Chapter 57: - Page 4 of 8

Vae Victis!

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

They led him back into the hall where the other prisoner, with chattering teeth and quaking limbs, was calling upon the saints.

Do you know this fellow? asked Padre Salvi.

This is the first time that I’ve ever seen him, replied Tarsilo with a look of pity at the other.

The alferez struck him with his fist and kicked him.  Tie him to the bench!

Without taking off the handcuffs, which were covered with blood, they tied him to a wooden bench.  The wretched boy looked about him as if seeking something and noticed Doña Consolacion, at sight of whom he smiled sardonically.  In surprise the bystanders followed his glance and saw the señora, who was lightly gnawing at her lips.

I’ve never seen an uglier woman! exclaimed Tarsilo in the midst of a general silence.  I’d rather lie down on a bench as I do now than at her side as the alferez does.

The Muse turned pale.

You’re going to flog me to death, Señor Alferez, he went on, but tonight your woman will revenge me by embracing you.

Gag him! yelled the furious alferez, trembling with wrath.

Tarsilo seemed to have desired the gag, for after it was put in place his eyes gleamed with satisfaction.  At a signal from the alferez, a guard armed with a rattan whip began his gruesome task.  Tarsilo’s whole body contracted, and a stifled, prolonged cry escaped from him in spite of the piece of cloth which covered his mouth.  His head drooped and his clothes became stained with blood.

Padre Salvi, pallid and with wandering looks, arose laboriously, made a sign with his hand, and left the hall with faltering steps.  In the street he saw a young woman leaning with her shoulders against the wall, rigid, motionless, listening attentively, staring into space, her clenched hands stretched out along the wall.  The sun beat down upon her fiercely.  She seemed to be breathlessly counting those dry, dull strokes and those heartrending groans. It was Tarsilo’s sister.

Meanwhile, the scene in the hall continued.  The wretched boy, overcome with pain, silently waited for his executioners to become weary.  At last the panting soldier let his arm fall, and the alferez, pale with anger and astonishment, made a sign for them to untie him.  Doña Consolacion then arose and murmured a few words into the ear of her husband, who nodded his head in understanding.

Learn this Filipino word:

matigás ang mukhá