Chapter 18: - Page 4 of 5

Souls in Torment

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Yes? Then that’s why one of your neighbors was saying that you sold a pig of hers.

Who? The shameless one! Perhaps I’m like you—

Here the expert had to interfere to restore peace, for no one was thinking any more about paternosters—the talk was all about pigs.  Come, come, there mustn’t be any quarrel over a pig, Sisters! The Holy Scriptures give us an example to follow.  The heretics and Protestants didn’t quarrel with Our Lord for driving into the water a herd of swine that belonged to them, and we that are Christians and besides, Brethren of the Holy Rosary, shall we have hard words on account of a little pig! What would our rivals, the Tertiary Brethren, say?

All became silent before such wisdom, at the same time fearing what the Tertiary Brethren might say.  The expert, well satisfied with such acquiescence, changed his tone and continued: Soon the curate will send for us.  We must tell him which preacher we’ve chosen of the three that he suggested yesterday, whether Padre Damaso, Padre Martin, or the coadjutor.  I don’t know whether the Tertiary Brethren have yet made any choice, so we must decide.

The coadjutor, murmured Juana timidly.

Ahem! The coadjutor doesn’t know how to preach, declared Sipa. Padre Martin is better.

Padre Martin! exclaimed another disdainfully. He hasn’t any voice. Padre Damaso would be better.

That’s right! cried Rufa. Padre Damaso surely does know how to preach! He looks like a comedian!

But we don’t understand him, murmured Juana.

Because he’s very deep! And as he preaches well—

This speech was interrupted by the arrival of Sisa, who was carrying a basket on her head.  She saluted the Sisters and went on up the stairway.

She’s going in! Let’s go in too! they exclaimed.  Sisa felt her heart beating violently as she ascended the stairs.  She did not know just what to say to the padre to placate his wrath or what reasons she could advance in defense of her son.  That morning at the first flush of dawn she had gone into her garden to pick the choicest vegetables, which she placed in a basket among banana-leaves and flowers; then she had looked along the bank of the river for the pakó which she knew the curate liked for salads.  Putting on her best clothes and without awakening her son, she had set out for the town with the basket on her head.  As she went up the stairway she, tried to make as little noise as possible and listened attentively in the hope that she might hear a fresh, childish voice, so well known to her.  But she heard nothing nor did she meet any one as she made her way to the kitchen.  There she looked into all the corners.  The servants and sacristans received her coldly, scarcely acknowledging her greeting.

Where can I put these vegetables? she asked, not taking any offense at their coldness.

Learn this Filipino word:

bigatin