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And the Young Devour Themselves






Be sure to bookmark where you pause reading, so you will find your place easily

CHAPTER 3
Confrontation

Taking his leave of the house, Linc found the garage in its usual state of disorder. Every spare bit of their lives that wasn't stashed in the attic was piled high in the garage, along the wall of the house and alongside both cars, the stuff of great avalanches, most of it things that could have just as easily been thrown out rather than saved against the threat of the need for, say, seven empty paint cans, seven cans Linc had, more than once, accidentally sent scattering because of a careless elbow. Oh, and they always managed to roll underneath the car. He sucked in his stomach and carefully made his way to the car door, and inside the car, without accident.

Linc didn't much like driving his dad's big brown sedan, but he never complained about it; and since he was always forgetting his own car, it made for a reliable backup. He drove the two miles to Clare's house (a much nicer part of town) and then sat out front, drumming his thumbs on the steering wheel. He regarded Clare's sprawling, traditional-style house. It was something to see. But grand as it was, it could never compare to Pete Amesley's modern mansion. He felt better knowing someone lived in a finer house than Clare's--well, a finer house than Clare's father's.

"Well, here goes nothing," he mumbled, as he got out of the car and began the long walk over the meandering stone path leading up to the front porch.

He rang the bell and Clare answered. She was beautiful, as usual, wearing a simple beige dress and brown shoes, her brown hair kept back by a brown clip. Though she never dressed to impress or to be showy, she was always elegant, always so graceful and trim. Linc felt his gut relax when he saw her standing there instead of her intrusive father.

"Hi Linc," she said. "Where have you been all day? All the kids signed yearbooks right after school. Everybody kept asking me where you were."

"I was at the lake."

"With Danny?"

"Yeah."

"I would have gone too, Linc," she said. She seemed genuinely disappointed he hadn't invited her along to the lake, even though he rarely did. He usually set aside for Dan the time right after school, and had done so ever since they were little boys; none of Linc's girlfriends ever got in the way of that; he wouldn't allow it.

"Oh, you didn't miss anything, Clare. We just pitched rocks." He played with his booted toe upon the porch mat. "Your dad home?" He looked up sheepishly.

"Yes, Daddy's here." She looked up at the top of the door frame and cupped her hands over her ears, as if awaiting the report from a shotgun blast.

"And what kinda mood is he in today?"

"Are you familiar with the one where he glares at you every time you ask a stupid question?"

"You mean the one he always gives Dan?"

She laughed and said yes, that was the one. She was glad Linc seemed to be in a bearable mood. Still, she didn't yet dare ask how his final exams had gone.

"Oh, swell," he said, with all the sarcasm he could muster. "And yes, I'm familiar."

"Danny forget to drop you for your car again?"

"Yesssss," he hissed. "Remind me to kill him, will ya?" (Somehow Dan always got blamed for Linc's not having his car.) "Listen, I'm starved. Let's go to Molly's."

She thought they would then be going together to graduation rehearsal, but when he assured her that some generous student would be taking copious notes on what they would be doing at the real ceremony, she agreed to go to Molly's. Besides, Molly's was always fun, and all their friends would be there.

Linc had lost his nerve. Well, it wasn't so much that he was afraid to face Clare's father as it was he was physically unable to do it, just because he didn't want to do it; to Linc, it was like dancing: it was physically impossible for Linc to get out on a dance floor and dance. Linc never, never did anything he didn't want to do. And he had been that way since he was a small child. Right now he wanted to go to Molly's. Linc would, however, face Mr. Robbins later that night, because he had promised he would. Linc never broke his promises, and he was careful about giving them.

The conversation during the short drive to Molly's wasn't much: only a few wistful statements by Clare about school being out, and how things would never be quite the same because of that; statements to which Linc's replies never reached an audible level, nothing exceeding a garble or a mumble.

Molly's was all blaring music and glaring lights. Linc liked the place because he thought it was probably like the places his parents frequented back in the fifties. He felt a place like Molly's was an essential component of anyone's childhood, though the place might be considered corny, what with its checkerboard vinyl tablecovers and dated fixtures.

When the two of them walked inside, every male head turned for a look at Clare (the prettiest girl in school); Linc, however, was spoken to:

"Linc! Did you get out?"

"They gonna let you out, Linc?"

"Did you handle Trace's test?"

"I'm out, guys--now drop it," Linc said, finally but not angrily.

Clare watched silently while Linc ate a chili burger and some fries. She didn't help herself to any of his fries, but, every now and then, she did help herself to a sip of his soda.

