Chapter 39: - Page 7 of 7

Doña Consolacion

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The silence continued. The alferez breathed heavily, while his wife watched him with questioning eyes. She picked up the whip and asked in a smooth, soft voice, What’s the matter with you? You haven’t even wished me good evening.

The alferez did not answer, but instead called the boy and said to him, Take this woman away and tell Marta to get her some other clothes and attend to her. You give her something to eat and a good bed. Take care that she isn’t ill-treated! Tomorrow she’ll be taken to Señor Ibarra’s house.

Then he closed the door carefully, bolted it, and approached his wife. You’re tempting me to kill you! he exclaimed, doubling up his fists.

What’s the matter with you? she asked, rising and drawing away from him.

What’s the matter with me! he yelled in a voice of thunder, letting out an oath and holding up before her a sheet of paper covered with scrawls. Didn’t you write this letter to the alcalde saying that I’m bribed to permit gambling, huh? I don’t know why I don’t beat you to death.

Let’s see you! Let’s see you try it if you dare! she replied with a jeering laugh. The one who beats me to death has got to be more of a man than you are!

He heard the insult, but saw the whip. Catching up a plate from the table, he threw it at her head, but she, accustomed to such fights, dodged quickly and the plate was shattered against the wall. A cup and saucer met with a similar fate.

Coward! she yelled; you’re afraid to come near me! And to exasperate him the more, she spat upon him.

The alferez went blind from rage and with a roar attempted to throw himself upon her, but she, with astonishing quickness, hit him across the face with the whip and ran hurriedly into an inner room, shutting and bolting the door violently behind her. Bellowing with rage and pain, he followed, but was only able to run against the door, which made him vomit oaths.

Accursed be your offspring, you sow! Open, open, or I’ll break your head! he howled, beating the door with his hands and feet.

No answer was heard, but instead the scraping of chairs and trunks as if she was building a barricade with the furniture. The house shook under the kicks and curses of the alferez.

Don’t come in, don’t come in! called the sour voice inside. If you show yourself, I’ll shoot you.

By degrees he appeared to become calm and contented himself with walking up and down the room like a wild beast in its cage.

Go out into the street and cool off your head! the woman continued to jeer at him, as she now seemed to have completed her preparations for defense.

I swear that if I catch you, even God won’t save you, you old sow!

Yes, now you can say what you like. You didn’t want me to go to mass! You didn’t let me attend to my religious duties! she answered with such sarcasm as only she knew how to use.

The alferez put on his helmet, arranged his clothing a little, and went out with heavy steps, but returned after a few minutes without making the least noise, having taken off his shoes. The servants, accustomed to these brawls, were usually bored, but this novelty of the shoes attracted their attention, so they winked to one another. The alferez sat down quietly in a chair at the side of the Sublime Port and had the patience to wait for more than half an hour.

Have you really gone out or are you still there, old goat? asked the voice from time to time, changing the epithets and raising the tone. At last she began to take away the furniture piece by piece. He heard the noise and smiled.

Boy, has your master gone out? cried Doña Consolacion.

At a sign from the alferez the boy answered, Yes, señora, he’s gone out.

A gleeful laugh was heard from her as she pulled back the bolt. Slowly her husband arose, the door opened a little way—

A yell, the sound of a falling body, oaths, howls, curses, blows, hoarse voices—who can tell what took place in the darkness of that room?

As the boy went out into the kitchen he made a significant sign to the cook, who said to him, You’ll pay for that.

I? In any case the whole town will! She asked me if he had gone out, not if he had come back!

Learn this Filipino word:

kumákain ng bala