Las monedas de los 24- 5 (Pages 280-365)



The next crime is really strange. The day Dª Francisca disappears, her husband and everybody in Jerez think that what has happened is that the woman, tired of her husband, has eloped with another man. Pedro, though, is convinced that something has happened to the woman, and he tries to talk to the judge and prosecutor, but nobody believes him.

That night while he and Adela are sleeping, they are woken by some loud knocks at the door. Pedro jumps out of bed, puts on his clothes, and opens the window. He calls in the night, but nobody answers, but he can see a black carriage. Then as he climbs down the stairs, he hears the sounds of horse hooves and wheels as the carriage leaves. When he opens the door, there is nobody, but then he sees a body before his door. It is Dª Francisco and there is a silver coin on her forehead. Pedro calls the guards, and he is questioned. What he doesn’t even imagine that he can be suspected. The judge sends the marshal Tomás de la Cruz to search the house, and then Tomas asks Pedro to accompany him to the prison so that the judge and prosecutor can question him. There D Rodrigo and Bernardo ask him about the night, and in the end they have to let him go as another lawyer, who lives in the next street, saw exactly the same as Pedro describes.

Pedro then tries to talk to the dead woman’s widower, who is a 24, but he refuses to see him, and his lawyer explains to him that the man is considering reporting Pedro as he thinks he might be involved in his wife’s death. Then Pedro decides to continue his investigations. One thing he wants to do is to see the coin found on the woman’s forehead, but the judge refuses his request. Then he has to resort to his underhand tricks, so he talks to one  of the scribes in the House of Justice, who lets him have the coin for some money.

Once again Pedro goes to find Evangelina, and he acts all excited and nervous. Even though he feels a fool, he can’t help himself. The young woman accepts to draw the coin,and when they meet, Pedro says he has to stay to do some work, but he keeps throwing looks in her direction. It is clear that something happens to Evangelina when Pedro is around, and I feared that she was also attracted to him. Then Evangelina tells him she can’t draw with him in the room, so Pedro leaves the office for a bit, and when he returns, Evangelina has finished. The inscriptions and pictures in the coins are as dark as the other ones, and this one also has an X and animals. Angelina is about to leave, and Pedro tells her to sit for a while, and then Pedro foolishly asks her if they can be friends. Then Evangelina gives the foolish lawyer a good lesson. She tells him they can’t be friends, and then starts giving him the consequences that his defence of Antonio Galera did to her: everybody calls her a slut, a liar, and many more insults, people whisper when she walks by, she feels dirty, she has lost her virtue, she hears her mother cry every night, she lost the love of Jesús, the boyfriend she thought she was in love with, and the young man even got into trouble with a customer when the customer insulted him, and now he doesn’t even have a job. Evangelina lists all the terrible things that have happened, but then she says that it is not just that the reason they can’t be friends. It is because Pedro looks at her in the same way as Antonio Galera looked at her… with hunger. In that moment Pedro feels dirty, humiliated, and depressed as the woman leaves. He realises that the darkness in his soul has tried to dominate him, and he has let it happen.

Feeling that he needs to do something good to make up for his darkness, he goes to find Jesús, the young man who used to be Evangelina’s boyfriend. He talks to him, and even though the man tells him he doesn’t want to talk about Evangelina or about what happened to her, Pedro makes use of his gift of the gab to make him understand how terribly wrong he is. It is a wonderful speech, not worse than the speech Evangelina had previously delivered in his office. Jesús has evidently been touched by what Pedro has told him, and it is obvious he still loves Evangelina and wants reassurances that she won’t turn him down. And before they part ways, Pedro comes up with an idea. He offers him a job. What Pedro wants Jesus to do is to watch Pedro Galera every day, and he will pay him a few coins for the job. Jesús agrees to do it, but I think that it is not the gilder who Pedro needs to focus his attention on.

When he returns home, Jerónimo Hiniesta is waitign for him. He has the accusations of the prosecutor for the trial against Deogracias. In the document there is no mention of the other crimes or the coins. Pedro has only ten days to build up his defence of the lawyer. Feeling low, he goes to visit his friend Bartolomé Gutiérrez, who is feeling very sick and old. Pedro tells Bartolomé everything, about the crimes, the coins, his suspicions about Antonio Galera, and Bartolomé even guesses that there is something about Evangelina. Pedro tells him that nothing has happened, but he has been acting like a fool, and Bartolomé advises him to tell Adela everything, and in his wise words he says that badness is always around us, and it is goodness that we need to nurture like a plant. I wonder if Pedro will heed Bartolomé and talk to his wife, but I don’t know how Adela will take her husband’s confession. It is not nice to learn that your man has been having fantasies about another woman. Apart from this, Bartolomé tells him something about the coins. The denarii are from the Roman Republic, and he can identify one of the inscriptions as the minter. He advises Pedro then to see Fray Gerónimo de Estrada, the Jesuit, who is the man who knows more about numismatics in Jerez.

His encounter with Fray Gerónimo will have to wait as the friar is away. When he finally goes to see him, the man has a book and Pedro learns everything about the inscriptions and pictures. The coins all belong to a different Roman family, the X represents the number ten as a denarius was worth ten asses, and the one with a horizontal line represented the number sixteen. The pictures all represent different moments of glory in the family. Pedro knows little about the history of Rome, but what he doesn’t understand is what the coins mean for the crimes. Why did the murderer leave these coins on the murdered women? What is the meaning? And why did he choose these particular women who had nothing in common apart from having links with different 24s? Two of them were poor and simple servants, and the other two were wealthy and of noble origin as they were daughter and wife to two 24s. And why did the killer leave the fourth body at Pedro’s door?

I really have no idea what the resolution might be. I am pretty sure that the gilder has nothing to do with the crimes, and even though Pedro is certain that the man might be involved, I just know that he is not the killer. I have even considered that maybe the judge, D Ramiro, and the prosecutor, D Bernabé, could be the murderer. It is quite suspicious that neither of them do anything to investigate these crimes as the actions of just one person. The modus operandi is the same: the women are killed with some kind of sword, then they are drawn and disembowelled, and raped, and we can’t forget the fact that a denarius is found on them. So why don’t they try to find out the truth? Is it because one of them is the perpetrator, or is it because they are protecting someone?


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