I have to say that Pedro disappoints me once again. I love him when he is fiercely defensive of those he believes he has to defend even though they might guilty. But when he gets all broody and his mind makes him stray from the right way, I feel as if he is a different person. Now the reason why he might betray his family is a young woman, Evangelina González, the woman who accused the gilder, Antonio Galera, of rape.
Pedro defends Antonio Galera with all his abilities and even tricks even though he has a bad feeling about the case. During the trial he questions Angelina, who is a very beautiful young woman, raising doubts about her accusations as the woman only reported the gilder eight hours after the deed. Then the lawyer uses a trick, which I know comes from one of the trials that the book “Don Quixote” describes when Sancho Panza was made governor of Barataria Fief. What Pedro like Sancho does is to give Evangelina a pouch of money, and when Antonio Galera tries to snatch it from her, the woman fights nail and tooth, and the man is unable to take the pouch from her. So Pedro explains to the judge that if the woman defended the money so fiercely, how come she didn’t do the same with her virginity?
After the trial, Pedro feels ill at ease, and when the verdict of innocence comes, he goes to see the gilder morosely. Then he can’t help but ask the man if he is really innocent. Antonio Galera then admits that what Angelina told the court was the truth, but he believes the woman deserved it as she kept provoking him with her beauty and scents. As the man talks, he keeps laughing and even relishing the act he did. Pedro leaves the house, feeling totally miserable. Then he decides to drop by the house where Evangelina lives. Her parents don’t receive him warmly, and he knows they have a right to feel outraged because this result has ruined their daughter’s life. Not only has she lost her virtue but she has also been proved a liar. Pedro simply says he is sorry and gives the man the pouch of coins that Antonio Galera gave him as payment.
Then when he returns home, Adela comforts and gives him the love he needs. Yet, from that day he can’t stop thinking about Angelina. It is not just that he is feeling guilty for the part he had in the harm inflicting on the girl, but he is obsessed with her beauty and feels very tempted. This wouldn’t have been any problem if Angelina had remained a fantasy, but the events that follow bring Angelina back to his life, and we know that Pedro is not good at resisting temptation. So I am afraid for him and for Adela.
The events that happen is that another woman is murdered. Her name is Felisa and she was a seamstress in the household of a 24, a woman called Dª Consolación. The woman was returning to her house after having to mend a dress that she had made for her mistress. It was late, and when the woman was walking home, he was surprised and killed in the same way as Dionisia had been murdered.
Pedro doesn’t hear about Felisa and the particulars about her murder until one week before Francisco Porrúa’s execution. That day Pedro gets the visit of Tomás de la Cruz, who tells him about the possible link between Dionisia’s and Felisa’s murders. The link is a coin left in Dionisia’s house and another one left on the body of Felisa. The coins are denarii, and there are some pictures and inscriptions that Tomás has tried to draw. In Dionisia’s coin there are the pictures of a woman and a wild boar, and the inscription is CHOSIDICE. The other coin shows the picture of a man, a horse-drawn carriage, and a dog, and the inscription is ROMA. Neither Pedro nor Thomas know what these pictures and inscriptions mean, and have no idea why the coins were left with the two women. Tomás also mentions that the two women worked for two 24s, which is another link. What is clear is that Francisco Porrúa didn’t kill Dionisia as he was in jail when Felisa was murdered. A man has been arrested for Felisa’s murder, someone called Deogracias, who was apprehended when he tried to sell a silver chain that belonged to Felisa. It is clear that neither man could be the killer as the man who left the coins must have been rich enough to be in the possession of these coins, and both Francisco and Deogracias are as poor as church mice.
When Pedro tries to talk to the judge in a vain attempt to prevent the execution of Francisco Porrúa, he is turned down. What he does is to write a letter to the king, requesting pardon for Francisco, but this letter has to go through the judge, and the request is refused. So Francisco is executed in the terrible way the court decided.
Then Pedro goes to talk to Deogracias, and the man who is a poor devil tells him that the night when Felisa was murdered, he got a terrible fright. He saw a man all dressed in black, and Deogracias describes him as the devil himself. Yet, he doesn’t think he could recognise him. Then after the man fled, he saw Felisa’s body, and next to it he saw the silver chain that must have been snatched open, and without thinking about it twice, he took it, and he only tried to sell it a few weeks later for fear that he would be accused of something to do with the crime, which is exactly what happened in the end. Pedro can see that the poor devil didn’t kill Felisa, but in his demeanour he can see sadness and resignation.
It is a few weeks later that very early in the morning when Pedro is still in bed, the guards knock at his house, waking him and Adela. Tomás de la Cruz wants him as there has been another murder. When Pedro goes to the crime scene, Tomas tells him that they should keep this encounter a secret. Then he tells him that the murdered woman is not a servant, but the daughter of a very powerful 24. The woman’s name is Dª Isabel Medina, and like the other two women she was killed in a terrible way and raped. What Tomás doesn’t know what the woman was doing in that part of the town. And there is another coin with strange pictures and inscriptions.
Pedro and Adela go to the woman’s funeral even though they weren’t acquainted with her or her parents. Pedro has had the idea that maybe Antonio Galera, the gilder, who is a rapist as he admitted to him, could have been the perpetrator, but Adela tells him that he has no evidence, just some far-fetched assumptions. When Pedro gives his condolences to the woman’s father, Don Esteban Juan Medina, he tells him that he might have information about the death of his daughter. They meet the following day, and even though Pedro doesn’t tell him anything about his assumptions about Antonio Galera, he tells him about the coins, Dionisia and Felisa, and he asks him to use his power so that the killer of his daughter gets his justice.
Then he knows that he has to have the drawing of the three coins so that his mission is easier. So he tries to find Jacome Vacaro, but he is in Sanlúcar, and when he visits his cousin Antonio Camacho, he is told that the man is very sick. Then he remembers that during the trial agains Antonio Galera, Angelina admitted that she can draw quite well. And even though he knows this is a temptation he has to avoid, he goes to find her, and offers the job to her. Her parents consent, and that night Pedro can hardly sleep, thinking about Angelina, her beauty, her face, her skin… Oh silly, silly Pedro. He knows that Adela is his life, but he lets himself get carried away by his stupid temptations. The woman appears the next day, and he is excited and fearful, and when they go to the house of justice, Angelina says she can draw the coins in just one day, but Pedro tells her that she can do one coin a day as he wants all the details. Yet, we know that he just finds excuses to see her. I have the feeling that Angelina is not indifferent to Pedro either, so that is another danger. And when they leave the house of justice, Pedro offers her to go for a drink to some inn, but the woman refuses, but I think it is because she feels overwhelmed. Oh Gosh, I am afraid what this foolish man is going to do. Adela has already forgiven him for spending a night with a prostitute when he was drunk, but this time his sin would be more dangerous, inexcusable.
In any case, when Angelina draws the first coin, Pedro notices things that Tomas de la Cruz didnt’ get to draw first. The woman tells him that she cleaned some of the dirt in the coin, so on the front the coin has the picture of a woman’s face and some inscriptions: GETA, III, and VIR. Pedro doesn’t know what GETA is, but III must refer to the number 3 in Roman numerals, and VIR means man in Latin. On the back there is the picture of a wild boar under which there is a little dog, and the inscription CHOSIDICF, and not CHOSIDICE as Tomas has written.
The mystery is all very strange and fascinating, and Pedro thinks these are not the last coins as he has the hunch there will be more murders. What I feel quite upset about is how Pedro is so drawn to Angelina. Will they start an affair? I hope not, but we know that Pedro is weak and doesn’t resist temptation too much.