The Social Cancer
Part 8 out of 11
meters long by fourteen wide. On one side is the gateway, generally
tended by an old woman whose business it is to collect the sa pintu,
or admission fee. Of this contribution, which every one pays, the
government receives a part, amounting to some hundreds of thousands of
pesos a year. It is said that with this money, with which vice pays
its license, magnificent schoolhouses are erected, bridges and roads
are constructed, prizes for encouraging agriculture and commerce are
distributed: blessed be the vice that produces such good results! In
this first enclosure are the vendors of buyos, cigars, sweetmeats,
and foodstuffs. There swarm the boys in company with their fathers
or uncles, who carefully initiate them into the secrets of life.
This enclosure communicates with another of somewhat larger dimensions,
--a kind of foyer where the public gathers while waiting for the
combats. There are the greater part of the fighting-cocks tied
with cords which are fastened to the ground by means of a piece of
bone or hard wood; there are assembled the gamblers, the devotees,
those skilled in tying on the gaffs, there they make agreements,
they deliberate, they beg for loans, they curse, they swear, they
laugh boisterously. That one fondles his chicken, rubbing his hand
over its brilliant plumage, this one examines and counts the scales
on its legs, they recount the exploits of the champions.
There you will see many with mournful faces carrying by the feet
corpses picked of their feathers; the creature that was the favorite
for months, petted and cared for day and night, on which were founded
such flattering hopes, is now nothing more than a carcass to be
sold for a peseta or to be stewed with ginger and eaten that very
night. Sic transit gloria mundi! The loser returns to the home where
his anxious wife and ragged children await him, without his money
or his chicken. Of all that golden dream, of all those vigils during
months from the dawn of day to the setting of the sun, of all those
fatigues and labors, there results only a peseta, the ashes left from
so much smoke.
In this foyer even the least intelligent takes part in the discussion,
while the man of most hasty judgment conscientiously investigates
the matter, weighs, examines, extends the wings, feels the muscles of
the cocks. Some go very well-dressed, surrounded and followed by the
partisans of their champions; others who are dirty and bear the imprint
of vice on their squalid features anxiously follow the movements
of the rich to note the bets, since the purse may become empty but
the passion never satiated. No countenance here but is animated--
not here is to be found the indolent, apathetic, silent Filipino--
all is movement, passion, eagerness. It may be, one would say, that
they have that thirst which is quickened by the water of the swamp.
From this place one passes into the arena, which is known as the
Rueda, the wheel. The ground here, surrounded by bamboo-stakes, is
usually higher than that in the two other divisions. In the back part,
reaching almost to the roof, are tiers of seats for the spectators,
or gamblers, since these are the same. During the fights these seats
are filled with men and boys who shout, clamor, sweat, quarrel, and
blaspheme--fortunately, hardly any women get in this far. In the
Rueda are the men of importance, the rich, the famous bettors, the
contractor, the referee. On the perfectly leveled ground the cocks
fight, and from there Destiny apportions to the families smiles or
tears, feast or famine.
At the time of entering we see the gobernadorcillo, Capitan Pablo,
Capitan Basilio, and Lucas, the man with the sear on his face who
felt so deeply the death of his brother.
Capitan Basilio approaches one of the townsmen and asks, "Do you know
which cock Capitan Tiago is going to bring?"
"I don't know, sir. This morning two came, one of them the lásak that
whipped the Consul's talisain." 
"Do you think that my bulik is a match for it?"
"I should say so! I'll bet my house and my camisa on it!"
At that moment Capitan Tiago arrives, dressed like the heavy gamblers,
in a camisa of Canton linen, woolen pantaloons, and a wide straw
hat. Behind him come two servants carrying the lásak and a white cock
of enormous size.
"Sinang tells me that Maria is improving all the time," says Capitan
"She has no more fever but is still very weak."
"Did you lose last night?"
"A little. I hear that you won. I'm going to see if I can't get
"Do you want to fight the lásak?" asks Capitan Basilio, looking at
the cock and taking it from the servant. "That depends--if there's
"How much will you put up?"
"I won't gamble for less than two."
"Have you seen my bulik?" inquires Capitan Basilio, calling to a man
who is carrying a small game-cock.
Capitan Tiago examines it and after feeling its weight and studying
its scales returns it with the question, "How much will you put up?"
"Whatever you will."
"Two, and five hundred?"
"For the next fight after this!"
The chorus of curious bystanders and the gamblers spread the news
that two celebrated cocks will fight, each of which has a history
and a well-earned reputation. All wish to see and examine the two
celebrities, opinions are offered, prophecies are made.
Meanwhile, the murmur of the voices grows, the confusion increases,
the Rueda is broken into, the seats are filled. The skilled attendants
carry the two cocks into the arena, a white and a red, already armed
but with the gaffs still sheathed. Cries are heard, "On the white!" "On
the white!" while some other voice answers, "On the red!" The odds
are on the white, he is the favorite; the red is the "outsider,"
Members of the Civil Guard move about in the crowd. They are not
dressed in the uniform of that meritorious corps, but neither are
they in civilian costume. Trousers of guingón with a red stripe, a
camisa stained blue from the faded blouse, and a service-cap, make
up their costume, in keeping with their deportment; they make bets
and keep watch, they raise disturbances and talk of keeping the peace.
While the spectators are yelling, waving their hands, flourishing and
clinking pieces of silver; while they search in their pockets for the
last coin, or, in the lack of such, try to pledge their word, promising
to sell the carabao or the next crop, two boys, brothers apparently,
follow the bettors with wistful eyes, loiter about, murmur timid words
to which no one listens, become more and more gloomy and gaze at one
another ill-humoredly and dejectedly. Lucas watches them covertly,
smiles malignantly, jingles his silver, passes close to them, and
gazing into the Rueda, cries out:
"Fifty, fifty to twenty on the white!"
The two brothers exchange glances.
"I told you," muttered the elder, "that you shouldn't have put up all
the money. If you had listened to me we should now have something to
bet on the red."
The younger timidly approached Lucas and touched him on the arm.
"Oh, it's you!" exclaimed the latter, turning around with feigned
surprise. "Does your brother accept my proposition or do you want
"How can we bet when we've lost everything?"
"Then you accept?"
"He doesn't want to! If you would lend us something, now that you
say you know us--"
Lucas scratched his head, pulled at his camisa, and replied, "Yes,
I know you. You are Tarsilo and Bruno, both young and strong. I know
that your brave father died as a result of the hundred lashes a day
those soldiers gave him. I know that you don't think of revenging him."
"Don't meddle in our affairs!" broke in Tarsilo, the elder. "That might
lead to trouble. If it were not that we have a sister, we should have
been hanged long ago."
"Hanged? They only hang a coward, one who has no money or
influence. And at all events the mountains are near."
"A hundred to twenty on the white!" cried a passer-by.
"Lend us four pesos, three, two," begged the younger.
"We'll soon pay them back double. The fight is going to commence."
Lucas again scratched his head. "Tush! This money isn't mine. Don
Crisostomo has given it to me for those who are willing to serve
him. But I see that you're not like your father--he was really
brave--let him who is not so not seek amusement!" So saying, he
drew away from them a little.
"Let's take him up, what's the difference?" said Bruno. "It's the same
to be shot as to be hanged. We poor folks are good for nothing else."
"You're right--but think of our sister!"
Meanwhile, the ring has been cleared and the combat is about to
begin. The voices die away as the two starters, with the expert who
fastens the gaffs, are left alone in the center. At a signal from
the referee, the expert unsheathes the gaffs and the fine blades
Sadly and silently the two brothers draw nearer to the ring until their
foreheads are pressed against the railing. A man approaches them and
calls into their ears, "Pare, a hundred to ten on the white!"
Tarsilo stares at him in a foolish way and responds to Bruno's nudge
with a grunt.
The starters hold the cocks with skilful delicacy, taking care not
to wound themselves. A solemn silence reigns; the spectators seem
to be changed into hideous wax figures. They present one cock to
the other, holding his head down so that the other may peck at it
and thus irritate him. Then the other is given a like opportunity,
for in every duel there must be fair play, whether it is a question
of Parisian cocks or Filipino cocks. Afterwards, they hold them up
in sight of each other, close together, so that each of the enraged
little creatures may see who it is that has pulled out a feather,
and with whom he must fight. Their neck-feathers bristle up as they
gaze at each other fixedly with flashes of anger darting from their
little round eyes. Now the moment has come; the attendants place them
on the ground a short distance apart and leave them a clear field.
Slowly they advance, their footfalls are, audible on the hard
ground. No one in the crowd speaks, no one breathes. Raising and
lowering their heads as if to gauge one another with a look, the two
cocks utter sounds of defiance and contempt. Each sees the bright
blade throwing out its cold, bluish reflections. The danger animates
them and they rush directly toward each other, but a pace apart they
check themselves with fixed gaze and bristling plumage. At that moment
their little heads are filled with a rush of blood, their anger flashes
forth, and they hurl themselves together with instinctive valor. They
strike beak to beak, breast to breast, gaff to gaff, wing to wing, but
the blows are skilfully parried, only a few feathers fall. Again they
size each other up: suddenly the white rises on his wings, brandishing
the deadly knife, but the red has bent his legs and lowered his head,
so the white smites only the empty air.. Then on touching the ground
the white, fearing a blow from behind, turns quickly to face his
adversary. The red attacks him furiously, but he defends himself
calmly--not undeservedly is he the favorite of the spectators, all
of whom tremulously and anxiously follow the fortunes of the fight,
only here and there an involuntary cry being heard.
