Chapter 46: - Page 7 of 10

The Cockpit

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The ground becomes strewn with red and white feathers dyed in blood, but the contest is not for the first blood; the Filipino, carrying out the laws dictated by his government, wishes it to be to the death or until one or the other turns tail and runs.  Blood covers the ground, the blows are more numerous, but victory still hangs in the balance.  At last, with a supreme effort, the white throws himself forward for a final stroke, fastens his gaff in the wing of the red and catches it between the bones.  But the white himself has been wounded in the breast and both are weak and feeble from loss of blood.  Breathless, their strength spent, caught one against the other, they remain motionless until the white, with blood pouring from his beak, falls, kicking his death-throes.  The red remains at his side with his wing caught, then slowly doubles up his legs and gently closes his eyes.

Then the referee, in accordance with the rule prescribed by the government, declares the red the winner.  A savage yell greets the decision, a yell that is heard over the whole town, even and prolonged.  He who hears this from afar then knows that the winner is the one against which the odds were placed, or the joy would not be so lasting.  The same happens with the nations: when a small one gains a victory over a large one, it is sung and recounted from age to age.

You see now! said Bruno dejectedly to his brother, if you had listened to me we should now have a hundred pesos.  You’re the cause of our being penniless.

Tarsilo did not answer, but gazed about him as if looking for some one.

There he is, talking to Pedro, added Bruno.  He’s giving him money, lots of money!

True it was that Lucas was counting silver coins into the hand of Sisa’s husband.  The two then exchanged some words in secret and separated, apparently satisfied.

Pedro must have agreed.  That’s what it is to be decided, sighed Bruno.

Tarsilo remained gloomy and thoughtful, wiping away with the cuff of his camisa the perspiration that ran down his forehead.

Brother, said Bruno, I’m going to accept, if you don’t decide.  The law [3] continues, the lásak must win and we ought not to lose any chance.  I want to bet on the next fight.  What’s the difference? We’ll revenge our father.

[3] It is a superstition of the cockpit that the color of the victor in the first bout decides the winners for that session: thus, the red having won, the lásak, in whose plumage a red color predominates, should be the victor in the succeeding bout.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

malambót ang pusò