Three years ago, almost to the day, Vag thought, as he walked slowly through the Yard on his way to Widener. In the mad scramble of that other spring, selling books and furniture, bidding friends goodbye, getting credit for courses unfinished, he had hardly had time to think about when he would be coming back. And now the war which had been the most absorbing experience of his life seemed vague and far away, like a well-remembered dream.
Things were different, sure, but there were compensating factors. Like the Radcliffe girls. They were dumber now, he thought, but a helluva lot better looking. Sometimes, when Vag had had a sufficient amount of beer at the O.G., he could get sentimental about the good old days, and all that stuff, but not now, not at ten o'clock in the morning with the April sun shining through the elms. The love songs were different, but they were just as good as the old ones, and most of the guys were back and most of them were just like you remembered them.
Readjustment. "The most overworked word of 1945." Vag mused to himself, as his eyes wandered up the steps of Widener after the Radcliffe girl ahead of him. Vag thought of all the letters he'd had warning him about the perils of readjustment to civilian life, all the orientation lectures on the subject he'd sweated through. Actually, it hadn't been too bad. Not bad at all. In the beginning, hitting the books at night had proved difficult, and Vag had found himself headed for Boston every other night in the first few weeks of the term. The nightly fifth-of-whiskey-and-a-woman routine gets ingrained after three years. But now, quite without any conscious plan, he was working, working hard, for the first time in his life.
Sitting down at a table in the Reading Room, he smiled as he said to himself, "Vag, you old f.o., what are you doing in Widener at ten o'clock in the morning? You must be eager." He put on his glasses and began to read.