Linc couldn't help smiling at the pleasant way her cheeks dimpled as she stole her sips. God, he thought, why do you always have to look like that? So beautiful, so beautiful. Don't you know I'll remember those expressions of yours till the day I die?

Linc was blessed with a bear trap of a memory, one that, when moved by something--a smile, a clever phrase, some perfect song--never turned loose of it. But his memory was every bit as much a curse as it was a blessing; many of those recollections were things of which he would just as soon be rid. He felt they cluttered his mind, made it impossible for him to give his undivided attention to whatever was at hand, such as finishing one of the novels he had begun writing.

His head was a muddle; he would prefer filing all those memories away in some immense scrapbook to which he could turn whenever he chose to recall. He wondered why his memories couldn't be made more convenient that way, more compartmentalized, instead of their just existing in the roiling hodgepodge of his mind, where his thoughts could no longer flow freely without snagging on some piece of dross from the past. Oh, and now here was Clare piling onto it. He wanted to tell her to muss her hair some, or to sneeze soda through her nose--anything that would be less pretty and memorable than her just being herself. But then he would have to tell her why; he would have to explain himself. He didn't feel like doing that. He contented himself with shaking his head and patting her hand.

"So how did it go today?" she asked tentatively, glancing up at him from beneath raised eyebrows as she shared his drink.

"School, you mean?" he teased.

"Yes, school. I didn�t see you all day."

"You know I was only sweating the algebra final, Clare--the other ones were blows. As soon as I finished one test, I went to the library and crammed algebra. Yeah, it was a real scholarly effort, really something to see."

She laughed. She said, "I guess you must have done all right."

"Not really. I came up short."

His response alarmed her, and she leaned back in her chair. She said, "Then how are you going to graduate? You said you are."

"Trace gave me a boost." (Miss Trace gave him a 'boost' of one point. She did that by 'missing' the fact that Linc had omitted one figure in a long problem, a figure he would have had to have known anyway in order to solve for the correct solution, which he did.)

"Miss Trace?"

"Yes. Dear old Miss Trace."

"The algebra teacher?"

"The very one."

"I'll bet you have to give her your first healthy son."

Linc didn't respond.

"So, why would she help you like that?" asked Clare.

"She told me she would pass me if I gave her a little kiss--I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't. So, here I sit, all ready to graduate with all the rest of you."

Clare knew Linc was teasing her, so she played along with him: "I just can't believe Miss Trace would do something like that--she must be forty years old. Did you like it?"

"Maybe I did. What of it?" By this time, Linc was finding it difficult to keep a straight face, so he gazed around the lively room.

"Well, it couldn't have been much of a kiss if all you got out of it was a D. What kind of kiss was it? Was it just a friendly one?"

"Very friendly," he said slyly. He could no longer contain his laughter. It wasn't easy making the prettiest girl in school jealous.

When they stopped laughing, Clare said, "I just can't picture you in the library, Linc; I'm sorry, I just can't."

"Fat lot of good it did me."

Then Dan walked up and stood by the table. He said, "Am I welcome? Guess by now you realize I forgot to drop you for your car."

Clare laughed. She liked Dan a lot.

"And just when did you realize that, Dan?" asked Linc. "Right before you dropped me at my house?"

"Actually, no, Lincoln. I only realized it when I saw your dad's old heap parked outside taking up half the parking lot. Real cool wheels you have there, Linc. So? Am I forgiven?"

Linc smiled and said, "Sit."

"And how are you, Clare, my beautiful belle?" asked Dan. Linc or no Linc, Dan had a tremendous crush on Clare, as did most of the boys at that school.

She said, "Fine, Danny. How are you?"

"Oh, not too bad, my lovely."

Dan took a good look at her. She made the room seem more vibrant to him. She was one of those girls who make a young man glad he is of flesh and bone. He was always pleased to walk into Molly's and find her there, even if she was his best friend's girl.

"Glad school's out?" she asked, enjoying the special attention he always gave her.

"Devastated," Dan teased. "You know how I love those hallowed halls. It does give me more time to spend at church, however." The truth was, no one was more pleased than Dan Blair that school was out. Dan hated school. He had hated it since kindergarten. He felt that school was a purgatory of some sort, a way station on the route to elsewhere--and just what that elsewhere was, he dared not guess. But unlike his friend Linc, Dan didn't spend much time pondering such questions. Dan's father had always told Dan that he must go into business, and Dan had always planned on groping his way along that path.

