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Unattended, Maggie rooted up everything that had the misfortune to resemble a weed. By the time the girls left, a few of Adam's plants would inevitably find their way into his compost heap.

In more ways than one, the Overholts were steadily taking over Adam's life. When Chuck wasn't requiring his attention concerning spiritual matters or needing someone to talk to, Charlie was ever present, ready to accept any crumbs of time that he could spare.

Chad wasn't thrilled about this competition for his uncle's attention, and would sometimes long for the days when he had Uncle Adam all to himself. Even so, he unselfishly shared his beloved relation with the Overholts.

Adam's divided attention was an annoyance to Mike, who was studying for his California Journeyman Plumber License exam. Adam tutored his nephew on the side, when they weren't busy with customers. However, it was difficult to do with Chuck routinely popping in to chat.

Shirley, who had a deep-rooted opinion that Adam gave more of himself than was healthy, tried to get him to put his foot down. Adam was overextending himself. When he jokingly asked, "Which foot?" Shirley declared she would not be responsible for the consequences! Adam, who had a deep-rooted belief that Shirley was too overprotective, responded that he would not begrudge her an "I told you so," should his health come to ruin.

Adam didn't mind the Overholt's presence, but for one exception: wherever Charlie went, Maggie was sure to follow. Endeavoring to follow Charlie's lead, Maggie did her level best to be helpful. On average, she did more harm in the garden than good. Some of the people Adam would give the vegetables to, relied on the produce, for they could not afford such luxuries, otherwise. Mercifully, Adam supplemented what Maggie destroyed by regular trips to the supermarket. He admired Charlie for befriending Miss Downen, and didn't want to be the cause of any discouragement.

However, if Adam had known what was happening to Charlie, he might not have gone out of his way to make her feel welcome. Even with Maggie's slow ways, she saw a change in Charlie that the teenager hadn't yet noticed herself-- Charlie was attracted to Adam. No one had noticed it but Maggie. Unaware of the conventional impediments such an attraction would incur, Maggie was ignorantly happy for her friend.

Officer Jeff Erickson was driving his eight year old daughter, Debbie, home from Galilee Christian School, when they passed by the old bus stop where Maggie used to frequent.

"That reminds me," said Jeff, "I haven't seen Miss Downen at the bus stop, lately. Have you seen her around?"

"Around where?" asked Debbie, teasing her father.

"Around Twin Yucca, silly," replied Jeff, threatening to tickle her with a free hand.

"No, don't!" laughed Debbie. "I'll talk!"

"A good tickle will do it every time," grinned Jeff, triumphantly.

"Miss Downen is friends with the new girl, Charlie Overholt," said Debbie.

"Charlie is a girls' name?" questioned Jeff.

"It's only a nickname," continued Debbie. "For what, I can't remember."

"The Overholts," repeated Jeff, thoughtfully. "Charlie wouldn't happen to be related to Jerome Overholt, would she?"

"I think so," replied Debbie.

"Well, let's hope Charlie hasn't inherited her uncle's disposition," said Jeff. "How much do you know about this Charlie?"

"Some of the kids say she's stuck-up, but I don't know since I've never met her," shrugged Debbie. "What's for dinner?"

It was true, Jeff missed the daily phone calls from Mrs. Downen, asking him to fetch her pretty daughter from the bus stop. He missed Maggie's gentle ways and hated to think of Jerome Overholt's niece tormenting Maggie the same way Jerome verbally tormented others. There was only one way to find out if Miss Downen was in good hands, or not. He decided to visit Mrs. Downen and see for himself.
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