Chapter 23: - Page 3 of 10

Fishing

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Not more than five, ladies, and only about so large, the ex-theological student assured them, indicating the circle formed with his index finger and thumb.  Press hard on the plugs so that they won’t come out.

María Santísima! The water’s coming in, cried an old woman who felt herself already getting wet.

There now arose a small tumult; some screamed, while others thought of jumping into the water.

Press hard on the plugs there! repeated Albino, pointing toward the place where the girls were.

Where, where? Diós! We don’t know how! For pity’s sake come here, for we don’t know how! begged the frightened women.

It was accordingly necessary for five of the young men to get over into the other banka to calm the terrified mothers.  But by some strange chance it seemed that there was danger by the side of each of the dalagas; all the old ladies together did not have a single dangerous hole near them! Still more strange it was that Ibarra had to be seated by the side of Maria Clara, Albino beside Victoria, and so on.  Quiet was restored among the solicitous mothers but not in the circle of the young people.

As the water was perfectly still, the fish-corrals not far away, and the hour yet early, it was decided to abandon the oars so that all might partake of some refreshment.  Dawn had now come, so the lanterns were extinguished.

There’s nothing to compare with salabat, drunk in the morning before going to mass, said Capitana Tika, mother of the merry Sinang.  Drink some salabat and eat a rice-cake, Albino, and you’ll see that even you will want to pray.

That’s what I’m doing, answered the youth addressed.  I’m thinking of confessing myself.

No, said Sinang, drink some coffee to bring merry thoughts.

I will, at once, because I feel a trifle sad.

Don’t do that, advised Aunt Isabel.  Drink some tea and eat a few crackers.  They say that tea calms one’s thoughts.

I’ll also take some tea and crackers, answered the complaisant youth, since fortunately none of these drinks is Catholicism.

But, can you— Victoria began.

Drink some chocolate also? Well, I guess so, since breakfast is not so far off.

The morning was beautiful.  The water began to gleam with the light reflected from the sky with such clearness that every object stood revealed without producing a shadow, a bright, fresh clearness permeated with color, such as we get a hint of in some marine paintings.  All were now merry as they breathed in the light breeze that began to arise.  Even the mothers, so full of cautions and warnings, now laughed and joked among themselves.

Learn this Filipino word:

náraratay sa baníg