont to be, for at table or before strangers they are
usually rather too timid than too bold. If one of them did not eat with
propriety, his neighbor corrected him. To one a certain article was a
spoon; to others a fork or a knife; and as nobody settled their
questions, they were in continual uproar.
Their fathers and mothers, simple peasants, looked in ravishment to
see their children eating on a white cloth, and doing it almost as well
as the curate or the alcalde. It was better to them than a banquet.
Yes, said a young peasant woman to an old man grinding his buyo,
whatever my husband says, my Andoy shall be a priest. It is true, we
are poor; but Father Mateo says Pope Sixtu was once a keeper of
carabaos at Batanzas! Look at my Andoy; hasn't he a face like St.
Vincent? and the good mother's mouth watered at the sight of her son
with his fork in both hands!
God help us! said the old man, munching his sapa. If Andoy gets
to be pope, we will go to Rome! I can walk yet! Ho! Ho!
Another peasant came up.
It's decided, neighbor, he said, my son is to be a doctor.
A doctor! Don't speak of it! replied Petra. There's nothing like
being a curate! He has only to make two or three turns and say 'déminos
pabiscum' and he gets his money.
And isn't it work to confess?
Work! Think of the trouble we take to find out the affairs of our
neighbors! The curate has only to sit down, and they tell him
And preaching? Don't you call that work?
Preaching? Where is your head? To scold half a day from the pulpit
without any one's daring to reply and be paid for it into the bargain!
Look, look at Father Dámaso! See how fat he gets with his shouting and
In truth, Father Dámaso was that moment passing the children's booth
in the gait peculiar to men of his size. As he entered the other booth,
he was half smiling, but so maliciously that at sight of it Ibarra, who
was talking, lost the thread of his speech.
The guests were astonished to see the father, but every one except
Ibarra received him with signs of pleasure. They were at the dessert,
and the champagne was sparkling in the cups.
Father Dámaso's smile became nervous when he saw Maria Clara sitting
next Crisóstomo, but, taking a chair beside the alcalde, he said in the
midst of a significant silence:
You were talking of something, señores; continue!
We had come to the toasts, said the alcalde. Señor Ibarra was
mentioning those who had aided him in his philanthropic enterprise, and
he was speaking of the architect when your reverence
Ah, well! I know nothing about architecture, interrupted Father
Dámaso, but I scorn architects and the simpletons who make use of
Nevertheless, said the alcalde, as Ibarra was silent, when
certain buildings are in question, like a school, for example, an
expert is needed
An expert! cried the father, with sarcasm. One needs be more
stupid than the Indians, who build their own houses, not to know how to
raise four walls and put a roof on them. Nothing else is needed for a
Every one looked at Ibarra, but, though he grew a little pale, he
pursued his conversation with Maria Clara.
But does your reverence consider
See here! continued the Franciscan, again cutting off the alcalde.
See how one of our lay brothers, the most stupid one we have, built a
hospital. He paid the workmen eight cuartos a day, and got them from
other pueblos, too. Not much like these young feather-brains who ruin
workmen, paying them three or four réales!
Does your reverence say he paid but eight cuartos? Impossible!
said the alcalde, hoping to change the course of the conversation.
Yes, señor, and so should those do who pride themselves upon being
good Spaniards. Since the opening of the Suez Canal, corruption has
reached even here! When the Cape had to be doubled, not so many ruined
men came here, and fewer went abroad to ruin themselves!
But Father Dámaso
You know the Indian; as soon as he has learned anything, he takes a
title. All these beardless youths who go to Europe
But, your reverence, listen began the alcalde, alarmed by the
harshness of these words.
Finish as they merit, continued the priest. The hand of God is in
it; he is blind who does not see that. Already even the fathers of
these reptiles receive their chastisement; they die in prison! Ah
He did not finish. Ibarra, livid, had been watching him. At these
words he rose, gave one bound, and struck out with his strong hand. The
monk, stunned by the blow, fell backward.
Surprised and terrified, not one of the spectators moved.
Let no one come near! said the young man in a terrible voice,
drawing his slender blade, and holding the neck of the priest with his
foot. Let no one come, unless he wishes to die.
Ibarra was beside himself, his whole body trembled, his threatening
eyes were big with rage. Father Dámaso, regaining his senses, made an
effort to rise, but Crisóstomo, grasping his neck, shook him till he
had brought him to his knees.
Señor de Ibarra! Señor de Ibarra! stammered one and another. But
nobody, not even the alférez, risked a movement. They saw the knife
glitter; they calculated Crisóstomo's strength, unleashed by anger;
they were paralyzed.
All you here, you have said nothing. Now it rests with me. I
avoided him; God brings him to me. Let God judge!
Ibarra breathed with effort, but his arm of iron kept harsh hold of
the Franciscan, who struggled in vain to free himself.
My heart beats true, my hand is firm And he looked about him.
I ask you first, is there among you any one who has not loved his
father, who has not loved his father's memory; any one born in shame
and abasement? See, hear this silence! Priest of a God of peace, thy
mouth full of sanctity and religion, thy heart of corruption! Thou
canst not know what it is to be a father; thou shouldst have thought of
thy own! See, in all this crowd that you scorn there is not one like
you! You are judged!
The guests, believing he was going to strike, made their first
Do not come near us! he cried again in the same threatening voice.
What? You fear I shall stain my hand in impure blood? Did I not tell
you that my heart beats true? Away from us, and listen, priests,
believing yourselves different from other men, giving yourselves other
rights! My father was an honorable man. Ask the country which venerates
his memory. My father was a good citizen, who sacrificed himself for me
and for his country's good. His house was open, his table set for the
stranger or the exile who should turn to him! He was a Christian;
always doing good, never pressing the weak, nor forcing tears from the
wretched. As to this man, he opened his door to him, made him sit down
at his table, and called him friend. And how did the man respond? He
falsely accused him; he pursued him; he armed ignorance against him!
Confiding in the sanctity of his office, he outraged his tomb,
dishonored his memory; his hate troubled even the rest of the dead. And
not yet satisfied, he now pursues the son. I fled from him, avoided his
presence. You heard him this morning profane the chair, point me out to
the people's fanaticism; but I said nothing. Now, he comes here to seek
a quarrel; I suffer in silence, until he again insults a memory sacred
to all sons.
You who are here, priests, magistrates, have you seen your old
father give himself for you, part from you for your good, die of grief
in a prison, looking for your embrace, looking for consolation from any
one who would bring it, sick, alone; while you in a foreign land? Then
have you heard his name dishonored, found his tomb empty when you went
there to pray? No? You are silent; then you condemn him!
He raised his arm. But a girl, rapid as light, threw herself between
him and the priest, and with her fragile hands held the avenging arm.
It was Maria Clara. Ibarra looked at her with eyes like a madman's.
Then, little by little, his tense fingers relaxed; he let fall the
knife, and, covering his face with his hands, he fled.
The noise of the affair spread rapidly. At first no one believed it,
but when there was no longer room for doubt, each made his comments,
according to the degree of his moral elevation.
Father Dámaso is dead, said some. When he was carried away, his
face was congested with blood, and he no longer breathed.
May he rest in peace, but he has only paid his debt! said a young
Why do you say that?
One of us students who came from Manila for the fête left the
church when the sermon in Tagalo began, saying it was Greek to him.
Father Dámaso sent for him afterward, and they came to blows.
Are we returning to the times of Nero? asked another student.
You mistake, replied the first. Nero was an artist, and Father
Dámaso is a jolly poor preacher!
The men of more years talked otherwise.
To say which was wrong and which right is not easy, said the
gobernadorcillo, and yet, if Señor Ibarra had been more moderate
You probably mean, if Father Dámaso had shown half the moderation
of Señor Ibarra, interrupted Don Filipo. The pity is that the rôles
were interchanged: the youth conducted himself like an old man, and the
old man like a youth.
And you say nobody but the daughter of Captain Tiago came between
them? Not a monk, nor the alcalde? asked Captain Martin. I wouldn't
like to be in the young man's shoes. None of those who were afraid of
him will ever forgive him. Hah, that's the worst of it!
You think so? demanded Captain Basilio, with interest.
I hope, said Don Filipo, exchanging glances with Captain Basilio,
that the pueblo isn't going to desert him. His friends at least
But, señores, interrupted the gobernadorcillo, what can we do?
What can the pueblo? Whatever happens, the monks are always in the
They are always in the right, because we always say they're in the
right. Let us say we are in the right for once, and then we shall have
something to talk about!
The gobernadorcillo shook his head.
Ah, the young blood! he said. You don't seem to know what country
you live in; you don't know your compatriots. The monks are rich; they
are united; we are poor and divided. Try to defend him and you will see
how you are left to compromise yourself alone!
Yes, cried Don Filipo bitterly, and it will be so as long as fear
and prudence are supposed to be synonymous. Each thinks of himself,
nobody of any one else; that is why we are weak!
Very well! Think of others and see how soon the others will let you
I've had enough of it! cried the exasperated lieutenant. I shall
give my resignation to the alcalde to-day.
The women had still other thoughts.
Aye! said one of them. Young people are always the same. If his
good mother were living, what would she say? When I think that my son,
who is a young hothead, too, might have done the same thing
I'm not with you, said another woman. I should have nothing
against my two sons if they did as Don Crisóstomo.
What are you saying, Capitana Maria? cried the first woman,
clasping her hands.
I'm a poor stupid, said a third, the Capitana Tinay, but I know
what I'm going to do. I'm going to tell my son not to study any more.
They say men of learning all die on the gallows. Holy Mary, and my son
wants to go to Europe!
If I were rich as you, my children should travel, said the
Capitana Maria. Our sons ought to aspire to be more than their
fathers. I have not long to live, and we shall meet again in the other
Your ideas, Capitana Maria, are little Christian, said Sister Rufa
severely. Make yourself a sister of the Sacred Rosary, or of St.
Sister Rufa, when I'm a worthy sister of men, I will think about
being a sister of the saints, said the capitana, smiling.
Under the booth where the children had their feast the father of the
one who was to be a doctor was talking.
What troubles me most, said he, is that the school will not be
finished; my son will not be a doctor, but a carter.
Who said there wouldn't be a school?
I say so. The White Fathers have called Don Crisóstomo plibastiero.
There won't be any school.
The peasants questioned each other's faces. The word was new to
And is that a bad name? one at last ventured to ask.
It's the worst one Christian can give another.
Worse than tarantado and saragate?
If it weren't, it wouldn't amount to much.
Come now. It can't be worse than indio, as the alférez says.
He whose son was to be a carter looked gloomy. The other shook his
head and reflected.
Then is it as bad as betalapora, that the old woman of the alférez
You remember the word ispichoso (suspect), which had only to be
said of a man to have the guards lead him off to prison? Well,
plibastiero is worse yet; if any one calls you plibastiero, you can
confess and pay your debts, for there's nothing else left to do but get
yourself hanged. That's what the telegrapher and the sub-director say,
and you know whether the telegrapher and the sub-director ought to
know: one talks with iron wires, and the other knows Spanish, and
handles nothing but the pen.
The last hope fled.
XXX. THE FIRST CLOUD.
The home of Captain Tiago was naturally not less disturbed than the
minds of the crowd. Maria Clara refused to be comforted by her aunt and
her foster-sister. Her father had forbidden her to speak to Crisóstomo
until the ban of excommunication should be raised.
In the midst of his preparations for receiving the governor-general
Captain Tiago was summoned to the convent.
Don't cry, my child, said Aunt Isabel, as she polished the mirrors
with a chamois skin, the ban will be raised. They will write to the
holy father. We will make a big offering. Father Dámaso only fainted;
he isn't dead!
Don't cry, whispered Andeng; I will arrange to meet Crisóstomo.
At last Captain Tiago came back. They scanned his face for answers
to many questions; but the face of Captain Tiago spoke discouragement.
The poor man passed his hand across his brow and seemed unable to frame
Well, Santiago? demanded the anxious aunt.
He wiped away a tear and replied by a sigh.
Speak, for heaven's sake! What is it?
What I all the time feared, he said at last, conquering his tears.
Everything is lost! Father Dámaso orders me to break the promise of
marriage. They all say the same thing, even Father Sibyla. I must shut
the doors of my house to him, andI owe him more than fifty thousand
pesos! I told the fathers so, but they wouldn't take it into account.
'Which would you rather lose,' they said, 'fifty thousand pesos or your
soul?' Ah, St. Anthony, if I had known, if I had known!
Maria Clara was sobbing.
Don't cry, my child, he said, turning to her; you aren't like
your mother; she never cried. Father Dámaso told me that a young friend
of his is coming from Spain; he intends him for your fiancé
Maria Clara stopped her ears.
But, Santiago, are you mad? cried Aunt Isabel. Speak to her of
another fiancé now? Do you think your daughter changes them as she does
I have thought about it, Isabel; but what would you have me do?
They threaten me, too, with excommunication.
And you do nothing but distress your daughter! Aren't you the
friend of the archbishop? Why don't you write to him?
The archbishop is a monk, too. He will do only what the monks say.
But don't cry, Maria; the governor-general is coming. He will want to
see you, and your eyes will be red. Alas, I thought I was going to have
such a good afternoon! Without this misfortune I should be the happiest
of men, with everybody envying me! Be calm, my child, I am more unhappy
than you, and I don't cry. You may find a better fiancé; but as for me,
I lose fifty thousand pesos! Ah, Virgin of Antipolo, if only I have
Salvos, the sound of wheels and of horses galloping, the band
playing the Royal March, announced the arrival of His Excellency the
governor-general of the Philippine Islands. Maria Clara ran to hide in
her chamber. Poor girl! Her heart was at the mercy of rude hands that
had no sense of its delicate fibres.
While the house was filling with people, while heavy footsteps,
words of command, and the hurling of sabres and spurs resounded all
about, the poor child, heart-broken, was half-lying, half-kneeling
before that picture of the Virgin where Delaroche represents her in a
grievous solitude, as though he had surprised her returning from the
sepulchre of her son. Maria Clara did not think of the grief of this
mother; she thought only of her own. Her head bent on her breast, her
hands pressed against the floor, she seemed a lily broken by the storm.
A future for years caressed in dreams, illusions born in childhood,
fostered in youth, grown a part of her being, they thought to shatter
all these with a word, to drive it all out of her mind and heart. A
devout Catholic, a loving daughter, the excommunication terrified her.
Not so much her father's commands as her desire for his peace of mind
demanded from her the sacrifice of her love. And in this moment she
felt for the first time the full strength of her affection for
Crisóstomo. The peaceful river glides over its sandy bed under the
nodding flowers along its banks; the wind scarcely ridges its current;
it seems to sleep; but farther down the banks close in, rough rocks
choke the channel, a heap of knotty trunks forms a dyke; then the river
roars, revolts, its waters whirl, and shake their plumes of spray, and,
raging, beat the rocks and rush on madly. So this tranquil love was now
transformed and the tempests were let loose.
She would have prayed; but who can pray without hope? O God! her
heart complained. Why refuse a man the love of others? Thou givest him
the sunshine and the air; thou dost not hide from him the sight of
heaven. Why take away that love without which he cannot live?
The poor child, who had never known a mother of her own, had brought
her grief to that pure heart which knew only filial and maternal love,
to that divine image of womanhood of whose tenderness we dream, whom we
Mother, mother! she sobbed.
Aunt Isabel came to find her; her friends were there, and the
governor-general had asked for her.
Dear aunt, tell them I am ill! she begged in terror. They will
want me to play and sing!
Your father has promised. Would you make your father break his
Maria Clara rose, looked at her aunt, threw out her beautiful arms
with a sob, then stood still till she was outwardly calm, and went to
XXXI. HIS EXCELLENCY.
I want to talk with that young man, said the general to one of his
aids; he rouses all my interest.
He has been sent for, my general; but there is here another young
man of Manila who insists upon seeing you. We told him you have not the
time; that you did not come to give audiences. He replied that Your
Excellency has always the time to do justice.
The general, perplexed, turned to the alcalde.
If I am not mistaken, said the alcalde, with an inclination of the
head, it is a student who this morning had trouble with Father Dámaso
about the sermon.
Another still? Has this monk started out to put the province to
revolt, or does he think he commands here? Admit the young man! And
the governor got up and walked nervously back and forth.
In the ante-chamber some Spanish officers and all the functionaries
of the pueblo were talking in groups. All the monks, too, except Father
Dámaso, had come to pay their respects to the governor.
His Excellency begs your reverences to attend a moment, said the
aide-de-camp. Enter, young man!
The young Manilian who confounded the Tagalo with the Greek entered,
Every one was greatly astonished. His Excellency must be much
annoyed to make the monks wait this way. Said Brother Sibyla:
I have nothing to say to him, and I'm wasting my time here.
I also, said an Augustin. Shall we go?
Would it not be better to find out what he thinks? asked Brother
Salvi. We should avoid a scandal, and we could remind himof his
Your reverences may enter, said the aid, conducting back the young
man, who came out radiant.
The fathers went in and saluted the governor.
Who among your reverences is the Brother Dámaso? demanded His
Excellency at once, without asking them to be seated or inquiring for
their health, and without any of those complimentary phrases which form
the repertory of dignitaries.
Señor, Father Dámaso is not with us, replied Father Sibyla, in a
tone almost as dry.
Your Excellency's servant is ill, added the humble Brother Salvi.
We come, after saluting Your Excellency and inquiring for his health,
to speak in the name of Your Excellency's respectful servant, who has
had the misfortune
Oh! interrupted the captain-general, with a nervous smile, while
he twirled a chair on one leg. If all the servants of my Excellency
were like the Father Dámaso, I should prefer to serve my Excellency
Their reverences did not seem to know what to reply.
Won't your reverences sit down? added the governor in more
Captain Tiago, in evening dress and walking on tiptoe, came in,
leading by the hand Maria Clara, hesitating, timid. Overcoming her
agitation, she made her salute, at once ceremonial and graceful.
This sigñorita is your daughter! exclaimed the surprised governor.
Happy the fathers whose daughters are like you, sigñorita. They have
told me about you, and I wish to thank you in the name of His Majesty
the King, who loves the peace and tranquillity of his subjects, and in
my own name, in that of a father who has daughters. If there is
anything you would wish, sigñorita
Señor! protested Maria, trembling.
The Señor Don Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra awaits Your Excellency's
orders, announced the ringing voice of the aide-de-camp.
Permit me, sigñorita, to see you again before I leave the pueblo. I
have yet things to say to you. Señor acalde, Your Highness will
accompany me on the walk I wish to take after the private conference I
shall have with the Señor Ibarra.
Your Excellency, said Father Salvi humbly, will permit us to
inform him that the Señor Ibarra is excommunicated
The general broke in.
I am happy, he said, in being troubled about nothing but the
state of Father Dámaso. I sincerely desire his complete recovery, for,
at his age, a voyage to Spain in search of health would be somewhat
disagreeable. But all depends upon him. Meanwhile, God preserve the
health of your reverences!
In his own case also everything depends upon him, murmured Brother
Salvi as he went out.
We shall see who makes the earliest voyage to Spain! added another
I shall go immediately, said Father Sibyla, in vexation.
We, too, grumbled the Augustins.
Both parties bore it ill that for the fault of a Franciscan His
Excellency should have received them so coldly.
In the ante-chamber they encountered Ibarra, who a few hours before
had been their host. There was no exchange of greetings, but there were
eloquent looks. The alcalde, on the contrary, gave Ibarra his hand. On
the threshold Crisóstomo met Maria coming out. Looks spoke again, but
very differently this time.
Though this encounter with the monks had seemed to him of bad
augury, Ibarra presented himself in the utmost calm. He bowed
profoundly. The captain-general came forward.
It gives me the greatest satisfaction, Señor Ibarra, to take you by
the hand. I hope for your entire confidence. And he examined the young
man with evident satisfaction.
Señor, so much kindness
Your surprise shows that you did not expect a friendly reception;
that was to doubt my fairness.
A friendly reception, señor, for an insignificant subject of His
Majesty, like myself, is not fairness, but favor.
