Chapter 12: - Page 6 of 7

Placido Penitente

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Tadeo went to the University every day to ask if the classes would be held and each time seemed to be more and more astonished that they would.  He had a fixed idea of a latent and eternal holiday, and expected it to come any day.  So each morning, after vainly proposing that they play truant, he would go away alleging important business, an appointment, or illness, just at the very moment when his companions were going to their classes.  But by some occult, thaumaturgic art Tadeo passed the examinations, was beloved by the professors, and had before him a promising future.

Meanwhile, the groups began to move inside, for the professor of physics and chemistry had put in his appearance.  The students appeared to be cheated in their hopes and went toward the interior of the building with exclamations of discontent. Placido went along with the crowd.

Penitente, Penitente! called a student with a certain mysterious air.  Sign this!

What is it?

Never mind—sign it!

It seemed to Placido that some one was twitching his ears.  He recalled the story of a cabeza de barangay in his town who, for having signed a document that he did not understand, was kept a prisoner for months and months, and came near to deportation.  An uncle of Placido’s, in order to fix the lesson in his memory, had given him a severe ear-pulling, so that always whenever he heard signatures spoken of, his ears reproduced the sensation.

Excuse me, but I can’t sign anything without first understanding what it’s about.

What a fool you are! If two celestial carbineers have signed it, what have you to fear?

The name of celestial carbineers inspired confidence, being, as it was, a sacred company created to aid God in the warfare against the evil spirit and to prevent the smuggling of heretical contraband into the markets of the New Zion.[4]

Placido was about to sign to make an end of it, because he was in a hurry,—already his classmates were reciting the O Thoma,—but again his ears twitched, so he said, After the class! I want to read it first.

[4] A burlesque on an association of students known as the Milicia Angelica, organized by the Dominicans to strengthen their hold on the people. The name used is significant, carbineers being the local revenue officers, notorious in their later days for graft and abuse.—Tr.

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