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The Souls in Purgatory

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The Souls in Purgatory
Narrator: There was once an old lady who had raised a niece since she was a tiny baby. She had taught the girl to be good, obedient, and industrious, especially the souls in purgatory.
As the girl grew older and very beautiful, the old woman began to worry that when she died on her niece would be left all alone in the world, a world which her niece saw only through innocent eyes.
Old Lady: Dear Lord, as I daily prayed to all saint’s in heaven for our intercession in heaven to You that You might send some good man who would fall in love with my niece and marry her… then I could die in peace.

Narrator: As it happens, the old woman did chores for a comadre who had a rooming house. Among her tenants there was a seemingly rich merchant who one day said:
Rich Merchant: I would like to get married. If I could find a niece quiet girl who knew to keep the house tidy, and to be a good wife and mother to our children when they came.

(As the old lady heard the rich merchant, her eyes opened and began to smile and scheme to her mind, for she could imagine her niece married to the niece gentleman.)

(The old lady told something to the merchant)

Old Lady: You could find all that you are looking for in my niece, who is a jewel, a piece of gold, and so gifted that she could even catch birds while they were flying.

(The gentleman became interested)

Rich Merchant (Gentleman): Hmmmm… I would like to meet your niece, may I go to your house tomorrow?
Old Woman: Why yes of course! I’ll tell my niece to be ready for your arrival.

(The old woman ran home as fast as she could, she appeared to be flying. When she got home all out of breath, she called her niece.)

Old Lady: My lovely niece!
Old Lady: Straighten up the house and get yourself ready for tomorrow. We will have a gentleman who would like to meet you! Be sure to comb your hair and brush it shine like the sun, and put on your best dress, for this meeting will decide your future.

(The poor timid girl was dumbfounded. She went to her room and knelt before her favorite retable of the souls in purgatory.)

Girl: Please, don’t let my aunt do something rash to embarrass us both, I know she means well for me.
The next day she obediently prepared herself for the meeting.
(The merchant arrived; he asked her if she could spin)

Gentleman: Can you spin?
Old Lady: Spin? (While the embarrassed girl stood with a bowed head) Spin? The hanks disappear so fast you would think she was drinking them like water.
Merchant: Oh really? So I will leave three hanks of linen to be spun the following day.

(The merchant left)
Girl: What have you done Tia?
You know I can’t spin.
Old Lady: Don’t sell your short. (With twinkling eyes)
Where is your faith in God, the Souls in Purgatory? You pray to them every day. They will help you. Just wait and see!
(Sobbing, the girl ran to her room and knelt down beside her bed and began to pray. Often raising her head to the retable of the Souls in Purgatory which hung on the wall beside her bed)
Niece: Dear Lord, please help me in this trouble my tia has put me in.
Narrator: After she quieted down, she thought she heard a soft sound behind her. She turned and saw three beautiful ghosts dressed in white, smiling at her.

Three ghosts: Do not be concerned.
We will help you in gratitude for all the good you have done for us.

Narrator: Saying this, each one took hank of linen and in a wink spun the linen into thread as fine as hair.
The following day when the merchant come, he was astonished to see the beautiful linen, and was very pleased.
Gentleman: Astonishing! This linen has been spun beautifully!
Old Lady: Didn’t I tell you sir? (With pride and joy)

(The gentleman asked the girl)
Gentleman: Can you sew?

(Before the surprised girl could answer, the old aunt cried)
Old Lady: Sew? Of course she can sew! Her sewing is like ripe cherries in the mouth of a dragon
Gentleman: Okay. I will leave you a piece of the finest linen to be made into three shirts.
(The poor girl cried bitterly)
Old Lady (Aunt): My beautiful niece, don’t worry, your devotion to the poor souls would surely get you out of this one too as they had shown how much they loved you on the previous day.

(The three ghosts were waiting for the girl beside her bed when she went into her room, crying miserably)
Three ghosts: Don’t cry little girl, we will help you again, for we know your aunt, and she knows what she is doing and why?
(The ghosts went to work cutting and snipping and sewing. In a flash they had three beautiful shirts finished with the finest stitches and the finest scams.)
Narrator: The next morning when the gentleman came to see if the girl had finished the shirts, he could not believe his eyes.
Gentleman: They are lovely; they seem to have been made in heaven. This time I will leave a vest of rare satin to be embroidered.
(He thought he would try this girl for the third and last time)
(The girl cried desperately, and could not even reproach her aunt)
Girl: I have decided that I will not ask any more favors from the Souls.
(She went to her room and lay across the bed, and cried and cried. When she finally sat up and dried up her tears, she saw the three ghosts smiling at her.)
Three ghosts: We will help you again, but this time we have a condition, and that is that you will invite us to your wedding.
Girl: Wedding? Am I going to get married? (Surprised)
Three ghosts: Yes, and very soon.

Narrator: The next day, a very happy gentleman came to visit his vest, for he was sure that the lovely girl would have it ready for him. But he was not prepared for the beauty of the vest. The colors were vibrant and beautifully matched. The embroidery looked like a painting. It took her breath away without hesitation.
Gentleman: I would like to ask for your niece’s hand in marriage. This vest looks as if it was not touched by human hands, but by angels!

Narrator: The old woman danced with joy and could hardly contain her happiness. She gave her consent at once.
Gentleman: I will leave now to arrange our wedding.

(Wringing her hands, the poor girl cried)
Girl: But Tia, what am I going to do when he finds out that I can’t do any of those things?
Old Lady: Don’t worry my palomita, the blessed souls will get you out of this trouble too. You wait and see!

Narrator: The poor girl did not know how to invite the souls to her wedding. She timidly went and stood beside her bed.
Girl: Retablo, come to my wedding.

Narrator: The great day finally arrived. The girl looked beautiful in the gown which the merchant had brought as part of her donas. Everyone in the village had been invited to the wedding.
During the fiesta when everyone was drinking brindes to the bride and groom, and the music was playing, three ugly hags came to the sala and stood waiting for the groom to come and welcome them in.
One of the hags had an arm that reached to the floor and dragged; the other arm was short.
The second hag was bent almost double, and to turn her head sideways to look up.
The third hag had bulging, bloodshot eyes like a lobster.
Gentleman (Groom): Jesus Maria! Who are those ugly creatures?
Girl (Bride): They are aunts of my father, whom I invited to my wedding. (The niece lied because she knew who those three hags were)
(The groom, being well bred, went at once to greet the ugly hags. He took them to their seats and brought them refreshments.)

Gentleman: (Very casually) Tell me senora, why is one of your arms so long and the other one short?
First hag (One of the ghosts): My son, my arms are like that because I spin so much.
(The groom went to his wife)
Gentleman: Why are you so humped over Senora?
Second hag: My son, I am that way because of embroidering on a frame so much.
(The groom went to his wife)
Gentleman: Burn your embroidery, frame at once, and never let me see your embroider another thing.
(Next, the groom went to the third hag)
Gentleman: Why are your eyes so bloodshot and bulging?
Third hag: My son, it is because I sew so much and bent over while sewing.

(The groom went to his wife)
Gentleman: Take your needles and thread and bury them. I never want to see you sewing, never! If I see you sewing, I will divorce you and send you far away, for the wise man learns from other’s painful experiences.

Well… so the Souls, in spite of being holy, can also be rascals.


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