Chapter 27: - Page 2 of 5

In the Twilight

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

They went downstairs, Maria Clara in the center between Victoria and Iday, Aunt Isabel following.  The people made way for them respectfully.  Maria Clara was startling in her beauty; her pallor was all gone, and if her eyes were still pensive, her mouth on the contrary seemed to know only smiles.  With maiden friendliness the happy young woman greeted the acquaintances of her childhood, now the admirers of her promising youth.  In less than a fortnight she had succeeded in recovering that frank confidence, that childish prattle, which seemed to have been benumbed between the narrow walls of the nunnery.  It might be said that on leaving the cocoon the butterfly recognized all the flowers, for it seemed to be enough for her to spread her wings for a moment and warm herself in the sun’s rays to lose all the stiffness of the chrysalis.  This new life manifested itself in her whole nature. Everything she found good and beautiful, and she showed her love with that maiden modesty which, having never been conscious of any but pure thoughts, knows not the meaning of false blushes.  While she would cover her face when she was teased, still her eyes smiled, and a light thrill would course through her whole being.

The houses were beginning to show lights, and in the streets where the music was moving about there were lighted torches of bamboo and wood made in imitation of those in the church.  From the streets the people in the houses might be seen through the windows in an atmosphere of music and flowers, moving about to the sounds of piano, harp, or orchestra.  Swarming in the streets were Chinese, Spaniards, Filipinos, some dressed in European style, some in the costumes of the country.  Crowding, elbowing, and pushing one another, walked servants carrying meat and chickens, students in white, men and women, all exposing themselves to be knocked down by the carriages which, in spite of the drivers’ cries, made their way with difficulty.

In front of Capitan Basilio’s house some young women called to our acquaintances and invited them to enter.  The merry voice of Sinang as she ran down the stairs put an end to all excuses. Come up a moment so that I may go with you, she said.  I’m bored staying here among so many strangers who talk only of game-cocks and cards.

They were ushered into a large room filled with people, some of whom came forward to greet Ibarra, for his name was now well known.  All gazed in ecstasy at the beauty of Maria Clara and some old women murmured, as they chewed their buyo, She looks like the Virgin!

There they had to have chocolate, as Capitan Basilio had become a warm friend and defender of Ibarra since the day of the picnic.  He had learned from the half of the telegram given to his daughter Sinang that Ibarra had known beforehand about the court’s decision in the latter’s favor, so, not wishing to be outdone in generosity, he had tried to set aside the decision of the chess-match.  But when Ibarra would not consent to this, he had proposed that the money which would have been spent in court fees should be used to pay a teacher in the new school.  In consequence, the orator employed all his eloquence to the end that other litigants should give up their extravagant claims, saying to them, Believe me, in a lawsuit the winner is left without a camisa.  But he had succeeded in convincing no one, even though he cited the Romans.

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