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Charlie smiled weakly and returned to her room to change into the next outfit. She was grateful for the clothing, but the false charity that accompanied it made her feel used.

"As I was saying," continued Mrs. Jacobs, when Charlie left, "your granddaughter sees far too much of the dimwit."

"But, she's harmless," replied Vera.

"That's not all," continued the neighbor, "Maggie Downen has been seen frequenting Adam Clark's home. I'm not one to believe everything I hear, mind you--" just then, Charlie entered the room, and turned around a few times.

"That's very nice," dismissed Vera, waving Charlie back to her room. "Go on," she said, after the teenager had left.

"I don't believe everything I hear," repeated Mrs. Jacobs, "but as Charlie's grandmother, I would be interested to know what others are saying about her friends."

"What are they saying?" asked Vera, in bated breath.

"Well," whispered the gossip, "they say Maggie is using your granddaughter to get to Adam Clark's house without arising suspicion!"

Vera looked puzzled.

"The dimwit and Twin Yucca's very own Master Plumber are having a 'you-know-what'!" explained Mrs. Jacobs in an excited whisper. "Your granddaughter is being used! It only proves you can never trust a man who is aware of his own good looks. They're just not trustworthy! Why, just today, he was in the middle of main street, showing off before every attractive woman who happened by!"

"No!" replied Vera, wide-eyed. Mrs. Jacobs nodded knowingly. Charlie returned to the living room and turned around. Vera had an odd look on her face, as though she had just swallowed something that had a bitter taste.

"Well, I know you two have a lot to talk about," said Mrs. Jacobs, "so I'll run along home now." As she exited, she mouthed the words, "Tell me what happens!" to Vera.

"What's going on?" asked Charlie, curiously.

Upon hearing Mrs. Jacobs departure, Maggie entered the room and turned around a few times, just as Charlie had done.

"Run along home, dear," said Vera, "I have something to discuss with Charlie."

"See you later, alligator," said Maggie, putting back on her Dairy Cream hat. (Until recently, she had been in the habit of wearing it indoors as well as out. When Charlie pointed out to her that Vera was annoyed when people wore hats indoors, Maggie quickly complied with the old woman's wishes.)

"After while, crocodile," returned Charlie. "What's going on?" repeated the girl, after Maggie had left.

"Gloria just told me some disturbing news," worried Vera. "She said that Maggie and Adam Clark are having an affair! Now, what do you think of that?"

Charlie's mind immediately rebelled at the notion; neither of her friends would do such a thing. "You don't really believe her, do you?" she asked.

"Well," reasoned Vera, "Maggie HAS been seen a lot at his house."

"That's because she follows ME there!" exclaimed Charlie, defensively. "She tags along everywhere I go! You know that!"

Vera remained unsure.

"Adam is the kindest, most decent, nicest person in the world! He would NEVER do anything like that! I know it! I know it as surely as I know he's a Christian!"

"But, Gloria said..." began Vera.

"Mrs. Jacobs is a gossip!" pointed out Charlie. "As someone once told me, 'Never take a liar at their word.'"

When Vera had time to calmly take into consideration the parties in question, the truth was the only reasonable conclusion.

"Gloria didn't know it was untrue," reminded Vera, sufficiently convinced that the rumor was indeed, unfounded.

Vera followed Charlie into her bedroom and helped to unpack the box.

"Why do you have to have Mrs. Jacobs as a friend?" asked Charlie, hurt that Vera could even contemplate for a moment that Adam could be guilty.
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