The ground becomes strewn with red and white feathers dyed in blood,
but the contest is not for the first blood; the Filipino, carrying out
the laws dictated by his government, wishes it to be to the death or
until one or the other turns tail and runs. Blood covers the ground,
the blows are more numerous, but victory still hangs in the balance. At
last, with a supreme effort, the white throws himself forward for
a final stroke, fastens his gaff in the wing of the red and catches
it between the bones. But the white himself has been wounded in the
breast and both are weak and feeble from loss of blood. Breathless,
their strength spent, caught one against the other, they remain
motionless until the white, with blood pouring from his beak, falls,
kicking his death-throes. The red remains at his side with his wing
caught, then slowly doubles up his legs and gently closes his eyes.
Then the referee, in accordance with the rule prescribed by the
government, declares the red the winner. A savage yell greets
the decision, a yell that is heard over the whole town, even and
prolonged. He who hears this from afar then knows that the winner is
the one against which the odds were placed, or the joy would not be
so lasting. The same happens with the nations: when a small one gains
a victory over a large one, it is sung and recounted from age to age.
"You see now!" said Bruno dejectedly to his brother,
"If you had listened to me we should now have a hundred pesos. You're
the cause of our being penniless."
Tarsilo did not answer, but gazed about him as if looking for some one.
"There he is, talking to Pedro," added Bruno. "He's giving him money,
lots of money!"
True it was that Lucas was counting silver coins into the hand of
Sisa's husband. The two then exchanged some words in secret and
separated, apparently satisfied.
"Pedro must have agreed. That's what it is to be decided," sighed
Tarsilo remained gloomy and thoughtful, wiping away with the cuff of
his camisa the perspiration that ran down his forehead.
"Brother," said Bruno, "I'm going to accept, if you don't decide. The
law continues, the lásak must win and we ought not to lose any
chance. I want to bet on the next fight. What's the difference? We'll
revenge our father."
"Wait!" said Tarsilo, as he gazed at him fixedly, eye to eye, while
both turned pale. "I'll go with you, you're right. We'll revenge our
father." Still, he hesitated, and again wiped away the perspiration.
"What's stopping you?" asked Bruno impatiently.
"Do you know what fight comes next? Is it worth while?"
"If you think that way, no! Haven't you heard? The bulik of Capitan
Basilio's against Capitan Tiago's lásak. According to the law the
lásak must win."
"Ah, the lásak! I'd bet on it, too. But let's be sure first."
Bruno made a sign of impatience, but followed his brother, who
examined the cock, studied it, meditated and reflected, asked some
questions. The poor fellow was in doubt. Bruno gazed at him with
"But don't you see that wide scale he has by the side of his
spur? Don't you see those feet? What more do you want? Look at those
legs, spread out his wings! And this split scale above this wide one,
and this double one?"
Tarsilo did not hear him, but went on examining the cock. The clinking
of gold and silver came to his ears. "Now let's look at the bulik,"
he said in a thick voice.
Bruno stamped on the ground and gnashed his teeth, but obeyed. They
approached another group where a cock was being prepared for the
ring. A gaff was selected, red silk thread for tying it on was waxed
and rubbed thoroughly. Tarsilo took in the creature with a gloomily
impressive gaze, as if he were not looking at the bird so much as at
something in the future. He rubbed his hand across his forehead and
said to his brother in a stifled voice, "Are you ready?"
"I? Long ago! Without looking at them!"
"But, our poor sister--"
"Abá! Haven't they told you that Don Crisostomo is the leader? Didn't
you see him walking with the Captain-General? What risk do we run?"
"And if we get killed?"
"What's the difference? Our father was flogged to death!"
The brothers now sought for Lucas in the different groups. As soon
as they saw him Tarsilo stopped. "No! Let's get out of here! We're
going to ruin ourselves!" he exclaimed.
"Go on if you want to! I'm going to accept!"
Unfortunately, a man approached them, saying, "Are you betting? I'm
for the bulik!" The brothers did not answer.
"I'll give odds!"
"How much?" asked Bruno.
The man began to count out his pesos. Bruno watched him breathlessly.
"I have two hundred. Fifty to forty!"
"No," said Bruno resolutely. "Put--"
"All right! Fifty to thirty!"
"Double it if you want to."
"All right. The bulik belongs to my protector and I've just won. A
hundred to sixty!"
"Taken! Wait till I get the money."
"But I'll hold the stakes," said the other, not confiding much in
"It's all the same to me," answered the latter, trusting to his
fists. Then turning to his brother he added, "Even if you do keep out,
I'm going in."
Tarsilo reflected: he loved his brother and liked the sport, and,
unable to desert him, he murmured, "Let it go."
They made their way to Lucas, who, on seeing them approach, smiled.
"Sir!" called Tarsilo.
"How much will you give us?" asked the two brothers together.
"I've already told you. If you will undertake to get others for the
purpose of making a surprise-attack on the barracks, I'll give each
of you thirty pesos and ten pesos for each companion you bring. If
all goes well, each one will receive a hundred pesos and you double
that amount. Don Crisostomo is rich."
"Accepted!" exclaimed Bruno. "Let's have the money."
"I knew you were brave, as your father was! Come, so that those
fellows who killed him may not overhear us," said Lucas, indicating
Taking them into a corner, he explained to them while he was counting
out the money, "Tomorrow Don Crisostomo will get back with the
arms. Day after tomorrow, about eight o'clock at night, go to the
cemetery and I'll let you know the final arrangements. You have time
to look for companions."
After they had left him the two brothers seemed to have changed parts
--Tarsilo was calm, while Bruno was uneasy.
The Two Señoras
While Capitan Tiago was gambling on his lásak, Doña Victorina was
taking a walk through the town for the purpose of observing how the
indolent Indians kept their houses and fields. She was dressed as
elegantly as possible with all her ribbons and flowers over her silk
gown, in order to impress the provincials and make them realize what a
distance intervened between them and her sacred person. Giving her arm
to her lame husband, she strutted along the streets amid the wonder
and stupefaction of the natives. Her cousin Linares had remained in
"What ugly shacks these Indians have!" she began with a grimace. "I
don't see how they can live in them--one must have to be an
Indian! And how rude they are and how proud! They don't take off
their hats when they meet us! Hit them over the head as the curates
and the officers of the Civil Guard do--teach them politeness!"
"And if they hit me back?" asked Dr. De Espadaña.
"That's what you're a man for!"
"B-but, I'm l-lame!"
Doña Victorina was falling into a bad humor. The streets were unpaved
and the train of her gown was covered with dust. Besides, they had met
a number of young women, who, in passing them, had dropped their eyes
and had not admired her rich costume as they should have done. Sinang's
cochero, who was driving Sinang and her cousin in an elegant carriage,
had the impudence to yell "Tabi!" in such a commanding tone that
she had to jump out of the way, and could only protest: "Look at
that brute of a cochero! I'm going to tell his master to train his
"Let's go back to the house," she commanded to her husband, who,
fearing a storm, wheeled on his crutch in obedience to her mandate.
They met and exchanged greetings with the alferez. This increased
Doña Victorina's ill humor, for the officer not only did not proffer
any compliment on her costume, but even seemed to stare at it in a
"You ought not to shake hands with a mere alferez," she said to her
husband as the soldier left them. "He scarcely touched his helmet
while you took off your hat. You don't know how to maintain your rank!"
"He's the b-boss here!"
"What do we care for that? We are Indians, perhaps?"
"You're right," he assented, not caring to quarrel. They passed in
front of the officer's dwelling. Doña Consolacion was at the window,
as usual, dressed in flannel and smoking her cigar. As the house was
low, the two señoras measured one another with looks; Doña Victorina
stared while the Muse of the Civil Guard examined her from head to
foot, and then, sticking out her lower lip, turned her head away
and spat on the ground. This used up the last of Doña Victorina's
patience. Leaving her husband without support, she planted herself
in front of the alfereza, trembling with anger from head to foot and
unable to speak. Doña Consolacion slowly turned her head, calmly looked
her over again, and once more spat, this time with greater disdain.
"What's the matter with you, Doña?" she asked.
"Can you tell me, señora, why you look at me so? Are you envious?" Doña
Victorina was at length able to articulate.
"I, envious of you, I, of you?" drawled the Muse. "Yes, I envy you
"Come, woman!" pleaded the doctor. "D-don't t-take any n-notice!"
"Let me teach this shameless slattern a lesson," replied his wife,
giving him such a shove that he nearly kissed the ground. Then she
again turned to Doña Consolacion.
"Remember who you're dealing with!" she exclaimed. "Don't think that
I'm a provincial or a soldier's querida! In my house in Manila the
alfereces don't eater, they wait at the door."
"Oho, Excelentísima Señora! Alfereces don't enter, but cripples do--
like that one--ha, ha, ha!"
Had it not been for the rouge, Doña Victorian would have been seen to
blush. She tried to get to her antagonist, but the sentinel stopped
her. In the meantime the street was filling up with a curious crowd.
"Listen, I lower myself talking to you--people of quality--Don't
you want to wash my clothes? I'll pay you well! Do you think that I
don't know that you were a washerwoman?"
Doña Consolacion straightened up furiously; the remark about washing
hurt her. "Do you think that we don't know who you are and what
class of people you belong with? Get out, my husband has already
told me! Señora, I at least have never belonged to more than one,
but you? One must be dying of hunger to take the leavings, the mop
of the whole world!"
This shot found its mark with Doña Victorina. She rolled up her
sleeves, clenched her fists, and gritted her teeth. "Come down, old
sow!" she cried. "I'm going to smash that dirty mouth of yours! Querida
of a battalion, filthy hag!"
The Muse immediately disappeared from the window and was soon seen
running down the stairs flourishing her husband's whip.
Don Tiburcio interposed himself supplicatingly, but they would have
come to blows had not the alferez arrived on the scene.
