The Social Cancer
Jose Rizal

Part 9 out of 11

years without ideals, and a sterile manhood serves only as an example
for corrupting youth. Gladly do I die! Claudite iam rivos, pueri!" [142]

"Don't you want some medicine?" asked Don Filipo in order to change
the course of the conversation, which had darkened the old man's face.

"The dying need no medicines; you who remain need them. Tell Don
Crisostomo to come and see me tomorrow, for I have some important
things to say to him. In a few days I am going away. The Philippines
is in darkness!"

After a few moments more of talk, Don Filipo left the sick man's house,
grave and thoughtful.



Quidquid latet, adparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit.[143]

The vesper bells are ringing, and at the holy sound all pause, drop
their tasks, and uncover. The laborer returning from the fields
ceases the song with which he was pacing his carabao and murmurs a
prayer, the women in the street cross themselves and move their lips
affectedly so that none may doubt their piety, a man stops caressing
his game-cock and recites the angelus to bring better luck, while
inside the houses they pray aloud. Every sound but that of the Ave
Maria dies away, becomes hushed.

Nevertheless, the curate, without his hat, rushes across the street,
to the scandalizing of many old women, and, greater scandal still,
directs his steps toward the house of the alferez. The devout women
then think it time to cease the movement of their lips in order to
kiss the curate's hand, but Padre Salvi takes no notice of them. This
evening he finds no pleasure in placing his bony hand on his Christian
nose that he may slip it down dissemblingly (as Doña Consolacion
has observed) over the bosom of the attractive young woman who may
have bent over to receive his blessing. Some important matter must
be engaging his attention when he thus forgets his own interests and
those of the Church!

In fact, he rushes headlong up the stairway and knocks impatiently
at the alferez's door. The latter puts in his appearance, scowling,
followed by his better half, who smiles like one of the damned.

"Ah, Padre, I was just going over to see you. That old goat of yours--"

"I have a very important matter--"

"I can't stand for his running about and breaking down the fence. I'll
shoot him if he comes back!"

"That is, if you are alive tomorrow!" exclaimed the panting curate
as he made his way toward the sala.

"What, do you think that puny doll will kill me? I'll bust him with
a kick!"

Padre Salvi stepped backward with an involuntary glance toward the
alferez's feet. "Whom are you talking about?" he asked tremblingly.

"About whom would I talk but that simpleton who has challenged me to
a duel with revolvers at a hundred paces?"

"Ah!" sighed the curate, then he added, "I've come to talk to you
about a very urgent matter."

"Enough of urgent matters! It'll be like that affair of the two boys."

Had the light been other than from coconut oil and the lamp globe
not so dirty, the alferez would have noticed the curate's pallor.

"Now this is a serious matter, which concerns the lives of all of us,"
declared Padre Salvi in a low voice.

"A serious matter?" echoed the alferez, turning pale. "Can that boy
shoot straight?"

"I'm not talking about him."

"Then, what?"

The friar made a sign toward the door, which the alferez closed in
his own way--with a kick, for he had found his hands superfluous
and had lost nothing by ceasing to be bimanous.

A curse and a roar sounded outside. "Brute, you've split my forehead
open!" yelled his wife.

"Now, unburden yourself," he said calmly to the curate.

The latter stared at him for a space, then asked in the nasal,
droning voice of the preacher, "Didn't you see me come--running?"

"Sure! I thought you'd lost something."

"Well, now," continued the curate, without heeding the alferez's
rudeness, "when I fail thus in my duty, it's because there are grave

"Well, what else?" asked the other, tapping the floor with his foot.

"Be calm!"

"Then why did you come in such a hurry?"

The curate drew nearer to him and asked mysteriously, "Haven't--

The alferez shrugged his shoulders.

"You admit that you know absolutely nothing?"

"Do you want to talk about Elias, who put away your senior sacristan
last night?" was the retort.

"No, I'm not talking about those matters," answered the curate
ill-naturedly. "I'm talking about a great danger."

"Well, damn it, out with it!"

"Come," said the friar slowly and disdainfully, "you see once more
how important we ecclesiastics are. The meanest lay brother is worth
as much as a regiment, while a curate--"

Then he added in a low and mysterious tone, "I've discovered a big

The alferez started up and gazed in astonishment at the friar.

"A terrible and well-organized plot, which will be carried out this
very night."

"This very night!" exclaimed the alferez, pushing the curate aside
and running to his revolver and sword hanging on the wall.

"Who'll I arrest? Who'll I arrest?" he cried.

"Calm yourself! There is still time, thanks to the promptness with
which I have acted. We have till eight o'clock."

"I'll shoot all of them!"

"Listen! This afternoon a woman whose name I can't reveal (it's a
secret of the confessional) came to me and told everything. At eight
o'clock they will seize the barracks by surprise, plunder the convento,
capture the police boat, and murder all of us Spaniards."

The alferez was stupefied.

"The woman did not tell me any more than this," added the curate.

"She didn't tell any more? Then I'll arrest her!"

"I can't consent to that. The bar of penitence is the throne of the
God of mercies."

"There's neither God nor mercies that amount to anything! I'll
arrest her!"

"You're losing your head! What you must do is to get yourself
ready. Muster your soldiers quietly and put them in ambush, send
me four guards for the convento, and notify the men in charge of
the boat."

"The boat isn't here. I'll ask for help from the other sections."

"No, for then the plotters would be warned and would not carry out
their plans. What we must do is to catch them alive and make them talk
--I mean, you'll make them talk, since I, as a priest, must not meddle
in such matters. Listen, here's where you win crosses and stars. I ask
only that you make due acknowledgment that it was I who warned you."

"It'll be acknowledged, Padre, it'll be acknowledged--and perhaps
you'll get a miter!" answered the glowing alferez, glancing at the
cuffs of his uniform.

"So, you send me four guards in plain clothes, eh? Be discreet,
and tonight at eight o'clock it'll rain stars and crosses."

While all this was taking place, a man ran along the road leading to
Ibarra's house and rushed up the stairway.

"Is your master here?" the voice of Elias called to a servant.

"He's in his study at work."

Ibarra, to divert the impatience that he felt while waiting for the
time when he could make his explanations to Maria Clara, had set
himself to work in his laboratory.

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

"Let's not talk about me, sir--"

"Look," continued Ibarra, not noticing the youth's agitation,
while he placed a piece of bamboo over a flame, "I've made a great
discovery. This bamboo is incombustible."

"It's not a question of bamboo now, sir, it's a question of your
collecting your papers and fleeing at this very moment."

Ibarra glanced at him in surprise and, on seeing the gravity of his
countenance, dropped the object that he held in his hands.

"Burn everything that may compromise you and within an hour put
yourself in a place of safety."

"Why?" Ibarra was at length able to ask.

"Put all your valuables in a safe place--"


"Burn every letter written by you or to you--the most innocent
thing may be wrongly construed--"

"But why all this?"

"Why! Because I've just discovered a plot that is to be attributed
to you in order to ruin you."

"A plot? Who is forming it?"

"I haven't been able to discover the author of it, but just a moment
ago I talked with one of the poor dupes who are paid to carry it out,
and I wasn't able to dissuade him."

"But he--didn't he tell you who is paying him?"

"Yes! Under a pledge of secrecy he said that it was you."

"My God!" exclaimed the terrified Ibarra.

"There's no doubt of it, sir. Don't lose any time, for the plot will
probably be carried out this very night."

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

"The blow cannot be averted," continued Elias. "I've come late,
I don't know who the leaders are. Save yourself, sir, save yourself
for your country's sake!"

"Whither shall I flee? She expects me tonight!" exclaimed Ibarra,
thinking of Maria Clara.

"To any town whatsoever, to Manila, to the house of some official,
but anywhere so that they may not say that you are directing this

"Suppose that I myself report the plot?"

"You an informer!" exclaimed Elias, stepping back and staring at
him. "You would appear as a traitor and coward in the eyes of the
plotters and faint-hearted in the eyes of others. They would say that
you planned the whole thing to curry favor. They would say--"

"But what's to be done?"

"I've already told you. Destroy every document that relates to your
affairs, flee, and await the outcome."

"And Maria Clara?" exclaimed the young man. "No, I'll die first!"

Elias wrung his hands, saying, "Well then, at least parry the
blow. Prepare for the time when they accuse you."

Ibarra gazed about him in bewilderment. "Then help me. There in
that writing-desk are all the letters of my family. Select those of
my father, which are perhaps the ones that may compromise me. Read
the signatures."

So the bewildered and stupefied young man opened and shut boxes,
collected papers, read letters hurriedly, tearing up some and laying
others aside. He took down some books and began to turn their leaves.

Elias did the same, if not so excitedly, yet with equal eagerness. But
suddenly he paused, his eyes bulged, he turned the paper in his hand
over and over, then asked in a trembling voice:

"Was your family acquainted with Don Pedro Eibarramendia?"

"I should say so!" answered Ibarra, as he opened a chest and took
out a bundle of papers. "He was my great-grandfather."

"Your great-grandfather Don Pedro Eibarramendia?" again asked Elias
with changed and livid features.

"Yes," replied Ibarra absently, "we shortened the surname; it was
too long."

"Was he a Basque?" demanded Elias, approaching him.

"Yes, a Basque--but what's the matter?" asked Ibarra in surprise.

