Chapter 24: - Page 7 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Iday had the round card on which were written the forty-eight questions, while Albino held the book of answers.

A lie! It’s not so! cried Sinang, half in tears.

What’s the matter? asked Maria Clara.

Just imagine, I asked, ‘When shall I have some sense?’ I threw the dice and that worn-out priest read from the book, ‘When the frogs raise hair.’ What do you think of that? As she said this, Sinang made a grimace at the laughing ex-theological student.

Who told you to ask that question? her cousin Victoria asked her.  To ask it is enough to deserve such an answer.

You ask a question, they said to Ibarra, offering him the wheel.  We’re decided that whoever gets the best answer shall receive a present from the rest.  Each of us has already had a question.

Who got the best answer?

Maria Clara, Maria Clara! replied Sinang.  We made her ask, willy-nilly, ‘Is your sweetheart faithful and constant?’ And the book answered—

But here the blushing Maria Clara put her hands over Sinang’s mouth so that she could not finish.

Well, give me the wheel, said Crisostomo, smiling.  My question is, ‘Shall I succeed in my present enterprise?’

What an ugly question! exclaimed Sinang.

Ibarra threw the dice and in accordance with the resulting number the page and line were sought.

Dreams are dreams, read Albino.

Ibarra drew out the telegram and opened it with trembling hands.  This time your book is wrong! he exclaimed joyfully.  Read this: ‘School project approved.  Suit decided in your favor.’

What does it mean? all asked.

Didn’t you say that a present is to be given to the one receiving the best answer? he asked in a voice shaking with emotion as he tore the telegram carefully into two pieces.

Yes, yes!

Well then, this is my present, he said as he gave one piece to Maria Clara.  A school for boys and girls is to be built in the town and this school is my present.

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