Well, well! said the general, sitting down and motioning
Crisóstomo to a seat. Let us have a moment of open hearts. I am much
gratified by what you are doing, and have proposed you to the
Government of His Majesty for a decoration in recompense for your
project of the school. Had you invited me, I should have found it a
pleasure to be here for the ceremony. Perhaps I should have been able
to save you an annoyance. But as to what happened between you and
Father Dámaso, have neither fear nor regrets. Not a hair of your head
shall be harmed so long as I govern the islands; and in regard to the
excommunication, I will talk with the archbishop. We must conform
ourselves to our circumstances. We cannot laugh at it here, as we might
in Europe. But be more prudent in the future. You have weighted
yourself with the religious orders, who, from their office and their
wealth, must be respected. I protect you, because I like a good son. By
heaven, I don't know what I should have done in your place!
Then, quickly changing the subject, he said:
They tell me you have just returned from Europe. You were in
Yes, señor, several months.
How happens it that you return without bringing me a letter of
Señor, replied Ibarra, bowing, because, having heard there of the
character of Your Excellency, I thought a letter of recommendation
would not only be unnecessary, but might even offend you; the Filipinos
are all recommended to you.
A smile curled the lips of the old soldier, who replied slowly, as
though meditating and weighing his words:
I cannot help being flattered that you think so. And yet, young
man, you should know what a weight rests on our shoulders. Here we old
soldiers have to be allking, ministers of state, of war, of justice,
of everything; and yet, in every event, we have to consult the far-off
mother country, which often must approve or reject our propositions
with blind justice. If in Spain itself, with the advantage of
everything near and familiar, all is imperfect and defective, the
wonder is that all here is not revolution. It is not lack of good will
in the governors, but we must use the eyes and arms of strangers, of
whom, for the most part, we can know nothing, and who, instead of
serving their country, may be serving only their own interests. The
monks are a powerful aid, but they are not sufficient. You inspire
great interest in me, and I would not have the imperfection of our
governmental system tell in anyway against you. I cannot watch over any
one; every one cannot come to me. Tell me, can I be useful to you in
any way? Have you any request to make?
Señor, he replied, my great desire is for the happiness of my
country, and I would that happiness might be due to the efforts of our
mother country and of my fellow-citizens united to her and united among
themselves by the eternal bonds of common views and interests. What I
would ask, the Government alone can give, and that after many
continuous years of labor and of well-conceived reforms.
The general gave him a long look, which Ibarra bore naturally,
without timidity, without boldness.
You are the first man with whom I've spoken in this country, cried
His Excellency, stretching out his hand.
Your Excellency has seen only those who while away their lives in
cities; he has not visited the falsely maligned cabins of our villages.
There Your Excellency would be able to see veritable men, if to be a
man a noble heart and simple manners are enough.
The captain-general rose and walked up and down the room.
Señor Ibarra, he said, stopping before Crisóstomo, your education
and manner of thinking are not for this country. Sell what you own and
come with me when I go back to Europe; the climate will be better for
I shall remember all my life this kindness of Your Excellency,
replied Ibarra, moved; but I must live in the country where my parents
Where they died, you would say more justly. Believe me, I, perhaps,
know your country better than you do yourself. Ah, but I forget! You
are to marry an adorable girl, and I'm keeping you from her all this
time! Gogo to her! And that you may have more freedom, send the
father to me, he added, smiling. Don't forget, though, that I want
your company for the promenade.
Ibarra saluted, and went out.
The general called his aide-de-camp.
I am pleased, said he, giving him a light tap on the shoulder; I
have seen to-day for the first time how one may be a good Spaniard
without ceasing to be a good Filipino. What a pity that this Ibarra
some day or otherbut call the alcalde.
The judge at once presented himself.
Señor alcalde, said the general, to avoid a repetition of scenes
like those of which you were a spectator to-dayscenes, I deplore,
because they reflect upon the Government and upon all SpaniardsI
recommend the Señor Ibarra to your utmost care and consideration.
The alcalde perceived the reprimand and lowered his eyes.
Captain Tiago presented himself, stiff and unnatural.
Don Santiago, the general said affectionately, a moment ago I
congratulated you upon having a daughter like the Señorita de los
Santos. Now I make you my compliments upon your future son-in-law. The
most virtuous of daughters is worthy of the first citizen of the
Philippines. May I know the day of the wedding?
Señor stammered Captain Tiago, wiping drops of sweat from his
Then nothing is settled, I see. If witnesses are lacking, it will
give me the greatest pleasure to be one of them.
Yes, señor, said Captain Tiago, with a smile to stir compassion.
Ibarra had gone off almost running to find Maria Clara. He had so
much to talk over with her. Through a door he heard the murmur of
girls' voices. He knocked.
Who is there? asked Maria.
The voices were hushed, but the door did not open.
It's I. May I come in? demanded Crisóstomo, his heart beginning to
The silence continued. After some moments, light foot-steps
approached the door, and the voice of Sinang said through the keyhole:
Crisóstomo, we're going to the theatre to-night. Write what you
have to say to Maria Clara.
What does that mean? said Ibarra to himself as he slowly left the
XXXII. THE PROCESSION.
That evening, in the light of countless lanterns, to the sound of
bells and of continuous detonations, the procession started for the
The captain-general, who had set out on foot, accompanied by his two
aides-de-camp, Captain Tiago, the alcalde, the alférez, and Ibarra, and
preceded by the guards, to open a passage, was to view the procession
from the house of the gobernadorcillo. This functionary had built a
platform for the recitation of a loa, a religious poem in honor of the
Ibarra would gladly have renounced the hearing of this composition,
but His Excellency had ordered his attendance, and Crisóstomo must
console himself with the thought of seeing his fiancée at the theatre.
The procession began by the march of the silver candelabra, borne by
three sacristans. Then came the school children and their master, then
other children, all with paper lanterns, shaped and ornamented
according to the taste of each childfor each was his own
lantern-makerhoisted on bamboo poles of various lengths and lighted
by bits of candles. An effigy of St. John the Baptist followed, borne
on a litter, and then came St. Francis, surrounded by crystal lamps. A
band followed, and then the standard of the saint, borne by the
brothers of the Third Order, praying aloud in a sort of lamentation.
San Diego came next, his car drawn by six brothers of the Third Order,
probably fulfilling some vow. St. Mary Magdalen followed him, a
beautiful image with splendid hair, wearing a costume of silk spangled
with gold, and holding a handkerchief of embroidered piña in her
jewelled hands. Lights and incense surrounded her, and her glass tears
reflected the varied colors of Bengal lights. St. John the Baptist
moved far ahead, as if ashamed of his camel's hair beside all this gold
After the Magdalen came the women of the order, the elder first, so
that the young girls should surround the car of the Virgin; behind them
was the curate under his dais. The car of the Virgin was preceded by
men dressed as phantoms, to the great terror of the children; the women
wore habits like those of religious orders. In the midst of this
obscure mass of robes and cowls and cordons one saw, like dainty
jasmines, like fresh sampages amid old rags, twelve little girls in
white, their hair free. Their eyes shone like their necklaces. One
might have thought them little genii of the light taken prisoner by
spectres. By two wide blue ribbons they were attached to the car of the
Virgin, like the doves which draw the car of Spring.
At the gobernadorcillo's the procession stopped, all the images and
their attendants were drawn up around the platform, and all eyes were
fixed on the half-open curtain. At length it parted, and a young man
appeared, winged, booted like a cavalier, with sash and belt and plumed
hat, and in Latin, Castilian, and Tagal recited a poem as extraordinary
as his attire. The verses ended, St. John pursued his bitter way.
At the moment when the figure of the Virgin passed the house of
Captain Tiago, a celestial song greeted it. It was a voice, sweet and
tender, almost weeping out the Gounod Ave Maria. The music of the
procession died away, the prayers ceased. Father Salvi himself stood
still. The voice trembled; it drew tears; it was more than a
salutation: it was a supplication and a complaint.
Ibarra heard, and fear and darkness entered his heart. He felt the
suffering in the voice and dared not ask himself whence it came.
The captain-general was speaking to him.
I should like your company at table. We will talk to those children
who have disappeared, he said.
Crisóstomo, looking at the general without seeing him, asked himself
under his breath: Can I be the cause? And he followed the governor
XXXIII. DOÑA CONSOLACION.
Why were the windows of the house of the alférez not only without
lanterns, but shuttered? Where, when the procession passed, were the
masculine head with its great veins and purple lips, the flannel shirt,
and the big cigar of the Muse of the Municipal Guard?
The house was sad, as Sinang said, because the people were gay. Had
not a sentinel paced as usual before the door one might have thought
the place uninhabited.
A feeble light showed the disorder of the room, where the alféreza
was sitting, and pierced the dusty and spider-webbed conches of the
windows. The dame, according to her idle custom, was dozing in a
fauteuil. To deaden the sound of the bombs, she had coifed her head in
a handkerchief, from which escaped her tangled hair, short and thin.
This morning she had not been to mass, not because she did not wish it,
but because her husband had not permitted it, accompanying his
prohibition with oaths and threats of blows. Doña Consolacion was now
dreaming of revenge. She bestirred herself at last and ran over the
house from one end to the other, her dark face disquieting to look at.
A spark flashed from her eyes like that from the pupil of a serpent
trapped and about to be crushed. It was cold, luminous, penetrating; it
was viscous, cruel, repulsive. The smallest error on the part of a
servant, the least noise, drew forth words injurious enough to smirch
the soul; but nobody replied; to offer excuse would have been to commit
In this way the day passed. Meeting no oppositionher husband had
been invited to the gobernadorcillo'sshe stored up spleen; the cells
of her organism seemed slowly charging with electric force, which burst
out, later on, in a tempest.
Sisa had been in the barracks since her arrest the day before. The
alférez, fearing she might become the sport of the crowd, had ordered
her to be kept until the fête was over.
This evening, whether she had heard the song of Maria Clara, whether
the bands had recalled airs that she knew, for some reason she began to
chant, in her sympathetic voice, the songs of her youth. The soldiers
heard and became still; they knew these airs, had sung them themselves
when they were young and free and innocent. Doña Consolacion heard,
too, and inquired for the singer.
Have her come up at once, she said, after a moment's reflection,
something like a smile flickering on her dry lips.
The soldiers brought Sisa, who came without fear or question. When
she entered she seemed to see no one, which wounded the vanity of the
dreadful muse. Doña Consolacion coughed, motioned the soldiers to
withdraw, and, taking down her husband's riding whip, said in a
Vamos, magcanter icau!
It was an order to sing, in a mixture of Castilian and Tagalo. Doña
Consolacion affected ignorance of her native tongue, thinking thus to
give herself the air of a veritable Orofea, as she said in her attempt
at Europea. For if she martyred the Tagalo, she treated Castilian
worse, though her husband, and chairs and shoes, had contributed to
giving her lessons.
Sisa had been happy enough not to understand. The forehead of the
shrew unknotted a bit, and a look of satisfaction animated her face.
Tell this woman to sing! she said to the orderly. She doesn't
understand; she doesn't know Spanish!
The orderly spoke to Sisa, and she began at once the Night Song.
At first Doña Consolacion listened with a mocking smile, but little
by little it left her lips. She became attentive, then serious. Her dry
and withered heart received the rain. The sadness, the cold, the dew
come down from the sky in the mantle of the night, seemed to fall upon
her heart; she understood the flower, full of vanity, and prodigal
with its splendors in the sun, now, at the fall of day, withered and
stained, repentant and disillusioned, trying to raise its poor petals
toward heaven, begging a shade to hide it from the mockery of the sun,
who had seen it in its pomp, and was laughing at the impotence of its
pride; begging also a drop of dew to be let fall upon it.
No! Stop singing! she cried in perfect Tagal. Stop! These verses
Sisa stopped. The orderly thought: Ah, she knows the Tagal! And he
regarded his mistress with admiration.
She saw she had betrayed herself, became ashamed, and shame in her
unfeminine nature meant rage. She showed the door to the imprudent
orderly, and shut it behind him with a blow. Then she took several
turns around the room, wringing the whip in her nervous hands. At last,
planting herself before Sisa, she said to her in Spanish: Dance!
Sisa did not move.
Dance! Dance! she repeated in a threatening voice. The poor thing
looked at her with vacant eyes. The vixen took hold of one of her arms
and then the other, raising them and swaying them about. It was of no
use. Sisa did not understand.
In vain Doña Consolacion began to leap about, making signs for Sisa
to imitate her. In the distance a band was playing a slow and majestic
march; but the creature leaped furiously to another measure, beating
within herself. Sisa looked on, motionless. A faint curiosity rose in
her eyes, a feeble smile moved her pale lips; the alféreza's dance
The dancer stopped, as if ashamed, and raised the terrible whip,
well known to thieves and soldiers.
Now, said she, it's your turn! Dance! And she began to give
light taps to the bare feet of bewildered Sisa, whose face contracted
with pain; the poor thing tried to ward off the blows with her hands.
Ah! You're beginning, are you? cried Doña Consolacion, with savage
joy, and from lento, she passed to allegro vivace.
Sisa cried out and drew up first one foot and then the other.
Will you dance, accursed Indian! and the whip whistled.
Sisa let herself fall to the floor, trying to cover her feet, and
looking at her tormenter with haggard eyes. Two lashes on the shoulders
forced her to rise with screams.
Her thin chemise was torn, the skin broken and the blood flowing.
This excited Doña Consolacion still more.
Dance! Dance! she howled, and seizing Sisa with one hand, while
she beat her with the other, she commenced to leap about again.
At length Sisa understood, and followed, moving her arms without
rhythm or measure. A smile of satisfaction came to the lips of the
horrible womanthe smile of a female Mephistopheles who has found an
apt pupil: hate, scorn, mockery, and cruelty were in it; a burst of
demoniacal laughter could not have said more.
Absorbed by her delight in this spectacle, the alféreza did not know
that her husband had arrived until the door was violently thrown open
with a kick.
The alférez was pale and morose. When he saw what was going on, he
darted a terrible glance at his wife, then quietly put his hand on the
shoulder of the strange dancer, and stopped her motion. Sisa, breathing
hard, sat down on the floor. He called the orderly.
Take this woman away, he said; see that she is properly cared
for, and has a good dinner and a good bed. To-morrow she is to be taken
to Señor Ibarra's.
Then he carefully closed the door after them, pushed the bolt, and
approached his wife.
XXXIV. RIGHT AND MIGHT.
It was ten o'clock in the evening. The first rockets were slowly
going up in the dark sky, where bright-colored balloons shone like new
stars. On the ridge-poles of the houses men were seen armed with bamboo
poles, with pails of water at hand. Their dark silhouettes against the
clear gray of the night seemed phantoms come to share in the gayety of
men. They were there to look out for balloons that might fall burning.
Crowds of people were going toward the plaza to see the last play at
the theatre. Bengal fires burned here and there, grouping the
The grand estrade was magnificently illuminated. Thousands of lights
were fixed round the pillars, hung from the roof and clustered near the
In front of the stage the orchestra was tuning its instruments. The
dignitaries of the pueblo, the Spaniards, and wealthy strangers
occupied seats in rows. The people filled the rest of the place; some
had brought benches, rather to mount them than to sit on them, and
others noisily protested against this.
Comings and goings, cries, exclamations, bursts of laughter, jokes,
a whistle, swelled the tumult. Here the leg of a bench gave way and
precipitated those on it, to the delight of the spectators; there was a
dispute for place; and a little beyond a fracas of glasses and bottles.
It was Andeng, carrying a great tray of drinks, and unfortunately she
had encountered her fiancé, who was disposed to profit by the occasion.
The lieutenant, Don Filipo, was in charge of the spectacle, for the
gobernadorcillo was playing monte, of which he was a passionate
devotee. Don Filipo was talking with old Tasio, who was on the point of
Aren't you going to see the play?
No, thank you! My own mind suffices for rambling and dreaming,
replied the philosopher, laughing. But I have a question to propose.
Have you ever observed the strange nature of our people? Pacific, they
love warlike spectacles; democratic, they adore emperors, kings, and
princes; irreligious, they ruin themselves in the pomps of the ritual;
the nature of our women is gentle, but they have deliriums of delight
when a princess brandishes a lance. Do you know the cause of all this?
The arrival of Maria Clara and her friends cut short the
conversation. Don Filipo accompanied them to their places. Then came
the curate, with his usual retinue.
The evening began with Chananay and Marianito in Crispino and the
Gossip. The scene fixed the attention of every one. The act was ending
when Ibarra entered. His coming excited a murmur, and eyes turned from
him to the curate. But Crisóstomo observed nothing. He gracefully
saluted Maria and her friends and sat down. The only one who spoke to
him was Sinang.
Have you been watching the fireworks? she asked.
No, little friend, I had to accompany the governor-general.
That was too bad!
Brother Salvi had risen, gone to Don Filipo, and appeared to be
having with him a serious discussion. He spoke with heat, the
lieutenant calmly and quietly.
I am sorry not to be able to satisfy your reverence, but Señor
Ibarra is one of the chief contributors to the fête, and has a perfect
right to be here so long as he creates no disturbance.
But is it not creating a disturbance to scandalize all good
Father, replied Don Filipo, my slight authority does not permit
me to interfere in religious matters. Let those who fear Señor Ibarra's
contact avoid him: he forces himself upon no one; the señor alcalde and
the captain-general have been in his company all the afternoon; it
hardly becomes me to give them a lesson.
If you do not put him out of the place, we shall go.
I should be very sorry, but I have no authority to remove him.
The curate repented of his threat, but there was now no remedy. He
motioned to his companions, who rose reluctantly, and all went out, not
without hostile glances toward Ibarra.
The whisperings and murmurs began again. Several people came up to
Crisóstomo and said:
We are with you; pay no attention to them!
To whom? he asked in astonishment.
Those who have gone out because you are here; they say you are
Ibarra, surprised, not knowing what to say, looked about him.
Maria's face was hidden.
Is it possible? Are we yet in the middle ages? he began. But he
checked himself and said to the girls:
I must excuse myself; I will be back to go home with you.
Oh, stay! said Sinang. Yeyeng is going to dance!
I cannot, little friend.
While Yeyeng was coming forward, two soldiers of the guard
approached Don Filipo and demanded that the representation be stopped.
And why? he asked in surprise.
Because the alférez and his wife have been fighting; they want to
Tell the alférez we have the permission of the alcalde of the
province, and nobody in the pueblo can overrule that, not even the
But we have our orders to stop the performance.
Don Filipo shrugged his shoulders and turned his back. The Comedy
Company of Tondo was about to give a play, and the audience was
settling for its enjoyment.
The Filipino is passionately fond of the theatre; he listens in
silence, never hisses, and applauds with measure. Does not the
spectacle please him? He chews his buyo and goes out quietly, not to
trouble those who may like it. He expects in his plays a combat every
fifteen seconds, and all the rest of the time repartee between comic
personages, or terrifying metamorphoses. The comedy chosen for this
fête was Prince Villardo, or the Nails Drawn from the Cellar of
Infamy, comedy with sorcery and fireworks.
Prince Villardo presented himself, defying the Moors, who held his
father prisoner. He threatened to cut off all their heads at a single
stroke and send them into the moon.
Fortunately for the Moors, as they were preparing for the combat, a
tumult arose. The music stopped, and the musicians assailed the theatre
with their instruments, which went flying in all directions. The
valiant Villardo, unprepared for so many foes, threw down his sword and
buckler and took to flight, and the Moors, seeing the hasty leave of so
terrible a Christian, made bold to follow him. Cries, exclamations, and
imprecations rose on all sides, people ran against one another, lights
went out, children screamed, and benches were overturned in a
hurly-burly. Some cried fire, some cried The tulisanes!
What had happened? The two guards had driven off the musicians, and
the lieutenant and some of the cuadrilleros were vainly trying to check
Take those two men to the tribunal! cried Don Filipo. Don't let
When the crowd had recovered from its fright and taken account of
what had happened, indignation broke forth.
That's why they are for! cried a woman, brandishing her arms; to
trouble the pueblo! They are the real tulisanes! Fire the barracks!
Stones rained on the group of cuadrilleros leading off the guards,
and the cry to fire the barracks was repeated. Chananay in her costume
of Leonora in Il Trovatore was talking with Ratia, in schoolmaster's
dress; Yeyeng, wrapped in a shawl, was attended by Prince Villardo,
while the Moors tried to console the mortified musicians; but already
the crowd had determined upon action, and Don Filipo was doing his best
to hold them in check.
Do nothing rash! he cried. To-morrow we will demand satisfaction;
we shall have justice; I promise you justice!
