The Social Cancer
Part 7 out of 11
than hides, if you had joined a Corporation--"
But the old man suspended his apostrophe at the approach
of St. Francis. "Didn't I say so?" he then went on, smiling
sarcastically. "This one rides on a ear, and, good Heavens, what a
car! How many lights and how many glass lanterns! Never did I see
you surrounded by so many luminaries, Giovanni Bernardone!
And what music! Other tunes were heard by your followers after your
death! But, venerable and humble founder, if you were to come back
to life now you would see only degenerate Eliases of Cortona, and
if your followers should recognize you, they would put you in jail,
and perhaps you would share the fate of Cesareus of Spyre."
After the music came a banner on which was pictured the same saint, but
with seven wings, carried by the Tertiary Brethren dressed in guingón
habits and praying in high, plaintive voices. Rather inexplicably,
next came St. Mary Magdalene, a beautiful image with abundant hair,
wearing a paņuelo of embroidered piņa held by fingers covered with
rings, and a silk gown decorated with gilt spangles. Lights and
incense surrounded her while her glass tears reflected the colors
of the Bengal lights, which, while giving a fantastic appearance to
the procession, also made the saintly sinner weep now green, now red,
now blue tears. The houses did not begin to light up until St. Francis
was passing; St. John the Baptist did not enjoy this honor and passed
hastily by as if ashamed to be the only one dressed in hides in such
a crowd of folk covered with gold and jewels.
"There goes our saint!" exclaimed the daughter of the gobernadorcillo
to her visitors. "I've lent him all my rings, but that's in order to
get to heaven."
The candle-bearers stopped around the platform to listen to the loa and
the blessed saints did the same; either they or their bearers wished
to hear the verses. Those who were carrying St. John, tired of waiting,
squatted down on their heels and agreed to set him on the ground.
"The alguazil may scold!" objected one of them.
"Huh, in the sacristy they leave him in a corner among the cobwebs!"
So St. John, once on the ground, became one of the townsfolk.
As the Magdalene set out the women joined the procession, only that
instead of beginning with the children, as among the men, the old women
came first and the girls filled up the lines to the car of the Virgin,
behind which came the curate under his canopy. This practise they had
from Padre Damaso, who said: "To the Virgin the maidens and not the old
women are pleasing!" This statement had caused wry faces on the part
of many saintly old ladies, but the Virgin did not change her tastes.
San Diego followed the Magdalene but did not seem to be rejoicing
over this fact, since he moved along as repentantly as he had in
the morning when he followed St. Francis. His float was drawn by six
Tertiary Sisters--whether because of some vow or on account of some
sickness, the fact is that they dragged him along, and with zeal. San
Diego stopped in front of the platform and waited to be saluted.
But it was necessary to wait for the float of the Virgin, which was
preceded by persons dressed like phantoms, who frightened the little
children so that there were heard the cries and screams of terrified
babies. Yet in the midst of that dark mass of gowns, hoods, girdles,
and nuns' veils, from which arose a monotonous and snuffling prayer,
there were to be seen, like white jasmines or fresh sampaguitas among
old rags, twelve girls dressed in white, crowned with flowers, their
hair curled, and flashing from their eyes glances as bright as their
necklaces. Like little genii of light who were prisoners of specters
they moved along holding to the wide blue ribbons tied to the Virgin's
car and suggesting the doves that draw the car of Spring.
Now all the images were in attitudes of attention, crowded one against
the other to listen to the verses. Everybody kept his eyes fixed on
the half-drawn curtain until at length a sigh of admiration escaped
from the lips of all. Deservedly so, too, for it was a boy with wings,
riding-boots, sash, belt, and plumed hat.
"It's the alcalde!" cried some one, but this prodigy of creation began
to recite a poem like himself and took no offense at the comparison.
But why record here what he said in Latin, Tagalog, and Spanish,
all in verse--this poor victim of the gobernadorcillo? Our readers
have enjoyed Padre Damaso's sermon of the morning and we do not wish
to spoil them by too many wonders. Besides, the Franciscan might feel
hard toward us if we were to put forward a competitor, and this is
far from being the desire of such peaceful folk as we have the good
fortune to be.
Afterwards, the procession moved on, St. John proceeding along his
vale of tears. When the Virgin passed the house of Capitan Tiago
a heavenly song greeted her with the words of the archangel. It
was a voice tender, melodious, pleading, sighing out the Ave Maria
of Gounod to the accompaniment of a piano that prayed with it. The
music of the procession became hushed, the praying ceased, and even
Padre Salvi himself paused. The voice trembled and became plaintive,
expressing more than a salutation--rather a prayer and a protest.
Terror and melancholy settled down upon Ibarra's heart as he listened
to the voice from the window where he stood. He comprehended what
that suffering soul was expressing in a song and yet feared to ask
himself the cause of such sorrow. Gloomy and thoughtful, he turned
to the Captain-General.
"You will join me at the table," the latter said to him. "There we'll
talk about those boys who disappeared."
"Could I be the cause?" murmured the young man, staring without seeing
the Captain-General, whom he was following mechanically.
Why were the windows closed in the house of the alferez? Where
were the masculine features and the flannel camisa of the Medusa or
Muse of the Civil Guard while the procession was passing? Had Doņa
Consolacion realized how disagreeable were her forehead seamed with
thick veins that appeared to conduct not blood but vinegar and gall,
and the thick cigar that made a fit ornament for her purple lips,
and her envious leer, and yielding to a generous impulse had she
wished not to disturb the pleasure of the populace by her sinister
appearance? Ah, for her generous impulses existed in the Golden
Age! The house, showed neither lanterns nor banners and was gloomy
precisely because the town was making merry, as Sinang said, and but
for the sentinel walking before the door appeared to be uninhabited.
A dim light shone in the disordered sala, rendering transparent
the dirty concha-panes on which the cobwebs had fastened and the
dust had become incrusted. The lady of the house, according to
her indolent custom, was dozing on a wide sofa. She was dressed as
usual, that is, badly and horribly: tied round her head a paņuelo,
from beneath which escaped thin locks of tangled hair, a camisa
of blue flannel over another which must once have been white, and
a faded skirt which showed the outlines of her thin, flat thighs,
placed one over the other and shaking feverishly. From her mouth
issued little clouds of smoke which she puffed wearily in whatever
direction she happened to be looking when she opened her eyes. If
at that moment Don Francisco de Caņamaque could have seen her,
he would have taken her for a cacique of the town or the mankukúlam,
and then decorated his discovery with commentaries in the vernacular
of the markets, invented by him for her particular use.
That morning she had not attended mass, not because she had not so
desired, for on the contrary she had wished to show herself to the
multitude and to hear the sermon, but her spouse had not permitted
her to do so, his refusal being accompanied as usual by two or three
insults, oaths, and threats of kicking. The alferez knew that his mate
dressed ridiculously and had the, appearance of what is known as a
"querida of the soldiers," so he did not care to expose her to the
gaze of strangers and persons from the capital. But she did not so
understand it. She knew that she was beautiful and attractive, that she
had the airs of a queen and dressed much better and with more splendor
than Maria Clara herself, who wore a tapis while she went in a flowing
skirt. It was therefore necessary for the alferez to threaten her,
"Either shut up, or I'll kick you back to your damned town!" Doņa
Consolacion did not care to return to her town at the toe of a boot,
but she meditated revenge.
Never had the dark face of this lady been such as to inspire confidence
in any one, not even when she painted, but that morning it greatly
worried the servants, especially when they saw her move about the house
from one part to another, silently, as if meditating something terrible
or malign. Her glance reflected the look that springs from the eyes of
a serpent when caught and about to be crushed; it was cold, luminous,
and penetrating, with something fascinating, loathsome, and cruel in
it. The most insignificant error, the least unusual noise, drew from
her a vile insult that struck into the soul, but no one answered her,
for to excuse oneself would have been an additional fault.
So the day passed. Not encountering any obstacle that would block her
way,--her husband had been invited out,--she became saturated with
bile, the cells of her whole organism seemed to become charged with
electricity which threatened to burst in a storm of hate. Everything
about her folded up as do the flowers at the first breath of the
hurricane, so she met with no resistance nor found any point or high
place to discharge her evil humor. The soldiers and servants kept away
from her. That she might not hear the sounds of rejoicing outside she
had ordered the windows closed and charged the sentinel to let no one
enter. She tied a handkerchief around her head as if to keep it from
bursting and, in spite of the fact that the sun was still shining,
ordered the lamps to be lighted.
Sisa, as we saw, had been arrested as a disturber of the peace
and taken to the barracks. The alferez was not then present, so
the unfortunate woman had had to spend the night there seated on a
bench in an abandoned attitude. The next day the alferez saw her,
and fearing for her in those days of confusion nor caring to risk a
disagreeable scene, he had charged the soldiers to look after her,
to treat her kindly, and to give her something to eat. Thus the
madwoman spent two days.
Tonight, whether the nearness to the house of Capitan Tiago had
brought to her Maria Clara's sad song or whether other recollections
awoke in her old melodies, whatever the cause, Sisa also began to
sing in a sweet and melancholy voice the kundíman of her youth. The
soldiers heard her and fell silent; those airs awoke old memories
of the days before they had been corrupted. Doņa Consolacion also
heard them in her tedium, and on learning who it was that sang,
after a few moments of meditation, ordered that Sisa be brought to
her instantly. Something like a smile wandered over her dry lips.
When Sisa was brought in she came calmly, showing neither wonder nor
fear. She seemed to see no lady or mistress, and this wounded the
vanity of the Muse, who endeavored to inspire respect and fear. She
coughed, made a sign to the soldiers to leave her, and taking down
her husband's whip, said to the crazy woman in a sinister tone,
"Come on, magcantar icau!" 
Naturally, Sisa did not understand such Tagalog, and this ignorance
calmed the Medusa's wrath, for one of the beautiful qualities of
this lady was to try not to know Tagalog, or at least to appear
not to know it. Speaking it the worst possible, she would thus give
herself the air of a genuine orofea, as she was accustomed to
say. But she did well, for if she martyrized Tagalog, Spanish fared
no better with her, either in regard to grammar or pronunciation,
in spite of her husband, the chairs and the shoes, all of which had
done what they could to teach her.