Clenching his fists and pressing them to his forehead, Elias glared
at Crisostomo, who recoiled when he saw the expression on the other's
face. "Do you know who Don Pedro Eibarramendia was?" he asked between
his teeth. "Don Pedro Eibarramendia was the villain who falsely accused
my grandfather and caused all our misfortunes. I have sought for that
name and God has revealed it to me! Render me now an accounting for
our misfortunes!"

Elias caught and shook the arm of Crisostomo, who gazed at him in
terror. In a voice that was bitter and trembling with hate, he said,
"Look at me well, look at one who has suffered and you live, you live,
you have wealth, a home, reputation--you live, you live!"

Beside himself, he ran to a small collection of arms and snatched up
a dagger. But scarcely had he done so when he let it fall again and
stared like a madman at the motionless Ibarra.

"What was I about to do?" he muttered, fleeing from the house.


The Catastrophe

There in the dining-room Capitan Tiago, Linares, and Aunt Isabel were
at supper, so that even in the sala the rattling of plates and dishes
was plainly heard. Maria Clara had said that she was not hungry and
had seated herself at the piano in company with the merry Sinang,
who was murmuring mysterious words into her ear. Meanwhile Padre
Salvi paced nervously back and forth in the room.

It was not, indeed, that the convalescent was not hungry, no; but she
was expecting the arrival of a certain person and was taking advantage
of this moment when her Argus was not present, Linares' supper-hour.

"You'll see how that specter will stay till eight," murmured Sinang,
indicating the curate. "And at eight he will come. The curate's in
love with Linares."

Maria Clara gazed in consternation at her friend, who went on
heedlessly with her terrible chatter: "Oh, I know why he doesn't
go, in spite of my hints--he doesn't want to burn up oil in the
convento! Don't you know that since you've been sick the two lamps that
he used to keep lighted he has had put out? But look how he stares,
and what a face!"

At that moment a clock in the house struck eight. The curate shuddered
and sat down in a corner.

"Here he comes!" exclaimed Sinang, pinching Maria Clara. "Don't you
hear him?"

The church bell boomed out the hour of eight and all rose to
pray. Padre Salvi offered up a prayer in a weak and trembling voice,
but as each was busy with his own thoughts no one paid any attention
to the priest's agitation.

Scarcely had the prayer ceased when Ibarra appeared. The youth was
in mourning not only in his attire but also in his face, to such an
extent that, on seeing him, Maria Clara arose and took a step toward
him to ask what the matter was. But at that instant the report of
firearms was heard. Ibarra stopped, his eyes rolled, be lost the power
of speech. The curate had concealed himself behind a post. More shots,
more reports were heard from the direction of the convento, followed
by cries and the sound of persons running. Capitan Tiago, Aunt Isabel,
and Linares rushed in pell-mell, crying, "Tulisan! Tulisan!" Andeng
followed, flourishing the gridiron as she ran toward her foster-sister.

Aunt Isabel fell on her knees weeping and reciting the Kyrie eleyson;
Capitan Tiago, pale and trembling, carried on his fork a chicken-liver
which he offered tearfully to the Virgin of Antipolo; Linares with his
mouth full of food was armed with a case-knife; Sinang and Maria Clara
were in each other's arms; while the only one that remained motionless,
as if petrified, was Crisostomo, whose paleness was indescribable.

The cries and sound of blows continued, windows were closed noisily,
the report of a gun was heard from time to time.

"Christie eleyson! Santiago, let the prophecy be fulfilled! Shut the
windows!" groaned Aunt Isabel.

"Fifty big bombs and two thanksgiving masses!" responded Capitan
Tiago. "Ora pro nobis!"

Gradually there prevailed a heavy silence which was soon broken by
the voice of the alferez, calling as he ran: "Padre, Padre Salvi,
come here!"

"Miserere! The alferez is calling for confession," cried Aunt
Isabel. "The alferez is wounded?" asked Linares hastily. "Ah!!!" Only
then did he notice that he had not yet swallowed what he had in
his mouth.

"Padre, come here! There's nothing more to fear!" the alferez continued
to call out.

The pallid Fray Salvi at last concluded to venture out from his
hiding-place, and went down the stairs.

"The outlaws have killed the alferez! Maria, Sinang, go into your
room and fasten the door! Kyrie eleyson!"

Ibarra also turned toward the stairway, in spite of Aunt Isabel's
cries: "Don't go out, you haven't been shriven, don't go out!" The
good old lady had been a particular friend of his mother's.

But Ibarra left the house. Everything seemed to reel around him,
the ground was unstable. His ears buzzed, his legs moved heavily and
irregularly. Waves of blood, lights and shadows chased one another
before his eyes, and in spite of the bright moonlight he stumbled
over the stones and blocks of wood in the vacant and deserted street.

Near the barracks he saw soldiers, with bayonets fixed, who were
talking among themselves so excitedly that he passed them unnoticed. In
the town hall were to be heard blows, cries, and curses, with the
voice of the alferez dominating everything: "To the stocks! Handcuff
them! Shoot any one who moves! Sergeant, mount the guard! Today no
one shall walk about, not even God! Captain, this is no time to go
to sleep!"

Ibarra hastened his steps toward home, where his servants were
anxiously awaiting him. "Saddle the best horse and go to bed!" he
ordered them.

Going into his study, he hastily packed a traveling-bag, opened an
iron safe, took out what money he found there and put it into some
sacks. Then he collected his jewels, took clown a portrait of Maria
Clara, armed himself with a dagger and two revolvers, and turned
toward a closet where he kept his instruments.

At that moment three heavy knocks sounded on the door. "Who's
there?" asked Ibarra in a gloomy tone.

"Open, in the King's name, open at once, or we'll break the door down,"
answered an imperious voice in Spanish.

Ibarra looked toward the window, his eyes gleamed, and he cocked his
revolver. Then changing his mind, he put the weapons down and went
to open the door just as the servant appeared. Three guards instantly
seized him.

"Consider yourself a prisoner in the King's name," said the sergeant.

"For what?"

"They'll tell you over there. We're forbidden to say." The youth
reflected a moment and then, perhaps not wishing that the soldiers
should discover his preparations for flight, picked up his hat, saying,
"I'm at your service. I suppose that it will only be for a few hours."

"If you promise not to try to escape, we won't tie you the alferez
grants this favor--but if you run--"

Ibarra went with them, leaving his servants in consternation.

Meanwhile, what had become of Elias? Leaving the house of Crisostomo,
he had run like one crazed, without heeding where he was going. He
crossed the fields in violent agitation, he reached the woods; he fled
from the town, from the light--even the moon so troubled him that
he plunged into the mysterious shadows of the trees. There, sometimes
pausing, sometimes moving along unfrequented paths, supporting himself
on the hoary trunks or being entangled in the undergrowth, he gazed
toward the town, which, bathed in the light of the moon, spread out
before him on the plain along the shore of the lake. Birds awakened
from their sleep flew about, huge bats and owls moved from branch to
branch with strident cries and gazed at him with their round eyes, but
Elias neither heard nor heeded them. In his fancy he was followed by
the offended shades of his family, he saw on every branch the gruesome
basket containing Balat's gory head, as his father had described
it to him; at every tree he seemed to stumble over the corpse of
his grandmother; he imagined that he saw the rotting skeleton of his
dishonored grandfather swinging among the shadows--and the skeleton
and the corpse and the gory head cried after him, "Coward! Coward!"

Leaving the hill, Elias descended to the lake and ran along the
shore excitedly. There at a distance in the midst of the waters,
where the moonlight seemed to form a cloud, he thought he could see a
specter rise and soar the shade of his sister with her breast bloody
and her loose hair streaming about. He fell to his knees on the sand
and extending his arms cried out, "You, too!"

Then with his gaze fixed on the cloud he arose slowly and went forward
into the water as if he were following some one. He passed over the
gentle slope that forms the bar and was soon far from the shore. The
water rose to his waist, but he plunged on like one fascinated,
following, ever following, the ghostly charmer. Now the water covered
his chest--a volley of rifle-shots sounded, the vision disappeared,
the youth returned to his senses. In the stillness of the night and
the greater density of the air the reports reached him clearly and
distinctly. He stopped to reflect and found himself in the water--
over the peaceful ripples of the lake he could still make out the
lights in the fishermen's huts.

He returned to the shore and started toward the town, but for what
purpose he himself knew not. The streets appeared to be deserted,
the houses were closed, and even the dogs that were wont to bark
through the night had hidden themselves in fear. The silvery light
of the moon added to the sadness and loneliness.

Fearful of meeting the civil-guards, he made his way along through
yards and gardens, in one of which he thought he could discern two
human figures, but he kept on his way, leaping over fences and walls,
until after great labor he reached the other end of the town and
went toward Crisostomo's house. In the doorway were the servants,
lamenting their master's arrest.

After learning about what had occurred Elias pretended to go away,
but really went around behind the house, jumped over the wall, and
crawled through a window into the study where the candle that Ibarra
had lighted was still burning. He saw the books and papers and found
the arms, the jewels, and the sacks of money. Reconstructing in his
imagination the scene that had taken place there and seeing so many
papers that might be of a compromising nature, he decided to gather
them up, throw them from the window, and bury them.

But, on glancing toward the street, he saw two guards approaching,
their bayonets and caps gleaming in the moonlight. With them was the
directorcillo. He made a sudden resolution: throwing the papers and
some clothing into a heap in the center of the room, he poured over
them the oil from a lamp and set fire to the whole. He was hurriedly
placing the arms in his belt when he caught sight of the portrait
of Maria Clara and hesitated a moment, then thrust it into one of
the sacks and with them in his hands leaped from the window into
the garden.

