Chapter 24: - Page 2 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

If I were jealous, instead of making myself invisible, I’d make him so, in order that no one might see him.

But neither would you see him and that wouldn’t be nice.  The best thing for us to do if we find the nest would be to present it to the curate so that he could watch over us without the necessity of our seeing him, don’t you think so?

I don’t believe in those herons’ nests, interrupted another voice, but if at any time I should be jealous, I’d know how to watch and still keep myself hidden.

How, how? Perhaps like a Sor Escucha?[1]

This reminiscence of school-days provoked another merry burst of laughter.

And you know how she’s fooled, the Sor Escucha!

From his hiding-place Padre Salvi saw Maria Clara, Victoria, and Sinang wading along the border of the brook.  They were moving forward with their eyes fixed on the crystal waters, seeking the enchanted nest of the heron, wet to their knees so that the wide folds of their bathing skirts revealed the graceful curves of their bodies.  Their hair was flung loose, their arms bare, and they wore camisas with wide stripes of bright hues.  While looking for something that they could not find they were picking flowers and plants which grew along the bank.

The religious Acteon stood pale and motionless gazing at that chaste Diana, but his eyes glittered in their dark circles, untired of staring at those white and shapely arms and at that elegant neck and bust, while the small rosy feet that played in the water awoke in his starved being strange sensations and in his burning brain dreams of new ideas.

The three charming figures disappeared behind a bamboo thicket around a bend in the brook, and their cruel allusions ceased to be heard.  Intoxicated, staggering, covered with perspiration, Padre Salvi left his hiding-place and looked all about him with rolling eyes.  He stood still as if in doubt, then took a few steps as though he would try to follow the girls, but turned again and made his way along the banks of the stream to seek the rest of the party.

[1]Listening Sister, the nun who acts as spy and monitor over the girls studying in a convent.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

hinipang pantóg