One of the words that had cost her more effort than the hieroglyphics
cost Champollion was the name Filipinas. The story goes that on the
day after her wedding, when she was talking with her husband, who
was then a corporal, she had said Pilipinas. The corporal thought
it his duty to correct her, so he said, slapping her on the head,
"Say Felipinas, woman! Don't be stupid! Don't you know that's what
your damned country is called, from Felipe?"
The woman, dreaming through her honeymoon, wished to obey and said
Felepinas. To the corporal it seemed that she was getting nearer to it,
so he increased the slaps and reprimanded her thus: "But, woman, can't
you pronounce Felipe? Don't forget it; you know the king, Don Felipe
--the fifth--. Say Felipe, and add to it nas, which in Latin means
'islands of Indians,' and you have the name of your damned country!"
Consolacion, at that time a washerwoman, patted her bruises and
repeated with symptoms of losing her patience, "Fe-li-pe, Felipe--
nas, Fe-li-pe-nas, Felipinas, so?"
The corporal saw visions. How could it be Felipenas instead of
Felipinas? One of two things: either it was Felipenas or it was
necessary to say Felipi! So that day he very prudently dropped the
subject. Leaving his wife, he went to consult the books. Here his
astonishment reached a climax: he rubbed his eyes--let's see--
slowly, now! F-i-l-i-p-i-n-a-s, Filipinas! So all the well-printed
books gave it--neither he nor his wife was right!
"How's this?" he murmured. "Can history lie? Doesn't this book say that
Alonso Saavedra gave the country that name in honor of the prince,
Don Felipe? How was that name corrupted? Can it be that this Alonso
Saavedra was an Indian?" 
With these doubts he went to consult the sergeant Gomez, who, as a
youth, had wanted to be a curate. Without deigning to look at the
corporal the sergeant blew out a mouthful of smoke and answered
with great pompousness, "In ancient times it was pronounced Filipi
instead of Felipe. But since we moderns have become Frenchified we
can't endure two i's in succession, so cultured people, especially in
Madrid--you've never been in Madrid?--cultured people, as I say,
have begun to change the first i to e in many words. This is called
The poor corporal had never been in Madrid--here was the cause
of his failure to understand the riddle: what things are learned in
Madrid! "So now it's proper to say--"
"In the ancient style, man! This country's not yet cultured! In the
ancient style, Filipinas!" exclaimed Gomez disdainfully.
The corporal, even if he was a bad philologist, was yet a good
husband. What he had just learned his spouse must also know, so he
proceeded with her education: "Consola, what do you call your damned
"What should I call it? Just what you taught me: Felifinas!"
"I'll throw a chair at you, you ----! Yesterday you pronounced it
even better in the modern style, but now it's proper to pronounce it
like an ancient: Feli, I mean, Filipinas!"
"Remember that I'm no ancient! What are you thinking about?"
"Never mind! Say Filipinas!"
"I don't want to. I'm no ancient baggage, scarcely thirty years
old!" she replied, rolling up her sleeves and preparing herself for
"Say it, you ----, or I'll throw this chair at you!"
Consolacion saw the movement, reflected, then began to stammer with
heavy breaths, "Feli-, Fele-, File--"
Pum! Crack! The chair finished the word. So the lesson ended in
fisticuffs, scratchings, slaps. The corporal caught her by the hair;
she grabbed his goatee, but was unable to bite because of her loose
teeth. He let out a yell, released her and begged her pardon. Blood
began to flow, one eye got redder than the other, a camisa was torn
into shreds, many things came to light, but not Filipinas.
Similar incidents occurred every time the question of language came
up. The corporal, watching her linguistic progress, sorrowfully
calculated that in ten years his mate would have completely forgotten
how to talk, and this was about what really came to pass. When they
were married she still knew Tagalog and could make herself understood
in Spanish, but now, at the time of our story, she no longer spoke any
language. She had become so addicted to expressing herself by means
of signs--and of these she chose the loudest and most impressive--
that she could have given odds to the inventor of Volapuk.
Sisa, therefore, had the good fortune not to understand her, so
the Medusa smoothed out her eyebrows a little, while a smile of
satisfaction lighted up her face; undoubtedly she did not know Tagalog,
she was an orofea!
"Boy, tell her in Tagalog to sing! She doesn't understand me, she
doesn't understand Spanish!"
The madwoman understood the boy and began to sing the Song of
the Night. Doņa Consolacion listened at first with a sneer, which
disappeared little by little from her lips. She became attentive, then
serious, and even somewhat thoughtful. The voice, the sentiment in the
lines, and the song itself affected her--that dry and withered heart
was perhaps thirsting for rain. She understood it well: "The sadness,
the cold, and the moisture that descend from the sky when wrapped in
the mantle of night," so ran the kundíman, seemed to be descending
also on her heart. "The withered and faded flower which during the
day flaunted her finery, seeking applause and full of vanity, at
eventide, repentant and disenchanted, makes an effort to raise her
drooping petals to the sky, seeking a little shade to hide herself and
die without the mocking of the light that saw her in her splendor,
without seeing the vanity of her pride, begging also that a little
dew should weep upon her. The nightbird leaves his solitary retreat,
the hollow of an ancient trunk, and disturbs the sad loneliness of
the open places--"
"No, don't sing!" she exclaimed in perfect Tagalog, as she rose with
agitation. "Don't sing! Those verses hurt me."
The crazy woman became silent. The boy ejaculated, "Abá! She talks
Tagalog!" and stood staring with admiration at his mistress, who,
realizing that she had given herself away, was ashamed of it, and as
her nature was not that of a woman, the shame took the aspect of rage
and hate; so she showed the door to the imprudent boy and closed it
behind him with a kick.
Twisting the whip in her nervous hands, she took a few turns around
the room, then stopping suddenly in front of the crazy woman, said
to her in Spanish, "Dance!" But Sisa did not move.
"Dance, dance!" she repeated in a sinister tone.
The madwoman looked at her with wandering, expressionless eyes, while
the alfereza lifted one of her arms, then the other, and shook them,
but to no purpose, for Sisa did not understand. Then she began to
jump about and shake herself, encouraging Sisa to imitate her. In
the distance was to be heard the music of the procession playing
a grave and majestic march, but Doņa Consolacion danced furiously,
keeping other time to other music resounding within her. Sisa gazed at
her without moving, while her eyes expressed curiosity and something
like a weak smile hovered around her pallid lips: the lady's dancing
amused her. The latter stopped as if ashamed, raised the whip,--
that terrible whip known to thieves and soldiers, made in Ulango
and perfected by the alferez with twisted wires,--and said, "Now
it's your turn to dance--dance!"
She began to strike the madwoman's bare feet gently with the
whip. Sisa's face drew up with pain and she was forced to protect
herself with her hands.
"Aha, now you're starting!" she exclaimed with savage joy, passing
from lento to allegro vivace.
The afflicted Sisa gave a cry of pain and quickly raised her foot.
"You've got to dance, you Indian--!" The whip swung and whistled.
Sisa let herself fall to the floor and placed both hands on her knees
while she gazed at her tormentor with wildly-staring eyes. Two sharp
cuts of the whip on her shoulder made her stand up, and it was not
merely a cry but a howl that the unfortunate woman uttered. Her thin
camisa was torn, her skin broken, and the blood was flowing.
The sight of blood arouses the tiger; the blood of her victim aroused
Doņa Consolacion. "Dance, damn you, dance! Evil to the mother who
bore you!" she cried. "Dance, or I'll flog you to death!" She then
caught Sisa with one hand and, whipping her with the other, began to
The crazy woman at last understood and followed the example by
swinging her arms about awkwardly. A smile of satisfaction curled
the lips of her teacher, the smile of a female Mephistopheles who
succeeds in getting a great pupil. There were in it hate, disdain,
jest, and cruelty; with a burst of demoniacal laughter she could not
have expressed more.
Thus, absorbed in the joy of the sight, she was not aware of the
arrival of her husband until he opened the door with a loud kick. The
alferez appeared pale and gloomy, and when he saw what was going on
he threw a terrible glance at his wife, who did not move from her
place but stood smiling at him cynically.
The alferez put his hand as gently as he could on the shoulder of
the strange dancer and made her stop. The crazy woman sighed and sank
slowly to the floor covered with her own blood.
The silence continued. The alferez breathed heavily, while his wife
watched him with questioning eyes. She picked up the whip and asked
in a smooth, soft voice, "What's the matter with you? You haven't
even wished me good evening."
The alferez did not answer, but instead called the boy and said to him,
"Take this woman away and tell Marta to get her some other clothes
and attend to her. You give her something to eat and a good bed. Take
care that she isn't ill-treated! Tomorrow she'll be taken to Seņor
Then he closed the door carefully, bolted it, and approached his
wife. "You're tempting me to kill you!" he exclaimed, doubling up
"What's the matter with you?" she asked, rising and drawing away
"What's the matter with me!" he yelled in a voice of thunder, letting
out an oath and holding up before her a sheet of paper covered with
scrawls. "Didn't you write this letter to the alcalde saying that
I'm bribed to permit gambling, huh? I don't know why I don't beat
you to death."
"Let's see you! Let's see you try it if you dare!" she replied with
a jeering laugh. "The one who beats me to death has got to be more
of a man than you are!"
He heard the insult, but saw the whip. Catching up a plate from the
table, he threw it at her head, but she, accustomed to such fights,
dodged quickly and the plate was shattered against the wall. A cup
and saucer met with a similar fate.
"Coward!" she yelled; "you're afraid to come near me!" And to
exasperate him the more, she spat upon him.
The alferez went blind from rage and with a roar attempted to throw
himself upon her, but she, with astonishing quickness, hit him across
the face with the whip and ran hurriedly into an inner room, shutting
and bolting the door violently behind her. Bellowing with rage and
pain, he followed, but was only able to run against the door, which
made him vomit oaths.
"Accursed be your offspring, you sow! Open, open, or I'll break your
head!" he howled, beating the door with his hands and feet.
No answer was heard, but instead the scraping of chairs and trunks as
if she was building a barricade with the furniture. The house shook
under the kicks and curses of the alferez.
"Don't come in, don't come in!" called the sour voice inside. "If
you show yourself, I'll shoot you."
By degrees he appeared to become calm and contented himself with
walking up and down the room like a wild beast in its cage.
"Go out into the street and cool off your head!" the woman continued
to jeer at him, as she now seemed to have completed her preparations
"I swear that if I catch you, even God won't save you, you old sow!"
"Yes, now you can say what you like. You didn't want me to go to
mass! You didn't let me attend to my religious duties!" she answered
with such sarcasm as only she knew how to use.
