Barbara - Chapter 16 to 20
© By Morgan, 1994, 2002. All Rights Reserved


The following is a work of fiction regarding sexual relationships. If you feel that it is illegal, immoral, or otherwise improper for you to read this, then Don’t Read It.

NOTE TO MY READERS: This book is being posted now, in spite of the fact that Kathy Carlson is not yet complete. I had intended to add three chapters or so to Kathy, but that’s not the way it worked out. It’s long and getting longer. At any rate, here is another book that - hopefully - will tide you over.

Barbara Copyright © By Morgan, 1994, 2002. All Rights Reserved

Please note the original copyright date. This story was basically written eight years ago. As a result, you will likely find obsolete references. I’m afraid you’ll just have to live with it; it’s too tedious trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

This book is part of the Ali Clifford saga and in time follows Cynthia Martin by about 5 years. Because of the fact that there are other stories that overlap in time, some readers may find references to events they’ve never heard of. With luck, you eventually will.

More of my works are posted on my site <> If you like it - or if you don’t - please let me know at <> My books are also posted on <>.

Chapter 16

Bobbie and Tom decided to take another semester off from school. Having just returned from their six-month honeymoon, the thought of going back to the rigidity of class schedules and the inanity of so much of the Politically Correct chatter at the university turned them both off like a switch.

Tom decided to work for PHA Construction to ease his way back into civilization; Bobbie hadn’t yet decided what she would do although there was a vague idea in the back of her mind to do something with Clifford & Jamison, if possible. Tom had just made passionate love to her and now she was wriggling on the wonderfully crisp sheets while he used his work-roughened fingers to caress her glorious body when the phone rang. He teased her as she continued to make warm happy sounds deep inside her body while at the same time trying - unsuccessfully - to pretend to be asleep.

Since the phone continued to ring, with a groan she rolled over and picked up the receiver while commenting to Tom that the phone was something they had not had to worry about on their honeymoon.

There was never anything to disrupt their lovemaking or the wonderful period of mutual caresses that always followed.

“Hello,” she said sleepily.

There was a moment of silence at the other end of the phone and then she heard the well-remembered musical voice of Andy Cartwright. “Good morning, Bobbie,” the girl said apologetically. “I’m terribly sorry to awaken you. Will you please forgive me?”

“Of course, Andy,” she replied. “What can I do for you this morning... And what time is it, anyway?”

“It’s... It’s almost ten o’clock,” the little girl replied diffidently, “and I called to invite you and Tom for lunch today with Kenny and me. Could you...? Would you...? If it’s not too much trouble, of course...”

“Oh, Andy! That would be marvelous. Tom never really had a chance to really meet either of you and I think it would be wonderful. What time and where?”

“I asked my grandmother and she is allowing us to use her membership at the luncheon club upstairs here at the office. It’s where we ate the last time. Would that be all right?”

“Of course, darling! We’ll plan on arriving at the office about eleven forty-five if that’s okay.” The little girl said it would be perfect and hung up.

Turning to Tom she said, “Okay, husband, off your ass and on your feet. We have a social obligation today.”

Now it was Tom’s turn to pretend still to be trying to sleep so he covered his face with a pillow. Bobbie took advantage of the opportunity and began to tickle his ribs. In just an instant the two were rolling around on the bed laughing and giggling while tickling the other and at the same time trying to protect themselves.

Finally Tom, using his much greater strength, pinned her to the bed and whispered fiercely, “It’s all over wench! Now I’ll rape you and make you pay for that unprovoked assault.”

“But...! But my virginity!” she exclaimed in a little-girl voice.

“Then no decent man will ever have me...”

“That’s true,” Tom replied matter-of-factly. “But then you can work as a prostitute and besides... I’m not decent.”

With that he eased his throbbing cock into her wet cunt and in no time was feeling the exquisite sensations that Bobbie always created for him. When he finally reached his peak and spent in her pulsating vagina, Bobbie retained consciousness and used her long fingers to squeeze his balls in tempo with the pulsations of her cunt to empty the greatest possible amount of his cum into herself.

After resting on top of her for a few moments while feeling her sweat-slickened body beneath him, he raised himself up so that his lips were over hers. Then he melted her with an incredibly passionate kiss and murmured, “My darling Bobbie, I adore you!”

“And I, you,” she replied. Then with a frown and a shake of her head she said, “But darling, at such a horrible cost... My darling, Marie was one of the world’s handful of perfect people. After all she lived through, to be lost to a weakness in her heart...”

Recognizing her mood Tom rolled off onto the bed beside her and just held her tightly. As soon as he did she dissolved into tears. Whispering into her ear he said, “Darling, I never told you how Marie and I came to be married, did I?”

Bobbie had her arms around his neck and was still crying. Through her tears she managed to softly say, “No.”

“And Marie never did either, did she?” This time she just shook her head. “Honey, Marie never really wanted to marry me. She didn’t feel she was right for me... Wasn’t that so much like her, though? It wasn’t that I wasn’t right for her - and maybe I wasn’t - she only thought of me and believed she was not the right girl for me.

“Anyway, she felt I should marry a tall blonde - so she made me one. Or found one for me, at least. Darling, even though she had no idea of her heart problem, I’m sure she had a premonition or something.” He squeezed her tightly and said, “My darling, if anyone had said that I could ever love anyone as much as I loved Marie I would have said he was crazy.

“And yet... And yet I honest-to-God love you even more. The things you did while we were on our honeymoon...! Bobbie, I’m really not nearly good enough for you, you know. You’re a queen and should be treated like one. My darling, you’re just plain perfect!”

By now she had controlled her tears and realized Tom was being completely serious. She whispered, “My darling Tom, you’re a woman’s dream come true. And you’re all mine!” Then she poked him in the ribs and added with a grin, “Now get your ass in that shower with me!”

After sharing a sensual shower, Tom shaved while Bobbie brushed her short hair. She had already paid Henry Hall a visit. Henry was astonished when he looked at her hair. Knowing they had been alone on an island, he was astonished at how close to her original hair style it still was. He again trimmed it lightly into the same modified boy’s cut that she had worn at their wedding, so this morning all she had to do was brush it to bring out its natural oils and highlights.

Getting dressed for the luncheon gave Tom the first opportunity to wear a brand-new blazer that she had bought for him. Like most men, Tom hated to shop, but almost the first thing Bobbie did when they returned to the mainland was to buy him a complete new wardrobe. She told him that he looked incredibly handsome with a white button-down shirt and a red striped tie.

Going downtown, they drove in the sports car she had bought for him as a part of her wedding gift. Since the weather was perfect, they both felt a sensual pleasure as the warm air riffled their hair. At one point they looked at each other, grinned, and began to laugh with sheer exuberance. Bobbie felt she couldn’t feel better or be any happier and still live.

After parking the car in a Clifford & Jamison visitor’s space–the firm had ten spots in the garage for visitors in addition to all the staff spaces - they rode up in the elevator and entered the office. As they walked in, Bobbie realized it was only the third time she had ever been there. The first time was the fateful visit involving Harriet Dobbs while the second was the day of the meeting with Cameron Smith, his father, and Attorney Biggs. As the memories crossed her mind, she wondered if today’s visit would be as eventful.

As soon as they entered the office there was a yelp from behind the reception desk and Judy Morris hurled herself into Bobbie’s arms. “Bobbie Conroy, you should be declared illegal!” she exclaimed. “Never in my life have I seen a woman as beautiful as you are today. You are utterly perfect.”

Releasing Bobbie she extended her hand to Tom and said, “Tom, although we met at the wedding reception, I’m sure you don’t remember me. I’m Judy Morris.”

Tom ignored the outstretched hand, took Judy into his arms and gave her a kiss of the purest love. At first her arms were waving in the air and then she held him around the neck as the power of his love almost knocked her down.

When he released her lips, she still held on while she tried to regain her composure. “Michael Morris is a very lucky man, Judy.

As one of our nation’s foremost heroes, he deserves no less. I am truly delighted to meet you although I have seen you - all of you,” he added with a grin “–many times over the years when you came out to visit Maui.”

Judy blushed at his comment and pretended to slap his face. Then she just daintily stuck her tongue out at him and grinned.

Just then, the door to the offices opened and Andy Cartwright and Ken Clifford appeared. They had been regularly checking to see if the Conroys had arrived. Seeing Bobbie, Andy screamed, “You’re here!”

As she raced the few steps across the room, Bobbie dropped to her knees and held her arms out wide. The little girl hurled herself at her, wrapped her arms around her neck and proceeded to kiss every part of her within reach. Finally she pulled back just enough to put her lips on Bobbie’s, and with her arms wrapped around her neck, proceeded thoroughly to kiss her in an effort to convey her love.

To Bobbie the kiss was everything she had remembered but even better. Then she realized that Andy was now a year older - she must now be six years old - and her kiss was even morepowerful.

Easing away just enough to be able to focus her eyes Andy carefully looked Bobbie over and then gave her a beaming smile and said, “Oh, Bobbie, you’re so beautiful! You’ve never looked better. For that matter, no woman has ever looked nearly as good or as beautiful as you do today. You are simply scrumptious!”