No, replied some; that's what they did at Calamba: they promised
justice, and the alcalde didn't do a thing! We will take justice for
ourselves! To the barracks!
Don Filipo, looking about for some one to aid him, saw Ibarra.
For heaven's sake, Señor Ibarra, keep the people here while I go
for the cuadrilleros!
What can I do? demanded the perplexed young fellow; but Don Filipo
was already in the distance.
Ibarra, in his turn, looked about for aid, and saw Elias. He ran to
him, took him by the arm, and, speaking in Spanish, begged him to do
what he could for order. The helmsman disappeared in the crowd.
Animated discussions were heard, and rapid questions; then, little by
little, the mass began to dissolve and to wear a less hostile attitude.
It was time; the soldiers arrived with bayonets fixed.
As Ibarra was about to enter his house that night a little man in
mourning, having a great scar on his left cheek, placed himself in
front of him and bowed humbly.
What can I do for you? asked Crisóstomo.
Señor, my name is José; I am the brother of the man killed this
Ah, said Ibarra, I assure you I am not insensible to your loss.
What do you wish of me?
Señor, I wish to know how much you are going to pay my brother's
Pay! repeated Crisóstomo, not without annoyance. We will talk of
this again; come to me to-morrow.
But tell me simply what you will give, insisted José.
I tell you we will talk of it another day, not now, said Ibarra,
Ah! You think because we are poor
Ibarra interrupted him.
Don't try my patience too far, he said, moving on. José looked
after him with a smile full of hatred.
It is easy to see he is a grandson of the man who exposed my father
to the sun, he murmured between his teeth. The same blood! Then in a
changed tone he added: But if you pay wellfriends!
XXXV. HUSBAND AND WIFE.
The fête was over, and the inhabitants of the pueblo now perceived,
as they did every year, that their purses were empty, that in the sweat
of their faces they had earned scant pleasure, and paid dear for noise
and headaches. But what of that? The next year they would begin again;
the next century it would still be the same, for it had been so up to
this time, and there is nothing which can make people renounce a
The house of Captain Tiago is sad. All the windows are closed; one
scarcely dares make a sound; and nowhere but in the kitchen do they
speak aloud. Maria Clara, the soul of the house, is sick in bed. The
state of her health could be read on all faces, as our actions betray
the griefs of our hearts.
What do you think, Isabel, ought I to make a gift to the cross at
Tunasan, or that at Matahong? asks the unhappy father. The cross at
Tunasan grows, but that at Matahong perspires. Which do you call the
Aunt Isabel reflected, nodded her head, and whispered:
To grow is more miraculous; we all perspire, but we don't all
That's so, yes, Isabel; but, after all, for wood to perspirewell,
then, the best thing is to make offerings to both.
A carriage stopping before the house cut short the conversation.
Captain Tiago, followed by Aunt Isabel, ran down the steps to receive
the coming guests. They were the doctor, Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, his
wife, the Doctora Doña Victorina de Los Reyes de de Espadaña, and a
young Spaniard of attractive face and fine appearance.
The doctora wore a silk dress bordered with flowers, and a hat with
a large parrot perched among bows of red and blue ribbons. The dust of
the journey mingling with the rice powder on her cheeks, exaggerated
her wrinkles; as when we saw her at Manila, she had given her arm to
her lame husband.
I have the pleasure of presenting to you our cousin, Don Alfonso
Linares de Espadaña, said Doña Victorina, indicating the young man;
the adopted son of a relative of Father Dámaso's, and private
secretary of all the ministers
The young man bowed low; Captain Tiago barely escaped kissing his
While the countless trunks, valises, and bags are being cared for
and Captain Tiago is conducting his guests to their apartments, let us
make a nearer acquaintance with these people whom we have not seen
since the opening chapters.
Doña Victorina is a woman of forty-five summers, which, according to
her arithmetic, are equivalent to thirty-two springs. In her youth she
had been very pretty, but, enraptured in her own contemplation, she had
looked with the utmost disdain on her numerous Filipino adorers, even
scorning the vows of love once murmured in her ears or chanted under
her balcony by Captain Tiago. Her aspirations bore her toward another
Her first youth, then her second, then her third, having passed in
tending nets to catch in the ocean of the world the object of her
dreams, Doña Victorina must in the end content herself with what fate
willed her. It was a poor man torn from his native Estramadure, who,
after wandering six or seven years about the world, a modern Ulysses,
found at length, in the island of Luzon, hospitality, money, and a
Don Tiburcio was a modest man, without force, who would not
willingly have injured a fly. He started for the Philippines as
under-clerk of customs, but after breaking his leg was forced to give
up his position. For a while he lived at the expense of some
compatriots, but he found their bread bitter. As he had neither
profession nor money, his advisers counselled him to go into the
provinces and offer himself as a physician. At first he refused, but,
necessity becoming pressing, his friends convinced him of the vanity of
his scruples. He started out, kept by his conscience from asking more
than small fees, and was on the road to prosperity when a jealous
doctor called him to the attention of the College of Physicians at
Manila. Nothing would have come of it, but the affair reached the ears
of the people; loss of confidence followed, and then loss of patrons.
Misery again stared him in the face when he heard of the affliction of
Doña Victorina. Don Tiburcio saw here a patch of blue sky, and asked to
They met, and after a half-hour of conversation, reached an
understanding. Without doubt she would have preferred a Spaniard less
halting, less bald, without impediment of speech, and with more teeth;
but such a Spaniard had never asked her hand, and at thirty-two what
woman is not prudent?
For his part, Don Tiburcio resigned himself when he saw the spectre
of famine raise its head. Not that he had ever had great ambitions or
great pretensions; but his heart, virgin till now, had pictured a
different divinity. He was, however, somewhat of a philosopher. He said
to himself: All that was a dream! Is the reality powdered and
wrinkled, homely and ridiculous? Well, I am bald and lame and
They were married then, and Doña Victorina was enchanted with her
husband. She had him fitted out with false teeth, attired by the best
tailors of the city, and ordered carriages and horses for the
professional visits she intended him again to make.
While thus transforming her husband, she did not forget herself. She
discarded the silk skirt and jacket of piña for European costume,
loaded her head with false hair, and her person with such extravagances
generally as to disturb the peace of a whole idle and tranquil
The glamour around the husband first began to dim when he tried to
approach the subject of the rice powder by remarking that nothing is so
ugly as the false or so admirable as the natural. Doña Victorina looked
unpleasantly at his teeth, and he was silent. Indeed, at the end of a
very short time the doctora had arrived at the complete subjugation of
her husband, who no longer offered any more resistance than a little
lap-dog. If he did anything to annoy her, she forbade his going out,
and in her moments of greatest rage she tore out his false teeth, and
left him, sometimes for days, horribly disfigured.
When they were well settled in Manila, Rodoreda received orders to
engrave on a plate of black marble:
Dr. De Espadaña, Specialist in All Kinds of Diseases.
Do you wish me to be put in prison? asked Don Tiburcio in terror.
I wish people to call you doctor and me doctora, said Doña
Victorina, but it must be understood that you treat only very rare
The señora signed her own name, Victorina de los Reyes de de
Espadaña. Neither the engraver of her visiting cards nor her husband
could make her renounce that second de.
If I use only one 'de,' people will think you haven't any,
imbecile! she said to Don Tiburcio.
Then the number of gewgaws grew, the layer of rice powder was
thickened, the ribbons and laces were piled higher, and Doña Victorina
regarded with more and more disdain her poor compatriots who had not
had the fortune to marry husbands of so high estate as her own.
All this sublimity, however, did not prevent her being each day
older and more ridiculous. Every time Captain Tiago was with her, and
remembered that she had once really inspired him with love, he sent a
peso to the church for a mass of thanksgiving. But he had much respect
for Don Tiburcio, because of his title of specialist, and listened
attentively to the rare sentences the doctor's impediment of speech let
him pronounce. For this reason and because the doctor did not lavish
his visits on people at large he had chosen him to treat Maria.
As to young Linares, Doña Victorina, wishing a steward from the
peninsula, her husband remembered a cousin of his, a law student at
Madrid, who was considered the most astute of the family. They sent for
him, and the young man had just arrived.
Father Salvi entered while Don Santiago and his guests were at the
second breakfast. They talked of Maria Clara, who was sleeping; they
talked of the journey, and Doña Victorina exclaimed loudly at the
costumes of the provincials, their houses of nipa, and their bamboo
bridges. She did not omit to inform the curate of her friendly
relations with the Segundo Cabo, with this alcalde, with that
councillor, all people of distinction, who had for her the greatest
If you had come two days earlier, Doña Victorina, said Captain
Tiago, profiting by a slight pause in the lady's brilliant loquacity,
you would have found His Excellency the governor general seated in
this very place.
What! His Excellency was here? And at your house? Impossible!
I repeat that he was seated exactly here. If you had come two days
Ah! What a pity Clarita did not fall ill sooner! she cried. You
hear, cousin! His Excellency was here! You know, Don Santiago, that at
Madrid our cousin was the friend of ministers and dukes, and that he
dined with the Count del Campanario.
The Duke de la Torre, Victorina, suggested her husband.
It is the same thing!
Shall I find Father Dámaso at his pueblo to-day? Linares asked
Father Dámaso is here, and may be with us at any moment.
I'm very glad! I have a letter for him, and if a happy chance had
not brought me here, I should have come expressly to see him.
Meanwhile the happy chance, that is to say, poor Maria Clara, had
Come, de Espadaña, come, see Clarita, said Doña Victorina. It is
for you he does this, she went on, turning to Captain Tiago; my
husband attends only people of quality.
The sick-room was almost in obscurity, the windows closed, for fear
of draughts; two candles, burning before an image of the Virgin of
Antipolo, sent out feeble glimmers.
Enveloped in multiple folds of white, the lovely figure of Maria lay
on her bed of kamagon, behind curtains of jusi and piña. Her abundant
hair about her face increased its transparent pallor, as did the
radiance of her great, sad eyes. Beside her were her two friends, and
Andeng holding a lily branch.
De Espadaña felt her pulse, examined her tongue, asked a question or
two, and nodded his head.
Shshe is ssick, but she can be ccured.
Doña Victorina looked proudly at their audience.
Lichen with mmmilk, for the mmmorning, syrup of
mmmarshmallow, and two tablets of cynoglossum.
Take courage, Clarita, said Doña Victorina, approaching the bed,
we have come to cure you. I'm going to present to you our cousin.
Linares, absorbed, was gazing at those eloquent eyes, which seemed
to be searching for some one; he did not hear Doña Victorina.
Señor Linares, said the curate, drawing him out of his
abstraction, here is Father Dámaso.
It was indeed he; but it was not the Father Dámaso of heretofore, so
vigorous and alert. He walked uncertainly, and he was pale and sad.
With no word for any one else, Father Dámaso went straight to
Maria's bed and took her hand.
Maria, he said with great tenderness, and tears gushed from his
eyes, Maria, my child, you must not die!
Maria Clara looked at him with some astonishment. No one of those
who knew the Franciscan would have believed him capable of such display
He could not say another word, but moved aside the draperies and
went out among the plants of Maria's balcony, crying like a child.
How he loves his god-daughter! every one thought.
Father Salvi, motionless and silent, watched him intently.
When the father's grief seemed more controlled, Doña Victorino
presented young Linares. Father Dámaso, saying nothing, looked him over
from head to foot, took the letter, read it without appearing to
comprehend, and asked:
Well, who are you?
Alfonso Linares, the godson of your brother-in-law stammered
the young fellow. Father Dámaso threw back his head and examined him
anew, his face clearing.
What! It's the godson of Carlicos! he cried, clasping him in his
arms. I had a letter from him some days ago. And it is you? You were
not born when I left the country. I did not know you! And Father
Dámaso still held in his strong arms the young man, whose face began to
color, perhaps from embarrassment, perhaps from suffocation. Father
Dámaso appeared to have completely forgotten his grief.
After the first moments of effusion and questions about Carlicos and
Pepa, Father Dámaso asked:
Let's see, what is it Carlicos wishes me to do for you?
I think he says something about it in the letter, stammered
In the letter? Yes, that's so! He wishes me to find you employment
and a wife. Ah, the employment is easy enough, but as for the
Father, that is not so urgent, said Linares, with confusion.
But Father Dámaso was walking back and forth murmuring: A wife! A
wife! His face was no longer sad or joyful, but serious and
preoccupied. From a distance Father Salvi watched the scene.
I did not think the thing could cause me so much pain, Father
Dámaso murmured plaintively; but of two evils choose the least! Then
Come with me, my boy, he said, we will talk with Don Santiago.
Linares paled and followed the priest.
XXXVII. SCRUTINY OF CONSCIENCE.
Long days followed by weary nights were passed by the pillow of the
sick girl. After a confession to Father Salvi, Maria Clara had had a
relapse, and in her delirium she pronounced no name but that of her
mother, whom she had never known. Her friends, her father, her aunt,
watched her, and heaped with gifts and with silver for masses the
altars of miraculous images. At last, slowly and regularly, the fever
began to abate.
The Doctor de Espadaña was stupefied at the virtues of the syrup of
marshmallow and the decoction of lichen, prescriptions he had never
varied. Doña Victorina was so satisfied with her husband that one day
when he stepped on her train, in a rare state of clemency she did not
apply to him the usual penal code by pulling out his teeth.
One afternoon, Sinang and Victorina were with Maria; the curate,
Captain Tiago, and the Espadañas were talking in the dining-room.
I'm distressed to hear it, the doctor was saying; and Father
Dámaso must be greatly disturbed.
Where did you say he is to be sent? asked Linares.
Into the province of Tabayas, replied the curate carelessly.
Maria Clara will be very sorry too, said Captain Tiago; she loves
him like a father.
Father Salvi looked at him from the corner of his eye.
Father, continued Captain Tiago, I believe her sickness came from
nothing but that trouble the day of the fête.
I am of the same opinion, so you have done well in not permitting
Señor Ibarra to talk with her; that would only have aggravated her
And it is thanks to us alone, interrupted Doña Victorina, that
Clarita is not already in heaven singing praises with the angels.
Amen! Captain Tiago felt moved to say.
I think I know whereof I speak, said the curate, when I say that
the confession of Maria Clara brought about the favorable crisis that
saved her life. I do not deny the power of science, but a pure
Pardon, objected Doña Victorina, piqued; then cure the wife of
the alférez with a confession!
A hurt, señora, is not a malady, to be influenced by the
conscience, replied Father Salvi severely; but a good confession
would preserve her in future from such blows as she got this morning.
She deserved them! said Doña Victorina. She is an insolent woman.
In church she did nothing but look at me. I had a mind to ask her what
there was curious about my face; but who would soil her lips speaking
to these people of no standing?
The curate, as if he had not heard this tirade, continued: To
finish the cure of your daughter, she should receive the communion
to-morrow, Don Santiago. I think she does not need to confess, and yet,
if she will once more, this evening
I don't know, said Doña Victorina, profiting by the pause to
continue her reflections, I don't understand how men can marry such
frights. One easily sees where that woman came from. She is dying of
envy, that shows in her eyes. What does an alférez get?
So prepare Maria for confession, the curate continued, turning to
The good aunt left the group and went to her niece's room. Maria
Clara was still in bed, and pale, very pale; beside her were her two
Sinang was giving her her medicine.
He has not written to you again? asked Maria, softly.
He gave you no message for me?
No; he only said he was going to make every effort to have the
archbishop raise the ban of excommunication
The arrival of Aunt Isabel interrupted the conversation.
The father says you are to prepare yourself for confession, my
child, said she. Sinang, leave her to examine her conscience. Shall I
bring you the 'Anchor,' the 'Bouquet,' or the 'Straight Road to
Maria Clara did not reply.
Well, we mustn't fatigue you, said the good aunt consolingly; I
will read you the examination myself, and you will only have to
remember your sins.
Write him to think of me no more, murmured the sick girl in
But Aunt Isabel came back with her book, and Sinang had to go.
The good aunt drew her chair up to the light, settled her glasses on
the tip of her nose, and opened a little book.
Give good attention, my child: I will begin with the commandments
of God; I shall go slowly, so that you may meditate: if you don't hear
well, you must tell me, and I will repeat; you know I'm never weary of
working for your good.
In a voice monotonous and nasal, she began to read. Maria Clara
gazed vaguely into space. The first commandment finished, Aunt Isabel
observed her listener over her glasses, and appeared satisfied with her
sad and meditative air. She coughed piously, and after a long pause
began the second. The good old woman read with unction. The terms of
the second commandment finished, she again looked at her niece, who
slowly turned away her head.
Bah! said Aunt Isabel within herself, as to taking His holy name
in vain, the poor thing has nothing to question: pass on to the third.
And the third commandment sifted and commentated, all the causes of
sin against it droned out, she again looked toward the bed. This time
she lifted her glasses and rubbed her eyes; she had seen her niece
raise her handkerchief, as if to wipe away tears.
Hm! said she; hm! the poor child must have fallen asleep during
the sermon. And putting back her glasses on the tip of her nose, she
We shall see if besides not keeping the holy feast days, she has
not honored her father and her mother. And slowly, in a voice more
nasal than ever, she read the fourth commandment.
What a pure soul! thought the old lady; she who is so obedient,
so submissive! I've sinned much more deeply than that, and I've never
been able to really cry! And she began the fifth commandment with such
enthusiasm that she did not hear the stifled sobs of her niece. It was
only when she stopped after the commentaries on wilful homicide, that
she perceived the groanings of the sinner. Then in a voice that passed
description, and a manner she strove to make menacing, she finished the
commentary, and seeing that Maria had not ceased to weep:
Cry, my child, cry! she said, going to her bedside; the more you
cry the more quickly will God pardon you. Cry, my child, cry; and beat
your breast, but not too hard, for you are ill yet, you know.
But as if grief had need of mystery and solitude, Maria Clara,
finding herself surprised, stopped sobbing little by little and dried
her eyes. Aunt Isabel returned to her reading, but the plaint of her
audience having ceased, she lost her enthusiasm; the second table of
the law made her sleepy, and a yawn broke the nasal monotony.
No one would have believed it without seeing it, thought the good
woman; the child sins like a soldier against the first five
commandments, and from the sixth to the tenth not so much as a
peccadillo. That is contrary to the custom of the rest of us. One sees
queer things in these days! And she lighted a great candle for the
Virgin of Antipolo, and two smaller ones for Our Lady of the Rosary and
Our Lady of the Pillar. The Virgin of Delaroche was excluded from this
illumination: she was to Aunt Isabel an unknown foreigner.
We may not know what passed during the confession in the evening. It
was long, and Aunt Isabel, who at a distance was watching over her
niece, could see that instead of offering his ear to the sick girl, the
curate had his face turned toward her. He went out, pale, with
compressed lips. At the sight of his brow, darkened and moist with
sweat, one would have said it was he who had confessed, and absolution
had been denied him.
Maria! Joseph! said the good aunt, crossing herself, who can
comprehend the girls of to-day!
XXXVIII. THE TWO WOMEN.
Doña Victorina was taking a walk through the pueblo, to see of what
sort were the dwellings and the advancement of the indolent Indians.
She had put on her most elegant adornments, to impress the provincials,
and to show what distance separated them from her sacred person. Giving
her arm to her limping husband, she paraded the streets of the pueblo,
to the profound amazement of its inhabitants.
What ugly houses these Indians have! she began, with a grimace.
One must needs be an Indian to live in them! And how ill-bred the
people are! They pass us without uncovering. Knock off their hats, as
the curates do, and the lieutenants of the Civil Guard.
And if they attack me? stammered the doctor.
Are you not a man?
Yes, butbutI am lame.
Doña Victorina grew cross. There were no sidewalks in these streets,
and the dust was soiling the train of her dress. Some young girls who
passed dropped their eyes, and did not admire at all as they should her
luxurious attire. Sinang's coachman, who was driving Sinang and her
cousin in an elegant tres-por-ciento, had the effrontery to cry out to
her Tabi! in so audacious a voice that she moved out of the way.
What a brute of a coachman! she protested; I shall tell his
master he had better train his servants. Come along, Tiburcio!
Her husband, fearing a tempest, turned on his heels, and they found
themselves face to face with the alférez. Greetings were exchanged, but
Doña Victorina's discontent grew. Not only had the officer said nothing
complimentary of her costume, but she believed she detected mockery in
You ought not to give your hand to a simple alférez, she said to
her husband, when the officer had passed. You don't know how to
preserve your rank.