"A church would crumble if you ever darkened its doors, Dan."

"Ah, thank you, Lincoln," said Dan. Then, turning to Clare, hoping to get a parry in at Linc, he said, "Has the confrontation between Linc and your father occurred yet, Clare?"

"You make it sound so horrible, Danny," she said. "You may be right, though: I think Linc only wanted to come here so he'd have some more time to build up his nerve?"

"Looking forward to it, are you, Linc?" said Dan. Dan could be relentless in his ribbing of his friend.

Ignoring Dan's taunting, Linc turned on Clare: "What's this about me building up my nerve? When have I ever had to build up my nerve for anything?"

She said, "I was only teasing, Linc. You know Danny and I always tease." She was rather surprised at his outburst and the heat in his voice.

Linc said, "Just don�t talk about me like I'm not even here. Don't talk around me like I'm not sitting right here. Understand?" He glared at her.

"Well, it's a good thing I don't have any feelings," said a hurt Clare.

Dan said, "Come on, Linc, you brute. I might just take Clare away from all this."

"I'm sorry, Clare," said Linc. "This has been a pretty lousy day."

"Why don't we go see Daddy so we can get the air cleared up for once and for all?"

"Fine with me," said Linc.

"What are you going to say to him?" she asked tentatively.

"Listen, Clare," snapped Linc, "why don't you just stand there with us while we're talking? That way, you won't miss a damn thing, not one single word!"

"Steady, Linc," counseled Dan. "Do you want me to come along as moral support?"

"Oh, sure, Dan," said Linc. "I think it would be just wonderful to have you there so you can ride me like you always do."

Dan held up his hands and said, "Far be it from me to interfere. Wouldn't come along now even if you begged me. But on the other hand," he continued, taking Clare's chin in his fingertips, "if this one asked me nicely, I'd tag along and need no further persuading."

Rising from his chair, ignoring Dan, Linc said, "Let's go."

"I'm still not clear on if I'm to come along or not," said Dan.

"Not this time, Danny," Clare said sweetly, tapping him on the shoulder as she stood up behind his chair.

Then Dan blurted, "But the old guy's crazy about me! I could smooth things over real easy for you, Linc. Can I at least take you around to get your car?"

"What do you think, Dan!" flared Linc. "What am I supposed to do with the one I'm driving? Do you want me to tow along my dad's car all night long?"

"I don't care a damn what you do, Linc. But what makes you think the old grouch is still up and about at this hour? Why can't the two of you just stay here for a little while longer?"

"Oh, Daddy will be awake," said Clare. "He never sleeps. No matter what time I happen to wake up in the night, I find him downstairs, either creeping around or writing. He's as bad as Linc's little brother."

Dan said, "Well, if that's the case, and he's like Royce, he's in pretty bad shape, because Linc's brother is nuts. Does your dad really creep around, Clare? That sounds kinda spooky." (Dan was easily spooked. He would prefer that everyone walked, and that no one crept.)

"Well, I should have said he paces," she said. "That make you feel better, Danny? Not as spooky, huh?" She mussed his hair. Dan was always good for a laugh.

Having cooled down a bit, Linc said, "Come over tomorrow, Danny, and you can drop me at my car."

"What about the lake?" said Dan.

"I forgot about that. . . . You can drop me after. See you tomorrow."

"See ya, Linc. Goodnight, beautiful Clare."

"Night, Danny."

Clare and Linc left Molly's. On the way to Clare's house she asked about the lake. He told her he and Dan were only going to be doing a little fishing, and then she asked him if she could come along this time. To change the subject, he said he didn't believe that would be a very good idea, because he had a feeling Dan had his eye on her.

She laughed. "You know he's only teasing. I can't believe you would think a thing like that about Dan. You know he idolizes you, Linc; he always has." Linc smiled to himself in the darkness because he knew what she said was true: nobody had as true a friend as he had in Dan Blair.

At Clare's house Linc opened her car door. As she moved by him, he smelled her hair. It smelled good. It always smelled good. They stood there looking at each other, the street lamp playing down on them.

"What are you going to--" she began.

"Don't say it, Clare. Please. Let's just go inside and find your dad."

As they walked up to the house, Linc realized how thoroughly bored he had become with the long walk from the street to her door. Even the clatter of their shoes on the walk had become familiar. He goosed her bottom just to hurry her ahead of him so as to break up the monotony of the sound of their cadence.

They walked up the porch steps. She unlocked the door and led him inside the house.

