Chapter 24: - Page 8 of 10

In the Wood

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

And the other part, what does it mean?

It’s to be given to the one who has received the worst answer.

To me, then, to me! cried Sinang.

Ibarra gave her the other piece of the telegram and hastily withdrew.

What does it mean? she asked, but the happy youth was already at a distance, returning to the game of chess.

Fray Salvi in abstracted mood approached the circle of young people.  Maria Clara wiped away her tears of joy, the laughter ceased, and the talk died away.  The curate stared at the young people without offering to say anything, while they silently waited for him to speak.

What’s this? he at length asked, picking up the book and turning its leaves.

The Wheel of Fortune, a book of games, replied Leon.

Don’t you know that it’s a sin to believe in these things? he scolded, tearing the leaves out angrily.

Cries of surprise and anger escaped from the lips of all.

It’s a greater sin to dispose of what isn’t yours, against the wish of the owner, contradicted Albino, rising.  Padre, that’s what is called stealing and it is forbidden by God and men!

Maria Clara clasped her hands and gazed with tearful eyes at the remnants of the book which a few moments before had been the source of so much happiness for her.

Contrary to the general expectation, Fray Salvi did not reply to Albino, but stood staring at the torn leaves as they were whirled about, some falling in the wood, some in the water, then he staggered away with his hands over his head.  He stopped for a few moments to speak with Ibarra, who accompanied him to one of the carriages, which were at the disposal of the guests.

He’s doing well to leave, that kill-joy, murmured Sinang.  He has a face that seems to say, ‘Don’t laugh, for I know about your sins!’

After making the present to his fiancée, Ibarra was so happy that he began to play without reflection or a careful examination of the positions of the pieces.  The result was that although Capitan Basilio was hard pressed the game became a stalemate, owing to many careless moves on the young man’s part.

It’s settled, we’re at peace! exclaimed Capitan Basilio heartily.

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