Chapter 24: - Page 5 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Your soldiers arrested her, continued the teniente-mayor, rather bitterly, to the alferez.  They marched her through the town on account of something about her sons which isn’t very clearly known.

What! exclaimed the alferez, turning to the curate, she isn’t the mother of your two sacristans?

The curate nodded in affirmation.

They disappeared and nobody made any inquiries about them, added Don Filipo with a severe look at the gobernadorcillo, who dropped his eyes.

Look for that woman, Crisostomo ordered the servants.  I promised to try to learn where her sons are.

They disappeared, did you say? asked the alferez.  Your sacristans disappeared, Padre?

The friar emptied the glass of wine before him and again nodded.

Caramba, Padre! exclaimed the alferez with a sarcastic laugh, pleased at the thought of a little revenge.  A few pesos of your Reverence’s disappear and my sergeant is routed out early to hunt for them—two sacristans disappear and your Reverence says nothing—and you, señor capitan—It’s also true that you—

Here he broke off with another laugh as he buried his spoon in the red meat of a wild papaya.

The curate, confused, and not over-intent upon what he was saying, replied, That’s because I have to answer for the money—

A good answer, reverend shepherd of souls! interrupted the alferez with his mouth full of food.  A splendid answer, holy man!

Ibarra wished to intervene, but Padre Salvi controlled himself by an effort and said with a forced smile, Then you don’t know, sir, what is said about the disappearance of those boys? No? Then ask your soldiers!

What! exclaimed the alferez, all his mirth gone.

It’s said that on the night they disappeared several shots were heard.

Several shots? echoed the alferez, looking around at the other guests, who nodded their heads in corroboration of the padre’s statement.

Padre Salvi then replied slowly and with cutting sarcasm: Come now, I see that you don’t catch the criminals nor do you know what is going on in your own house, yet you try to set yourself up as a preacher to point out their duties to others.  You ought to keep in mind that proverb about the fool in his own house—[2]

[2]Más sabe el loco en su casa que el cuerdo en la ajena. The fool knows more in his own house than a wise man does in another’s.—TR.

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