Chapter 42: - Page 7 of 11

The Espadañas

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Very well satisfied with her husband, Doña Victorina had a fine set of false teeth made for him and called in the best tailors of the city to attend to his clothing. She ordered carriages, sent to Batangas and Albay for the best ponies, and even obliged him to keep a pair for the races. Nor did she neglect her own person while she was transforming him. She laid aside the native costume for the European and substituted false frizzes for the simple Filipino coiffure, while her gowns, which fitted her marvelously ill, disturbed the peace of all the quiet neighborhood.

Her husband, who never went out on foot,—she did not care to have his lameness noticed,—took her on lonely drives in unfrequented places to her great sorrow, for she wanted to show him off in public, but she kept quiet out of respect for their honeymoon. The last quarter was coming on when he took up the subject of the rice-powder, telling her that the use of it was false and unnatural. Doña Victorina wrinkled up her eyebrows and stared at his false teeth. He became silent, and she understood his weakness.

She placed a de before her husband’s surname, since the de cost nothing and gave quality to the name, signing herself Victorina de los Reyes de De Espadaña. This de was such a mania with her that neither the stationer nor her husband could get it out of her head. If I write only one de it may be thought that you don’t have it, you fool! she said to her husband. [6]

Soon she believed that she was about to become a mother, so she announced to all her acquaintances, Next month De Espadaña and I are going to the Penyinsula. I don’t want our son to be born here and be called a revolutionist. She talked incessantly of the journey, having memorized the names of the different ports of call, so that it was a treat to hear her talk: I’m going to see the isthmus in the Suez Canal—De Espadaña thinks it very beautiful and De Espadaña has traveled over the whole world. I’ll probably not return to this land of savages. I wasn’t born to live here—Aden or Port Said would suit me better—I’ve thought so ever since I was a girl. In her geography Doña Victorina divided the world into the Philippines and Spain; rather differently from the clever people who divide it into Spain and America or China for another name.

[6] According to Spanish custom, a matron is known by prefixing her maiden name with de (possessive of) to her husband’s name.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

waláng utang-na-loób