Chapter 31: - Page 8 of 8

The Sermon

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Upon this theme he continued to preach for half an hour.  The alcalde snored, and Maria Clara nodded, for the poor child could no longer keep from sleeping, since she had no more paintings or images to study, nor anything else to amuse her.  On Ibarra the words and allusions made no more impression, for he was thinking of a cottage on the top of a mountain and saw Maria Clara in the garden; let men crawl about in their miserable towns in the depths of the valley!

Padre Salvi had caused the altar bell to be rung twice, but this was only adding fuel to the flame, for Padre Damaso became stubborn and prolonged the sermon.  Fray Sibyla gnawed at his lips and repeatedly adjusted his gold-mounted eye-glasses.  Fray Manuel Martin was the only one who appeared to listen with pleasure, for he was smiling.

But at last God said Enough; the orator became weary and descended from the pulpit.  All knelt to render thanks to God.  The alcalde rubbed his eyes, stretched out one arm as if to waken himself, and yawned with a deep aah.  The mass continued.

When all were kneeling and the priests had lowered their heads while the Incarnatus est was being sung, a man murmured in Ibarra’s ear, At the laying of the cornerstone, don’t move away from the curate, don’t go down into the trench, don’t go near the stone—your life depends upon it!

Ibarra turned to see Elias, who, as soon as he had said this, disappeared in the crowd.

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