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"I know," sighed Charlie. "But I think Adam has something important to tell me." As she finished saying this, the living room clock sounded eleven o' clock.

"Well," reasoned Vera, "it couldn't have been very important, otherwise he would have been here by now. Come, we're going to bed," she insisted, folding up the partially knit sweater and placing it in the knitting bag. "If Adam wants to talk to you, he'll just have to wait."

Charlie obeyed. She would see him tomorrow.

The next morning, on the drive to school, Jerome noticed the Clark plumbing van going past them in the opposite direction on the road to Galilee Christian School.

"That reminds me," said Jerome, "what did Adam tell you last night?"

"He never showed up," replied Charlie, checking the rear view mirror.

"He didn't, huh?" mused Jerome, curiously. "What do you think he's up to?"

Charlie remained silent. She preferred not to speculate in front of her uncle.

After school, Jerome met her with the car, and moved to the passenger side so she could drive to work, at Adam's house. Then, Jerome took the car back to the nursing home, as was their routine.

To Charlie's disappointment, Adam wasn't home. Instead, she found Maggie working in the vegetable garden in the backyard.

"Hi, Charlie," greeted Maggie, as she watered the tomatoes with the garden hose.

"Adjust the nozzle, Maggie!" instructed Charlie, for she was shooting a jet of water at the defenseless plants. Maggie twisted the nozzle to the right, accidentally increasing the torrent. "It's the other way, Mag," reminded Charlie. Maggie turned the setting to the left, and after completing the watering, came inside the house to talk to Charlie while she worked.

Charlie started tidying the second floor and worked her way down to the kitchen, while Maggie happily chatted about Jeff Erickson, and the picnic they had went on in the park two weeks ago. Charlie had already heard the story several times, but kindly paid attention to her friend, who obviously had had a good time.

As Charlie finally made her way to the kitchen, she found the back door wide open and swinging in the May breeze.

"Sorry," apologized Maggie, who had forgotten to shut the door.

Without thinking much about it, Charlie closed the door and went to the cupboard to retrieve the window cleaner. As she was about to cross the room to go clean the living room windows, she saw Maggie standing rigidly in front of her.

"What is it?" asked Charlie, stepping aside to see what the matter was.

There on the floor, between the girls and the two only entrances to the kitchen, lie a coiled brown snake, hissing angrily, for Charlie had almost stepped on him when she shut the door. Charlie smothered a scream.

For a minute, the snake and the two women just stared at each other. Then, as if warning them away from his reach, the snake shook its tail at them. Charlie felt ill as she heard the distinctive sound of a rattlesnake.

"Quickly!" exclaimed Charlie, as she and Maggie climbed up onto the round kitchen table. It rocked back and forth as the two women found room enough to keep their legs from dangling off the edge. Charlie could hear Maggie breathing rapidly from fear.

"Let's just stay calm and pray," suggested Charlie. She led her friend in prayer, asking God for protection and deliverance. Afterward, Maggie was considerably calmer, though still shaken.

"Now what?" asked Maggie.

"I wonder if I could reach the telephone on the counter," suggested Charlie, testing how far out she could extend her arm. Next, Maggie tried, but all was to no avail. "I'll have to get off the table," Charlie sighed, disappointedly. Maggie grabbed hold of her friend's arm.
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