Chapter 24: - Page 9 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Yes, we’re at peace, repeated the youth, whatever the decision of the court may be.  And the two shook hands cordially.

While all present were rejoicing over this happy termination of a quarrel of which both parties were tired, the sudden arrival of a sergeant and four soldiers of the Civil Guard, all armed and with bayonets fixed, disturbed the mirth and caused fright among the women.

Keep still, everybody! shouted the sergeant.  Shoot any one who moves!

In spite of this blustering command, Ibarra arose and approached the sergeant.  What do you want? he asked.

That you deliver to us at once a criminal named Elias, who was your pilot this morning, was the threatening reply.

A criminal—the pilot? You must be mistaken, answered Ibarra.

No, sir, this Elias has just been accused of putting his hand on a priest—

Oh, was that the pilot?

The very same, according to reports.  You admit persons of bad character into your fiestas, Señor Ibarra.

Ibarra looked him over from head to foot and replied with great disdain, I don’t have to give you an account of my actions! At our fiestas all are welcome.  Had you yourself come, you would have found a place at our table, just as did your alferez, who was with us a couple of hours ago. With this he turned his back.

The sergeant gnawed at the ends of his mustache but, considering himself the weaker party, ordered the soldiers to institute a search, especially among the trees, for the pilot, a description of whom he carried on a piece of paper.

Don Filipo said to him, Notice that this description fits nine tenths of the natives.  Don’t make any false move!

After a time the soldiers returned with the report that they had been unable to see either banka or man that could be called suspicious-looking, so the sergeant muttered a few words and went away as he had come—in the manner of the Civil Guard!

The merriment was little by little restored, amid questions and comments.

So that’s the Elias who threw the alferez into the mudhole, said Leon thoughtfully.

How did that happen? How was it? asked some of the more curious.

Learn this Filipino word:

kapit