Chapter 33: - Page 2 of 3

Free Thought

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Elias meditated for a moment.  I knew one—him who is dead, he finally answered.  Last night I learned that a plot against you was being hatched, from some words exchanged with an unknown person who lost himself in the crowd.  ‘The fish will not eat him, as they did his father; you’ll see tomorrow,’ the unknown said.  These words caught my attention not only by their meaning but also on account of the person who uttered them, for he had some days before presented himself to the foreman on the work with the express request that he be allowed to superintend the placing of the stone.  He didn’t ask for much pay but made a show of great knowledge.  I hadn’t sufficient reason for believing in his bad intentions, but something within told me that my conjectures were true and therefore I chose as the suitable occasion to warn you a moment when you could not ask me any questions.  The rest you have seen for yourself.

For a long time after Elias had become silent Ibarra remained thoughtful, not answering him or saying a word.  I’m sorry that that man is dead! he exclaimed at length.  From him something more might have been learned.

If he had lived, he would have escaped from the trembling hand of blind human justice.  God has judged him, God has killed him, let God be the only Judge!

Crisostomo gazed for a moment at the man, who, while he spoke thus, exposed his muscular arms covered with lumps and bruises.  Do you also believe in the miracle? he asked with a smile.  You know what a miracle the people are talking about.

Were I to believe in miracles, I should not believe in God.  I should believe in a deified man, I should believe that man had really created a god in his own image and likeness, the mysterious pilot answered solemnly.  But I believe in Him, I have felt His hand more than once.  When the whole apparatus was falling down and threatening destruction to all who happened to be near it, I, I myself, caught the criminal, I placed myself at his side.  He was struck and I am safe and sound.

You! So it was you—

Yes! I caught him when he tried to escape, once his deadly work had begun.  I saw his crime, and I say this to you: let God be the sole judge among men, let Him be the only one to have the right over life, let no man ever think to take His place!

But you in this instance—

No! interrupted Elias, guessing the objection.  It’s not the same.  When a man condemns others to death or destroys their future forever he does it with impunity and uses the strength of others to execute his judgments, which after all may be mistaken or erroneous.  But I, in exposing the criminal to the same peril that he had prepared for others, incurred the same risk as he did.  I did not kill him, but let the hand of God smite him.

Learn this Filipino word:

saanmáng gubat ay may ahas