Chapter 44: - Page 4 of 6

An Examination of Conscience

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)


But the aunt again approached, and Sinang had to go away without understanding what her friend had meant. The good old aunt drew a chair up to the light, put her spectacles on the end of her nose, and opened a booklet. Pay close attention, daughter. I’m going to begin with the Ten Commandments. I’ll go slow so that you can meditate. If you don’t hear well tell me so that I can repeat. You know that in looking after your welfare I’m never weary.

She began to read in a monotonous and snuffling voice the considerations of cases of sinfulness. At the end of each paragraph she made a long pause in order to give the girl time to recall her sins and to repent of them.

Maria Clara stared vaguely into space. After finishing the first commandment, to love God above all things, Aunt Isabel looked at her over her spectacles and was satisfied with her sad and thoughtful mien. She coughed piously and after a long pause began to read the second commandment. The good old woman read with unction and when she had finished the commentaries looked again at her niece, who turned her head slowly to the other side.

Bah! said Aunt Isabel to herself. With taking His holy name in vain the poor child has nothing to do. Let’s pass on to the third. [1]

The third commandment was analyzed and commented upon. After citing all the cases in which one can break it she again looked toward the bed. But now she lifted up her glasses and rubbed her eyes, for she had seen her niece raise a handkerchief to her face as if to wipe away tears.

Hum, ahem! The poor child once went to sleep during the sermon. Then replacing her glasses on the end of her nose, she said, Now let’s see if, just as you’ve failed to keep holy the Sabbath, you’ve failed to honor your father and mother.

So she read the fourth commandment in an even slower and more snuffling voice, thinking thus to give solemnity to the act, just as she had seen many friars do. Aunt Isabel had never heard a Quaker preach or she would also have trembled.

[1] The Roman Catholic decalogue does not contain the commandment forbidding the worship of graven images, its second being the prohibition against taking His holy name in vain. To make up the ten, the commandment against covetousness is divided into two.—TR.

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