Chapter 49: - Page 8 of 9

The Voice of the Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Oh! exclaimed Elias dejectedly, throwing the paddle clown in the banka, I did not believe that you would have so poor an idea of the government and of the country.  Why don’t you condemn both? What would you say of the members of a family that dwells in peace only through the intervention of an outsider: a country that is obedient because it is deceived; a government that commands be, cause it avails itself of fraud, a government that does not know how to make itself loved or respected for its own sake? Pardon me, sir, but I believe that our government is stupid and is working its own ruin when it rejoices that such is the belief.  I thank you for your kindness, where do you wish me to take you now?

No, replied Ibarra, let us talk; it is necessary to see who is right on such an important subject.

Pardon me, sir, replied Elias, shaking his head, but I haven’t the eloquence to convince you.  Even though I have had some education I am still an Indian, my way of life seems to you a precarious one, and my words will always seem to you suspicious.  Those who have given voice to the opposite opinion are Spaniards, and as such, even though they may speak idly and foolishly, their tones, their titles, and their origin make their words sacred and give them such authority that I have desisted forever from arguing against them.  Moreover, when I see that you, who love your country, you, whose father sleeps beneath these quiet waters, you, who have seen yourself attacked, insulted, and persecuted, hold such opinions in spite of all these things, and in spite of your knowledge, I begin to doubt my own convictions and to admit the possibility that the people may be mistaken.  I’ll have to tell those unfortunates who have put their trust in men that they must place it in God and their own strength.  Again I thank you—tell me where I shall take you.

Elias, your bitter words touch my heart and make me also doubt.  What do you want? I was not brought up among the people, so I am perhaps ignorant of their needs.  I spent my childhood in the Jesuit college, I grew up in Europe, I have been molded by books, learning only what men have been able to bring to light.  What remains among the shadows, what the writers do not tell, that I am ignorant of.  Yet I love our country as you do, not only because it is the duty of every man to love the country to which he owes his existence and to which he will no doubt owe his final rest, not only because my father so taught me, but also because my mother was an Indian, because my fondest recollections cluster around my country, and I love it also because to it I owe and shall ever owe my happiness!

And I, because to it I owe my misfortunes, muttered Elias.

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