Five Smooth Stones
loudly: "So! We go together, my friend Joel Fricke and I, and we see. He is the best, the very best. He teaches at the university and he is a consultant on the staff at the hospital. If he has not the guts to take over the boy's care, like Sampson I will pull the hospital down about his ears. Where will you be so I may call you later? At home?"
    "Lawd, no! I can't go that far away, not now. You call me at the Jeffersons'. I'll stay there till I hear."
    ***
    When Joseph Champlin left the Professor's house that evening there was some difficulty with legs that seemed to belong to someone else. He had finally let himself be persuaded to drink schnapps with his beer. Schnapps had always held, in his eyes, great peril, ever since his first taste, but this evening had been a real occasion, and the Prof had been like a child in his pleading that he try Denmark's favorite drink. "The news is good, Li'l Joe," he said. "It is not perfect but it is better than the news you brought to me earlier. The odds are good that your boy will not lose his foot, but he will be lame. You must face that. He will be lame. And there must be surgery. Not once but several times. He must be patient, and you too. He is a good boy. They let me see him, even though it was not visiting hours. Oh, I raised a sand, I tell you!"
    Li'l Joe chuckled. He always did whenever the Prof's Danish accent accommodated itself to one of the colloquialisms of Li'l Joe's people. He felt a relief that came close to making him sick, and he drank the schnapps in haste to account for gathering tears.
    ***
    Three days after his grandson's first operation Li'l Joe went to the Professor's house again. It was late evening, damp and drizzly, and he knew that there would be a fire in the little grate in the study and that the Professor would have a drink ready, because he had called and asked if he might come over.
    He stood in front of the fire for a minute, warming his legs, and apologized for his work clothes, then sat in the big chair beside the grate, rubbing his palms together nervously.
    "You are upset, Li'l Joe?" said the Professor. "You are not sure about your boy? He is doing splendidly. I have it from the great Fricke himself."
    "I ain't worrying about the leg now, Prof. Not anymore. I trusts what you say."
    "You are still worried about something, Li'l Joe. You come in here looking like a troubled chipmunk; you forget the drink I have so carefully prepared. That can only be worry."
    Joseph Champlin twisted uneasily in his chair.
    "How long the doctors say that boy's going to have to lay up there in that bed?"
    "Several weeks."
    'Then he's going to come out with his leg in a cast?"
    "I'm afraid so, Joe. That is the way it was explained to me. And, as the doctor told you, he will have to return for more surgery."
    "And each time he goes back in there for this surgery, he's going to be there like he is now, mebbe weeks? Two, three times for the next two, three years? With casts and all?"
    "Yes."
    Joseph Champlin was quiet for a long time. The drink remained untouched. Knudsen shuffled papers on his desk, rumbled in his throat, wished himself in Denmark. When the small brown man in the big chair finally spoke, there was despair in the low voice.
    "He ain't going to get his schooling. He ain't going to get his education right. I'd most rather he'd lost both his feets than lose that."
    Knudsen whirled, glared at Li'l Joe, drew in a deep breath and roared when he spoke.
    "That's it! That is what is worrying you!" The roar died, the eyes softened. "You are being a damned idiot, my friend. Of course he will get his schooling. Perhaps a little late, but he will get it."
    Joseph Champlin shook his head. "No. You don't understand. Chile like that, he needs schooling when he's young. That boy thinks all the time; I mean, all the time. Thinks too damn much for a young un his age. Worrying me all the time about stuff I can't explain good to him because I only had a little bit of education. I

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