The bracing wind of the late December afternoon gusted outside and intruded into Albert’s thoughts. It was the first Thursday of the winter school break. Hoping to escape his troubles, Albert went to the Bavarian Library near the Gymnasium campus where he sat contemplating his compass. Inspiration was not forthcoming, so he put his treasure in his coat pocket and wandered over to the bookshelves. He searched half-heartedly for one of his favorite philosophers, Kant, and found Critique of Pure Reason. As he pulled the book from the shelf, he heard a familiar voice call his name.
Albert turned, and his face lit up. “Herr Talmud, it is so good to see you!”
They embraced cordially, Max, a head taller, with a premature touch of gray in his chestnut hair and mustache. Though only in his mid-30s, he had the air of a wise older gentleman.
Max was equally excited to see his young friend. He held Albert at arm’s length and assessed the boy. “You’re growing up nicely, Albert. How have you been? Are you at the Gymnasium getting your diploma?”
At the mention of the Gymnasium, Albert’s body slumped. “Uh, that’s kind of a long story. Say, maybe I can tell you about it over dinner. Can you join me?”
“Of course,” Max responded with a smile, putting an arm around Albert’s shoulders. “I would love to find out what has been going on with one of my favorite people.”
For the first time in a long time, Albert felt himself relax in the company of a friend as the two walked to the coatroom. Moments later, they stepped into the cold evening air and headed down the hill to an alehouse a couple blocks away.
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