Meanwhile, Tom and Judy had moved apart but he still had his hand around her waist as they looked at Bobbie holding Andy while Kenny Clifford just stood by patiently. With a beaming smile, Andy moved away and he repeated what his niece had done. When the greetings were over, Bobbie looked at the two children and realized how dressed up they were.

Although she had intended to go into the offices to say hello to her friends and introduce Tom, the children just shook their heads and led the way back out to the elevators.

Although Bobbie knew what to expect, Tom did not. He was utterly astonished as Ken led the way into the restaurant and asked the maitre d’ for the Clifford table. Knowing who he was, he led the way to a table in the corner of the restaurant. Since it was the building’s northwest corner it was directly above Ali Clifford’s office.

Tom was very impressed as Ken carefully seated Andy while the maitre d’ seated Bobbie. When she was seated, Andy beamed at Ken and said, “Thank you, Uncle Ken. That was very gentlemanly.”

Then she winked and reached out her arms. Ken gave her a very adult kiss full on the lips.

In moments, champagne was brought to the table for Tom and Bobbie while the children drank ginger ale. For Tom it was an utterly incredible experience to be with two very young children who acted so adult. When Bobbie realized that they would not see menus - the luncheon had obviously been prearranged - Ken told her diffidently that Mrs. Carlson was doing the cooking for them.

Since she was possibly the finest cook in the world, he hoped they would like it. The lunch was the finest food either Tom or Bobbie had ever had in their lives.

When they finished the main course, Bobbie said to Tom with a grimace, “It’s all over now! Good heavens, darling, on my best day I couldn’t come within twenty miles of this food.” She frowned at him and added, “It’s pretty clear to me now that I should have left you home. I would be a lot better off if you never knew food could ever taste this good.”

Before Tom could say a word, Ken interjected, “That’s okay, Mrs. Conroy. All my mother can do is order from room service. Of course, she does that very well.” With a quick grin and a snap of his fingers he added, “That’s not true, though. She can make coffee and can make a martini, too. But I adore her anyway.”

Looking at him Bobbie said, “Ken, why is it that I think there’s more to this lunch than just food. What are you two imps scheming up?”

Ken’s eyes widened and he looked at Andy, who just shrugged and said, “Kenny, we already knew how smart she is. Why should we be surprised?” Then she added, “You tell her. Please? After all, you’re my uncle.”

“But you’re older,” he responded but then did as Andy had asked. Drawing himself up even straighter in his chair, he looked at Bobbie and said, “Mrs. Conroy, we’ve heard a rumor that you’re not going back to college this term. Is that correct?”

“Yes, it is,” Bobbie replied. “Now what’s on your mind? What’s my not going back to school have to do with anything?”

After another glance at Andy - Bobbie felt that he was screwing up his courage - Ken plunged in. “Mrs. Conroy, you know that we’re six years old now?” She nodded and he continued, “The problem is that we should be in school. But...”

“But school would be a little stupid - at least the first grade with its pre-reading - for children who already read at the college level,” Bobbie interjected. Then looking closely at the two children, she began to slowly shake her head from side to side and added, “If you two little imps think for one minute that you can con me into teaching school...”

“For $100,000 for the term,” Ken interjected. “Mrs. Conroy, there are only eight of us. We have talked about it and... and... and Andrea and I would like to hire you as our teacher.” Then he sat up straight and said, “Our parents don’t know anything about this - although they may suspect something. It’s entirely our own idea and the money is ours, too. In addition, we will provide you with any materials, equipment... You name it.”

Bobbie was utterly stunned. Temporizing, she looked at Tom and said, “Darling, I suppose I should come clean. You see, you caught me on the rebound. I only married you when Ken Clifford refused my offer to wait for him. Can you imagine what it did for my self-esteem to be turned down by a five-year-old? Particularly when I bared my soul to him? Can you?”

“Now wait just a minute, Mrs. Conroy!” Ken exclaimed. “I said I would wait for you. But I said that you wouldn’t wait for me. Now you’re married to the man you adore who’s going to father from your loins the most incredible children that the world has ever seen.”

He grinned and added, “But you’re changing the subject. The subject is teaching school. Please, Mrs. Conroy? Please be our teacher?”

When Bobbie just shook her head, looking bewildered, the two children looked at each other and were disconsolate. Even though tears were forming at the corners of her eyes Andy just looked at Bobbie, refusing to lower her head or do anything about her tears.

Then, with her head still shaking from side to side, Bobbie said softly, “Kids, I don’t want to be your teacher...”

Hearing her words Andy lost her fragile self-control and began to bawl. Although her heart turned over seeing the little girl so heartbroken, Bobbie continued, “...but I have to be! Of course I’ll be your teacher! And there will be no talk of any money from you two, either!”

Suddenly the two children yelped and beamed the most vibrantly happy smiles the older two had ever seen while Bobbie continued, this time addressing Tom, “The reason I have to, Tom, is that I owe my sanity if not my life itself, to these two. I don’t know if you remember the day after I met you at the student union–when Harriet Dobbs and I visited Clifford & Jamison for the first time - but I certainly do. As you know, I hated myself then: I was a disgusting pig.

“Then, at lunch, I sat between these two. Aside from teaching me what being a mother is all about, I broke up in tears when, after giving me a kiss of the purest love, Andy gave me her blessing. You see, darling, these two little imps love me. They really do.

For a time these two were my only friends in the whole world. Largely because of them I’m here with you today.”

Turning to the children she asked, “But why me? I’m not a qualified teacher. I’m just a kid!”

Now it was Andy’s turn. “Because, darling Bobbie, you’re the only one who could teach us. Ken and I talked it over with all of the other kids and you’re the only one we want.”

There was the warmest, most loving smile on her face as she continued, “Of course, Kenny and I knew you, but the other kids didn’t. They all met you on Maui over Christmas and that settled it. You’re so kind and loving and wise. Moreover, we all have the feeling that you actually like being with us. Heaven knows, we always have a wonderful time with you, but we think you actually enjoy our company, too. Don’t you?”

“Darling, I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I do enjoy your company. You and your friends are the nicest, sweetest, smartest young people in the world! I love being with you.” Then with a grin she said, “Now that I’ve taken the job, what’s next?”

With a beaming smile the two children said in unison, “Now we tell Gram, Mom and the others!” They got up from their seats and the children led the way towards the door.

Tom held back slightly and whispered to Bobbie, “Darling, I think it’s absolutely wonderful! You’ll be great!” Then he took her in his arms and, ignoring the other diners, melted her with a passionate kiss.

When one of the nearby diners quipped, “Why don’t you just marry her?”

Tom replied with a friendly grin, “I did! Over six months ago. Isn’t she great?” The man replied with a warm smile that she certainly was.

To her great relief, Bobbie found that Ali Clifford was wildly enthusiastic about the idea. It turned out that she and her colleagues had been worrying about school now that the older children had reached the age where the mandatory-school-attendance laws took effect.

The initial class would be quite small: Laura Benson, Susan Carlson, Andrea Cartwright, Karen Chan, Celeste’s daughter; Ken Clifford, Betsy Clifford, Joan’s daughter; Charley Conrad and Mike Morris. It came as no surprise to Bobbie to learn that all of the children could read very well. Moreover, arrangements had been made to partition off an end of the nursery for use as a school room. Chalkboards were already being installed and school furniture was being delivered that afternoon.

When Kenny expressed surprise, Ali merely raised an eyebrow and said, “Kenny, don’t you know by now that mommies know everything?” The little boy just grinned and shook his head.

That night Bobbie and Tom spent the whole time talking about the school and what she should teach - and how. The more they talked, the more frightened Bobbie became. She realized that she knew absolutely nothing about teaching. Finally Tom suggested that she concentrate on fundamentals: reading, writing and arithmetic. Since that seemed pretty simple, that’s what she decided to do.

Arriving at the office at eight o’clock the next morning, she was greeted by Judy Morris and Sandy Benson. Escorting her into the conference room, which she had learned was the Firm’s multipurpose room, they had coffee and just chatted. Both women were elated at the idea of Bobbie running a school. Shortly before nine, the two women excused themselves and Bobbie made her way over to look at the classroom.

She was delighted with what she found. But before she even had a chance thoroughly to examine her surroundings, the door opened. The first people to come in were Sandy Benson and her daughter, Laura. Bobbie’s heart turned over as she realized how beautifully dressed the little girl was for her first day at school.

Holding the little girl’s hand, Sandy brought her up to Bobbie’s desk at the front of the room and said, “Mrs. Conroy, this is my daughter, Laura. She is one of your new students.”

When she looked at her daughter, the little girl beamed at Bobbie, made a beautiful curtsy and said, “How do you do, Mrs. Conroy. I am Laura Benson and I’m delighted to be one of your pupils.”

Dropping to her knees Bobbie took the little girl in her arms and hugged her. Whispering in her ear she said, “Laura Benson, I’m delighted to have you!”

Then she kissed the girl full on the lips and marveled again at the kiss she received in return. It was loaded with love, innocence and the purest goodness. When she released Laura, she found that now all of the children were lined up with their mothers. She was delighted to find that Judy Morris’s husband, Mike, had come, too, to escort his son on his first day of school. Bobbie knew that Michael Morris was a Medal of Honor winner. His son, Mike, Jr., looked a great deal like Kenny Clifford with the same golden-blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes.

