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"Stallion," replied Charlie, not needing any time to reply. Chuck looked up at his daughter in mock indignation.

"Who's puzzle is this, anyway?" he asked.

"I'm sorry," laughed Charlie. "You asked!"

"Next time," said Chuck, "just give me a hint. I want to do things for myself as long as I can."

"O.K., Daddy," said Charlie getting an apple out of the refrigerator. "What have you done, today?"

"I visited Mullen-Overholt, and tidied the house," was his answer.

Lately, Chuck had taken to staying indoors, only venturing out of the house with Vera when she went to Mullen-Overholt, or to stroll around the neighborhood after the sun had gone down. This trend made Charlie uneasy. She hated to admit that her father was that affected by AD.

"I'm not going to the birthday party, tomorrow," announced Chuck, as Charlie peeled her apple with a paring knife.

"Why not?" she asked. Charlie had thought that since Adam had personally invited them, he would surely go; she knew how much her father admired the plumber.

"I haven't been doing too well in crowds, lately. All the people make me disoriented and confused."

"Well, I'm not going if you aren't," stated Charlie, matter-of-factly.

"Someone has to go and represent the Overtholts," said Chuck.

"Besides, who'd give Mike his present?" asked Vera, walking into the kitchen.

"I hardly know anyone in Twin Yucca. They're all going to be strangers," pointed out Charlie. "Why don't you go, Grandma?"

"Adam knew I was going to be busy with Arnold on Saturday, that's why he didn't include me in the invitation in the first place," said Vera. "And what's this nonsense about strangers? You know Adam, and Mike, and Chad," reminded Vera. "Mrs. Garner does take some getting used to, but I think you'll like her."

"Maybe I could take Maggie along, so I don't have to face everyone alone," suggested Charlie.

"Maggie wasn't invited," said Vera. "You tell Mrs. Garner that your father couldn't make it. Do you understand?"

"Fine," conceded Charlie.

"What's the highest elevation in the world?" asked Chuck, counting the spaces with his pencil. "It's two words."

"I hope Mike likes the tie I picked out for him," said Vera.

"The second word rhymes with 'nest,' Daddy," hinted Charlie. "Grandma, couldn't we get Mike something else? A tie is the sort of gift you give someone when you don't know what else to give!"

"Aren't you going to give me the answer?" asked Chuck.

"Do you have a better idea?" asked Vera.

"I guess not, Grandma," she admitted. "Daddy, the last time I gave you the answer, you told me to only give you a hint," reminded Charlie.

"Then I take it back," answered Chuck, unable to remember.

"Be sure to wrap it in the paper I gave you, before you leave tomorrow," Vera instructed.

"What's the answer?" persisted Chuck.

"Mount Everest," sighed Charlie, taking the peeled apple to her room.

"It'll go fine, tomorrow, you'll see!" Vera hollered after her.

Early Saturday morning, Charlie called the Downens' house. Once again, an elderly man answered, and once again, the man rudely hung up. While she waited, Charlie got ready to go to Mike's birthday party. It wasn't until nine that Maggie's happy face appeared in Charlie's bedroom.

"Maggie," cried Charlie, "where have you been? I tried to call your house, but a man keeps saying you're not at home."

"That's Dad," replied Maggie. "He always says I'm not home, even when I am."
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