Las monedas de los 24- 4 (Pages 220-280)



Thankfully nothing has happened between Pedro and Evangelina. Yet, I don’t think it is thanks to him because on the three days they met when she drew the coins, Pedro always tried to get her to accept an invitation. It is Angelina, who always declined the invitation. I wonder what will happen when they see each other again, because I am sure they will meet at some point. I don’t know why he is so obsessed with Angelina when he has such a lovely wife. Maybe the failure to deliver justice in the case of Antonio Galera has made him see the woman as if she were the personification of injustice. So maybe that is why she keeps dreaming about her and her beauty. I just hope that he doesn’t do anything stupid.

When Evangeline draws the two other coins, Pedro discovers the new elements. In the second coin, which was left by Felisa’s body, there is the picture of a face, which is not clear whether it is a woman’s or a man’s, with some kind of helmet.  The inscription on the front is CANTESTI, and on the back there are two horsemen, both very similar and carrying spears, and between the horses’s leg there is naughty dog, and the inscription there is ROMA.

The front of the third coin, found on the body of Isabel Medina, depicts the face of a woman with also a helmet and behind the face there is a wheat spike. On the back there is a carriage drawn by two horses, and driven by some kind of angel, either man or woman, and above the picture there is the inscription ROMA and under the horses, there is a warrior with a spear fighting against a lion, and underneath them there is the word CNDOM.

Pedro has no idea what the link with the murdered women is, and nor do I. I considered the idea that maybe these murders could also be linked to Pedro, since one of the coins portray two men with spears who seem to be twins, and in the second book Pedro fought against two twin brothers who he proved had killed two women, Sagrario and Isabel Ruiz Vela. Yet, I can’t find any other clues. And why should the killers target those women who are linked to the 24s? What Pedro finds is some common elements. In the three coins there is an X even if the one in the last coin has a horizontal line crossing the axis of the X.

Apart from the coins, Pedro finds out why Isabel Medina was out that night. Her father calls Pedro as one of the maids has confessed that she used to accompany her miss in several escapades to different parts of Jerez. The maid doesn’t know who her young lady went to see. The only thing she know is that Isabel got into a black carriage and stayed there for half an hour. Yet, she never saw the man who Isabel went to see, and the maid knows that it is a man who she met when the young woman commented that she wished she could marry a man like him other than the greenhorn that her father had arranged to marry her off to. So Pedro guesses that the man who Isabel met in secrecy was a well-off gentleman who was not too young. Pedro asks D Esteban Juan how his daughter might have met such a gentleman, but he doesn’t know. Yet, it is true that many men come to see him, but he swears they are unable to do something so horrible.

Pedro still has the hunch that Antonio Galera might be involved in this matter, and D Esteban Juan admits that the gilder did a couple of jobs for him and visited the house a few times, so it means that he might have met Isabel. Later he also questions the two other 24s, and although Dª Consolación says that Antonio Galera also worked for her and might have met Felisa, the other 24 D Jerónimo swears that he never had any dealings with Antonio Galera. I have my doubts about Pedro’s suspicion. In my opinion, I think he has felt so betrayed and deceived by Antonio Galera that he wants to make him pay for something. Yet, like Adela tells him some time later, he has no evidence and these suspicions are just his suppositions.

Another element he finds is common to the three crimes is that they all took place on Friday, and that is the day when Isabel Medina met the gentleman of the black carriage. The time lapse between each crime is different. The first crime took place on April 15, 1757. The second crime on May 27, that is, a month later, and the third crime took place on August 19, over two months later. Yet, when Adela reads Pedro’s notes about the crimes, she has a bad hunch as it is now two months since the last crime, and she feels the criminal might be about to act again.

Yet, it is not until November when in the next chapter the murderer gets to his next victim. It is the wife of a 24. Her name is Francisca Madán y Gutiérrez, and on Friday November 4, she and her maid Melchora are on their way to mass. Suddenly, Dª Francisca sees her ladymaid fall and she realises that someone has hit Melchora on the head. When she turs around, she finds a gentleman who she recognises, but he is not wearing his usual elegant attire, but tatty clothes. The man just asks her to come with him to the carriage, and when the woman refuses, he draws his sword and threatens to come with him, so the woman acquiesces. I imagine that this is the fourth victim and the woman will die.

Apart from this, Pedro has also been involved in a case about fake coins. A merchant from Sanlúcar came to Jerez, driving a cart in which he carried sacks of different grains. Yet, when one wheel of the cart hit a hole in the street, the sacks fell and from then a stream of coins came out. The crowd in the square rushed to pick up the coins, and the man Matías tried to protect his goods and the coins in vain. Then a woman noticed that one of the coins left a black mark, and she announced that the coins were fake, so the guards arrested the man. Pedro was in charge of his defence and tried to save him from a death in the pyre. He manages to raise reasonable doubt, and instead of a death sentence, the man gets sent to prison for twenty years. What intrigues Pedro is that something that was said in the trial got to him, and he thinks that it is important for the crime of the women, but he doesn’t know what that piece could be. I think that the testimony that can have had that relevance is when a goldsmith stated that someone with the knowledge and skill to work metals could easily counterfeit coins, and this man mentioned something about some books. I have the hunch that what Pedro doesn’t manage to remember is some of the books that he saw in Antonio Galera’s workshop, and it is clear that the gilder could work gold skilfully. So I wonder if the coins that the killer leaves with the bodies of the women he murders come from Galera’s workshop. Maybe Gallera is not the killer, but he might be the one making the coins. I imagine that the coins’ pictures and inscriptions mean something but I have no idea waht.


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