Chapter 3:

The Dinner

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Jele, jele, bago quiere. [1]

Fray Sibyla seemed to be very content as he moved along tranquilly with the look of disdain no longer playing about his thin, refined lips.  He even condescended to speak to the lame doctor, De Espadaña, who answered in monosyllables only, as he was somewhat of a stutterer.  The Franciscan was in a frightful humor, kicking at the chairs and even elbowing a cadet out of his way.  The lieutenant was grave while the others talked vivaciously, praising the magnificence of the table.  Doña Victorina, however, was just turning up her nose in disdain when she suddenly became as furious as a trampled serpent—the lieutenant had stepped on the train of her gown.

Haven’t you any eyes? she demanded.

Yes, señora, two better than yours, but the fact is that I was admiring your frizzes, retorted the rather ungallant soldier as he moved away from her.

As if from instinct the two friars both started toward the head of the table, perhaps from habit, and then, as might have been expected, the same thing happened that occurs with the competitors for a university position, who openly exalt the qualifications and superiority of their opponents, later giving to understand that just the contrary was meant, and who murmur and grumble when they do not receive the appointment.

For you, Fray Damaso.

For you, Fray Sibyla.

An older friend of the family—confessor of the deceased lady—age, dignity, and authority—

Not so very old, either! On the other hand, you are the curate of the district, replied Fray Damaso sourly, without taking his hand from the back of the chair.

Since you command it, I obey, concluded Fray Sibyla, disposing himself to take the seat.

I don’t command it! protested the Franciscan. I don’t command it!

[1]He says that he doesn’t want it when it is exactly what he does want. An expression used in the mongrel Spanish-Tagalog ‘market language’ of Manila and Cavite, especially among the children,—somewhat akin to the English ‘sour grapes.’—TR.


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