Chapter 45: - Page 3 of 6

The Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Why drag out miserable days on foreign soil? I had two sons, a daughter, a home, a fortune, I was esteemed and respected; now I am as a tree shorn of its branches, a wanderer, a fugitive, hunted like a wild beast through the forest, and all for what? Because a man dishonored my daughter, because her brothers called that man’s infamy to account, and because that man is set above his fellows with the title of minister of God! In spite of everything, I, her father, I, dishonored in my old age, forgave the injury, for I was indulgent with the passions of youth and the weakness of the flesh, and in the face of irreparable wrong what could I do but hold my peace and save what remained to me? But the culprit, fearful of vengeance sooner or later, sought the destruction of my sons. Do you know what he did? No? You don’t know, then, that he pretended that there had been a robbery committed in the convento and that one of my sons figured among the accused? The other could not be included because he was in another place at the time. Do you know what tortures they were subjected to? You know of them, for they are the same in all the towns! I, I saw my son hanging by the hair, I heard his cries, I heard him call upon me, and I, coward and lover of peace, hadn’t the courage either to kill or to die! Do you know that the theft was not proved, that it was shown to be a false charge, and that in punishment the curate was transferred to another town, but that my son died as a result of his tortures? The other, the one who was left to me, was not a coward like his father, so our persecutor was still fearful that he would wreak vengeance on him, and, under the pretext of his not having his cedula, [1] which he had not carried with him just at that time, had him arrested by the Civil Guard, mistreated him, enraged and harassed him with insults until he was driven to suicide! And I, I have outlived so much shame; but if I had not the courage of a father to defend my sons, there yet remains to me a heart burning for revenge, and I will have it! The discontented are gathering under my command, my enemies increase my forces, and on the day that I feel myself strong enough I will descend to the lowlands and in flames sate my vengeance and end my own existence. And that day will come or there is no God! [2]

[1] In 1883 the old system of tribute was abolished and in its place a graduated personal tax imposed. The certificate that this tax had been paid, known as the cédula personal, which also served for personal identification, could be required at any time or place, and failure to produce it was cause for summary arrest. It therefore became, in unscrupulous hands, a fruitful source of abuse, since any undesirable against whom no specific charge could be brought might be put out of the way by this means.—TR.

[2] Tanawan or Pateros?—Author’s note. The former is a town in Batangas Province, the latter a village on the northern shore of the Lake of Bay, in what is now Rizal Province.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

nábabago sa matá