Chapter 27: - Page 5 of 5

In the Twilight

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Meanwhile, a poor woman had approached the leper, who seemed to be praying.  Her long hair was loose and unkempt, and in the light of the torches could be recognized the extremely emaciated features of the crazy Sisa.  Feeling the touch of her hand, the leper jumped up with a cry, but to the horror of the onlooker’s Sisa caught him by the arm and said:

Let us pray, let us pray! Today is All Souls’ day! Those lights are the souls of men! Let us pray for my sons!

Separate them! Separate them! The madwoman will get the disease! cried the crowd, but no one dared to go near them.

Do you see that light in the tower? That is my son Basilio sliding down a rope! Do you see that light in the convento? That is my son Crispin! But I’m not going to see them because the curate is sick and had many gold pieces and the gold pieces are lost! Pray, let us pray for the soul of the curate! I took him the finest fruits, for my garden was full of flowers and I had two sons! I had a garden, I used to take care of my flowers, and I had two sons!

Then releasing her hold of the leper, she ran away singing, I had a garden and flowers, I had two sons, a garden, and flowers!

What have you been able to do for that poor woman? Maria Clara asked Ibarra.

Nothing! Lately she has been missing from the totem and wasn’t to be found, answered the youth, rather confusedly.  Besides, I have been very busy. But don’t let it trouble you.  The curate has promised to help me, but advised that I proceed with great tact and caution, for the Civil Guard seems to be mixed up in it.  The curate is greatly interested in her case.

Didn’t the alferez say that he would have search made for her sons?

Yes, but at the time he was somewhat—drunk.  Scarcely had he said this when they saw the crazy woman being led, or rather dragged along, by a soldier.  Sisa was offering resistance.

Why are you arresting her?  What has she done? asked Ibarra.

Why, haven’t you seen how she’s been raising a disturbance? was the reply of the guardian of the public peace.

The leper caught up his basket hurriedly and ran away.

Maria Clara wanted to go home, as she had lost all her mirth and good humor.  So there are people who are not happy, she murmured.  Arriving at her door, she felt her sadness increase when her fiancé declined to go in, excusing himself on the plea of necessity.  Maria Clara went upstairs thinking what a bore are the fiesta days, when strangers make their visits.

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