Chapter 46: - Page 6 of 10

The Cockpit

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Sadly and silently the two brothers draw nearer to the ring until their foreheads are pressed against the railing.  A man approaches them and calls into their ears, Pare, [2] a hundred to ten on the white!

Tarsilo stares at him in a foolish way and responds to Bruno’s nudge with a grunt.

The starters hold the cocks with skilful delicacy, taking care not to wound themselves.  A solemn silence reigns; the spectators seem to be changed into hideous wax figures.  They present one cock to the other, holding his head down so that the other may peck at it and thus irritate him.  Then the other is given a like opportunity, for in every duel there must be fair play, whether it is a question of Parisian cocks or Filipino cocks.  Afterwards, they hold them up in sight of each other, close together, so that each of the enraged little creatures may see who it is that has pulled out a feather, and with whom he must fight.  Their neck-feathers bristle up as they gaze at each other fixedly with flashes of anger darting from their little round eyes.  Now the moment has come; the attendants place them on the ground a short distance apart and leave them a clear field.

Slowly they advance, their footfalls are, audible on the hard ground.  No one in the crowd speaks, no one breathes.  Raising and lowering their heads as if to gauge one another with a look, the two cocks utter sounds of defiance and contempt.  Each sees the bright blade throwing out its cold, bluish reflections.  The danger animates them and they rush directly toward each other, but a pace apart they check themselves with fixed gaze and bristling plumage.  At that moment their little heads are filled with a rush of blood, their anger flashes forth, and they hurl themselves together with instinctive valor.  They strike beak to beak, breast to breast, gaff to gaff, wing to wing, but the blows are skilfully parried, only a few feathers fall.  Again they size each other up: suddenly the white rises on his wings, brandishing the deadly knife, but the red has bent his legs and lowered his head, so the white smites only the empty air.  Then on touching the ground the white, fearing a blow from behind, turns quickly to face his adversary. The red attacks him furiously, but he defends himself calmly—not undeservedly is he the favorite of the spectators, all of whom tremulously and anxiously follow the fortunes of the fight, only here and there an involuntary cry being heard.

[2] Another form of the corruption of compadre, friend, neighbor.TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

sirâ ang baít