Chapter 13: - Page 5 of 9

The Class in Physics

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Concedo antecedentum, echoed the professor, smiling maliciously.  Ergo, I can scratch the mercury off a looking-glass, put in its place a piece of bibinka, and we shall still have a mirror, eh? Now what shall we have?

The youth gazed at his prompters, but seeing them surprised and speechless, contracted his features into an expression of bitterest reproach.  Deus meus, Deus meus, quare dereliquiste me, said his troubled eyes, while his lips muttered Linintikan! Vainly he coughed, fumbled at his shirt-bosom, stood first on one foot and then on the other, but found no answer.

Come now, what have we? urged the professor, enjoying the effect of his reasoning.

Bibinka! whispered Juanito Pelaez.  Bibinka!

Shut up, you fool! cried the desperate youth, hoping to get out of the difficulty by turning it into a complaint.

Let’s see, Juanito, if you can answer the question for me, the professor then said to Pelaez, who was one of his pets.

The latter rose slowly, not without first giving Penitente, who followed him on the roll, a nudge that meant, Don’t forget to prompt me.

Nego consequentiam, Padre, he replied resolutely.

Aha, then probo consequentiam! Per te, the polished surface constitutes the ‘essence’ of the mirror—  

Nego suppositum! interrupted Juanito, as he felt Placido pulling at his coat.

How? Per te


Ergo, you believe that what is behind affects what is in front?

Nego! the student cried with still more ardor, feeling another jerk at his coat.

Juanito, or rather Placido, who was prompting him, was unconsciously adopting Chinese tactics: not to admit the most inoffensive foreigner in order not to be invaded.

Then where are we? asked the professor, somewhat disconcerted, and looking uneasily at the refractory student.  Does the substance behind affect, or does it not affect, the surface?

To this precise and categorical question, a kind of ultimatum, Juanito did not know what to reply and his coat offered no suggestions.  In vain he made signs to Placido, but Placido himself was in doubt.  Juanito then took advantage of a moment in which the professor was staring at a student who was cautiously and secretly taking off the shoes that hurt his feet, to step heavily on Placido’s toes and whisper, Tell me, hurry up, tell me!

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