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It is a well-known fact that Californians today are not aware of the marvelous archive of clever and cunning letters that preserve the memories of past centuries. Rather, they greatly admire a different way of hearing from the absent, that being through a live person, as proven by the following scenario.

Toward the beginning of the 18th century and the colonial conquest, an indigenous child from the mission of San Javier traveled to Loreto. The mission father who was there, sent him back with two muffin rolls for Father Juan de Ugarte of the San Javier mission along with several letters. In addition to recent news, one of the letters advised Father Juan of the two muffins the boy was carrying. (At that time, muffins were considered a special gift because bread was only made in Loreto and only when flour was brought from the other side of the sea). While on the road, the boy tasted one of the muffins and, as it tasted good, continued eating until both were gone. Since he was alone, he believed no one would know. The boy arrived in San Javier and handed the letters to Father Ugarte. After reading what they said, he asked the Indian child to deliver what the father from Loreto gave him to bring.

He replied that nothing had been given to him except the letters. The father replied that two muffins had been given to him. The boy said again that he had received nothing. The father continued until the boy asked, “Who says they gave me that for you?” “The father in San Javier says so,” the father replied, showing him the letter. The poor child was in awe that such a small thin object as a piece of paper could speak. However, he said that if the letter says so, “It lies!”

The father left him with this, suspecting what might have really happened. After some time, the incident was repeated again. The same Indian child had been sent to Loreto and was instructed to deliver another edible gift back to Father Ugarte, along with a letter explaining what was being sent. While on the road, the young messenger wanted to eat what he had been given but was afraid of the letter. He had already experienced how the letter told the father about the muffins. However, he was overcome by a craving for what he had brought. He stepped off the path and placed the letter behind a boulder. Hiding elsewhere, he ate everything he had. When finished, he retrieved the letter and continued on his way.

When he arrived at San Javier, Father Ugarte read the letter then asked the boy to deliver what had been given him in Loreto. The child replied that he had not been given anything. The father said he knew well that he had been given something to bring to the father. “Who says so?” asked the Indian boy. “This says so,” Father Ugarte replied, showing him the letter again. “It lies!” exclaimed the child. “The other time it is true that I ate the bread in front of the letter, but this time, I hid where the letter could not see me. If it now says that I ate what I brought, it lies because it did not see me eat anything or know what I did.”

In this case, it is quite well known how far the Californians were from hearing about the artifice of letters.

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