The alferez put on his helmet, arranged his clothing a little, and
went out with heavy steps, but returned after a few minutes without
making the least noise, having taken off his shoes. The servants,
accustomed to these brawls, were usually bored, but this novelty of the
shoes attracted their attention, so they winked to one another. The
alferez sat down quietly in a chair at the side of the Sublime Port
and had the patience to wait for more than half an hour.
"Have you really gone out or are you still there, old goat?" asked
the voice from time to time, changing the epithets and raising the
tone. At last she began to take away the furniture piece by piece. He
heard the noise and smiled.
"Boy, has your master gone out?" cried Doņa Consolacion.
At a sign from the alferez the boy answered, "Yes, seņora, he's
A gleeful laugh was heard from her as she pulled back the bolt. Slowly
her husband arose, the door opened a little way--
A yell, the sound of a falling body, oaths, howls, curses, blows,
hoarse voices--who can tell what took place in the darkness of
As the boy went out into the kitchen he made a significant sign to
the cook, who said to him, "You'll pay for that."
"I? In any case the whole town will! She asked me if he had gone out,
not if he had come back!"
Right and Might
Ten o'clock at night: the last rockets rose lazily in the dark sky
where a few paper balloons recently inflated with smoke and hot air
still glimmered like new stars. Some of those adorned with fireworks
took fire, threatening all the houses, so there might be seen on the
ridges of the roofs men armed with pails of water and long poles with
pieces of cloth on the ends. Their black silhouettes stood out in
the vague clearness of the air like phantoms that had descended from
space to witness the rejoicings of men. Many pieces of fireworks of
fantastic shapes--wheels, castles, bulls, carabaos--had been set
off, surpassing in beauty and grandeur anything ever before seen by
the inhabitants of San Diego.
Now the people were moving in crowds toward the plaza to attend the
theater for the last time, Here and there might be seen Bengal lights
fantastically illuminating the merry groups while the boys were
availing themselves of torches to hunt in the grass for unexploded
bombs and other remnants that could still be used. But soon the music
gave the signal and all abandoned the open places.
The great stage was brilliantly illuminated. Thousands of lights
surrounded the posts, hung from the roof, or sowed the floor with
pyramidal clusters. An alguazil was looking after these, and when he
came forward to attend to them the crowd shouted at him and whistled,
"There he is! there he is!"
In front of the curtain the orchestra players were tuning their
instruments and playing preludes of airs. Behind them was the space
spoken of by the correspondent in his letter, where the leading
citizens of the town, the Spaniards, and the rich visitors occupied
rows of chairs. The general public, the nameless rabble, filled
up the rest of the place, some of them bringing benches on their
shoulders not so much for seats as to make, up for their lack of
stature. This provoked noisy protests on the part of the benchless,
so the offenders got down at once; but before long they were up again
as if nothing had happened.
Goings and comings, cries, exclamations, bursts of laughter,
a serpent-cracker turned loose, a firecracker set off--all
contributed to swell the uproar. Here a bench had a leg broken
off and the people fell to the ground amid the laughter of the
crowd. They were visitors who had come from afar to observe and now
found themselves the observed. Over there they quarreled and disputed
over a seat, a little farther on was heard the noise of breaking glass;
it was Andeng carrying refreshments and drinks, holding the wide tray
carefully with both hands, but by chance she had met her sweetheart,
who tried to take advantage of the situation.
The teniente-mayor, Don Filipo, presided over the show, as the
gobernadorcillo was fond of monte. He was talking with old Tasio. "What
can I do? The alcalde was unwilling to accept my resignation. 'Don't
you feel strong enough to attend to your duties?' he asked me."
"How did you answer him?"
"'Seņor Alcalde,' I answered, 'the strength of a teniente-mayor,
however insignificant it may be, is like all other authority it
emanates from higher spheres. The King himself receives his strength
from the people and the people theirs from God. That is exactly what
I lack, Seņor Alcalde.' But he did not care to listen to me, telling
me that we would talk about it after the fiesta."
"Then may God help you!" said the old man, starting away.
"Don't you want to see the show?"
"Thanks, no! For dreams and nonsense I am sufficient unto myself," the
Sage answered with a sarcastic smile. "But now I think of it, has your
attention never been drawn to the character of our people? Peaceful,
yet fond of warlike shows and bloody fights; democratic, yet adoring
emperors, kings, and princes; irreligious, yet impoverishing itself
by costly religious pageants. Our women have gentle natures yet go
wild with joy when a princess flourishes a lance. Do you know to what
it is due? Well--"
The arrival of Maria Clara and her friends put an end to this
conversation. Don Filipo met them and ushered them to their
seats. Behind them came the curate with another Franciscan and some
Spaniards. Following the priests were a number of the townsmen who
make it their business to escort the friars. "May God reward them
also in the next life," muttered old Tasio as he went away.
The play began with Chananay and Marianito in Crispino é la comare. All
now had their eyes and ears turned to the stage, all but one: Padre
Salvi, who seemed to have gone there for no other purpose than that
of watching Maria Clara, whose sadness gave to her beauty an air so
ideal and interesting that it was easy to understand how she might
be looked upon with rapture. But the eyes of the Franciscan, deeply
hidden in their sunken sockets, spoke nothing of rapture. In that
gloomy gaze was to be read something desperately sad--with such
eyes Cain might have gazed from afar on the Paradise whose delights
his mother pictured to him!
The first scene was over when Ibarra entered. His appearance caused a
murmur, and attention was fixed on him and the curate. But the young
man seemed not to notice anything as he greeted Maria Clara and her
friends in a natural way and took a seat beside them.
The only one who spoke to him was Sinang. "Did you see the
fireworks?" she asked.
"No, little friend, I had to go with the Captain-General."
"Well, that's a shame! The curate was with us and told us stories of
the damned--can you imagine it!--to fill us with fear so that we
might not enjoy ourselves--can you imagine it!"
The curate arose and approached Don Filipo, with whom he began an
animated conversation. The former spoke in a nervous manner, the
latter in a low, measured voice.
"I'm sorry that I can't please your Reverence," said Don Filipo,
"but Seņor Ibarra is one of the heaviest contributors and has a right
to be here as long as he doesn't disturb the peace."
"But isn't it disturbing the peace to scandalize good Christians? It's
letting a wolf enter the fold. You will answer for this to God and
"I always answer for the actions that spring from my own will, Padre,"
replied Don Filipo with a slight bow. "But my little authority does not
empower me to mix in religious affairs. Those who wish to avoid contact
with him need not talk to him. Seņor Ibarra forces himself on no one."
"But it's giving opportunity for danger, and he who loves danger
perishes in it."
"I don't see any danger, Padre. The alcalde and the Captain-General,
my superior officers, have been talking with him all the afternoon
and it's not for me to teach them a lesson."
"If you don't put him out of here, we'll leave."
"I'm very sorry, but I can't put any one out of here." The curate
repented of his threat, but it was too late to retract, so he made
a sign to his companion, who arose with regret, and the two went
out together. The persons attached to them followed their example,
casting looks of hatred at Ibarra.
The murmurs and whispers increased. A number of people approached
the young man and said to him, "We're with you, don't take any notice
"Whom do you mean by them?" Ibarra asked in surprise.
"Those who've just left to avoid contact with you."
"Left to avoid contact with me?"
"Yes, they say that you're excommunicated."
"Excommunicated?" The astonished youth did not know what to say. He
looked about him and saw that Maria Clara was hiding her face behind
her fan. "But is it possible?" he exclaimed finally. "Are we still
in the Dark Ages? So--"
He approached the young women and said with a change of tone, "Excuse
me, I've forgotten an engagement. I'll be back to see you home."
"Stay!" Sinang said to him. "Yeyeng is going to dance La Calandria. She
"I can't, little friend, but I'll be back." The uproar increased.
Yeyeng appeared fancifully dressed, with the "Da usté su permiso?" and
Carvajal was answering her, "Pase usté adelante," when two soldiers
of the Civil Guard went up to Don Filipo and ordered him to stop
"Why?" asked the teniente-mayor in surprise.
"Because the alferez and his wife have been fighting and can't sleep."
"Tell the alferez that we have permission from the alcalde and that
against such permission no one in the town has any authority, not
even the gobernadorcillo himself, and he is my only superior."
"Well, the show must stop!" repeated the soldiers. Don Filipo turned
his back and they went away. In order not to disturb the merriment
he told no one about the incident.
After the selection of vaudeville, which was loudly applauded,
the Prince Villardo presented himself, challenging to mortal combat
the Moros who held his father prisoner. The hero threatened to cut
off all their heads at a single stroke and send them to the moon,
but fortunately for the Moros, who were disposing themselves for
the combat, a tumult arose. The orchestra suddenly ceased playing,
threw their instruments away, and jumped up on the stage. The valiant
Villardo, not expecting them and taking them for allies of the Moros,
dropped his sword and shield, and started to run. The Moros, seeing
that such a doughty Christian was fleeing, did not consider it improper
to imitate him. Cries, groans, prayers, oaths were heard, while the
people ran and pushed one another about. The lights were extinguished,
blazing lamps were thrown into the air. "Tulisanes! Tulisanes!" cried
some. "Fire, fire! Robbers!" shouted others. Women and children wept,
benches and spectators were rolled together on the ground amid the
The cause of all this uproar was two civil-guards, clubs in hand,
chasing the musicians in order to break up the performance. The
teniente-mayor, with the aid of the cuadrilleros, who were armed
with old sabers, managed at length to arrest them, in spite of their
"Take them to the town hall!" cried Don Filipo. "Take care that they
don't get away!"
Ibarra had returned to look for Maria Clara. The frightened girls clung
to him pale and trembling while Aunt Isabel recited the Latin litany.
When the people were somewhat calmed down from their fright and had
learned the cause of the disturbance, they were beside themselves
with indignation. Stones rained on the squad of cuadrilleros who were
conducting the two offenders from the scene, and there were even those
who proposed to set fire to the barracks of the Civil Guard so as to
roast Doņa Consolacion along with the alferez.
"That's what they're good for!" cried a woman, doubling up her fists
and stretching out her arms. "To disturb the town! They don't chase any
but honest folks! Out yonder are the tulisanes and the gamblers. Let's
set fire to the barracks!"
