Chapter 50: - Page 5 of 7

Elias’s Story

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

My sister and I were left alone.  She wept a great deal, but even in the midst of such great sorrows as heaped themselves upon us, she could not forget her love.  Without complaining, without uttering a word, she saw her former sweetheart married to another girl, but I watched her gradually sicken without being able to console her.  One day she disappeared, and it was in vain that I sought everywhere, in vain I made inquiries about her.  About six months afterwards I learned that about that time, after a flood on the lake, there had been found in some rice fields bordering on the beach at Kalamba, the corpse of a young woman who had been either drowned or murdered, for she had had, so they said, a knife sticking in her breast.  The officials of that town published the fact in the country round about, but no one came to claim the body, no young woman apparently had disappeared.  From the description they gave me afterward of her dress, her ornaments, the beauty of her countenance, and her abundant hair, I recognized in her my poor sister.

Since then I have wandered from province to province.  My reputation and my history are in the mouths of many.  They attribute great deeds to me, sometimes calumniating me, but I pay little attention to men, keeping ever on my way.  Such in brief is my story, a story of one of the judgments of men.

Elias fell silent as he rowed along.

I still believe that you are not wrong, murmured Crisostomo in a low voice, when you say that justice should seek to do good by rewarding virtue and educating the criminals.  Only, it’s impossible, Utopian! And where could be secured so much money, so many new employees?

For what, then, are the priests who proclaim their mission of peace and charity? Is it more meritorious to moisten the head of a child with water, to give it salt to eat, than to awake in the benighted conscience of a criminal that spark which God has granted to every man to light him to his welfare? Is it more humane to accompany a criminal to the scaffold than to lead him along the difficult path from vice to virtue? Don’t they also pay spies, executioners, civil-guards? These things, besides being dirty, also cost money.

My friend, neither you nor I, although we may wish it, can accomplish this.

Alone, it is true, we are nothing, but take up the cause of the people, unite yourself with the people, be not heedless of their cries, set an example to the rest, spread the idea of what is called a fatherland!

Learn this Filipino word:

makatí ang kamáy