Chapter 3: - Page 3 of 5

The Dinner

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Almost seven years.

Then you have probably forgotten all about it.

Quite the contrary.  Even if my country does seem to have forgotten me, I have always thought about it.

How do you mean that it has forgotten you? inquired the rubicund youth.

I mean that it has been a year since I have received any news from here, so that I find myself a stranger who does not yet know how and when his father died.

This statement drew a sudden exclamation from the lieutenant.

And where were you that you didn’t telegraph? asked Doña Victorina.  When we were married we telegraphed to the Peñinsula.[3]

Señora, for the past two years I have been in the northern part of Europe, in Germany and Russian Poland.

Doctor De Espadaña, who until now had not ventured upon any conversation, thought this a good opportunity to say something. I—I knew in S-spain a P-pole from W-warsaw, c-called S-stadtnitzki, if I r-remember c- correctly. P-perhaps you s-saw him? he asked timidly and almost blushingly.

It’s very likely, answered Ibarra in a friendly manner, but just at this moment I don’t recall him.

B-but you c-couldn’t have c-confused him with anyone else, went on the Doctor, taking courage.  He was r-ruddy as gold and t-talked Spanish very b-badly.

Those are good clues, but unfortunately while there I talked Spanish only in a few consulates.

How then did you get along? asked the wondering Doña Victorina.

The language of the country served my needs, madam.

Do you also speak English? inquired the Dominican, who had been in Hongkong, and who was a master of pidgin-English, that adulteration of Shakespeare’s tongue used by the sons of the Celestial Empire.

[3] For Peninsula, i.e., Spain. The change of n to ñ was common among ignorant Filipinos.—TR.

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