April 27—I got up the nerve today to ask Miss Kinnian to have dinner with me tomorrow night to celebrate my bonus.
At first she wasn’t sure it was right, but I asked Dr. Strauss and he said it was okay. Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur don’t seem to be getting along so well. They’re arguing all the time. This evening when I came in to ask Dr. Strauss about having dinner with Miss Kinnian, I heard them shouting. Dr. Nemur was saying that it was his experiment and his research, and Dr. Strauss was shouting back that he contributed just as much, because he found me through Miss Kinnian and he performed the operation. Dr. Strauss said that someday thousands of neurosurgeons might be using his technique all over the world.
Dr. Nemur wanted to publish the results of the experiment at the end of this month. Dr. Strauss wanted to wait a while longer to be sure. Dr. Strauss said that Dr. Nemur was more interested in the Chair of psychology at Princeton than he was in the experiment. Dr. Nemur said that Dr. Strauss was nothing but an opportunist who was trying to ride to glory on his coattails.
When I left afterwards, I found myself trembling. I don’t know why for sure, but it was as if I’d seen both men clearly for the first time. I remember hearing Burt say that Dr. Nemur had a shrew of a wife who was pushing him all the time to get things published so that he could became famous. Burt said that the dream of her life was to have a big-shot husband.
Was Dr. Strauss really trying to ride on his coattails?
April 28—I don’t understand why I never noticed how beautiful Miss Kinnian really is. She has brown eyes and feathery brown hair that comes to the top of her neck. She’s only thirty-four! I think from the beginning I had the feeling that she was an unreachable genius—and very, very old. Now, every time I see her she grows younger and more lovely.
We had dinner and a long talk. When she said that I was coming along so fast that soon I’d be leaving her behind, I laughed.
“It’s true, Charlie. You’re already a better reader than I am. You can read a whole page at a glance while I can take in only a few lines at a time. And you remember every single thing you read. I’m lucky if I can recall the main thoughts and the general meaning.”
She took out a cigarette and I lit it for her. “You’ve got to be a little patient. You’re accomplishing in days and weeks what it takes normal people to do in half a lifetime. That’s what makes it so amazing. You’re like a giant sponge now, soaking things in. Facts, figures, general knowledge. And soon you’ll begin to connect them, too. You’ll see how the different branches of learning are related. There are many levels, Charlie, like steps on a giant ladder that take you up higher and higher to see more and more of the world around you.
“I can see only a little bit of that, Charlie, and I won’t go much higher than I am now, but you’ll keep climbing up and up, and see more and more, and each step will open new worlds that you never even knew existed.” She frowned. “I hope. . . I just hope to God—”
“Never mind, Charles. I just hope I wasn’t wrong to advise you to go into this in the first place.”
I laughed. “How could that be? It worked, didn’t it? Even Algernon is still smart.”
We sat there silently for a while and I knew what she was thinking about as she watched me toying with the chain of my rabbit’s foot and my keys. I didn’t want to think of that possibility any more than elderly people want to think of death. I knew that this was only the beginning. I knew what she meant about levels because I’d seen some of them already. The thought of leaving her behind made me sad. I’m in love with Miss Kinnian.