(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
The bashful Linares was anxious and ill at ease. He had just received from Doña Victorina a letter which ran thus:
DEER COZIN within 3 days i expec to here from you if the alferes has killed you or you him i dont want anuther day to pass befour that broot has his punishment if that tim passes an you havent challenjed him ill tel don santiago you was never segretary nor joked with canobas nor went on a spree with the general don arseño martinez ill tel clarita its all a humbug an ill not give you a sent more if you challenje him i promis all you want so lets see you challenje him i warn you there must be no excuses nor delays yore cozin who loves you
VICTORINA DE LOS REYES DE DE ESPADAÑA
sampaloc monday 7 in the evening
The affair was serious. He was well enough acquainted with the character of Doña Victorina to know what she was capable of. To talk to her of reason was to talk of honesty and courtesy to a revenue carbineer when he proposes to find contraband where there is none, to plead with her would be useless, to deceive her worse—there was no way out of the difficulty but to send the challenge.
But how? Suppose he receives me with violence? he soliloquized, as he paced to and fro.
Suppose I find him with his señora? Who will be willing to be my second? The curate? Capitan Tiago? Damn the hour in which I listened to her advice! The old toady! To oblige me to get myself tangled up, to tell lies, to make a blustering fool of myself! What will the young lady say about me? Now I’m sorry that I’ve been secretary to all the ministers!
While the good Linares was in the midst of his soliloquy, Padre Salvi came in. The Franciscan was even thinner and paler than usual, but his eyes gleamed with a strange light and his lips wore a peculiar smile.
Señor Linares, all alone? was his greeting as he made his way to the sala, through the half-opened door of which floated the notes from a piano. Linares tried to smile.
Where is Don Santiago? continued the curate.
Capitan Tiago at that moment appeared, kissed the curate’s hand, and relieved him of his hat and cane, smiling all the while like one of the blessed.