Chapter 64: - Page 2 of 4


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The victorious alferez returned to Spain a major, leaving his amiable spouse in her flannel camisa, the color of which is now indescribable.  The poor Ariadne, finding herself thus abandoned, also devoted herself, as did the daughter of Minos, to the cult of Bacchus and the cultivation of tobacco; she drinks and smokes with such fury that now not only the girls but even the old women and little children fear her.

Probably our acquaintances of the town of San Diego are still alive, if they did not perish in the explosion of the steamer Lipa, which was making a trip to the province.  Since no one bothered himself to learn who the unfortunates were that perished in that catastrophe or to whom belonged the legs and arms left neglected on Convalescence Island and the banks of the river, we have no idea whether any acquaintance of our readers was among them or not.  Along with the government and the press at the time, we are satisfied with the information that the only friar who was on the steamer was saved, and we do not ask for more.  The principal thing for us is the existence of the virtuous priests, whose reign in the Philippines may God conserve for the good of our souls. [2]

Of Maria Clara nothing more is known except that the sepulcher seems to guard her in its bosom.  We have asked several persons of great influence in the holy nunnery of St. Clara, but no one has been willing to tell us a single word, not even the talkative devotees who receive the famous fried chicken-livers and the even more famous sauce known as that of the nuns, prepared by the intelligent cook of the Virgins of the Lord.

Nevertheless: On a night in September the hurricane raged over Manila, lashing the buildings with its gigantic wings.  The thunder crashed continuously. Lightning flashes momentarily revealed the havoc wrought by the blast and threw the inhabitants into wild terror.  The rain fell in torrents.  Each flash of the forked lightning showed a piece of roofing or a window-blind flying through the air to fall with a horrible crash.  Not a person or a carriage moved through the streets.  When the hoarse reverberations of the thunder, a hundred times re-echoed, lost themselves in the distance, there was heard the soughing of the wind as it drove the raindrops with a continuous tick-tack against the concha-panes of the closed windows.

Two patrolmen sheltered themselves under the eaves of a building near the nunnery, one a private and the other a distinguido.

What’s the use of our staying here? said the private.

No one is moving about the streets.  We ought to get into a house.  My querida lives in Calle Arzobispo.

[2] January 2, 1883.—Author’s note.

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