One man was beating himself on the arm and begging for
confession. Plaintive sounds issued from under the overturned benches
--it was a poor musician. The stage was crowded with actors and
spectators, all talking at the same time. There was Chananay dressed
as Leonor in Il Trovatore, talking in the language of the markets to
Ratia in the costume of a schoolmaster; Yeyeng, wrapped in a silk
shawl, was clinging to the Prince Villardo; while Balbino and the
Moros were exerting themselves to console the more or less injured
musicians. Several Spaniards went from group to group haranguing
every one they met.
A large crowd was forming, whose intention Don Filipo seemed to be
aware of, for he ran to stop them. "Don't disturb the peace!" he
cried. "Tomorrow we'll ask for an accounting and we'll get
justice. I'll answer for it that we get justice!"
"No!" was the reply of several. "They did the same thing in
Kalamba, the same promise was made, but the alcalde did
nothing. We'll take the law into our own hands! To the barracks!"
In vain the teniente-mayor pleaded with them. The crowd maintained its
hostile attitude, so he looked about him for help and noticed Ibarra.
"Seņor Ibarra, as a favor! Restrain them while I get some
"What can I do?" asked the perplexed youth, but the teniente-mayor was
already at a distance. He gazed about him seeking he knew not whom,
when accidentally he discerned Elias, who stood impassively watching
Ibarra ran to him, caught him by the arm, and said to him in Spanish:
"For God's sake, do something, if you can! I can't do anything." The
pilot must have understood him, for he disappeared in the crowd. Lively
disputes and sharp exclamations were heard. Gradually the crowd began
to break up, its members each taking a less hostile attitude. It was
high time, indeed, for the soldiers were already rushing out armed
and with fixed bayonets.
Meanwhile, what had the curate been doing? Padre Salvi had not gone
to bed but had stood motionless, resting his forehead against the
curtains and gazing toward the plaza. From time to time a suppressed
sigh escaped him, and if the light of the lamp had not been so
dim, perhaps it would have been possible to see his eyes fill with
tears. Thus nearly an hour passed.
The tumult in the plaza awoke him from his reverie. With startled
eyes he saw the confused movements of the people, while their
voices came up to him faintly. A breathless servant informed him
of what was happening. A thought shot across his mind: in the midst
of confusion and tumult is the time when libertines take advantage
of the consternation and weakness of woman. Every one seeks to save
himself, no one thinks of any one else; a cry is not heard or heeded,
women faint, are struck and fall, terror and fright heed not shame,
under the cover of night--and when they are in love! He imagined
that he saw Crisostomo snatch the fainting Maria Clara up in his
arms and disappear into the darkness. So he went down the stairway by
leaps and bounds, and without hat or cane made for the plaza like a
madman. There he met some Spaniards who were reprimanding the soldiers,
but on looking toward the seats that the girls had occupied he saw
that they were vacant.
"Padre! Padre!" cried the Spaniards, but he paid no attention to
them as he ran in the direction of Capitan Tiago's. There he breathed
more freely, for he saw in the open hallway the adorable silhouette,
full of grace and soft in outline, of Maria Clara, and that of the
aunt carrying cups and glasses.
"Ah!" he murmured, "it seems that she has been taken sick only."
Aunt Isabel at that moment closed the windows and the graceful shadow
was no longer to be seen. The curate moved away without heeding the
crowd. He had before his eyes the beautiful form of a maiden sleeping
and breathing sweetly. Her eyelids were shaded by long lashes which
formed graceful curves like those of the Virgins of Raphael, the
little mouth was smiling, all the features breathed forth virginity,
purity, and innocence. That countenance formed a sweet vision in the
midst of the white coverings of her bed like the head of a cherub
among the clouds. His imagination went still further--but who can
write what a burning brain can imagine?
Perhaps only the newspaper correspondent, who concluded his account
of the fiesta and its accompanying incidents in the following manner:
"A thousand thanks, infinite thanks, to the opportune and active
intervention of the Very Reverend Padre Fray Bernardo Salvi, who,
defying every danger in the midst of the unbridled mob, without hat
or cane, calmed the wrath of the crowd, using only his persuasive
word with the majesty and authority that are never lacking to a
minister of a Religion of Peace. With unparalleled self-abnegation
this virtuous priest tore himself from sweet repose, such as every
good conscience like his enjoys, and rushed to protect his flock
from the least harm. The people of San Diego will hardly forget this
sublime deed of their heroic Pastor, remembering to hold themselves
grateful to him for all eternity!"
Ibarra was in such a state of mind that he found it impossible to
sleep, so to distract his attention from the sad thoughts which are
so exaggerated during the night-hours he set to work in his lonely
cabinet. Day found him still making mixtures and combinations, to the
action of which he subjected pieces of bamboo and other substances,
placing them afterwards in numbered and sealed jars.
A servant entered to announce the arrival of a man who had the
appearance of being from the country. "Show him in," said Ibarra
without looking around.
Elias entered and remained standing in silence.
"Ah, it's you!" exclaimed Ibarra in Tagalog when he recognized
him. "Excuse me for making you wait, I didn't notice that it was
you. I'm making an important experiment."
"I don't want to disturb you," answered the youthful pilot. "I've
come first to ask you if there is anything I can do for you in the
province, of Batangas, for which I am leaving immediately, and also
to bring you some bad news."
Ibarra questioned him with a look.
"Capitan Tiago's daughter is ill," continued Elias quietly, "but
"That's what I feared," murmured Ibarra in a weak voice. "Do you know
what is the matter with her?"
"A fever. Now, if you have nothing to command--"
"Thank you, my friend, no. I wish you a pleasant journey. But first
let me ask you a question--if it is indiscreet, do not answer."
"How were you able to quiet the disturbance last night?" asked Ibarra,
looking steadily at him.
"Very easily," answered Elias in the most natural manner. "The leaders
of the commotion were two brothers whose father died from a beating
given him by the Civil Guard. One day I had the good fortune to
save them from the same hands into which their father had fallen,
and both are accordingly grateful to me. I appealed to them last
night and they undertook to dissuade the rest."
"And those two brothers whose father died from the beating--"
"Will end as their father did," replied Elias in a low voice. "When
misfortune has once singled out a family all its members must perish,
--when the lightning strikes a tree the whole is reduced to ashes."
Ibarra fell silent on hearing this, so Elias took his leave. When
the youth found himself alone he lost the serene self-possession he
had maintained in the pilot's presence. His sorrow pictured itself
on his countenance. "I, I have made her suffer," he murmured.
He dressed himself quickly and descended the stairs. A small man,
dressed in mourning, with a large scar on his left cheek, saluted
him humbly, and detained him on his way.
"What do you want?" asked Ibarra.
"Sir, my name is Lucas, and I'm the brother of the man who was killed
"Ah, you have my sympathy. Well?"
"Sir, I want to know how much you're going to pay my brother's family."
"Pay?" repeated the young man, unable to conceal his disgust. "We'll
talk of that later. Come back this afternoon, I'm in a hurry now."
"Only tell me how much you're willing to pay," insisted Lucas.
"I've told you that we'll talk about that some other time. I haven't
time now," repeated Ibarra impatiently.
"You haven't time now, sir?" asked Lucas bitterly, placing himself
in front of the young man. "You haven't time to consider the dead?"
"Come this afternoon, my good man," replied Ibarra, restraining
himself. "I'm on my way now to visit a sick person."
"Ah, for the sick you forget the dead? Do you think that because we
Ibarra looked at him and interrupted, "Don't try my patience!" then
went on his way.
Lucas stood looking after him with a smile full of hate. "It's easy to
see that you're the grandson of the man who tied my father out in the
sun," he muttered between his teeth. "You still have the same blood."
Then with a change of tone he added, "But, if you pay well--friends!"
The fiesta is over. The people of the town have again found, as in
every other year, that their treasury is poorer, that they have worked,
sweated, and stayed awake much without really amusing themselves,
without gaining any new friends, and, in a word, that they have dearly
bought their dissipation and their headaches. But this matters nothing,
for the same will be done next year, the same the coming century,
since it has always been the custom.
In Capitan Tiago's house sadness reigns. All the windows are closed,
the inmates move about noiselessly, and only in the kitchen do they
dare to speak in natural tones. Maria Clara, the soul of the house,
lies sick in bed and her condition is reflected in all the faces,
as the sorrows of the mind may be read in the countenance of an
"Which seems best to you, Isabel, shall I make a poor-offering to the
cross of Tunasan or to the cross of Matahong?" asks the afflicted
father in a low voice. "The Tunasan cross grows while the Matahong
cross sweats which do you think is more miraculous?"
Aunt Isabel reflects, shakes her head, and murmurs, "To grow, to grow
is a greater miracle than to sweat. All of us sweat, but not all of
"That's right, Isabel; but remember that to sweat for the wood of
which bench-legs are made to sweat--is not a small miracle. Come,
the best thing will be to make poor-offerings to both crosses, so
neither will resent it, and Maria will get better sooner. Are the
rooms ready? You know that with the doctors is coming a new gentleman,
a distant relative of Padre Damaso's. Nothing should be lacking."
At the other end of the dining-room are the two cousins, Sinang and
Victoria, who have come to keep the sick girl company. Andeng is
helping them clean a silver tea-set.
"Do you know Dr. Espadaņa?" the foster-sister of Maria Clara asks
"No," replies the latter, "the only thing that I know about him is
that he charges high, according to Capitan Tiago."
"Then he must be good!" exclaims Andeng. "The one who performed an
operation on Doņa Maria charged high; so he was learned."
"Silly!" retorts Sinang. "Every one who charges high is not
learned. Look at Dr. Guevara; after performing a bungling operation
that cost the life of both mother and child, he charged the widower
fifty pesos. The thing to know is how to charge!"
"What do you know about it?" asks her cousin, nudging her.
"Don't I know? The husband, who is a poor sawyer, after losing his
wife had to lose his home also, for the alcalde, being a friend of
the doctor's, made him pay. Don't I know about it, when my father
lent him the money to make the journey to Santa Cruz?" 
The sound of a carriage stopping in front of the house put an end
to these conversations. Capitan Tiago, followed by Aunt Isabel, ran
down the steps to welcome the new arrivals: the Doctor Don Tiburcio
de Espadaņa, his seņora the Doctora Doņa Victorina de los Reyes
de De Espadaņa, and a young Spaniard of pleasant countenance and
Doņa Victorina was attired in a loose silk gown embroidered with
flowers and a hat with a huge parrot half-crushed between blue and
red ribbons. The dust of the road mingled with the rice-powder on
her cheeks seemed to accentuate her wrinkles. As at the time we saw
her in Manila, she now supported her lame husband on her arm.
