Chapter 39: - Page 6 of 7

Doña Consolacion

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The madwoman looked at her with wandering, expressionless eyes, while the alfereza lifted one of her arms, then the other, and shook them, but to no purpose, for Sisa did not understand. Then she began to jump about and shake herself, encouraging Sisa to imitate her. In the distance was to be heard the music of the procession playing a grave and majestic march, but Doña Consolacion danced furiously, keeping other time to other music resounding within her. Sisa gazed at her without moving, while her eyes expressed curiosity and something like a weak smile hovered around her pallid lips: the lady’s dancing amused her. The latter stopped as if ashamed, raised the whip,—that terrible whip known to thieves and soldiers, made in Ulango [5] and perfected by the alferez with twisted wires,—and said, Now it’s your turn to dance—dance!

She began to strike the madwoman’s bare feet gently with the whip. Sisa’s face drew up with pain and she was forced to protect herself with her hands.

Aha, now you’re starting! she exclaimed with savage joy, passing from lento to allegro vivace.

The afflicted Sisa gave a cry of pain and quickly raised her foot.

You’ve got to dance, you Indian—! The whip swung and whistled.

Sisa let herself fall to the floor and placed both hands on her knees while she gazed at her tormentor with wildly-staring eyes. Two sharp cuts of the whip on her shoulder made her stand up, and it was not merely a cry but a howl that the unfortunate woman uttered. Her thin camisa was torn, her skin broken, and the blood was flowing.

The sight of blood arouses the tiger; the blood of her victim aroused Doña Consolacion. Dance, damn you, dance! Evil to the mother who bore you! she cried. Dance, or I’ll flog you to death! She then caught Sisa with one hand and, whipping her with the other, began to dance about.

The crazy woman at last understood and followed the example by swinging her arms about awkwardly. A smile of satisfaction curled the lips of her teacher, the smile of a female Mephistopheles who succeeds in getting a great pupil. There were in it hate, disdain, jest, and cruelty; with a burst of demoniacal laughter she could not have expressed more.

Thus, absorbed in the joy of the sight, she was not aware of the arrival of her husband until he opened the door with a loud kick. The alferez appeared pale and gloomy, and when he saw what was going on he threw a terrible glance at his wife, who did not move from her place but stood smiling at him cynically.

The alferez put his hand as gently as he could on the shoulder of the strange dancer and made her stop. The crazy woman sighed and sank slowly to the floor covered with her own blood.

[5] A barrio of Tanawan, Batangas, noted for the manufacture of horsewhips.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

tumútulò ang laway