Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
Captain Fellowes is an American who owns the Central American Banana Company. He has been on the river in his motorized canoe and is now returning home. He hopes for a glad welcome, but he finds his wife in bed, claiming to be ill. She pulls the mosquito netting around her as a feeble means of protection of what she sees as ever-encroaching death. Even the word life is taboo, because it reminds her of death. When Captain Fellowes asks about their daughter, Coral, Mrs. Fellowes says that she is with the policeman who arrived the previous evening. Captain Fellowes says that the police are not to be trusted, especially with a thirteen-year-old girl. He is leaving to find her when she arrives at the door.
Coral announces to her father that she wants the policeman to leave. He had demanded a place to sleep since he had arrived late in the day, so he had slept in a hammock on the veranda. Captain Fellowes goes to meet the police lieutenant, who tells him that he is looking for a renegade priest who is wanted for treason. Captain Fellowes offers the lieutenant a drink, but says he cannot offer him alcohol since that also is treason. The lieutenant declines and leaves.
Coral says that she would not like it if such a man had caught her lying. Captain Fellowes then realizes that Coral is really hiding the priest. She takes her father to the barn, and Captain Fellowes sees the man, who is dressed in a torn dark suit and needs a shave. He tells the priest that he must leave, but he may wait until night when it is dark. The priest asks for some brandy, but Captain Fellowes says that he is not about to serve illegal alcohol on top of hiding a renegade priest.
Coral brings the priest some beer and some food. The priest eats as the two of them talk. When the priest asks Coral to pray for him, she says that she lost her faith when she was ten. The priest then offers to pray for her. She suggests that he renounce his faith, but he says that this is not something from which he can escape.
The priest leaves, followed by the police. He finds himself going in the direction of his home village. An old man offers him a place to sleep, which is all that the priest wants. The old man explains that the people of the village have not had confession for five years. Reluctantly and bitterly, the priest hears confession. He is so exhausted, wanting only to sleep, that he begins to cry. The old man tells the villagers that the priest is weeping for their sins.