Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

11. Protein

“He was suppose to be our commencement speaker,” said Sandra.

“Who was?” I asked.

“Dr. Hoenikker—the old man.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t show up.”

“So you didn’t get a commencement address?”

“Oh, we got one. Dr. Breed, the one you’re gonna see tomorrow, he showed up, all out of breath, and he gave some kind of talk.”

“What did he say?”

“He said he hoped a lot of us would have careers in science,” she said. She didn’t see anything funny in that. She was remembering a lesson that had impressed her. She was repeating it gropingly, dutifully. “He said, the trouble with the world was . . .” She had to stop and think.

“The trouble with the world was,” she continued hesitatingly, “that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn’t be all the trouble there was.”

“He said science was going to discover the basic secret of life someday,” the bartender put in. He scratched his head and frowned. “Didn’t I read in the paper the other day where they’d finally found out what it was?”

“I missed that,” I murmured.

“I saw that,” said Sandra. “About two days ago.”

“That’s right,” said the bartender.

“What is the secret of life?” I asked.

“I forget,” said Sandra.

“Protein,” the bartender declared. “They found out something about protein.”

“Yeah,” said Sandra, “that’s it.”

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