"I have the pleasure of introducing to you our cousin, Don Alfonso
Linares de Espadaņa," said Doņa Victorina, indicating their young
companion. "The gentleman is a godson of a relative of Padre Damaso's
and has been private secretary to all the ministers."
The young man bowed politely and Capitan Tiago came very near to
kissing his hand.
While their numerous trunks and traveling-bags are being carried
in and Capitan Tiago is conducting them to their rooms, let us talk
a little of this couple whose acquaintance we made slightly in the
Doņa Victorina was a lady of forty and five winters, which were
equivalent to thirty and two summers according to her arithmetical
calculations. She had been beautiful in her youth, having had, as
she used to say, 'good flesh,' but in the ecstasies of contemplating
herself she had looked with disdain on her many Filipino admirers,
since her aspirations were toward another race. She had refused to
bestow on any one her little white hand, not indeed from distrust,
for not a few times had she given jewelry and gems of great value to
various foreign and Spanish adventurers. Six months before the time of
our story she had seen realized her most beautiful dream,--the dream
of her whole life,--for which she might scorn the fond illusions
of her youth and even the promises of love that Capitan Tiago had
in other days whispered in her ear or sung in some serenade. Late,
it is true, had the dream been realized, but Doņa Victorina, who,
although she spoke the language badly, was more Spanish than Augustina
of Saragossa, understood the proverb, "Better late than never,"
and found consolation in repeating it to herself. "Absolute happiness
does not exist on earth," was another favorite proverb of hers,
but she never used both together before other persons.
Having passed her first, second, third, and fourth youth in casting
her nets in the sea of the world for the object of her vigils, she had
been compelled at last to content herself with what fate was willing
to apportion her. Had the poor woman been only thirty and one instead
of thirty and two summers--the difference according to her mode of
reckoning was great--she would have restored to Destiny the award it
offered her to wait for another more suited to her taste, but since
man proposes and necessity disposes, she saw herself obliged in her
great need for a husband to content herself with a poor fellow who had
been cast out from Estremadura and who, after wandering about
the world for six or seven years like a modern Ulysses, had at last
found on the island of Luzon hospitality and a withered Calypso for
his better half. This unhappy mortal, by name Tiburcio Espadaņa, was
only thirty-five years of age and looked like an old man, yet he was,
nevertheless, younger than Doņa Victorina, who was only thirty-two. The
reason for this is easy to understand but dangerous to state.
Don Tiburcio had come to the Philippines as a petty official in the
Customs, but such had been his bad luck that, besides suffering
severely from seasickness and breaking a leg during the voyage,
he had been dismissed within a fortnight, just at the time when he
found himself without a cuarto. After his rough experience on the sea
he did not care to return to Spain without having made his fortune,
so he decided to devote himself to something. Spanish pride forbade
him to engage in manual labor, although the poor fellow would gladly
have done any kind of work in order to earn an honest living. But the
prestige of the Spaniards would not have allowed it, even though this
prestige did not protect him from want.
At first he had lived at the expense of some of his countrymen, but in
his honesty the bread tasted bitter, so instead of getting fat he grew
thin. Since he had neither learning nor money nor recommendations he
was advised by his countrymen, who wished to get rid of him, to go to
the provinces and pass himself off as a doctor of medicine. He refused
at first, for he had learned nothing during the short period that he
had spent as an attendant in a hospital, his duties there having been
to dust off the benches and light the fires. But as his wants were
pressing and as his scruples were soon laid to rest by his friends
he finally listened to them and went to the provinces. He began by
visiting some sick persons, and at first made only moderate charges,
as his conscience dictated, but later, like the young philosopher
of whom Samaniego tells, he ended by putting a higher price
on his visits. Thus he soon passed for a great physician and would
probably have made his fortune if the medical authorities in Manila
had not heard of his exorbitant fees and the competition that he was
causing others. Both private parties and professionals interceded
for him. "Man," they said to the zealous medical official, "let him
make his stake and as soon as he has six or seven thousand pesos
he can go back home and live there in peace. After all, what does
it matter to you if he does deceive the unwary Indians? They should
be more careful! He's a poor devil--don't take the bread from his
mouth--be a good Spaniard!" This official was a good Spaniard and
agreed to wink at the matter, but the news soon reached the ears of
the people and they began to distrust him, so in a little while he
lost his practise and again saw himself obliged almost to beg his
daily bread. It was then that he learned through a friend, who was
an intimate acquaintance of Doņa Victorina's, of the dire straits in
which that lady was placed and also of her patriotism and her kind
heart. Don Tiburcio then saw a patch of blue sky and asked to be
introduced to her.
Doņa Victorina and Don Tiburcio met: tarde venientibus ossa, he
would have exclaimed had he known Latin! She was no longer passable,
she was passée. Her abundant hair had been reduced to a knot about
the size of an onion, according to her maid, while her face was
furrowed with wrinkles and her teeth were falling loose. Her eyes,
too, had suffered considerably, so that she squinted frequently in
looking any distance. Her disposition was the only part of her that
At the end of a half-hour's conversation they understood and accepted
each other. She would have preferred a Spaniard who was less lame,
less stuttering, less bald, less toothless, who slobbered less when he
talked, and who had more "spirit" and "quality," as she used to say,
but that class of Spaniards no longer came to seek her hand. She
had more than once heard it said that opportunity is pictured as
being bald, and firmly believed that Don Tiburcio was opportunity
itself, for as a result of his misfortunes he suffered from premature
baldness. And what woman is not prudent at thirty-two years of age?
Don Tiburcio, for his part, felt a vague melancholy when he thought of
his honeymoon, but smiled with resignation and called to his support
the specter of hunger. Never had he been ambitious or pretentious; his
tastes were simple and his desires limited; but his heart, untouched
till then, had dreamed of a very different divinity. Back there in his
youth when, worn out with work, he lay doom on his rough bed after
a frugal meal, he used to fall asleep dreaming of an image, smiling
and tender. Afterwards, when troubles and privations increased and
with the passing of years the poetical image failed to materialize,
he thought modestly of a good woman, diligent and industrious, who
would bring him a small dowry, to console him for the fatigues of his
toil and to quarrel with him now and then--yes, he had thought of
quarrels as a kind of happiness! But when obliged to wander from land
to land in search not so much of fortune as of some simple means of
livelihood for the remainder of his days; when, deluded by the stories
of his countrymen from overseas, he had set out for the Philippines,
realism gave, place to an arrogant mestiza or a beautiful Indian with
big black eyes, gowned in silks and transparent draperies, loaded
down with gold and diamonds, offering him her love, her carriages,
her all. When he reached Manila he thought for a time that his dream
was to be realized, for the young women whom he saw driving on the
Luneta and the Malecon in silver-mounted carriages had gazed at him
with some curiosity. Then after his position was gone, the mestiza and
the Indian disappeared and with great effort he forced before himself
the image of a widow, of course an agreeable widow! So when he saw
his dream take shape in part he became sad, but with a certain touch
of native philosophy said to himself, "Those were all dreams and in
this world one does not live on dreams!" Thus he dispelled his doubts:
she used rice-powder, but after their marriage he would break her
of the habit; her face had many wrinkles, but his coat was torn and
patched; she was a pretentious old woman, domineering and mannish,
but hunger was more terrible, more domineering and pretentious still,
and anyway, he had been blessed with a mild disposition for that very
end, and love softens the character. She spoke Spanish badly, but he
himself did not talk it well, as he had been told when notified of his
dismissal Moreover, what did it matter to him if she was an ugly and
ridiculous old woman? He was lame, toothless, and bald! Don Tiburcio
preferred to take charge of her rather than to become a public charge
from hunger. When some friends joked with him about it, he answered,
"Give me bread and call me a fool."
Don Tiburcio was one of those men who are popularly spoken of as
unwilling to harm a fly. Modest, incapable of harboring an unkind
thought, in bygone days he would have been made a missionary. His stay
in the country had not given him the conviction of grand superiority,
of great valor, and of elevated importance that the greater part
of his countrymen acquire in a few weeks. His heart had never been
capable of entertaining hate nor had he been able to find a single
filibuster; he saw only unhappy wretches whom he must despoil if he
did not wish to be more unhappy than they were. When he was threatened
with prosecution for passing himself off as a physician he was not
resentful nor did he complain. Recognizing the justness of the charge
against him, he merely answered, "But it's necessary to live!"
So they married, or rather, bagged each other, and went to Santa Ann
to spend their honeymoon. But on their wedding-night Doņa Victorina
was attacked by a horrible indigestion and Don Tiburcio thanked God
and showed himself solicitous and attentive. A few days afterward,
however, he looked into a mirror and smiled a sad smile as he gazed
at his naked gums, for he had aged ten years at least.
Very well satisfied with her husband, Doņa Victorina had a fine
set of false teeth made for him and called in the best tailors of
the city to attend to his clothing. She ordered carriages, sent to
Batangas and Albay for the best ponies, and even obliged him to keep a
pair for the races. Nor did she neglect her own person while she was
transforming him. She laid aside the native costume for the European
and substituted false frizzes for the simple Filipino coiffure, while
her gowns, which fitted her marvelously ill, disturbed the peace of
all the quiet neighborhood.
Her husband, who never went out on foot,--she did not care to have
his lameness noticed,--took her on lonely drives in unfrequented
places to her great sorrow, for she wanted to show him off in public,
but she kept quiet out of respect for their honeymoon. The last
quarter was coming on when he took up the subject of the rice-powder,
telling her that the use of it was false and unnatural. Doņa Victorina
wrinkled up her eyebrows and stared at his false teeth. He became
silent, and she understood his weakness.
She placed a de before her husband's surname, since the de cost nothing
and gave "quality" to the name, signing herself "Victorina de los Reyes
de De Espadaņa." This de was such a mania with her that neither the
stationer nor her husband could get it out of her head. "If I write
only one de it may be thought that you don't have it, you fool!" she
said to her husband.
