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The weeks passed in uneventfulness, until one day, Jerome came to the house with something totally unexpected.

"What's this?" asked Chuck, as Jerome set a large box of groceries on the kitchen table.

"It's food," replied Jerome.

"I thought Mom did the shopping," said Chuck, surprised at the sudden thoughtfulness of his older brother.

"It's not from the store," informed Jerome. "Samaritan Baptist Church is giving away food every month to low income families. Here's the brochure," he said, casually handing the folded flyer to Chuck.

"You're accepting charity?" said Chuck, astonished.

"Don't tell me you're too proud to accept free food!" scoffed Jerome.

"But, do we really qualify for this kind of program?" asked Chuck.

"All they wanted was my name and address, not an income tax statement," muttered Jerome. "They weren't choosy about giving it away, so what's your problem?"

"I don't know," hesitated Chuck, "it doesn't feel right-- taking food away from needy people."

"You're in no position to turn down anything free!" growled Jerome. "I don't see you paying the utilities, or the medications, or the doctor visits, or for that matter, the groceries!" Jerome stomped out of the house.

When Charlie came home after work that day, she found the box of groceries and the church flyer, laying on the kitchen table.

"Where did this come from?" asked Charlie.

"Jerome brought it," explained Chuck.

"But," said Charlie, reading the flyer, "this program is meant as an alternative to food stamps."

"I know," sighed Chuck.

"Are things that bad?" asked Charlie, surprised.

"I don't think so," replied Chuck. "It's only Jerome's way of saving money."

"But, if we don't need it, than Uncle Jerome is taking the food away from people who can't afford it!" protested Charlie.

"I know," replied Chuck.

"You'd think Uncle Jerome would be too proud to accept this," observed Charlie.

"Not where money is concerned, Pumpkin," said Chuck, going to the refrigerator for some orange juice. "You should have heard him. He said I didn't have the right to turn down anything free, because I don't pay for my own way around here. He has a point," sighed Chuck. "Well, I'm going back to my jigsaw puzzle. You know, I really think it's helping to improve my memory," he added, overoptimistically.

Her father's resignation to Jerome's cruel behavior bothered Charlie. She was grateful to Jerome for taking them in, but she hated the way Jerome rubbed Chuck's nose in it, at every opportunity. It was as if Jerome was saying, in effect, that he had bought their self-respect. This thought made Charlie indignant. Chuck may have felt there was no choice, but Charlie decided that she could do something about it.

An hour later, Charlie marched down to Mullen-Overholt, and presented Jerome with nine hundred dollars.

"Where did you get this kind of money?" demanded Jerome, thinking his neice had surely stolen it.

"I've been saving," Charlie replied. "From now on, I'll keep twenty dollars of my paycheck, and give you the rest."

"How much does Adam Clark pay you?" asked Jerome.

"Four hundred a month," replied Charlie. It was one piece of information that she had kept from her Uncle. Till now, she had felt that it was none of Jerome's business.
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