Then she saw Celeste Chan bringing in her daughter, Karen. The girl was an oriental beauty with enormous gray eyes and incredibly delicate features. The little girl made the most beautifully graceful curtsy Bobbie had ever seen. A lump came to her throat as she realized the incredible level of love and attention the mothers had lavished on their children. In every case, the children displayed a level of manners Bobbie thought had become obsolete with the death of Queen Victoria.

After shaking hands politely and expressing great pleasure in being in Bobbie’s class, the woman could see a question in the young girl’s eyes. “The answer is yes, Karen,” Bobbie said with a loving smile, “now what is the question?”

The little girl looked startled for a moment and then beamed the most beautiful smile Bobbie had ever seen and asked, “Since my Aunt Marie has gone to God, Mrs. Conroy, will you be my aunt now?

I certainly think of Uncle Tom as my uncle and now that you’re married, doesn’t that make you my aunt?” The little girl paused for a moment and gave Bobbie and impish grin and continued, “You may not know it, but my father is an only child, so when Aunt Marie died, I lost my only aunt. Will you be my aunt now? Please?”

Dropping to her knees Bobbie took the girl into her arms, hugged her tightly, and then kissed her. Karen wrapped her arms and returned the kiss with an incredible depth of purity and love. My God! Bobbie thought. All of these children are the same. They are so full of love and purity and innocence.

Then she replied, “Darling Karen, I would love to be your aunt. But are you really sure? You know that being related to the teacher isn’t usually a very good thing. I will expect you to be extra good, you know. Are you sure you want that?”

“Oh, Aunt Bobbie, it’s even worse than that. Grandfather says that the worst thing a person can ever do is to do something that brings dishonor to her family. I talked with him before I asked you and he reminded me how important it would be for me to excel in any class taught by a relative. I assured him that I would, and I promise you the same thing. I will not disappoint you.”

Then with her eyes wide she added, “I expect to be severely punished, Aunt Bobbie, any time I fail to excel. I don’t mean fail to do an assignment, or - Heaven forbid - fail a test. I mean any time I fail to excel. I will observe very carefully, so any time I remove my pants and come up to your desk, you must spank me at least ten times as hard as you can. Promise?”

At that poor Bobbie began to cry. “Good heavens, Karen, why would you do that? My darling, you can’t think I will get any pleasure from spanking you, do you?”

“Of course not, Aunt Bobbie. But neither does Mother or Dad, but they do it anyway whenever I’m naughty.”

Tears appeared at the corners of her eyes as she added, “It’s very simple, really. When I’m good, it makes my parents very happy. When I’m bad, they punish me but it makes them feel far worse than it does me. So I try to be good.”

Bobbie was still on her knees so the little girl whispered in her ear, “Actually, I’m the same as Andy. Sometimes I’ll be naughty just so Mommy will punish me. Then I get in bed with her and kiss away her tears while she hugs me and tells me how sorry she is for hurting me. You can’t believe how much I love her... Or how much I love you.”

The little girl then kissed Bobbie’s ear and then gave her another lingering kiss full on the lips. Again its power almost knocked her over.

Rising to her feet she held out her hand to Celeste and said, “If I’m Karen’s aunt, I guess that makes me your sister-in-law, doesn’t it?”

“No, darling Bobbie, it does not!” Celeste exclaimed. “It makes you my sister. Period!” Then with a warm smile she added, “Now please give your older sister a kiss. Please?”

Suddenly Bobbie began to bawl. She took Celeste into her arms and hugged her for dear life as she whispered, “Why Celeste? Why did it happen? I would have gladly donated my heart to be transplanted into Marie’s body. Why did God have to take her? Oh, why?”

“Bobbie, she has joined our parents and our schoolmates in Heaven. The months she had with Tom were the happiest of her life. In just a few short months, he created a level of happiness for her that most women never achieve in a lifetime. I know how happy you are with Tom and how happy and fulfilled he is in your arms. It is what Marie so desperately wanted. Believe me when I say that she is watching over you right now.”

Drawing back a short way so she could look into Bobbie’s eyes she added, “Darling Bobbie, please believe me when I tell you that she loved you nearly as much as she loved Tom.”

She paused and added, “The virginal blood dried on the linen cloth that you presented to Hank Conroy was a gift from Marie, as well. She knew you were as pure of heart as any virgin alive, so she merely restored the physical manifestation. That was her wedding gift to you, as you were her wedding gift to Tom. Can you accept that? Please?” Bobbie could only nod as Celeste took a tissue from her pocket and carefully wiped Bobbie’s eyes for her.

When the introductions were complete, the parents stood at the back of the room to watch the opening ceremonies. First, she asked the children to please kneel and led them in an opening prayer. Then she took the American flag down from its holder and gave it to Mike Morris to hold while the class said the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang the National Anthem. Tears came to Bobbie’s eyes as she saw Mike Morris standing at the back of the room standing at strict attention and holding a meticulous salute as his son so proudly held the flag.

The days that followed were truly remarkable. Although all of the children could read very well, they had not been taught to write, although they all wrote using a computer. Obtaining some books on teaching handwriting, Bobbie spent hours with the children as they practiced shaping their letters over and over.

One morning, when she entered the conference room for her morning coffee, she found Sandy Benson pretending to glare at her. “What did I do this time?” she asked.

“You kept me up half the night is what you did,” her new friend replied. “Jack and I were dying to get into bed - my cunt was running like a damned river - but could we? Oh, no! We had to stay up practicing penmanship with Laura. Barbara Bradley Conroy, you have one hell of a nerve! Can you believe it? Jack and I have to work on our penmanship! (Of course mine used to be totally illegible.) There we were, sitting around the kitchen table - while my cunt is killing me and I’m drowning the kitchen floor with my juices, while we shape letters!

“Just for that, lady, you can come over to the house and wash the kitchen floor!” Then she grinned and added, “I’ll bet you didn’t know that love juices dissolve floor wax, did you?” Bobbie just laughed uproariously and kissed Sandy soundly.

One morning after the school had been operating for just a week, Bobbie found a number of people waiting for her when she entered the classroom. Ali Clifford was waiting with them and introduced her to April Jackson who was there with her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Casey. Kathy Cartwright and her husband, Bill, were also there with their daughter, Cynthia. Ali explained that they had recently acquired a Los Angeles bank and April, Kathy and Bill had come out from Chicago Trust Company to run it.

After greeting the children - Casey was a black girl with skin the color of light chocolate milk, the warmest brown eyes Bobbie had ever seen along with the most beautifully wavy black hair, while Cynthia - called Cindy - had light brown hair, emerald green eyes and utterly gorgeous Eurasian features - Bobbie assigned them to seats and then greeted their parents.

She already knew about Bill Cartwright. A veteran of Army Special Forces, he had been imprisoned and tortured by the North Vietnamese for fourteen years. His wife, Kathy, had met him when he was imprisoned and when she was only ten years old.

When Bobbie looked at Bill Cartwright, tears came to her eyes and she said, “Mr. Cartwright, I can’t tell you what it means to have your daughter in my class. The courage you - and your wife–displayed is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for enrolling her in our school.”

Shaking her head Bobbie added, “You know, this class is utterly unbelievable. We have only ten students, yet we have children of men who, among them, have received four Medals of Honor. I am truly honored!”

Bill looked at her closely and then, to her great surprise, took her into his arms and kissed her. Bobbie almost fell over as an incredible wave of the purest love swept over her. When he released her, she continued to hold on with her arms around his neck to keep from falling down.

“Barbara Conroy, you’re one of God’s most perfect people. It is a great honor and privilege for Kathy and me to enroll our daughter in your school. I hope she doesn’t let you down.”

“If she has a tiny fraction of the courage, bravery and brains of her parents, she couldn’t possibly,” Bobbie replied. “And I’m sure she will make you both very proud.”

Classes continued with drills, exercises and debates. Bobbie found herself assigning whole books for the children to read over a weekend. She initially focused on American history, particularly the colonial period through the Constitution. She decided that it was easier to establish the principles of our republic, go back to the ancient Egyptians, and then come forward, showing where the ideas in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from.

She realized that she would have to teach both Greek and Latin. Her plan was to read Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and Herodotus in the original Greek and C‘sar, Livy, Plutarch, Cicero and Lucretius in Latin.

Bobbie found she loved teaching. The children were utterly delightful. To her initial surprise she found that, not only did they carefully do all the assignments, they began to do outside research. The result was almost every day there were marvelous debates in the class. After a couple of weeks Bobbie organized them in debate fashion which the children loved.

Most important and most gratifying was the way in which there were differing opinions on certain issues but the debates showed a clash of great intellects. Although they occasionally got loud they never got personal. Bobbie moderated the debates and occasionally interjected a comment or a question. It was a joy to her to see the young minds develop and broaden. Although she already knew that she had some of the smartest young students in the world, she loved the feeling she got watching the children open up like flowers in the sunshine.

For the first time Bobbie had a career purpose in life: she found that she adored teaching young children. Moreover, she was gratified to learn from the parents how excited the children were at the prospect of learning. Remarkably, they seemed sto resent holidays. For Bobbie herself it was intensely exciting to see the enthusiasm and joy every day in her students.