It was time that he did so, too, for the guards were forcing
an entrance. "Let us in to get your master's papers!" cried the

"Have you permission? If you haven't, you won't get in,'" answered
an old man.

But the soldiers pushed him aside with the butts of their rifles and
ran up the stairway, just as a thick cloud of smoke rolled through the
house and long tongues of flame shot out from the study, enveloping
the doors and windows.

"Fire! Fire!" was the cry, as each rushed to save what he could. But
the blaze had reached the little laboratory and caught the inflammable
materials there, so the guards had to retire. The flames roared about,
licking up everything in their way and cutting off the passages. Vainly
was water brought from the well and cries for help raised, for the
house was set apart from the rest. The fire swept through all the
rooms and sent toward the sky thick spirals of smoke. Soon the whole
structure was at the mercy of the flames, fanned now by the wind,
which in the heat grew stronger. Some few rustics came up, but only
to gaze on this great bonfire, the end of that old building which
had been so long respected by the elements.


Rumors and Beliefs

Day dawned at last for the terrified town. The streets near the
barracks and the town hail were still deserted and solitary, the
houses showed no signs of life. Nevertheless, the wooden panel of
a window was pushed back noisily and a child's head was stretched
out and turned from side to side, gazing about in all directions. At
once, however, a smack indicated the contact of tanned hide with the
soft human article, so the child made a wry face, closed its eyes,
and disappeared. The window slammed shut.

But an example had been set. That opening and shutting of the window
had no doubt been heard on all sides, for soon another window opened
slowly and there appeared cautiously the head of a wrinkled and
toothless old woman: it was the same Sister Puté who had raised such a
disturbance while Padre Damaso was preaching. Children and old women
are the representatives of curiosity in this world: the former from
a wish to know things and the latter from a desire to recollect them.

Apparently there was no one to apply a slipper to Sister Puté, for she
remained gazing out into the distance with wrinkled eyebrows. Then she
rinsed out her mouth, spat noisily, and crossed herself. In the house
opposite, another window was now timidly opened to reveal Sister Rufa,
she who did not wish to cheat or be cheated. They stared at each other
for a moment, smiled, made some signs, and again crossed themselves.

"Jesús, it seemed like a thanksgiving mass, regular
fireworks!" commented Sister Rufa.

"Since the town was sacked by Balat, I've never seen another night
equal to it," responded Sister Puté.

"What a lot of shots! They say that it was old Pablo's band."

"Tulisanes? That can't be! They say that it was the cuadrilleros
against the civil-guards. That's why Don Filipo has been arrested."

"Sanctus Deus! They say that at least fourteen were killed."

Other windows were now opened and more faces appeared to exchange
greetings and make comments. In the clear light, which promised a
bright day, soldiers could be seen in the distance, coming and going
confusedly like gray silhouettes.

"There goes one more corpse!" was the exclamation from a window.

"One? I see two."

"And I--but really, can it be you don't know what it was?" asked
a sly-featured individual.

"Oh, the cuadrilleros!"

"No, sir, it was a mutiny in the barracks!"

"What kind of mutiny? The curate against the alferez?"

"No, it was nothing of the kind," answered the man who had asked the
first question. "It was the Chinamen who have rebelled." With this
he shut his window.

"The Chinamen!" echoed all in great astonishment. "That's why not
one of them is to be seen!" "They've probably killed them all!"

"I thought they were going to do something bad. Yesterday--"

"I saw it myself. Last night--"

"What a pity!" exclaimed Sister Rufa. "To get killed just before
Christmas when they bring around their presents! They should have
waited until New Year's."

Little by little the street awoke to life. Dogs, chickens, pigs, and
doves began the movement, and these animals were soon followed by some
ragged urchins who held fast to each other's arms as they timidly
approached the barracks. Then a few old women with handkerchiefs
tied about their heads and fastened under their chins appeared with
thick rosaries in their hands, pretending to be at their prayers so
that the soldiers would let them pass. When it was seen that one
might walk about without being shot at, the men began to come out
with assumed airs of indifference. First they limited their steps
to the neighborhood of their houses, caressing their game-cocks,
then they extended their stroll, stopping from time to time, until
at last they stood in front of the town hall.

In a quarter of an hour other versions of the affair were in
circulation. Ibarra with his servants had tried to kidnap Maria Clara,
and Capitan Tiago had defended her, aided by the Civil Guard. The
number of killed was now not fourteen but thirty. Capitan Tiago was
wounded and would leave that very day with his family for Manila.

The arrival of two cuadrilleros carrying a human form on a covered
stretcher and followed by a civil-guard produced a great sensation. It
was conjectured that they came from the convento, and, from the shape
of the feet, which were dangling over one end, some guessed who the
dead man might be, some one else a little distance away told who it
was; further on the corpse was multiplied and the mystery of the Holy
Trinity duplicated, later the miracle of the loaves and fishes was
repeated--and the dead were then thirty and eight.

By half-past seven, when other guards arrived from neighboring towns,
the current version was clear and detailed. "I've just come from the
town hall, where I've seen Don Filipo and Don Crisostomo prisoners," a
man told Sister Puté. "I've talked with one of the cuadrilleros who are
on guard. Well, Bruno, the son of that fellow who was flogged to death,
confessed everything last night. As you know, Capitan Tiago is going
to marry his daughter to the young Spaniard, so Don Crisostomo in his
rage wanted to get revenge and tried to kill all the Spaniards, even
the curate. Last night they attacked the barracks and the convento,
but fortunately, by God's mercy, the curate was in Capitan Tiago's
house. They say that a lot of them escaped. The civil-guards burned
Don Crisostomo's house down, and if they hadn't arrested him first
they would have burned him also."

"They burned the house down?"

"All the servants are under arrest. Look, you can still see the smoke
from here!" answered the narrator, approaching the window. "Those
who come from there tell of many sad things."

All looked toward the place indicated. A thin column of smoke was
still slowly rising toward the sky. All made comments, more or less
pitying, more or less accusing.

"Poor youth!" exclaimed an old man, Puté's husband.

"Yes," she answered, "but look how he didn't order a mass said for
the soul of his father, who undoubtedly needs it more than others."

"But, woman, haven't you any pity?"

"Pity for the excommunicated? It's a sin to take pity on the enemies
of God, the curates say. Don't you remember? In the cemetery he walked
about as if he was in a corral."

"But a corral and the cemetery are alike," replied the old man,
"only that into the former only one kind of animal enters."

"Shut up!" cried Sister Puté. "You'll still defend those whom God
has clearly punished. You'll see how they'll arrest you, too. You're
upholding a falling house."

Her husband became silent before this argument.

"Yes," continued the old lady, "after striking Padre Damaso there
wasn't anything left for him to do but to kill Padre Salvi."

"But you can't deny that he was good when he was a little boy."

"Yes, he was good," replied the old woman, "but he went to Spain. All
those that go to Spain become heretics, as the curates have said."

"Oho!" exclaimed her husband, seeing his chance for a retort, "and
the curate, and all the curates, and the Archbishop, and the Pope,
and the Virgin--aren't they from Spain? Are they also heretics? Abá!"

Happily for Sister Puté the arrival of a maidservant running, all
pale and terrified, cut short this discussion.

"A man hanged in the next garden!" she cried breathlessly.

"A man hanged?" exclaimed all in stupefaction. The women crossed
themselves. No one could move from his place.

"Yes, sir," went on the trembling servant; "I was going to pick peas--
I looked into our neighbor's garden to see if it was--I saw a man
swinging--I thought it was Teo, the servant who always gives me--
I went nearer to--pick the peas, and I saw that it wasn't Teo,
but a dead man. I ran and I ran and--"

"Let's go see him," said the old man, rising. "Show us the way."

"Don't you go!" cried Sister Puté, catching hold of his
camisa. "Something will happen to you! Is he hanged? Then the worse
for him!"

"Let me see him, woman. You, Juan, go to the barracks and report
it. Perhaps he's not dead yet."

So he proceeded to the garden with the servant, who kept behind
him. The women, including even Sister Puté herself, followed after,
filled with fear and curiosity.

"There he is, sir," said the servant, as she stopped and pointed with
her finger.

The committee paused at a respectful distance and allowed the old
man to go forward alone.

A human body hanging from the branch of a santol tree swung about
gently in the breeze. The old man stared at it for a time and saw
that the legs and arms were stiff, the clothing soiled, and the head
doubled over.

"We mustn't touch him until some officer of the law arrives," he said
aloud. "He's already stiff, he's been dead for some time."

The women gradually moved closer.

"He's the fellow who lived in that little house there. He came here
two weeks ago. Look at the scar on his face."

"Ave Maria!" exclaimed some of the women.

"Shall we pray for his soul?" asked a young woman, after she had
finished staring and examining the body.

"Fool, heretic!" scolded Sister Puté. "Don't you know what Padre
Damaso said? It's tempting God to pray for one of the damned. Whoever
commits suicide is irrevocably damned and therefore he isn't buried
in holy ground."

Then she added, "I knew that this man was coming to a bad end;
I never could find out how he lived."

"I saw him twice talking with the senior sacristan," observed a
young woman.

"It wouldn't be to confess himself or to order a mass!"

Other neighbors came up until a large group surrounded the corpse,
which was still swinging about. After half an hour, an alguazil and
the directorcillo arrived with two cuadrilleros, who took the body
down and placed it on a stretcher.

