Chapter 37: - Page 2 of 5

His Excellency

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Your Excellency’s servant is in bed sick, added Padre Salvi humbly. After having the pleasure of welcoming you and of informing ourselves concerning your Excellency’s health, as is the duty of all good subjects of the King and of every person of culture, we have come in the name of the respected servant of your Excellency who has had the misfortune—

Oh! interrupted the Captain-General, twirling a chair about on one leg and smiling nervously, if all the servants of my Excellency were like his Reverence, Padre Damaso, I should prefer myself to serve my Excellency!

The reverend gentlemen, who were standing up physically, did so mentally at this interruption.

Won’t your Reverences be seated? he added after a brief pause, moderating his tone a little.

Capitan Tiago here appeared in full dress, walking on tiptoe and leading by the hand Maria Clara, who entered timidly and with hesitation. Still she bowed gracefully and ceremoniously.

Is this young lady your daughter? asked the Captain-General in surprise.

And your Excellency’s, General, answered Capitan Tiago seriously. [1]

The alcalde and the aides opened their eyes wide, but his Excellency lost none of his gravity as he took the girl’s hand and said affably, Happy are the fathers who have daughters like you, señorita! I have heard you spoken of with respect and admiration and have wanted to see you and thank you for your beautiful action of this afternoon. I am informed of everything and when I make my report to his Majesty’s government I shall not forget your noble conduct. Meanwhile, permit me to thank you in the name of his Majesty, the King, whom I represent here and who loves peace and tranquillity in his loyal subjects, and for myself, a father who has daughters of your age, and to propose a reward for you.

Sir— answered the trembling Maria Clara.

His Excellency guessed what she wanted to say, and so continued: It is well, señorita, that you are at peace with your conscience and content with the good opinion of your fellow-countrymen, with the faith which is its own best reward and beyond which we should not aspire. But you must not deprive me of an opportunity to show that if Justice knows how to punish she also knows how to reward and that she is not always blind! The italicized words were all spoken in a loud and significant tone.

Señor Don Juan Crisostomo Ibarra awaits the orders of your Excellency! announced the aide in a loud voice.

[1] Spanish etiquette requires that the possessor of an object immediately offer it to any person who asks about it with the conventional phrase, It is yours. Capitan Tiago is rather overdoing his Latin refinement.—TR.

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