Chapter 43:


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Without heeding any of the bystanders, Padre Damaso went directly to the bed of the sick girl and taking her hand said to her with ineffable tenderness, while tears sprang into his eyes, Maria, my daughter, you mustn’t die!

The sick girl opened her eyes and stared at him with a strange expression. No one who knew the Franciscan had suspected in him such tender feelings, no one had believed that under his rude and rough exterior there might beat a heart. Unable to go on, he withdrew from the girl’s side, weeping like a child, and went outside under the favorite vines of Maria Clara’s balcony to give free rein to his grief.

How he loves his goddaughter! thought all present, while Fray Salvi gazed at him motionlessly and in silence, lightly gnawing his lips the while.

When he had become somewhat calm again Doña Victorina introduced Linares, who approached him respectfully. Fray Damaso silently looked him over from head to foot, took the letter offered and read it, but apparently without understanding, for he asked, And who are you?

Alfonso Linares, the godson of your brother-in-law, stammered the young man.

Padre Damaso threw back his body and looked the youth over again carefully. Then his features lighted up and he arose. So you are the godson of Carlicos! he exclaimed. Come and let me embrace you! I got your letter several days ago. So it’s you! I didn’t recognize you,—which is easily explained, for you weren’t born when I left the country,—I didn’t recognize you! Padre Damaso squeezed his robust arms about the young man, who became very red, whether from modesty or lack of breath is not known.

After the first moments of effusion had passed and inquiries about Carlicos and his wife had been made and answered, Padre Damaso asked, Come now, what does Carlicos want me to do for you?

I believe he says something about that in the letter, Linares again stammered.

In the letter? Let’s see! That’s right! He wants me to get you a job and a wife. Ahem! A job, a job that’s easy! Can you read and write?

I received my degree of law from the University.

Carambas! So you’re a pettifogger! You don’t show it; you look more like a shy maiden. So much the better! But to get you a wife—

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