Chapter 33:

Free Thought

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Ibarra was just putting the finishing touches to a change of clothing when a servant informed him that a countryman was asking for him.  Supposing it to be one of his laborers, he ordered that he be brought into his office, or study, which was at the same time a library and a chemical laboratory.  Greatly to his surprise he found himself face to face with the severe and mysterious figure of Elias.

You saved my life, said the pilot in Tagalog, noticing Ibarra’s start of surprise.  I have partly paid the debt and you have nothing to thank me for, but quite the opposite.  I’ve come to ask a favor of you.

Speak! answered the youth in the same language, puzzled by the pilot’s gravity.

Elias stared into Ibarra’s eyes for some seconds before he replied, When human courts try to clear up this mystery, I beg of you not to speak to any one of the warning that I gave you in the church.

Don’t worry, answered the youth in a rather disgusted tone.  I know that you’re wanted, but I’m no informer.

Oh, it’s not on my account, not on my account! exclaimed Elias with some vigor and haughtiness.  It’s on your own account.  I fear nothing from men.

Ibarra’s surprise increased.  The tone in which this rustics—formerly a pilot—spoke was new and did not seem to harmonize with either his condition or his fortune.  What do you mean? he asked, interrogating that mysterious individual with his looks.

I do not talk in enigmas but try to express myself clearly; for your greater security, it is better that your enemies think you unsuspecting and unprepared.

Ibarra recoiled.  My enemies? Have I enemies?

All of us have them, sir, from the smallest insect up to man, from the poorest and humblest to the richest and most powerful! Enmity is the law of life!

Ibarra gazed at him in silence for a while, then murmured, You are neither a pilot nor a rustic!

You have enemies in high and low places, continued Elias, without heeding the young man’s words.  You are planning a great undertaking, you have a past.  Your father and your grandfather had enemies because they had passions, and in life it is not the criminal who provokes the most hate but the honest man.

Do you know who my enemies are?

Learn this Filipino word:

tao sa mulâ