Chapter 4: - Page 5 of 7

Cabesang Tales

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Every time he left the house Tandang Selo and Juli trembled for his life.  The latter would get up from her loom, go to the window, pray, make vows to the saints, and recite novenas.  The grandfather was at times unable to finish the handle of a broom and talked of returning to the forest—life in that house was unbearable.

At last their fears were realized.  As the fields were some distance from the village, Cabesang Tales, in spite of his ax, fell into the hands of tulisanes who had revolvers and rifles.  They told him that since he had money to pay judges and lawyers he must have some also for the outcasts and the hunted.  They therefore demanded a ransom of five hundred pesos through the medium of a rustic, with the warning that if anything happened to their messenger, the captive would pay for it with his life. Two days of grace were allowed.

This news threw the poor family into the wildest terror, which was augmented when they learned that the Civil Guard was going out in pursuit of the bandits.  In case of an encounter, the first victim would be the captive—this they all knew.  The old man was paralyzed, while the pale and frightened daughter tried often to talk but could not.  Still, another thought more terrible, an idea more cruel, roused them from their stupor.  The rustic sent by the tulisanes said that the band would probably have to move on, and if they were slow in sending the ransom the two days would elapse and Cabesang Tales would have his throat cut.

This drove those two beings to madness, weak and powerless as they were.  Tandang Selo got up, sat down, went outside, came back again, knowing not where to go, where to seek aid.  Juli appealed to her images, counted and recounted her money, but her two hundred pesos did not increase or multiply.  Soon she dressed herself, gathered together all her jewels, and asked the advice of her grandfather, if she should go to see the gobernadorcillo, the judge, the notary, the lieutenant of the Civil Guard.  The old man said yes to everything, or when she said no, he too said no.  At length came the neighbors, their relatives and friends, some poorer than others, in their simplicity magnifying the fears.  The most active of all was Sister Bali, a great panguinguera, who had been to Manila to practise religious exercises in the nunnery of the Sodality.

Juli was willing to sell all her jewels, except a locket set with diamonds and emeralds which Basilio had given her, for this locket had a history: a nun, the daughter of Capitan Tiago, had given it to a leper, who, in return for professional treatment, had made a present of it to Basilio.  So she could not sell it without first consulting him.

Quickly the shell-combs and earrings were sold, as well as Juli’s rosary, to their richest neighbor, and thus fifty pesos were added, but two hundred and fifty were still lacking.  The locket might be pawned, but Juli shook her head.  A neighbor suggested that the house be sold and Tandang Selo approved the idea, satisfied to return to the forest and cut firewood as of old, but Sister Bali observed that this could not be done because the owner was not present.

The judge’s wife once sold me her tapis for a peso, but her husband said that the sale did not hold because it hadn’t received his approval.  Abá! He took back the tapis and she hasn’t returned the peso yet, but I don’t pay her when she wins at panguingui, abá! In that way I’ve collected twelve cuartos, and for that alone I’m going to play with her.  I can’t bear to have people fail to pay what they owe me, abá!

Learn this Filipino word:

nagpikít ng matá