Chapter 11: - Page 4 of 4

The Rulers

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

To make trouble for the curate, the soldier, at the instigation of his wife, would prohibit any one from walking abroad after nine o’clock at night.  Doña Consolacion would then claim that she had seen the curate, disguised in a piña camisa and salakot, walking about late.  Fray Salvi would take his revenge in a holy manner.  Upon seeing the alferez enter the church he would innocently order the sacristan to close all the doors, and would then go up into the pulpit and preach until the very saints closed their eyes and even the wooden dove above his head, the image of the Holy Ghost, murmured for mercy.  But the alferez, like all the unregenerate, did not change his ways for this; he would go away cursing, and as soon as he was able to catch a sacristan, or one of the curate’s servants, he would arrest him, give him a beating, and make him scrub the floor of the barracks and that of his own house, which at such times was put in a decent condition.  On going to pay the fine imposed by the curate for his absence, the sacristan would explain the cause.  Fray Salvi would listen in silence, take the money, and at once turn out his goats and sheep so that they might graze in the alferez’s garden, while he himself looked up a new text for another longer and more edifying sermon.  But these were only little pleasantries, and if the two chanced to meet they would shake hands and converse politely.

When her husband was sleeping off the wine he had drunk, or was snoring through the siesta, and she could not quarrel with him, Doña Consolacion, in a blue flannel camisa, with a big cigar in her mouth, would take her stand at the window.  She could not endure the young people, so from there she would scrutinize and mock the passing girls, who, being afraid of her, would hurry by in confusion, holding their breath the while, and not daring to raise their eyes.  One great virtue Doña Consolation possessed, and this was that she had evidently never looked in a mirror.

These were the rulers of the town of San Diego.

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