The Two Señoras
(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
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 the house.
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 servants better.
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 mocking way.
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!