Chapter 46: - Page 4 of 10

The Cockpit

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Whatever you will.

Two, and five hundred?

Three?

Three!

For the next fight after this!

The chorus of curious bystanders and the gamblers spread the news that two celebrated cocks will fight, each of which has a history and a well-earned reputation.  All wish to see and examine the two celebrities, opinions are offered, prophecies are made.

Meanwhile, the murmur of the voices grows, the confusion increases, the Rueda is broken into, the seats are filled.  The skilled attendants carry the two cocks into the arena, a white and a red, already armed but with the gaffs still sheathed. Cries are heard, On the white! On the white! while some other voice answers, On the red! The odds are on the white, he is the favorite; the red is the outsider, the dejado.

Members of the Civil Guard move about in the crowd.  They are not dressed in the uniform of that meritorious corps, but neither are they in civilian costume.  Trousers of guingón with a red stripe, a camisa stained blue from the faded blouse, and a service-cap, make up their costume, in keeping with their deportment; they make bets and keep watch, they raise disturbances and talk of keeping the peace.

While the spectators are yelling, waving their hands, flourishing and clinking pieces of silver; while they search in their pockets for the last coin, or, in the lack of such, try to pledge their word, promising to sell the carabao or the next crop, two boys, brothers apparently, follow the bettors with wistful eyes, loiter about, murmur timid words to which no one listens, become more and more gloomy and gaze at one another ill-humoredly and dejectedly.  Lucas watches them covertly, smiles malignantly, jingles his silver, passes close to them, and gazing into the Rueda, cries out:

Fifty, fifty to twenty on the white!

The two brothers exchange glances.

I told you, muttered the elder, that you shouldn’t have put up all the money.  If you had listened to me we should now have something to bet on the red.

Learn this Filipino word:

buháy-manók