The school continued to develop. Every day there were exercise periods using the health club in the building and a nap time in the afternoon. The children had sleeping bags and Bobbie very soon bought one of her own. After the first couple of days, in response to a request from Andy, Bobbie began to nap with one of the children each day. The first day, Andy herself slept with Bobbie. Stripped bare, Andy crawled into the sleeping bag and lay on top of Bobbie.

While she ran her fingers lightly over the little girl’s perfect body, Andy was doing the same thing to her. Although her eyes were half-closed, she pulled herself up so her mouth was over Bobbie’s. Then she gave the woman a kiss of the purest love and said, “Darling Bobbie, I love you so much!”

Then she moved down and almost immediately fell asleep using one of Bobbie’s beautiful tits for a pillow. Bobbie soon found that all of the children loved the sensation of sleeping on her and she found that it provided her with a wonderful sensation, as well.

When it was Casey Jackson’s turn, the beautiful girl kissed her and then fell asleep on top of her. On awakening the girl stared into Bobbie’s eyes and said, “You don’t really care that I’m black, do you? No! That’s not right! You don’t even know that I’m black. To you, Mrs. Conroy, I’m just a little girl, aren’t I?”

“No, Casey. You’re not just a little girl. You’re a beautiful, warm, loving creature of God! I know that your parents must be very proud of you. You’re essentially perfect!”

The little girl pulled herself up on Bobbie’s body until her eyes were peering directly into hers. After studying her for a few moments, the girl said, “No, Mrs. Conroy, you are. Never have children had a teacher like you. You love us, nurture us, care for us and make us do things we don’t think we’re capable of doing. But we can and we do. No, Mrs. Conroy, it’s not us–it’s you!”

Bobbie just shook her head in demurral.

Chapter 17

John Callaway leaned back in his chair in his oak-paneled judicial chambers, took off his glasses and closed his eyes. His headache - an ever-present companion these days - had increased in intensity again. Although only fifty-four years old, Callaway had already retired as a justice of the California Court of Appeals for medical reasons. No one except his doctor and himself knew the reason: he was dying of cancer.

Complaining of headaches, he had gone to see his doctor almost a year earlier. After a series of tests failed to reveal any problem, a CAT scan was ordered. The look on his doctor’s face when he entered John’s hospital room showed instantly that there was a big problem. A needle biopsy later confirmed how big a problem it was: there was an inoperable malignant tumor growing at the base of his brain.

Subsequent CAT scans demonstrated how fast the tumor was growing and, as a result, pressing the brain up against his skull. It was this internal pressure that was causing his headaches. I guess it’s a small thing,_ he thought. I guess headaches beat death. And yet, for him, death in the immediate future was a certainty. When he saw his doctor two days earlier the prognosis was less than three months to live - possibly much less.

Callaway thought of his daughter-in-law, Kelly, and his two beautiful granddaughters, Kirsten and Jamie. Then he almost cried thinking of his son, John, Jr., who had been killed in action as a fighter pilot in Kuwait. Although the war had been mercifully brief and Allied casualties were far lower than even the lowest advance forecasts, it was small consolation when his son - his only child - was one of them.

Kelly was herself an orphan and an only child. Because his wife had died years earlier, now John was - aside from her beautiful daughters - her only living relative. It was largely because of Kelly and his desire to try to build up the value of his estate for her that he had accepted the present special assignment in the Trial Department of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County to help clear up its enormous backlog of cases. As a retired appellate court judge he was given especially tough ones.

Putting on his glasses he opened the file in front of him and looked at it again. The case was The State of California vs. Barbara Conroy, et al. It had been initiated by the state Department of Instruction and contended that Barbara Conroy was operating a school without a license, was totally unqualified to teach, and then continued on and on in the same vein. He had not even bothered to count the number of complaints.

Callaway shook his head, closed the file, and put on his judicial robes. As the office clock read exactly ten o’clock, he opened the door from his chambers and entered the courtroom. He smiled inwardly as he heard the bailiff already completing his introduction. The bailiff knew that John was extraordinarily punctual so when a case was called for ten o’clock he knew that Callaway would appear on the stroke of the hour.

With a great effort of will the judge wiped the throbbing headache from his mind and turned his attention to the case at hand. After taking his seat, he looked around the oak-paneled courtroom paying particular attention to the people sitting at the plaintiff’s and defendant’s tables.

At the plaintiff’s table he focused on the woman sitting between three people who were obviously lawyers for the Department of Instruction, and found that he disliked her on sight. Although she was standing for his entry into the courtroom - the bailiff had ordered, “All please rise” - he couldn’t tell how tall she was because of her terrible posture and the way her body slumped, but he thought she was about five feet five. Guessing, he placed her age somewhere in the forties. Her figure appeared dumpy and she wore her nondescript-colored hair - mostly mousy gray–back in a severe bun. The woman’s face reminded him of the blade of an axe and this impression was reinforced by her rimless eyeglasses coupled with the figure-hiding shapeless gray suit she was wearing.

Turning his attention to the defendant’s table, his jaw almost dropped. Standing there was the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen in his life. Standing very erect, she was very tall and slim - Callaway guessed at least five feet eight. A deep golden tan was set off by the white sleeveless dress she was wearing that was tailored to her perfect figure. Even at his distance he could see that she had brilliant blue eyes that complemented her rich golden-blonde hair worn very short in a boy’s haircut.

That woman would never be confused for a man in a million years! he thought. Aside from her brilliant blue eyes, the only element of color other than the gold of her body was the crimson red of her lips which was matched by the crimson of a necklace and bracelet she was wearing. Moreover, even her lip color appeared to be natural. He had a feeling that she was wearing no makeup of any kind, not even lipstick.

Standing beside her at the table were two of the most beautiful children he had ever seen. The little girl had emerald-green eyes with hair so blonde it was almost white. The small boy had hair and eyes like the woman’s. When the bailiff announced that all could be seated, the judge was amazed to see the boy carefully hold the chair for the woman first and then for the girl. After seating the women he took his own seat. All then looked attentively at him.

The opening comments were made by an attorney for the state. Callaway tuned him out as he droned on, citing numerous rules and regulations by their technical definitions: article 121, section B, subsection (1) paragraphs ©, (d), and (e). Callaway almost went to sleep.

When the lawyer finished his seemingly interminable opening statement, the young woman at the defendant’s table rose to her feet and approached the bench. “Your Honor,” she said with a warm smile, “I am Barbara Bradley Conroy, the primary defendant in this case. Although I’m not completely certain - I tend to get lost in the educationists’ tendentious verbiage - it seems that the complaint boils down to their contention that my pupils are not in an environment where learning can take place.

“Well, sir, I have here a package of tests published by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. As you no doubt know, ETS also publishes the SAT’s, the LSAT’s and the BSAT’s. I believe that its stature as a publisher of aptitude and achievement tests is unquestioned. Rather than go through a lengthy trial, why don’t we just give a test to three of my pupils, along with Ms. Kramer - Callaway hid his grin behind his hand when he heard the young woman emphasize the word, Miz - who represents the state Department of Instruction and is sitting at the plaintiff’s table, along with a couple of her attorneys. Why don’t we see if my students have learned anything?”

Instantly there was an objection from the state’s counsel. Listening to it Callaway realized that it boiled down to the fact that they did not know exactly which test was to be administered.

When Mrs. Conroy answered the question, the objection was restated on the grounds that the test was not used in the state of California. Upon questioning, Kramer admitted that the test was regularly employed in forty-seven other states.

Mrs. Conroy then said that it was because the test was not used in California that she offered it. “I don’t want to use a test with which Ms. Kramer might be completely familiar,” she said. “Moreover,” she continued, “the reason it’s not used is that it is - by far - the most expensive test of its kind in use. The State doesn’t feel like spending the money.”

“That’s an utterly absurd statement!” Roberta Kramer exclaimed. “That test has never been proven to be sufficiently superior to several others to warrant–“

“As I said, they don’t want to spend the money,” Bobbie repeated dryly. Again Callaway stifled a grin behind his hand. After overruling the objection and ordering the test to be administered, again Mrs. Conroy approached the bench.

“Your Honor,” she said, “the packaging used for these tests is rather special. It is designed to be essentially tamper-proof. It is virtually impossible to open the envelope without leaving a sign of tampering. When I ordered the exams, I told the people at Princeton that I hoped to use them in the courtroom today. Accordingly, one of their security experts is standing by awaiting your call. He or she will talk you through the rather complex process of opening the test package to ensure that it has never been opened from the time it was packed up in Princeton. Would you care to retire to your chambers to make the call? We will pay for it, of course.”

Callaway was both puzzled and curious. Accompanied by the people from both tables, he went back to his chambers and placed the call.

Following an elaborate procedure designed to ensure him that he was talking to the Educational Testing Service and to reassure them that they were speaking with a judge of the California Superior Court, he was connected with the man who had been awaiting his call. Following his step-by-step directions, Callaway opened the outer envelope, then a triple-sealed inner envelope. He even verified the presence of a tiny multicolored thread that was around the tests and secured to the envelope itself. After verifying that it was intact he finally reached the test booklets, the accompanying answer sheets and the answer template.

