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The Fourth R
by George Oliver Smith
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But they do not have the "look of eagles" nor do they act as if they felt some divine purpose fill their lives. They do not lead the pack in an easy lope, for who holds rank when admirals meet? They are not dedicated nor single-minded; if their jokes and pranks start on a higher or lower plane, it is just because they have better minds than their forebears at the same time.

On the fringe of this group, an olive-skinned Brazilian co-ed asks: "Where's Martha?"

John Philips looks up from a diagram of fieldmatrics he's been using to lay out a football play. "She's lending moral support to Holden. He's sweating out his scholar's impromptu this afternoon."

"Why should he be stewing?"

John Philips smiles knowingly. "Tony Dirk put the triple-whammy on him. Gimmicked up the random-choice selector in the Regent's office. Herr von James is discoursing on the subjects of Medicine, Astronomy, and Psychology—that is if Dirk knows his stuff."

Tony Dirk looks down from his study of a fluffy cloud. "Anybody care to hazard some loose change on my ability?"

"But why?"

"Oh," replies Philips, "we figure that the first graduating class could use a professional Astrologer! We'll be the first in history to have one—if M'sieu Holden can tie Medicine, Astronomy, and Psychology into something cogent in his impromptu."

It is a strange tongue they are using, probably the first birth-pains of a truly universal language. By some tacit agreement, personal questions are voiced in French, the reply in Spanish. Impersonal questions are Italian and the response in Portuguese. Anything of a scientific nature must be in German; law, language, or literature in English; art in Japanese; music in Greek; medicine in Latin; agriculture in Czech. Anything laudatory in Mandarin, derogatory in Sanskrit—and ad libitum at any point for any subject.

Anita Lowes has been trying to attract the attention of John Philips from his diagram long enough to invite her to the Spring Festival by reciting a low-voiced string of nuclear equations carefully compounded to make them sound naughty unless they're properly identified with full attention. She looks up and says, "What if he doesn't make the connection?"

Philips replies, "Well, if he can prove to that tough bunch that there is no possible advance in learning through a combination of Astronomy, Medicine, and Psychology, he'll make it on that basis. It's just as important to close a door as it is to open one, you know. But it's one rough deal to prove negation. Maybe we'll have James the Holden on our hands for another semester. Martha will like that."

"Talking about me?"

There is a rolling motion, sort of like a bushel of fish trying to leap back into the sea. The newcomer is Martha Fisher. At fifteen, her eyes are bright, and her features are beginning to soften into the beginning of a beauty that will deepen with maturity.

"James," says Tony Dirk. "We figured you'd like to have him around another four months. So we gimmicked him."

"You mean that test-trio?" chuckles Martha.

"How's he doing?"

"When I left, he was wriggling his way through probability math, showing the relationship between his three subjects and the solution for random choice figures which may or may not be shaded by known or not-known agency. He's covered Mason's History of Superstition and—"

"Superstition?" asks a Japanese.

Martha nods. "He claimed superstition is based upon fear and faith, and he feared that someone had tampered with his random choice of subjects, and he had faith that it was one of his buddies. So—"

Martha is interrupted by a shout. The years have done well by James Holden, too. He is a lithe sixteen. It is a long time since he formed his little theory of human pair-production and it is almost as long since he thought of it last. If he reconsiders it now, he does not recognize his part in it because everything looks different from within the circle. His world, like the organization of the Universe, is made up of schools containing classes of groups of clusters of sets of associations created by combinations and permutations of individuals.

"I made it!" he says.

James has his problems. Big ones. Shall he go to Harvard alone, or shall he go to coeducational California with the hope that Martha will follow him? Then there was the fun awaiting him at Heidelberg, the historic background of Pisa, the vigorous routine at Tokyo. As a Scholar, he has contributed original research in four or five fields to attain doctorates, now he is to pick a few allied fields, combine certain phases of them, and work for his Specific. It is James Holden's determination to prove that the son is worthy of the parents for which his school is named.

But there is high competition. At Carter tech-prep, a girl is struggling to arrange a Periodic Chart of the Nucleons. At Maxwell, one of his contemporaries will contend that the human spleen acts as an ion-exchange organ to rid the human body of radioactive minerals, and he will someday die trying to prove it. His own classmate Tony Dirk will organize a weather-control program, and John Philips will write six lines of odd symbols that will be called the Inertiogravitic Equations.

Their children will reach the distant stars, and their children's children will, humanlike, cross the vast chasm that lies between one swirl of matter and the other before they have barely touched their home galaxy.

No man is an island, near or far on Earth as it is across the glowing clusters of galaxies—nay, as it may be in Heaven itself.

The motto is cut deep in the granite over the doorway to Holden Hall:

YOU YOURSELF MUST LIGHT THE FAGGOTS THAT YOU HAVE BROUGHT

THE END

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