Chapter 39: - Page 2 of 7

Doña Consolacion

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Never had the dark face of this lady been such as to inspire confidence in any one, not even when she painted, but that morning it greatly worried the servants, especially when they saw her move about the house from one part to another, silently, as if meditating something terrible or malign. Her glance reflected the look that springs from the eyes of a serpent when caught and about to be crushed; it was cold, luminous, and penetrating, with something fascinating, loathsome, and cruel in it. The most insignificant error, the least unusual noise, drew from her a vile insult that struck into the soul, but no one answered her, for to excuse oneself would have been an additional fault.

So the day passed. Not encountering any obstacle that would block her way,—her husband had been invited out,—she became saturated with bile, the cells of her whole organism seemed to become charged with electricity which threatened to burst in a storm of hate. Everything about her folded up as do the flowers at the first breath of the hurricane, so she met with no resistance nor found any point or high place to discharge her evil humor. The soldiers and servants kept away from her. That she might not hear the sounds of rejoicing outside she had ordered the windows closed and charged the sentinel to let no one enter. She tied a handkerchief around her head as if to keep it from bursting and, in spite of the fact that the sun was still shining, ordered the lamps to be lighted.

Sisa, as we saw, had been arrested as a disturber of the peace and taken to the barracks. The alferez was not then present, so the unfortunate woman had had to spend the night there seated on a bench in an abandoned attitude. The next day the alferez saw her, and fearing for her in those days of confusion nor caring to risk a disagreeable scene, he had charged the soldiers to look after her, to treat her kindly, and to give her something to eat. Thus the madwoman spent two days.

Tonight, whether the nearness to the house of Capitan Tiago had brought to her Maria Clara’s sad song or whether other recollections awoke in her old melodies, whatever the cause, Sisa also began to sing in a sweet and melancholy voice the kundíman of her youth. The soldiers heard her and fell silent; those airs awoke old memories of the days before they had been corrupted. Doña Consolacion also heard them in her tedium, and on learning who it was that sang, after a few moments of meditation, ordered that Sisa be brought to her instantly. Something like a smile wandered over her dry lips.

When Sisa was brought in she came calmly, showing neither wonder nor fear. She seemed to see no lady or mistress, and this wounded the vanity of the Muse, who endeavored to inspire respect and fear. She coughed, made a sign to the soldiers to leave her, and taking down her husband’s whip, said to the crazy woman in a sinister tone, Come on, magcantar icau! [2]

[2] Magcanta-ca! (You) sing!TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

hinipang pantóg