When all preparations were complete, he looked up and found everyone looking at him. The judge was amazed at the difference in attitudes. The lawyers and Ms. Kramer were both defensive and upset. Mrs. Conroy and the two children all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. He did not visibly react when Mrs. Conroy gave him a wink and a quick grin as if to signify that the two of them were privy to a little joke.

As they returned to the courtroom he asked the woman, “Mrs. Conroy, if you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”

“I’m nineteen, your Honor. I hope that doesn’t get me in any more trouble.” Then with another quick grin she added, “And everyone calls me Bobbie. I hope you will, too.”

After ensuring that the state representatives were out of earshot he said softly, “No, it certainly does not get you into any trouble. And you are the most incredibly beautiful young woman it has ever been my good fortune to meet!” Only then did he notice and comment on the handmade nature of the crimson necklace she was wearing.

Bobbie smiled warmly and told him she had made it on her honeymoon from crimson coral she had gathered herself. Looking at the children beside, her he added, “These two children are the most beautiful, most perfectly-behaved young people I have ever seen, as well.” With a quick grin he said, “They’re almost as beautiful as my granddaughters!”

The smile Bobbie gave him in reply almost melted him to the floor. “I’m sure you’re justifiably proud!” she exclaimed in a whisper. Then in her normal voice she asked, “If we could take just a moment, could I introduce my pupils to you?” Callaway instantly agreed, so Bobbie said, “Your Honor, it is my pleasure to introduce Andrea Cartwright. Andy, this is Judge John Callaway.”

Callaway almost fell over when the girl made a graceful and perfect curtsy, then said in the warmest, most beautiful voice he had ever heard, “Good morning, Judge Callaway. It is a privilege to meet you and to have you hearing our case.” With that she extended her small hand.

Instead of shaking her hand Callaway dropped to one knee, took the little girl’s hand and lightly kissed it. The little girl’s eyes widened as she realized what he was doing. Then he said softly, “Miss Cartwright, it is truly my pleasure.” Giving in to an impulse, he took the girl into his arms and gave her a light kiss on the lips. At least it was intended to be light, but when he pulled her close, she wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed him and then worked her lips on his. Callaway held her tightly realizing that the incredible power of this little girl’s kiss almost knocked him down.

He felt the most remarkable sensation of the purest love flowing from his lips throughout his body. Finally he released her and said softly, “I didn’t know the half of it, did I? Young lady, you are unbelievable!” As he said it he realized that the girl’s bright green eyes were locked on his in the most penetrating gaze he had ever seen. It was as if she was looking directly into his soul.

She continued to look into his eyes as Bobbie said, “Your honor, it is my pleasure to introduce Andrea’s uncle, Kenneth Clifford. Kenny, this is Judge John Callaway.” This time the judge was prepared when the little boy made a perfect bow and then extended his hand which the judge took in his. In spite of how small the boy’s hand was, he still had a very firm grip.

“How do you do, Judge Callaway,” the little boy said. “It is a great honor and pleasure to meet you.”

When the judge again dropped down on one knee, the little boy gave a little yelp and threw himself into the judge’s outstretched arms. He, too, melted his lips against Callaway’s and again the judge was almost knocked down by the power of the subsequent kiss. Regaining his feet, he realized that they were hidden from the courtroom by his bench and was glad of it.

As the children returned to the defendant’s table he said, “Mrs. Conroy, doesn’t one of the Beatitudes say, ‘Blessed are the pure of heart?’ Now I know what the phrase means. Those children are incredible - and a real tribute to you as a teacher.”

“Thank you, Your Honor,” Bobbie replied, “but it’s not me. They are tributes to their loving parents and the upbringing they have received. The only thing I do is try not to undermine what their parents have done and are doing.” Then with a warm smile she added, “Of course, when they kiss me I immediately think about the concept of Sanctifying Grace. They really are wonderful children, though.”

With a quick smile she returned to her table while Callaway returned to the bench. When he was again seated, he noticed Roberta Kramer was on her feet waiting to address him. As soon as he looked her way she said, “If we must put up with this... this idiocy of testing, we insist that Mrs. Conroy herself be tested. After all, a part of our contention is that she is totally unqualified to teach.”

When she looked at her, Bobbie said, “I have no problem with taking the test. In fact, Ms. Kramer is free to choose which of my pupils will participate, if she wishes.” Kramer did not, so Bobbie designated Andy, Ken and Casey Jackson.

The little black girl beamed at being selected and came forward from the spectator seats. Without stopping at the table, she came around to the bench where Callaway spun his chair around to greet her. Casey was beautifully dressed in a brown-and-white striped pinafore. With her beautiful brown eyes, wavy brown hair and light milk-chocolate coloring she was beautiful.

After a perfect deep curtsy, she extended her hand and said, “How do you do, Judge Callaway. My name is Casey Jackson and I am delighted to meet you.”

Callaway took her hand and kissed it. When he raised his head he saw the girl’s eyes widen with wonder and pleasure. “Miss Jackson, the pleasure is all mine. Are you ready to take the test?”

“Oh yes, sir,” the girl replied. “And I certainly hope to do well. I don’t want my parents to be disappointed.” Then her eyes widened again as she added, “My grandparents are here today, too, from Chicago. I have to do well for them.”

As the little girl went to join her friends at the counsel table Callaway reflected on what he had heard about the breakdown of black families. Clearly, this was not one of them. Moreover, it was clear that the power of the family was a major positive influence on the girl as it appeared to be on all of the children.

The court clerk had finished reading the testing instructions–she was administering the test - when Bobbie said, “Your honor, this test takes ninety minutes. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go off somewhere to take it so we don’t waste the court’s time?”

“Mrs. Conroy,” Callaway replied, “this is a special session of the trial court that hears only a very limited number of rather special cases. I have no other cases scheduled for today and frankly, I would rather watch.” Motioning around the courtroom he said, “As you can see, the numbers of spectators is already large and still growing. It’s obvious that others are interested as well.” With a warm smile he added, “Shall we get going?”

When all of the materials had been given out and they were awaiting the order to begin, the judge saw Bobbie extend her hands towards the children seated beside her. Andy and Ken immediately took one and extended their free hands to Casey. After the four all joined hands Bobbie bowed her head and the three children followed suit. At that point Kramer demanded, “What are you doing over there?”

Completing her prayer Bobbie released the children’s hands and said, “Praying. What did it look like we were doing? Since we believe that the only good things come from God, we were asking him for his help and guidance. Do you mind?”

“Well...! Really! Haven’t you heard of the separation of church and state?” Kramer replied.

“Oh,” Bobbie said, “You mean the First Amendment? ‘Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...’ (The emphasis was Bobbie’s.) Ms. Kramer, we were just exercising our constitutionally-guaranteed right of free exercise.” Then with a malicious little grin she added, “The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document. You really should get around to reading it someday.”

Again Callaway concealed a grin. Why is it that I’m certain Kramer is grossly overmatched, he wondered.

As the seven people worked on the test, the judge looked at the two tables and again suppressed a grin. At the plaintiff’s table Kramer and her attorneys were clearly having heavy going. Already the bailiff had had to speak to them twice about cheating. Meanwhile, Mrs. Conroy and her children seemed to be sailing right through it. The children seemed very interested in the test and were apparently enjoying themselves.

Then he concentrated his attention on Bobbie and did a double-take. He suddenly realized that she was going through it at an incredible rate of speed. Her pace seemed to be controlled solely by the length of time it took her to mark her answer sheet. When she finished it and turned it in to the clerk, she came up to the bench.

“Your Honor,” she said, “when the test is scored, I would appreciate it if you or one of your staff would call Princeton again. You see, I gave the expected answers but my kids aren’t experienced enough to know what is expected. They will give the correct answers.”

She then went on to list three questions by number, indicate the “expected answer” - i.e., the answer-sheet answer, the correct answer and then explain the reason for the difference. After making careful notes, he retired to his chambers and placed the call. This time it required a series of transfers to different people to explain the situation. Finally, they took his number and agreed to call back within thirty minutes.

When the call came in, the bailiff took it and then motioned to the judge. It came as no surprise to learn that Mrs. Conroy was absolutely correct. Finally the administrator in Princeton said, “Judge, it’s a problem we have, particularly in science where our knowledge is exploding. Too often, the high-school book answer is obsolete - or in a few cases, completely wrong - in terms of advanced scientific knowledge. The specific answer to your question, though, is that we will accept either answer. However, the corrected answers that you mentioned are, in fact, the far-more-accurate ones.”

By the time he completed the call and returned to the courtroom the examination time was up, the tests had been collected and the clerk was using the template to grade the papers. When she finished with the defendants’ papers she used the scoring booklet to convert the raw scores to age- and grade-adjusted values.

Looking puzzled, she brought the materials up to the bench. “Your Honor, there are no adjusted scores high enough for their raw scores - they’re too high. Mrs. Conroy’s paper is perfect. The children had a number of answers wrong, particularly in science and advanced mathematics, but there is no adjusted value even for theirs. Do you want to call Princeton again?”

Callaway grinned and winked at her, then again called the testing company. This time he asked for the woman with whom he had just been speaking. Although he did not know her position, he accurately guessed that she was quite senior in the organization.

When he reached, her he quickly explained the situation. Her first questions were regarding test security. After explaining how he opened the materials following step-by-step instructions, she put his call on hold for a few minutes.

