Chapter 63: - Page 3 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The waning moon began to shine over the horizon, illumining the clouds and making the trees and houses east long, fantastic shadows.

Yours is not a little good fortune, to get off free in these times! said Capitan Basilio to Don Filipo.  They’ve burned your books, yes, but others have lost more.

A woman approached the grating and gazed into the interior.  Her eyes glittered, her features were emaciated, her hair loose and dishevelled.  The moonlight gave her a weird aspect.

Sisal exclaimed Don Filipo in surprise.  Then turning to Capitan Basilio, as the madwoman ran away, he asked, Wasn’t she in the house of a physician? Has she been cured?

Capitan Basilio smiled bitterly.  The physician was afraid they would accuse him of being a friend of Don Crisostomo’s, so he drove her from his house.  Now she wanders about again as crazy as ever, singing, harming no one, and living in the woods.

What else has happened in the town since we left it? I know that we have a new curate and another alferez.

These are terrible times, humanity is retrograding, murmured Capitan Basilio, thinking of the past.  The day after you left they found the senior sacristan dead, hanging from a rafter in his own house.  Padre Salvi was greatly affected by his death and took possession of all his papers.  Ah, yes, the old Sage, Tasio, also died and was buried in the Chinese cemetery.

Poor old man! sighed Don Filipo.  What became of his books?

They were burned by the pious, who thought thus to please God.  I was unable to save anything, not even Cicero’s works.  The gobernadorcillo did nothing to prevent it.

Both became silent.  At that moment the sad and melancholy song of the madwoman was heard.

Do you know when Maria Clara is to be married? Iday asked Sinang.

I don’t know, answered the latter.  I received a letter from her but haven’t opened it for fear of finding out.  Poor Crisostomo!

They say that if it were not for Linares, they would hang Capitan Tiago, so what was Maria Clara going to do? observed Victoria.

Learn this Filipino word:

maluwág ang turnilyo