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"Ah, no, Birdie," the dentist said. "You have a good disposition."
Later, Birdie drove out to the Nashua Country Club for Saturday lunch with several friends. Like most fine athletes, Tebbetts is aggressive, sure of himself, a little on the egocentric side, but he nevertheless has a strong and curiously touching pride in his friends and a warm affection for them. Ordinarily, he savors these meetings with them. Today, however, he was unusually quiet. He twisted his jaw from time to time and occasionally pressed against the new bridge with his thumb. He left early and on the way home stopped off at his brother's house.
Charlie Tebbetts, a year older than Birdie and darker and quieter, met him at the kitchen door.
"Hello, Bird," he said. "Come on in."
Charlie's wife, Hildreth, asked if they'd like a cup of tea. Birdie said he would, and then grimaced and pressed the new bridge again.
"Darn thing doesn't feel right."
"A new bridge?" Charlie asked. "Oh, they take a while to get used to."
They sat in the front room, drinking tea and talking about teeth, kids, baseball, the old days. As they talked, Mary came along the sidewalk. She wanted to borrow the car from Birdie, but once inside she sat down to talk for a while, too.
"This one," Birdie said wryly, referring to Mary. "I met her up in Montpelier one fall when we were barnstorming. Mary was secretary to the governor of Vermont and she had to be sort of official greeter when we arrived. I tried to make a date with her for that evening but she said she was sorry, she was busy. So I said, well, we'll just have dinner then. She said she was afraid she already had a dinner engagement. I said, how about tomorrow; we'll still be here tomorrow. Let's have lunch. She said she was sorry, no lunch. I made a big impression. Well, a short time later the Elks Club up there decided they wanted me to speak at some affair or other. Mary's father was the president of the Elks or the program chairman or something, and he asked Mary to write to me and ask me up to speak. Mary said, oh, no, not to Tebbetts. But her father said, ah, come on, please, and so Mary wrote me. Well, I wrote back and I said, gee, Montpelier is way out of the way, it'd be a terrible inconvenience and expense to go way up there to speak, and I just couldn't do it unless I got a fee of, oh, $500. Unless, I said, I happened to be in Montpelier for social reasons, perhaps even having dinner with you, and then I'd be happy to speak. Mary wrote back and said, 'Dear Mr. Tebbetts: The Elks don't think you're worth it, and I'm busy. Yours truly, Mary Hartnett.' "
Mary, listening to this, smiled at Birdie, and Birdie grinned back.