(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
It was not two beautiful and well-gowned young women that attracted the attention of all, even including Fray Sibyla, nor was it his Excellency the Captain-General with his staff, that the lieutenant should start from his abstraction and take a couple of steps forward, or that Fray Damaso should look as if turned to stone; it was simply the original of the oil-painting leading by the hand a young man dressed in deep mourning.
Good evening, gentlemen! Good evening, Padre! were the greetings of Capitan Tiago as he kissed the hands of the priests, who forgot to bestow upon him their benediction. The Dominican had taken off his glasses to stare at the newly arrived youth, while Fray Damaso was pale and unnaturally wide-eyed.
I have the honor of presenting to you Don Crisostomo Ibarra, the son of my deceased friend, went on Capitan Tiago.
The young gentleman has just arrived from Europe and I went to meet him.
At the mention of the name exclamations were heard. The lieutenant forgot to pay his respects to his host and approached the young man, looking him over from head to foot. The young man himself at that moment was exchanging the conventional greetings with all in the group, nor did there seem to be any thing extraordinary about him except his mourning garments in the center of that brilliantly lighted room. Yet in spite of them his remarkable stature, his features, and his movements breathed forth an air of healthy youthfulness in which both body and mind had equally developed. There might have been noticed in his frank, pleasant face some faint traces of Spanish blood showing through a beautiful brown color, slightly flushed at the cheeks as a result perhaps of his residence in cold countries.
What! he exclaimed with joyful surprise,
the curate of my native town! Padre Damaso, my father’s intimate friend!
Every look in the room was directed toward the Franciscan, who made no movement.
Pardon me, perhaps I’m mistaken, added Ibarra, embarrassed.
You are not mistaken, the friar was at last able to articulate in a changed voice,
but your father was never an intimate friend of mine.
Ibarra slowly withdrew his extended hand, looking greatly surprised, and turned to encounter the gloomy gaze of the lieutenant fixed on him.
Young man, are you the son of Don Rafael Ibarra? he asked.
The youth bowed. Fray Damaso partly rose in his chair and stared fixedly at the lieutenant.
Welcome back to your country! And may you be happier in it than your father was! exclaimed the officer in a trembling voice.
I knew him well and can say that he was one of the worthiest and most honorable men in the Philippines.