"Ladies! Don Tiburcio!"
"Train your woman better, buy her some decent clothes, and if you
haven't any money left, rob the people--that's what you've got
soldiers for!" yelled Doña Victorina.
"Here I am, señora! Why doesn't your Excellency smash my mouth? You're
only tongue and spittle, Doña Excelencia!"
"Señora!" cried the alferez furiously to Doña Victorina, "be thankful
that I remember that you're a woman or else I'd kick you to pieces--
frizzes, ribbons, and all!"
"Get out, you quack! You don't wear the pants!"
The women brought into play words and gestures, insults and abuse,
dragging out all the evil that was stored in the recesses of their
minds. Since all four talked at once and said so many things that
might hurt the prestige of certain classes by the truths that were
brought to light, we forbear from recording what they said. The curious
spectators, while they may not have understood all that was said,
got not a little entertainment out of the scene and hoped that the
affair would come to blows. Unfortunately for them, the curate came
along and restored order.
"Señores! Señoras! What a shame! Señor Alferez!"
"What are you doing here, you hypocrite, Carlist!"
"Don Tiburcio, take your wife away! Señora, hold your tongue!"
"Say that to these robbers of the poor!"
Little by little the lexicon of epithets was exhausted, the review
of shamelessness of the two couples completed, and with threats and
insults they gradually drew away from one another. Fray Salvi moved
from one group to the other, giving animation to the scene. Would
that our friend the correspondent had been present!
"This very day we'll go to Manila and see the
Captain-General!" declared the raging Doña Victorina to her
husband. "You're not a man! It's a waste of money to buy trousers
"B-but, woman, the g-guards? I'm l-lame!"
"You must challenge him for pistol or sword, or--or--" Doña
Victorina stared fixedly at his false teeth.
"My d-dear, I've never had hold of a--"
But she did not let him finish. With a majestic sweep of her hand
she snatched out his false teeth and trampled them in the street.
Thus, he half-crying and she breathing fire, they reached tile
house. Linares was talking with Maria Clara, Sinang, and Victoria, and
as he had heard nothing of the quarrel, became rather uneasy at sight
of his cousins. Maria Clara, lying in an easy-chair among pillows and
wraps, was greatly surprised to see the new physiognomy of her doctor.
"Cousin," began Doña Victorina, "you must challenge the alferez right
"Why?" asked the startled Linares.
"You challenge him right now or else I'll tell everybody here who
"But, Doña Victorina!"
The three girls exchanged glances.
"You'll see! The alferez has insulted us and said that you are what
you are! His old hag came down with a whip and he, this thing here,
permitted the insult--a man!"
"Abá!" exclaimed Sinang, "they're had a fight and we didn't see it!"
"The alferez smashed the doctor's teeth," observed Victoria.
"This very day we go to Manila. You, you stay here to challenge him
or else I'll tell Don Santiago that all we're told him is a lie,
I'll tell him--"
"But, Doña Victorina, Doña Victorina," interrupted the now pallid
Linares, going up to her, "be calm, don't call up--" Then he added
in a whisper, "Don't be imprudent, especially just now."
At that moment Capitan Tiago came in from the cockpit, sad and
sighing; he had lost his lásak. But Doña Victorina left him no time
to grieve. In a few words but with no lack of strong language she
related what had happened, trying of course to put herself in the
best light possible.
"Linares is going to challenge him, do you hear? If he doesn't, don't
let him marry your daughter, don't you permit it! If he hasn't any
courage, he doesn't deserve Clarita!"
"So you're going to marry this gentleman?" asked Sinang, but her
merry eyes filled with tears. "I knew that you were prudent but not
that you were fickle."
Pale as wax, Maria Clara partly rose and stared with frightened eyes
at her father, at Doña Victorina, at Linares. The latter blushed,
Capitan Tiago dropped his eyes, while the señora went on:
"Clarita, bear this in mind: never marry a man that doesn't wear
trousers. You expose yourself to insults, even from the dogs!"
The girl did not answer her, but turned to her friends and said,
"Help me to my room, I can't walk alone."
By their aid she rose, and with her waist encircled by the round arms
of her friends, resting her marble-like head on the shoulder of the
beautiful Victoria, she went to her chamber.
That same night the married couple gathered their effects together
and presented Capitan Tiago with a bill which amounted to several
thousand pesos. Very early the following day they left for Manila in
his carriage, committing to the bashful Linares the office of avenger.
Volverán las oscuras golondrinas.
As Lucas had foretold, Ibarra arrived on the following day. His first
visit was to the family of Capitan Tiago for the purpose of seeing
Maria Clara and informing her that his Grace had reconciled him with
religion, and that he brought to the curate a letter of recommendation
in the handwriting of the Archbishop himself. Aunt Isabel was not
a little rejoiced at this, for she liked the young man and did not
look favorably on the marriage of her niece with Linares. Capitan
Tiago was not at home.
"Come in," said the aunt in her broken Spanish. "Maria, Don Crisostomo
is once more in the favor of God. The Archbishop has discommunicated
But the youth was unable to advance, the smile froze on his lips,
words failed him. Standing on the balcony at the side of Maria Clara
was Linares, arranging bouquets of flowers and leaves. Roses and
sampaguitas were scattered about on the floor. Reclining in a big
chair, pale, with a sad and pensive air, Maria Clara toyed with an
ivory fan which was not whiter than her shapely fingers.
At the appearance of Ibarra, Linares turned pale and Maria Clara's
cheeks flushed crimson. She tried to rise, but strength failed her,
so she dropped her eyes and let the fan fall. An embarrassed silence
prevailed for a few moments. Ibarra was then able to move forward and
murmur tremblingly, "I've just got back and have come immediately to
see you. I find you better than I had thought I should."
The girl seemed to have been stricken dumb; she neither said anything
nor raised her eyes.
Ibarra looked Linares over from head to foot with a stare which the
bashful youth bore haughtily.
"Well, I see that my arrival was unexpected," said Ibarra
slowly. "Maria, pardon me that I didn't have myself announced. At
some other time I'll be able to make explanations to you about my
conduct. We'll still see one another surely."
These last words were accompanied by a look at Linares. The girl
raised toward him her lovely eyes, full of purity and sadness. They
were so beseeching and eloquent that Ibarra stopped in confusion.
"May I come tomorrow?"
"You know that for my part you are always welcome," she answered
Ibarra withdrew in apparent calm, but with a tempest in his head and
ice in his heart. What he had just seen and felt was incomprehensible
to him: was it doubt, dislike, or faithlessness?
"Oh, only a woman after all!" he murmured.
Taking no note of where he was going, he reached the spot where the
schoolhouse was under construction. The work was well advanced, Ñor
Juan with his mile and plumb-bob coming and going among the numerous
laborers. Upon catching sight of Ibarra he ran to meet him.
"Don Crisostomo, at last you've come! We've all been waiting for
you. Look at the walls, they're already more than a meter high and
within two days they'll be up to the height of a man. I've put in
only the strongest and most durable woods--molave, dungon, ipil,
langil--and sent for the finest--tindalo, malatapay, pino, and
narra--for the finishings. Do you want to look at the foundations?"
The workmen saluted Ibarra respectfully, while Ñor Juan made voluble
explanations. "Here is the piping that I have taken the liberty
to add," he said. "These subterranean conduits lead to a sort of
cesspool, thirty yards away. It will help fertilize the garden. There
was nothing of that in the plan. Does it displease you?"
"Quite the contrary, I approve what you've done and congratulate
you. You are a real architect. From whom did you learn the business?"
"From myself, sir," replied the old man modestly.
"Oh, before I forget about it--tell those who may have scruples,
if perhaps there is any one who fears to speak to me, that I'm no
longer excommunicated. The Archbishop invited me to dinner."
"Abá, sir, we don't pay any attention to excommunications! All of us
are excommunicated. Padre Damaso himself is and yet he stays fat."
"It's true, sir, for a year ago he caned the coadjutor, who is
just as much a sacred person as he is. Who pays any attention to
Among the laborers Ibarra caught sight of Elias, who, as he saluted
him along with the others, gave him to understand by a look that he
had something to say to him.
"Ñor Juan," said Ibarra, "will you bring me your list of the laborers?"
Ñor Juan disappeared, and Ibarra approached Elias, who was by himself,
lifting a heavy stone into a cart.
"If you can grant me a few hours' conversation, sir, walk down to
the shore of the lake this evening and get into my banka." The youth
nodded, and Elias moved away.
Ñor Juan now brought the list, but Ibarra scanned it in vain; the
name of Elias did not appear on it!
The Voice of the Hunted
As the sun was sinking below the horizon Ibarra stepped into Elias's
banka at the shore of the lake. The youth looked out of humor.
"Pardon me, sir," said Elias sadly, on seeing him, "that I have been
so bold as to make this appointment. I wanted to talk to you freely
and so I chose this means, for here we won't have any listeners. We
can return within an hour."
"You're wrong, friend," answered Ibarra with a forced smile. "You'll
have to take me to that town whose belfry we see from here. A mischance
forces me to this."
"Yes. On my way here I met the alferez and he forced his company on
me. I thought of you and remembered that he knows you, so to get away
from him I told him that I was going to that town. I'll have to stay
there all day, since he will look for me tomorrow afternoon."
"I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you might simply have invited
him to accompany you," answered Elias naturally.
"What about you?"
"He wouldn't have recognized me, since the only time he ever saw me
he wasn't in a position to take careful note of my appearance."
"I'm in bad luck," sighed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara. "What did
you have to tell me?"
Elias looked about him. They were already at a distance from the
shore, the sun had set, and as in these latitudes there is scarcely
any twilight, the shades were lengthening, bringing into view the
bright disk of the full moon.