"People are getting in a hurry to die," remarked the directorcillo
with a smile, as he took a pen from behind his ear.

He made captious inquiries, and took down the statement of the
maidservant, whom he tried to confuse, now looking at her fiercely,
now threatening her, now attributing to her things that she had not
said, so much so that she, thinking that she would have to go to jail,
began to cry and wound up by declaring that she wasn't looking for
peas but and she called Teo as a witness.

While this was taking place, a rustic in a wide salakot with a big
bandage on his neck was examining the corpse and the rope. The face
was not more livid than the rest of the body, two scratches and two
red spots were to be seen above the noose, the strands of the rope were
white and had no blood on them. The curious rustic carefully examined
the camisa and pantaloons, and noticed that they were very dusty and
freshly torn in some parts. But what most caught his attention were
the seeds of amores-secos that were sticking on the camisa even up
to the collar.

"What are you looking at?" the directorcillo asked him. "I was looking,
sir, to see if I could recognize him," stammered the rustic, partly
uncovering, but in such a way that his salakot fell lower.

"But haven't you heard that it's a certain Lucas? Were you asleep?"

The crowd laughed, while the abashed rustic muttered a few words and
moved away slowly with his head down.

"Here, where you going?" cried the old man after him.

"That's not the way out. That's the way to the dead man's house."

"The fellow's still asleep," remarked the directorcillo
facetiously. "Better pour some water over him."

Amid the laughter of the bystanders the rustic left the place where
he had played such a ridiculous part and went toward the church. In
the sacristy he asked for the senior sacristan.

"He's still asleep," was the rough answer. "Don't you know that the
convento was assaulted last night?"

"Then I'll wait till he wakes up." This with a stupid stare at
the sacristans, such as is common to persons who are used to rough

In a corner which was still in shadow the one-eyed senior sacristan
lay asleep in a big chair. His spectacles were placed on his forehead
amid long locks of hair, while his thin, squalid chest, which was bare,
rose and fell regularly.

The rustic took a seat near by, as if to wait patiently, but he dropped
a piece of money and started to look for it with the aid of a candle
under the senior sacristan's chair. He noticed seeds of amores-secos
on the pantaloons and on the cuffs of the sleeper's camisa. The latter
awoke, rubbed his one good eye, and began to scold the rustic with
great ill-humor.

"I wanted to order a mass, sir," was the reply in a tone of excuse.

"The masses are already over," said the sacristan, sweetening his
tone a little at this. "If you want it for tomorrow--is it for the
souls in purgatory?"

"No, sir," answered the rustic, handing him a peso.

Then gazing fixedly at the single eye, he added, "It's for a person
who's going to die soon."

Hereupon he left the sacristy. "I could have caught him last night!" he
sighed, as he took off the bandage and stood erect to recover the
face and form of Elias.


Vae Victis!

Mi gozo en un pozo.

Guards with forbidding mien paced to and fro in front of the door of
the town hall, threatening with their rifle-butts the bold urchins who
rose on tiptoe or climbed up on one another to see through the bars.

The hall itself did not present that agreeable aspect it wore when
the program of the fiesta was under discussion--now it was gloomy
and rather ominous. The civil-guards and cuadrilleros who occupied it
scarcely spoke and then with few words in low tones. At the table the
directorcillo, two clerks, and several soldiers were rustling papers,
while the alferez strode from one side to the other, at times gazing
fiercely toward the door: prouder Themistocles could not have appeared
in the Olympic games after the battle of Salamis. Doña Consolacion
yawned in a corner, exhibiting a dirty mouth and jagged teeth, while
she fixed her cold, sinister gaze on the door of the jail, which was
covered with indecent drawings. She had succeeded in persuading her
husband, whose victory had made him amiable, to let her witness the
inquiry and perhaps the accompanying tortures. The hyena smelt the
carrion and licked herself, wearied by the delay.

The gobernadorcillo was very compunctious. His seat, that large chair
placed under his Majesty's portrait, was vacant, being apparently
intended for some one else. About nine o'clock the curate arrived,
pale and scowling.

"Well, you haven't kept yourself waiting!" the alferez greeted him.

"I should prefer not to be present," replied Padre Salvi in a low
voice, paying no heed to the bitter tone of the alferez. "I'm very

"As no one else has come to fill the place, I judged that your presence
--You know that they leave this afternoon."

"Young Ibarra and the teniente-mayor?"

The alferez pointed toward the jail. "There are eight there," he
said. "Bruno died at midnight, but his statement is on record."

The curate saluted Doña Consolacion, who responded with a yawn, and
took his seat in the big chair under his Majesty's portrait. "Let us
begin," he announced.

"Bring out those two who are in the stocks," ordered the alferez in
a tone that he tried to make as terrible as possible. Then turning
to the curate he added with a change of tone, "They are fastened in
by skipping two holes."

For the benefit of those who are not informed about these
instruments of torture, we will say that the stocks are one of the
most harmless. The holes in which the offender's legs are placed
are a little more or less than a foot apart; by skipping two holes,
the prisoner finds himself in a rather forced position with peculiar
inconvenience to his ankles and a distance of about a yard between
his lower extremities. It does not kill instantaneously, as may well
be imagined.

The jailer, followed by four soldiers, pushed back the bolt and opened
the door. A nauseating odor and currents of thick, damp air escaped
from the darkness within at the same time that laments and sighs were
heard. A soldier struck a match, but the flame was choked in such a
foul atmosphere, and they had to wait until the air became fresher.

In the dim light of the candle several human forms became vaguely
outlined: men hugging their knees or hiding their heads between them,
some lying face downward, some standing, and some turned toward the
wall. A blow and a creak were heard, accompanied by curses--the
stocks were opened, Doña Consolacion bent forward with the muscles of
her neck swelling and her bulging eyes fixed on the half-opened door.

A wretched figure, Tarsilo, Bruno's brother, came out between two
soldiers. On his wrists were handcuffs and his clothing was in shreds,
revealing quite a muscular body. He turned his eyes insolently on
the alferez's woman.

"This is the one who defended himself with the most courage and told
his companions to run," said the alferez to Padre Salvi.

Behind him came another of miserable aspect, moaning and weeping like a
child. He limped along exposing pantaloons spotted with blood. "Mercy,
sir, mercy! I'll not go back into the yard," he whimpered.

"He's a rogue," observed the alferez to the curate. "He tried to
run, but he was wounded in the thigh. These are the only two that we
took alive."

"What's your name?" the alferez asked Tarsilo.

"Tarsilo Alasigan."

"What did Don Crisostomo promise you for attacking the barracks?"

"Don Crisostomo never had anything to do with us."

"Don't deny it! That's why you tried to surprise us."

"You're mistaken. You beat our father to death and we were avenging
him, nothing more. Look for your two associates."

The alferez gazed at the sergeant in surprise.

"They're over there in the gully where we threw them yesterday and
where they'll rot. Now kill me, you'll not learn anything more."

General surprise and silence, broken by the alferez. "You are going
to tell who your other accomplices are," he threatened, flourishing
a rattan whip.

A smile of disdain curled the prisoner's lips. The alferez consulted
with the curate in a low tone for a few moments, then turned to the
soldiers. "Take him out where the corpses are," he commanded.

On a cart in a corner of the yard were heaped five corpses, partly
covered with a filthy piece of torn matting. A soldier walked about
near them, spitting at every moment.

"Do you know them?" asked the alferez, lifting up the matting.

Tarsilo did not answer. He saw the corpse of the madwoman's husband
with two others: that of his brother, slashed with bayonet-thrusts,
and that of Lucas with the halter still around his neck. His look
became somber and a sigh seemed to escape from his breast.

"Do you know them?" he was again asked, but he still remained silent.

The air hissed and the rattan cut his shoulders. He shuddered, his
muscles contracted. The blows were redoubled, but he remained unmoved.

"Whip him until he bursts or talks!" cried the exasperated alferez.

"Talk now," the directorcillo advised him. "They'll kill you anyhow."

They led him back into the hall where the other prisoner, with
chattering teeth and quaking limbs, was calling upon the saints.

"Do you know this fellow?" asked Padre Salvi.

"This is the first time that I've ever seen him," replied Tarsilo
with a look of pity at the other.

The alferez struck him with his fist and kicked him. "Tie him to
the bench!"

Without taking off the handcuffs, which were covered with blood,
they tied him to a wooden bench. The wretched boy looked about him
as if seeking something and noticed Doña Consolacion, at sight of
whom he smiled sardonically. In surprise the bystanders followed his
glance and saw the señora, who was lightly gnawing at her lips.

"I've never seen an uglier woman!" exclaimed Tarsilo in the midst of
a general silence. "I'd rather lie down on a bench as I do now than
at her side as the alferez does."

The Muse turned pale.

"You're going to flog me to death, Señor Alferez," he went on,
"but tonight your woman will revenge me by embracing you."

"Gag him!" yelled the furious alferez, trembling with wrath.

Tarsilo seemed to have desired the gag, for after it was put in place
his eyes gleamed with satisfaction. At a signal from the alferez,
a guard armed with a rattan whip began his gruesome task. Tarsilo's
whole body contracted, and a stifled, prolonged cry escaped from
him in spite of the piece of cloth which covered his mouth. His head
drooped and his clothes became stained with blood.