When she returned on the line, it was obvious that she had verified what he had just told her and had been reassured about test security. Then she said, “Judge, those young people have just broken the bank. They have gone far over the limits of the test. And then a perfect test! That’s theoretically possible, but it never happens. Obviously today it did. I’m certain any college or university in the country would be delighted to have them. Do you know where they are applying?”

“Ms. Larson,” the judge replied, “They are not applying anywhere.

The students are only six years old and are in the first grade! The perfect score was achieved by their teacher who’s a young woman only nineteen years old. I think she has completed three college semesters. Remarkable, aren’t they?”

After a few moments of silence, while Larson digested what he had said, she declared, “I repeat what I just said: any college or university in the country would be delighted to have them today -- in spite of being only six years old!”

Returning to the courtroom he found that the clerk had graded the other tests. Kramer’s results put her at the top of the bottom quintile of high-school seniors. The lawyers did substantially better with one of them achieving the top quintile. When the results were announced Kramer said that all it tested were “mere facts.”

Callaway just shook his head and recessed the court for lunch.

As he left the bench, he found Andy and Ken waiting for him. After glancing at one another, Ken looked up at the judge with his eyes wide and asked, “Your Honor, would it be possible for Andy and me to talk to you for a few minutes in your chambers... alone?”

Because he had been so impressed with the children he instantly agreed. Entering his office, he went behind his desk and sat down, while the two children brought over chairs so they could sit close to him. After another exchange of looks Kenny nodded and Andy took the lead. “Those headaches are awful, aren’t they?

Can... can anything be done?”

Utterly stunned at the question, Callaway could only shake his head.

Then the girl asked, “Judge, could Kenny hold your hands and look into your eyes for a moment?” Again the judge agreed. Ken rose from his chair, stood before the judge, held the man’s hands in his and then stared deeply into his eyes. Andy, knowing what to look for, winced when she saw Kenny’s eyes widen, tears appear at the corners, and then as he sadly shook his head just once.

When the boy was back in his seat, Andy asked, “When, Kenny?”

“I don’t know exactly, Andy. You know... we’re both the same way. We’re still exploring our powers.” He shook his head and said, “No more than thirty days and probably much less–possibly less than a week.”

“But that will leave Kelly all alone with those poor girls, won’t it?”

Tears started to stream from her eyes as she added, “She has scarcely recovered from Jack’s death as it is.” Then looking at Callaway she said, “She doesn’t know about your illness, does she? Your death will come as a complete shock, won’t it?”

The judge could only nod sadly as tears came to his eyes. For some reason the incredible knowledge of these two small children didn’t surprise him at all. He jerked up straight at Andy’s next words: “Judge Callaway, could... would you allow us to try to help you?”

“You? Help me?” he exclaimed. “But how? And why?” Shaking his head he said, “Kids, it’s only fair to tell you that the doctors gave up long ago. What can you possibly do?”

“It’s an inoperable malignant tumor, isn’t it?” Andy said. He only nodded. “The answer to the second question is that we don’t know. Possibly nothing. But do you have anything more tolose?”

Callaway just shook his head.

Getting down from their chairs, the children knelt on the floor, held hands and used their free hand to each hold one of the judge’s. With her head bowed Andy prayed softly, “Oh God, through your infinite power and mercy, please spare the life of your servant, John Callaway. He has tried to live his life in accordance with your laws. He raised a wonderful son who married a beautiful girl who, in turn, has presented him with lovely daughters. His son, Jack, gave his life in the service of his country. Now his daughter-in-law, Kelly, is about to lose her only surviving adult relative. God, she will be so terribly lonely. Please don’t do this to her. Please spare the life of your servant, we pray. We ask this in the name of your divine son, Jesus Christ, our savior. Please God?”

Callaway was holding Andy’s hand tightly with his right hand and Ken’s with his left. Completing her prayer, he could feel the girl’s fingers squeeze his with all of her might while the boy did the same thing. Suddenly he had the strangest feeling in his head. It was as if water was running out of a container. His skull, which had been under constantly increasing internal pressure, seemed to relax. Pressure behind his eyes reduced and then disappeared.

Looking at the two children he could see their eyes were closed and both seemed to be concentrating intently on something. After the pressure disappeared, changes in his body continued. Remarkably, it was almost as if he was shedding years of age. I’m growing *younger!* he thought. But how can this be? Finally he felt as if he had shed almost twenty years of age. It was as if he was in his early thirties!

Remarkably, he felt wonderful - better than he could ever remember feeling. When he felt the pressure on his fingers released, he looked up and found that both children were looking at him intently.

“Want to try again, Ken?” Andy asked softly.

The boy nodded and held both of the judge’s hands in his and again his eyes seemed to bore right through the judge’s skull. This time he grinned, smiled warmly and said, “You’re going to be outrageously happy with Kelly for many, many years to come. I’m delighted.”

The judge was utterly flabbergasted. “But... But whathappened?”

Andy just shrugged and said, “God caused the tumor to disappear.”

Then with a little grin she added, “And, as an extra added attraction for Kelly, he gave you back your body when you were about thirty-two. That’s really how old you are now.”

Then she looked into his eyes and with an impish smile asked, “Would you do us one small favor?”

Callaway, although stunned, was starting to recover. His sense of humor came back powerfully and he replied skeptically, “Well, it all depends. I mean... After all, you only saved my life, for heaven’s sake. It’s not like you did anything really special for me or anything... But what?”

Hearing his words, Andy giggled. It was the cutest, happiest sound Callaway had ever heard. Then with her eyes dancing, she said “Tonight when you go home, please take Kelly in your arms and kiss her solidly on the lips. That’s all.”

“That’s all?” the judge asked skeptically.

“That’s all,” she repeated. Then she added, “There is one more thing, though. After that, just follow your instincts and her leads. Okay?”

“Okay!” he exclaimed. “Now how about if I buy you two kids a lunch? Please?”

The two accepted gratefully and, after telling Bobbie what they were doing, they went off to Callaway’s club. The lunch with the two children was another remarkable experience. He had never encountered such manners and commented, “I thought manners like yours went out with the death of Victoria. I am overwhelmed!”

“Would you say that Kenny and I have been good children today?” Andy asked innocently.

“Good!?” the judge exclaimed. “The very best! Your parents should be very proud indeed.”

“Would... Could... Please, would you tell our mothers?” Ken asked shyly.

“Of course I will! But why?” he asked.

“Because, sir, there’s really nothing Andy or I - or the other kids - can ever do for our parents. And they are always doing things for us. The one thing we can do - and it’s what we try to do - is to be very good so they will be proud of us.

“You see, sir, when my mother is proud of me, she gives me her sunshine smile full blast. If you ever saw my mother’s sunshine smile you would know that it would light up the entire Los Angeles Basin on a smoggy night. Sir, there’s nothing that makes me happier than to be able to make my mother happy. Perhaps you’ll see it yourself someday.”

Looking at Andy, Callaway just saw her head nodding rapidly in agreement. As they were leaving the club the maitre d’ whispered to him, “Who are those two little angels, judge?”

“Fred, I think you’re right on the money! They are two little angels!”

Chapter 18

Returning to the courthouse with the two children, Callaway found Barbara Conroy waiting for them along with two other couples. Looking at the two women, the judge saw that one had the same brilliant green eyes and platinum-blonde hair as Andrea Cartwright’s while the other was a golden blonde with the most brilliant blue eyes he had ever seen. Clearly these were the children’s mothers. The two women dropped to their knees and the children hurled themselves into their arms. The love that flowed between mothers and children was almost palpable in its intensity.

The two women held the children in their arms and stood up. Ken’s mother asked, “And what did you two imps do? Were you being good?”

Glancing around the lobby, Callaway saw that they were alone. He said, “They saved my life, Mrs. Clifford, so in return I bought them lunch. As far as your question is concerned, I’ll only repeat what the maitre d’ at my club asked me: ‘Who are those two little angels?’ The answer is that they were both little angels.”

“Oh, Kenny!” Ali Clifford exclaimed, “I’m so proud of you, my son.”

Then she smiled at him with the warmest, most brilliant smile John Callaway had ever seen. Clearly this was the sunshine smile Kenny had spoken of. Moreover, his reaction was exactly what he had said: The little boy just shone in the reflected brilliance of his mother’s smile and the happiness she was feeling.

Seeing the woman’s smile, something came back in the judge’s memory. “You’re Ali McGrath, aren’t you? But... but you can’t be! It was so many years ago when I saw you in Vietnam...”

Still holding the boy in the crook of her left arm, she extended her hand and said, “How do you do, Judge Callaway. Yes, I am–or was - Ali McGrath. It’s so good of you to remember me. But what is this nonsense about saving your life?”

Before answering her, Callaway first introduced himself to Andrea’s mother who gave the girl a duplicate of Ali’s smile. The little girl reacted in exactly the same way Kenny did.

Then he said, “This morning, when I entered the courtroom, I was dying. I had a malignant tumor growing rapidly and spreading at the base of my brain. Your son estimated that I had less than one month to live and possibly less than a week.

