Chapter 54:


(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Quidquid latet, adparebit,

Nil inultum remanebit. [1]

The vesper bells are ringing, and at the holy sound all pause, drop their tasks, and uncover.  The laborer returning from the fields ceases the song with which he was pacing his carabao and murmurs a prayer, the women in the street cross themselves and move their lips affectedly so that none may doubt their piety, a man stops caressing his game-cock and recites the angelus to bring better luck, while inside the houses they pray aloud.  Every sound but that of the Ave Maria dies away, becomes hushed.

Nevertheless, the curate, without his hat, rushes across the street, to the scandalizing of many old women, and, greater scandal still, directs his steps toward the house of the alferez.  The devout women then think it time to cease the movement of their lips in order to kiss the curate’s hand, but Padre Salvi takes no notice of them.  This evening he finds no pleasure in placing his bony hand on his Christian nose that he may slip it down dissemblingly (as Doña Consolacion has observed) over the bosom of the attractive young woman who may have bent over to receive his blessing.  Some important matter must be engaging his attention when he thus forgets his own interests and those of the Church!

In fact, he rushes headlong up the stairway and knocks impatiently at the alferez’s door.  The latter puts in his appearance, scowling, followed by his better half, who smiles like one of the damned.

Ah, Padre, I was just going over to see you.  That old goat of yours—

I have a very important matter—

I can’t stand for his running about and breaking down the fence.  I’ll shoot him if he comes back!

That is, if you are alive tomorrow! exclaimed the panting curate as he made his way toward the sala.

[1] Whatever is hidden will be revealed, nothing will remain unaccounted for. From Dies Irae, the hymn in the mass for the dead, best known to English readers from the paraphrase of it in Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel. The lines here quoted were thus metrically translated by Macaulay:

What was distant shall be near,

What was hidden shall be clear.—TR.


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