Chapter 26: - Page 5 of 6

The Eve of the Fiesta

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Some distance away were seen two kiosks united by a kind of arbor covered with banana leaves.  The schoolmaster and some thirty boys were weaving crowns and fastening banners upon the frail bamboo posts, which were wrapped in white cloth.

Take care that the letters are well written, he admonished the boys who were preparing inscriptions.  The alcalde is coming, many curates will be present, perhaps even the Captain-General, who is now in the province.  If they see that you draw well, maybe they’ll praise you.

And give us a blackboard?

Perhaps, but Señor Ibarra has already ordered one from Manila.  Tomorrow some things will come to be distributed among you as prizes.  Leave those flowers in the water and tomorrow we’ll make the bouquets.  Bring more flowers, for it’s necessary that the table be covered with them—flowers please the eye.

My father will bring some water-lilies and a basket of sampaguitas tomorrow.

Mine has brought three cartloads of sand without pay.

My uncle has promised to pay a teacher, added a nephew of Capitan Basilio.

Truly, the project was receiving help from all.  The curate had asked to stand sponsor for it and himself bless the laying of the corner-stone, a ceremony to take place on the last day of the fiesta as one of its greatest solemnities.  The very coadjutor had timidly approached Ibarra with an offer of all the fees for masses that the devout would pay until the building was finished.  Even more, the rich and economical Sister Rufa had declared that if money should be lacking she would canvass other towns and beg for alms, with the mere condition that she be paid her expenses for travel and subsistence.  Ibarra thanked them all, as he answered, We aren’t going to have anything very great, since I am not rich and this building is not a church.  Besides, I didn’t undertake to erect it at the expense of others.

The younger men, students from Manila, who had come to take part in the fiesta, gazed at him in admiration and took him for a model; but, as it nearly always happens, when we wish to imitate great men, that we copy only their foibles and even their defects, since we are capable of nothing else, so many of these admirers took note of the way in which he tied his cravat, others of the style of his collar, and not a few of the number of buttons on his coat and vest.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibilang sa walâ