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Martin has been at the Rouncefield Clinic for a year and is unhappy. His most happy moments in Chicago come after work hours when he and Leora discover bookshops and theater among other forms of entertainment.
Martin finds himself wanting to tie up the ends of the research he had been working on previously regarding the paper he had written, when Angus protests against it. Angus tells him that he should be doing practical research instead, and that if he does so he will receive a large raise. Martin is tempted to take the offer and forget about his own original research when Gottlieb writes to him regarding the paper he had published about hemolysin and Strep. Furthermore, Gottlieb invites Martin to join him at the McGurk Institute. Martin accepts the offer and Leora is supportive.
Martin arrives in New York and is impressed by the city. It has been five years since he has seen Max Gottlieb, but, almost as soon as they encounter each other for the first time at the McGurk Institute, they bolt into discussions and conversations, just as they had done before. Gottlieb talks to him about the dangers of success and about the "religion" of science.
Martin receives a modest laboratory space within to work while at the institute and is happy with his freedom—he almost cannot believe his luck. Everything he needed is provided. Martin begins to become acquainted with McGurk and meets the heads that run it. Dr. Rippleton Holabird, the head of the Department of Physiology shows Martin around the premises, showing off his prized "centrifuge." Martin is, at first, charmed by Holabird. Martin then goes on to meet the Director of the Institute, Dr. A Dewitt Tubbs, a man who seems to carry a vast amount of knowledge on many topics. There is also the beautiful Pearl Robbins Tubbs's secretary. Finally, there is Terry Wickett, a fellow laboratory scientist whom Martin dislikes upon first meeting. Soon, Martin is dining at the Holabirds' where everybody is a "somebody."
The chapter ends with a reflection on Gottlieb and Terry Wickett. Gottlieb seems to have found serenity at last, and Terry Wickett begins to grow on Martin because Martin can be himself around Terry as opposed to the act he must keep up with the more pretentious Holabirds.
Little by little Martin becomes aware of the hierarchy and the groups that have formed within McGurk. First there is Capitola McGurk, McGurk's snobbish and controlling wife who, among other things, is described as having been against women's suffrage and who gives monthly dinner parties. Ross McGurk is different from his wife and actually has a friendship with Gottlieb. As for Tubbs, his greatest ideal is "co-operation" and working together. The ruling caste, as Martin calls it, seems to be made up of Tubbs, Holabird, and Pearl Robbins. There is another independent faction which consists of Gottlieb, Terry Wickett, and Dr. Nicholas Yeo (a biologist). It is to this group that Martin belongs. Finally there are the others who keep to themselves.