Chapter 40: - Page 5 of 6

Right and Might

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

One man was beating himself on the arm and begging for confession. Plaintive sounds issued from under the overturned benches—it was a poor musician. The stage was crowded with actors and spectators, all talking at the same time. There was Chananay dressed as Leonor in Il Trovatore, talking in the language of the markets to Ratia in the costume of a schoolmaster; Yeyeng, wrapped in a silk shawl, was clinging to the Prince Villardo; while Balbino and the Moros were exerting themselves to console the more or less injured musicians. [1] Several Spaniards went from group to group haranguing every one they met.

A large crowd was forming, whose intention Don Filipo seemed to be aware of, for he ran to stop them. Don’t disturb the peace! he cried. Tomorrow we’ll ask for an accounting and we’ll get justice. I’ll answer for it that we get justice!

No! was the reply of severalThey did the same thing in Kalamba, [2] the same promise was made, but the alcalde did nothing. We’ll take the law into our own hands! To the barracks!

In vain the teniente-mayor pleaded with them. The crowd maintained its hostile attitude, so he looked about him for help and noticed Ibarra.

Señor Ibarra, as a favor! Restrain them while I get some cuadrilleros.

What can I do? asked the perplexed youth, but the teniente-mayor was already at a distance. He gazed about him seeking he knew not whom, when accidentally he discerned Elias, who stood impassively watching the disturbance.

Ibarra ran to him, caught him by the arm, and said to him in Spanish: For God’s sake, do something, if you can! I can’t do anything. The pilot must have understood him, for he disappeared in the crowd. Lively disputes and sharp exclamations were heard. Gradually the crowd began to break up, its members each taking a less hostile attitude. It was high time, indeed, for the soldiers were already rushing out armed and with fixed bayonets.

Meanwhile, what had the curate been doing? Padre Salvi had not gone to bed but had stood motionless, resting his forehead against the curtains and gazing toward the plaza. From time to time a suppressed sigh escaped him, and if the light of the lamp had not been so dim, perhaps it would have been possible to see his eyes fill with tears. Thus nearly an hour passed.

[1] The actors named were real persons. Ratia was a Spanish-Filipino who acquired quite a reputation not only in Manila but also in Spain. He died in Manila in 1910.—TR.

[2] In the year 1879.—Author’s note.

Learn this Filipino word:

parang asong ulól