Chapter 25: - Page 3 of 8

In the House of the Sage

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The alferez’s woman, whom you didn’t invite to your picnic.  Yesterday morning the incident of the cayman became known through the town.  The Muse of the Civil Guard is as astute as she is malignant and she guessed that the pilot must be the bold person who threw her husband into the mudhole and who assaulted Padre Damaso.  As she reads all the reports that her husband is to receive, scarcely had he got back home, drunk and not knowing what he was doing, when to revenge herself on you she sent the sergeant with the soldiers to disturb the merriment of your picnic.  Be careful! Eve was a good woman, sprung from the hands of God—they say that Doña Consolacion is evil and it’s not known whose hands she came from! In order to be good, a woman needs to have been, at least sometime, either a maid or a mother.

Ibarra smiled slightly and replied by taking some documents from his pocketbook.  My dead father used to consult you in some things and I recall that he had only to congratulate himself on following your advice.  I have on hand a little enterprise, the success of which I must assure.  Here he explained briefly his plan for the school, which he had offered to his fiancée, spreading out in view of the astonished Sage some plans which had been prepared in Manila.

I would like to have you advise me as to what persons in the town I must first win over in order to assure the success of the undertaking.  You know the inhabitants well, while I have just arrived and am almost a stranger in my own country.

Old Tasio examined the plans before him with tear-dimmed eyes.  What you are going to do has been my dream, the dream of a poor lunatic! he exclaimed with emotion.  And now the first thing that I advise you to do is never to come to consult with me.

The youth gazed at him in surprise.

Because the sensible people, he continued with bitter irony, would take you for a madman also.  The people consider madmen those who do not think as they do, so they hold me as such, which I appreciate, because the day in which they think me returned to sanity, they will deprive me of the little liberty that I’ve purchased at the expense of the reputation of being a sane individual.  And who knows but they are right? I do not live according to their rules, my principles and ideals are different.  The gobernadorcillo enjoys among them the reputation of being a wise man because he learned nothing more than to serve chocolate and to put up with Padre Damaso’s bad humor, so now he is wealthy, he disturbs the petty destinies of his fellow-townsmen, and at times he even talks of justice.  ‘That’s a man of talent,’ think the vulgar, ‘look how from nothing he has made himself great!’ But I, I inherited fortune and position, I have studied, and now I am poor, I am not trusted with the most ridiculous office, and all say, ‘He’s a fool! He doesn’t know how to live!’ The curate calls me ‘philosopher’ as a nickname and gives to understand that I am a charlatan who is making a show of what I learned in the higher schools, when that is exactly what benefits me the least. Perhaps I really am the fool and they the wise ones—who can say?

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