Padre Salvi, pallid and with wandering looks, arose laboriously, made
a sign with his hand, and left the hall with faltering steps. In the
street he saw a young woman leaning with her shoulders against the
wall, rigid, motionless, listening attentively, staring into space,
her clenched hands stretched out along the wall. The sun beat down
upon her fiercely. She seemed to be breathlessly counting those dry,
dull strokes and those heartrending groans. It was Tarsilo's sister.

Meanwhile, the scene in the hall continued. The wretched boy, overcome
with pain, silently waited for his executioners to become weary. At
last the panting soldier let his arm fall, and the alferez, pale
with anger and astonishment, made a sign for them to untie him. Doña
Consolacion then arose and murmured a few words into the ear of her
husband, who nodded his head in understanding.

"To the well with him!" he ordered.

The Filipinos know what this means: in Tagalog they call it timbaín. We
do not know who invented this procedure, but we judge that it must
be quite ancient. Truth at the bottom of a well may perhaps be a
sarcastic interpretation.

In the center of the yard rose the picturesque curb of a well,
roughly fashioned from living rock. A rude apparatus of bamboo in
the form of a well-sweep served for drawing up the thick, slimy,
foul-smelling water. Broken pieces of pottery, manure, and other
refuse were collected there, since this well was like the jail,
being the place for what society rejected or found useless, and
any object that fell into it, however good it might have been, was
then a thing lost. Yet it was never closed up, and even at times the
prisoners were condemned to go down and deepen it, not because there
was any thought of getting anything useful out of such punishment,
but because of the difficulties the work offered. A prisoner who once
went down there would contract a fever from which he would surely die.

Tarsilo gazed upon all the preparations of the soldiers with a fixed
look. He was pale, and his lips trembled or murmured a prayer. The
haughtiness of his desperation seemed to have disappeared or, at least,
to have weakened. Several times he bent his stiff neck and fixed his
gaze on the ground as though resigned to his sufferings. They led
him to the well-curb, followed by the smiling Doña Consolacion. In
his misery he cast a glance of envy toward the heap of corpses and
a sigh escaped from his breast.

"Talk now," the directorcillo again advised him. "They'll hang you
anyhow. You'll at least die without suffering so much."

"You'll come out of this only to die," added a cuadrillero.

They took away the gag and hung him up by his feet, for he must go
down head foremost and remain some time under the water, just as
the bucket does, only that the man is left a longer time. While the
alferez was gone to look for a watch to count the minutes, Tarsilo
hung with his long hair streaming down and his eyes half closed.

"If you are Christians, if you have any heart," he begged in a low
voice, "let me down quickly or make my head strike against the sides
so that I'll die. God will reward you for this good deed--perhaps
some day you may be as I am!"

The alferez returned, watch in hand, to superintend the lowering.

"Slowly, slowly!" cried Doña Consolacion, as she kept her gaze fixed
on the wretch. "Be careful!"

The well-sweep moved gently downwards. Tarsilo rubbed against the
jutting stones and filthy weeds that grew in the crevices. Then the
sweep stopped while the alferez counted the seconds.

"Lift him up!" he ordered, at the end of a half-minute. The silvery
and harmonious tinkling of the drops of water falling back indicated
the prisoner's return to the light. Now that the sweep was heavier he
rose rapidly. Pieces of stone and pebbles torn from the walls fell
noisily. His forehead and hair smeared with filthy slime, his face
covered with cuts and bruises, his body wet and dripping, he appeared
to the eyes of the silent crowd. The wind made him shiver with cold.

"Will you talk?" he was asked.

"Take care of my sister," murmured the unhappy boy as he gazed
beseechingly toward one of the cuadrilleros.

The bamboo sweep again creaked, and the condemned boy once more
disappeared. Doña Consolacion observed that the water remained
quiet. The alferez counted a minute.

When Tarsilo again came up his features were contracted and livid. With
his bloodshot eyes wide open, he looked at the bystanders.

"Are you going to talk?" the alferez again demanded in dismay.

Tarsilo shook his head, and they again lowered him. His eyelids were
closing as the pupils continued to stare at the sky where the fleecy
clouds floated; he doubled back his neck so that he might still see
the light of day, but all too soon he had to go down into the water,
and that foul curtain shut out the sight of the world from him forever.

A minute passed. The watchful Muse saw large bubbles rise to the
surface of the water. "He's thirsty," she commented with a laugh. The
water again became still.

This time the alferez did not give the signal for a minute and
a half. Tarsilo's features were now no longer contracted. The
half-raised lids left the whites of his eyes showing, from his mouth
poured muddy water streaked with blood, but his body did not tremble
in the chill breeze.

Pale and terrified, the silent bystanders gazed at one another. The
alferez made a sign that they should take the body down, and then
moved away thoughtfully. Doña Consolation applied the lighted end of
her cigar to the bare legs, but the flesh did not twitch and the fire
was extinguished.

"He strangled himself," murmured a cuadrillero. "Look how he turned
his tongue back as if trying to swallow it."

The other prisoner, who had watched this scene, sweating and trembling,
now stared like a lunatic in all directions. The alferez ordered the
directorcillo to question him.

"Sir, sir," he groaned, "I'll tell everything you want me to."

"Good! Let's see, what's your name?"

"Andong, [144] sir!"

"Bernardo--Leonardo--Ricardo--Eduardo--Gerardo--or what?"

"Andong, sir!" repeated the imbecile.

"Put it down Bernardo, or whatever it may be," dictated the alferez.


The man gazed at him in terror.

"What name have you that is added to the name Andong?"

"Ah, sir! Andong the Witless, sir!"

The bystander's could not restrain a smile. Even the alferez paused
in his pacing about.


"Pruner of coconut trees, sir, and servant of my mother-in-law."

"Who ordered you to attack the barracks?"

"No one, sir!"

"What, no one? Don't lie about it or into the well you go! Who ordered
you? Say truly!"

"Truly, sir!"


"Who, sir!"

"I'm asking you who ordered you to start the revolution?"

"What revolution, sir?"

"This one, for you were in the yard by the barracks last night."

"Ah, sir!" exclaimed Andong, blushing.

"Who's guilty of that?"

"My mother-in-law, sir!"

Surprise and laughter followed these words. The alferez stopped
and stared not unkindly at the wretch, who, thinking that his words
had produced a good effect, went on with more spirit: "Yes, sir, my
mother-in-law doesn't give me anything to eat but what is rotten and
unfit, so last night when I came by here with my belly aching I saw
the yard of the barracks near and I said to myself, 'It's night-time,
no one will see me.' I went in--and then many shots sounded--"

A blow from the rattan cut his speech short.

"To the jail," ordered the alferez. "This afternoon, to the capital!"


The Accursed

Soon the news spread through the town that the prisoners were about to
set out. At first it was heard with terror; afterward came the weeping
and wailing. The families of the prisoners ran about in distraction,
going from the convento to the barracks, from the barracks to the
town hall, and finding no consolation anywhere, filled the air with
cries and groans. The curate had shut himself up on a plea of illness;
the alferez had increased the guards, who received the supplicating
women with the butts of their rifles; the gobernadorcillo, at best
a useless creature, seemed to be more foolish and more useless than
ever. In front of the jail the women who still had strength enough
ran to and fro, while those who had not sat down on the ground and
called upon the names of their beloved.

Although the sun beat down fiercely, not one of these unfortunates
thought of going away. Doray, the erstwhile merry and happy wife of Don
Filipo, wandered about dejectedly, carrying in her arms their infant
son, both weeping. To the advice of friends that she go back home to
avoid exposing her baby to an attack of fever, the disconsolate woman
replied, "Why should he live, if he isn't going to have a father to
rear him?"

"Your husband is innocent. Perhaps he'll come back."

"Yes, after we're all dead!"

Capitana Tinay wept and called upon her son Antonio. The courageous
Capitana Maria gazed silently toward the small grating behind which
were her twin-boys, her only sons.

There was present also the mother-in-law of the pruner of coco-palms,
but she was not weeping; instead, she paced back and forth,
gesticulating with uplifted arms, and haranguing the crowd: "Did you
ever see anything like it? To arrest my Andong, to shoot at him, to
put him in the stocks, to take him to the capital, and only because--
because he had a new pair of pantaloons! This calls for vengeance! The
civil-guards are committing abuses! I swear that if I ever again catch
one of them in my garden, as has often happened, I'll chop him up,
I'll chop him up, or else--let him try to chop me up!" Few persons,
however, joined in the protests of the Mussulmanish mother-in-law.

"Don Crisostomo is to blame for all this," sighed a woman.

The schoolmaster was also in the crowd, wandering about bewildered. Ñor
Juan did not rub his hands, nor was he carrying his rule and plumb-bob;
he was dressed in black, for he had heard the bad news and, true
to his habit of looking upon the future as already assured, was in
mourning for Ibarra's death.

At two o'clock in the afternoon an open cart drawn by two oxen stopped
in front of the town hall. This was at once set upon by the people,
who attempted to unhitch the oxen and destroy it. "Don't do that!" said
Capitana Maria. "Do you want to make them walk?" This consideration
acted as a restraint on the prisoners' relatives.

Twenty soldiers came out and surrounded the cart; then the prisoners
appeared. The first was Don Filipo, bound. He greeted his wife
smilingly, but Doray broke out into bitter weeping and two guards had
difficulty in preventing her from embracing her husband. Antonio, the
son of Capitana Tinay, appeared crying like a baby, which only added to
the lamentations of his family. The witless Andong broke out into tears
at sight of his mother-in-law, the cause of his misfortune. Albino,
the quondam theological student, was also bound, as were Capitana
Maria's twins. All three were grave and serious. The last to come
out was Ibarra, unbound, but conducted between two guards. The pallid
youth looked about him for a friendly face.

