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A decision
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hp   Judith: François, Brad wants to see you. At what time do you finish today?

hp   François: At five.

hp   J.: OK, I'll tell him. Please be here at five.

hp   Weeks and months had passed, an odd mix of routine and change: the routine of attending daily lectures, studying courses, reading English books, going away or partying at weekends; and the change, noticeable or imperceptible, taking place in the lives of François and his friends.

hp   Angela had left for Beijing, after which Werner had become glum and ate more, getting ready to return to Hamburg.

hp   Margaret and François saw each other regularly but had chosen not to live together. The relationship, while still very pleasant, was less fulfilling than at the outset.

hp   After mediocre studies the previous two years in France, François was again a good student.

hp   His English was nearing fluency. His American friends who had had fun hearing him say "Lynn", instead of "Lynn", had helped him improve his pronunciation.

hp   He had begun to even think in English.

hp   François's master diploma was approaching. And it was time to plan the future.

hp   At five sharp, François knocked on the chairman's door in the main corridor of the department.

hp   Bradley: Come in!

hp   Brad, rising from his seat, shook hands with François -- something less usual and more formal in the U.S. than in France -- and invited him to sit down.

hp   B.: François, you are one of our best students. You're gonna get your master in a few weeks. Have you thought about pursuing toward the PhD?

hp   F.: My scholarship is only for one year. I would not have the money for three more.

hp   B.: The department offers you to enroll in September in the doctorate program, with a position as teaching and research assistant. Your tuitions will be paid, and you'll also earn enough money for food and lodging and miscellaneous living expenditures.

hp   F.: That's a great offer! I have to think. When do you need an answer?

hp   B.: Please tell us by next week, so that in case you turn it down we can make the offer to someone else.

hp   François borrowed Jamie's car and drove to Half Moon Bay, a harbour on the Pacific coast across the hills from Palo Alto, to think about this opportunity.

hp   In the restaurant overlooking the pier, hearing the cries of seagulls and the clanking of shrouds against masts, which reminded him of the fisherman village where he grew up on the Mediterranean shore, while eating a clam chowder François reasoned:

hp   Wherever he would get a job in France, when it was time to select the head of the group, it would go to a doctor rather than a master.

hp   Moreover, even though he was occasionally homesick, he felt that the time had not come to go home. America had already been a wonderful experience in every respects, personal, social, cultural, intellectual, enlarging tremendously his outlook on life, but he sensed that it had not brought him everything it could yet.

hp   He decided to accept Brad's offer. He would stay three more years in the U.S.


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