Chapter 1: - Page 7 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Man, what a rare bird! exclaimed Fray Damaso, staring at him with curiosity. To come at one’s own expense and for such foolishness! What a wonder! When there are so many books! And with two fingerbreadths of forehead! Many have written books as big as that! With two fingerbreadths of forehead!

The Dominican here brusquely broke in upon the conversation.  Did your Reverence, Fray Damaso, say that you had been twenty years in the town of San Diego and that you had left it? Wasn’t your Reverence satisfied with the town?

At this question, which was put in a very natural and almost negligent tone, Fray Damaso suddenly lost all his merriment and stopped laughing.  No! he grunted dryly, and let himself back heavily against the back of his chair.

The Dominican went on in a still more indifferent tone.  It must be painful to leave a town where one has been for twenty years and which he knows as well as the clothes he wears.  I certainly was sorry to leave Kamiling and that after I had been there only a few months.  But my superiors did it for the good of the Orders for my own good.

Fray Damaso, for the first time that evening, seemed to be very thoughtful.  Suddenly he brought his fist down on the arm of his chair and with a heavy breath exclaimed: Either Religion is a fact or it is not!  That is, either the curates are free or they are not!  The country is going to ruin, it is lost!  And again he struck the arm of his chair.

Everybody in the sala turned toward the group with astonished looks.  The Dominican raised his head to stare at the Franciscan from under his glasses.  The two foreigners paused a moment, stared with an expression of mingled severity and reproof, then immediately continued their promenade.

He’s in a bad humor because you haven’t treated him with deference, murmured Señor Laruja into the ear of the rubicund youth.

What does your Reverence mean? What’s the trouble? inquired the Dominican and the lieutenant at the same time, but in different tones.

That’s why so many calamities come! The ruling powers support heretics against the ministers of God! continued the Franciscan, raising his heavy fists.

What do you mean? again inquired the frowning lieutenant, half rising from his chair.

What do I mean? repeated Fray Damaso, raising his voice and facing the lieutenant.  I’ll tell you what I mean.  I, yes I, mean to say that when a priest throws out of his cemetery the corpse of a heretic, no one, not even the King himself, has any right to interfere and much less to impose any punishment! But a little General—a little General Calamity—

Learn this Filipino word:

dilát ang matá