Studies in the spring

Three students were sitting at a wide table, well apart. Their books were open, and they had notebooks too. They had been laughing about something, it was spring outdoors and they had the wide windows open. There was a stream of fellow feeling flowing in the room.

The one with the knit sweater went to make more tea. The other two caught themselves smiling at each other. There was another stream, running under the stream that had borne the laughter in, only the other flowed slower, deeper, and in a different direction.

He reentered and was about to make a point, but he stopped. He stiffened his shoulders, sat down and opened his black notebook. But his own writing didn’t make sense to him.

They returned to work. The student in the sweater did not feel the stronger undercurrent and felt himself again borne along on the stream.

They put aside their work after another quarter hour, and talked about Socrates. What was his irony. The youngest said it was like the deep blue sky outside: nothing that happened below it could change it, and everything happened below it; even low, heavy clouds covering it only hid it from view.

The one with the sweater thought it was disengaged and dangerous, and unserious; while the third student felt that Socrates played verbal tricks in order to disorient people and return them to ground, and it was inspiring and at the same time disgusting, the fury with which he pursued it.