Chapter 27:

In the Twilight

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

In Capitan Tiago’s house also great preparations had been made.  We know its owner, whose love of ostentation and whose pride as a Manilan imposed the necessity of humiliating the provincials with his splendor.  Another reason, too, made it his duty to eclipse all others: he had his daughter Maria Clara with him, and there was present his future son-in-law, who was attracting universal attention.

In fact one of the most serious newspapers in Manila had devoted to Ibarra an article on its front page, entitled, Imitate him! heaping him with praise and giving him some advice. It had called him, The cultivated young gentleman and rich capitalist; two lines further on, The distinguished philanthropist; in the following paragraph, The disciple of Minerva who had gone to the mother country to pay his respects to the true home of the arts and sciences; and a little further on, The Filipino Spaniard.  Capitan Tiago burned with generous zeal to imitate him and wondered whether he ought not to erect a convento at his own expense.

Some days before there had arrived at the house where Maria Clara and Aunt Isabel were staying a profusion of eases of European wines and food-stuffs, colossal mirrors, paintings, and Maria Clara’s piano.  Capitan Tiago had arrived on the day before the fiesta and as his daughter kissed his hand, had presented her with a beautiful locket set with diamonds and emeralds, containing a sliver from St. Peter’s boat, in which Our Savior sat during the fishing. His first interview with his future son-in-law could not have been more cordial.  Naturally, they talked about the school, and Capitan Tiago wanted it named School of St. Francis.  Believe me, he said, St. Francis is a good patron.  If you call it ‘School of Primary Instruction,’ you will gain nothing.  Who is Primary Instruction, anyhow?

Some friends of Maria Clara came and asked her to go for a walk. But come back quickly, said Capitan Tiago to his daughter, when she asked his permission, for you know that Padre Damaso, who has just arrived, will dine with us.

Then turning to Ibarra, who had become thoughtful, he said, You dine with us also, you’ll be all alone in your house.

I would with the greatest pleasure, but I have to be at home in case visitors come, stammered the youth, as he avoided the gaze of Maria Clara.

Bring your friends along, replied Capitan Tiago heartily.  In my house there’s always plenty to eat. Also, I want you and Padre Damaso to get on good terms.

There’ll be time enough for that, answered Ibarra with a forced smile, as he prepared to accompany the girls.


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