An Idyl on an Azotea
(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
That morning Aunt Isabel and Maria Clara went early to mass, the latter elegantly dressed and wearing a rosary of blue beads, which partly served as a bracelet for her, and the former with her spectacles in order to read her Anchor of Salvation during the holy communion. Scarcely had the priest disappeared from the altar when the maiden expressed a desire for returning home, to the great surprise and displeasure of her good aunt, who believed her niece to be as pious and devoted to praying as a nun, at least. Grumbling and crossing herself, the good old lady rose.
The good Lord will forgive me, Aunt Isabel, since He must know the hearts of girls better than you do, Maria Clara might have said to check the severe yet maternal chidings.
After they had breakfasted, Maria Clara consumed her impatience in working at a silk purse while her aunt was trying to clean up the traces of the former night’s revelry by swinging a feather duster about. Capitan Tiago was busy looking over some papers. Every noise in the street, every carriage that passed, caused the maiden to tremble and quickened the beatings of her heart. Now she wished that she were back in the quiet convent among her friends; there she could have seen him without emotion and agitation! But was he not the companion of her infancy, had they not played together and even quarreled at times? The reason for all this I need not explain; if you, O reader, have ever loved, you will understand; and if you have not, it is useless for me to tell you, as the uninitiated do not comprehend these mysteries.
I believe, Maria, that the doctor is right, said Capitan Tiago.
You ought to go into the country, for you are pale and need fresh air. What do you think of Malabon or San Diego? At the mention of the latter place Maria Clara blushed like a poppy and was unable to answer.
You and Isabel can go at once to the convent to get your clothes and to say good-by to your friends, he continued, without raising his head.
You will not stay there any longer.
The girl felt the vague sadness that possesses the mind when we leave forever a place where we have been happy, but another thought softened this sorrow.
In four or five days, after you get some new clothes made, we’ll go to Malabon. Your godfather is no longer in San Diego. The priest that you may have noticed here last night, that young padre, is the new curate whom we have there, and he is a saint.
I think that San Diego would be better, cousin, observed Aunt Isabel.
Besides, our house there is better and the time for the fiesta draws near.
Maria Clara wanted to embrace her aunt for this speech, but hearing a carriage stop, she turned pale.
Ah, very true, answered Capitan Tiago, and then in a different tone he exclaimed,