Two Runaways From Manila

The name Corregidor, which stands for mayor, albeit the translation

is corrector, is applied to the gateway to Manila. Thus named it was

a place to inspire a wholesome fear in the breasts of dignitaries,

for on at least two occasions proud and refractory bishops were sent

there in exile to endure a season of correction and repentance. It

was thought to be a desert. In the seventeenth century the treasure

galleon arriving at Manila, after a voyage of months from Mexico,

brought a family from that country. One of the daughters of this house

of Velez was a girl with a bit of human nature in her composition,

for Maria was prone to flirting, and had no affection for sermons. In

order to repress her high spirits and love of mischief, she was sent

by her father to the convent of Santa Clara, which had been founded

in 1621 (a few years before this incident). The parent even hoped

that she might qualify as a nun.

It was not the right convent, for Fray Sanchez, one of the fathers,

who said the offices in the chapel, was a Franciscan friar, young,

handsome, and not an ascetic. The novice was always prompt when he

said mass, and often when her pretty head should have been bowed in

prayer she was peeping over the edge of her breviary, following the

graceful motions of the brother as he shone in full canonicals in the

candle-light, and thrilling at the sound of his rich, low voice. The

priest several times caught the glance of those eyes, so black,

so liquid, saw the long fringe of lashes fall across them, saw the

face bend behind the prayer-book in a vain endeavor to hide a flush,

realized what a pretty face it was, and went to his cell with a vague

aching at his heart. He sought Maria among the pupils to give spiritual

advice, or she sought him to ask it,--it little matters,--and so the

first full moon looked into a corner of the convent garden and saw,

despite the swaying shadow of vines and palms, that the friar was

making confession to the nun,--a confession of love. The face that

had peered above the prayer-book was lifted to his, a white arm stole

about his neck: it was the answering confession. The priest strained

her to his breast and half stifled her with kisses.

These raptures were interrupted by the retiring bell, and they hastily

returned to the convent by separate ways. It was the last night they

expected to spend beneath that roof, for a galleon was to sail for

Mexico in a day or two, and they had agreed to elope. Dressed in

worldly garb, which she concealed under the robe and cowl of a monk,

Maria slipped through the garden gate next day, met her lover, ran to

the shore, where a boat had been tied, crossed with him to Camaya,

the ship being promised there for a fag end of cargo, and prayed

for a quick departure from the Philippines. In vain. They fell into

the hands of unfriendly natives, who, having learned to distrust the

Spanish, were always ready to wreak small injuries on them when the

chance afforded. These natives attempted to separate the pair and

drag the girl to their huts. The friar attacked them with spirit,

but the brown men were too many for him, and in the melee both he

and Maria were wounded.

A boat was seen approaching. The assailants fled, leaving the friar,

bleeding and weak, but kneeling beside his mistress, whose white

skin was splashed and striped with red, and whose liquid eyes stared

vacantly at the sky. As the boat touched the shore the corregidor

leaped from it, and the friar now confronted a new peril. His flight

had been discovered, the town-crier had bawled it through the streets,

commanding the people to refuse shelter to the guilty pair under

heavy penalty, and, to enforce their return, the mayor had brought

with him twelve soldiers of the garrison. The loaded arquebuses of

the men were not needed. Feeble, sore in body and spirit, repentant,

the monk surrendered, Maria was lifted into the boat, and the company

returned to Manila.

There it was decided that the monk should be sent to an inland mission,

that in the lifting of souls to a finer faith the stain of human

love that had fallen upon his own soul might be wiped away. As to

the girl, her good looks and gay disposition had proved the undoing

of one devotee. She was to have no chance to enslave another; so she

was sent back to Mexico, forced to enter a cloistered nunnery, and

so ended her life in loneliness and sanctity. The incident has left

its impress on the names about the harbor, Corregidor being so called

for the officer who pursued and arrested the runaways, Camaya being

rechristened Mariveles,--which, you see, is Maria Velez,--while two

rocks beyond the Boca Grande are named for the friar and his would-be

bride,--Fraile and Monja: monk and nun.

Two Revenges Ty Felin Ghost Llanynys facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail