Chapter 56: - Page 4 of 7

Rumors and Beliefs

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Shut up! cried Sister Puté.  You’ll still defend those whom God has clearly punished.  You’ll see how they’ll arrest you, too.  You’re upholding a falling house.

Her husband became silent before this argument.

Yes, continued the old lady, after striking Padre Damaso there wasn’t anything left for him to do but to kill Padre Salvi.

But you can’t deny that he was good when he was a little boy.

Yes, he was good, replied the old woman, but he went to Spain.  All those that go to Spain become heretics, as the curates have said.

Oho! exclaimed her husband, seeing his chance for a retort, and the curate, and all the curates, and the Archbishop, and the Pope, and the Virgin—aren’t they from Spain? Are they also heretics? Abá!

Happily for Sister Puté the arrival of a maidservant running, all pale and terrified, cut short this discussion.

A man hanged in the next garden! she cried breathlessly.

A man hanged? exclaimed all in stupefaction.  The women crossed themselves. No one could move from his place.

Yes, sir, went on the trembling servant; I was going to pick peas—I looked into our neighbor’s garden to see if it was—I saw a man swinging—I thought it was Teo, the servant who always gives me—I went nearer to—pick the peas, and I saw that it wasn’t Teo, but a dead man.  I ran and I ran and—

Let’s go see him, said the old man, rising.  Show us the way.

Don’t you go! cried Sister Puté, catching hold of his camisa.  Something will happen to you! Is he hanged? Then the worse for him!

Let me see him, woman. You, Juan, go to the barracks and report it.  Perhaps he’s not dead yet.

So he proceeded to the garden with the servant, who kept behind him.  The women, including even Sister Puté herself, followed after, filled with fear and curiosity.

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