Chapter 63: - Page 7 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The man thoughtfully contemplated the attractive features of the boy, then went on in a still weaker voice, Listen! I, too, shall be dead before the day comes.  Twenty paces from here, on the other side of the brook, there is a big pile of firewood.  Bring it here, make a pyre, put our bodies upon it, cover them over, and set fire to the whole—fire, until we are reduced to ashes!

Basilio listened attentively.

Afterwards, if no one comes, dig here.  You will find a lot of gold and it will all be yours.  Take it and go to school.

The voice of the unknown was becoming every moment more unintelligible.  Go, get the firewood.  I want to help you.

As Basilio moved away, the unknown turned his face toward the east and murmured, as though praying:

I die without seeing the dawn brighten over my native land! You, who have it to see, welcome it—and forget not those who have fallen during the night!

He raised his eyes to the sky and his lips continued to move, as if uttering a prayer.  Then he bowed his head and sank slowly to the earth.

Two hours later Sister Rufa was on the back veranda of her house making her morning ablutions in order to attend mass.  The pious woman gazed at the adjacent wood and saw a thick column of smoke rising from it.  Filled with holy indignation, she knitted her eyebrows and exclaimed:

What heretic is making a clearing on a holy day? That’s why so many calamities come! You ought to go to purgatory and see if you could get out of there, savage!

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