"Sir," replied Elias gravely, "I am the bearer of the wishes of many
"Unfortunates? What do you mean?"
In a few words Elias recounted his conversation with the leader of the
tulisanes, omitting the latter's doubts and threats. Ibarra listened
attentively and was the first to break the long silence that reigned
after he had finished his story.
"So they want--"
"Radical reforms in the armed forces, in the priesthood, and in the
administration of justice; that is to say, they ask for paternal
treatment from the government."
"Reforms? In what sense?"
"For example, more respect for a man's dignity, more security for the
individual, less force in the armed forces, fewer privileges for that
corps which so easily abuses what it has."
"Elias," answered the youth, "I don't know who you are, but I
suspect that you are not a man of the people; you think and act so
differently from others. You will understand me if I tell you that,
however imperfect the condition of affairs may be now, it would be
more so if it were changed. I might be able to get the friends that
I have in Madrid to talk, by paying them; I might even be able to
see the Captain-General; but neither would the former accomplish
anything nor has the latter sufficient power to introduce so many
novelties. Nor would I ever take a single step in that direction,
for the reason that, while I fully understand that it is true that
these corporations have their faults, they are necessary at this
time. They are what is known as a necessary evil."
Greatly surprised, Elias raised his head and looked at him in
astonishment. "Do you, then, also believe in a necessary evil,
sir?" he asked in a voice that trembled slightly. "Do you believe
that in order to do good it is necessary to do evil?"
"No, I believe in it as in a violent remedy that we make use of when we
wish to cure a disease. Now then, the country is an organism suffering
from a chronic malady, and in order to cure it, the government sees
the necessity of employing such means, harsh and violent if you wish,
but useful and necessary."
"He is a bad doctor, sir, who seeks only to destroy or stifle the
symptoms without an effort to examine into the origin of the malady,
or, when knowing it, fears to attack it. The Civil Guard has only
this purpose" the repression of crime by means of terror and force, a
purpose that it does not fulfil or accomplishes only incidentally. You
must take into account the truth that society can be severe with
individuals only when it has provided them with the means necessary
for their moral perfection. In our country, where there is no society,
since there is no unity between the people and the government, the
latter should be indulgent, not only because indulgence is necessary
but also because the individual, abandoned and uncared for by it,
has less responsibility, for the very reason that he has received less
guidance. Besides, following out your comparison, the treatment that
is applied to the ills of the country is so destructive that it is
felt only in the sound parts of the organism, whose vitality is thus
weakened and made receptive of evil. Would it not be more rational to
strengthen the diseased parts of the organism and lessen the violence
of the remedy a little?"
"To weaken the Civil Guard would be to endanger the security of
"The security of the towns!" exclaimed Elias bitterly. "It will
soon be fifteen years since the towns have had their Civil Guard,
and look" still we have tulisanes, still we hear that they sack
towns, that they infest the highways. Robberies continue and the
perpetrators are not hunted down; crime flourishes, and the real
criminal goes scot-free, but not so the peaceful inhabitant of the
town. Ask any honorable citizen if he looks upon this institution as
a benefit, a protection on the part of the government, and not as an
imposition, a despotism whose outrageous acts do more damage than
the violent deeds of criminals. These latter are indeed serious,
but they are rare, and against them one has the right to defend
himself, but against the molestations of legal force he is not even
allowed a protest, and if they are not serious they are nevertheless
continued and sanctioned. What effect does this institution produce
among our people? It paralyzes communication because all are afraid
of being abused on trifling pretexts. It pays more attention to
formalities than to the real nature of things, which is the first
symptom of incapacity. Because one has forgotten his cedula he must
be manacled and knocked about, regardless of the fact that he may be
a decent and respectable citizen. The superiors hold it their first
duty to make people salute them, either willingly or forcibly, even
in the darkness of the night, and their inferiors imitate them by
mistreating and robbing the country folk, nor are pretexts lacking
to this end. Sanctity of the home does not exist; not long ago in
Kalamba they entered, by forcing their way through the windows, the
house of a peaceful inhabitant to whom their chief owed money and
favors. There is no personal security; when they need to have their
barracks or houses cleaned they go out and arrest any one who does not
resist them, in order to make him work the whole day. Do you care to
hear more? During these holidays gambling, which is prohibited by law,
has gone on while they forcibly broke up the celebrations permitted by
the authorities. You saw what the people thought about these things;
what have they got by repressing their anger and hoping for human
justice? Ah, sir, if that is what you call keeping the peace . . ."
"I agree with you that there are evils," replied Ibarra, "but let
us bear with those evils on account of the benefits that accompany
them. This institution may be imperfect, but, believe me, by the fear
that it inspires it keeps the number of criminals from increasing."
"Say rather that by this fear the number is increased," corrected
Elias. "Before the creation of this corps almost all the evil-doers,
with the exception of a very few, were criminals from hunger. They
plundered and robbed in order to live, but when their time of want
was passed, they again left the highways clear. Sufficient to put
them to flight were the poor, but brave cuadrilleros, they who
have been so calumniated by the writers about our country, who have
for a right, death, for duty, fighting, and for reward, jests. Now
there are tulisanes who are such for life. A single fault, a crime
inhumanly punished, resistance against the outrages of this power,
fear of atrocious tortures, east them out forever from society and
condemn them to slay or be slain. The terrorism of the Civil Guard
closes against them the doors of repentance, and as outlaws they fight
to defend themselves in the mountains better than the soldiers at whom
they laugh. The result is that we are unable to put an end to the evil
that we have created. Remember what the prudence of the Captain-General
de la Torre accomplished. The amnesty granted by him to those
unhappy people has proved that in those mountains there still beat the
hearts of men and that they only wait for pardon. Terrorism is useful
when the people are slaves, when the mountains afford no hiding-places,
when power places a sentinel behind every tree, and when the body of
the slave contains nothing more than a stomach and intestines. But
when in desperation he fights for his life, feeling his arm strong,
his heart throb, his whole being fill with hate, how can terrorism
hope to extinguish the flame to which it is only adding fuel?"
"I am perplexed, Elias, to hear you talk thus, and I should almost
believe that you were right had I not my own convictions. But note
this fact--and don't be offended, for I consider you an exception--
look who the men are that ask for these reforms" nearly all criminals
or on the way to be such!"
"Criminals now, or future criminals; but why are they such? Because
their peace has been disturbed, their happiness destroyed, their
dearest affections wounded, and when they have asked justice for
protection, they have become convinced that they can expect it only
from themselves. But you are mistaken, sir, if you think that only the
criminals ask for justice. Go from town to town, from house to house,
listen to the secret sighings in the bosoms of the families, and you
will be convinced that the evils which the Civil Guard corrects are
the same as, if not less than, those it causes all the time. Should
we decide from this that all the people are criminals? If so, then
why defend some from the others, why not destroy them all?"
"Some error exists here which I do not see just now some fallacy in the
theory to invalidate the practise, for in Spain, the mother country,
this corps is displaying, and has ever displayed, great usefulness."
"I don't doubt it. Perhaps there, it is better organized, the men
of better grade, perhaps also Spain needs it while the Philippines
does not. Our customs, our mode of life, which are always invoked
when there is a desire to deny us some right, are entirely overlooked
when the desire is to impose something upon us. And tell me, sir, why
have not the other nations, which from their nearness to Spain must be
more like her than the Philippines is, adopted this institution? Is it
because of this that they still have fewer robberies on their railway
trains, fewer riots, fewer murders, and fewer assassinations in their
Ibarra bowed his head in deep thought, raising it after a few
moments to reply: "This question, my friend, calls for serious
study. If my inquiries convince me that these complaints are well
founded I will write to my friends in Madrid, since we have no
representatives. Meanwhile, believe me that the government needs a
corps with strength enough to make itself respected and to enforce
"Yes, sir, when the government is at war with the country. But for
the welfare of the government itself we must not have the people think
that they are in opposition to authority. Rather, if such were true,
if we prefer force to prestige, we ought to take care to whom we grant
this unlimited power, this authority. So much power in the hands
of men, ignorant men filled with passions, without moral training,
of untried principles, is a weapon in the hands of a madman in a
defenseless multitude. I concede and wish to believe with you that
the government needs this weapon, but then let it choose this weapon
carefully, let it select the most worthy instruments, and since it
prefers to take upon itself authority, rather than have the people
grant it, at least let it be seen that it knows how to exercise it."
Elias spoke passionately, enthusiastically, in vibrating tones; his
eyes flashed. A solemn pause followed. The banka, unimpelled by the
paddle, seemed to stand still on the water. The moon shone majestically
in a sapphire sky and a few lights glimmered on the distant shore.
"What more do they ask for?" inquired Ibarra.
"Reform in the priesthood," answered Elias in a sad and discouraged
tone. "These unfortunates ask for more protection against--"
"Against the religious orders?"
"Against their oppressors, sir."
"Has the Philippines forgotten what she owes to those orders? Has she
forgotten the immense debt of gratitude that is due from her to those
who snatched her from error to give her the true faith, to those who
have protected her against the tyrannical acts of the civil power? This
is the evil result of not knowing the history of our native land!"
