Chapter 37:

His Excellency

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

I Want to talk with that young man, said his Excellency to an aide. He has aroused all my interest.

They have already gone to look for him, General. But here is a young man from Manila who insists on being introduced. We told him that your Excellency had no time for interviews, that you had not come to give audiences, but to see the town and the procession, and he answered that your Excellency always has time to dispense justice—

His Excellency turned to the alcalde in wonder. If I am not mistaken, said the latter with a slight bow, he is the young man who this morning had a quarrel with Padre Damaso over the sermon.

Still another? Has this friar set himself to stir up the whole province or does he think that he governs here? Show the young man in. His Excellency paced nervously from one end of the sala to the other.

In the hall were gathered various Spaniards mingled with soldiers and officials of San Diego and neighboring towns, standing in groups conversing or disputing. There were also to be seen all the friars, with the exception of Padre Damaso, and they wanted to go in to pay their respects to his Excellency.

His Excellency the Captain-General begs your Reverences to wait a moment, said the aideCome in, young man! The Manilan who had confounded Greek with Tagalog entered the room pale and trembling.

All were filled with surprise; surely his Excellency must be greatly irritated to dare to make the friars wait! Padre Sibyla remarked, I haven’t anything to say to him, I’m wasting my time here.

I say the same, added an AugustinianShall we go?

Wouldn’t it be better that we find out how he stands? asked Padre SalviWe should avoid a scandal, and should be able to remind him of his duties toward—religion.

Your Reverences may enter, if you so desire, said the aide as he ushered out the youth who did not understand Greek and whose countenance was now beaming with satisfaction.

Fray Sibyla entered first, Padre Salvi, Padre Martin, and the other priests following. They all made respectful bows with the exception of Padre Sibyla, who even in bending preserved a certain air of superiority. Padre Salvi on the other hand almost doubled himself over the girdle.

Which of your Reverences is Padre Damaso? asked the Captain-General without any preliminary greeting, neither asking them to be seated nor inquiring about their health nor addressing them with the flattering speeches to which such important personages are accustomed.

Padre Damaso is not here among us, sir, replied Fray Sibyla in the same dry tone as that used by his Excellency.


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