Chapter 16: - Page 9 of 9

The Tribulations of a Chinese

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

But, Padre, the devil doesn’t need to come—we are sufficient to damn ourselves—

It can’t be explained any other way.

If science—

Get out with science, puñales!

But, listen to me and I’ll convince you.  It’s all a question of optics. I haven’t yet seen the head nor do I know how it looks, but this gentleman—indicating Juanito Pelaez—tells us that it does not look like the talking heads that are usually exhibited. So be it! But the principle is the same—it’s all a question of optics. Wait! A mirror is placed thus, another mirror behind it, the image is reflected—I say, it is purely a problem in physics.

Taking down from the walls several mirrors, he arranged them, turned them round and round, but, not getting the desired result, concluded: As I say, it’s nothing more or less than a question of optics.

But what do you want mirrors for, if Juanito tells us that the head is inside a box placed on the table? I see in it spiritualism, because the spiritualists always make use of tables, and I think that Padre Salvi, as the ecclesiastical governor, ought to prohibit the exhibition.

Padre Salvi remained silent, saying neither yes nor no.

In order to learn if there are devils or mirrors inside it, suggested Simoun, the best thing would be for you to go and see the famous sphinx.

The proposal was a good one, so it was accepted, although Padre Salvi and Don Custodio showed some repugnance.  They at a fair, to rub shoulders with the public, to see sphinxes and talking heads! What would the natives say? These might take them for mere men, endowed with the same passions and weaknesses as others.  But Ben-Zayb, with his journalistic ingenuity, promised to request Mr. Leeds not to admit the public while they were inside.  They would be honoring him sufficiently by the visit not to admit of his refusal, and besides he would not charge any admission fee.  To give a show of probability to this, he concluded: Because, remember, if I should expose the trick of the mirrors to the public, it would ruin the poor American’s business.  Ben-Zayb was a conscientious individual.

About a dozen set out, among them our acquaintances, Padres Salvi, Camorra, and Irene, Don Custodio, Ben-Zayb, and Juanito Pelaez.  Their carriages set them down at the entrance to the Quiapo Plaza.  

Learn this Filipino word:

putók sa buhò