Clare whispered, "He's probably in his den."

Ah, yes, thought Linc, where else would a pompous fool like him be if not in his den. Linc followed her down a long wainscoted hallway. She paused and then opened the wide double doors to Mr. Robbins's den. A shiver went up Linc's spine. He loathed the man.

Mr. Robbins stood reading a book, an unlit pipe clenched between his teeth and a short glass of brandy before him on the desk. He was formally attired in a blue suit and vest. Linc wondered if Mr. Robbins ever relaxed and let down his guard. He was struck by the pomposity of Mr. Robbins's pose; he figured he must have struck it when he heard them coming down the hall.

"Linc's here, Daddy," said Clare. She hoped he would welcome Linc kindly; and to the man's credit, he usually did.

"So he is, so he is," said Mr. Robbins, navigating around the over-sized desk. "Hello, Lincoln. Do come in, son." He was positively gushing.

The two shook hands. Even though Mr. Robbins was a big man, Linc was always impressed with the might of his grip; Linc did his best to give back Mr. Robbins all he gave, always waiting until Mr. Robbins released his hand first.

The blue carpet beneath his feet with its yellow pattern of geography globes made Linc sure he must be shaking hands with some local bigwig or at least some visiting potentate. And there weren't only globes stitched into the carpet; no, Mr. Robbins was a true collector of globes, some of them dating back to the previous century, and they occupied every spare niche and cranny in that den; any space not crammed with books was filled by a faded geography globe.

"Well, well, well," said Mr. Robbins, "this has been a big day for the two of you, a big day indeed. Please, please, both of you sit down." Then to Linc: "Tell me, son, how did everything go at school today? I trust you are to graduate with the rest of your class."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, then, let me be the first to congratulate you, both of you," said Mr. Robbins, further including Clare in his congratulations by patting her on the knee.

Mr. Robbins walked back behind his desk, took a match from his vest pocket, and lit his pipe. "You know," he began, "certain days and events in a young person's life can only be marked down as milestones; young man, young lady, today is one of them. I can promise you that, when you are older--perhaps my age--" (he let out a chuckle) "--you will look back upon this day with unspeakable fondness. Again, my warmest and most heartfelt congratulations to the two of you."

Linc thought: What a lot of hot air; what nonsense. He could always feel his eyes begin to glaze over with boredom whenever Mr. Robbins got windy. He suppressed a yawn and prayed he wouldn't slip into a coma.

"So, tell me, what have you decided to do with yourself, son?" asked Mr. Robbins.

There it was, the question Linc could no longer evade; trouble was, he had stopped listening. When he felt father's and daughter's four eyes fixed on him, he said, "Pardon, sir?"

"Your future, son!" roared Mr. Robbins, commanding Linc's attention. "What are you planning to do with it?"

With the toe of his boot Linc played with the fringe of an area rug. He said nothing.

"Well, son?"

Still no response.

"Look at me when I'm speaking to you, son," said Mr. Robbins, not angrily.

"I'm not your son, sir. I am my father's son," said Linc, still gazing down at the rug, his fuse fast reaching the flashpoint.

"Of course you are, Linc. Merely a figure of speech. I only wish to know your plans for the future."

"I don't see how my plans for the future are any of your business, sir," said Linc. He looked him square in the eye.

"Linc!" said Clare. Dreading this conference almost as much as Linc, she had been sitting there as if done up in stone.

Mr. Robbins said, "How dare you speak to me in that fashion, young man! And in my own den, no less. I'm shocked by you. I'm appalled."

"I apologize, sir," said Linc, rising from his chair. "I've been testy all day--no, for months. To answer your fair question, I'm thinking about postponing starting college for a year so I can work in my father's shop and see how that is. I think--"

"In a gasoline station?" Mr. Robbins interrupted, raising his eyebrows, seeming to have had a whiff of some unpleasant odor.

"It's an auto repair shop, sir," Linc said mildly, resuming his chair and relishing correcting the man.

"Much the same thing."

"Not much, it's not!" flared Linc, truly angry by now. "I suppose you don't approve."

"I find it an unacceptable . . . hmm . . . aspiration for a young man; and I find it a singularly unacceptable aspiration for a young man of my daughter's."

Linc felt his ears grow red. "Listen," he said with heat, his smidgen of respect for the man gone by the wayside, "I'm not your daughter's property--this is unreal! Clare doesn't own me! Though you're obviously accustomed to moving in circles of people who can be, I can't be had by anybody at any price. I can't be bought."

