“Because your aunt is a fool, because she can’t live without slaves! When she hasn’t them she dreams of them in the future, and if they are not obtainable she forces them into her imagination. True it is that we have enemies, that there will be a struggle, but we shall conquer. The old system may convert the ruins of its castle into formless barricades, but we will take them singing hymns of liberty, in the light of the eyes of you women, to the applause of your lovely hands. But do not be uneasy—the struggle will be a pacific one. Enough that you spur us to zeal, that you awake in us noble and elevated thoughts and encourage us to constancy, to heroism, with your affection for our reward.”
Paulita preserved her enigmatic smile and seemed thoughtful, as she gazed toward the river, patting her cheek lightly with her fan. “But if you accomplish nothing?” she asked abstractedly.
The question hurt Isagani. He fixed his eyes on his sweetheart, caught her lightly by the hand, and began: “Listen, if we accomplish nothing—”
He paused in doubt, then resumed: “You know how I love you, how I adore you, you know that I feel myself a different creature when your gaze enfolds me, when I surprise in it the flash of love, but yet if we accomplish nothing, I would dream of another look of yours and would die happy, because the light of pride could burn in your eyes when you pointed to my corpse and said to the world: ‘My love died fighting for the rights of my fatherland!’ "
“Come home, child, you’re going to catch cold,” screeched Dona Victorina at that instant, and the voice brought them back to reality. It was time to return, and they kindly invited him to enter the carriage, an invitation which the young man did not give them cause to repeat. As it was Paulita’s carriage, naturally Dona Victorina and the friend occupied the back seat, while the two lovers sat on the smaller one in front.
To ride in the same carriage, to have her at his side, to breathe her perfume, to rub against the silk of her dress, to see her pensive with folded arms, lighted by the moon of the Philippines that lends to the meanest things idealism and enchantment, were all dreams beyond Isagani’s hopes! What wretches they who were returning alone on foot and had to give way to the swift carriage! In the whole course of the drive, along the beach and down the length of La Sabana, across the Bridge of Spain, Isagani saw nothing but a sweet profile, gracefully set off by beautiful hair, ending in an arching neck that lost itself amid the gauzy pina. A diamond winked at him from the lobe of the little ear, like a star among silvery clouds. He heard faint echoes inquiring for Don Tiburcio de Espadana, the name of Juanito Pelaez, but they sounded to him like distant bells, the confused noises heard in a dream. It was necessary to tell him that they had reached Plaza Santa Cruz.