(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
Mi gozo en un pozo.
Guards with forbidding mien paced to and fro in front of the door of the town hall, threatening with their rifle-butts the bold urchins who rose on tiptoe or climbed up on one another to see through the bars.
The hall itself did not present that agreeable aspect it wore when the program of the fiesta was under discussion—now it was gloomy and rather ominous. The civil-guards and cuadrilleros who occupied it scarcely spoke and then with few words in low tones. At the table the directorcillo, two clerks, and several soldiers were rustling papers, while the alferez strode from one side to the other, at times gazing fiercely toward the door: prouder Themistocles could not have appeared in the Olympic games after the battle of Salamis. Doña Consolacion yawned in a corner, exhibiting a dirty mouth and jagged teeth, while she fixed her cold, sinister gaze on the door of the jail, which was covered with indecent drawings. She had succeeded in persuading her husband, whose victory had made him amiable, to let her witness the inquiry and perhaps the accompanying tortures. The hyena smelt the carrion and licked herself, wearied by the delay.
The gobernadorcillo was very compunctious. His seat, that large chair placed under his Majesty’s portrait, was vacant, being apparently intended for some one else. About nine o’clock the curate arrived, pale and scowling.
Well, you haven’t kept yourself waiting! the alferez greeted him.
I should prefer not to be present, replied Padre Salvi in a low voice, paying no heed to the bitter tone of the alferez.
I’m very nervous.
As no one else has come to fill the place, I judged that your presence—You know that they leave this afternoon.
Young Ibarra and the teniente-mayor?
The alferez pointed toward the jail.
There are eight there, he said.
Bruno died at midnight, but his statement is on record.
The curate saluted Doña Consolacion, who responded with a yawn, and took his seat in the big chair under his Majesty’s portrait.
Let us begin, he announced.