"He's the one that's to blame!" cried many voices. "He's to blame
and he goes loose!"

"My son-in-law hasn't done anything and he's got handcuffs on!" Ibarra
turned to the guards. "Bind me, and bind me well, elbow to elbow,"
he said.

"We haven't any order."

"Bind me!" And the soldiers obeyed.

The alferez appeared on horseback, armed to the teeth, ten or fifteen
more soldiers following him.

Each prisoner had his family there to pray for him, to weep for him,
to bestow on him the most endearing names--all save Ibarra, who
had no one, even Ñor Juan and the schoolmaster having disappeared.

"Look what you've done to my husband and my son!" Doray cried to
him. "Look at my poor son! You've robbed him of his father!"

So the sorrow of the families was converted into anger toward the
young man, who was accused of having started the trouble. The alferez
gave the order to set out.

"You're a coward!" the mother-in-law of Andong cried after
Ibarra. "While others were fighting for you, you hid yourself, coward!"

"May you be accursed!" exclaimed an old man, running along beside
him. "Accursed be the gold amassed by your family to disturb our
peace! Accursed! Accursed!"

"May they hang you, heretic!" cried a relative of Albino's. Unable
to restrain himself, he caught up a stone and threw it at the youth.

This example was quickly followed, and a rain of dirt and stones fell
on the wretched young man. Without anger or complaint, impassively he
bore the righteous vengeance of so many suffering hearts. This was the
parting, the farewell, offered to him by the people among whom were
all his affections. With bowed head, he was perhaps thinking of a man
whipped through the streets of Manila, of an old woman falling dead
at the sight of her son's head; perhaps Elias's history was passing
before his eyes.

The alferez found it necessary to drive the crowd back, but the
stone-throwing and the insults did not cease. One mother alone did not
wreak vengeance on him for her sorrows, Capitana Maria. Motionless,
with lips contracted and eyes full of silent tears, she saw her two
sons move away; her firmness, her dumb grief surpassed that of the
fabled Niobe.

So the procession moved on. Of the persons who appeared at the
few open windows those who showed most pity for the youth were the
indifferent and the curious. All his friends had hidden themselves,
even Capitan Basilio himself, who forbade his daughter Sinang to weep.

Ibarra saw the smoking ruins of his house--the home of his fathers,
where he was born, where clustered the fondest recollections of his
childhood and his youth. Tears long repressed started into his eyes,
and he bowed his head and wept without having the consolation of being
able to hide his grief, tied as he was, nor of having any one in whom
his sorrow awoke compassion. Now he had neither country, nor home,
nor love, nor friends, nor future!

From a slight elevation a man gazed upon the sad procession. He was an
old man, pale and emaciated, wrapped in a woolen blanket, supporting
himself with difficulty on a staff. It was the old Sage, Tasio, who,
on hearing of the event, had left his bed to be present, but his
strength had not been sufficient to carry him to the town hall. The
old man followed the cart with his gaze until it disappeared in the
distance and then remained for some time afterward with his head bowed,
deep in thought. Then he stood up and laboriously made his way toward
his house, pausing to rest at every step. On the following day some
herdsmen found him dead on the very threshold of his solitary home.


Patriotism and Private Interests

Secretly the telegraph transmitted the report to Manila, and thirty-six
hours later the newspapers commented on it with great mystery and not a
few dark hints--augmented, corrected, or mutilated by the censor. In
the meantime, private reports, emanating from the convents, were the
first to gain secret currency from mouth to mouth, to the great terror
of those who heard them. The fact, distorted in a thousand ways,
was believed with greater or less ease according to whether it was
flattering or worked contrary to the passions and ways of thinking
of each hearer.

Without public tranquillity seeming disturbed, at least outwardly,
yet the peace of mind of each home was whirled about like the water in
a pond: while the surface appears smooth and clear, in the depths the
silent fishes swarm, dive about, and chase one another. For one part
of the population crosses, decorations, epaulets, offices, prestige,
power, importance, dignities began to whirl about like butterflies
in a golden atmosphere. For the other part a dark cloud arose on the
horizon, projecting from its gray depths, like black silhouettes,
bars, chains, and even the fateful gibbet. In the air there seemed to
be heard investigations, condemnations, and the cries from the torture
chamber; Marianas[145] and Bagumbayan presented themselves wrapped in
a torn and bloody veil, fishers and fished confused. Fate pictured
the event to the imaginations of the Manilans like certain Chinese
fans--one side painted black, the other gilded with bright-colored
birds and flowers.

In the convents the greatest excitement prevailed. Carriages
were harnessed, the Provincials exchanged visits and held secret
conferences; they presented themselves in the palaces to offer their
aid to the government in its perilous crisis. Again there was talk
of comets and omens.

"A Te Deum! A Te Deum!" cried a friar in one convent. "This time
let no one be absent from the chorus! It's no small mercy from God
to make it clear just now, especially in these hopeless times, how
much we are worth!"

"The little general Mal-Aguero[146] can gnaw his lips over this
lesson," responded another.

"What would have become of him if not for the religious corporations?"

"And to celebrate the fiesta better, serve notice on the cook and
the refectioner. Gaudeamus for three days!"

"Amen!" "Viva Salvi!" "Amen!"

In another convent they talked differently.

"You see, now, that fellow is a pupil of the Jesuits. The filibusters
come from the Ateneo."

"And the anti-friars."

"I told you so. The Jesuits are ruining the country, they're corrupting
the youth, but they are tolerated because they trace a few scrawls
on a piece of paper when there is an earthquake."

"And God knows how they are made!"

"Yes, but don't contradict them. When everything is shaking and moving
about, who draws diagrams? Nothing, Padre Secchi--" [147]

And they smiled with sovereign disdain.

"But what about the weather forecasts and the typhoons?" asked another
ironically. "Aren't they divine?"

"Any fisherman foretells them!"

"When he who governs is a fool--tell me how your head is and I'll
tell you how your foot is! But you'll see if the friends favor one
another. The newspapers very nearly ask a miter for Padre Salvi."

"He's going to get it! He'll lick it right up!"

"Do you think so?"

"Why not! Nowadays they grant one for anything whatsoever. I know
of a fellow who got one for less. He wrote a cheap little work
demonstrating that the Indians are not capable of being anything but
mechanics. Pshaw, old-fogyisms!"

"That's right! So much favoritism injures Religion!" exclaimed
another. "If the miters only had eyes and could see what heads they
were upon--"

"If the miters were natural objects," added another in a nasal tone,
"Natura abhorrer vacuum."

"That's why they grab for them, their emptiness attracts!" responded

These and many more things were said in the convents, but we will
spare our reader other comments of a political, metaphysical, or
piquant nature and conduct him to a private house. As we have few
acquaintances in Manila, let us enter the home of Capitan Tinong,
the polite individual whom we saw so profusely inviting Ibarra to
honor him with a visit.

In the rich and spacious sala of his Tondo house, Capitan Tinong was
seated in a wide armchair, rubbing his hands in a gesture of despair
over his face and the nape of his neck, while his wife, Capitana
Tinchang, was weeping and preaching to him. From the corner their
two daughters listened silently and stupidly, yet greatly affected.

"Ay, Virgin of Antipolo!" cried the woman. "Ay, Virgin of the Rosary
and of the Girdle![148] Ay, ay! Our Lady of Novaliches!"

"Mother!" responded the elder of the daughters.

"I told you so!" continued the wife in an accusing tone. "I told you
so! Ay, Virgin of Carmen,[149] ay!"

"But you didn't tell me anything," Capitan Tinong dared to answer
tearfully. "On the contrary, you told me that I was doing well to
frequent Capitan Tiago's house and cultivate friendship with him,
because he's rich--and you told me--"

"What! What did I tell you? I didn't tell you that, I didn't tell
you anything! Ay, if you had only listened to me!"

"Now you're throwing the blame on me," he replied bitterly, slapping
the arm of his chair. "Didn't you tell me that I had done well to
invite him to dine with us, because he was wealthy? Didn't you say
that we ought to have friends only among the wealthy? Abá!"

"It's true that I told you so, because--because there wasn't anything
else for me to do. You did nothing but sing his praises" Don Ibarra
here, Don Ibarra there, Don Ibarra everywhere. Abaá! But I didn't
advise you to hunt him up and talk to him at that reception! You
can't deny that!"

"Did I know that he was to be there, perhaps?"

"But you ought to have known it!"

"How so, if I didn't even know him?"

"But you ought to have known him!"

"But, Tinchang, it was the first time that I ever saw him, that I
ever heard him spoken of!"

"Well then, you ought to have known him before and heard him spoken
of. That's what you're a man for and wear trousers and read El Diario
de Manila," [150] answered his unterrified spouse, casting on him a
terrible look.

To this Capitan Tinong did not know what to reply. Capitana Tinchang,
however, was not satisfied with this victory, but wished to silence him
completely. So she approached him with clenched fists. "Is this what
I've worked for, year after year, toiling and saving, that you by your
stupidity may throw away the fruits of my labor?" she scolded. "Now
they'll come to deport you, they'll take away all our property, just
as they did from the wife of--Oh, if I were a man, if I were a man!"

