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"Oh, it is. But at the end of two weeks, I left them saying I was coming East to visit a cousin. I don't have any cousin, but I got on the train because the whole Hollingworth family came down to the station to see me off, and I knew they'd feel bad if they thought I had no place to go. On the train I bought a ticket for the next town, a place called Catlett. I got out there and took a lift on the highway from a fellow who was driving his car to Cleveland to sell it there. He liked the car, because you see he had saved so long to buy it. He was sad all the way and told me over and over how he had fixed this part and repaired that one. But here he was - out of a job and all of his savings, gone and finally the car was going too. Somehow it scared me. At Cleveland, I got another lift out of town and once, when we stopped for gas in a place called High Hope, I got into conversation with the owner of the station. He offered me a job for a place to eat and sleep. I was supposed to help him in repairs and service and I could keep whatever money I got for


fixing automobile radios. In three weeks, I fixed one radio, but I quit because one day I went into town and a fellow stopped me. He was almost crazy because he said I had taken his job. He used to make thirty a week and 1 was doing the work for practically nothing. He was married and had a family, so I moved on. I don't know whether he ever got the job back, but I know I didn't want it any more. You see, I knew all the time that I had this appointment here, waiting for me."

Erik put out the cigarette as if he had just become aware of the extent of his rambling. He cleared his throat and stood up, hoping to be dismissed painlessly.

"No, sit down," said Fox. "Sit down and tell me what happened."

Erik sat down again. Here I am, he thought, talking to Earle Fox, a scientist who won the Nobel Prize. We're all alone in the room and he's listening to me go on like an idiot about my summer. To me. He thought of all the people Fox had shaken hands with - the President of the United States, the King of Denmark, every living creature whose name was famous.

"Go on," said Fox. "What happened?"

''Nothing much. You see, now that I'm safe, it's almost as though nothing had happened. In Schenectady I had a job washing dishes for a while, and when I got to New York, I came up here at once but you were still away on your vacation. For two weeks until yesterday I worked in a bath house at an open air pool on the East Side. I used to laugh all the time because it was so funny."


"No matter what was happening, no matter what kind of crazy job I had, I used to say to myself, I'm really a physicist." He checked himself. "I can call myself a physicist, can't I? Or is that - presumptuous?"

"No," said Fox after a moment. His voice was gentle. "You're a physicist."

"The point is this," Erik said. He was standing and his eyes seemed very dark. "I want you to know what this chance means to me, and when you say that I'll be given every opportunity, I don't need every opportunity. All I ask is just one, that's all, just one."

"Yes," said Fox. "Yes, I see."

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