Chapter 1: - Page 10 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

No, he’s not the man who invented gunpowder,[10] added Laruja.

You too, Señor Laruja, exclaimed Doña Victorina in mild reproach, as she fanned herself.  How could the poor man invent gunpowder if, as is said, the Chinese invented it centuries ago?

The Chinese!  Are you crazy? cried Fray Damaso.  Out with you! A Franciscan, one of my Order, Fray What-do-you-call-him Savalls, [11]  invented it in the—ah the seventh century!

A Franciscan? Well, he must have been a missionary in China, that Padre Savalls, replied the lady, who did not thus easily part from her beliefs.

Schwartz,[12] perhaps you mean, señora, said Fray Sibyla, without looking at her.

I don’t know.  Fray Damaso said a Franciscan and I was only repeating.

Well, Savalls or Chevas, what does it matter?  The difference of a letter doesn’t make him a Chinaman, replied the Franciscan in bad humor.

And in the fourteenth century, not the seventh, added the Dominican in a tone of correction, as if to mortify the pride of the other friar.

Well, neither does a century more or less make him a Dominican.

Don’t get angry, your Reverence, admonished Padre Sibyla, smiling.   So much the better that he did invent it so as to save his brethren the trouble.

And did you say, Padre Sibyla, that it was in the fourteenth century? asked Doña Victorina with great interest.  Was that before or after Christ?

Fortunately for the individual questioned, two persons entered the room.

[10] An apothegm equivalent to the English, He’ll never set any rivers on fire.TR.

[11] The name of a Carlist leader in Spain.—TR.

[12] A German Franciscan monk who is said to have invented gunpowder about 1330.

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