Chapter 61: - Page 5 of 7

The Chase on the Lake

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

They remained silent until they reached Malapad-na-bato. [1]  Those who have ever made their way by night up the Pasig, on one of those magical nights that the Philippines offers, when the moon pours out from the limpid blue her melancholy light, when the shadows hide the miseries of man and the silence is unbroken by the sordid accents of his voice, when only Nature speaks—they will understand the thoughts of both these youths.

At Malapad-na-bato the carbineer was sleepy and, seeing that the banka was empty and offered no booty which he might seize, according to the traditional usage of his corps and the custom of that post, he easily let them pass on.  Nor did the civil-guard at Pasig suspect anything, so they were not molested.

Day was beginning to break when they reached the lake, still and calm like a gigantic mirror.  The moon paled and the east was dyed in rosy tints.  Some distance away they perceived a gray mass advancing slowly toward them.

The police boat is coming, murmured Elias.  Lie down and I’ll cover you with these sacks.

The outlines of the boat became clearer and plainer.

It’s getting between us and the shore, observed Elias uneasily.

Gradually he changed the course of his banka, rowing toward Binangonan.  To his great surprise he noticed that the boat also changed its course, while a voice called to him.

Elias stopped rowing and reflected.  The shore was still far away and they would soon be within range of the rifles on the police boat.  He thought of returning to Pasig, for his banka was the swifter of the two boats, but unluckily he saw another boat coming from the river and made out the gleam of caps and bayonets of the Civil Guard.

We’re caught! he muttered, turning pale.

[1] The wide rock that formerly jutted out into the river just below the place where the streams from the Lake of Bay join the Mariquina to form the Pasig proper. This spot was celebrated in the demonology of the primitive Tagalogs and later, after the tutelar devils had been duly exorcised by the Spanish padres, converted into a revenue station. The name is preserved in that of the little barrio on the river bank near Fort McKinley.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

waláng káluluwá