Soon she believed that she was about to become a mother, so she
announced to all her acquaintances, "Next month De Espadaņa and I are
going to the Penyinsula. I don't want our son to be born here and
be called a revolutionist." She talked incessantly of the journey,
having memorized the names of the different ports of call, so that it
was a treat to hear her talk: "I'm going to see the isthmus in the
Suez Canal--De Espadaņa thinks it very beautiful and De Espadaņa
has traveled over the whole world." "I'll probably not return to this
land of savages." "I wasn't born to live here--Aden or Port Said
would suit me better--I've thought so ever since I was a girl." In
her geography Doņa Victorina divided the world into the Philippines
and Spain; rather differently from the clever people who divide it
into Spain and America or China for another name.
Her husband realized that these things were barbarisms, but held his
peace to escape a scolding or reminders of his stuttering. To increase
the illusion of approaching maternity she became whimsical, dressed
herself in colors with a profusion of flowers and ribbons, and appeared
on the Escolta in a wrapper. But oh, the disenchantment! Three months
went by and the dream faded, and now, having no reason for fearing
that her son would be a revolutionist, she gave up the trip. She
consulted doctors, midwives, old women, but all in vain. Having to the
great displeasure of Capitan Tiago jested about St. Pascual Bailon,
she was unwilling to appeal to any saint. For this reason a friend
of her husband's remarked to her:
"Believe me, seņora, you are the only strong-spirited person in this
She had smiled, without knowing what strong-spirited meant, but that
night she asked her husband. "My dear," he answered, "the s-strongest
s-spirit that I know of is ammonia. My f-friend must have s-spoken
After that she would say on every possible occasion, "I'm the only
ammonia in this tiresome country, speaking figuratively. So Seņor
N. de N., a Peninsular gentleman of quality, told me."
Whatever she said had to be done, for she had succeeded in dominating
her husband completely. He on his part did not put up any great
resistance and so was converted into a kind of lap-dog of hers. If
she was displeased with him she would not let him go out, and when
she was really angry she tore out his false teeth, thus leaving him
a horrible sight for several days.
It soon occurred to her that her husband ought to be a doctor of
medicine and surgery, and she so informed him.
"My dear, do you w-want me to be arrested?" he asked fearfully.
"Don't be a fool! Leave me to arrange it," she answered. "You're not
going to treat any one, but I want people to call you Doctor and me
So on the following day Rodoreda received an order to engrave on
a slab of black marble: DR. DE ESPADAŅA, SPECIALIST IN ALL KINDS OF
DISEASES. All the servants had to address them by their new titles,
and as a result she increased the number of frizzes, the layers of
rice-powder, the ribbons and laces, and gazed with more disdain than
ever on her poor and unfortunate countrywomen whose husbands belonged
to a lower grade of society than hers did. Day by day she felt more
dignified and exalted and, by continuing in this way, at the end of
a year she would have believed herself to be of divine origin.
These sublime thoughts, however, did not keep her from becoming older
and more ridiculous every day. Every time Capitan Tiago saw her and
recalled having made love to her in vain he forthwith sent a peso to
the church for a mass of thanksgiving. Still, he greatly respected her
husband on account of his title of specialist in all kinds of diseases
and listened attentively to the few phrases that he was able to stutter
out. For this reason and because this doctor was more exclusive than
others, Capitan Tiago had selected him to treat his daughter.
In regard to young Linares, that is another matter. When arranging for
the trip to Spain, Doņa Victorina had thought of having a Peninsular
administrator, as she did not trust the Filipinos. Her husband
bethought himself of a nephew of his in Madrid who was studying law
and who was considered the brightest of the family. So they wrote to
him, paying his passage in advance, and when the dream disappeared
he was already on his way.
Such were the three persons who had just arrived. While they were
partaking of a late breakfast, Padre Salvi came in. The Espadaņas
were already acquainted with him, and they introduced the blushing
young Linares with all his titles.
As was natural, they talked of Maria Clara, who was resting and
sleeping. They talked of their journey, and Doņa Victorina exhibited
all her verbosity in criticising the customs of the provincials,
--their nipa houses, their bamboo bridges; without forgetting to
mention to the curate her intimacy with this and that high official
and other persons of "quality" who were very fond of her.
"If you had come two days ago, Doņa Victorina," put in Capitan
Tiago during a slight pause, "you would have met his Excellency,
the Captain-General. He sat right there."
"What! How's that? His Excellency here! In your house? No!"
"I tell you that he sat right there. If you had only come two days
"Ah, what a pity that Clarita did not get sick sooner!" she exclaimed
with real feeling. Then turning to Linares, "Do you hear, cousin? His
Excellency was here! Don't you see now that De Espadaņa was right
when he told you that you weren't going to the house of a miserable
Indian? Because, you know, Don Santiago, in Madrid our cousin was
the friend of ministers and dukes and dined in the house of Count
"The Duke of La Torte, Victorina," corrected her husband.
"It's the same thing. If you will tell me--"
"Shall I find Padre Damaso in his town?" interrupted Linares,
addressing Padre Salvi. "I've been told that it's near here."
"He's right here and will be over in a little while," replied the
"How glad I am of that! I have a letter to him," exclaimed the youth,
"and if it were not for the happy chance that brings me here, I would
have come expressly to visit him."
In the meantime the happy chance had awakened.
"De Espadaņa," said Doņa Victorina, when the meal was over, "shall
we go in to see Clarita?" Then to Capitan Tiago, "Only for you, Don
Santiago, only for you! My husband only attends persons of quality,
and yet, and yet--! He's not like those here. In Madrid he only
visited persons of quality."
They adjourned to the sick girl's chamber. The windows were closed
from fear of a draught, so the room was almost dark, being only
dimly illuminated by two tapers which burned before an image of the
Virgin of Antipolo. Her head covered with a handkerchief saturated
in cologne, her body wrapped carefully in white sheets which swathed
her youthful form with many folds, under curtains of jusi and piņa,
the girl lay on her kamagon bed. Her hair formed a frame around her
oval countenance and accentuated her transparent paleness, which
was enlivened only by her large, sad eyes. At her side were her two
friends and Andeng with a bouquet of tuberoses.
De Espadaņa felt her pulse, examined her tongue, asked a few questions,
and said, as he wagged his head from side to side, "S-she's s-sick,
but s-she c-can be c-cured." Doņa Victorina looked proudly at the
"Lichen with milk in the morning, syrup of marshmallow, two cynoglossum
pills!" ordered De Espadaņa.
"Cheer up, Clarita!" said Doņa Victorina, going up to her. "We've
come to cure you. I want to introduce our cousin."
Linares was so absorbed in the contemplation of those eloquent eyes,
which seemed to be searching for some one, that he did not hear Doņa
Victorina name him.
"Seņor Linares," said the curate, calling him out of his abstraction,
"here comes Padre Damaso."
It was indeed Padre Damaso, but pale and rather sad. On leaving his
bed his first visit was for Maria Clara. Nor was it the Padre Damaso
of former times, hearty and self-confident; now he moved silently
and with some hesitation.
Without heeding any of the bystanders, Padre Damaso went directly
to the bed of the sick girl and taking her hand said to her with
ineffable tenderness, while tears sprang into his eyes, "Maria,
my daughter, you mustn't die!"
The sick girl opened her eyes and stared at him with a strange
expression. No one who knew the Franciscan had suspected in him such
tender feelings, no one had believed that under his rude and rough
exterior there might beat a heart. Unable to go on, he withdrew from
the girl's side, weeping like a child, and went outside under the
favorite vines of Maria Clara's balcony to give free rein to his grief.
"How he loves his goddaughter!" thought all present, while Fray Salvi
gazed at him motionlessly and in silence, lightly gnawing his lips
When he had become somewhat calm again Doņa Victorina introduced
Linares, who approached him respectfully. Fray Damaso silently looked
him over from head to foot, took the letter offered and read it,
but apparently without understanding, for he asked, "And who are you?"
"Alfonso Linares, the godson of your brother-in-law," stammered the
Padre Damaso threw back his body and looked the youth over again
carefully. Then his features lighted up and he arose. "So you are the
godson of Carlicos!" he exclaimed. "Come and let me embrace you! I
got your letter several days ago. So it's you! I didn't recognize
you,--which is easily explained, for you weren't born when I left
the country,--I didn't recognize you!" Padre Damaso squeezed his
robust arms about the young man, who became very red, whether from
modesty or lack of breath is not known.
After the first moments of effusion had passed and inquiries about
Carlicos and his wife had been made and answered, Padre Damaso asked,
"Come now, what does Carlicos want me to do for you?"
"I believe he says something about that in the letter," Linares
"In the letter? Let's see! That's right! He wants me to get you a job
and a wife. Ahem! A job, a job that's easy! Can you read and write?"
"I received my degree of law from the University."
"Carambas! So you're a pettifogger! You don't show it; you look more
like a shy maiden. So much the better! But to get you a wife--"
"Padre, I'm not in such a great hurry," interrupted Linares in
But Padre Damaso was already pacing from one end of the hallway to
the other, muttering, "A wife, a wife!" His countenance was no longer
sad or merry but now wore an expression of great seriousness, while
he seemed to be thinking deeply. Padre Salvi gazed on the scene from
"I didn't think that the matter would trouble me so much," murmured
Padre Damaso in a tearful voice. "But of two evils, the lesser!" Then
raising his voice he approached Linares and said to him, "Come, boy,
let's talk to Santiago."
Linares turned pale and allowed himself to be dragged along by the
priest, who moved thoughtfully. Then it was Padre Salvi's turn to
pace back and forth, pensive as ever.
A voice wishing him good morning drew him from his monotonous walk. He
raised his head and saw Lucas, who saluted him humbly.
"What do you want?" questioned the curate's eyes.
"Padre, I'm the brother of the man who was killed on the day of the
fiesta," began Lucas in tearful accents.
The curate recoiled and murmured in a scarcely audible voice, "Well?"
Lucas made an effort to weep and wiped his eyes with a
handkerchief. "Padre," he went on tearfully, "I've been to Don
Crisostomo to ask for an indemnity. First he received me with kicks,
saying that he wouldn't pay anything since he himself had run the risk
of getting killed through the fault of my dear, unfortunate brother. I
went to talk to him yesterday, but he had gone to Manila. He left
me five hundred pesos for charity's sake and charged me not to come
back again. Ah, Padre, five hundred pesos for my poor brother--
five hundred pesos! Ah, Padre--"
At first the curate had listened with surprise and attention while
his lips curled slightly with a smile of such disdain and sarcasm at
the sight of this farce that, had Lucas noticed it, he would have run
away at top speed. "Now what do you want?" he asked, turning away.
"Ah, Padre, tell me for the love of God what I ought to do. The padre
has always given good advice."
