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"Hello? I'm looking for the Goodman's. Is this the right number?" Charlton asked.

"Yes," the boy answered.

"Who is it, Reggie?" asked a woman's voice in the background.

"I don't know yet," shouted Reggie, in a voice so loud that Charlton's ear smarted.

"Who is this please," asked the woman's voice.

"Angela? It's me, Chuck."

"Chuck! How are you?" asked Angela, her voice betraying surprise.

"I'm fine," replied Charlton. "And you?"

"We're doing fine." Angela paused to collect her thoughts. "Mom just celebrated her seventy-eighth birthday. She's in frail health, but doing well under the circumstances. Sherri is sixteen now, and just getting her learner's permit. Mark declares he won't let her near the family car! Reggie is nine, and the star pitcher of his little league team. I hear he is the best pitcher they ever had."

"Was that Reggie I just spoke to?" inquired Charlton, politely.

"Yes, I'm afraid it was," laughed Angela nervously. There was an awkward silence. "How is Charlotte? Is she well?" asked Angela.

"Charlie's at the top of her class," answered Charlton, glad of something to brag about.

"Is she really? I expect she's pretty tall now?" Angela asked.

"She's five foot one. Charlie has her mother's brown hair and brown eyes. She looks more like Martha every day," Charlton added, hoping to tempt Angela into making an offer of some kind.

"Does she really?" Angela replied, her voice filling with resentment. "I haven't seen Charlotte in fifteen years, so I wouldn't know." Charlton paused, not knowing whether to continue or not.

"It has been a long time," he conceded.

"Who's fault is that?" Angela asked, setting aside her company manners. "You take Martha's child and hide her in Montana, not bothering to call or write to let us know where you are. I didn't even know where to send Reggie's birth announcement!"

"Yes, I know," was the only answer Charlton could think of to say without turning the conversation into an argument.

"It's not right to cut Charlotte off from the family that loves her, Chuck."

"Yes, I know."

"Mom misses her granddaughter very much."

"Yes, I know."

"Mom isn't going to be with us forever, you know."

"Yes, I know."
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