Mr. Robbins swept his arm high above his head. "Look around you, boy!" he barked. "How will a grease monkey ever be able to provide my daughter with such splendor? Splendor, I may add, she has been accustomed to since birth. Do you believe that any of these luxuries come cheaply?"

Linc was enraged. Mr. Robbins had just, to Linc's way of thinking, called his father a grease monkey, the very same thing Linc's father's few unsatisfied customers had been known to call him whenever they grasped for some way to label him or belittle him.

"You are but young and foolish," continued Mr. Robbins. "The problem with you is that you lack initiative. You have no gumption, none. What is it you ever expect to have to show for your work?"

"I think," countered Linc, "the more interesting question would be: What work do you have to show for all that you have?"

"What's that? I assure you, no one works harder than I. Why, I've written books which, should they be stacked one atop the other, would tower over a rough little thug like you."

"Tell me, though--and try to be honest--are any of them worth reading? Can you honestly tell me that time spent reading them wouldn't be time wasted?"

"Linc!" said Clare. (That seemed about all she had to say that night.)

"Young man, many of my books have received rave reviews in some of the most highly esteemed literary journals in the country." He turned toward his bookshelves. "Here, let me show you some of my--"

As Mr. Robbins reached for a scrapbook (ominously titled Memories), Linc interrupted him:

"No--Please--don't do that--Please don't bring that old scrapbook down from there." Linc began to laugh. He said, "I'm sure anyone who read your books would wind up raving--ranting, too, I'll bet." Again he laughed, try as he might not to. He saw Mr. Robbins's throat turn red. He moved in for the kill: "Seriously though, who do you think reads those literary journals? No one whose opinion I would care about, I can tell you that.

"You know," Linc continued, "I even tried one day to stomach one of your books. It was the one called Lilies and Violets."

"That's Lilacs and Lavender, young man."

"Oh, of course, you're right," said Linc, slapping his knee. "I knew it was something grandiose like that, something really fancy and, well, ridiculous."

"It was a tour de force . . . a masterpiece! That was, by far, the best-received work I've ever produced!" With that last observation, Mr. Robbins had a sip of brandy.

"Oh, I'm sure it was; still, I couldn't get through it."

"Yes, I'm sure you couldn't. I have no doubts about that. Tell me, were the concepts too lofty for you to grasp?"

"I guess I didn't get that far along. I didn't make it to any 'concepts.' To tell you the truth, I was only able to get through the first couple of pages. But if you'd like my opinion of those first couple of pages, I'd be happy to give it to you."

"Oh, by all means," said Mr. Robbins, not having abandoned his condescending air.

"It was just a lot of descriptive nonsense. Understand, I've tried to rid my memory of it, but it seems to me it was just a lot of fluff about an orange sunset. Am I remembering it correctly? Was that your fluff, sir?"

"That 'fluff'--as you call it--was the cornerstone around which was constructed the plot for one of the best-told tales of your or my lifetime."

That called for another sip of brandy, actually finishing the glass, denying himself the use of one of his preferred props. That glass of brandy and the pipe were parts of an image he liked presenting to the public, an image calculated to invoke reverence.

Linc said, "Now I know you're just pulling my leg. You can't tell me you actually--"

"Young man, that book made me my fortune!" Mr. Robbins was seething now. Without thinking, he lifted his glass for another sip, then quickly set it back down upon realizing it was empty.

"Well, that may be--I'm sure it is. But what I read of it--and I'll grant you, it was only a couple of pages--didn't measure up."

"Didn't measure up to what?" sneered Mr. Robbins. "You've ended your sentence with a preposition, you . . . you literary giant."

"It didn't measure up to other books I've read."

"And what have you read?" demanded Mr. Robbins, thinking he was on the verge of driving Linc into a corner. "I'm curious as to what you have read."

"I've read them all," Linc said simply.

"What?, specifically, you insolent tough."

"Specifically, sir, I'm talking about Ivanhoe, Wuthering Heights--books like that. I'm talking about the kind of books so few and far between, a person would have to read two or three hundred of the other kind of book to find even one other like it. And by 'other kind of book,' I mean, of course, books like yours: books that are just so much wasted ink, paper, and cheap binding; books that are an embarrassment to their author."

"Why, you insufferable, sophomoric swine! Out! Out! Get out of my house! You and Clare are quits, finished. And you may tell your friend, Dummy Blair, that he's no longer welcome here either!"

