Chapter 45: - Page 4 of 6

The Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The old man arose trembling. With fiery look and hollow voice, he added, tearing his long hair, Curses, curses upon me that I restrained the avenging hands of my sons—I have murdered them! Had I let the guilty perish, had I confided less in the justice of God and men, I should now have my sons—fugitives, perhaps, but I should have them; they would not have died under torture! I was not born to be a father, so I have them not! Curses upon me that I had not learned with my years to know the conditions under which I lived! But in fire and blood by my own death I will avenge them!

In his paroxysm of grief the unfortunate father tore away the bandage, reopening a wound in his forehead from which gushed a stream of blood.

I respect your sorrow, said Elias, and I understand your desire for revenge. I, too, am like you, and yet from fear of injuring the innocent I prefer to forget my misfortunes.

You can forget because you are young and because you haven’t lost a son, your last hope! But I assure you that I shall injure no innocent one. Do you see this wound? Rather than kill a poor cuadrillero, who was doing his duty, I let him inflict it.

But look, urged Elias, after a moment’s silence, look what a frightful catastrophe you are going to bring down upon our unfortunate people. If you accomplish your revenge by your own hand, your enemies will make terrible reprisals, not against you, not against those who are armed, but against the peaceful, who as usual will be accused—and then the eases of injustice!

Let the people learn to defend themselves, let each one defend himself!

You know that that is impossible. Sir, I knew you in other days when you were happy; then you gave me good advice, will you now permit me—

The old man folded his arms in an attitude of attention. Sir, continued Elias, weighing his words well, I have had the good fortune to render a service to a young man who is rich, generous, noble, and who desires the welfare of his country. They say that this young man has friends in Madrid—I don’t know myself—but I can assure you that he is a friend of the Captain-General’s. What do you say that we make him the bearer of the people’s complaints, if we interest him in the cause of the unhappy?

Learn this Filipino word:

salamíng-babasagín