Chapter 24: - Page 6 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Gentlemen! interrupted Ibarra, seeing that the alferez had grown pale.  In this connection I should like to have your opinion about a project of mine. I’m thinking of putting this crazy woman under the care of a skilful physician and, in the meantime, with your aid and advice, I’ll search for her sons.

The return of the servants without the madwoman, whom they had been unable to find, brought peace by turning the conversation to other matters.

The meal ended, and while the tea and coffee were being served, both old and young scattered about in different groups.  Some took the chessmen, others the cards, while the girls, curious about the future, chose to put questions to a Wheel of Fortune.

Come, Señor Ibarra, called Capitan Basilio in merry mood, we have a lawsuit fifteen years old, and there isn’t a judge in the Audiencia who can settle it.  Let’s see if we can’t end it on the chess-board.

With the greatest pleasure, replied the youth.  Just wait a moment, the alferez is leaving.

Upon hearing about this match all the old men who understood chess gathered around the board, for it promised to be an interesting one, and attracted even spectators who were not familiar with the game.  The old women, however, surrounded the curate in order to converse with him about spiritual matters, but Fray Salvi apparently did not consider the place and time appropriate, for he gave vague answers and his sad, rather bored, looks wandered in all directions except toward his questioners.

The chess-match began with great solemnity.  If this game ends in a draw, it’s understood that the lawsuit is to be dropped, said Ibarra.

In the midst of the game Ibarra received a telegram which caused his eyes to shine and his face to become pale.  He put it into his pocketbook, at the same time glancing toward the group of young people, who were still with laughter and shouts putting questions to Destiny.

Check to the king! called the youth.

Capitan Basilio had no other recourse than to hide the piece behind the queen.

Check to the queen! called the youth as he threatened that piece with a rook which was defended by a pawn.

Being unable to protect the queen or to withdraw the piece on account of the king behind it, Capitan Basilio asked for time to reflect.

Willingly, agreed Ibarra, especially as I have something to say this very minute to those young people in that group over there.  He arose with the agreement that his opponent should have a quarter of an hour.

Learn this Filipino word:

hawang-lamíg