Hhere he is the chief.
What does that mean to us? Do we happen to be Indians?
You are right, said Don Tiburcio, not minded to dispute.
They passed the barracks. Doña Consolacion was at the window, as
usual dressed in flannel, and puffing her puro. As the house was low,
the two women faced each other. The muse examined Doña Victorina from
head to foot, protruded her lip, ejected tobacco juice, and turned away
her head. This affectation of contempt brought the patience of the
doctora to an end. Leaving her husband without support, she went,
trembling with rage, powerless to utter a word, and placed herself in
front of the alféreza's window. Doña Consolacion turned her head slowly
back, regarded her antagonist with the utmost calm, and spat again with
the same cool contempt.
What's the matter with you, doña? she asked.
Could you tell me, señora, why you stare at me in this fashion? Are
you jealous? Doña Victorina was at last able to say.
I jealous? And of you? replied the alféreza calmly. Yes, I'm
jealous of your frizzes.
Come away there! broke in the doctor; dddon't pay
attttention to these fffollies!
Let me alone! I have to give a lesson to this brazenface! replied
the doctora, joggling her husband, who just missed sprawling in the
Consider to whom you are speaking! she said haughtily, turning
back to Doña Consolacion. Don't think I am a provincial or a woman of
your class. With us, at Manila, the alférezas are not received; they
wait at the door.
Ho! ho! most worshipful señora, the alférezas wait at the door! But
you receive such paralytics as this gentleman! Ha! ha! ha!
Had she been less powdered Doña Victorina might have been seen to
blush. She started to rush on her enemy, but the sentinel stood in the
way. The street was filling with a curious crowd.
Know that I demean myself in speaking to you; persons of position
like me ought not! Will you wash my clothes? I will pay you well. Do
you suppose I do not know you are a washerwoman?
Doña Consolacion sat erect. To be called a washerwoman had wounded
And do you think we don't know who you are? she retorted. My
husband has told me! Señora, I, at least
But she could not be heard. Doña Victorina, wildly shaking her
fists, screamed out:
Come down, you old hussy, come down and let me tear your beautiful
Rapidly the medusa disappeared from the window; more rapidly yet she
came running down the steps, brandishing her husband's terrible whip.
Don Tiburcio, supplicating both, threw himself between, but he could
not have prevented the combat, had not the alférez arrived.
Well, well, señoras!Don Tiburcio!
Give your wife a little more breeding, buy her more beautiful
clothes, and if you haven't the money, steal it from the people of the
pueblo; you have soldiers for that! cried Doña Victorina.
Señora, said the alférez, furious, it is fortunate that I
remember you are a woman; if I didn't, I should trample you down, with
all your curls and ribbons!
Move on, charlatan! It's not you who wear the breeches!
Armed with words and gestures, with cries, insults, and injuries,
the two women hurled at each other all there was in them of soil and
shame. All four talked at once, and in the multitude of words numerous
verities were paraded in the light. If they did not hear all, the crowd
of the curious did not fail to be diverted. They were looking forward
to battle, but, unhappily for these amateurs of sport, the curate came
by and established peace.
Señoras! señoras! what a scandal! Señor alférez!
What are you doing here, hypocrite, carlist!
Don Tiburcio, take away your wife! Señora, restrain your tongue!
Little by little the dictionary of sounding epithets became
exhausted. The shameless shrews found nothing left to say to each
other, and still threatening, the two couples drew slowly apart, the
curate going from one to the other, lavishing himself on both.
We shall leave for Manila this very day and present ourselves to
the captain-general! said the infuriated Doña Victorina to her
husband. You are no man!
Butbut, wife, the guards, and I am lame.
You are to challenge him, with swords or pistols, or elseor
else And she looked at his teeth.
Woman, I've never handled
Doña Victorina let him go no farther; with a sublime movement she
snatched out his teeth, threw them in the dust, and trampled them under
her feet. The doctor almost crying, the doctora pelting him with
sarcasms, they arrived at the house of Captain Tiago. Linares, who was
talking with Maria Clara, was no little disquieted by the abrupt
arrival of his cousins. Maria, amid the pillows of her fauteuil, was
not less surprised at the new physiognomy of her doctor.
Cousin, said Doña Victorina, you are to go and challenge the
alférez this instant; if not
Why? demanded the astonished Linares.
You are to go and challenge him this instant; if not, I shall say
here, and to everybody, who you are.
The three friends looked at each other.
The alférez has insulted us. The old sorceress came down with a
whip to assault us, and this creature did nothing to prevent it! A
Hear that! said Sinang regretfully. There was a fight, and we
didn't see it!
The alférez broke the doctor's teeth! added Doña Victorina.
Captain Tiago entered, but he wasn't given time to get his breath.
In few words, with an intermingling of spicy language, Doña Victorina
narrated what had passed, naturally trying to put herself in a good
Linares is going to challenge him, do you hear? Or don't let him
marry your daughter. If he isn't courageous, he doesn't merit Clarita.
What! you are going to marry this gentleman? Sinang asked Maria,
her laughing eyes filling with tears. I know you are discreet, but I
didn't think you inconstant.
Maria Clara, white as alabaster, looked with great, frightened eyes
from her father to Doña Victorina, from Doña Victorina to Linares. The
young man reddened; Captain Tiago dropped his head.
Help me to my room, Maria said to her friends, and steadied by
their round arms, her head on the shoulder of Victorina, she went out.
That night the husband and wife packed their trunks, and presented
their accountno trifleto Captain Tiago. The next morning they set
out for Manila, leaving to the pacific Linares the rôle of avenger.
XXXIX. THE OUTLAWED.
By the feeble moonlight that penetrates the thick foliage of forest
trees, a man was making his way through the woods. His movement was
slow but assured. From time to time, as if to get his bearings, he
whistled an air, to which another whistler in the distance replied by
At last, after struggling long against the many obstacles a virgin
forest opposes to the march of man, and most obstinately at night, he
arrived at a little clearing, bathed in the light of the moon in its
first quarter. Scarcely had he entered it when another man came
carefully out from behind a great rock, a revolver in his hand.
Who are you? he demanded with authority in Tagalo.
Is old Pablo with you? asked the newcomer tranquilly; if so, tell
him Elias is searching for him.
You are Elias? said the other, with a certain respect, yet keeping
his revolver cocked. Follow me!
They penetrated a cavern, the guide warning the helmsman when to
lower his head, when to crawl on all fours. After a short passage they
arrived at a sort of room, dimly lighted by pitch torches, where twelve
or fifteen men, dirty, ragged, and sinister, were talking low among
themselves. His elbows resting on a stone, an old man of sombre face
sat apart, looking toward the smoky torches. It was a cavern of
tulisanes. When Elias arrived, the men started to rise, but at a
gesture from the old man they remained quiet, contenting themselves
with examining the newcomer.
Is it thou, then? said the old chief, his sad eyes lighting a
little at sight of the young man.
And you are here! exclaimed Elias, half to himself.
The old man bent his head in silence, making at the same time a sign
to the men, who rose and went out, not without taking the helmsman's
measure with their eyes.
Yes, said the old man to Elias when they were alone, six months
ago I gave you hospitality in my home; now it is I who receive
compassion from you. But sit down and tell me how you found me.
As soon as I heard of your misfortunes, replied Elias slowly, I
set out, and searched from mountain to mountain. I've gone over nearly
two provinces. After a short pause in which he tried to read the old
man's thoughts in his sombre face, he went on:
I have come to make you a proposition. After vainly trying to find
some representative of the family which caused the ruin of my own, I
have decided to go North, and live among the savage tribes. Will you
leave this life you are beginning, and come with me? Let me be a son to
The old man shook his head.
At my age, he said, when one has taken a desperate resolution it
is final. When such a man as I, who passed his youth and ripe age
laboring to assure his future and that of his children, who submitted
always to the will of superiors, whose conscience is clearwhen such a
man, almost on the border of the tomb, renounces all his past, it is
because after ripe reflection he concludes that there is no such thing
as peace. Why go to a strange land to drag out my miserable days? I had
two sons, a daughter, a home, a fortune. I enjoyed consideration and
respect; now I am like a tree stripped of its branches, bare and
desolate. And why? Because a man dishonored my daughter; because my
sons wished to seek satisfaction from this man, placed above other by
his office; because this man, fearing them, sought their destruction
and accomplished it. And I have survived; but if I did not know how to
defend my sons, I shall know how to avenge them. The day my band is
strong enough, I shall go down into the plain and wipe out my vengeance
and my life in fire! Either this day will come or there is no God!
The old man rose, and, his eyes glittering, his voice cavernous, he
cried, fastening his hands in his long hair:
Malediction, malediction upon me, who held the avenging hands of my
sons! I was their assassin!
I understand you, said Elias; I too have a vengeance to satisfy;
and yet, from fear of striking the innocent, I choose to forego that.
You can; you are young; you have not lost your last hope. I too, I
swear it, would not strike the innocent. You see this wound? I got it
rather than harm a cuadrillero who was doing his duty.
And yet, said Elias, if you carry out your purpose, you will
bring dreadful woes to our unhappy country. If with your own hands you
satisfy your vengeance, your enemies will take terrible reprisalsnot
from you, not from those who are armed, but from the people, who are
always the ones accused. When I knew you in other days, you gave me
wise counsels: will you permit me
The old man crossed his arms and seemed to attend.
Señor, continued Elias, I have had the fortune to do a great
service to a young man, rich, kind of heart, upright, wishing the good
of his country. It is said he has relations at Madrid; of that I know
nothing, but I know he is the friend of the governor-general. What do
you think of interesting him in the cause of the miserable and making
him their voice?
The old man shook his head.
He is rich, you say. The rich think only of increasing their
riches. Not one of them would compromise his peace to go to the aid of
those who suffer. I know it, I who was rich myself.
But he is not like the others. And he is a young man about to
marry, who wishes the tranquillity of his country for the sake of his
He is a man, then, who is going to be happy. Our cause is not that
of fortunate men.
No, but it is that of men of courage!
True, said the old man, seating himself again. Let us suppose he
consents to be our mouthpiece. Let us suppose he wins the
captain-general, and finds at Madrid deputies who can plead for us; do
you believe we shall have justice?
Let us try it before we try measures of blood, said Elias. It
must surprise you that I, an outlaw too, and young and strong, propose
pacific measures. It is because I see the number of miseries which we
ourselves cause, as well as our tyrants. It is always the unarmed who
pay the penalty.
And if nothing result from our steps?
If we are not heard, if our grievances are made light of, I shall
be the first to put myself under your orders.
The old man embraced Elias, a strange light in his eyes.
I accept the proposition, he said; I know you will keep your
word. I will help you to avenge your parents; you shall help me to
avenge my sons!
Meanwhile, señor, you will do nothing violent.
And you will set forth the wrongs of the people; you know them.
When shall I have the response?
In four days send me a man to the lake shore of San Diego. I will
tell him the decision, and name the person on whom I count.
Elias will be chief when Captain Pablo is fallen, said the old
man. And he himself accompanied the helmsman out of the cave.
XL. THE ENIGMA.
The day after the departure of the doctor and the doctora, Ibarra
returned to the pueblo. He hastened to the house of Captain Tiago to
tell Maria he had been reconciled to the Church. Aunt Isabel, who was
fond of the young fellow, and anxious for his marriage with her niece,
was filled with joy. Captain Tiago was not at home.
Come in! Aunt Isabel cried in her bad Castilian. Maria,
Crisóstomo has returned to favor with the Church; the archbishop has
But Crisóstomo stood still, the smile froze on his lips, the words
he was to say to Maria fled from his mind. Leaning against the balcony
beside her was Linares; on the floor lay leafless roses and sampagas.
The Spaniard was making garlands with the flowers and leaves from the
vines; Maria Clara, buried in her fauteuil, pale and thoughtful, was
playing with an ivory fan, less white than her slender hands.
At sight of Ibarra Linares paled, and carmine tinted the cheeks of
Maria Clara. She tried to rise, but was not strong enough; she lowered
her eyes and let her fan fall.
For some seconds there was an embarrassing silence; then Ibarra
I have this moment arrived, and came straight here. You are better
than I thought you were.
One would have said Maria had become mute: her eyes still lowered,
she did not say a word in reply. Ibarra looked searchingly at Linares;
the timid young man bore the scrutiny with haughtiness.
I see my arrival was not expected, he went on slowly. Pardon me,
Maria, that I did not have myself announced. Some day I can explain to
youfor we shall still see each othersurely!
At these last words the girl raised toward her fiancé her beautiful
eyes full of purity and sadness, so suppliant and so sweet that Ibarra
stood still in confusion.
May I come to-morrow? he asked after a moment.
You know that to me you are always welcome, she said in a weak
Ibarra left, calm in appearance, but a tempest was in his brain and
freezing cold in his heart. What he had just seen and comprehended
seemed to him incomprehensible. Was it doubt, inconstancy, betrayal?
Oh, woman! he murmured.
Without knowing where he went, he arrived at the ground where the
school was going up. Señor Juan hailed him with delight, and showed him
what had been done since he went away.
With surprise Ibarra saw Elias among the workmen; the helmsman
saluted him, as did the others, and at the same time made him
understand that he had something to say to him.
Señor Juan, said Ibarra, will you bring me the list of workmen?
Señor Juan disappeared, and Ibarra approached Elias, who was lifting a
great stone and loading it on a cart.
If you can, señor, said the helmsman, give me an hour of
conversation, there is something grave of which I want to talk with
you. Will you go on the lake early this evening in my boat?
Ibarra gave a sign of assent and Elias moved away. Señor Juan
brought the list, but Ibarra searched it in vain for the name of the
XLI. THE VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED.
The sun was just setting when Ibarra stepped into the little boat on
the lake shore. He appeared disturbed.
Pardon me, señor, said Elias, for having asked this favor; I
wished to speak to you freely, with no possibility of listeners.
And what have you to say?
They had already shot away from the bank. The sun had disappeared
behind the crest of the mountains, and as twilight is of short duration
in this latitude, the night was descending rapidly, lighted by a
Señor, replied Elias, I am the spokesman of many unfortunates.
And briefly he told of his conversation with the chief of the
tulisanes, omitting the old man's doubts and threats.
And they wish? asked Ibarra, when he had finished.
Radical reforms in the guard, the clergy, and the administration of
Elias, said Ibarra, I know little of you, but I believe you will
understand me when I say that though I have friends at Madrid whom I
might influence, and though I might interest the captain-general in
these people, neither they nor he could bring about such a revolution.
And more, I would not take a step in this direction, because I believe
what you want reformed is at present a necessary evil.
You also, señor, believe in necessary evil? said Elias with a
tremor in his voice. You think one must go through evil to arrive at
No; but I look at evil as a violent remedy we sometimes use to cure
ourselves of illness.
It is a bad medicine, señor, that does away with the symptoms
without searching out the cause of the disease. The Municipal Guard
exists only to suppress crime by force and terrorizing.
The institution may be imperfect, but the terror it inspires keeps
down the number of criminals.
Rather say that this terror creates new criminals every day, said
Elias. There are those who have become tulisanes for life. A first
offence punished inhumanly, and the fear of further torture separates
them forever from society and condemns them to kill or to be killed.
The terrorism of the Municipal Guard shuts the doors of repentance, and
as a tulisan, defending himself in the mountains, fights to much better
advantage than the soldier he mocks, we cannot remedy the evil we have
made. Terrorism may serve when a people is enslaved, and the mountains
have no caverns; but when a desperate man feels the strength of his
arm, and anger possesses him, terrorism cannot put out the fire for
which it has itself heaped the fuel.
You would seem to speak reasonably, Elias, if one had not already
his own convictions. But let me ask you, Who demand these reforms? You
know I except you, whom I cannot class with these others; but are they
not all criminals, or men ready to become so?
Go from pueblo to pueblo, señor, from house to house, and listen to
the stifled groanings, and you will find that if you think that, you
But the Government must have a body of unlimited power, to make
itself respected and its authority felt.
It is true, señor, when the Government is at war with the country;
but is it not unfortunate that in times of peace the people should be
made to feel they are at strife with their rulers? If, however, we
prefer force to authority, we should at least be careful to whom we
give unlimited power. Such a force in the hands of men ignorant,
passionate, without moral training or tried honor, is a weapon thrown
to a madman in the middle of an unarmed crowd. I grant the Government
must have an arm, but let it choose this arm well; and since it prefers
the power it assumes to that the people might give it, let it at least
show that it knows how to assume it!
Elias spoke with passion; his eyes were brilliant, his voice was
resonant. His words were followed by silence; the boat, no longer
driven forward by the oars, seemed motionless on the surface of the
lake; the moon shone resplendent in the sapphire sky; above the far
banks the stars glittered.
And what else do they ask?
Reform of the religious orders,they demand better protection
Against the religious orders?
Against their oppression, señor.
Do the Philippines forget the debt they owe those men who led them
out of error into the true faith? It is a pity we are not taught the
history of our country!
We must not forget this debt, no! But were not our nationality and
independence a dear price with which to cancel it? We have also given
the priests our best pueblos, our most fertile fields, and we still
give them our savings, for the purchase of all sorts of religious
objects. I realize that a pure faith and a veritable love of humanity
moved the first missionaries who came to our shores. I acknowledge the
debt we owe those noble men; I know that in those days Spain abounded
in heroes, of politics as well as religion. But because the ancestors
were true men, must we consent to the excesses of their unworthy
descendants? Because a great good has been done us, may we not protest
against being done a great wrong? The missionaries conquered the
country, it is true; but do you think it is through the monks that
Spain will keep the Philippines?
Yes, and through them only. It is the opinion of all those who have
written on the islands.
Señor, said Elias in dejection, I thank you for your patience. I
will take you back to the shore.
No, said Ibarra, go on; we should know which is right in so
important a question.
You will excuse me, señor, said Elias, I have not eloquence
enough to convince you. If I have some education, I am an Indian, and
my words would always be suspected. Those who have expressed opinions
contrary to mine are Spaniards, and as such disarm in advance all
contradiction. Besides, when I see that you, who love your country,
you, whose father sleeps below this calm water, you who have been
attacked and wronged yourself, have these opinions, I commence to doubt
my own convictions, I acknowledge that the people may be mistaken. I
must tell these unfortunates who have placed their confidence in men to
put it in God or in their own strength.
Elias, your words hurt me, and make me, too, have doubts. I have
not grown up with the people, and cannot know their needs. I only know
what books have taught me. If I take your words with caution, it is
because I fear you may be prejudiced by your personal wrongs. If I
could know something of your story, perhaps it would alter my judgment.
I am mistrustful of theories, am guided rather by facts.
Elias thought a moment, then he said:
If this is so, señor, I will briefly tell you my history.
XLII. THE FAMILY OF ELIAS.
It is about sixty years since my grandfather was employed as
accountant by a Spanish merchant. Although still young, he was married,
and had a son. One night the warehouse took fire, and was burned with
the surrounding property. The loss was great, incendiarism was
suspected, and my grandfather was accused. He had no money to pay for
his defence, and he was convicted and condemned to be publicly flogged
in the streets of his pueblo. Attached to a horse, he was beaten as he
passed each street corner by men, his brothers. The curates, you know,
advocate nothing but blows for the discipline of the Indian. When the
unhappy man, marked forever with infamy, was liberated, his poor young
wife went about seeking work to keep alive her disabled husband and
their little child. Failing in this, she was forced to see them suffer,
or to live herself a life of shame.
Ibarra rose to his feet.
Oh, don't be disturbed! There was no longer honor or dishonor for
her or hers. When the husband's wounds were healed, they went to hide
themselves in the mountains, where they lived for a time, shunned and
feared. But my grandfather, less courageous than his wife, could not
endure this existence and hung himself. When his body was found, by
chance, my grandmother was accused for not reporting his death, and was
in turn condemned to be flogged; but in consideration of her state her
punishment was deferred. She gave birth to another son, unhappily sound
and strong; two months later her sentence was carried out. Then she
took her two children and fled into a neighboring province.