"Who told you so? You don't belong in these parts."
"The padre is known all over the province."
With irritated looks Padre Salvi approached him and pointing to the
street said to the now startled Lucas, "Go home and be thankful that
Don Crisostomo didn't have you sent to jail! Get out of here!"
Lucas forgot the part he was playing and murmured, "But I thought--"
"Get out of here!" cried Padre Salvi nervously.
"I would like to see Padre Damaso."
"Padre Damaso is busy. Get out of here!" again ordered the curate
Lucas went down the stairway muttering, "He's another of them--
as he doesn't pay well--the one who pays best!"
At the sound of the curate's voice all had hurried to the spot,
including Padre Damaso, Capitan Tiago, and Linares.
"An insolent vagabond who came to beg and who doesn't want to work,"
explained Padre Salvi, picking up his hat and cane to return to
An Examination of Conscience
Long days and weary nights passed at the sick girl's bed. After having
confessed herself, Maria Clara had suffered a relapse, and in her
delirium she uttered only the name of the mother whom she had never
known. But her girl friends, her father, and her aunt kept watch at
her side. Offerings and alms were sent to all the miraculous images,
Capitan Tiago vowed a gold cane to the Virgin of Antipolo, and at
length the fever began to subside slowly and regularly.
Doctor De Espadaņa was astonished at the virtues of the syrup of
marshmallow and the infusion of lichen, prescriptions that he had not
varied. Doņa Victorina was so pleased with her husband that one day
when he stepped on the train of her gown she did not apply her penal
code to the extent of taking his set of false teeth away from him, but
contented herself with merely exclaiming, "If you weren't lame you'd
even step on my corset!"--an article of apparel she did not wear.
One afternoon while Sinang and Victoria were visiting their friend,
the curate, Capitan Tiago, and Doņa Victorina's family were conversing
over their lunch in the dining-room.
"Well, I feel very sorry about it," said the doctor; "Padre Damaso
also will regret it very much."
"Where do you say they're transferring him to?" Linares asked the
"To the province of Tayabas," replied the curate negligently.
"One who will be greatly affected by it is Maria Clara, when she
learns of it," said Capitan Tiago. "She loves him like a father."
Fray Salvi looked at him askance.
"I believe, Padre," continued Capitan Tiago, "that all her illness
is the result of the trouble on the last day of the fiesta."
"I'm of the same opinion, and think that you've done well not to let
Seņor Ibarra see her. She would have got worse.
"If it wasn't for us," put in Doņa Victorina, "Clarita would already
be in heaven singing praises to God."
"Amen!" Capitan Tiago thought it his duty to exclaim. "It's lucky
for you that my husband didn't have any patient of greater quality,
for then you'd have had to call in another, and all those here are
ignoramuses. My husband--"
"Just as I was saying," the curate in turn interrupted, "I think that
the confession that Maria Clara made brought on the favorable crisis
which has saved her life. A clean conscience is worth more than a lot
of medicine. Don't think that I deny the power of science, above all,
that of surgery, but a clean conscience! Read the pious books and
you'll see how many cures are effected merely by a clean confession."
"Pardon me," objected the piqued Doņa Victorina, "this power of the
confessional--cure the alferez's woman with a confession!"
"A wound, madam, is not a form of illness which the conscience
can affect," replied Padre Salvi severely. "Nevertheless, a clean
confession will preserve her from receiving in the future such blows
as she got this morning."
"She deserves them!" went on Doņa Victorina as if she had not heard
what Padre Salvi said. "That woman is so insolent! In the church she
did nothing but stare at me. You can see that she's a nobody. Sunday
I was going to ask her if she saw anything funny about my face,
but who would lower oneself to speak to people that are not of rank?"
The curate, on his part, continued just as though he had not heard
this tirade. "Believe me, Don Santiago, to complete your daughter's
recovery it's necessary that she take communion tomorrow. I'll bring
the viaticum over here. I don't think she has anything to confess,
but yet, if she wants to confess herself tonight--"
"I don't know," Doņa Victorina instantly took advantage of a slight
hesitation on Padre Salvi's part to add, "I don't understand how
there can be men capable of marrying such a fright as that woman
is. It's easily seen where she comes from. She's just dying of envy,
you can see it! How much does an alferez get?"
"Accordingly, Don Santiago, tell your cousin to prepare the sick girl
for the communion tomorrow. I'll come over tonight to absolve her of
Seeing Aunt Isabel come from the sick-room, he said to her in Tagalog,
"Prepare your niece for confession tonight. Tomorrow I'll bring over
the viaticum. With that she'll improve faster."
"But, Padre," Linares gathered up enough courage to ask faintly,
"you don't think that she's in any danger of dying?"
"Don't you worry," answered the padre without looking at him. "I
know what I'm doing; I've helped take care of plenty of sick people
before. Besides, she'll decide herself whether or not she wishes to
receive the holy communion and you'll see that she says yes."
Capitan Tiago immediately agreed to everything, while Aunt Isabel
returned to the sick girl's chamber. Maria Clara was still in bed,
pale, very pale, and at her side were her two friends.
"Take one more grain," Sinang whispered, as she offered her a white
tablet that she took from a small glass tube. "He says that when you
feel a rumbling or buzzing in your ears you are to stop the medicine."
"Hasn't he written to you again?" asked the sick girl in a low voice.
"No, he must be very busy."
"Hasn't he sent any message?"
"He says nothing more than that he's going to try to get the Archbishop
to absolve him from the excommunication, so that--"
This conversation was suspended at the aunt's approach. "The
padre says for you to get ready for confession, daughter," said the
latter. "You girls must leave her so that she can make her examination
"But it hasn't been a week since she confessed!" protested Sinang. "I'm
not sick and I don't sin as often as that."
"Abá! Don't you know what the curate says: the righteous sin seven
times a day? Come, what book shall I bring you, the Ancora, the
Ramillete, or the Camino Recto para ir al Cielo?"
Maria Clara did not answer.
"Well, you mustn't tire yourself," added the good aunt to console
her. "I'll read the examination myself and you'll have only to recall
"Write to him not to think of me any more," murmured Maria Clara in
Sinang's ear as the latter said good-by to her.
But the aunt again approached, and Sinang had to go away without
understanding what her friend had meant. The good old aunt drew a
chair up to the light, put her spectacles on the end of her nose, and
opened a booklet. "Pay close attention, daughter. I'm going to begin
with the Ten Commandments. I'll go slow so that you can meditate. If
you don't hear well tell me so that I can repeat. You know that in
looking after your welfare I'm never weary."
She began to read in a monotonous and snuffling voice the
considerations of cases of sinfulness. At the end of each paragraph
she made a long pause in order to give the girl time to recall her
sins and to repent of them.
Maria Clara stared vaguely into space. After finishing the first
commandment, to love God above all things, Aunt Isabel looked at her
over her spectacles and was satisfied with her sad and thoughtful
mien. She coughed piously and after a long pause began to read the
second commandment. The good old woman read with unction and when she
had finished the commentaries looked again at her niece, who turned
her head slowly to the other side.
"Bah!" said Aunt Isabel to herself. "With taking His holy name in vain
the poor child has nothing to do. Let's pass on to the third." 
The third commandment was analyzed and commented upon. After citing
all the cases in which one can break it she again looked toward the
bed. But now she lifted up her glasses and rubbed her eyes, for she
had seen her niece raise a handkerchief to her face as if to wipe
"Hum, ahem! The poor child once went to sleep during the sermon." Then
replacing her glasses on the end of her nose, she said, "Now let's
see if, just as you've failed to keep holy the Sabbath, you've failed
to honor your father and mother."
So she read the fourth commandment in an even slower and more snuffling
voice, thinking thus to give solemnity to the act, just as she had
seen many friars do. Aunt Isabel had never heard a Quaker preach or
she would also have trembled.
The sick girl, in the meantime, raised the handkerchief to her eyes
several times and her breathing became more noticeable.
"What a good soul!" thought the old woman. "She who is so obedient
and submissive to every one! I've committed more sins and yet I've
never been able really to cry."
She then began the fifth commandment with greater pauses and even
more pronounced snuffling, if that were possible, and with such great
enthusiasm that she did not hear the stifled sobs of her niece. Only
in a pause which she made after the comments on homicide, by violence
did she notice the groans of the sinner. Then her tone passed into the
sublime as she read the rest of the commandment in accents that she
tried to reader threatening, seeing that her niece was still weeping.
"Weep, daughter, weep!" she said, approaching the bed. "The more you
weep the sooner God will pardon you. Hold the sorrow of repentance as
better than that of mere penitence. Weep, daughter, weep! You don't
know how much I enjoy seeing you weep. Beat yourself on the breast
also, but not hard, for you're still sick."
But, as if her sorrow needed mystery and solitude to make it increase,
Maria Clara, on seeing herself observed, little by little stopped
sighing and dried her eyes without saying anything or answering her
aunt, who continued the reading. Since the wails of her audience had
ceased, however, she lost her enthusiasm, and the last commandments
made her so sleepy that she began to yawn, with great detriment to
her snuffling, which was thus interrupted.
"If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it,"
thought the good old lady afterwards. "This girl sins like a soldier
against the first five and from the sixth to the tenth not a venial
sin, just the opposite to us! How the world does move now!"
So she lighted a large candle to the Virgin of Antipolo and two
other smaller ones to Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of the
Pillar, taking care to put away in a corner a marble crucifix to
make it understand that the candles were not lighted for it. Nor did
the Virgin of Delaroche have any share; she was an unknown foreigner,
and Aunt Isabel had never heard of any miracle of hers.
We do not know what occurred during the confession that night and we
respect such secrets. But the confession was a long one and the aunt,
who stood watch over her niece at a distance, could note that the
curate, instead of turning his ear to hear the words of the sick girl,
rather had his face turned toward hers, and seemed only to be trying
to read, or divine, her thoughts by gazing into her beautiful eyes.
Pale and with contracted lips Padre Salvi left the chamber. Looking
at his forehead, which was gloomy and covered with perspiration,
one would have said that it was he who had confessed and had not
"Jesús, María, y José!" exclaimed Aunt Isabel, crossing herself to
dispel an evil thought, "who understands the girls nowadays?"
