Chapter 48:

The Enigma

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Volverán las oscuras golondrinas. [1]


As Lucas had foretold, Ibarra arrived on the following day.  His first visit was to the family of Capitan Tiago for the purpose of seeing Maria Clara and informing her that his Grace had reconciled him with religion, and that he brought to the curate a letter of recommendation in the handwriting of the Archbishop himself.  Aunt Isabel was not a little rejoiced at this, for she liked the young man and did not look favorably on the marriage of her niece with Linares.  Capitan Tiago was not at home.

Come in, said the aunt in her broken Spanish.  Maria, Don Crisostomo is once more in the favor of God.  The Archbishop has discommunicated him.

But the youth was unable to advance, the smile froze on his lips, words failed him.  Standing on the balcony at the side of Maria Clara was Linares, arranging bouquets of flowers and leaves.  Roses and sampaguitas were scattered about on the floor.  Reclining in a big chair, pale, with a sad and pensive air, Maria Clara toyed with an ivory fan which was not whiter than her shapely fingers.

At the appearance of Ibarra, Linares turned pale and Maria Clara’s cheeks flushed crimson.  She tried to rise, but strength failed her, so she dropped her eyes and let the fan fall.  An embarrassed silence prevailed for a few moments.  Ibarra was then able to move forward and murmur tremblingly, I’ve just got back and have come immediately to see you.  I find you better than I had thought I should.

The girl seemed to have been stricken dumb; she neither said anything nor raised her eyes.

Ibarra looked Linares over from head to foot with a stare which the bashful youth bore haughtily.

Well, I see that my arrival was unexpected, said Ibarra slowly.  Maria, pardon me that I didn’t have myself announced.  At some other time I’ll be able to make explanations to you about my conduct.  We’ll still see one another surely.

These last words were accompanied by a look at Linares.  The girl raised toward him her lovely eyes, full of purity and sadness.  They were so beseeching and eloquent that Ibarra stopped in confusion.

May I come tomorrow?

[1] The dark swallows will return.

Learn this Filipino word:

tuntungán ang palayók