Chapter 45: - Page 2 of 6

The Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Upon the arrival of Elias and his guide the figures partly rose, but at a signal from the latter they settled back again, satisfying themselves with the observation that the newcomer was unarmed. The old man turned his head slowly and saw the quiet figure of Elias, who stood uncovered, gazing at him with sad interest.

It’s you at last, murmured the old man, his gaze lighting up somewhat as he recognized the youth.

In what condition do I find you! exclaimed the youth in a suppressed tone, shaking his head.

The old man dropped his head in silence and made a sign to the others, who arose and withdrew, first taking the measure of the pilot’s muscles and stature with a glance.

Yes! said the old man to Elias as soon as they were alone. Six months ago when I sheltered you in my house, it was I who pitied you. Now we have changed parts and it is you who pity me. But sit down and tell me how you got here.

It’s fifteen days now since I was told of your misfortune, began the young man slowly in a low voice as he stared at the light. I started at once and have been seeking you from mountain to mountain. I’ve traveled over nearly the whole of two provinces.

In order not to shed innocent blood, continued the old man, I have had to flee. My enemies were afraid to show themselves. I was confronted merely with some unfortunates who have never done me the least harm.

After a brief pause during which he seemed to be occupied in trying to read the thoughts in the dark countenance of the old man, Elias replied: I’ve come to make a proposition to you. Having sought in vain for some survivor of the family that caused the misfortunes of mine, I’ve decided to leave the province where I live and move toward the North among the independent pagan tribes. Don’t you want to abandon the life you have entered upon and come with me? I will be your son, since you have lost your own; I have no family, and in you will find a father.

The old man shook his, head in negation, saying, When one at my age makes a desperate resolution, it’s because there is no other recourse. A man who, like myself, has spent his youth and his mature years toiling for the future of himself and his sons; a man who has been submissive to every wish of his superiors, who has conscientiously performed difficult tasks, enduring all that he might live in peace and quiet—when that man, whose blood time has chilled, renounces all his past and foregoes all his future, even on the very brink of the grave, it is because he has with mature judgment decided that peace does not exist and that it is not the highest good. 

Learn this Filipino word:

matabá ang bulsá