Chapter 13: - Page 3 of 9

The Class in Physics

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

A fat boy with a sleepy face and hair as stiff and hard as the bristles of a brush yawned until he seemed to be about to dislocate his jaws, and stretched himself with his arms extended as though he were in his bed.  The professor saw this and wished to startle him.

Eh, there, sleepy-head! What’s this? Lazy, too, so it’s sure you [2] don’t know the lesson, ha?

Padre Millon not only used the depreciative tu with the students, like a good friar, but he also addressed them in the slang of the markets, a practise that he had acquired from the professor of canonical law: whether that reverend gentleman wished to humble the students or the sacred decrees of the councils is a question not yet settled, in spite of the great attention that has been given to it.

This question, instead of offending the class, amused them, and many laughed—it was a daily occurrence.  But the sleeper did not laugh; he arose with a bound, rubbed his eyes, and, as though a steam-engine were turning the phonograph, began to recite.

The name of mirror is applied to all polished surfaces intended to produce by the reflection of light the images of the objects placed before said surfaces.  From the substances that form these surfaces, they are divided into metallic mirrors and glass mirrors—

Stop, stop, stop! interrupted the professor.  Heavens, what a rattle! We are at the point where the mirrors are divided into metallic and glass, eh? Now if I should present to you a block of wood, a piece of kamagon for instance, well polished and varnished, or a slab of black marble well burnished, or a square of jet, which would reflect the images of objects placed before them, how would you classify those mirrors?

Whether he did not know what to answer or did not understand the question, the student tried to get out of the difficulty by demonstrating that he knew the lesson, so he rushed on like a torrent.

The first are composed of brass or an alloy of different metals and the second of a sheet of glass, with its two sides well polished, one of which has an amalgam of tin adhering to it.

Tut, tut, tut! That’s not it! I say to you ‘Dominus vobiscum,’ and you answer me with ‘Requiescat in pace!

The worthy professor then repeated the question in the vernacular of the markets, interspersed with cosas and abás at every moment.

[2] Throughout this chapter the professor uses the familiar tu in addressing the students, thus giving his remarks a contemptuous tone.—Tr.

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