Seeing that her husband bowed his head, she again fell to sobbing,
but still repeating, "Ay, if I were a man, if I were a man!"

"Well, if you were a man," the provoked husband at length asked,
"what would you do?"

"What would I do? Well--well--well, this very minute I'd go
to the Captain-General and offer to fight against the rebels, this
very minute!"

"But haven't you seen what the Diario says? Read it: 'The vile and
infamous treason has been suppressed with energy, strength, and
vigor, and soon the rebellious enemies of the Fatherland and their
accomplices will feel all the weight and severity of the law.' Don't
you see it? There isn't any more rebellion."

"That doesn't matter! You ought to offer yourself as they did in
'72;[151] they saved themselves."

"Yes, that's what was done by Padre Burg--"

But he was unable to finish this name, for his wife ran to him and
slapped her hand over his mouth. "Shut up! Are you saying that name
so that they may garrote you tomorrow on Bagumbayan? Don't you know
that to pronounce it is enough to get yourself condemned without
trial? Keep quiet!"

However Capitan Tinong may have felt about obeying her, he could
hardly have done otherwise, for she had his mouth covered with both
her hands, pressing his little head against the back of the chair,
so that the poor fellow might have been smothered to death had not
a new personage appeared on the scene. This was their cousin, Don
Primitivo, who had memorized the "Amat," a man of some forty years,
plump, big-paunched, and elegantly dressed.

"Quid video?" he exclaimed as he entered. "What's
happening? Quare?" [152]

"Ay, cousin!" cried the woman, running toward him in tears, "I've
sent for you because I don't know what's going to become of us. What
do you advise? Speak, you've studied Latin and know how to argue."

"But first, quid quaeritis? Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non
fuerit in sensu; nihil volitum quin praecognitum." [153]

He sat down gravely and, just as if the Latin phrases had possessed
a soothing virtue, the couple ceased weeping and drew nearer to him
to hang upon the advice from his lips, as at one time the Greeks did
before the words of salvation from the oracle that was to free them
from the Persian invaders.

"Why do you weep? Ubinam gentium sumus?" [154]

"You've already heard of the uprising?"

"Alzamentum Ibarrae ab alferesio Guardiae Civilis destructum? Et
nunc? [155] What! Does Don Crisostomo owe you anything?"

"No, but you know, Tinong invited him to dinner and spoke to him on
the Bridge of Spain--in broad daylight! They'll say that he's a
friend of his!"

"A friend of his!" exclaimed the startled Latinist, rising. "Amice,
amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas. Birds of a feather flock
together. Malum est negotium et est timendum rerum istarum
horrendissimum resultatum![156] Ahem!"

Capitan Tinong turned deathly pale at hearing so many words in um;
such a sound presaged ill. His wife clasped her hands supplicatingly
and said:

"Cousin, don't talk to us in Latin now. You know that we're not
philosophers like you. Let's talk in Spanish or Tagalog. Give us
some advice."

"It's a pity that you don't understand Latin, cousin. Truths in
Latin are lies in Tagalog; for example, contra principia negantem
fustibus est arguendum[157] in Latin is a truth like Noah's ark, but
I put it into practise once and I was the one who got whipped. So,
it's a pity that you don't know Latin. In Latin everything would be
straightened out."

"We, too, know many oremus, parcenobis, and Agnus Dei Catolis,[158]
but now we shouldn't understand one another. Provide Tinong with an
argument so that they won't hang him!"

"You're done wrong, very wrong, cousin, in cultivating friendship
with that young man," replied the Latinist.

"The righteous suffer for the sinners. I was almost going to advise
you to make your will. Vae illis! Ubi est fumus ibi est ignis! Similis
simili audet; atqui Ibarra ahorcatur, ergo ahorcaberis--" [159]
With this he shook his head from side to side disgustedly.

"Saturnino, what's the matter?" cried Capitana Tinchang in dismay. "Ay,
he's dead! A doctor! Tinong, Tinongoy!"

The two daughters ran to her, and all three fell to weeping. "It's
nothing more than a swoon, cousin! I would have been more pleased that
--that--but unfortunately it's only a swoon. Non timeo mortem in
catre sed super espaldonem Bagumbayanis.[160] Get some water!"

"Don't die!" sobbed the wife. "Don't die, for they'll come and arrest
you! Ay, if you die and the soldiers come, ay, ay!"

The learned cousin rubbed the victim's face with water until he
recovered consciousness. "Come, don't cry. Inveni remedium: I've found
a remedy. Let's carry him to bed. Come, take courage! Here I am with
you--and all the wisdom of the ancients. Call a doctor, and you,
cousin, go right away to the Captain-General and take him a present--
a gold ring, a chain. Dadivae quebrantant peñas.[161] Say that it's
a Christmas gift. Close the windows, the doors, and if any one asks
for my cousin, say that he is seriously ill. Meanwhile, I'll burn all
his letters, papers, and books, so that they can't find anything,
just as Don Crisostomo did. Scripti testes sunt! Quod medicamenta
non sanant, ferrum sanat, quod ferrum non sanat, ignis sanat." [162]

"Yes, do so, cousin, burn everything!" said Capitana Tinchang. "Here
are the keys, here are the letters from Capitan Tiago. Burn them! Don't
leave a single European newspaper, for they're very dangerous. Here
are the copies of The Times that I've kept for wrapping up soap and
old clothes. Here are the books."

"Go to the Captain-General, cousin," said Don Primitivo, "and leave
us alone. In extremis extrema.[163] Give me the authority of a Roman
dictator, and you'll see how soon I'll save the coun--I mean,
my cousin."

He began to give orders and more orders, to upset bookcases, to tear
up papers, books, and letters. Soon a big fire was burning in the
kitchen. Old shotguns were smashed with axes, rusty revolvers were
thrown away. The maidservant who wanted to keep the barrel of one
for a blowpipe received a reprimand"

"Conservare etiam sperasti, perfida?[164] Into the fire!" So he
continued his auto da fé. Seeing an old volume in vellum, he read the
title, Revolutions of the Celestial Globes, by Copernicus. Whew! "Ite,
maledicti, in ignem kalanis!" [165] he exclaimed, hurling it into the
flames. "Revolutions and Copernicus! Crimes on crimes! If I hadn't
come in time! Liberty in the Philippines! Ta, ta, ta! What books! Into
the fire!"

Harmless books, written by simple authors, were burned; not even the
most innocent work escaped. Cousin Primitivo was right: the righteous
suffer for the sinners.

Four or five hours later, at a pretentious reception in the Walled
City, current events were being commented upon. There were present
a lot of old women and maidens of marriageable age, the wives and
daughters of government employees, dressed in loose gowns, fanning
themselves and yawning. Among the men, who, like the women, showed
in their faces their education and origin, was an elderly gentleman,
small and one-armed, whom the others treated with great respect. He
himself maintained a disdainful silence.

"To tell the truth, formerly I couldn't endure the friars and the
civil-guards, they're so rude," said a corpulent dame, "but now that
I see their usefulness and their services, I would almost marry any
one of them gladly. I'm a patriot."

"That's what I say!" added a thin lady. "What a pity that we haven't
our former governor. He would leave the country as clean as a platter."

"And the whole race of filibusters would be exterminated!"

"Don't they say that there are still a lot of islands to be
populated? Why don't they deport all these crazy Indians to them? If
I were the Captain-General--"

"Señoras," interrupted the one-armed individual, "the Captain-General
knows his duty. As I've heard, he's very much irritated, for he had
heaped favors on that Ibarra."

"Heaped favors on him!" echoed the thin lady, fanning herself
furiously. "Look how ungrateful these Indians are! Is it possible to
treat them as if they were human beings? Jesús!"

"Do you know what I've heard?" asked a military official.

"What's that?"

"Let's hear it!"

"What do they say?"

"Reputable persons," replied the officer in the midst of a profound
silence, "state that this agitation for building a schoolhouse was
a pure fairy tale."

"Jesús! Just see that!" the señoras exclaimed, already believing in
the trick.

"The school was a pretext. What he wanted to build was a fort from
which he could safely defend himself when we should come to attack

"What infamy! Only an Indian is capable of such cowardly thoughts,"
exclaimed the fat lady. "If I were the Captain-General they would
soon seem they would soon see--"

"That's what I say!" exclaimed the thin lady, turning to the one-armed
man. "Arrest all the little lawyers, priestlings, merchants, and
without trial banish or deport them! Tear out the evil by the roots!"

"But it's said that this filibuster is the descendant of Spaniards,"
observed the one-armed man, without looking at any one in particular.

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed the fat lady, unterrified. "It's always the
creoles! No Indian knows anything about revolution! Rear crows,
rear crows!" [166]

"Do you know what I've heard?" asked a creole lady, to change the topic
of conversation. "The wife of Capitan Tinong, you remember her, the
woman in whose house we danced and dined during the fiesta of Tondo--"

"The one who has two daughters? What about her?"

"Well, that woman just this afternoon presented the Captain-General
with a ring worth a thousand pesos!"

The one-armed man turned around. "Is that so? Why?" he asked with
shining eyes.

"She said that it was a Christmas gift--"

"But Christmas doesn't come for a month yet!"

"Perhaps she's afraid the storm is blowing her way," observed the
fat lady.

"And is getting under cover," added the thin señora.

"When no return is asked, it's a confession of guilt."

"This must be carefully looked into," declared the one-armed man
thoughtfully. "I fear that there's a cat in the bag."

