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1957_03_02--026_SP [Love Dies Slowly]

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He walked around restlessly and studied the titles o f the books. 1 left him for a moment to go into the pantry for some ice cubes, and when I returned the telephone was ringing. “ Help yourself to a drink," I said. “ I don’t know who can be calling at this hour, but I’ d better answer before it wakes Chip.” “ Hello,” I said softly. “ Maggie?” inquired a clear, sharp voice. “ Is my son there?” I looked over at John, who gave me no clue. “ Yes, Mrs. O'Toole,” I said. “ As a matter o f fact, he arrived only a moment ago.” “ He left here three hours ago. What’s he been doing?” “ I don’t know,” I said quietly. “ Honestly,” she continued, in a voice that carried across the room, “ I wonder if he knows what he’s doing. He forgot the flowers and candy—and last night he didn’t even ring your bell.” I again looked over at John, who still gave me no clue. “ That’s funny,” I said. “Why not? I was here all evening.” Mrs. O’Toole harrumphed. “ He’s not competitive,” she said. “ He saw Mike O’Hara’s car, so he wouldn’t go in. Has he told you he’s not competitive?” “ No.” “Well, it’s supposed to explain everything. I admit it’s beyond me, but I thought it might mean something to you.” “ I’ll think about it,” I said. “Do you want to speak to him?” “ No,” she said. “ I just wanted to be sure he got there. He’s in love with you, Maggie, but he’s not competitive. You’d better send him home around midnight. I don’t think he knows what time it is any more.” When I hung up the receiver I looked over at John to see what effect the call had on him. As far as I could tell, it had none. He was staring at me a little vaguely, as though his eyes were not focusing. “ You forgot the flowers,” I said. “ They didn’t seem important,” he replied. I sat down on the sofa and motioned to him to join me. “ I’ve written a letter to Put it T h is W a y B y F R A N K L I N P . J O N E S Most women don’ t give secrets away. They trade. A salute is what a private uses to talk back to an officer. The trouble with a bargain usually is that only the price is right. A man can often dry his wife’s tears with a dish towel. Nothing helps you to pull your weight so much as reducing. One thing that keeps an automobile going is a fireplug. my father,” I said. “ It’s a very personal letter, but I’d like you to read it. There are a great many things you should know—about Chip and me.” When I had him settled, letter in hand, I mixed a drink and put it on the table in front o f him. Then I went upstairs and looked into Chip’s room. He was not asleep. He was kneeling in front o f the window, looking out at the stars. “ Chip,” I said, “ why aren’t you in bed?” “ I heard a car in the driveway. It’s Mr. O’Toole’s car, isn’ t it, Maggie?” “ Yes, dear.” “ Did he bring you flowers too?" “ No, dear. He forgot them.” “ May I come down and speak to him— just for a minute?” “ Of course. But put on a warm bathrobe. It’s cold downstairs.” John rose quickly when we came into the study. He had my letter clenched tightly in his hand and he was staring at it with an expression o f great indignation. There was something in his eyes that I had not seen before. “ Chip wants to speak to you,” I explained. “ Yes, Chip?” “ Is it confidential?” I asked. “ No,” said Chip. “ I want you to hear it, too, Maggie. It’s about all the trouble I’ve caused at school, for which I’m very sorry.” John’s face relaxed into a sympathetic smile. “ No apologies are necessary, Chip,” he said. “ You acted honestly and courageously.” “ But, Mr. O’Toole,” said Chip, earnestly, “ I don't want to leave Bolton. I don’t want to leave you and Macushla and Muffin and Aristotle and all my other friends. I never had friends before—not real ones who lived in the same place every day. And I don’t want Maggie to have to leave here, either. I want her to be happy and not have to worry about something all the time.” “ That’s what I want for her, too, Chip,” said John. “ I’ve figured it all out, Mr. O’Toole. All I have to do is leam what’s in the books and not argue about it. I don’t have to believe it— I just have to keep my mouth shut. Then I’ ll pass the exams and everybody’ll be happy.” “ Maggie?” “ Any decision Chip wishes to make is all right with me.” “ Does that mean I may destroy this letter?” “ Yes,” I said. “ Very well. Chip,” said John. “ I’ ll get the matter straightened out with the faculty tomorrow.” He looked at me for a long moment before he tore the letter into small pieces. Then h<* gave Chip a loving slap on the back. ‘ <n’t know whether or not you’ve mad- .he right decision, young man,” he said, “ but it’s a brave one. I’ ll be around any time you need help.” “ To bed now,” I said. “ And to sleep, please.” “ Roger,” said Chip. He came over and put his arms around me and tightened them into a hug that left me breathless. Then he went over and threw his arms around his favorite real-life hero. “G ’night, John,” he said. “ G ’night, Maggie.” “ Good night, son,” we replied simultaneously. We listened as he ran whistling up the stairs, and then we heard his door slam with a loud, triumphant bang. A moment later the clock in the living room wound itself up for another long chime. We both listened attentively as it struck. “ It’s midnight,” I said, “ So it is,” said John. “ Take that receiver off the hook, will you, Maggie? I have a lot to say to you and I don’t want to be interrupted.” th e en d “■pranks awfully, but I had my heart set on eating in a restaurant“ REZNOR GAS UNIT HEATERS Your best heating investment! New building or old, it costs much.less to install Reznor gas unit heaters than any type of central heating. Only suspension, gas and electrical connections and simple venting are required. 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1957_03_02--026_SP [Love Dies Slowly]
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