Chapter 18: - Page 2 of 5

Souls in Torment

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

That’s not strange! admitted Rufa, at last admitting defeat.  You’re an expert, the best in the province.

The flattered man smiled and continued, It isn’t so wonderful that I earn more than you do.  Why, I can almost say that even when sleeping I earn indulgences.

And what do you do with them, sir? asked four or five voices at the same time.

Pish! answered the man with a gesture of proud disdain.  I have them to throw away!

But in that I can’t commend you, sir, protested Rufa. You’ll go to purgatory for wasting the indulgences.  You know very well that for every idle word one must suffer forty days in fire, according to the curate; for every span of thread uselessly wasted, sixty days; and for every drop of water spilled, twenty. You’ll go to purgatory.

Well, I’ll know how to get out, answered Brother Pedro with sublime confidence.  How many souls have I saved from the flames! How many saints have I made! Besides, even in articulo mortis I can still earn, if I wish, at least seven plenary indulgences and shall be able to save others as I die.  So saying, he strode proudly away.

Sister Rufa turned to the others: Nevertheless, you must do as I do, for I don’t lose a single day and I keep my accounts well.  I don’t want to cheat or be cheated.

Well, what do you do? asked Juana.

You must imitate what I do.  For example, suppose I earn a year of indulgence: I set it down in my account-book and say, ‘Most Blessed Father and Lord St. Dominic, please see if there is anybody in purgatory who needs exactly a year—neither a day more nor a day less.’  Then I play heads and tails: if it comes heads, no; if tails, yes.  Let’s suppose that it comes tails, then I write down paid; if it comes heads, then I keep the indulgence.  In this way I arrange groups of a hundred years each, of which I keep a careful account.  It’s a pity that we can’t do with them as with money—put them out at interest, for in that way we should be able to save more souls.  Believe me, and do as I do.

Well, I do it a better way, remarked Sister Sipa.

What? Better? demanded the astonished Rufa.  That can’t be! My system can’t be improved upon!

Listen a moment and you’ll be convinced, Sister, said old Sipa in a tone of vexation.

How is it? Let’s hear! exclaimed the others.

After coughing ceremoniously the old woman began with great care: You know very well that by saying the Bendita sea tu pureza and the Señor mío Jesucristo, Padre dulcísimo por el gozo, ten years are gained for each letter—

Twenty! No, less! Five! interrupted several voices.

Learn this Filipino word:

sambakol ang mukhâ