"A cat in the bag, yes! That's just what I was going to say," echoed
the thin lady.

"And so was I," said the other, taking the words out of her mouth,
"the wife of Capitan Tinong is so stingy--she hasn't yet sent us
any present and that after we've been in her house. So, when such
a grasping and covetous woman lets go of a little present worth a
thousand pesos--"

"But, is it a fact?" inquired the one-armed man.

"Certainly! Most certainly! My cousin's sweetheart, his Excellency's
adjutant, told her so. And I'm of the opinion that it's the very same
ring that the older daughter wore on the day of the fiesta. She's
always covered with diamonds."

"A walking show-case!"

"A way of attracting attention, like any other! Instead of buying a
fashion plate or paying a dressmaker--"

Giving some pretext, the one-armed man left the gathering. Two hours
later, when the world slept, various residents of Tondo received
an invitation through some soldiers. The authorities could not
consent to having certain persons of position and property sleep in
such poorly guarded and badly ventilated houses--in Fort Santiago
and other government buildings their sleep would be calmer and more
refreshing. Among these favored persons was included the unfortunate
Capitan Tinong.


Maria Clara Weds

Capitan Tiago was very happy, for in all this terrible storm no one
had taken any notice of him. He had not been arrested, nor had he
been subjected to solitary confinement, investigations, electric
machines, continuous foot-baths in underground cells:, or other
pleasantries that are well-known to certain folk who call themselves
civilized. His friends, that is, those who had been his friends--for
the good man had denied all his Filipino friends from the instant
when they were suspected by the government--had also returned to
their homes after a few days' vacation in the state edifices. The
Captain-General himself had ordered that they be cast out from his
precincts, not considering them worthy of remaining therein, to the
great disgust of the one-armed individual, who had hoped to celebrate
the approaching Christmas in their abundant and opulent company.

Capitan Tinong had returned to his home sick, pale, and swollen; the
excursion had not done him good. He was so changed that he said not
a word, nor even greeted his family, who wept, laughed, chattered,
and almost went mad with joy. The poor man no longer ventured out
of his house for fear of running the risk of saying good-day to a
filibuster. Not even Don Primitivo himself, with all the wisdom of
the ancients, could draw him out of his silence.

"Crede, prime," the Latinist told him, "if I hadn't got here to burn
all your papers, they would have squeezed your neck; and if I had
burned the whole house they wouldn't have touched a hair of your
head. But quod eventum, eventum; gratias agamus Domino Deo quia non
in Marianis Insulis es, camotes seminando." [167]

Stories similar to Capitan Tinong's were not unknown to Capitan Tiago,
so he bubbled over with gratitude, without knowing exactly to whom he
owed such signal favors. Aunt Isabel attributed the miracle to the
Virgin of Antipolo, to the Virgin of the Rosary, or at least to the
Virgin of Carmen, and at the very, very least that she was willing
to concede, to Our Lady of the Girdle; according to her the miracle
could not get beyond that.

Capitan Tiago did not deny the miracle, but added: "I think so, Isabel,
but the Virgin of Antipolo couldn't have done it alone. My friends
have helped, my future son-in-law, Señor Linares, who, as you know,
joked with Señor Antonio Canovas himself, the premier whose portrait
appears in the Ilustración, he who doesn't condescend to show more
than half his face to the people."

So the good man could not repress a smile of satisfaction every
time that he heard any important news. And there was plenty of news:
it was whispered about in secret that Ibarra would be hanged; that,
while many proofs of his guilt had been lacking, at last some one
had appeared to sustain the accusation; that experts had declared
that in fact the work on the schoolhouse could pass for a bulwark of
fortification, although somewhat defective, as was only to be expected
of ignorant Indians. These rumors calmed him and made him smile.

In the same way that Capitan Tiago and his cousin diverged in their
opinions, the friends of the family were also divided into two
parties,--one miraculous, the other governmental, although this
latter was insignificant. The miraculous party was again subdivided:
the senior sacristan of Binondo, the candle-woman, and the leader
of the Brotherhood saw the hand of God directed by the Virgin of the
Rosary; while the Chinese wax-chandler, his caterer on his visits to
Antipolo, said, as he fanned himself and shook his leg"

"Don't fool yourself--it's the Virgin of Antipolo! She can do more
than all the rest--don't fool yourself!" [168]

Capitan Tiago had great respect for this Chinese, who passed himself
off as a prophet and a physician. Examining the palm of the deceased
lady just before her daughter was born, he had prognosticated:
"If it's not a boy and doesn't die, it'll be a fine girl!" [169] and
Maria Clara had come into the world to fulfill the infidel's prophecy.

Capitan Tiago, then, as a prudent and cautious man, could not decide so
easily as Trojan Paris--he could not so lightly give the preference
to one Virgin for fear of offending another, a situation that might be
fraught with grave consequences. "Prudence!" he said to himself. "Let's
not go and spoil it all now."

He was still in the midst of these doubts when the governmental party
arrived,--Doña Victorina, Don Tiburcio, and Linares. Doña Victorina
did the talking for the three men as well as for herself. She mentioned
Linares' visits to the Captain-General and repeatedly insinuated
the advantages of a relative of "quality." "Now," she concluded,
"as we was zaying: he who zhelterz himzelf well, builds a good roof."

"T-the other w-way, w-woman!" corrected the doctor.

For some days now she had been endeavoring to Andalusize her speech,
and no one had been able to get this idea out of her head--she
would sooner have first let them tear off her false frizzes.

"Yez," she went on, speaking of Ibarra, "he deserves it all. I told
you zo when I first zaw him, he's a filibuzter. What did the General
zay to you, cousin? What did he zay? What news did he tell you about
thiz Ibarra?"

Seeing that her cousin was slow in answering, she continued, directing
her remarks to Capitan Tiago, "Believe me, if they zentenz him to
death, as is to be hoped, it'll be on account of my cousin."

"Señora, señora!" protested Linares.

But she gave him no time for objections. "How diplomatic you have
become! We know that you're the adviser of the General, that he
couldn't live without you. Ah, Clarita, what a pleasure to zee you!"

Maria Clara was still pale, although now quite recovered from her
illness. Her long hair was tied up with a light blue silk ribbon. With
a timid bow and a sad smile she went up to Doña Victorina for the
ceremonial kiss.

After the usual conventional remarks, the pseudo-Andalusian continued:
"We've come to visit you. You've been zaved, thankz to your
relations." This was said with a significant glance toward Linares.

"God has protected my father," replied the girl in a low voice.

"Yez, Clarita, but the time of the miracles is pazt. We Zpaniards zay:
'Truzt in the Virgin and take to your heels.'"

"T-the other w-way!"

Capitan Tiago, who had up to this point had no chance to speak, now
made bold enough to ask, while he threw himself into an attitude of
strict attention, "So you, Doña Victorina, think that the Virgin--"

"We've come ezpezially to talk with you about the virgin," she answered
mysteriously, making a sign toward Maria Clara. "We've come to talk

The maiden understood that she was expected to retire, so with an
excuse she went away, supporting herself on the furniture.

What was said and what was agreed upon in this conference was so
sordid and mean that we prefer not to recount it. It is enough to
record that as they took their leave they were all merry, and that
afterwards Capitan Tiago said to Aunt Isabel:

"Notify the restaurant that we'll have a fiesta tomorrow. Get Maria
ready, for we're going to marry her off before long."

Aunt Isabel stared at him in consternation.

"You'll see! When Señor Linares is our son-in-law we'll get into all
the palaces. Every one will envy us, every one will die of envy!"

Thus it happened that at eight o'clock on the following evening
the house of Capitan Tiago was once again filled, but this time his
guests were only Spaniards and Chinese. The fair sex was represented
by Peninsular and Philippine-Spanish ladies.

There were present the greater part of our acquaintances: Padre Sibyla
and Padre Salvi among various Franciscans and Dominicans; the old
lieutenant of the Civil Guard, Señor Guevara, gloomier than ever;
the alferez, who was for the thousandth time describing his battle
and gazing over his shoulders at every one, believing himself to
be a Don John of Austria, for he was now a major; De Espadaña, who
looked at the alferez with respect and fear, and avoided his gaze;
and Doña Victorina, swelling with indignation. Linares had not yet
come; as a personage of importance, he had to arrive later than the
others. There are creatures so simple that by being an hour behind
time they transform themselves into great men.

In the group of women Maria Clara was the subject of a murmured
conversation. The maiden had welcomed them all ceremoniously, without
losing her air of sadness.

"Pish!" remarked one young woman. "The proud little thing!"

"Pretty little thing!" responded another. "But he might have picked
out some other girl with a less foolish face."

"The gold, child! The good youth is selling himself."

In another part the comments ran thus:

"To get married when her first fiancé is about to be hanged!"

"That's what's called prudence, having a substitute ready."

"Well, when she gets to be a widow--"

Maria Clara was seated in a chair arranging a salver of flowers and
doubtless heard all these remarks, for her hand trembled, she turned
pale, and several times bit her lips.

In the circle of men the conversation was carried on in loud tones
and, naturally, turned upon recent events. All were talking, even
Don Tiburcio, with the exception of Padre Sibyla, who maintained his
usual disdainful silence.

"I've heard it said that your Reverence is leaving the town, Padre
Salvi?" inquired the new major, whose fresh star had made him more

"I have nothing more to do there. I'm going to stay permanently in
Manila. And you?"


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