Chapter 11: - Page 3 of 4

The Rulers

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The only rival of this spiritual power, with tendencies toward the temporal, was, as we have said, the alferez: the only one, since the women told how the devil himself would flee from the curate, because, having one day dared to tempt him, he was caught, tied to a bedpost, soundly whipped with a rope, and set at liberty only after nine days.  As a consequence, any one who after this would still be the enemy of such a man, deserved to fall into worse repute than even the weak and unwary devils.

But the alferez deserved his fate. His wife was an old Filipina of abundant rouge and paint, known as Doña Consolacion—although her husband and some others called her by quite another name.  The alferez revenged his conjugal misfortunes on his own person by getting so drunk that he made a tank of himself, or by ordering his soldiers to drill in the sun while he remained in the shade, or, more frequently, by beating up his consort, who, if she was not a lamb of God to take away one’s sins, at least served to lay up for her spouse many torments in Purgatory—if perchance he should get there, a matter of doubt to the devout women.  As if for the fun of it, these two used to beat each other up beautifully, giving free shows to the neighborhood with vocal and instrumental accompaniments, four-handed, soft, loud, with pedal and all.

Whenever these scandals reached the ears of Padre Salvi, he would smile, cross himself, and recite a paternoster.  They called him a grafter, a hypocrite, a Carlist, and a miser: he merely smiled and recited more prayers.  The alferez had a little anecdote which he always related to the occasional Spaniards who visited him:

Are you going over to the convento to visit the sanctimonious rascal there, the little curate? Yes! Well, if he offers you chocolate which I doubt—but if he offers it remember this: if he calls to the servant and says, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh!’ then stay without fear; but if he calls out, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah!’ then take your hat and leave on a run.

What! the startled visitor would ask, does he poison people? Carambas!

No, man, not at all!

What then?

‘Chocolate, eh!’ means thick and rich, while ‘chocolate, ah!’ means watered and thin.

But we are of the opinion that this was a slander on the part of the alferez, since the same story is told of many curates.  At least, it may be a thing peculiar to the Order.

Learn this Filipino word:

nasa mabuting kamáy