The surprised Elias could hardly credit what he heard. "Sir," he
replied in a grave tone, "you accuse these people of ingratitude;
let me, one of the people who suffer, defend them. Favors rendered,
in order to have any claims to recognition, must be disinterested. Let
us pass over its missionary work, the much-invoked Christian charity;
let us brush history aside and not ask what Spain has done with the
Jewish people, who gave all Europe a Book, a Religion, and a God;
what she has done with the Arabic people, who gave her culture,
who were tolerant with her religious beliefs, and who awoke her
lethargic national spirit, so nearly destroyed during the Roman and
Gothic dominations. You say that she snatched us from error and gave
us the true faith: do you call faith these outward forms, do you
call religion this traffic in girdles and scapularies, truth these
miracles and wonderful tales that we hear daily? Is this the law
of Jesus Christ? For this it was hardly necessary that a God should
allow Himself to be crucified or that we should be obliged to show
eternal gratitude. Superstition existed long before--it was only
necessary to systematize it and raise the price of its merchandise!
"You will tell me that however imperfect our religion may be at
present, it is preferable to what we had before. I believe that, too,
and would agree with you in saying so, but the cost is too great,
since for it we have given up our nationality, our independence. For
it we have given over to its priests our best towns, our fields, and
still give up our savings by the purchase of religious objects. An
article of foreign manufacture has been introduced among us, we have
paid well for it, and we are even.
"If you mean the protection that they afforded us against the
encomenderos, I might answer that through them we fell under
the power of the encomenderos. But no, I realize that a true faith
and a sincere love for humanity guided the first missionaries to our
shores; I realize the debt of gratitude we owe to those noble hearts;
I know that at that time Spain abounded in heroes of all kinds, in
religious as well as in political affairs, in civil and in military
life. But because the forefathers were virtuous, should we consent
to the abuses of their degenerate descendants? Because they have
rendered us great service, should we be to blame for preventing them
from doing us wrong? The country does not ask for their expulsion but
only for reforms required by the changed circumstances and new needs."
"I love our native land as well as you can, Elias; I understand
something of what it desires, and I have listened with attention to
all you have said. But, after all, my friend, I believe that we are
looking at things through rather impassioned eyes. Here, less than
in other parts, do I see the necessity for reforms."
"Is it possible, sir," asked Elias, extending his arms in a gesture
of despair, "that you do not see the necessity for reforms, you,
after the misfortunes of your family?"
"Ah, I forget myself and my own troubles in the presence of the
security of the Philippines, in the presence of the interests of
Spain!" interrupted Ibarra warmly. "To preserve the Philippines it
is meet that the friars continue as they are. On the union with Spain
depends the welfare of our country."
When Ibarra had ceased Elias still sat in an attitude of attention
with a sad countenance and eyes that had lost their luster. "The
missionaries conquered the country, it is true," he replied, "but do
you believe that by the friars the Philippines will be preserved?"
"Yes, by them alone. Such is the belief of all who have written about
"Oh!" exclaimed Elias dejectedly, throwing the paddle clown in the
banka, "I did not believe that you would have so poor an idea of
the government and of the country. Why don't you condemn both? What
would you say of the members of a family that dwells in peace only
through the intervention of an outsider: a country that is obedient
because it is deceived; a government that commands be, cause it avails
itself of fraud, a government that does not know how to make itself
loved or respected for its own sake? Pardon me, sir, but I believe
that our government is stupid and is working its own ruin when it
rejoices that such is the belief. I thank you for your kindness,
where do you wish me to take you now?"
"No," replied Ibarra, "let us talk; it is necessary to see who is
right on such an important subject."
"Pardon me, sir," replied Elias, shaking his head, "but I haven't the
eloquence to convince you. Even though I have had some education I am
still an Indian, my way of life seems to you a precarious one, and my
words will always seem to you suspicious. Those who have given voice
to the opposite opinion are Spaniards, and as such, even though they
may speak idly and foolishly, their tones, their titles, and their
origin make their words sacred and give them such authority that I
have desisted forever from arguing against them. Moreover, when I
see that you, who love your country, you, whose father sleeps beneath
these quiet waters, you, who have seen yourself attacked, insulted,
and persecuted, hold such opinions in spite of all these things, and
in spite of your knowledge, I begin to doubt my own convictions and
to admit the possibility that the people may be mistaken. I'll have
to tell those unfortunates who have put their trust in men that they
must place it in God and their own strength. Again I thank you--
tell me where I shall take you."
"Elias, your bitter words touch my heart and make me also doubt. What
do you want? I was not brought up among the people, so I am perhaps
ignorant of their needs. I spent my childhood in the Jesuit college,
I grew up in Europe, I have been molded by books, learning only what
men have been able to bring to light. What remains among the shadows,
what the writers do not tell, that I am ignorant of. Yet I love our
country as you do, not only because it is the duty of every man to
love the country to which he owes his existence and to which he will
no doubt owe his final rest, not only because my father so taught
me, but also because my mother was an Indian, because my fondest
recollections cluster around my country, and I love it also because
to it I owe and shall ever owe my happiness!"
"And I, because to it I owe my misfortunes," muttered Elias.
"Yes, my friend, I know that you suffer, that you are unfortunate,
and that those facts make you look into the future darkly and
influence your way of thinking, so I am somewhat forearmed against
your complaints. If I could understand your motives, something of
"My misfortunes had another source. If I thought that the story of
them would be of any use, I would relate it to you, since, apart from
the fact that I make no secret of it, it is quite well known to many."
"Perhaps on hearing it I might correct my opinions. You know that I
do not trust much to theories, preferring rather to be guided by facts."
Elias remained thoughtful for a few moments. "If that is the case,
sir, I will tell you my story briefly."
"Some sixty years ago my grandfather dwelt in Manila, being employed
as a bookkeeper in a Spanish commercial house. He was then very young,
was married, and had a son. One night from some unknown cause the
warehouse burned down. The fire was communicated to the dwelling of his
employer and from there to many other buildings. The losses were great,
a scapegoat was sought, and the merchant accused my grandfather. In
vain he protested his innocence, but he was poor and unable to pay the
great lawyers, so he was condemned to be flogged publicly and paraded
through the streets of Manila. Not so very long since they still used
the infamous method of punishment which the people call the "caballo
y vaca,"  and which is a thousand times more dreadful than death
itself. Abandoned by all except his young wife, my grandfather saw
himself tied to a horse, followed by an unfeeling crowd, and whipped
on every street-corner in the sight of men, his brothers, and in the
neighborhood of numerous temples of a God of peace. When the wretch,
now forever disgraced, had satisfied the vengeance of man with his
blood, his tortures, and his cries, he had to be taken off the horse,
for he had become unconscious. Would to God that he had died! But
by one of those refinements of cruelty he was given his liberty. His
wife, pregnant at the time, vainly begged from door to door for work or
alms in order to care for her sick husband and their poor son, but who
would trust the wife of an incendiary and a disgraced man? The wife,
then, had to become a prostitute!"
Ibarra rose in his seat.
"Oh, don't get excited! Prostitution was not now a dishonor for her
or a disgrace to her husband; for them honor and shame no longer
existed. The husband recovered from his wounds and came with his wife
and child to hide himself in the mountains of this province. Here they
lived several months, miserable, alone, hated and shunned by all. The
wife gave birth to a sickly child, which fortunately died. Unable
to endure such misery and being less courageous than his wife, my
grandfather, in despair at seeing his sick wife deprived of all care
and assistance, hanged himself. His corpse rotted in sight of the son,
who was scarcely able to care for his sick mother, and the stench
from it led to their discovery. Her husband's death was attributed
to her, for of what is the wife of a wretch, a woman who has been
a prostitute besides, not believed to be capable? If she swears,
they call her a perjurer; if she weeps, they say that she is acting;
and that she blasphemes when she calls on God. Nevertheless, they
had pity on her condition and waited for the birth of another child
before they flogged her. You know how the friars spread the belief
that the Indians can only be managed by blows: read what Padre Gaspar
de San Agustin says!
"A woman thus condemned will curse the day on which her child is born,
and this, besides prolonging her torture, violates every maternal
sentiment. Unfortunately, she brought forth a healthy child. Two months
afterwards, the sentence was executed to the great satisfaction of
the men who thought that thus they were performing their duty. Not
being at peace in these mountains, she then fled with her two sons
to a neighboring province, where they lived like wild beasts, hating
and hated. The elder of the two boys still remembered, even amid so
much misery, the happiness of his infancy, so he became a tulisan as
soon as he found himself strong enough. Before long the bloody name
of Balat spread from province to province, a terror to the people,
because in his revenge he did everything with blood and fire. The
younger, who was by nature kind-hearted, resigned himself to his
shameful fate along with his mother, and they lived on what the woods
afforded, clothing themselves in the cast-off rags of travelers. She
had lost her name, being known only as the convict, the prostitute,
the scourged. He was known as the son of his mother only, because
the gentleness of his disposition led every one to believe that he
was not the son of the incendiary and because any doubt as to the
morality of the Indians can be held reasonable.
"At last, one day the notorious Balat fell into the clutches of the
authorities, who exacted of him a strict accounting for his crimes,
and of his mother for having done nothing to rear him properly. One
morning the younger brother went to look for his mother, who had
gone into the woods to gather mushrooms and had not returned. He
found her stretched out on the ground under a cotton-tree beside the
highway, her face turned toward the sky, her eyes fixed and staring,
her clenched hands buried in the blood-stained earth. Some impulse
moved him to look up in the direction toward which the eyes of the
dead woman were staring, and he saw hanging from a branch a basket
and in the basket the gory head of his brother!"
"My God!" ejaculated Ibarra.
"That might have been the exclamation of my father," continued Elias
coldly. "The body of the brigand had been cut up and the trunk buried,
but his limbs were distributed and hung up in different towns. If
ever you go from Kalamba to Santo Tomas you will still see a withered
lomboy-tree where one of my uncle's legs hung rotting--nature has
blasted the tree so that it no longer grows or bears fruit. The same
was done with the other limbs, but the head, as the best part of the
person and the portion most easily recognizable, was hung up in front
of his mother's hut!"
