Father Salví rushes through his morning mass and other religious duties in order to meet up with María Clara and her friends. When he arrives, he walks through the woods and hears María Clara and several other girls talking about him, saying that he creepily follows her everywhere she goes. When he comes upon the rest of the group, he sees that the majority of the town is there, including his nemesis the ensign, the mayor, Don Filipo, and even Captain Basilio, who was Don Rafael’s enemy in a past lawsuit that has been left unsettled. When the priest emerges, he hears Ibarra saying to Captain Basilio, “We may disagree over rights, but disagreement does not mean enmity.”
Ibarra’s claim that “disagreement does not mean enmity” illustrates his good nature and his willingness to work with people who don’t see eye-to-eye with him. This mentality is perhaps how he manages to maintain a sense of optimism when it comes to matters like the state of education in San Diego. Simply put, he’s not interested in indulging rivalry for rivalry’s sake. Rather, he prefers to work with people who think differently than him.
During the dinner, Father Salví asks the ensign if he knows anything about a criminal who apparently attacked Father Dámaso on the road the previous day. The ensign hasn’t even heard of this offense, and Salví tells him that the suspect in question is a man named Elías, a criminal and bandit notorious for having thrown the ensign himself into a lake. At this moment, Sisa appears and wanders throughout the dinner party. Seeing her, Ibarra orders the servants to give her something to eat, but she disappears into the trees again. This prompts a discussion between the dinner guests about the missing young sextons, and the ensign takes this opportunity to lampoon Salví for having lost track of Crispín and Basilio, accusing him of caring more about missing money than missing children.
When the ensign accuses Father Salví of caring more about money than about Crispín and Basilio, he accurately assesses the priest’s priorities. Interestingly enough, the ensign finds himself using Salví’s lack of empathy against him, despite the fact that the Civil Guard also mistreated Sisa and even shot at Basilio when he ran through the night. As such, it’s clear that the ensign cares more about making Salví look bad than actually showing the townspeople empathy.
Ibarra receives a telegram during the party that says his plan to build a school has been approved. A sergeant then emerges and demands that the group of dinner guests hand over the criminal Elías, who they tell Ibarra is the same boatman he saved earlier that day. Because the ensign recently left the party, the sergeant explains the encounter that the ensign had with Elías not long ago: the two men were traveling in opposite directions across a narrow bridge. Riding on a horse, the ensign refused to yield to Elías, who also neglected to step out of the way. Just as the horse was about to trample Elías, the outlaw grabbed a piece of wood and hit it on the head, causing it to topple over, bucking the ensign into the mud.
Ibarra’s realization that the boatman is a wanted criminal is important because Ibarra knows that this criminal has an affinity for him, since he saved Elías’s life. As such, Ibarra is secretly affiliated with a controversial figure, a fact that could potentially interfere with his public image and his ability to carry out the philanthropic projects he has envisioned.