Chapter 15: - Page 2 of 3

The Sacristans

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Are you crazy, Crispin? Mother wouldn’t have anything to eat.  The senior sacristan says that you’ve stolen two gold pieces, and they’re worth thirty-two pesos.

The little one counted on his fingers up to thirty-two.  Six hands and two fingers over and each finger a peso! he murmured thoughtfully.  And each peso, how many cuartos?

A hundred and sixty.

A hundred and sixty cuartos?  A hundred and sixty times a cuarto?  Goodness!  And how many are a hundred and sixty?

Thirty-two hands, answered the older.

Crispin looked hard at his little hands. Thirty-two hands, he repeated, six hands and two fingers over and each finger thirty-two hands and each finger a cuarto—goodness, what a lot of cuartos! I could hardly count them in three days; and with them could be bought shoes for our feet, a hat for my head when the sun shines hot, a big umbrella for the rain, and food, and clothes for you and mother, and— He became silent and thoughtful again.

Now I’m sorry that I didn’t steal! he soon exclaimed.

Crispin! reproached his brother.

Don’t get angry! The curate has said that he’ll beat me to death if the money doesn’t appear, and if I had stolen it I could make it appear.  Anyhow, if I died you and mother would at least have clothes.  Oh, if I had only stolen it!

The elder pulled on the rope in silence.  After a time he replied with a sigh: What I’m afraid of is that mother will scold you when she knows about it.

Do you think so? asked the younger with astonishment.  You will tell her that they’re whipped me and I’ll show the welts on my back and my torn pocket. I had only one cuarto, which was given to me last Easter, but the curate took that away from me yesterday. I never saw a prettier cuarto! No, mother won’t believe it.

If the curate says so—

Crispin began to cry, murmuring between his sobs, Then go home alone! I don’t want to go.  Tell mother that I’m sick. I don’t want to go.

Crispin, don’t cry! pleaded the elder.  Mother won’t believe it—don’t cry! Old Tasio told us that a fine supper is waiting for us.

A fine supper! And I haven’t eaten for a long time.  They won’t give me anything to eat until the two gold pieces appear.  But, if mother believes it? You must tell her that the senior sacristan is a liar but that the curate believes him and that all of them are liars, that they say that we’re thieves because our father is a vagabond who—

Learn this Filipino word:

may uód sa katawán