Ibarra bowed his head.
"The boy fled like one accursed," Elias went on. "He fled from town
to town by mountain and valley. When he thought that he had reached
a place where he was not known, he hired himself out as a laborer in
the house of a rich man in the province of Tayabas. His activity and
the gentleness of his character gained him the good-will of all who
did not know his past, and by his thrift and economy he succeeded in
accumulating a little capital. He was still young, he thought his
sorrows buried in the past, and he dreamed of a happy future. His
pleasant appearance, his youth, and his somewhat unfortunate condition
won him the love of a young woman of the town, but he dared not ask
for her hand from fear that his past might become known. But love
is stronger than anything else and they wandered from the straight
path, so, to save the woman's honor, he risked everything by asking
for her in marriage. The records were sought and his whole past
became known. The girl's father was rich and succeeded in having him
prosecuted. He did not try to defend himself but admitted everything,
and so was sent to prison. The woman gave birth to twins, a boy and a
girl, who were nurtured in secret and made to believe that their father
was dead no difficult matter, since at a tender age they saw their
mother die, and they gave little thought to tracing genealogies. As our
maternal grandfather was rich our childhood passed happily. My sister
and I were brought up together, loving one another as only twins can
love when they have no other affections. When quite young I was sent
to study in the Jesuit College, and my sister, in order that we might
not be completely separated, entered the Concordia College. After
our brief education was finished, since we desired only to be farmers,
we returned to the town to take possession of the inheritance left
us by our grandfather. We lived happily for a time, the future smiled
on us, we had many servants, our' fields produced abundant harvests,
and my sister was about to be married to a young man whom she adored
and who responded equally to her affection.
"But in a dispute over money and by reason of my haughty disposition
at that time, I alienated the good will of a distant relative, and
one day he east in my face my doubtful birth and shameful descent. I
thought it all a slander and demanded satisfaction. The tomb which
covered so much rottenness was again opened and to my consternation
the whole truth came out to overwhelm me. To add to our sorrow, we
had had for many years an old servant who had endured all my whims
without ever leaving us, contenting himself merely with weeping and
groaning at the rough jests of the other servants. I don't know how my
relative had found it out, but the fact is that he had this old man
summoned into court and made him tell the truth: that old servant,
who had clung to his beloved children, and whom I had abused many
times, was my father! Our happiness faded away, I gave up our fortune,
my sister lost her betrothed, and with our father we left the town
to seek refuge elsewhere. The thought that he had contributed to
our misfortunes shortened the old man's days, but before he died I
learned from his lips the whole story of the sorrowful past.
"My sister and I were left alone. She wept a great deal, but even
in the midst of such great sorrows as heaped themselves upon us,
she could not forget her love. Without complaining, without uttering
a word, she saw her former sweetheart married to another girl, but I
watched her gradually sicken without being able to console her. One
day she disappeared, and it was in vain that I sought everywhere,
in vain I made inquiries about her. About six months afterwards I
learned that about that time, after a flood on the lake, there had
been found in some rice fields bordering on the beach at Kalamba,
the corpse of a young woman who had been either drowned or murdered,
for she had had, so they said, a knife sticking in her breast. The
officials of that town published the fact in the country round about,
but no one came to claim the body, no young woman apparently had
disappeared. From the description they gave me afterward of her dress,
her ornaments, the beauty of her countenance, and her abundant hair,
I recognized in her my poor sister.
"Since then I have wandered from province to province. My reputation
and my history are in the mouths of many. They attribute great deeds
to me, sometimes calumniating me, but I pay little attention to men,
keeping ever on my way. Such in brief is my story, a story of one of
the judgments of men."
Elias fell silent as he rowed along.
"I still believe that you are not wrong," murmured Crisostomo in a low
voice, "when you say that justice should seek to do good by rewarding
virtue and educating the criminals. Only, it's impossible, Utopian! And
where could be secured so much money, so many new employees?"
"For what, then, are the priests who proclaim their mission of peace
and charity? Is it more meritorious to moisten the head of a child
with water, to give it salt to eat, than to awake in the benighted
conscience of a criminal that spark which God has granted to every
man to light him to his welfare? Is it more humane to accompany
a criminal to the scaffold than to lead him along the difficult
path from vice to virtue? Don't they also pay spies, executioners,
civil-guards? These things, besides being dirty, also cost money."
"My friend, neither you nor I, although we may wish it, can accomplish
"Alone, it is true, we are nothing, but take up the cause of the
people, unite yourself with the people, be not heedless of their
cries, set an example to the rest, spread the idea of what is called
"What the people ask for is impossible. We must wait."
"Wait! To wait means to suffer!"
"If I should ask for it, the powers that be would laugh at me."
"But if the people supported you?"
"Never! I will never be the one to lead the multitude to get by force
what the government does not think proper to grant, no! If I should
ever see that multitude armed I would place myself on the side of the
government, for in such a mob I should not see my countrymen. I desire
the country's welfare, therefore I would build a schoolhouse. I seek
it by means of instruction, by progressive advancement; without light
there is no road."
"Neither is there liberty without strife!" answered Elias.
"The fact is that I don't want that liberty!"
"The fact is that without liberty there is no light," replied the
pilot with warmth. "You say that you are only slightly acquainted
with your country, and I believe you. You don't see the struggle that
is preparing, you don't see the cloud on the horizon. The fight is
beginning in the sphere of ideas, to descend later into the arena,
which will be dyed with blood. I hear the voice of God--woe unto
them who would oppose it! For them History has not been written!"
Elias was transfigured; standing uncovered, with his manly face
illuminated by the moon, there was something extraordinary about
him. He shook his long hair, and went on:
"Don't you see how everything is awakening? The sleep has lasted for
centuries, but one day the thunderbolt struck, and in striking,
infused life. Since then new tendencies are stirring our spirits,
and these tendencies, today scattered, will some day be united, guided
by the God who has not failed other peoples and who will not fail us,
for His cause is the cause of liberty!"
A solemn silence followed these words, while the banka, carried along
insensibly by the waves, neared the shore.
Elias was the first to break the silence. "What shall I tell those
who sent me?" he asked with a change from his former tone.
"I've already told you: I greatly deplore their condition, but
they should wait. Evils are not remedied by other evils, and in our
misfortunes each of us has his share of blame."
Elias did not again reply, but dropped his head and rowed along until
they reached the shore, where he took leave of Ibarra: "I thank you,
sir, for the condescension you have shown me. Now, for your own good,
I beg of you that in the future you forget me and that you do not
recognize me again, no matter in what situation you may find me."
So saying, he drew away in the banka, rowing toward a thicket on the
shore. As he covered the long distance he remained silent, apparently
intent upon nothing but the thousands of phosphorescent diamonds
that the oar caught up and dropped back into the lake, where they
disappeared mysteriously into the blue waves.
When he had reached the shadow of the thicket a man came out of it
and approached the banka. "What shall I tell the capitan?" he asked.
"Tell him that Elias, if he lives, will keep his word," was the
"When will you join us, then?"
"When your capitan thinks that the hour of danger has come."
"Very well. Good-by!"
"If I don't die first," added Elias in a low voice.
The bashful Linares was anxious and ill at ease. He had just received
from Doña Victorina a letter which ran thus:
DEER COZIN within 3 days i expec to here from you if the alferes has
killed you or you him i dont want anuther day to pass befour that broot
has his punishment if that tim passes an you havent challenjed him ill
tel don santiago you was never segretary nor joked with canobas nor
went on a spree with the general don arseño martinez ill tel clarita
its all a humbug an ill not give you a sent more if you challenje
him i promis all you want so lets see you challenje him i warn you
there must be no excuses nor delays yore cozin who loves you
VICTORINA DE LOS REYES DE DE ESPADAÑA
sampaloc monday 7 in the evening
The affair was serious. He was well enough acquainted with the
character of Doña Victorina to know what she was capable of. To talk
to her of reason was to talk of honesty and courtesy to a revenue
carbineer when he proposes to find contraband where there is none,
to plead with her would be useless, to deceive her worse--there
was no way out of the difficulty but to send the challenge.
"But how? Suppose he receives me with violence?" he soliloquized,
as he paced to and fro. "Suppose I find him with his señora? Who will
be willing to be my second? The curate? Capitan Tiago? Damn the hour
in which I listened to her advice! The old toady! To oblige me to
get myself tangled up, to tell lies, to make a blustering fool of
myself! What will the young lady say about me? Now I'm sorry that
I've been secretary to all the ministers!"
While the good Linares was in the midst of his soliloquy, Padre Salvi
came in. The Franciscan was even thinner and paler than usual, but his
eyes gleamed with a strange light and his lips wore a peculiar smile.
"Señor Linares, all alone?" was his greeting as he made his way to
the sala, through the half-opened door of which floated the notes
from a piano. Linares tried to smile.
"Where is Don Santiago?" continued the curate.
Capitan Tiago at that moment appeared, kissed the curate's hand, and
relieved him of his hat and cane, smiling all the while like one of
"Come, come!" exclaimed the curate, entering the sala, followed by
Linares and Capitan Tiago, "I have good news for you all. I've just
received letters from Manila which confirm the one Señor Ibarra
brought me yesterday. So, Don Santiago, the objection is removed."
Maria Clara, who was seated at the piano between her two friends,
partly rose, but her strength failed her, and she fell back
again. Linares turned pale and looked at Capitan Tiago, who dropped
"That young man seems to me to be very agreeable," continued the
curate. "At first I misjudged him--he's a little quick-tempered--
but he knows so well how to atone for his faults afterwards that one
can't hold anything against him. If it were not for Padre Damaso--"
Here the curate shot a quick glance at Maria Clara, who was listening
without taking her eyes off the sheet of music, in spite of the sly
pinches of Sinang, who was thus expressing her joy--had she been
alone she would have danced.
