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"Why?" asked Charlie.

"Sometimes, he has too much to drink," replied Maggie, carelessly.

"He doesn't hurt you, or anything, does he?"

"Not Dad," replied the woman.

"Maggie," began Charlie, "I want to apologize to you for the way I've been treating you. I'm very sorry."

"You haven't done anything," answered Maggie, puzzled.

"Then you're not mad at me?" asked Charlie.

Maggie laughed. "Sometimes I think you might be the slow one!" she giggled. "You haven't noticed that I've got a surprise behind my back!"

Charlie was relieved. She had not offended her friend.

"What have you got there?" Charlie asked, trying to sneak a peak behind her.

"Guess!" she shouted happily.

"A flower?" asked Charlie.

"No!" she giggled. "Guess, again!" Charlie went through a few more guesses, and was about to suggest to Maggie that she end the game, when Maggie put a small box into Charlie's hands. From the picture on the outside of the box, Charlie could see that it was a brand new CD player.

"Are you surprised?" Maggie asked.

"Maggie, you shouldn't have!" replied Charlie, in surprise. "You didn't sell your dolls to buy me this, did you?"

"No!" laughed Maggie. "I save all my money to buy dolls with." From the bits of information Charlie was able to piece together, she learned that Maggie had been working at Dairy Cream for several years. Since she lived at home, and her parents charged her nothing for room and board, she hoarded all her money to buy new dolls for her collection. It was a genuine act of love.

"Thank you, Maggie," said Charlie hugging the woman. "It's just what I wanted!"

The rest of the morning was spent on the floor, listening to Wallace Shipley CD's and eating some of the fresh chocolate chip cookies Vera had made the day before. Charlie was enjoying herself so much, that she even forgot to be nervous about Mike's birthday party.

Understanding that Charlie would be gone for most of the remainder of the day, Maggie returned home before lunchtime, a much happier woman.

Adam's white van arrived in front of the Overholt house a little after eleven thirty. Chuck walked his daughter outside and explained to Adam that he was unable to attend Mike's birthday party. Chuck opened the passenger door and Charlie got inside.

"Daddy, are you sure you don't want me to stay and keep you company?" suggested Charlie.

"I'll be with your Grandma," assured Chuck. "Go, have a good time!"

"She will, Chuck," said Adam. "I'll have her back around four." Chuck waved goodbye as the van drove away.

"Well, how have you been?" asked Adam. Charlie shrugged. "I haven't seen you around, lately," he observed. "Are you sure everything is all right?" Adam asked, his voice betraying concern.

"Why all the questions?" asked Charlie, trying not to become defensive. "Did you expect something bad to happen?"

"Not necessarily," replied Adam. Adam had expected Charlie to barrage him with questions concerning the Christian walk, and to pester him at the store at all hours, as Chuck had done. He had expressly asked Chuck if Charlie had been asking questions, or needed help. Chuck's only reply was that his daughter was doing very well, and needed little help. Adam wasn't sure what to think. However, since he didn't want to pry it out of her, and since Charlie wasn't volunteering any information, the rest of the drive was dotted with polite comments about the weather.

Thomas and Shirley Garner lived in a spacious adobe house on the outskirts of Twin Yucca. It had been designed by Thomas in 1973, and was the topic of one of his how-to-books entitled, "Adobe Homes: From the Ground Up."
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