“When they asked to see me in my chambers, they explained that they knew I was dying and asked if they could try to help. Since the greatest minds of medical science had long since given me up for dead, I had nothing to lose so, of course, I agreed. At that the two children knelt on the floor, held my hands and Andy said a prayer to God asking for his intercession in my case. As soon as she completed her prayer, I could feel pressure in my skull that has been a constant in my life for months, start to diminish. In moments, it disappeared completely.

“Through the prayers of your two children I believe I have experienced a miracle. But back to the comment I mentioned, my reply was that I think they are, in fact, two angels. I truly believe it. Mrs. Clifford and Mrs. Cartwright, you have been blessed by God with these children.”

Before the parents could respond, Andy said, “Mommy and Kenny’s Mommy, I think I was bad.”

When Connie Cartwright looked at her daughter with a puzzled expression, Andy continued, “You see, I really feel sorry for Kelly Callaway. Mom, she is such a gorgeous woman and she’s just like you. You know that I can look into a person’s brain and see things sometimes that the person himself is unaware of? Well, that happened this morning.

“You see, the judge has been hearing Kelly crying at night as she just writhes in bed in a frustration of wanting. And she’s so good, she’s just like Bobbie was: It would never occur to her to get relief through masturbation. She just writhes on her bed in agony.” Turning to Callaway she added, “A number of times she has even come into your room late at night when you were sleeping. Once she was just about to awaken you when you screamed in pain from your tumor.”

Then dropping her voice until it was just above a whisper she concluded, “That’s why I also prayed silently for God to make you younger and why I suggested that tonight you just kiss Kelly the way you’ve always wanted to and then just see what happens.”

Tears had come to the little girl’s eyes as she looked back at her mother and asked, “Will I be punished for what I did,Mommy?”

Connie just shook her head and replied softly, “My darling Andy, if anything happened, God Himself caused it to happen. You only asked. If you’re correct, it was God’s own plan, so who am I to second-guess the Lord? Right?” Then she hugged the girl and added, “My darling, I am so pleased and proud that you’re learning more about your very special powers and are using them to help others.”

Then she introduced her husband, Chip, while Ali introduced Bill.

After the introduction Bill said, “Darling, I think the children have been extra-special good today so something special is called for.”

With a big grin he said, “The circus is in town, kids. How would you like to go tonight?” The children were elated at the prospect.

Then the judge’s eyes widened as Ali asked Connie, “Daughter, could you spare a tit to feed Kris tonight along with little Charley? I’ll have to use the urchins to drain my tits. Could you?”

“Good grief, Mom! What do I look like? A cow?” Connie asked with a grin.

Ali just reached out her hand, gently felt her daughter’s milk-swollen breast, and said with a wink, “As a matter of fact, yes!”

Then Chip Cartwright said, “Judge, just before we were married, at Ali’s wedding reception, Connie said the most beautiful words I have ever heard. She announced that since she was not going to compete with me in making money - she didn’t think she could, but more importantly we can’t possibly spend what we already have–she was going to do something I can’t possibly do: She was going to make babies.

“Judge, Andy is the result. For a first effort, Connie didn’t do too badly, do you think? Of course, she is only the first and Connie really hadn’t warmed up yet, but for a first effort...?”

“Mr. Cartwright, I can only say again: You and your wife, with God’s help, brought an angel into the world. You couldn’t possibly have done any better.”

Then after glancing at his watch he said with a grin, “Now how about if we get this show back on the road?” With the warmest smile at Andy he had ever given anyone he said, “I don’t want to be late getting home tonight!”

Returning to his seat on the bench, the bailiff called the court to order. Roberta Kramer was on her feet waiting to address the court as soon as the bailiff concluded his duties. “Your Honor, we went through Mrs. Conroy’s little... charade this morning. That test - such as it was - only tested mere facts. There’s far more to education than the rote memorization of facts,” she said disdainfully. “There’s the need to put those facts to use–“

“Of course, Ms. Kramer,” Bobbie interjected. “You mean reasoning ability? Well, I have some questions here that I propose to use this afternoon. I have written them on slips of paper. The court can deal them out to whomever it wishes in whatever order. I estimate that forty-five minutes should be an appropriate length of time to answer each question. Is that fair? You and your colleagues will, of course, participate. It’s only right that the court have answers from highly-educated adults such as yourselves to use as a benchmark.”

With that she brought up a small stack of little slips and a package of blue answer books that were standard in so many colleges and universities for test-taking.

Again the clerk of the court distributed the questions and the answer books. This time, though, it was the three children being tested against three of the people at the plaintiff’s table. Ms. Kramer was one of them. Callaway watched the proceedings with interest, mentally rejoicing at how great he felt for the first time in memory.

The first thing he noted was the children took out fountain pens, carefully read their questions, thought for a few minutes and then began to write swiftly. Mrs. Conroy had left the table and was joined by a number of people - obviously parents - in the hallway. Returning his attention to the table where the children were taking the test, he was fascinated watching them. It almost appeared as if all of their attention was focused on their handwriting rather than on its content. Meanwhile at the state’s table, there were apparently problems with the questions themselves.

Ken Clifford was the first one to finish his test. Bringing it up to the judge’s bench he whispered so as not to disturb the people still taking the test, “Judge, I want to apologize for my very poor handwriting. I’m really working on it very hard - so are the other kids - but it’s still got a long way to go!”

Looking at the boy’s test booklet, Callaway was amazed. The script was meticulous and beautiful. “Kenny, this is terrific! I wish I could write nearly as well. What do you mean?”

“But judge, it’s terrible! Just look at this,” he said passing Callaway the slip of paper on which the question he had answered was written. The handwriting - Bobbie’s - was the most beautiful he had ever seen. Before he could say anything, Kenny added, “Please don’t say anything to Bobbie - Oops! Mrs. Conroy–judge. It’s only so sloppy because she just scribbled the questions out in a hurry. Normally, her handwriting is utterly perfect.”

Realizing the little boy was being completely serious he asked, “What do you mean by good handwriting, Ken?”

“Well, sir, Mrs. Conroy demonstrated what she meant one day in class. You see, sir, back during the Civil War period, fine writing was the hallmark of ladies and gentlemen. There were people with handwriting so fine that it was possible for them to write across a piece of paper, then turn it sideways and continue with all the words crossing the ones already written.

“Well, Bobbie wrote a letter that way. Except instead of writing vertically, after the first horizontal page she tilted the paper to the left and wrote with the words intersecting at a forty-five degree angle. When she finished that, she tilted the paper the opposite direction. Now her writing intersected the original at forty-five degrees the opposite way, and the second pass at ninety degrees. When she gave it to us to read, it was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Reading each way, the writing was so clear and easy to read. It was unbelievable!”

“Can you or any of your friends do that yet?” the judgeinquired.

“Karen Chan can do it two ways but not yet three,” the boy answered. “I guess that’s because she is Oriental. Everything about her is so incredibly graceful and elegant.” He grinned and added, “We tease her about being an Oriental midget while she calls us a bunch of Occidental oafs! You know something, Judge? I think she’s right. And she is such an incredibly beautiful little doll!”

“Are you going to marry her when you grow up?” the judge teased.

“Oh, no sir!” Ken immediately exclaimed. “I thought it was pretty clear to you, though. I am going to marry Andy.”

Then he added softly, “Judge, that’s why Andy feels so badly for Kelly. It’s something Andy and I both understand completely, except for totally different reasons. You know, sir, it’s absolutely terrible to have an adult’s needs and desires trapped in a small child’s body. All we can do now is wait, but I love her so much! You tasted the love in her lips. Can you imagine what I get? It’s the same love but at a level of intensity that’s multiplied, coupled with pure passion!” With tears in his eyes Ken concluded, “We adore one another. Honest we do.”

Callaway had been looking into his eyes while Ken Clifford was speaking and knew instantly that he was hearing the complete truth. These two were incredible people and could, in fact be angels. Certainly they were like no humans of any age he had ever met. Moreover, he had personally experienced some of their extraordinary powers himself that morning.

Ken left the bench and Callaway started to read his test. First, the question: “America’s Revolution was fought almost exclusively on land but decided at sea. Explain and discuss.” His eyes widened as he realized it was the sort of question one might find on a specialized college history course dealing with the Revolutionary period.

Fascinated, he began to read the little boy’s answer. In several comprehensive paragraphs he sketched the sweep of the land war in the Middle Colonies and then in the South. The decisive event, in his opinion, was the defeat of the British fleet off the Chesapeake Capes by the French under de Grasse and d’Estaing. With Admirals Graves and Hood unable either to resupply Cornwallis at Yorktown or evacuate him, the general was forced to surrender. Finishing the test booklet, Callaway let out a soft whistle. The paper was, in his opinion, perfect. It was carefully presented and beautifully reasoned and supported. He found a red pencil in his drawer and carefully wrote A+ on the cover.

When Casey Jackson brought up her paper and gave it to him with a shy smile, he smiled back. The girl quickly retreated to look for her parents while he opened her test. Her question: “A British senior officer serving with Cornwallis in the South wrote in a letter home, ‘If we win one more battle like that one, we shall surely lose the war.’ Explain and discuss.”

Intrigued, he opened the small girl’s test paper. Her handwriting was as beautiful as Ken’s but even neater in a charmingly feminine way. He began to read how Cornwallis had moved out of his base at Charleston, South Carolina, with his force in an attempt to wipe out the Continental forces in the South. He read how the British had “won” first at Cowpens, and later at Guilford Courthouse - the battle that was referred to in the British officer’s letter. In each case “winning” was defined as being in possession of the field of battle at its conclusion, but also in each case Cornwallis sustained frightening and unaffordable losses of manpower.