"Padre Damaso?" queried Linares.
"Yes, Padre Damaso has said," the curate went on, without taking his
gaze from Maria Clara, "that as--being her sponsor in baptism, he
can't permit--but, after all, I believe that if Señor Ibarra begs
his pardon, which I don't doubt he'll do, everything will be settled."
Maria Clara rose, made some excuse, and retired to her chamber,
accompanied by Victoria.
"But if Padre Damaso doesn't pardon him?" asked Capitan Tiago in a
"Then Maria Clara will decide. Padre Damaso is her father--
spiritually. But I think they'll reach an understanding."
At that moment footsteps were heard and Ibarra appeared, followed
by Aunt Isabel. His appearance produced varied impressions. To his
affable greeting Capitan Tiago did not know whether to laugh or to
cry. He acknowledged the presence of Linares with a profound bow. Fray
Salvi arose and extended his hand so cordially that the youth could
not restrain a look of astonishment.
"Don't be surprised," said Fray Salvi, "for I was just now praising
Ibarra thanked him and went up to Sinang, who began with her childish
garrulity, "Where have you been all day? We were all asking, where
can that soul redeemed from purgatory have gone? And we all said the
"May I know what you said?"
"No, that's a secret, but I'll tell you soon alone. Now tell me where
you've been, so we can see who guessed right."
"No, that's also a secret, but I'll tell you alone, if these gentlemen
will excuse us."
"Certainly, certainly, by all means!" exclaimed Padre Salvi.
Rejoicing over the prospect of learning a secret, Sinang led Crisostomo
to one end of the sala.
"Tell me, little friend," he asked, "is Maria angry with me?"
"I don't know, but she says that it's better for you to forget her,
then she begins to cry. Capitan Tiago wants her to marry that man. So
does Padre Damaso, but she doesn't say either yes or no. This morning
when we were talking about you and I said, 'Suppose he has gone to
make love to some other girl?' she answered, 'Would that he had!' and
began to cry."
Ibarra became grave. "Tell Maria that I want to talk with her alone."
"Alone?" asked Sinang, wrinkling her eyebrows and staring at him.
"Entirely alone, no, but not with that fellow present."
"It's rather difficult, but don't worry, I'll tell her."
"When shall I have an answer?"
"Tomorrow come to my house early. Maria doesn't want to be left alone
at all, so we stay with her. Victoria sleeps with her one night and
I the other, and tonight it's my turn. But listen, your secret? Are
you going away without telling me?"
"That's right! I was in the town of Los Baños. I'm going to develop
some coconut-groves and I'm thinking of putting up an oil-mill. Your
father will be my partner."
"Nothing more than that? What a secret!" exclaimed Sinang aloud,
in the tone of a cheated usurer. "I thought--"
"Be careful! I don't want you to make it known!"
"Nor do I want to do it," replied Sinang, turning up her nose. "If
it were something more important, I would tell my friends. But to
buy coconuts! Coconuts! Who's interested in coconuts?" And with
extraordinary haste she ran to join her friends.
A few minutes later Ibarra, seeing that the interest of the party
could only languish, took his leave. Capitan Tiago wore a bitter-sweet
look, Linares was silent and watchful, while the curate with assumed
cheerfulness talked of indifferent matters. None of the girls had
The Cards of the Dead and the Shadows
The moon was hidden in a cloudy sky while a cold wind, precursor
of the approaching December, swept the dry leaves and dust about in
the narrow pathway leading to the cemetery. Three shadowy forms were
conversing in low tones under the arch of the gateway.
"Have you spoken to Elias?" asked a voice.
"No, you know how reserved and circumspect he is. But he ought to be
one of us. Don Crisostomo saved his life."
"That's why I joined," said the first voice. "Don Crisostomo had my
wife cured in the house of a doctor in Manila. I'll look after the
convento to settle some old scores with the curate."
"And we'll take care of the barracks to show the civil-guards that
our father had sons."
"How many of us will there be?"
"Five, and five will be enough. Don Crisostomo's servant, though,
says there'll be twenty of us."
"What if you don't succeed?"
"Hist!" exclaimed one of the shadows, and all fell silent.
In the semi-obscurity a shadowy figure was seen to approach,
sneaking along by the fence. From time to time it stopped as if
to look back. Nor was reason for this movement lacking, since some
twenty paces behind it came another figure, larger and apparently
darker than the first, but so lightly did it touch the ground that
it vanished as rapidly as though the earth had swallowed it every
time the first shadow paused and turned.
"They're following me," muttered the first figure. "Can it be the
civil-guards? Did the senior sacristan lie?"
"They said that they would meet here," thought the second shadow. "Some
mischief must be on foot when the two brothers conceal it from me."
At length the first shadow reached the gateway of the cemetery. The
three who were already there stepped forward.
"Is that you?"
"Is that you?"
"We must scatter, for they've followed me. Tomorrow you'll get the arms
and tomorrow night is the time. The cry is, 'Viva Don Crisostomo!' Go!"
The three shadows disappeared behind the stone walls. The later
arrival hid in the hollow of the gateway and waited silently. "Let's
see who's following me," he thought.
The second shadow came up very cautiously and paused as if to look
about him. "I'm late," he muttered, "but perhaps they will return."
A thin fine rain, which threatened to last, began to fall, so it
occurred to him to take refuge under the gateway. Naturally, he ran
against the other.
"Ah! Who are you?" asked the latest arrival in a rough tone.
"Who are you?" returned the other calmly, after which there followed
a moment's pause as each tried to recognize the other's voice and to
make out his features.
"What are you waiting here for?" asked he of the rough voice.
"For the clock to strike eight so that I can play cards with the
dead. I want to win something tonight," answered the other in a
natural tone. "And you, what have you come for?"
"For--for the same purpose."
"Abá! I'm glad of that, I'll not be alone. I've brought cards. At
the first stroke of the bell I'll make the lay, at the second I'll
deal. The cards that move are the cards of the dead and we'll have
to cut for them.
Have you brought cards?"
"It's simple enough--just as you're going to deal for them, so I
expect them to play for me."
"But what if the dead don't play?"
"What can we do? Gambling hasn't yet been made compulsory among
A short silence ensued.
"Are you armed? How are you going to fight with the dead?"
"With my fists," answered the larger of the two.
"Oh, the devil! Now I remember--the dead won't bet when there's
more than one living person, and there are two of us."
"Is that right? Well, I don't want to leave."
"Nor I. I'm short of money," answered the smaller. "But let's do this:
let's play for it, the one who loses to leave."
"All right," agreed the other, rather ungraciously. "Then let's
get inside. Have you any matches?" They went in to seek in the
semi-obscurity for a suitable place and soon found a niche in which
they could sit. The shorter took some cards from his salakot, while
the other struck a match, in the light from which they stared at
each other, but, from the expressions on their faces, apparently
without recognition. Nevertheless, we can recognize in the taller
and deep-voiced one Elias and in the shorter one, from the scar on
his cheek, Lucas.
"Cut!" called Lucas, still staring at the other. He pushed aside some
bones that were in the niche and dealt an ace and a jack.
Elias lighted match after match. "On the jack!" he said, and to
indicate the card placed a vertebra on top of it.
"Play!" called Lucas, as he dealt an ace with the fourth or fifth
card. "You've lost," he added. "Now leave me alone so that I can try
to make a raise."
Elias moved away without a word and was soon swallowed up in the
Several minutes later the church-clock struck eight and the bell
announced the hour of the souls, but Lucas invited no one to play nor
did he call on the dead, as the superstition directs; instead, he took
off his hat and muttered a few prayers, crossing and recrossing himself
with the same fervor with which, at that same moment, the leader of the
Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary was going through a similar performance.
Throughout the night a drizzling rain continued to fall. By nine
o'clock the streets were dark and solitary. The coconut-oil lanterns,
which the inhabitants were required to hang out, scarcely illuminated
a small circle around each, seeming to be lighted only to render the
darkness more apparent. Two civil-guards paced back and forth in the
street near the church.
"It's cold!" said one in Tagalog with a Visayan accent. "We haven't
caught any sacristan, so there is no one to repair the alferez's
chicken-coop. They're all scared out by the death of that other
one. This makes me tired."
"Me, too," answered the other. "No one commits robbery, no one raises
a disturbance, but, thank God, they say that Elias is in town. The
alferez says that whoever catches him will be exempt from floggings
for three months."
"Aha! Do you remember his description?" asked the Visayan.
"I should say so! Height: tall, according to the alferez, medium,
according to Padre Damaso; color, brown; eyes, black; nose, ordinary;
beard, none; hair, black."
"Aha! But special marks?"
"Black shirt, black pantaloons, wood-cutter."
"Aha, he won't get away from me! I think I see him now."
"I wouldn't mistake him for any one else, even though he might look
Thus the two soldiers continued on their round.
By the light of the lanterns we may again see two shadowy figures
moving cautiously along, one behind the other. An energetic "Quién
vive?" stops both, and the first answers, "España!" in a trembling
The soldiers seize him and hustle him toward a lantern to examine
him. It is Lucas, but the soldiers seem to be in doubt, questioning
each other with their eyes.
"The alferez didn't say that he had a scar," whispered the
Visayan. "Where you going?"
"To order a mass for tomorrow."
"Haven't you seen Elias?"
"I don't know him, sir," answered Lucas.
"I didn't ask you if you know him, you fool! Neither do we know
him. I'm asking you if you've seen him."
"Listen, I'll describe him: Height, sometimes tall, sometimes medium;
hair and eyes, black; all the other features, ordinary," recited the
Visayan. "Now do you know him?"
