Chapter 21: - Page 2 of 5

The Story of a Mother

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Tell us the truth or we’ll tie you to that tree and shoot you, said one of them in a threatening tone.

The woman stared at the tree.

You’re the mother of the thieves, aren’t you? asked the other.

Mother of the thieves! repeated Sisa mechanically.

Where’s the money your sons brought you last night?

Ah! The money—

Don’t deny it or it’ll be the worse for you, added the other.  We’ve come to arrest your sons, and the older has escaped from us.  Where have you hidden the younger?

Upon hearing this Sisa breathed more freely and answered, Sir, it has been many days since I’ve seen Crispin.  I expected to see him this morning at the convento, but there they only told me—

The two soldiers exchanged significant glances.  All right! exclaimed one of them.  Give us the money and we’ll leave you alone.

Sir, begged the unfortunate woman, my sons wouldn’t steal even though they were starving, for we are used to that kind of suffering.  Basilio didn’t bring me a single cuarto. Search the whole house and if you find even a real, do with us what you will.  Not all of us poor folks are thieves!

Well then, ordered the soldier slowly, as he fixed his gaze on Sisa’s eyes, come with us. Your sons will show up and try to get rid of the money they stole. Come on!

I—go with you? murmured the woman, as she stepped backward and gazed fearfully at their uniforms. And why not?

Oh, have pity on me! she begged, almost on her knees.  I’m very poor, so I’ve neither gold nor jewels to offer you.  The only thing I had you’ve already taken, and that is the hen which I was thinking of selling.  Take everything that you find in the house, but leave me here in peace, leave me here to die!

Go ahead! You’re got to go, and if you don’t move along willingly, we’ll tie you.

Sisa broke out into bitter weeping, but those men were inflexible.  At least, let me go ahead of you some distance, she begged, when she felt them take hold of her brutally and push her along.

The soldiers seemed to be somewhat affected and, after whispering apart, one of them said: All right, since from here until we get into the town, you might be able to escape, you’ll walk between us.  Once there you may walk ahead twenty paces, but take care that you don’t delay and that you don’t go into any shop, and don’t stop.  Go ahead, quickly!

Learn this Filipino word:

nagdaláng-habág