The Voice of the Hunted
(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
As the sun was sinking below the horizon Ibarra stepped into Elias’s banka at the shore of the lake. The youth looked out of humor.
Pardon me, sir, said Elias sadly, on seeing him,
that I have been so bold as to make this appointment. I wanted to talk to you freely and so I chose this means, for here we won’t have any listeners. We can return within an hour.
You’re wrong, friend, answered Ibarra with a forced smile.
You’ll have to take me to that town whose belfry we see from here. A mischance forces me to this.
Yes. On my way here I met the alferez and he forced his company on me. I thought of you and remembered that he knows you, so to get away from him I told him that I was going to that town. I’ll have to stay there all day, since he will look for me tomorrow afternoon.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you might simply have invited him to accompany you, answered Elias naturally.
What about you?
He wouldn’t have recognized me, since the only time he ever saw me he wasn’t in a position to take careful note of my appearance.
I’m in bad luck, sighed Ibarra, thinking of Maria Clara.
What did you have to tell me?
Elias looked about him. They were already at a distance from the shore, the sun had set, and as in these latitudes there is scarcely any twilight, the shades were lengthening, bringing into view the bright disk of the full moon.
Sir, replied Elias gravely,
I am the bearer of the wishes of many unfortunates.
Unfortunates? What do you mean?
In a few words Elias recounted his conversation with the leader of the tulisanes, omitting the latter’s doubts and threats. Ibarra listened attentively and was the first to break the long silence that reigned after he had finished his story.