Wednesday, January 16, 2013

El Escándalo (1924)

     Father Alberto was really a handsome fellow, despite his cassock, and more than one penitent had sinned mentally in contemplating her father confessor when he occupied the penitential tribunal, asking herself why such a handsome man had become a priest, when he could have driven crazy any young marriageable girl. He was arrogant, with black expressive eyes, in which one could notice something roguish. When he occupied his place in the confessional, the young girls surrounded him emulously eager to receive absolution form those lips made to pour out honey instead of reprimands among his penitents.
     On one occasion a young lady eighteen years of age, went to confession. She was tall, blond, of poetic bearing, with rosy lips, gentle and innocent look, and ingenuous outfit, that Father Alberto looked askance at her, but the young woman did not seem to notice it.
    Since then, every Monday, at the time the penitential tribunal opened, any observer could have seen kneeling in it a young girl who with signs of great unction awaited for her turn. And when this came, the priest who had been pale and nervous would acquire a very rosy color and would begin the confession that should be exhaustive judging by the time spent in it and by the excitement produced in one and the other.
    But, since everything has an end in this world, those who had confessed to Father Alberto, not satisfied with role of extras in that show, began to murmur about such confessions, whether because of envy, or because of malevolence, subjecting the confessor to the most scrupulous examination before and after the act to which he was devoted.
    But let us hear what two of those who had confessed say. They are not young, nor beautiful, but have more than enough of ulterior motive and mischief.

    “ Today, madam Flaviana, Father Alberto must have overslept because it is six thirty in the morning and he hasn’t turned up round here.”
    “Father Alberto is very young, and sometimes he must go to bed with a very hot head because of too many confessions, and perhaps…”
    “And especially if the penitents are blondies and beautiful. Lord, forgive me, because I am sinning without wanting to.”
    “The flesh is weak and our resistance is so feeble. But there’s  the assistant priest. Without a doubt he will give us news about Father Alberto.”
    “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Is it true?
    “That Father Alberto is very badly injured. The car he was riding in has overturned, and the good Father has dislocated one foot and broken his right arm. Also it is assured that a young girl … But it must not be true.”
    “What has happened to the young girl?”
    “That she is also badly injured.”
    “One of those who go to confession?”
    “A very beautiful blond.”

Angeles L. De Ayala
The Independent Manila
April 12, 1924

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

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