The elder of the sons remembered that he had once been happy. As
soon as he was old enough he became a tulisan to avenge his wrongs, and
the name of Bâlat spread terror in many provinces. The younger son,
endowed by nature with a gentle disposition, stayed with his mother,
both living on the fruits of the forest and dressing in the cast-off
rags of those charitable enough to give. At length the famous Bâlat
fell into the hands of justice, and paid a dreadful penalty for his
crimes, to that society which had never done anything to teach him
better than to commit them. One morning the young brother, who had been
in the forest gathering fruits, came back to find the dead body of his
mother in front of their cabin, the horror-stricken eyes staring
upward; and following them with his own, the unhappy boy saw suspended
from a limb the bloody head of his brother.
My God! cried Ibarra.
It is perhaps the cry that escaped the lips of my father, said
Elias coldly. Like a condemned criminal, he fled across mountains and
valleys. When he thought himself far enough away to have lost his
identity, he found work with a rich man of the province of Tayabas. His
industry and the sweetness of his disposition gained him favor. Here he
stayed, economized, got a little capital, and as he was yet young,
thought to be happy. He won the love of a girl of the pueblo, but
delayed asking for her hand, fearing that his past might be uncovered.
At length, when love's indiscretion bore fruit, to save her reputation
he was obliged to risk everything. He asked to marry her, his papers
were demanded, and the truth was learned. As the father was rich, he
instituted a prosecution. The unhappy young man made no defence, and
was sent to the garrison.
Our mother bore twins, my sister and me. She died while we were yet
young, and we were told that our father was dead also. As our
grandfather was rich, we had a happy childhood; we were always
together, and loved each other as only twins can. I was sent very early
to the college of the Jesuits, and my sister to La Concordia, that we
might not be completely separated. In time we returned to take
possession of our grandfather's property. We had many servants and rich
fields. We were both happy, and my sister was affianced to a man she
By my haughtiness, perhaps, and for pecuniary reasons, I had won
the dislike of a distant relative. He threw in my face the obscurity of
our origin and the dishonor of our race. Believing it calumny, I
demanded satisfaction; the tomb where so many miseries sleep was
opened, and the truth came forth to confound me. To crown all, there
had been with us many years an old servant, who had suffered all my
caprices without complaint. I do not know how our relative found it
out, but he brought the old man before the court and made him declare
the truth: he was our father. Our happiness was ended. I gave up my
inheritance, my sister lost her fiancé, and with our father we left the
pueblo, to live where he might. The thought of the unhappiness he had
brought upon us shortened our father's days, and my sister and I were
left alone. She could not forget her lover, and little by little I saw
her droop. One day she disappeared, and I searched everywhere for her
in vain. Six months afterward, I learned that at the time I lost her
there had been found on the lake shore of Calamba the body of a young
woman drowned or assassinated. A knife, they said, was buried in her
breast. From what they told me of her dress and her beauty, I
recognized my sister. Since then I have wandered from province to
province, my reputation and my story following in time. Many things are
attributed to me, often unjustly, but I continue my way and take little
account of men. You have my story, and that of one of the judgments of
Elias rowed on in a silence which was for some time unbroken.
I believe you are not wrong when you say that justice should
interest herself in the education of criminals, said Crisóstomo at
length; but it is impossible, it is Utopia; where get the money
necessary to create so many new offices?
Why not use the priests, who vaunt their mission of peace and love?
Can it be more meritorious to sprinkle a child's head with water than
to wake, in the darkened conscience of a criminal, that spark lighted
by God in every soul to guide it in the search for truth? Can it be
more humane to accompany a condemned man to the gallows than to help
him in the hard path that leads from vice to virtue? And the spies, the
executioners, the guards, do not they too cost money?
My friend, if I believed all this, what could I do?
Alone, nothing; but if the people sustained you?
I shall never be the one to lead the people when they try to obtain
by force what the Government does not think it time to give them. If I
should see the people armed, I should range myself on the side of the
Government. I do not recognize my country in a mob. I desire her good;
that is why I build a school. I seek this good through instruction;
without light there is no route.
Without struggle, no liberty; without liberty, no light. You say
you know your country little. I believe you. You do not see the
conflict coming, the cloud on the horizon: the struggle begun in the
sphere of the mind is going to descend to the arena of blood. Listen to
the voice of God; woe to those who resist it! History shall not be
Elias was transfigured. He stood uncovered, his manly face illumined
by the white light of the moon. He shook his mane of hair and
Do you not see how everything is waking? The sleep has lasted
centuries, but some day the lightning will strike, and the bolt,
instead of bringing ruin, will bring life. Do you not see minds in
travail with new tendencies, and know that these tendencies, diverse
now, will some day be guided by God into one way? God has not failed
other peoples; He will not fail us!
The words were followed by solemn silence. The boat, drawn on by the
waves, was nearing the bank. Elias was the first to speak.
What shall I say to those who sent me?
That they must wait. I pity their situation, but progress is slow,
and there is always much of our own fault in our misfortunes.
Elias said no more. He lowered his eyes and continued to row. When
the boat touched the shore, he took leave of Ibarra.
I thank you, señor, he said, for your kindness to me, and, in
your own interest, I ask you to forget me from this day.
When Ibarra was gone, Elias guided his boat toward a clump of reeds
along the shore. His attention seemed absorbed in the thousands of
diamonds that rose with the oar, and fell back and disappeared in the
mystery of the gentle azure waves. When he touched land, a man came out
from among the reeds.
What shall I say to the captain? he asked.
Tell him Elias, if he lives, will keep his word, replied the
And when will you join us?
When your captain thinks the hour has come.
That is well; adieu!
If I live! repeated Elias, under his breath.
XLIII. IL BUON DI SI CONOSCE DA
While Ibarra and Elias were on the lake, old Tasio, ill in his
solitary little house, and Don Filipo, who had come to see him, were
also talking of the country. For several days the old philosopher, or
foolas you find himprostrated by a rapidly increasing feebleness,
had not left his bed.
The country, he was saying to Don Filipo, isn't what it was
twenty years ago.
Do you think so?
Don't you see it? asked the old man, sitting up. Ah! you did not
know the past. Hear the students of to-day talking. New names are
spoken under the arches that once heard only those of Saint Thomas,
Suarez, Amat, and the other idols of my day. In vain the monks cry from
the chair against the demoralization of the times; in vain the convents
extend their ramifications to strangle the new ideas. The roots of a
tree may influence the parasites growing on it, but they are powerless
against the bird, which, from the branches, mounts triumphant toward
The old man spoke with animation, and his eye shone.
And yet the new germ is very feeble, said the lieutenant. If they
all set about it, the progress already so dearly paid for may yet be
Choke it? Who? The weak dwarf, man, to choke progress, the powerful
child of time and energy? When has he done that? He has tried dogma,
the scaffold, and the stake, but E pur si muove is the device of
progress. Wills are thwarted, individuals sacrificed. What does that
mean to progress? She goes her way, and the blood of those who fall
enriches the soil whence spring her new shoots. The Dominicans
themselves do not escape this law, and they are beginning to imitate
the Jesuits, their irreconcilable enemies.
Do you hold that the Jesuits move with progress? asked the
astonished Don Filipo. Then why are they so attacked in Europe?
I reply as did once an ecclesiastic of old, said the philosopher,
laying his head back on the pillow and putting on his mocking air,
that there are three ways of moving with progress: ahead, beside,
behind; the first guide, the second follow, the third are dragged. The
Jesuits are of these last. At present, in the Philippines, we are about
three centuries behind the van of the general movement. The Jesuits,
who in Europe are the reaction, viewed from here represent progress.
For instance, the Philippines owe to them the introduction of the
natural sciences, the soul of the nineteenth century. As for ourselves,
at this moment we are entering a period of strife: strife between the
past which grapples to itself the tumbling feudal castle, and the
future whose song may be heard afar off, bringing us from distant lands
the tidings of good news.
The old man stopped, but seeing the expression of Don Filipo he
smiled and went on.
I can almost divine what you are thinking.
You are thinking that I may easily be wrong; to-day I have the
fever, and I am never infallible. But it is permitted us to dream. Why
not make the dreams agreeable in the last hours of life? You are right:
I do dream! Our young men think of nothing but loves and pleasures; our
men of riper years have no activity but in vice, serve only to corrupt
youth with their example; youth spends its best years without ideal,
and childhood wakes to life in rust and darkness. It is well to die.
Claudite jam rivos, pueri.
Is it time for your medicine? asked Don Filipo, seeing the cloud
on the old man's face.
The parting have no need of medicine, but those who stay. In a few
days I shall be gone. The Philippines are in the shadows.
XLIV. LA GALLERA.
To keep holy the afternoon of Sunday in Spain, one goes ordinarily
to the plaza de toros; in the Philippines, to the gallera. Cock-fights,
introduced in the country about a century ago, are to-day one of the
vices of the people. The Chinese can more easily deprive themselves of
opium than the Filipinos of this bloody sport.
The poor, wishing to get money without work, risks here the little
he has; the rich seeks a distraction at the price of whatever loose
coin feasts and masses leave him. The education of their cocks costs
both much pains, often more than that of their sons.
Since the Government permits and almost recommends it, let us take
our part in the sport, sure of meeting friends.
The gallera of San Diego, like most others, is divided into three
courts. In the entry is taken the sa pintû, that is, the price of
admission. Of this price the Government has a share, and its revenues
from this source are some hundred thousand pesos a year. It is said
this license fee of vice serves to build schools, open roads, span
rivers, and establish prizes for the encouragement of industry. Blessed
be vice when it produces so happy results! In this entry are found
girls selling buyo, cigars, and cakes. Here gather numerous children,
brought by their fathers or uncles, whose duty it is to initiate them
into the ways of life.
In the second court are most of the cocks. Here the contracts are
made, amid recriminations, oaths, and peals of laughter. One caresses
his cock, while another counts the scales on the feet of his, and
extends the wings. See this fellow, rage in his face and heart,
carrying by the legs his cock, deplumed and dead. The animal which for
months has been tended night and day, on which such brilliant hopes
were built, will bring a peseta and make a stew. Sic transit gloria
mundi! The ruined man goes home to his anxious wife and ragged
children. He has lost at once his cock and the price of his industry.
Here the least intelligent discuss the sport; those least given to
thought extend the wings of cocks, feel their muscles, weigh, and
ponder. Some are dressed in elegance, followed and surrounded by the
partisans of their cocks; others, ragged and dirty, the stigma of vice
on their blighted faces, follow anxiously the movements of the rich;
the purse may get empty, the passion remains. Here not a face that is
not animated; in this the Filipino is not indolent, nor apathetic, nor
silent; all is movement, passion. One would say they were all devoured
by a thirst always more and more excited by muddy water.
From this court one passes to the pit, a circle with seats terraced
to the roof, filled during the combats with a mass of men and children;
scarcely ever does a woman risk herself so far. Here it is that destiny
distributes smiles and tears, hunger and joyous feasts.
Entering, we recognize at once the gobernadorcillo, Captain Basilio,
and José, the man with the scar, so cast down by the death of his
brother. And here comes Captain Tiago, dressed like the sporting man,
in a canton flannel shirt, woollen trousers, and a jipijapa hat. He is
followed by two servants with his cocks. A combat is soon arranged
between one of these and a famous cock of Captain Basilio's. The news
spreads, and a crowd gathers round, examining, considering,
While men were searching their pockets for their last cuarto, or in
lieu of it were engaging their word, promising to sell the carabao, the
next crop, and so forth, two young fellows, brothers apparently, looked
on with envious eyes. José watched them by stealth, smiling evilly.
Then making the pesos sound in his pocket, he passed the brothers,
looking the other way and crying:
I pay fifty; fifty against twenty for the lásak!
The brothers looked at each other discontentedly.
I told you not to risk all the money, said the elder. If you had
listened to me
The younger approached José and timidly touched his arm.
What! It's you? he cried, turning and feigning surprise. Does
your brother accept my proposition?
He won't do it. But if you would lend us something, as you say you
José shook his head, shifted his position, and replied:
Yes, I know you; you are Társilo and Bruno; and I know that your
valiant father died from the club strokes of these soldiers. I know you
don't think of vengeance
Don't concern yourself with our history, said the elder brother,
joining them; that brings misfortune. If we hadn't a sister, we should
have been hanged long ago!
Hanged! Only cowards are hanged. Besides, the mountain isn't so
A hundred against fifty for the bûlik! cried some one passing.
Loan us four pesosthreetwo, begged Bruno. José again shook his
Sh! the money isn't mine. Don Crisóstomo gave it to me for those
who are willing to serve him. But I see you are not like your father;
he was courageous. The man who is not must not expect to divert
himself. And he moved away.
See! said Bruno, he's talking with Pedro; he's giving him a lot
of money! And in truth José was counting silver pieces into the palm
of Sisa's husband.
Társilo was moody and thoughtful; with his shirt sleeve he wiped the
sweat from his forehead.
Brother, said Bruno, I'm going, if you don't; our father must be
Wait, said Társilo, gazing into his eyesthey were both
paleI'm going with you. You are right: our father must be avenged!
But he did not move, and again wiped his brow.
What are you waiting for? demanded Bruno impatiently.
Don't you thinkour poor sister
Bah! Isn't Don Crisóstomo the chief, and haven't we seen him with
the governor-general? What risk do we run?
And if we die?
Did not our poor father die under their clubs?
You are right!
The brothers set out to find José, but hesitation again possessed
No; come away! we're going to ruin ourselves! he cried.
Go on if you want to. I shall accept!
Unhappily a man came up and asked:
Are you betting? I'm for the lásak.
How much? demanded Bruno.
The man counted his pieces.
I have two hundred; fifty against forty!
No! said Bruno resolutely.
Good! Fifty against thirty!
Double it if you will.
A hundred against sixty, then!
Agreed! Wait while I go for the money, and turning to his brother
Go away if you want to; I shall stay!
Társilo reflected. He loved Bruno, and he loved sport.
I am with you, he said. They found José.
Uncle, said Társilo, how much will you give? I've told you
already; if you will promise to find others to help surprise the
quarters, I'll give you thirty pesos each, and ten to each companion.
If all goes well, they will each receive a hundred, and you double. Don
Crisóstomo is rich!
Agreed! cried Bruno; give us the money!
I knew you were like your father! Come this way, so that those who
killed him cannot hear us, said José. And drawing them into a corner,
he added as he counted out the money:
Don Crisóstomo has come and brought the arms. To-morrow night at
eight o'clock meet me in the cemetery. I will give you the final word.
Go find your companions. And he left them.
The brothers appeared to have exchanged rôles. Társilo now seemed
undisturbed; Bruno was pale. They went back to the crowd, which was
leaving the circle for the raised seats. Little by little the place
became silent. Only the soltadores were left in the ring holding two
cocks, with exaggerated care, looking out for wounds. The silence
became solemn; the spectators became mere caricatures of men; the fight
was about to begin.
XLV. A CALL.
Two days later Brother Salvi presented himself at the house of
Captain Tiago. The Franciscan was more gaunt and pale than usual; but
as he went up the steps a strange light shone in his eyes, and his lips
parted in a strange smile. Captain Tiago kissed his hand, and took his
hat and cane, smiling beatifically.
I bring good news, said the curate as he entered the drawing-room;
good news for everybody. I have letters from Manila confirming the one
Señor Ibarra brought me, so that I believe, Don Santiago, the obstacle
is quite removed.
Maria Clara, seated at the piano, made a movement to rise, but her
strength failed her and she had to sit down again. Linares grew pale;
Captain Tiago lowered his eyes.
The young man seems to me very sympathetic, said the curate. At
first I misjudged him. He is impulsive, but when he commits a fault, he
knows so well how to atone for it that one is forced to forgive him. If
it were not for Father Dámaso And the curate flashed a glance at
Maria Clara. She was listening with all her being, but did not take her
eyes off her music, in spite of the pinches that were expressing
Sinang's joy. Had they been alone they would have danced.
But Father Dámaso has said, continued the curate, without losing
sight of Maria Clara, that as godfather he could not permit; but,
indeed, I believe if Señor Ibarra will ask his pardon everything will
Maria rose, made an excuse, and with Victorina left the room.
And if Father Dámaso does not pardon him? asked Don Santiago in a
Then Maria Clara must decide. But I believe the matter can be
The sound of an arrival was heard, and Ibarra entered. His coming
made a strange impression. Captain Tiago did not know whether to smile
or weep. Father Salvi rose and offered his hand so affectionately that
Crisóstomo could scarcely repress a look of surprise.
Where have you been all day? demanded wicked Sinang. We asked
each other: 'What can have taken that soul newly rescued from
perdition?' and each of us had her opinion.
And am I to know what each opinion was?
No, not yet! Tell me where you went, so I can see who made the best
That's a secret too; but I can tell you by yourself if these
gentlemen will permit.
Certainly, certainly? said Father Salvi. Sinang drew Crisóstomo to
the other end of the great room.
Tell me, little friend, said he, is Maria angry with me?
I don't know. She says you had best forget her, and then she cries.
This morning when we were wondering where you were I said to tease her:
'Perhaps he has gone a-courting.' But she was quite grave, and said:
'It is God's will!'
Tell Maria I must see her alone, said Ibarra, troubled.
It will be difficult, but I'll try to manage it.
And when shall I know?
To-morrow. But you are going without telling me the secret!
So I am. Well, I went to the pueblo of Los Baños to see about some
What a secret! cried Sinang aloud in a tone of a usurer despoiled.
Take care, I really don't want you to speak of it.
I've no desire to, said Sinang scornfully. If it had been really
of importance I should have told my friends; but cocoanuts, cocoanuts,
who cares about cocoanuts! and she ran off to find Maria.
Conversation languished, and Ibarra soon took his leave. Captain
Tiago was torn between the bitter and the sweet. Linares said nothing.
Only the curate affected gayety and recounted tales.
XLVI. A CONSPIRACY.
The bell was announcing the time of prayer the evening after. At its
sound every one stopped his work and uncovered. The laborer coming from
the fields checked his song; the woman in the streets crossed herself;
the man caressed his cock and said the Angelus, that chance might favor
him. And yet the curate, to the great scandal of pious old ladies, was
running through the street toward the house of the alférez. He dashed
up the steps and knocked impatiently. The alférez opened.
Ah, father, I was just going to see you; your young buck
I've something very important began the breathless curate.
I can't allow the fences to be broken; if he comes back, I shall
fire on him.
Who knows whether to-morrow you will be alive, said the curate,
going on toward the reception-room.
What? You think that youngster is going to kill me?
Señor alférez, the lives of all of us are in danger!
The curate pointed to the door, which the alférez closed in his
Now, go ahead, he said calmly.
Did you see how I ran? When I thus forget myself, there is some
And this time it is
The curate approached him and spoke low.
Do youknowof nothingnew?
The alférez shrugged his shoulders.
Are you speaking of Elias?
No, no! I'm speaking of a great peril!
Well, finish then! cried the exasperated alférez.
The curate lowered his voice mysteriously:
I have discovered a conspiracy!
The alférez gave a spring and looked at the curate in stupefaction.
A terrible conspiracy, well organized, that is to break out
The alférez rushed across the room, took down his sabre from the
wall, and grasped his revolver.
Whom shall I arrest? he cried.
Be calm! There is plenty of time, thanks to the haste with which I
came. At eight o'clock
They shall be shot, all of them!
Listen! It is a secret of the confessional, discovered to me by a
woman. At eight o'clock they are to surprise the barracks, sack the
convent, and assassinate all the Spaniards.
The alférez stood dumbfounded.
Be ready for them; ambush your soldiers; send me four guards for
the convent! You will earn your promotion to-night! I only ask you to
make it known that it was I who warned you.
It shall be known, father; it shall be known, and, perhaps, it will
bring down a mitre! replied the alférez, his eyes on the sleeves of
While this conversation was in progress, Elias was running toward
the house of Ibarra. He entered and was shown to the laboratory, where
Crisóstomo was passing the time until the hour of his appointment with
Ah! It is you, Elias? he said, without noticing the tremor of the
helmsman. See here! I've just made a discovery: this piece of bamboo
Señor, there is no time to talk of that; take your papers and
Ibarra looked up amazed, and, seeing the gravity of the helmsman's
face, let fall the piece of bamboo.
Leave nothing behind that could compromise you, and may an hour
from this time find you in a safer place than this!
What does all this mean?
That there is a conspiracy on foot which will be attributed to you.
I have this moment been talking with a man hired to take part in it.
Did he tell you who paid him?
He said it was you.
