Chapter 23: - Page 6 of 10


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

They then asked Maria Clara to sing, but she protested that all her songs were sad ones.  This protest, however, was overruled so she held back no longer.  Taking the harp, she played a short prelude and then sang in a harmonious and vibrating voice full of feeling:

Sweet are the hours in one’s native land,
Where all is dear the sunbeams bless;
Life-giving breezes sweep the strand,
And death is soften’d by love’s caress.

Warm kisses play on mother’s lips,
On her fond, tender breast awaking;
When round her neck the soft arm slips,
And bright eyes smile, all love partaking.

Sweet is death for one’s native land,
Where all is dear the sunbeams bless;
Dead is the breeze that sweeps the strand,
Without a mother, home, or love’s caress.

The song ceased, the voice died away, the harp became silent, and they still listened; no one applauded.  The young women felt their eyes fill with tears, and Ibarra seemed to be unpleasantly affected.  The youthful pilot stared motionless into the distance.

Suddenly a thundering roar was heard, such that the women screamed and covered their ears; it was the ex-theological student blowing with all the strength of his lungs on the tambuli, or carabao horn.  Laughter and cheerfulness returned while tear-dimmed eyes brightened.  Are you trying to deafen us, you heretic? cried Aunt Isabel.

Madam, replied the offender gravely, I once heard of a poor trumpeter on the banks of the Rhine who, by playing on his trumpet, won in marriage a rich and noble maiden.

That’s right, the trumpeter of Sackingen! exclaimed Ibarra, unable to resist taking part in the renewed merriment.

Do you hear that? went on Albino.  Now I want to see if I can’t have the same luck.  So saying, he began to blow with even more force into the resounding horn, holding it close to the ears of the girls who looked saddest.  As might be expected, a small tumult arose and the mothers finally reduced him to silence by beating him with their slippers[1] and pinching him.

[1] The chinela, the Philippine slipper, is a soft leather sole, heelless, with only a vamp, usually of plush or velvet, to hold it on.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

magbilád ng asín