Chapter 23: - Page 5 of 10


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Probably they do, señora, he answered, but no one up to this time has ever seen their nests.

Don’t they have nests?

I suppose they must have them, otherwise they would be very unfortunate.

Maria Clara did not notice the tone of sadness with which he uttered these words.  Then—

It is said, señora, answered the strange youth, that the nests of those birds are invisible and that they have the power of rendering invisible any one who possesses one of them.  Just as the soul can only be seen in the pure mirror of the eyes, so also in the mirror of the water alone can their nests be looked upon.

Maria Clara became sad and thoughtful.  Meanwhile, they had reached the first fish-corral and an aged boatman tied the craft to a post.

Wait! called Aunt Isabel to the son of the fisherman, who was getting ready to climb upon the platform of the corral with his panalok, or fish-net fastened on the end of a stout bamboo pole.  We must get the sinigang ready so that the fish may pass at once from the water into the soup.

Kind Aunt Isabel! exclaimed the ex-theological student.  She doesn’t want the fish to miss the water for an instant!

Andeng, Maria Clara’s foster-sister, in spite of her carefree and happy face, enjoyed the reputation of being an excellent cook, so she set about preparing a soup of rice and vegetables, helped and hindered by some of the young men, eager perhaps to win her favor.  The other young women all busied themselves in cutting up and washing the vegetables.

In order to divert the impatience of those who were waiting to see the fishes taken alive and wriggling from their prison, the beautiful Iday got out the harp, for Iday not only played well on that instrument, but, besides, she had very pretty fingers.  The young people applauded and Maria Clara kissed her, for the harp is the most popular instrument in that province, and was especially suited to this occasion.

Sing the hymn about marriage, begged the old women.  The men protested and Victoria, who had a fine voice, complained of hoarseness.  The Hymn of Marriage is a beautiful Tagalog chant in which are set forth the cares and sorrows of the married state, yet not passing over its joys.

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