Ibarra stared in stupid amazement.
Señor, you haven't a moment to lose. The plot is to be carried out
Crisóstomo still gazed at Elias, as if he did not understand.
I learned of it too late; I don't know the leaders; I can do
nothing. Save yourself, señor!
Where can I go? I am due now at Captain Tiago's, said Ibarra,
beginning to come out of his trance.
To another pueblo, to Manila, anywhere! Destroy your papers! Fly,
and await events!
And Maria Clara? No! Better die!
Elias wrung his hands.
Prepare for the accusation, at all events. Destroy your papers!
Aid me then, said Crisóstomo, in almost helpless bewilderment.
They are in these cabinets. My father's letters might compromise me.
You will know them by the addresses. And he tore open one drawer after
another. Elias worked to better purpose, choosing here, rejecting
there. Suddenly he stopped, his pupils dilated; he turned a paper over
and over in his hand, then in a trembling voice he asked:
Your family knew Don Pedro Eibarramendia?
He was my great-grandfather.
Your great-grandfather? repeated Elias, livid.
Yes, said Ibarra mechanically, and totally unobservant of Elias.
The name was too long; we cut it.
Was he a Basque? asked Elias slowly.
Yes; but what ails you? said Crisóstomo, looking round and
recoiling before the hard face and clenched fists of Elias.
Do you know who Don Pedro Eibarramendia was? Don Pedro
Eibarramendia was the wretch who caused all our misfortune! I have long
been searching for his descendants; God has delivered you into my
hands! Look at me! Do you think I have suffered? And you live, and you
love, and have a fortune and a home; you live, you live! and, beside
himself, he ran toward a collection of arms on the wall. But no sooner
had he reached down two poniards than he dropped them, looking blindly
at Ibarra, who stood rigid.
What was I going to do? he said under his breath, and he fled like
XLVII. THE CATASTROPHE.
Captain Tiago, Aunt Isabel, and Linares were dining. Maria Clara had
said she was not hungry, and was at the piano with Sinang. The two
girls had arranged this moment for meeting Ibarra away from too
watchful eyes. The clock struck eight.
He's coming! Listen! cried the laughing Sinang.
He entered, white and sad. Maria Clara, in alarm, started toward
him, but before any one could speak a fusilade sounded in the street;
then random pistol shots, and cries and clamor. Crisóstomo seemed glued
to the floor. The diners came running in crying: The tulisanes! The
tulisanes! Aunt Isabel fell on her knees half dead from fright,
Captain Tiago was weeping. Some one rushed about fastening the windows.
The tumult continued outside; then little by little there fell a
dreadful silence. Presently the alférez was heard crying out as he ran
through the street:
Father Salvi! Father Salvi!
Mercy! exclaimed Aunt Isabel. The alférez is asking for
The alférez is wounded! murmured Linares, with an expression of
the utmost relief.
The tulisanes have killed the alférez! Maria, Sinang, into your
chamber! Barricade the door!
In spite of the protests of Aunt Isabel, Ibarra went out into the
street. Everything seemed turning round and round him; his ears rang;
he could scarcely move his limbs. Spots of blood, flashes of light and
darkness alternated before his eyes. The streets were deserted, but the
barracks were in confusion, and voices came from the tribunal, that of
the alférez dominating all the others. Ibarra passed unchallenged, and
reached his home, where his servants were anxiously watching for him.
Saddle me the best horse and go to bed, he said to them.
He entered his cabinet and began to pack a valise. He had put in his
money and jewels and Maria's picture and was gathering up his papers
when there came three resounding knocks at the house door.
Open in the name of the King! Open or we force the door! said an
imperious voice. Ibarra armed himself and looked toward the window;
then changed his mind, threw down his revolver, and went to the door.
Three guards immediately seized him.
I make you prisoner in the name of the King! said the sergeant.
You will learn at the tribunal; I am forbidden to talk with you.
I am at your disposition. It will not be for, I suppose, long.
If you promise not to try to escape us, we may leave your hands
free; the alférez grants you that favor.
Crisóstomo took his hat and followed the guards, leaving his
servants in consternation.
Elias, after leaving the house of Ibarra, ran like a madman, not
knowing whither. He crossed the fields and reached the wood. He was
fleeing from men and their habitations; he was fleeing from light; the
moon made him suffer. He buried himself in the mysterious silence of
the wood. The birds stirred, wakened from their sleep; owls flew from
branch to branch, screeching or looking at him with great, round eyes.
Elias did not see or hear them; he thought he was followed by the irate
shades of his ancestors. From every branch hung the bleeding head of
Bâlat. At the foot of every tree he stumbled against the cold body of
his grandmother; among the shadows swung the skeleton of his infamous
grandfather; and the skeleton, the body, and the bleeding head cried
out: Coward! Coward!
He ran on. He left the mountain and went down to the lake, moving
feverishly along the shore; his wandering eyes became fixed upon a
point on the tranquil surface, and there, surrounded by a silver nimbus
and rocked by the tide, stood a shade which he seemed to recognize.
Yes, that was her hair, so long and beautiful; yes, that was her
breast, gaping from the poniard stroke. And the wretched man, kneeling
in the sand, stretched out his arms to the cherished vision:
Thou! Thou, too! he cried.
His eyes fixed on the apparition, he rose, entered the water and
descended the gentle slope of the beach. Already he was far from the
bank; the waves lapped his waist; but he went on fascinated. The water
reached his breast. Did he know it? Suddenly a volley tore the air; the
night was so calm that the rifle shots sounded clear and sharp. He
stopped, listened, came to himself; the shade vanished; the dream was
gone. He perceived that he was in the lake, level with his eyes across
the tranquil water he saw the lights in the poor cabins of fishermen.
Everything came back to him. He made for the shore and went rapidly
toward the pueblo.
San Diego was deserted; the houses were closed; even the dogs had
hidden themselves. The glittering light that bathed everything detached
the shadows boldly, making the solitude still more dreary.
Fearing to encounter the guards, Elias scaled fences and hedges, and
so, making his way through the gardens, reached the home of Ibarra. The
servants were around the door lamenting the arrest of their master.
Elias learned what had happened, and made feint of going away, but
returned to the back of the house, jumped the wall, climbed into a
window and made his way to the laboratory. He saw the papers, the arms
taken down, the bags of money and jewels, Maria's picture, and had a
vision of Ibarra surprised by the soldiers. He meditated a moment and
decided to bury the things of value in the garden. He gathered them up,
went to the window, and saw gleaming in the moonlight the casques and
bayonets of the guard. His plans were quickly laid. He hid about his
person the money and jewels, and, after an instant's hesitation, the
picture of Maria. Then, heaping all the papers in the middle of the
room, he saturated them with oil from a lamp, threw the lighted candle
in the midst, and sprang out of the window. It was none too soon: the
guards were forcing entrance against the protests of the servants.
But dense smoke made its way through the house and tongues of flame
began to break out. Soldiers and servants together cried fire and
rushed toward the cabinet, but the flames had reached the chemicals,
and their explosion drove every one back. The water the servants could
bring was useless, and the house stood so apart that their cries
brought no aid. The flames leaped upward amid great spirals of smoke;
the house, long respected by the elements, was now their prisoner.
It was not yet dawn. The street in which were the barracks and
tribunal was still deserted; none of its houses gave a sign of life.
Suddenly the shutter of a window opened with a bang and a child's head
appeared, looking in all directions, the little neck stretched to its
utmostplas! It was the sound of a smart slap in contact with the
fresh human skin. The child screwed up his face, shut his eyes, and
disappeared from the window, which was violently closed again.
But the example had been given: the two bangs of the shutter had
been heard. Another window opened, this time with precaution, and the
wrinkled and toothless head of an old woman looked stealthily out. It
was Sister Putá, the old dame who had caused such a commotion during
Father Dámaso's sermon. Children and old women are the representatives
of curiosity in the world; the children want to know, the old women to
live over again. The old sister stayed longer than the child, and gazed
into the distance with contracted brows. Timidly a skylight opened in
the house opposite, giving passage to the head and shoulders of sister
Rufa. The two old women looked across at each other, smiled, exchanged
gestures, and signed themselves.
Since the sack of the pueblo by Bâlat I've not known such a night!
said Sister Putá.
What a firing! They say it was the band of old Pablo.
Tulisanes? Impossible! I heard it was the cuadrilleros against the
guards; that's why Don Filipo was arrested.
They say at least fourteen are dead.
Other windows opened and people were seen exchanging greetings and
By the light of the dawn, which promised a splendid day, soldiers
could now be seen dimly at the end of the street, like gray silhouettes
coming and going.
Do you know what it was? asked a man, with a villainous face.
Yes, the cuadrilleros.
No, señor, a revolt!
What revolt? The curate against the alférez?
Oh, no; nothing of that kind. It was an uprising of the Chinese.
The Chinese! repeated all the listeners, with great
That's why we don't see one!
They are all dead!
II suspected they had something on foot!
I saw it, too. Last night
What a pity they are all dead before Christmas! cried Sister Rufa.
We shall not get their presents!
The streets began to show signs of life. First the dogs, pigs, and
chickens began to circulate; then some little ragged boys, keeping hold
of each other's hands, ventured to approach the barracks. Two or three
old women crept after them, their heads wrapt in handkerchiefs knotted
under their chins, pretending to tell their beads, so as not to be
driven back by the soldiers. When it was certain that one might come
and go without risking a pistol shot, the men commenced to stroll out.
Affecting indifference and stroking their cocks, they finally got as
far as the tribunal.
Every quarter hour a new version of the affair was circulated.
Ibarra with his servants had tried to carry off Maria Clara, and in
defending her, Captain Tiago had been wounded. The number of dead was
no longer fourteen, but thirty. At half-past seven the version which
received most credit was clear and detailed.
I've just come from the tribunal, said a passer, where I saw Don
Filipo and Don Crisóstomo prisoners. Well, Bruno, son of the man who
was beaten to death, has confessed everything. You know, Captain Tiago
is to marry his daughter to the young Spaniard. Don Crisóstomo wanted
revenge, and planned to massacre all the Spaniards. His band attacked
the convent and the barracks. They say many of them escaped. The guards
burned Don Crisóstomo's house, and if he hadn't been arrested, they
would have burned him, too.
They burned the house?
You can still see the smoke from here, said the narrator.
Everybody looked: a column of smoke was rising against the sky. Then
the comments began, some pitying, some accusing.
Poor young man! cried the husband of Sister Putá.
What! cried the sister. You are ready to defend a man that heaven
has so plainly punished? You'll find yourself arrested too. You uphold
a falling house!
The husband was silent; the argument had told.
Yes, went on the old woman. After striking down Father Dámaso,
there was nothing left but to kill Father Salvi!
But you can't deny he was a good child.
Yes, he was good, replied the old woman; but he went to Europe,
and those who go to Europe come back heretics, the curates say.
Oho! said the husband, taking his advantage. And the curate, and
all the curates, and the archbishop, and the pope, aren't they all
Spaniards? What? And are they heretics?
Happily for Sister Putá, the conversation was cut short. A servant
came running, pale and horror-stricken.
A man hungin our neighbor's garden! she gasped.
A man hung! Nobody stirred.
Let's come and see, said the old man, rising.
Don't go near him, cried Sister Putá, 'twill bring us misfortune.
If he's hung, so much the worse for him!
Let me see him, woman. You, Juan, go and inform them at the
tribunal; he may not be dead. And the old man went off, the women,
even Sister Putá, following at a distance, full of fear, but also of
Hanging from the branch of a sandal tree in the garden a human body
met their gaze. The brave man examined it.
We must wait for the authorities; he's been dead a long time, he
Little by little the women drew near.
It's the new neighbor, they whispered. See the scar on his face?
In half an hour the authorities arrived.
People are in a great hurry to die! said the directorcillo,
cocking his pen behind his ear, and he began his investigation.
Meanwhile a peasant wearing a great salakat on his head and having
his neck muffled was examining the body and the cord. He noticed
several evidences that the man was dead before he was hung. The curious
countryman noticed also that the clothing seemed recently torn and was
covered with dust.
What are you looking at? demanded the directorcillo, who had
gathered all his evidence.
I was looking, señor, to see if I knew him, stammered the man,
half uncovering, in which he managed to lower his salakat even farther
over his eyes.
But didn't you hear that it is a certain José? You must be asleep!
Everybody laughed. The confused countryman stammered something else
and went away. When he had reached a safe distance, he took off his
disguise and resumed the stature and gait of Elias.
XLIX. VÆ VICTIS.
With threatening air the guards marched back and forth before the
door of the town hall, menacing with the butt of their rifles intrepid
small boys, who came and raised themselves on tiptoe to see through the
The court room had not the same appearance as the day of the
discussion of the fête. The guards and the cuadrilleros spoke low; the
alférez paced the room, looking angrily at the door from time to time.
In a corner yawned Doña Consolacion, her steely eyes riveted on the
door leading into the prison. The arm-chair under the picture of His
Majesty was empty.
It was almost nine o'clock when the curate arrived.
Well, said the alférez, you haven't kept us waiting!
I did not wish to be here, said the curate, ignoring the tone of
the alférez. I am very nervous.
I thought it best to wait for you, said the alférez. We have
eight here, he went on, pointing toward the door of the prison; the
one called Bruno died in the night. Are you ready to examine the two
The curate sat down in the arm-chair.
Let us go on, he said.
Bring out the two in the cepo! ordered the alférez in as terrible
a voice as he could command. Then turning to the curate:
We skipped two holes.
For the benefit of those not acquainted with the instruments of
torture of the Philippines, we will say that the cepo, a form of
stocks, is one of the most innocent; but by skipping enough holes, the
position is made most trying. It is, however, a torture that can be
The jailor drew the bolt and opened the door. A sickening odor
escaped, and a match lighted by one of the guards went out in the
vitiated air; when it was possible to take in a candle, one could see
dimly, from the rooms outside, the forms of men crouching or standing.
The cepo was opened.
A dark figure came out between two soldiers; it was Társilo, the
brother of Bruno. His torn clothing let his splendid muscles show. The
other prisoner brought out was weeping and lamenting.
What is your name? the alférez demanded of Társilo.
What did Don Crisóstomo promise you for attacking the convent?
I have never had any communication with Don Crisóstomo.
Don't attempt to deny it: what other reason had you for joining the
You had killed our father, we wished to avenge him, nothing more.
Go find two of your guards. They're at the foot of the precipice, where
we threw them. You may kill me now, you will learn nothing more.
There was silence and general surprise.
You will name your accomplices, cried the alférez, brandishing his
The accused man smiled disdainfully. The alférez talked apart with
Take him where the bodies are, he ordered.
In a corner of the patio, on an old cart, five bodies were heaped
under a piece of soiled matting.
Do you know them? asked the alférez, lifting the covering. Társilo
did not reply. He saw the body of Sisa's husband, and that of his
brother, pierced through with bayonet strokes. His face grew darker,
and a great sigh escaped him; but he was mute.
Beat him till he confesses or dies! cried the exasperated alférez.
They led him back where the other prisoner, with chattering teeth,
was invoking the saints.
Do you know this man? demanded Father Salvi.
I never saw him before, replied Társilo, looking at the poor
wretch with faint compassion.
Fasten him to the bench; gag him! ordered the alférez, trembling
with rage. When this was done, a guard began his sad task.
Father Salvi, pale and haggard, rose trembling, and left the
tribunal. In the street he saw a girl, leaning against the wall, rigid,
motionless, her eyes far away. The sun shone full down on her. She
seemed not to breathe but to count, one after another, the muffled
blows inside. It was Társilo's sister.
The torture continued until the soldier, breathless, let his arm
fall, and the alférez ordered his victim released. But Társilo still
refused to speak. Then Doña Consolacion whispered in her husband's ear;
To the well with him! he said.
The Filipinos know what that means. In Tagalo it is called timbaîn.
We do not know who invented this judiciary process, but it must belong
to antiquity. Truth coming out of a well is perhaps a sarcastic
In the middle of the patio of the tribunal was a picturesque well
curb of uncut stones. It had a rustic crank of bamboo; its water was
slimy and putrid. All sorts of refuse had been thrown around it and in
Toward this Társilo was led. He was very pale, and his lips
trembled, if he was not praying. The pride he had shown appeared now to
be crushed out; he seemed resigned to suffer. The poor wretch looked
enviously at the pile of bodies, and sighed heavily.
Speak then! said the directorcillo. You will be hung anyway. Why
not die without so much suffering? But Társilo remained mute.
When the well was reached, they bound his feet. He was to be let
down head foremost. He was fastened to the curb; the crank turned, and
his body disappeared. The alférez noted the seconds with his watch. At
the signal the body was drawn up, too pitiable to describe; but Társilo
was still mute. Again he was let down, again he refused to speak; when
he was drawn up the third time, he no longer breathed.
His torturers looked at each other in consternation. The alférez
ordered the body taken down, and they all examined it for signs of
life; but there were none.
See, said a cuadrillero, at last, he has strangled himself with
Put the body with the others, ordered the alférez nervously. We
must examine the other unknown prisoner.
The news spread that the prisoners were to be taken to the capital,
and members of their families ran wildly from convent to barracks, from
barracks to tribunal, but found no consolation anywhere. The curate was
said to be ill. The guards dealt roughly with the supplicating women,
and the gobernadorcillo was more useless than ever. The friends of the
accused, therefore, had collected near the prison, waiting for them to
be brought out. Doray, Don Filipo's young wife, wandered back and
forth, her child in her arms, both crying. The Capitana Tinay called on
her son Antonio, and brave Capitana Maria watched the grating behind
which were her twins, her only children.
At two in the afternoon, an uncovered cart drawn by two oxen stopped
in front of the tribunal. It was surrounded, and there were loud
threats of breaking it.
Don't do that! cried Capitana Maria; do you wish them to go on
foot? In a few moments, twenty soldiers came out and surrounded the
ox-cart; then the prisoners appeared. The first was Don Filipo, who
smiled at his wife. Doray responded by bitter sobs, and would have
rushed to her husband, had not the guards held her back. The son of
Capitana Tinay was crying like a child, which did not help to check the
lamentations of his family. The twins were calm and grave. Ibarra came
last. He walked between two guards, his hand free; his eyes sought on
all sides for a friendly face.
He is the guilty one! cried numerous voices. He is the guilty
one, and his hands are unbound!
Bind my arms, said Ibarra to his guards.
We have no orders.
The soldiers obeyed.
The alférez appeared on horseback, armed to the teeth, and followed
by an escort of soldiers. The prisoners' friends saluted them with
affectionate words; only Ibarra was friendless.
What has my husband done to you? sobbed Doray. See my child; you
have robbed him of his father!
Grief began to turn to hate against the man who was said to have
provoked the uprising.
The alférez gave the order to start.
Coward! cried a woman, as the cart moved off. While the others
fought, you were in hiding! Coward!
Curses on you! cried an old man, running after. Cursed be the
gold heaped up by your family to take away our peace. Accurst!
May you be hung, heretic! cried a woman, picking up a stone and
throwing it after him. Her example was promptly followed, and a shower
of dust and pebbles beat against the unhappy man. Crisóstomo bore this
injustice without a sign. It was the farewell of his beloved country.
He bent his head and sat motionless. Perhaps he was thinking of a man
beaten in the pueblo streets; perhaps of the body of a girl, washed up
by the waves.
The alférez felt obliged to drive away the crowd, but stones did not
cease to fall, nor insult to sound. One mother only did not curse
Ibarra; the Capitana Maria watched her sons go, with compressed lips
and eyes full of silent tears.
Of all the people in the open windows as he passed, none but the
indifferent and curious showed Ibarra the least compassion. All his
friends had deserted him, even Captain Basilio, who had forbidden
Sinang to weep. When Crisóstomo passed the smoking ruins of his home,
that home where he was born, and spent his happy childhood and youth,
the tears, long repressed, gushed from his eyes, and bound as he was,
he had to experience the bitterness of showing a grief that could not
rouse the slightest sympathy.
From a hill, an old man, pale and thin, wrapped in a mantle, and
leaning on a stick, watched the sad procession. At the news of what had
happened, old Tasio had left his bed, and tried to go to the pueblo,
but his strength had failed him. He followed the cart with his eyes,
until it disappeared in the distance. Then, after resting a while in
thought, he got up painfully, and started toward his home, halting for
breath at almost every step. The next day some shepherds found him dead
under the shadow of his solitary house.