"No, sir," replied Lucas stupidly.
"Then get away from here! Brute! Dolt!" And they gave him a shove.
"Do you know why Elias is tall to the alferez and of medium height
to the curate?" asked the Tagalog thoughtfully.
"No," answered the Visayan.
"Because the alferez was down in the mudhole when he saw him and the
curate was on foot."
"That's right!" exclaimed the Visayan. "You're talented--blow is
it that you're a civil-guard?"
"I wasn't always one; I was a smuggler," answered the Tagalog with
a touch of pride.
But another shadowy figure diverted their attention. They challenged
this one also and took the man to the light.
This time it was the real Elias.
"Where you going?"
"To look for a man, sir, who beat and threatened my brother. He has
a scar on his face and is called Elias."
"Aha!" exclaimed the two guards, gazing at each other in astonishment,
as they started on the run toward the church, where Lucas had
disappeared a few moments before.
Il Buon Dí Si Conosce Da Mattina
Early the next morning the report spread through the town that many
lights had been seen in the cemetery on the previous night. The leader
of the Venerable Tertiary Order spoke of lighted candles, of their
shape and size, and, although he could not fix the exact number, had
counted more than twenty. Sister Sipa, of the Brotherhood of the Holy
Rosary, could not bear the thought that a member of a rival order
should alone boast of having seen this divine marvel, so she, even
though she did not live near the place, had heard cries and groans,
and even thought she recognized by their voices certain persons with
whom she, in other times,--but out of Christian charity she not only
forgave them but prayed for them and would keep their names secret,
for all of which she was declared on the spot to be a saint. Sister
Rufa was not so keen of hearing, but she could not suffer that Sister
Sipa had heard so much and she nothing, so she related a dream in which
there had appeared before her many souls--not only of the dead but
even of the living--souls in torment who begged for a part of those
indulgences of hers which were so carefully recorded and treasured. She
could furnish names to the families interested and only asked for a
few alms to succor the Pope in his needs. A little fellow, a herder,
who dared to assert that he had seen nothing more than one light and
two men in salakots had difficulty in escaping with mere slaps and
scoldings. Vainly he swore to it; there were his carabaos with him
and could verify his statement. "Do you pretend to know more than the
Warden and the Sisters, paracmason, heretic?" he was asked amid
angry looks. The curate went up into the pulpit and preached about
purgatory so fervently that the pesos again flowed forth from their
hiding-places to pay for masses.
But let us leave the suffering souls and listen to the conversation
between Don Filipo and old Tasio in the lonely home of the latter. The
Sage, or Lunatic, was sick, having been for days unable to leave his
bed, prostrated by a malady that was rapidly growing worse.
"Really, I don't know whether to congratulate you or not that your
resignation has been accepted. Formerly, when the gobernadorcillo so
shamelessly disregarded the will of the majority, it was right for
you to tender it, but now that you are engaged in a contest with the
Civil Guard it's not quite proper. In time of war you ought to remain
at your post."
"Yes, but not when the general sells himself," answered Don
Filipo. "You know that on the following morning the gobernadorcillo
liberated the soldiers that I had succeeded in arresting and refused
to take any further action. Without the consent of my superior officer
I could do nothing."
"You alone, nothing; but with the rest, much. You should have
taken advantage of this opportunity to set an example to the other
towns. Above the ridiculous authority of the gobernadorcillo are the
rights of the people. It was the beginning of a good lesson and you
have neglected it."
"But what could I have done against the representative of the
interests? Here you have Señor Ibarra, he has bowed before the beliefs
of the crowd. Do you think that he believes in excommunications?"
"You are not in the same fix. Señor Ibarra is trying to sow the good
seed, and to do so he must bend himself and make what use he can of
the material at hand. Your mission was to stir things up, and for that
purpose initiative and force are required. Besides, the fight should
not be considered as merely against the gobernadorcillo. The principle
ought to be, against him who makes wrong use of his authority,
against him who disturbs the public peace, against him who fails in
his duty. You would not have been alone, for the country is not the
same now that it was twenty years ago."
"Do you think so?" asked Don Filipo.
"Don't you feel it?" rejoined the old man, sitting up in his bed. "Ah,
that is because you haven't seen the past, you haven't studied the
effect of European immigration, of the coming of new books, and of the
movement of our youth to Europe. Examine and compare these facts. It is
true that the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, with its
most sapient faculty, still exists and that some intelligences are yet
exercised in formulating distinctions and in penetrating the subtleties
of scholasticism; but where will you now find the metaphysical youth of
our days, with their archaic education, who tortured their brains and
died in full pursuit of sophistries in some corner of the provinces,
without ever having succeeded in understanding the attributes of being,
or solving the problem of essence and existence, those lofty concepts
that made us forget what was essential,--our own existence and our
own individuality? Look at the youth of today! Full of enthusiasm
at the view of a wider horizon, they study history, mathematics,
geography, literature, physical sciences, languages--all subjects
that in our times we heard mentioned with horror, as though they were
heresies. The greatest free-thinker of my day declared them inferior to
the classifications of Aristotle and the laws of the syllogism. Man has
at last comprehended that he is man; he has given up analyzing his God
and searching into the imperceptible, into what he has not seen; he has
given up framing laws for the phantasms of his brain; he comprehends
that his heritage is the vast world, dominion over which is within
his reach; weary of his useless and presumptuous toil, he lowers his
head and examines what surrounds him. See how poets are now springing
up among us! The Muses of Nature are gradually opening up their
treasures to us and begin to smile in encouragement on our efforts;
the experimental sciences have already borne their first-fruits;
time only is lacking for their development. The lawyers of today are
being trained in the new forms of the philosophy of law, some of them
begin to shine in the midst of the shadows which surround our courts
of justice, indicating a change in the course of affairs. Hear how
the youth talk, visit the centers of learning! Other names resound
within the walls of the schools, there where we heard only those
of St. Thomas, Suarez, Amat, Sanchez, and others who were the
idols of our times. In vain do the friars cry out from the pulpits
against our demoralization, as the fish-venders cry out against the
cupidity of their customers, disregarding the fact that their wares
are stale and unserviceable! In vain do the conventos extend their
ramifications to check the new current. The gods are going! The roots
of the tree may weaken the plants that support themselves under it,
but they cannot take away life from those other beings, which, like
birds, are soaring toward the sky."
The Sage spoke with animation, his eyes gleamed.
"Still, the new seed is small," objected Don Filipo incredulously. "If
all enter upon the progress we purchase so dearly, it may be stifled."
"Stifled! Who will stifle it? Man, that weak dwarf, stifle progress,
the powerful child of time and action? When has he been able to do
so? Bigotry, the gibbet, the stake, by endeavoring to stifle it,
have hurried it along. E pur si muove, said Galileo, when the
Dominicans forced him to declare that the earth does not move, and
the same statement might be applied to human progress. Some wills
are broken down, some individuals sacrificed, but that is of little
import; progress continues on its way, and from the blood of those
who fall new and vigorous offspring is born. See, the press itself,
however backward it may wish to be, is taking a step forward. The
Dominicans themselves do not escape the operation of this law, but are
imitating the Jesuits, their irreconcilable enemies. They hold fiestas
in their cloisters, they erect little theaters, they compose poems,
because, as they are not devoid of intelligence in spite of believing
in the fifteenth century, they realize that the Jesuits are right,
and they will still take part in the future of the younger peoples
that they have reared."
"So, according to you, the Jesuits keep up with progress?" asked
Don Filipo in wonder. "Why, then, are they opposed in Europe?"
"I will answer you like an old scholastic," replied the Sage, lying
down again and resuming his jesting expression. "There are three
ways in which one may accompany the course of progress: in front of,
beside, or behind it. The first guide it, the second suffer themselves
to be carried along with it, and the last are dragged after it and to
these last the Jesuits belong. They would like to direct it, but as
they see that it is strong and has other tendencies, they capitulate,
preferring to follow rather than to be crushed or left alone among the
shadows by the wayside. Well now, we in the Philippines are moving
along at least three centuries behind the car of progress; we are
barely beginning to emerge from the Middle Ages. Hence the Jesuits,
who are reactionary in Europe, when seen from our point of view,
represent progress. To them the Philippines owes her dawning system
of instruction in the natural sciences, the soul of the nineteenth
century, as she owed to the Dominicans scholasticism, already dead
in spite of Leo XIII, for there is no Pope who can revive what common
sense has judged and condemned.
"But where are we getting to?" he asked with a change of tone. "Ah,
we were speaking of the present condition of the Philippines. Yes,
we are now entering upon a period of strife, or rather, I should say
that you are, for my generation belongs to the night, we are passing
away. This strife is between the past, which seizes and strives
with curses to cling to the tottering feudal castle, and the future,
whose song of triumph may be heard from afar amid the splendors of the
coming dawn, bringing the message of Good-News from other lands. Who
will fall and be buried in the moldering ruins?"
The old man paused. Noticing that Don Filipo was gazing at him
thoughtfully, he said with a smile, "I can almost guess what you
"You are thinking of how easily I may be mistaken," was the answer
with a sad smile. "Today I am feverish, and I am not infallible:
homo sum et nihil humani a me alienum puto, said Terence, and if
at any time one is allowed to dream, why not dream pleasantly in the
last hours of life? And after all, I have lived only in dreams! You
are right, it is a dream! Our youths think only of love affairs and
dissipations; they expend more time and work harder to deceive and
dishonor a maiden than in thinking about the welfare of their country;
our women, in order to care for the house and family of God, neglect
their own: our men are active only in vice and heroic only in shame;
childhood develops amid ignorance and routine, youth lives its best
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