Chapter 1: - Page 3 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

A cousin of Capitan Tiago, a sweet-faced old woman, who speaks Spanish quite badly, is the only one receiving the ladies.  To offer to the Spanish ladies a plate of cigars and buyos, to extend her hand to her countrywomen to be kissed, exactly as the friars do, — this is the sum of her courtesy, her policy.  The poor old lady soon became bored, and taking advantage of the noise of a plate breaking, rushed precipitately away, muttering, Jesús! Just wait, you rascals! and failed to reappear.

The men, for their part, are making more of a stir. Some cadets in one corner are conversing in a lively manner but in low tones, looking around now and then to point out different persons in the room while they laugh more or less openly among themselves.  In contrast, two foreigners dressed in white are promenading silently from one end of the room to the other with their hands crossed behind their backs, like the bored passengers on the deck of a ship.  All the interest and the greatest animation proceed from a group composed of two priests, two civilians, and a soldier who are seated around a small table on which are seen bottles of wine and English biscuits.

The soldier, a tall, elderly lieutenant with an austere countenance—a Duke of Alva straggling behind in the roster of the Civil Guard—talks little, but in a harsh, curt way.  One of the priests, a youthful Dominican friar, handsome, graceful, polished as the gold-mounted eyeglasses he wears, maintains a premature gravity.  He is the curate of Binondo and has been in former years a professor in the college of San Juan de Letran,[2] where he enjoyed the reputation of being a consummate dialectician, so much so that in the days when the sons of Guzman[3] still dared to match themselves in subtleties with laymen, the able disputant B. de Luna had never been able either to catch or to confuse him, the distinctions made by Fray Sibyla leaving his opponent in the situation of a fisherman who tries to catch eels with a lasso.  The Dominican says little, appearing to weigh his words.

[2] A school of secondary instruction conducted by the Dominican Fathers, by whom it was taken over in 1640.  It had its first beginning in the house of a pious Spaniard, called Juan Geronimo Guerrero, who had dedicated himself, with Christian piety, to gathering orphan boys in his house, where he raised, clothed, and sustained them, and taught them to read and to write, and much more, to live in the fear of God. —Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLV, p. 208.—TR.

[3] The Dominican friars, whose order was founded by Dominic de Guzman.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

anák-pawis