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  Lum understood.  "Yeah, yeah, sure, go
ahead...we'll wait out here."
  "If thar's ennything we kin do, Doc, jest let us know,"
whispered Grandpap.
  "Thank you, Milford," said Doc as he started to close
the door again. But Lum stopped him; he HAD to ask
this next question.  "Doc, er, what kinda work does
this feller do?" asked Lum, half afraid to hear the
  "Oh, he said a while ago that he was a carpenter by
trade, Lum," Doc replied. "Said he'd been out of work
for quite a while, though.  Well, I'd better be getting
back inside."
  The old door creaked shut once more, and for a long
moment, Lum, Abner, and Grandpap stood staring at it.  
Finally, Abner spoke.
  "Said he wuz a carpenter, huh?"
  "Yeah..." said Lum. Abner noticed that his old partner
had a very far-away look on his face. "I wuz jest thinkin'
... we've been talkin' about buildin' that loadin' platform
at the back door of the store, Abner...I think it'd be a
purty good idee ta git this feller ta help us."
  "Yeah, that's a good idee, Lum," said Abner, who had
been thinking the same thing.  "Might even git him ta
do a little fixin' up thar in the store whilst he's at it."
  "Well, now, he'll wanna be nigh his wife an' baby fer a
few days," Grandpap reminded them. "But quick ez
Doc thinks hit's safe fer 'em ta be moved, I'm gonna
INsist on 'em comin' right over thar ta our place an'

  Lum still had that same strange look on his face.
"Yessir, I wuz jest thinkin' here..."  He chuckled to
himself in a melancholy way. "Here we air, three ole
codgers ...gittin' along in years... standin' around out
here waitin'...waitin' fer a little baby ta be born."  The
next sentence almost stuck in his throat.  "Hit's sorta
like we was waitin' fer...somebody ta take our place."
  Abner looked at the ground.  "Well, o' course, we
don't like ta talk about sech things, but...we've about
sarved our time, I reckon."
  Grandpap fidgeted with the edge of his coat. "Yeh,
won't be long an' we'll hafta move on, an' let somebody
else take our place."
  "An' they'll soon fergit about us," mumbled Abner.
  "Hit's sorta like the years," Lum went on. "A lotta
things happen, but they'll soon be fergot.  Thar's been
lots o' joys an' happiness...on the other hand, thar's
been lots o' heartaches...a lot o' blasted hopes." Then
the old fellow pulled himself together.  "But thar's a
new year comin'," he said, "an' we'll all git ta start all
over again."  Then he whispered, half to himself,
"We're sorta like the years, us three ole fellers."
  Abner didn't know how to reply.  "Well, hit's jest like
I've allus said..." he stalled.
  "Wait a minute," Grandpap said suddenly as there
was a noise from the inside of the barn. "I hear
somebody comin' ta the door."
  "Maybe hit's Doc," said Abner.
  The bolt was lifted, the door swung open with a
creak again, and once more old Doc Miller stood
before them.
  Lum swallowed hard: "E-E-Enny news yet, Doc?"
  Doc looked at all of them for a minute.  "Well, gents,"
he finally said with a tired smile, "It's a fine baby boy."
                                                - Adapted by Tim Hollis,
                                              from an original story by
                                         Chester Lauck, Norris Goff,
                                                      and Roswell Rogers