Chapter 23: - Page 10 of 10


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The old women did not want to visit the other corral but wished to return, saying that the day had begun inauspiciously and that many more accidents might occur.  All because we didn’t hear mass, sighed one.

But what accident has befallen us, ladies? asked Ibarra.  The cayman seems to have been the only unlucky one.

All of which proves, concluded the ex-student of theology, that in all its sinful life this unfortunate reptile has never attended mass—at least, I’ve never seen him among the many other caymans that frequent the church.

So the boats were turned in the direction of the other corral and Andeng had to get her sinigang ready again.  The day was now well advanced, with a fresh breeze blowing.  The waves curled up behind the body of the cayman, raising mountains of foam whereon the smooth, rich sunlight glitters, as the poet says.  The music again resounded; Iday played on the harp, while the men handled the accordions and guitars with greater or less skill.  The prize-winner was Albino, who actually scratched the instruments, getting out of tune and losing the time every moment or else forgetting it and changing to another tune entirely different.

The second corral was visited with some misgivings, as many expected to find there the mate of the dead cayman, but nature is ever a jester, and the nets came up full at each haul  Aunt Isabel superintended the sorting of the fish and ordered that some be left in the trap for decoys.  It’s not lucky to empty the corral completely, she concluded.

Then they made their way toward the shore near the forest of old trees that belonged to Ibarra.  There in the shade by the clear waters of the brook, among the flowers, they ate their breakfast under improvised canopies.  The space was filled with music while the smoke from the fires curled up in slender wreaths.  The water bubbled cheerfully in the hot dishes as though uttering sounds of consolation, or perchance of sarcasm and irony, to the dead fishes.  The body of the cayman writhed about, sometimes showing its torn white belly and again its speckled greenish back, while man, Nature’s favorite, went on his way undisturbed by what the Brahmins and vegetarians would call so many cases of fratricide.

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