LI. PATRIOTISM AND INTEREST.
The telegraph had secretly transmitted to Manila the news of the
uprising, and thirty-six hours later, the newspapers, their accounts
expanded, corrected, and mutilated by the attorney-general, talked
about it with much mystery and no little menace. Meanwhile the private
accounts, coming out of the convents, had gone from mouth to mouth, to
the great alarm of those who heard them. The fact, distorted in
countless versions, was accepted as true with more or less readiness,
according to its fitness to the passions and ideas of the different
Though public tranquillity was not disturbed, the peace of the
hearthstones became like that of a fish-pond, all on top; underneath
was commotion. Crosses, gold lace, office, power, honors of all kinds
began to hover over one part of the population, like butterflies in a
golden sunshine. For the others a dark cloud rose on the horizon, and
against this ashy background stood in relief bars, chains, and the
fateful arms of the gibbet. Destiny presented the event to the Manila
imagination, like certain Chinese fans: one face painted black, the
other gilded, and gorgeous with birds and flowers.
There was great agitation in the convents. The provincials ordered
their carriages, and held secret conferences; then presented themselves
at the palace, to offer their support to the imperiled government.
A Te Deum, a Te Deum! said a monk in one convent. Through the
goodness of God, our worth is made manifest in these perilous times!
This petty general, this prophet of evil, will gnaw his moustaches
after this little lesson, said another.
What would have become of him without the religious orders?
The papers almost go to the point of demanding a mitre for Brother
And he will get it! He's consumed with desire for it!
Do you think so?
Why shouldn't he be? In these days mitres are given for the
If mitres had eyes, and could see on what craniums
We spare our readers other comments of this nature. Let us enter the
home of a private citizen, and as we know few people at Manila, we will
knock at the door of Captain Tinong, the friendly and hospitable
gentleman whom we saw inviting Ibarra, with so much insistence, to
honor his house with a visit.
In his rich and spacious drawing-room, at Tondo, Captain Tinong is
seated in a great arm-chair, passing his hand despairingly across his
brow; while his weeping wife, the Capitana Tinchang, reads him a
sermon, listened to by their two daughters, who are seated in a corner,
mute with stupefaction.
Ah, Virgin of Antipolo! cried the wife. Ah, Virgin of the Rosary;
I told you so! I told you so! Ah, Virgin of Carmel! Ah!
Why, no! You didn't tell me anything, Captain Tinong finally
ventured to reply. On the contrary, you said I did well to keep up the
friendship with Captain Tiago, and to go to his house, becausebecause
he was rich; and you said
What did I say? I didn't say it! I didn't say anything! Ah, if you
had listened to me!
Now you throw the blame back on me! said the captain bitterly,
striking the arm of his chair with his fist. Didn't you say I did well
to invite him to dinner, because, as he was rich
It is true I said that, becausebecause it couldn't be helped; you
had already invited him; and you did nothing but praise him. Don Ibarra
here, and Don Ibarra there, and Don Ibarra on all sides. But I didn't
advise you to see him or to speak to him at the dinner. That you cannot
Did I know, for instance, that he was to be there?
You ought to have known it!
How, if I wasn't even acquainted with him?
You ought to have been acquainted with him!
But, Tinchang, if it was the first time I had ever seen him or
heard him spoken of?
You ought to have seen him before, you ought to have heard him
spoken of; that's what you are a man for! And now, you will be sent
into exile, our goods will be confiscatedOh, if I were a man! if I
were a man!
And if you were a man, asked the vexed husband, what would you
What? Why, to-day, this very day, I should present myself to the
captain-general, and offer to fight against the rebels, this very day!
But didn't you read what the Diario says? Listen! 'The infamous and
abortive treason has been repressed with energy, force, and vigor, and
the rebellious enemies of the country and their accomplices will
promptly feel all the weight and all the severity of the laws!' You
see, there is no rebellion!
That makes no difference, you should present yourself; many did it
in 1872, and so nobody harmed them.
Yes! it was done also by Father Bug But his wife's hands were
over his mouth.
Say it! Speak that name, so you may be hung to-morrow at
Bagumbayan! Don't you know it is enough to get you executed without so
much as a trial? Go on, say it!
But though Captain Tinong had wished, he couldn't have done it. His
wife held his mouth with both her hands, squeezing his little head
against the back of the chair. Perhaps the poor man would have died of
asphyxia, had not a new person come on the stage.
It was their cousin, Don Primitivo, who knew Amat by heart; a man of
forty, large and corpulent, and dressed with the utmost care.
Quid video? he cried, upon entering; what is going on?
Ah, cousin! said the wife, weeping, and running to him, I had you
sent for, for I don't know what will become of us! What do you
adviseyou who have studied Latin and understand reasoning
But quid quæritis? Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in
sensu. And he sat down sedately. The Latin phrases seemed to have a
tranquillizing effect; the husband and wife ceased to lament, and came
nearer, awaiting the counsel of their cousin's lips, as once the Greeks
awaited the saving phrase of the oracle.
Why are you mourning? Ubinam gentium sumus?
You know the story of the uprising
Well, what of it? Don Crisóstomo owes you?
No! but do you know that Tinong invited him to dinner, and that he
bowed to him on the bridgein the middle of the day? They will say
he was a friend of ours!
Friend? cried the Latin, in alarm, rising; tell me who your
friends are, and I'll tell you who you are yourself! Malum est negotium
et est timendum rerum istarum horrendissimum resultatum. Hum!
So many words in um terrified Captain Tinong. He became frightfully
pale. His wife joined her hands in supplication.
Cousin, you speak to us now in Latin, but you know we haven't
studied philosophy like you. Speak to us in Tagal or Castilian; give us
It is deplorable that you do not know Latin, my cousin: Latin
verities are lies in Tagalo. Contra principi negantem fustibus est
arguendum, is, in Latin, a truth as veritable as Noah's ark. I once put
it in practice in Tagalo, and it was I who got beaten. It is indeed a
misfortune that you do not know Latin! In Latin it might all be
arranged. You have done wrong, very wrong, cousins, to make friends
with this young man. The just pay the dues of sinners. I feel almost
like advising you to make your will! and he moved his head gloomily
from side to side.
Saturnino, what ails you? cried Capitana Tinchang, terrified. Ah!
Heaven! he is dead! A doctor! Tinong, Tinongy!
He has only fainted, cousin; bring some water. Don Primitivo
sprinkled his face, and the unfortunate man revived.
Come, come! don't weep! I've found a remedy. Put him in bed. Come,
come! courage! I am with you, and all the wisdom of the ancients! Call
a doctor, and this very day, cousin, go present yourself to the
captain-general, and take him a present, a gold chain, a ring; say it's
a Christmas present. Shut the windows and doors, and if any one asks
for your husband, say he is seriously ill. Meanwhile I'll burn all the
letters, papers, and books, as Don Crisóstomo did. Scripti testes sunt!
Go on to the captain's. Leave me to myself. In extremis extrema. Give
me the power of a Roman dictator, and see whether I save the counWhat
am I sayingthe cousin!
He commenced to upset the shelves of the library, and tear papers
and letters. Then he lighted a fire on the kitchen hearth, and the
auto-da-fé began. 'Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres,' by
Copernicus. Whew! ite, maledicte, in ignem kalanis! he cried, throwing
it to the flames. Revolution and Copernicus! Crime upon crime! If I
don't get through soon enough! 'Liberty in the Philippines!' What
books! Into the fire with them! The most innocent works did not escape
the common fate. Cousin Primitivo was right. The just pay for sinners.
Four or five hours later, at a fashionable gathering, the events of
the day were being discussed. There were present a number of elderly
married ladies and spinsters, together with the wives and daughters of
clerks of the administration, all in European costume, fanning and
yawning. Among the men, who, by their manners, showed their position,
as did the women, was a man advanced in age, small and one-armed, who
was treated with distinction, and who kept a reserved distance.
I could never before suffer the monks and civil guards, because of
their want of manners, a portly lady was saying, but now that I see
of what service they are, I could almost marry one of them. I am
I am of the very same mind, said a very prim spinster. But what a
pity the former governor isn't with us!
He would put an end to the race of filibusterillos!
Don't they say there are many islands yet uninhabited?
If I were the captain-general
Señoras, said the one-armed man, the captain-general knows his
duty. I understand he is greatly irritated, for he had loaded this
Ibarra with favors.
Loaded him with favors! repeated the slim gentlewoman, fanning
furiously. What ingrates these Indians are! Is it possible to treat
them like human beings?
Do you know what I've heard? asked an officer.
No! What is it? What do they say?
People worthy of confidence say that all this noise about building
a school was a pure pretext; what he meant to make was a fort for his
own defence when he had been attacked.
What infamy! Would any one but an Indian be capable of it?
But they say this filibustero is the son of a Spaniard, said the
one-armed man, without looking at anybody.
There it is again, cried the portly lady; always these creoles!
No Indian understands anything about revolution. Train crows, and
they'll pick your eyes out!
Do you know what I've heard? asked a pretty creole, to turn the
conversation. The wife of Captain Tinongyou remember? We danced and
dined at his house at the fête of Tondowell, the wife of Captain
Tinong gave the captain-general, this afternoon, a ring worth a
thousand pesos. She said it was a Christmas present.
Christmas doesn't come for a month.
She must have feared a downpour, said the stout lady.
And so got under cover, said the slim.
That is evident, said the one-armed man, thoughtfully. I fear
there is something back of this.
I also, said the portly lady. The wife of Captain Tinong is very
parsimoniousshe has never sent us presents, though we have been to
her house. When such a person lets slip a little present of a thousand
But is it certain? demanded the one-armed man.
Absolutely! His excellency's aide-de-camp told my cousin, to whom
he is engaged. I'm tempted to believe it's a ring she wore the day of
the fête. She's always covered with diamonds.
That's one way of advertising! Instead of buying a lay-figure or
renting a shop
The one-armed man found a pretext for leaving.
Two hours later, when all the city was asleep, certain inhabitants
of Tondo received an invitation through the medium of soldiers.
Authority could not permit people of position and property to sleep in
houses so ill guarded. In the fortress of Santiago, and in other
government buildings, their sleep would be more tranquil and
refreshing. Among these people was the unfortunate Captain Tinong.
LII. MARIA CLARA MARRIES.
Captain Tiago was very happy. During these troublous times, no one
had paid any attention to him. He had not been arrested, he had not
been subjected to cross-examination, to electrical machines, to
repeated foot-baths in subterranean habitations, nor to any other of
these pleasantries, well known to certain people who call themselves
civilized. His friends, that is to say, those who had beenfor he had
repudiated his Filipino friends as soon as they had become suspects in
the eyes of the Governmenthad returned home after several days of
vacation in the edifices of the State. The captain-general had ordered
them out of his possessions, to the great displeasure of the one-armed
man, who would have liked to celebrate the approaching Christmas in so
numerous a company of the rich.
Captain Tinong returned to his home, ill, pale, another man. The
excursion had not been for his good. He said nothing, not even to greet
his family, who laughed and wept over him, mad with joy. The poor man
no longer left the house, for fear of saluting a filibuster. Cousin
Primitivo himself, with all the wisdom of the ancients, could not draw
him out of his mutism.
Stories like that of Captain Tinong's were numerous, and Captain
Tiago was not ignorant of them. He overflowed with gratitude, without
knowing exactly to whom he owed these signal favors. Aunt Isabel
attributed the miracle to the Virgin of Antipolo.
I too, Isabel, said Captain Tiago, but the Virgin of Antipolo has
probably not done it alone; my friends have helped, and my future
son-in-law, Señor Linares.
It was whispered that Ibarra would be hung; that in spite of lack of
proofs of his guilt, one thing had been found that confirmed the
accusation; the experts had declared the school was so designed that it
might pass for a rampart, faulty enough, to be sure, but what one might
expect of ignorant Indians.
In the midst of affairs, Doña Victorina, Don Tiburcio, and Linares
arrived. As usual, Doña Victorina talked for the three men and herself;
and her speech had undergone a remarkable change. She now claimed to
have naturalized herself an Andalusian by suppressing d's and replacing
the sound of s by that of z. No one had been able to get the idea out
of her head; one would certainly have needed to get her frizzes off the
outside first. She talked of visits of Linares to the captain-general,
and made continual insinuations as to advantages a relative of position
As we say, she concluded, he who sleeps in a good shade, leans on
a good staff.
It'sit's the opposite, wife.
Maria Clara was yet pale, though she had almost recovered from her
illness. She kissed Doña Victorina, smiling rather sadly.
You have been saved, thanks to your connections! said the doctora,
with a significant look toward Linares.
God has protected my father, said Maria, in a low voice.
Yes, Clarita, but the time of miracles is past. We, the Spaniards
say, trust not in the Virgin, and save yourself by running.
It'sit'sthe contrary, wife!
We must talk business, said Doña Victorina, glancing at Maria.
Maria found a pretext for leaving, and went out, steadying herself by
What was said in this conference was so sordid and mean, that we
prefer not to report it. Suffice it to say that when they parted, they
were all satisfied. Captain Tiago said a little after to Aunt Isabel:
Have the caterer notified that we give a reception to-morrow. Maria
must get ready for her marriage at once. When Señor Linares is our
son-in-law, all the palaces will be open to us; and every one will die
And so, toward eight o'clock the next evening, the house of Captain
Tiago was once more full. This time, however, he had invited only
Spaniards, peninsular and Philippine, and Chinese. Yet many of our
acquaintances were there. Father Sibyla and Father Salvi, among
numerous Franciscans and Dominicans; the old lieutenant of the
Municipal Guard, more sombre than ever; the alférez, recounting his
victory for the thousandth time, looking over the heads of everybody,
now that he is lieutenant with grade of commandant; Dr. Espadaña, who
looks upon him with respect and fear, and avoids his glance; Doña
Victorina, who cannot see him without anger. Linares had not yet
arrived; as a person of importance, he must arouse expectation. There
are beings so simple, that an hour's waiting for a man suffices to make
him great in their eyes.
Maria Clara was the object of interest to all the women, and the
subject of unveiled comments. She had received these ceremoniously,
without losing her air of sadness.
Bah! the proud little thing! said one.
Rather pretty, said another, but he might have chosen some one
with a more intelligent face.
But the money, my dear! The good fellow is selling himself.
In another group some one was saying:
To marry when one's first fiancé is going to be hung!
That is what is called prudent; having a substitute at hand.
Then, when one becomes a widow
Possibly some of these remarks reached the ears of Maria Clara. She
grew paler, her hand trembled, her lips seemed to move.
In the circles of men the talk was loud, and naturally the recent
events were the subject of conversation. Everybody talked, even Don
I hear that your reverence is about to leave the pueblo, said the
new lieutenant, whom his new star had made more amiable.
I have no more to do there; I am to be placed permanently at
Manila. And you? asked Father Salvi.
I also leave the pueblo, said he, throwing back his shoulders; I
am going with a flying column to rid the province of filibusters.
Father Salvi surveyed his old enemy from top to toe, and turned away
with a disdainful smile.
Is it known certainly what is to be done with the chief
filibuster? asked a clerk.
You are speaking of Don Crisóstomo Ibarra, replied another. It is
very probable that he will be hung, like those of 1872, and it will be
He is to be exiled, said the old lieutenant dryly.
Exile! Nothing but exile? cried numerous voices at once. Then it
must be for life!
If the young man had been more prudent, went on Lieutenant
Guevara, speaking so that all might hear, if he had confided less in
certain persons to whom he wrote, if our attorney-generals did not
interpret too subtly what they read, it is certain he would have been
This declaration of the old lieutenant's, and the tone of his voice,
produced a great surprise among his auditors. No one knew what to say.
Father Salvi looked away, perhaps to avoid the dark look the lieutenant
gave him. Maria Clara dropped some flowers she had in her hand, and
became a statue. Father Sibyla, who knew when to be silent, seemed the
only one who knew how to question.
You speak of letters, Señor Guevara.
I speak of what I am told by Don Crisóstomo's advocate, who is
greatly interested in his case, and defended him with zeal. Outside of
a few ambiguous lines in a letter addressed to a woman before he left
for Europe, in which the procurator found a project against the
Government, and which the young man acknowledged as his, there was no
evidence against him.
And the declaration made by the tulisan before he died?
The defence destroyed that testimony. According to the witness
himself, none of them had any communication with Ibarra, except one
named José, who was his enemy, as was proven, and who afterward
committed suicide, probably from remorse. It was shown that the papers
found on his body were forgeries, for the writing was like Ibarra's
seven years ago, but not like his hand of to-day. For this it was
supposed that the accusing letter served as a model.
You tell us, said a Franciscan, that Ibarra addressed this letter
to a woman. How did it come into the hands of the attorney-general?
The lieutenant did not reply. He looked a moment at Father Salvi,
and moved off, twisting the point of his gray beard. The others
continued to discuss the matter.
Even women seem to have hated him, said one.
He burned his house, thinking to save himself, but he counted
without his hostess! said another, laughing.
Meanwhile the old soldier approached Maria Clara. She had heard the
whole conversation, sitting motionless, the flowers lying at her feet.
You are a prudent young woman, he said in a low voice; by giving
over the letter, you assured yourself a peaceful future. And he moved
on, leaving Maria with blank eyes and a face rigid. Fortunately Aunt
Isabel passed. Maria had strength to take her by the dress.
What is the matter? cried the old lady, terrified at the face of
her niece. You are ill, my child. You are ready to faint. What is it?
My heartit's the crowdso much lightI must rest. Tell my
father I've gone to rest, and steadying herself by her aunt's arm, she
went to her room.
You are cold! Do you want some tea? asked Aunt Isabel at the door.
Maria shook her head. Go back, dear aunt, I only need to rest, she
said. She locked the door of her little room, and at the end of her
strength, threw herself down before a statue, sobbing:
Mother, mother, my mother!
The moonlight came in through the window, and through the door
leading to the balcony. The joyous music of the dance, peals of
laughter and the hum of conversation, made their way to the chamber.
Many times they knocked at her doorher father, her aunt, Doña
Victorina, even Linares. Maria did not move or speak; now and then a
hoarse sob escaped her.
Hours passed. After the feast had come the ball. Maria's candle had
burned out, and she lay in the moonlight at the foot of the statue. She
had not moved. Little by little the house became quiet. Aunt Isabel
came to knock once again at the door.
She must have gone to bed, the old lady called back to her
brother. At her age one sleeps like the dead.
When all was still again, Maria rose slowly, and looked out on the
terrace with its vines bathed in the white moonlight.
A peaceful future!Sleep like the dead! she said aloud; and she
The city was mute; only now and then a carriage could be heard
crossing the wooden bridge. The girl raised her eyes toward the sky;
then slowly she took off her rings, the pendants in her ears, the comb
and jewelled pins in her hair, and put them on the balustrade of the
terrace; then she looked toward the river.
A little bark, loaded with zacate, drew up to the landing-place
below the terrace. One of the two men in it climbed the stone steps,
sprang over the wall, and in a moment was mounting the stairway of the
terrace. At sight of Maria, he stopped, then approached slowly.
Maria drew back.
Crisóstomo! she said, speaking low. She was terrified.
Yes, I am Crisóstomo, replied the young man gravely. An enemy, a
man who has reason to hate me, Elias, has rescued me from the prison
where my friends put me.
A sad silence followed his words. Maria Clara bent her head. Ibarra
By the dead body of my mother, I pledged myself, whatever my
future, to try to make you happy. I have risked all that remains to me,
to come and fulfil that promise. Chance lets me speak to you, Maria; we
shall never see each other again. You are young now; some day your
conscience may upbraid you. Before I go away forever, I have come to
say that I forgive you. Be happyfarewell! And he began to move away;
she held him back.
Crisóstomo! she said, God has sent you to save me from despair.
Listen and judge me!
Ibarra tried gently to release himself.
I did not come to call you to account; I came to bring you peace.
I want none of the peace you bring me. I shall find peace for
myself. You scorn me and your scorn will make even death bitter.
He saw despair in her poor, young face, and asked what she wished.
I wish you to believe that I have always loved you.
He smiled bitterly.
Ah! you doubt me! you doubt your childhood's friend, who has never
hidden a single thought from you! When you know my history, the sad
story that was told me in my illness, you will pity me; you will no
longer wear that smile. Why did they not let me die in the hands of my
ignorant doctor! You and I should both have been happier!
