We learn about another case Pedro de Alemán has in his private practice.
The plaintiff is Sebastián de Casas, whose aunt recently died, leaving all her money and assets to the Church. Sebastián thinks that money belongs to him legally, as he was his aunt’s only relative. Sebastián is an orphan, and his lifestyle leaves much to be desired. He drinks too much, and he seems to be work-shy. His aunt’s will is legal, but he wants to prove that his aunt wasn’t of sound mind when he made his will, so he has retained Pedro’s services. The success of the trial falls on D Clemente, the late woman’s doctor, so Pedro de Alemán suggests that if the physician were to receive some money, that could jog his memory. D Pedro is aware that what he is suggesting is bribery, and when his client points that out, the lawyer is outraged, denying what the other man suggests and explaining his intentions with a lot of empty words.
After the visit is over, Pedro feels terrible. He goes to see his friend Bartolomé, who is a tailor, and when the old man notices that something is troubling the young lawyer, Pedro tells him that he doesn’t like the person he has become. He explains his corruption, taking advantage of a woman’s dire need for his own sexual pleasures or his underhand dealings to coerce a false testimony. He feels terrible, but he knows he is a good lawyer and doesn’t’ know what else to do. Even when he is talking, he knows he will continue doing what he despises so much in himself. And true to his feelings, the next day he goes to visit D. Clemente, the doctor, to offer him his bribe, but the man doesn’t even let him talk, so his other card is to find a doctor who with the right amount won’t have problems to commit perjury and lie.
I am finding the book quite intriguing, and I love the descriptions of Jerez, my home town, in the eighteenth century. I am also intrigued by Pedro with his contradictions. The first image we get about him in the book is quite negative, but as we get to know him, we realise that this is a man who also has a soul and knows perfectly well that what he is doing fill him with shame and guilt.