In the dim light shed by the moonbeams sifting through the thick
foliage a man wandered through the forest with slow and cautious
steps. From time to time, as if to find his way, he whistled a peculiar
melody, which was answered in the distance by some one whistling the
same air. The man would listen attentively and then make his way in
the direction of the distant sound, until at length, after overcoming
the thousand obstacles offered by the virgin forest in the night-time,
he reached a small open space, which was bathed in the light of the
moon in its first quarter. The high, tree-crowned rocks that rose
about formed a kind of ruined amphitheater, in the center of which
were scattered recently felled trees and charred logs among boulders
covered with nature's mantle of verdure.
Scarcely had the unknown arrived when another figure started suddenly
from behind a large rock and advanced with drawn revolver. "Who are
you?" he asked in Tagalog in an imperious tone, cocking the weapon.
"Is old Pablo among you?" inquired the unknown in an even tone,
without answering the question or showing any signs of fear.
"You mean the capitan? Yes, he's here."
"Then tell him that Elias is here looking for him," was the answer
of the unknown, who was no other than the mysterious pilot.
"Are you Elias?" asked the other respectfully, as he approached him,
not, however, ceasing to cover him with the revolver. "Then come!"
Elias followed him, and they penetrated into a kind of cave sunk
down in the depths of the earth. The guide, who seemed to be familiar
with the way, warned the pilot when he should descend or turn aside
or stoop down, so they were not long in reaching a kind of hall
which was poorly lighted by pitch torches and occupied by twelve to
fifteen armed men with dirty faces and soiled clothing, some seated
and some lying down as they talked fitfully to one another. Resting
his arms on a stone that served for a table and gazing thoughtfully
at the torches, which gave out so little light for so much smoke,
was seen an old, sad-featured man with his head wrapped in a bloody
bandage. Did we not know that it was a den of tulisanes we might have
said, on reading the look of desperation in the old man's face, that
it was the Tower of Hunger on the eve before Ugolino devoured his sons.
Upon the arrival of Elias and his guide the figures partly rose,
but at a signal from the latter they settled back again, satisfying
themselves with the observation that the newcomer was unarmed. The
old man turned his head slowly and saw the quiet figure of Elias,
who stood uncovered, gazing at him with sad interest.
"It's you at last," murmured the old man, his gaze lighting up somewhat
as he recognized the youth.
"In what condition do I find you!" exclaimed the youth in a suppressed
tone, shaking his head.
The old man dropped his head in silence and made a sign to the others,
who arose and withdrew, first taking the measure of the pilot's
muscles and stature with a glance.
"Yes!" said the old man to Elias as soon as they were alone. "Six
months ago when I sheltered you in my house, it was I who pitied
you. Now we have changed parts and it is you who pity me. But sit
down and tell me how you got here."
"It's fifteen days now since I was told of your misfortune," began the
young man slowly in a low voice as he stared at the light. "I started
at once and have been seeking you from mountain to mountain. I've
traveled over nearly the whole of two provinces."
"In order not to shed innocent blood," continued the old man, "I
have had to flee. My enemies were afraid to show themselves. I was
confronted merely with some unfortunates who have never done me the
After a brief pause during which he seemed to be occupied in trying
to read the thoughts in the dark countenance of the old man, Elias
replied: "I've come to make a proposition to you. Having sought in vain
for some survivor of the family that caused the misfortunes of mine,
I've decided to leave the province where I live and move toward the
North among the independent pagan tribes. Don't you want to abandon
the life you have entered upon and come with me? I will be your son,
since you have lost your own; I have no family, and in you will find
The old man shook his, head in negation, saying, "When one at my
age makes a desperate resolution, it's because there is no other
recourse. A man who, like myself, has spent his youth and his mature
years toiling for the future of himself and his sons; a man who has
been submissive to every wish of his superiors, who has conscientiously
performed difficult tasks, enduring all that he might live in peace and
quiet--when that man, whose blood time has chilled, renounces all his
past and foregoes all his future, even on the very brink of the grave,
it is because he has with mature judgment decided that peace does
not exist and that it is not the highest good. Why drag out miserable
days on foreign soil? I had two sons, a daughter, a home, a fortune,
I was esteemed and respected; now I am as a tree shorn of its branches,
a wanderer, a fugitive, hunted like a wild beast through the forest,
and all for what? Because a man dishonored my daughter, because her
brothers called that man's infamy to account, and because that man
is set above his fellows with the title of minister of God! In spite
of everything, I, her father, I, dishonored in my old age, forgave
the injury, for I was indulgent with the passions of youth and the
weakness of the flesh, and in the face of irreparable wrong what could
I do but hold my peace and save what remained to me? But the culprit,
fearful of vengeance sooner or later, sought the destruction of my
sons. Do you know what he did? No? You don't know, then, that he
pretended that there had been a robbery committed in the convento
and that one of my sons figured among the accused? The other could
not be included because he was in another place at the time. Do you
know what tortures they were subjected to? You know of them, for
they are the same in all the towns! I, I saw my son hanging by the
hair, I heard his cries, I heard him call upon me, and I, coward and
lover of peace, hadn't the courage either to kill or to die! Do you
know that the theft was not proved, that it was shown to be a false
charge, and that in punishment the curate was transferred to another
town, but that my son died as a result of his tortures? The other,
the one who was left to me, was not a coward like his father, so our
persecutor was still fearful that he would wreak vengeance on him,
and, under the pretext of his not having his cedula, which he
had not carried with him just at that time, had him arrested by the
Civil Guard, mistreated him, enraged and harassed him with insults
until he was driven to suicide! And I, I have outlived so much shame;
but if I had not the courage of a father to defend my sons, there yet
remains to me a heart burning for revenge, and I will have it! The
discontented are gathering under my command, my enemies increase
my forces, and on the day that I feel myself strong enough I will
descend to the lowlands and in flames sate my vengeance and end my
own existence. And that day will come or there is no God!" 
The old man arose trembling. With fiery look and hollow voice, he
added, tearing his long hair, "Curses, curses upon me that I restrained
the avenging hands of my sons--I have murdered them! Had I let the
guilty perish, had I confided less in the justice of God and men,
I should now have my sons--fugitives, perhaps, but I should have
them; they would not have died under torture! I was not born to be
a father, so I have them not! Curses upon me that I had not learned
with my years to know the conditions under which I lived! But in fire
and blood by my own death I will avenge them!"
In his paroxysm of grief the unfortunate father tore away the bandage,
reopening a wound in his forehead from which gushed a stream of blood.
"I respect your sorrow," said Elias, "and I understand your desire
for revenge. I, too, am like you, and yet from fear of injuring the
innocent I prefer to forget my misfortunes."
"You can forget because you are young and because you haven't lost a
son, your last hope! But I assure you that I shall injure no innocent
one. Do you see this wound? Rather than kill a poor cuadrillero,
who was doing his duty, I let him inflict it."
"But look," urged Elias, after a moment's silence, "look what a
frightful catastrophe you are going to bring down upon our unfortunate
people. If you accomplish your revenge by your own hand, your enemies
will make terrible reprisals, not against you, not against those who
are armed, but against the peaceful, who as usual will be accused--
and then the eases of injustice!"
"Let the people learn to defend themselves, let each one defend
"You know that that is impossible. Sir, I knew you in other days when
you were happy; then you gave me good advice, will you now permit me--"
The old man folded his arms in an attitude of attention. "Sir,"
continued Elias, weighing his words well, "I have had the good
fortune to render a service to a young man who is rich, generous,
noble, and who desires the welfare of his country. They say that
this young man has friends in Madrid--I don't know myself--but
I can assure you that he is a friend of the Captain-General's. What
do you say that we make him the bearer of the people's complaints,
if we interest him in the cause of the unhappy?"
The old man shook his head. "You say that he is rich? The rich think
only of increasing their wealth, pride and show blind them, and as
they are generally safe, above all when they have powerful friends,
none of them troubles himself about the woes of the unfortunate. I
know all, because I was rich!"
"But the man of whom I speak is not like the others. He is a son who
has been insulted over the memory of his father, and a young man who,
as he is soon to have a family, thinks of the future, of a happy
future for his children."
"Then he is a man who is going to be happy--our cause is not for
"But it is for men who have feelings!"
"Perhaps!" replied the old man, seating himself. "Suppose that he
agrees to carry our cry even to the Captain-General, suppose that
he finds in the Cortes delegates who will plead for us; do
you think that we shall get justice?"
"Let us try it before we resort to violent measure," answered
Elias. "You must be surprised that I, another unfortunate, young
and strong, should propose to you, old and weak, peaceful measures,
but it's because I've seen as much misery caused by us as by the
tyrants. The defenseless are the ones who pay."
"And if we accomplish nothing?"
"Something we shall accomplish, believe me, for all those who are in
power are not unjust. But if we accomplish nothing, if they disregard
our entreaties, if man has become deaf to the cry of sorrow from his
kind, then I will put myself under your orders!"
The old man embraced the youth enthusiastically. "I accept your
proposition, Elias. I know that you will keep your word. You will
come to me, and I shall help you to revenge your ancestors, you will
help me to revenge my sons, my sons that were like you!"
"In the meantime, sir, you will refrain from violent measures?"
"You will present the complaints of the people, you know them. When
shall I know your answer?"
"In four days send a man to the beach at San Diego and I will tell
him what I shall have learned from the person in whom I place so
much hope. If he accepts, they will give us justice; and if not,
I'll be the first to fall in the struggle that we will begin."
"Elias will not die, Elias will be the leader when Capitan Pablo fails,
satisfied in his revenge," concluded the old man, as he accompanied
the youth out of the cave into the open air.
To keep holy the afternoon of the Sabbath one generally goes to
the cockpit in the Philippines, just as to the bull-fights in
Spain. Cockfighting, a passion introduced into the country and
exploited for a century past, is one of the vices of the people, more
widely spread than opium-smoking among the Chinese. There the poor
man goes to risk all that he has, desirous of getting rich without
work. There the rich man goes to amuse himself, using the money that
remains to him from his feasts and his masses of thanksgiving. The
fortune that he gambles is his own, the cock is raised with much
more care perhaps than his son and successor in the cockpit, so we
have nothing to say against it. Since the government permits it and
even in a way recommends it, by providing that the spectacle may take
place only in the public plazas, on holidays (in order that all may
see it and be encouraged by the example?), from the high mass until
nightfall (eight hours), let us proceed thither to seek out some of
The cockpit of San Diego does not differ from those to be found in
other towns, except in some details. It consists of three parts,
the first of which, the entrance, is a large rectangle some twenty
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