The Winning Touchdown/Chapter 26

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CHAPTER XXVI


MOSES IN PHYSICS


"Say, fellows, have you heard the news?" burst out Dutch Housenlager one morning after chapel, about a week following the announcement about the twenty thousand dollars being demanded.

"News? What news?" inquired Holly Cross.

"Has the lawsuit been called off?" asked Tom.

"Or has Bricktop Molloy decided to come back to play on the eleven?" demanded Sid.

"Neither one, but we're in for no end of a lark."

"Oh, yes. If there's anything funny in the wind, you can depend on Dutch to ferret it out," spoke Phil. "Well, what is it now, you old Hollander?"

"Prof. Newton is down with the pip, or something, and can't take his chemistry or physics classes to-day. They're shy one other teacher, so Prexy is going to handle the physics recitation. What a cinch it'll be! I'm not up in mine, but Moses is sure to ask us where the lesson is. We won't do a thing but steer him back to one we had a week ago. Then I'll be safe."

"You can, if you like," spoke Tom, "but I'm not going to. I've got mine, and it's a shame to put one over Moses."

"Aw, what's the harm?" demanded Dutch. "It will amount to the same thing in the end. Now don't go to spoiling my fun. I'm not up, I tell you, and I don't want to get any more crosses than I have. My record won't stand it."

"Then you can do the funny work," declared Phil. "If he asks any of us——"

"I'll sing out about a back lesson," interrupted Dutch. "Then I'll be safe. Anyhow, Moses will be sure to ask about three questions, and they will remind him of something about Sanskrit or modern Chinese, and he'll swing into a talk about what the ancient Babylonians did in war time. Then you fellows will call me blessed, for you won't have any physics to prepare to-morrow, when Prof. Newton will likely be back."

"Have it your own way," spoke Holly Cross.

As usual when there occurred a change in the routine of lectures or classes there was more or less of a spirit of unrest or mischief among the students. Those in the natural science division filed into the room where Professor Newton usually held sway, and it was quickly whispered about that "Moses" would appear to hear them.

The venerable president entered with his usual book under his arm, for he studied early and late—harder than the "greasiest dig that ever kept the incandescent going," to quote Holly Cross.

"Ah, young gentlemen," began Dr. Churchill, blandly, "I presume you are surprised to see me, but your instructor is ill, and I will endeavor to take his place. You are—er—you are in advanced science, are you not? I believe I have the right class," and the good doctor, somewhat puzzled, consulted a memorandum slip in his hand. "Yes, this is the class," he went on, with an air of relief. "Now, to-day's lesson was to be on—er—I'm afraid I have forgotten. Professor Newton told me, but it has slipped my mind."

It was exactly what Dutch Housenlager had counted on, and he was ready to take advantage of it.

"But of course," continued the president, with a smile, "you students will know where it is."

He opened the physics book, and leafed it over, as though the lesson would be disclosed to him in some supernatural way. All eyes turned to Dutch, for his impending game had become whispered about.

"I think it's page three hundred forty-seven, Dr. Churchill," said Dutch, mentioning a lesson about a week old.

"Ah, yes," went on the president. "I see. It has to do with heat and cold, sudden changes of temperature and the effects produced by each. Very interesting, very. I trust you are all prepared?"

"If we aren't, it's funny," murmured Dutch, for they had recited on it several times in review.

"Speaking of the changes produced by sudden changes of temperature, can you give me a common example?" asked the president, his eyes roving about the room. Dutch seemed so eager to recite, and have it done with, that his agitation could not but be noticed. "You many answer, Mr. Housenslager," finished Dr. Churchill.

"Ice and snow," came the ready reply. Dutch breathed easy again. He thought he was done for the day.

"Very true," continued Dr. Churchill easily, "but that is a little too common. I referred to the Prince Rupert drops. I dare say you all know what they are. Mr. Housenlager, you will kindly explain to the class how they are made, the effect they produce, and what principle they illustrate."

The doctor sat down, and all eyes were once more turned toward Dutch. Nearly every lad in the class could have given some sort of answer, for they had seen the curious glass drops broken by their regular teacher. But, as it happened, Dutch had been absent when that subject came up, and, as he made it a practice never to inquire what went on in the lecture room when he was not present, he was wholly at sea regarding the drops. He had a hazy idea regarding them, however, and resolved to hazard a recitation. It was better than complete failure.

As "every schoolboy" (to quote a well known authority) knows what the Prince Rupert drops are, I will only state that they are globules of glass, pear shaped, with a long thin "tail" of the same brittle material. They are formed by dropping molten glass into water. The outside cools quickly, a long tail is formed, and there results an unequal strain on the glass, because the outside part has cooled faster than the inside. The instant a small part of the "tail" is broken off, the entire drop crumbles to glass-dust, the pressure once more being equalized.

It was this object and phenomenon that Dutch was called on to recite about. He rose in his seat, and began with an air of confidence that he did not feel:

"The Rupert drops illustrate the power of hot water or steam. They are globules of glass, filled with water, and, when they are heated, they burst to pieces, showing the expansive force of heat."

The class wanted to roar. Dr. Churchill raised his eyebrows in surprise. Dutch had described another glass object used in the class room, and his explanation of that had been correct, but it was as different from a Prince Rupert drop as a ham sandwich is from chicken.

"Ah—um," mused the president, putting on his glasses, and gazing at Dutch through them. "Very interesting, Mr. Housenlager—very—but—hardly what I asked you."

"I—er I—er—I'm afraid I'm not prepared, sir," stammered the fun-loving youth, and the smiles went round the class.

"Too bad—don't you want to try again?" asked the president.

Dutch thought, and thought hard, but the more he tried to use his brain, the more foreign Prince Rupert seemed to him. He gave it up.

"Failure," murmured Dr. Churchill, as he marked it down against Dutch. "You may try, Parsons."

Tom gave the right answer. Dutch gave a gasp of surprise, and it was noticed that he paid very close attention to the rest of the lesson. But it did not go much farther, for, as Dutch had predicted, the president soon got on a strain that interested him, and, ignoring the text book, which was opened at the wrong page, he swept into a talk on something about as far from physics as is bookkeeping.

But the "goose of Dutch had been done to a lovely brown," once more quoting Holly Cross. His trick had turned against him, for, had he given the proper page, or had he allowed anyone else to do so, the chances are that he would not have been called on. He made himself conspicuous, and so fell before the good doctor.

"Well, Dutch," remarked Holly, as they filed from the room, "don't you want to try it on again in our Latin class?"

"Cut it out!" advised Dutch gruffly, as he marched on. "I know when I've had enough."