It had been arranged that Professor Erlin should teach him Latin and German; a Frenchman came every day to give him lessons in French; and the Frau Professor had recommended for mathematics an Englishman who was taking a philological degree at the university. This was a man named Wharton. Philip went to him every morning. He lived in one room on the top floor of a shabby house. It was dirty and untidy, and it was filled with a pungent odour made up of many different stinks. He was generally in bed when Philip arrived at ten o’clock, and he jumped out, put on a filthy dressing-gown and felt slippers, and, while he gave instruction, ate his simple breakfast. He was a short man, stout from excessive beer drinking, with a heavy moustache and long, unkempt hair. He had been in Germany for five years and was become very Teutonic. He spoke with scorn of Cambridge where he had taken his degree and with horror of the life which awaited him when, having taken his doctorate in Heidelberg, he must return to England and a pedagogic career. He adored the life of the German university with its happy freedom and its jolly companionships. He was a member of a Burschenschaft, and promised to take Philip to a Kneipe. He was very poor and made no secret that the lessons he was giving Philip meant the difference between meat for his dinner and bread and cheese. Sometimes after a heavy night he had such a headache that he could not drink his coffee, and he gave his lesson with heaviness of spirit. For these occasions he kept a few bottles of beer under the bed, and one of these and a pipe would help him to bear the burden of life.
“A hair of the dog that bit him,” he would say as he poured out the beer, carefully so that the foam should not make him wait too long to drink.
Then he would talk to Philip of the university, the quarrels between rival corps, the duels, and the merits of this and that professor. Philip learnt more of life from him than of mathematics. Sometimes Wharton would sit back with a laugh and say:
“Look here, we’ve not done anything today. You needn’t pay me for the lesson.”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” said Philip.
This was something new and very interesting, and he felt that it was of greater import than trigonometry, which he never could understand. It was like a window on life that he had a chance of peeping through, and he looked with a wildly beating heart.
“No, you can keep your dirty money,” said Wharton.
“But how about your dinner?” said Philip, with a smile, for he knew exactly how his master’s finances stood.
Wharton had even asked him to pay him the two shillings which the lesson cost once a week rather than once a month, since it made things less complicated.
“Oh, never mind my dinner. It won’t be the first time I’ve dined off a bottle of beer, and my mind’s never clearer than when I do.”
He dived under the bed (the sheets were gray with want of washing), and fished out another bottle. Philip, who was young and did not know the good things of life, refused to share it with him, so he drank alone.