Chapter 3: - Page 4 of 5

The Dinner

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

I stayed in England a year among people who talked nothing but English.

Which country of Europe pleased you the most? asked the rubicund youth.

After Spain, my second fatherland, any country of free Europe.

And you who seem to have traveled so much, tell us what do you consider the most notable thing that you have seen? inquired Laruja.

Ibarra appeared to reflect.  Notable—in what way?

For example, in regard to the life of the people—the social, political, religious life—in general, in its essential features—as a whole.

Ibarra paused thoughtfully before replying.  Frankly, I like everything in those people, setting aside the national pride of each one.  But before visiting a country, I tried to familiarize myself with its history, its Exodus, if I may so speak, and afterwards I found everything quite natural.  I have observed that the prosperity or misery of each people is in direct proportion to its liberties or its prejudices and, accordingly, to the sacrifices or the  selfishness of its forefathers.

And haven’t you observed anything more than that? broke in the Franciscan with a sneer.  Since the beginning of the dinner he had not uttered a single word, his whole attention having been taking up, no doubt, with the food.  It wasn’t worthwhile to squander your fortune to learn so trifling a thing.  Any schoolboy knows that.

Ibarra was placed in an embarrassing position, and the rest looked from one to the other as if fearing a disagreeable scene.  He was about to say, The dinner is nearly over and his Reverence is now satiated, but restrained himself and merely remarked to the others, Gentlemen, don’t be surprised at the familiarity with which our former curate treats me.  He treated me so when I was a child, and the years seem to make no difference in his Reverence.  I appreciate it, too, because it recalls the days when his Reverence visited our home and honored my father’s table.

The Dominican glanced furtively at the Franciscan, who was trembling visibly.  Ibarra continued as he rose from the table: You will now permit me to retire, since, as I have just arrived and must go away tomorrow morning, there remain some important business matters for me to attend to.  The principal part of the dinner is over and I drink but little wine and seldom touch cordials.  Gentlemen, all for Spain and the Philippines!  Saying this, he drained his glass, which he had not before touched.  The old lieutenant silently followed his example.

Don’t go! whispered Capitan Tiago.  Maria Clara will be here.  Isabel has gone to get her.  The new curate of your town, who is a saint, is also coming.

I’ll call tomorrow before starting.  I’ve a very important visit to make now.  With this he went away.

Learn this Filipino word: