Chapter 6: - Page 9 of 9

Capitan Tiago

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The little girl grew up under the care of her aunt Isabel, that good old lady of monkish urbanity whom we met at the beginning of the story.  For the most part, her early life was spent in San Diego, on account of its healthful climate, and there Padre Damaso was devoted to her.

Maria Clara had not the small eyes of her father; like her mother, she had eyes large, black, long-lashed, merry and smiling when she was playing but sad, deep, and pensive in moments of repose.  As a child her hair was curly and almost blond, her straight nose was neither too pointed nor too flat, while her mouth with the merry dimples at the corners recalled the small and pleasing one of her mother, her skin had the fineness of an onion-cover and was white as cotton, according to her perplexed relatives, who found the traces of Capitan Tiago’s paternity in her small and shapely ears.  Aunt Isabel ascribed her half-European features to the longings of Doña Pia, whom she remembered to have seen many times weeping before the image of St. Anthony.  Another cousin was of the same opinion, differing only in the choice of the smut, as for her it was either the Virgin herself or St. Michael.  A famous philosopher, who was the cousin of Capitan Tinong and who had memorized the Amat,[11] sought for the true explanation in planetary influences.

The idol of all, Maria Clara grew up amidst smiles and love.  The very friars showered her with attentions when she appeared in the processions dressed in white, her abundant hair interwoven with tuberoses and sampaguitas, with two diminutive wings of silver and gold fastened on the back of her gown, and carrying in her hands a pair of white doves tied with blue ribbons.  Afterwards, she would be so merry and talk so sweetly in her childish simplicity that the enraptured Capitan Tiago could do nothing but bless the saints of Obando and advise every one to purchase beautiful works of sculpture.

In southern countries the girl of thirteen or fourteen years changes into a woman as the bud of the night becomes a flower in the morning.  At this period of change, so full of mystery and romance, Maria Clara was placed, by the advice of the curate of Binondo, in the nunnery of St. Catherine[12] in order to receive strict religious training from the Sisters.  With tears she took leave of Padre Damaso and of the only lad who had been a friend of her childhood, Crisostomo Ibarra, who himself shortly afterward went away to Europe.  There in that convent, which communicates with the world through double bars, even under the watchful eyes of the nuns, she spent seven years.

Each having his own particular ends in view and knowing the mutual inclinations of the two young persons, Don Rafael and Capitan Tiago agreed upon the marriage of their children and the formation of a business partnership.  This agreement, which was concluded some years after the younger Ibarra’s departure, was celebrated with equal joy by two hearts in widely separated parts of the world and under very different circumstances.

[11] A work on scholastic philosophy, by a Spanish prelate of that name.—TR.

[12] The nunnery and college of St. Catherine of Sienna (Santa Catalina de la Sena) was founded by the Dominican Fathers in 1696.—TR.

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