She stopped a moment, then went on:
You force me to this, by your doubts; may my mother forgive me! In
one of the most painful of my nights of suffering, a man revealed to me
the name of my real father. If he had not been my father, this man
said, he might have pardoned the injury you had done him.
Crisóstomo looked at Maria in amazement.
What was I to do? she went on. Ought I to sacrifice to my love
the memory of my mother, the honor of him who was supposed to be my
father, and the good name of him who is? And could I have done this
without bringing dishonor upon you too?
But the proofhave you had proof? There must be proof! said
Maria drew from her breast two papers.
Here are two letters of my mother's, she said, written in her
remorse. Take them! Read them! My father left them in the house where
he lived so many years. This man found them and kept them, and only
gave them up to me in exchange for your letter, as assurance, he said,
that I would not marry you without my father's consent. I sacrificed my
love! Who would not for a mother dead and two fathers living? Could I
foresee what use they would make of your letter? Could I know I was
sacrificing you too?
Ibarra was speechless. Maria went on:
What remained for me to do? Could I tell you who my father was?
Could I bid you ask his pardon, when he had so made your father suffer?
Could I say to my father, who perhaps would have pardoned youcould I
say I was his daughter? Nothing remained but to suffer, to guard my
secret, and die suffering! Now, my friend, now that you know the sad
story of your poor Maria, have you still for her that disdainful
Maria, you are a saint!
I am blessed, because you believe in me
And yet, said Crisóstomo, remembering, I heard you were to
Yes, sobbed the poor child, my father demands this sacrifice; he
has loved me, nourished me, and it did not belong to him to do it. I
shall pay him my debt of gratitude by assuring him peace through this
new connection, but
I shall not forget my vows to you.
What is your thought? asked Ibarra, trying to read in her clear
The future is obscure. I do not know what I shall do; but I know
this, that I can love but once, and that I shall not belong to one I do
not love. And you? What will you do?
I am no longer anything but a fugitiveI shall fly, and my flight
will soon be overtaken, Maria
Maria took his head in her hands, kissed his lips again and again,
then pushed him away with all her strength.
Fly, fly! she said. Adieu!
Ibarra looked at her with shining eyes, but she made a sign, and he
went, reeling for an instant like a drunken man. He leaped the wall
again, and was back in the little bark. Maria Clara, leaning on the
balustrade, watched till it disappeared in the distance.
LIII. THE CHASE ON THE LAKE.
Listen, señor, to the plan I have made, said Elias, as he pulled
toward San Gabriel. I will hide you, for the present, at the house of
a friend of mine at Mandaluyong. I will bring you there your gold, that
I hid in the tomb of your great-grandfather. You will leave the
To live among strangers? interrupted Ibarra.
To live in peace. You have friends in Spain; you may get amnesty.
Crisóstomo did not reply; he reflected in silence.
They arrived at the Pasig, and the little bark began to go up
stream. On the bridge was a horseman, hastening his course, and a
whistle long and shrill was heard.
Elias, said Ibarra at length, your misfortunes are due to my
family, and you have twice saved my life. I owe you both gratitude and
restitution of property. You advise me to leave the country; well, come
with me. We will live as brothers.
Elias shook his head.
It is true that I can never be happy in my country, but I can live
and die there, perhaps die for my country. That is always something.
But you can do nothing for her, here and now. Perhaps some day
Unless I, too, should become a tulisan, mused Ibarra.
Señor, a month ago we sat in this same boat, under the light of
this same moon. You could not have said such a thing then.
No, Elias. Man seems to be an animal who varies with circumstances.
I was blind then, unreasonable, I know not what. Now the bandage has
been torn from my eyes; the wretchedness and solitude of my prison has
taught me better. I see the cancer that is eating into our society;
perhaps, after all, it must be torn out by violence.
They came in sight of the governor-general's palace, and thought
they saw unusual movement among the guards.
Your escape must have been discovered, said Elias. Lie down,
señor, so I can cover you with the zacate, for the sentinel at the
magazine may stop us.
As Elias had anticipated, the sentinel challenged him, and asked him
where he came from.
From Manila, with zacate for the iodores and curates, said he,
imitating the accent of the people of Pandakan.
A sergeant came out.
Sulung, said he to Elias, I warn you not to take any one into
your boat. A prisoner has just escaped. If you capture him and bring
him to me, I will give you a fine reward.
Good, señor; what is his description?
He wears a long coat, and speaks Spanish. Look out for him!
The bark moved off. Elias turned and saw the sentinel still standing
by the bank.
We shall lose a few minutes, he said; we shall have to go into
the rio Beata, to make him think I'm from Peña Francia. You shall see
the rio of which Francisco Baltazar sang.
The pueblo was asleep in the moonlight. Crisóstomo sat up to admire
the death-like peace of nature. The rio was narrow, and its banks were
plains strewn with zacate. Elias discharged his cargo, and from the
grass where they were hidden, drew some of those sacks of palm leaves
that are called bayones. Then they pushed off again, and soon were back
on the Pasig. From time to time they talked of indifferent things.
Santa Ana! said Ibarra, speaking low; do you know that building?
They were passing the country house of the Jesuits.
I've spent many happy days there, said Elias. When I was a child,
we came here every month. Then I was like other people; had a family, a
fortune; dreamed, thought I saw a future.
They were silent until they came to Malapad-na-batô. Those who have
sometimes cut a wake in the Pasig, on one of these magnificent nights
of the Philippines, when from the limpid azure the moon pours out a
poetic melancholy, when shadows hide the miseries of men and silence
puts out their sordid wordsthose who have done this will know some of
the thoughts of these two young men.
At Malapad-na-batô, the rifleman was sleepy, and seeing no hope of
plunder in the little bark, according to the tradition of his corps and
the habit of this post, he let it pass. The guard at Pasig was no more
The moonlight was growing pale, and dawn was beginning to tint the
east with roses, when they arrived at the lake, smooth and placid as a
great mirror. At a distance they saw a gray mass, advancing little by
It's the falúa, said Elias under his breath. Lie down, señor, and
I will cover you with these bags.
The outlines of the government boat grew more and more distinct.
She's getting between us and the shore, said Elias, uneasily; and
very gradually he changed the direction of his bark. To his terror he
saw the falúa make the same change, and heard a voice hailing him. He
stopped and thought. The shore was yet some distance away; they would
soon be within range of the ship's guns. He thought he would go back to
Pasig, his boat could escape the other in that direction; but fate was
against him. Another boat was coming from Pasig, and in it glittered
the helmets and bayonets of the Civil Guards.
We are caught! he said, and the color left his face. He looked at
his sturdy arms, and took the only resolution possible; he began to row
with all his might toward the island of Talim. The sun was coming up.
The bark shot rapidly over the water; on the falúa, which changed its
tack, Elias saw men signalling.
Do you know how to manage a bark? he demanded of Ibarra.
Because we are lost unless I take to the water to throw them off
the track. They will pursue me. I swim and dive well. That will turn
them away from you, and you must try to save yourself.
No, stay, and let us sell our lives dear!
It is useless; we have no arms; they would shoot us down like
As he spoke, they heard a hiss in the water, followed by a report.
You see! said Elias, laying down his oar. We will meet, Christmas
night, at the tomb of your grandfather. Save yourself! God has drawn me
out of greater perils than this!
He took off his shirt; a ball picked it out of his hands, and two
reports followed. Without showing alarm, he grasped the hand Ibarra
stretched up from the bottom of the boat, then stood upright and leaped
into the water, pushing off the little craft with his foot.
Outcries were heard from the falúa. Promptly, and at some distance,
appeared the head of the young man, returning to the surface to
breathe, then disappearing immediately.
There, there he is, cried several voices, and balls whistled.
The falúa and the bark from Pasig set out in pursuit of the swimmer.
A slight wake showed his direction, more and more removed from Ibarra's
little bark, which drifted as if abandoned. Every time Elias raised his
head to breathe, the guards and the men of the falúa fired on him.
The chase went on. The little bark with Ibarra was left far behind.
Elias was not more than a hundred yards from the shore. The rowers were
getting tired, but so was Elias, for he repeatedly raised his head
above the water, but always in a new direction, to disconcert his
pursuers. The deceiving wake no longer told the place of the swimmer.
For the last time they saw him, sixty feet from the shore. The soldiers
firedminutes and minutes passed. Nothing again disturbed the tranquil
surface of the lake.
A half hour later, one of the rowers claimed to have seen traces of
blood near the shore, but his comrades shook their heads in doubt.
LIV. FATHER DÁMASO EXPLAINS HIMSELF.
In vain the precious wedding presents heaped up; not the brilliants
in their velvet cases, not embroideries of piña nor pieces of silk,
drew the eyes of Maria Clara. She saw nothing but the journal in which
was told the death of Ibarra, drowned in the lake.
Suddenly she felt two hands over her eyes, clasping her head, while
a merry voice said to her:
Who is it? Who is it?
Maria sprang up in fright.
Little goose! Did I scare you, eh? You weren't expecting me, eh?
Why, I've come from the province to be at your marriage And with a
satisfied smile, Father Dámaso gave her his hand to kiss. She took it,
trembling, and carried it respectfully to her lips.
What is it, Maria? demanded the Franciscan, troubled, and losing
his gay smile. Your hand is cold, you are paleare you ill, little
girl? And he drew her tenderly to him, took both her hands and
questioned her with his eyes.
Won't you confide in your godfather? he asked in a tone of
reproach. Come, sit down here and tell me your griefs, as you used to
do when you were little, and wanted some tapers to make wax dolls. You
know I've always loved younever scolded you and his voice became
very tender. Maria began to cry.
Why do you cry, my child? Have you quarrelled with Linares?
Maria put her hands over her eyes.
No; it's not about himnow!
Father Dámaso looked startled. And you won't tell me your secrets?
Have I not always tried to satisfy your slightest wish?
Maria raised to him her eyes full of tears, looked at him a moment,
then sobbed afresh.
Maria came slowly to him, fell on her knees at his feet, and raising
her face wet with tears, asked in a voice scarcely audible:
Do you still love me?
Thenprotect my father and make him break off my marriage. And
she told him of her last interview with Ibarra, omitting everything
about the secret of her birth.
Father Dámaso could scarcely believe what he heard. She was talking
calmly now, without tears.
So long as he lived, she went on, I could struggle, I could hope,
I had confidence; I wished to live to hear about him; but nowthat
they have killed him, I have no longer any reason to live and suffer.
If he had lived, I might have marriedfor my father's sake; but
now that he is dead, I want the conventor the grave.
You loved him so? stammered Father Dámaso. Maria did not reply.
The father bent his head on his breast.
My child, he said at last in a broken voice, forgive me for
having made you unhappy; I did not know I was doing it! I thought of
your future. How could I let you marry a man of this country, to see
you, later on, an unhappy wife and mother? I set myself with all my
strength to get this love out of your mind, I used all meansfor you,
only for you. If you had been his wife, you would have wept for the
unfortunate position of your husband, exposed to all sorts of dangers,
and without defence; a mother, you would have wept for your children;
had you educated them, you would have prepared them a sad future; they
would have become enemies of religion; the gallows or exile would have
been their portion; had you left them in ignorance, you would have seen
them tyrannized over and degraded. I could not consent to this. That is
why I found for you a husband whose children should command, not obey;
punish, not sufferI knew your childhood's friend was good, and I
liked him, as I did his father; but I hated them both for your sake,
because I love you as one loves a daughter, because I idolize youI
have no other love; I have seen you grow up, there isn't an hour in
which I do not think of you, you are my one joy And Father Dámaso
began to cry like a child.
Then if you love me, do not make me forever miserable; he is dead,
I wish to be a nun.
The old man rested his forehead in his hand.
A nun, a nun! he repeated. You do not know, my child, all that is
hidden behind the walls of a convent, you do not know! I would a
thousand times rather see you unhappy in the world than in the
cloister. Here your complaints can be heard; there you have only the
walls! You are beautiful, very beautiful; you were not made to renounce
the world. Believe me, my child, time alters all things; later you will
forget, you will love, you will love your husbandLinares.
Either the convent ordeath, repeated Maria, with no sign of
Maria, said the father, I am not young. I cannot watch over you
always; choose something else, find another love, another husband,
anything, what you will!
I choose the convent.
My God, my God! cried the priest, burying his face in his hands.
You punish me, be it so! But watch over my daughter!Maria, you shall
be a nun. I cannot have you die.
Maria took his hands, pressed them, kissed them as she knelt.
Godfather, my godfather, she said.
Oh, God! cried the heart of the father, thou dost exist, because
thou dost chastise! Take vengeance upon me, but do not strike the
innocent; save my daughter!
LV. THE NOCHEBUENA.
Up on the side of the mountain, where a torrent springs, a cabin
hides under the trees, built on their gnarled trunks. Over its thatched
roof creep the branches of the gourd, heavy with fruit and flowers.
Antlers and wild boars' heads, some of them bearing their long tusks,
ornament the rustic hearth. It is the home of a Tagalo family living
from the chase and the cup of the woods.
Under the shade of a tree, the grandfather is making brooms from the
veins of palm leaves, while a girl fills a basket with eggs, lemons,
and vegetables. Two children, a boy and a girl, are playing beside
another boy, pale and serious, with great, deep eyes. We know him. It
is Sisa's son, Basilio.
When your foot is well, said the little boy, you will go with us
to the top of the mountain and drink deer's blood and lemon juice; then
you'll grow fat; then I'll show you how to jump from one rock to
another, over the torrent.
Basilio smiled sadly, examined the wound in his foot, and looked at
the sun, which was shining splendidly.
Sell these brooms, Lucia, said the grandfather to the young girl,
and buy something for your brothers. To-day is Christmas.
Fire-crackers, I want fire-crackers! cried the little boy.
And what do you want? the grandfather asked Basilio. The boy got
up and went to the old man.
Señor, he said, have I been ill more than a month?
Since we found you, faint and covered with wounds, two moons have
passed. We thought you were going to die
May God reward you; we are very poor, said Basilio; but as to-day
is Christmas, I want to go to the pueblo to see my mother and my little
brother. They must have been looking everywhere for me.
But, son, you aren't well yet, and it is far to your pueblo. You
would not get there till midnight. My sons will want to see you when
they come from the forest.
You have many children, but my mother has only us two; perhaps she
thinks me dead already. I want to give her a present to-nighta son!
The grandfather felt his eyes grow dim.
You are as sensible as an old man! Go, find your mother, give her
her present! Go, my son. God and the Lord Jesus go with you!
What, you're not going to stay and see my fire-crackers? said the
I want you to play hide and seek! pouted the little girl; nothing
else is so much fun.
Basilio smiled and his eyes filled with tears.
I shall come back soon, he said, and bring my little brother;
then you can play with him. But I must go away now with Lucia.
Don't forget us! said the old man, and come back when you are
well. The children all accompanied him to the bridge of bamboo over
the rushing torrent. Lucia, who was going to the first pueblo with her
basket, made him lean on her arm; the other children watched them both
out of sight.
The north wind was blowing, and the dwellers in San Diego were
trembling with cold. It was the Nochebuena, and yet the pueblo was sad.
Not a paper lantern hung in the windows, no noise in the houses
announcing the joyful time, as in other years.
At the home of Captain Basilio, the master of the house is talking
with Don Filipo; the troubles of these times have made them friends.
You are in rare luck, to be released at just this moment, Captain
Basilio was saying to his guest. They've burned your books, that's
true; but others have fared worse.
A woman came up to the window and looked in. Her eyes were
brilliant, her face haggard, her hair loose; the moon made her uncanny.
Sisa? asked Don Filipo, in surprise. I thought she was with a
Captain Basilio smiled bitterly.
The doctor feared he might be taken for a friend of Don
Crisóstomo's, so he drove her out!
What else has happened since I went away? I know we have a new
curate and a new alférez
Well, the head sacristan was found dead, hung in the garret of his
house. And old Tasio is dead. They buried him in the Chinese cemetery.
Poor Don Astasio! sighed Don Filipo. And his books?
The devout thought it would be pleasing to God if they should burn
them; nothing escaped, not even the works of Cicero. The
gobernadorcillo was no check whatsoever.
They were both silent. At that moment, the melancholy song of Sisa
was heard. A child passed, limping, and running toward the place from
which the song came; it was Basilio. The little fellow had found his
home deserted and in ruins. He had been told about his mother; of
Crispin he had not heard a word. He had dried his tears, smothered his
grief, and without resting, started out to find Sisa.
She had come to the house of the new alférez. As usual, a sentinel
was pacing up and down. When she saw the soldier, she took to flight,
and ran as only a wild thing can. Basilio saw her, and fearing to lose
sight of her, forgot his wounded foot, and followed in hot pursuit.
Dogs barked, geese cackled, windows opened here and there, to give
passage to the heads of the curious; others banged to, from fear of a
new night of trouble. At this rate, the runners were soon outside the
pueblo, and Sisa began to moderate her speed. There was a long distance
between her and her pursuer.
Mother! he cried, when he could distinguish her.
No sooner did Sisa hear the voice than she again began to run madly.
Mother, it's I, cried the child in despair. Sisa paid no
attention. The poor little fellow followed breathless. They were now on
the border of the wood.
Bushes, thorny twigs, and the roots of trees hindered their
progress. The child followed the vision of his mother, made clear now
and then by the moon's rays across the heavy foliage. They were in the
mysterious wood of the family of Ibarra. Basilio often stumbled and
fell, but he got up again, without feeling his hurts, or remembering
his lameness. All his life was concentrated in his eyes, which never
lost the beloved figure from view.
They crossed the brook, which was singing gently, and to his great
surprise, Basilio saw his mother press through the thicket and enter
the wooden door that closed the tomb of the old Spaniard. He tried to
follow her, but the door was fast. Sisa was defending the
entranceholding the door closed with all her strength.
Mother, it's I, it's I, Basilio, your son! cried the child,
falling from fatigue. But Sisa would not budge. Her feet braced against
the ground, she offered an energetic resistance. Basilio examined the
wall, but could not scale it. Then he made the tour of the grave. He
saw a branch of the great tree, crossed by a branch of another. He
began to climb, and his filial love did miracles. He went from branch
to branch, and came over the tomb at last.
The noise he made in the branches startled Sisa. She turned and
would have fled, but her son, letting himself drop from the tree,
seized her in his arms and covered her with kisses; then, worn out, he
Sisa saw his forehead bathed in blood. She bent over him, and her
eyes, almost out of their sockets, were fixed on his face, which
stirred the sleeping cells of her brain. Then something like a spark
flashed through them. Sisa recognized her son, and with a cry fell on
his senseless body, pressing it to her heart, kissing him and weeping.
Then mother and son were both motionless.
When Basilio came to himself, he found his mother without
consciousness. He called her, lavished tender names on her, and seeing
she did not wake, ran for water and sprinkled her pale face. But the
eyes remained closed. In terror, Basilio put his ear to her heart, but
her heart no longer beat. The poor child embraced the dead body of his
mother, weeping bitterly.
On this night of joy for so many children, who, by the warm hearth,
celebrate the feast which recalls the first loving look Heaven gave to
earth; on this night when all good Christian families eat, laugh, and
dance, 'mid love and kisses; on this night which, for the children of
cold countries, is magical with its Christmas trees, Basilio sits in
solitude and grief. Who knows? Perhaps around the hearth of the silent
Father Salvi are children playing; perhaps they are singing:
And Christmas goes.
The child was sobbing. When he raised his head, a man was looking
silently down at him.
You are her son? he asked.
Basilio nodded his head.
What are you going to do?
In the cemetery?
I have no moneyif you would help me
I am too weak, said the man, sinking gradually to the ground. I
am wounded. For two days I have not eaten or slept. Has no one been
here to-night? And the man sat still, watching the child's attractive
Listen, said he, in a voice growing feebler, I too shall be dead
before morning. Twenty paces from here, beyond the spring, is a pile of
wood; put our two bodies on it, and light the fire.
Then, if nobody comes, you are to dig here; you will find a lot of
gold, and it will be all yours. Study!
The voice of the unknown man sank lower and lower. Then he turned
his head toward the east, and said softly, as though praying:
I die without seeing the light of dawn on my country. You who shall
see it and greet it, do not forget those who fell in the night!