Mr. Robbins had stepped around his desk when he began that tirade, and was right in front of Linc when he finished it. Linc stood his ground and calmly said, "That's Danny Blair, sir. Goodnight, sir. Clare," he added, with a nod of the head to that mute, shocked personage. He left father and daughter standing there. He vowed never again to set foot inside that house.

And so ended the courtship of Linc Lebeau and Clare Robbins. Linc had seen it coming (at least in the dark recesses of his mind, he had; dark, well-buried places, like cemeteries he had always avoided) for some time.

Clare, for her part, was furious with Linc for the way he had spoken to her father. And to make matters worse, he had just left her there to face her father alone. She figured her father's dismissing Linc the way he did was probably for the best.

Clare knew Linc would lose his temper with her father when they finally got around to discussing Linc's plans for the future--a discussion doggedly and relentlessly insisted upon for the last six months by Mr. Robbins. Why, she wondered, couldn't her father just let things be, let them unfold naturally?

Linc was just as much to blame, she was certain of that, for he had been a regular bear for the last six months. Linc Lebeau, the one everybody had referred to as the nicest boy in school, since long before she knew him.

Linc and Mr. Robbins had never gotten along very well; they only tolerated each other. All the two ever had in common was Clare, and now that bridge had burned. Mr. Robbins had always insisted his exceptional daughter should have an exceptional match, some young man who would go places in this world. Clare had assured her father that a college education was all that Linc lacked; and her father, always wishing to please the girl, agreed that might be the case. But now Linc had decided against college--only for the time being, of course, but that was too much for Mr. Robbins, too uncertain a future for someone wishing to possess his daughter. And after Linc's making light of Mr. Robbins's life's work, any match between that brash young man and Mr. Robbins's daughter was out of the question.

Perhaps it was a conflict of generations. Considering he had a daughter of seventeen, Mr. Robbins, at fifty-five, was an older man; Linc's own father was only thirty-eight.

Linc could never get beyond his certainty that Mr. Robbins had but one concern in life: the amassing of material possessions. And Linc found it pathetic that, at fifty-five, Mr. Robbins had yet to find something more to life and doubtless never would. That used to break Linc's heart, that is, until he grew genuinely to dislike the older man.

Mr. Robbins sat down at his desk and relit his pipe. Clare tried to calm his rage by massaging his broad shoulders and thick neck, occasionally stopping long enough to lean down and give his cheek sweet, moist kisses. She also took this opportunity to say a few choice words on Dan's behalf. But Mr. Robbins wasn't buying it:

"Oh, he's worse than Linc," he growled.

Mr. Robbins couldn't stand people who weren't serious. Daniel Blair was never serious. That made Dan almost impossible for Mr. Robbins to bear. And whenever Dan went along with Linc to the Robbins' house, it was never long before Mr. Robbins stole away and locked himself in the quiet sanctuary of his den. Mr. Robbins would never admit that, often in the privacy of his den, he roared with laughter at something Dan had said just moments before when they were all gathered together in the sitting room. He hated having a soft spot for "that clown."

Clare Robbins was beautiful of face, extremely beautiful. She had a feminine shape, but at best her figure could only be described as slight. While she had always been an A student, Linc's grades always hovered at mediocrity. He was interested in the kinds of things that were of interest to all boys of seventeen: sports, pretty girls, fast cars, and the like. Her tastes inclined to more refined areas; such as, the theater, opera, and dance. Though Linc was much better read than Clare, it rarely showed; and he would never dare to let it show in front of his friends, for it was better to be thought of as one of the regular guys.

Though they made an attractive couple, the two children never seemed to fit together. It never crossed anyone's mind that Linc wasn't good enough for Clare, but rather that they were doomed by something running deeper, a fundamental difference of their souls.

The thing that attracted Clare to Linc was his kindness. There was a gentleness to Linc not possessed by the other boys that she knew. And if Linc were asked to tell what attracted him to Clare, his reason would be much like hers.

Once again making the long march down the brick walk, Linc had mixed feelings about what he had just done. He knew Mr. Robbins needed to be brought a little nearer earth if only for the man's own good; still, Linc hated to be cruel.

As Linc neared his father's car, he felt an emancipating, enlivening feeling of relief. He felt he had cast off weighty, constricting shackles. He felt something not quite right had been resolved in a manner it had always been fated to be resolved. He ran his fingers through his hair and began to whistle; but when he realized it was a tune Dan often whistled to drive him crazy, he laughed and then stopped whistling. He drove to Molly's.
Continue . . .


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