Meanwhile, a Tory force under Major Ferguson encountered Ike Shelby, John Sevier, and the over-mountain men. A British effort to rouse the Indians against the over-mountain settlers had backfired. The aroused colonials, who until then had been sympathetic to the Revolution but essentially uncommitted, moved east over the mountains and wiped out Ferguson and his troops at King’s Mountain exposing Cornwallis’s left flank. At the same time guerrillas under Francis Marion had interdicted his supply columns coming up from Charleston so he was faced with the choice of either returning to his base or cutting himself off and relying on total victory. When his cavalry force under Col. Banastre Tarleton was destroyed by Light Horse Harry Lee’s troopers, his movements became a full-bore retreat which ended at Yorktown.

The judge reread the paper and marveled. Here was a small girl, only six years old, dealing with the entire sweep of Revolutionary history. Again taking his red pencil he neatly wrote A+ and put the paper aside.

Andy Cartwright’s paper was as good as the others. Her handwriting was, if anything, even finer than Casey’s. Her question: “The Battle of Saratoga was rated by an English historian as one of the fifteen decisive battles of all time, ranking with Waterloo and ahead of Trafalgar. Why? Explain and discuss.”

After reading the girl’s brilliant essay and grading it an A+, Callaway reflected on what he had already seen and heard that day. First, the allegations being made by the state had already been established to be utterly absurd. Bobbie Conroy might be the finest teacher alive in the world teaching the most brilliant collection of students ever assembled in one place. Not even halfway through the first grade, they were writing examination papers that would receive top grades in advanced college history courses. Moreover, they were courses of a type offered only at the finest schools to their finest students.

When the clerk indicated time was up, the bailiff collected the test booklets from Kramer and the attorneys. When they were delivered to Callaway he looked at the questions and then tried to read the answers. First, he had terrible difficulty trying to read what was written. Although he could not decipher all the words, he could read enough to know that they didn’t have the first clue about an answer.

Looking up from the bench he addressed the court. “Ladies and gentlemen, first, I have graded the children’s papers. Each was given the grade of A+. Looking at Casey he asked, “Miss Jackson, I was overwhelmed by your knowledge of Colonial history in the South. Is it an area of particular interest?”

“Yes, sir, it is,” the girl replied after first rising from her chair. “You see, my ancestors were slaves in the South. My grandmother was raised in Virginia, sir. She worked for a family that was FFV on both sides. That’s the First Families of Virginia. Sir, they were true ladies and gentlemen. She carefully observed what they did and how they acted and vowed to behave the same way. My mother was raised that way, sir. Her father was career Army and he was away a great deal, so it left it up to my grandmother. She would accept nothing less than ladylike behavior at all times - and still won’t. Yes, sir. I’m very interested in the South.”

At that point a giant black man rose to his feet from a place behind where the other children were sitting and approached the bench. He was over six feet six and appeared to weigh over 250 pounds. Callaway’s eyes widened as he came up. Then the man spoke in a very quiet voice, but one that carried to the far corners of the very large courtroom. “Your Honor, my name is John Smith. May I have your permission to address the court? I am a member of the bar of the State of Illinois and am Casey’s grandfather. May I, sir?”

Callaway instantly agreed.

“Your Honor, as I said, I am Casey’s grandfather - or at least her honorary grandfather. Her true grandfather - my wife’s first husband - was killed in the service of our country. He died a true hero. Sir, I played professional football and subsequently almost destroyed my life with drugs - principally cocaine. Mary Jefferson picked me up, trained me to be her butler and took care of me. Everything you have heard from Casey is the God’s-honest truth: Mary Jefferson Smith is not a lady, though, sir. She is a queen! With her inspiration I completed three and a half years of college in a year and then three years of law school in a year and a half.

“Her daughter - my daughter, now - April Jefferson Jackson, is a princess. (She insisted that I adopt her as my daughter, and I was never so proud of anything in my life. Except maybe for the day of her wedding when she kissed me and told me how proud she was to be escorted down the aisle on my arm. She said that her father - her real father, Tom Jefferson - would be delighted, too.) At any rate, April came out here to Los Angeles when Mrs. Clifford bought another bank.

“You see, sir, in Chicago, April is known as one of ‘the twins who aren’t.’ Mrs. Clifford’s daughter-in-law, Cindy Burke, is the other. Under Cindy, they established the most successful lending program for small and minority-owned business in the United States. Anyway, Mrs. Clifford asked April to come out here, along with Bill and Kathy Cartwright, to install a similar program. When they arrived, she learned about the school Mrs. Conroy is running and was utterly delighted to have Casey accepted as a student in it.

“The reason I asked to speak, sir, is that I’m sure that the next thing we’ll hear from the idiots at the other table - excuse me, sir. I apologize for the remark - is that there is no racial mixture.

“That’s garbage. Casey is certainly black, Karen Chan is Oriental, and Cindy Cartwright is mixed. I will never forget the day Casey came home from school, when Mary and I were out here last. It was the day on which it was Casey’s turn to take her nap with Mrs. Conroy. You see, these children are still pretty young so Bobbie insists that they take a nap every day. Each day, she lets a different student sleep with her.

“That day was Casey’s first turn. With her eyes as big as saucers she told how Bobbie caressed her small body and hugged and kissed her. She said to me, ‘Granddad, she doesn’t know I’m black - or if she knows, she certainly doesn’t care. And... and... she loves me! She really does!’ And you know what, Judge?

She’s absolutely right! Bobbie Conroy does love her - as she loves every other student in her class. My wife is utterly thrilled!

“Although it isn’t all roses for us. That same night, there we were - all of us: Casey, her parents, Mary and me, and to his total disgust, her older brother, Ron - sitting around the kitchen table practicing our handwriting. Bobbie - Mrs. Conroy–had told the children how important it was for ladies and gentlemen to have well-formed handwriting.”

With a broad grin he continued, “Well, sir, that was all my wife needed to hear. Mary agreed with her granddaughter instantly and insisted we all practice. It was the funniest thing you have ever seen. Here is my little granddaughter going around the table critiquing everyone’s writing. When my daughter thought she could sneak out to feed the baby do you know what Casey said?

She said, ‘Mom, you write with your right hand. Just hold Danny to your tit with your left hand and keep practicing.’ And that’s what poor April had to do!” Smith grinned, shook his head and said, “I wonder if one of Casey’s ancestors was a black plantation overseer? Boy, what a little slave driver!”

Then with a very warm smile and a shake of his head he added, “And yet, at the same time, I could see Bobbie Conroy’s influence: Casey was loving, helpful, and encouraging as she worked with all of us - even her brother, Ron, would you believe?

“But at the same time she had standards of achievement in her mind to be reached and maintained! With no excuses!” Looking directly at Callaway he finished, “Your Honor, that is Bobbie Conroy. She will not bend her standards one millimeter! For anyone! So the children are rightfully so proud when they achieve, sir. They know that, when Bobbie says their work is good, it’s good! And good for Casey Jackson is good for Kenny Clifford. It’s the same standard for everyone. Sir, that’s education and that’s what we want!”

When Smith had mentioned April holding her son with her left hand while practicing her handwriting with the right, there had been an explosion of laughter. Now there was the sound of people moving in the audience and the most beautiful young black woman Callaway had ever seen approached the bench and said, “Excuse me, Your Honor. But I couldn’t control myself.”

Then taking a handsome young man by the hand she came forward followed by another woman who looked like her sister. “Sir, I’m April Jackson and this is my husband, Ron, and my mother, Mary Smith. Ron and I are Casey’s parents and I want you to know how proud we are of her and how much we appreciate what Bobbie is doing for her and the other children. We would like to underscore what my father just said.”

Looking at the young man, Callaway had a flash of recognition. “You’re Ron Jackson, the Bear’s All-Pro safety, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Ron replied. “But to set the record straight, you should know that my father-in-law - my father, damn it - is John Smith, a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. He was a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers.”

With a broad grin he added, “Your Honor, when your father is John Smith - and he can break you in half with one hand - you better be good to his daughter. And sir, he couldn’t possibly love April any more than he does. And his comments about Mary? They couldn’t be more true. As you can see, she’s a queen - and she looks like April’s sister. And when April has had a really tough day, she looks like her younger sister!”

With that April turned, melted Ron with a kiss and then said, “Sir, I would just like to thank you for your comments about Casey’s test paper. You can’t know how proud it makes us feel, and how happy we are for our daughter. I can’t tell you what it means to us to see her come home every day just bubbling over to tell us what happened in school that day.

“We see Bobbie Conroy as if she can take these children’s brains out of their heads and just stretch them. She is like the starter motor on a car’s engine: she spins to get it turning and then it runs by itself. Well, it hasn’t happened yet - their brains are not yet running by themselves - but almost. Casey now has a love of learning for its own sake! She now has the finest collection of friends a young girl could possibly wish for. She is so exuberant, she just bubbles! What more could parents possibly want?

“Oh, I almost forgot! There is her love of God. We did almost have a small war with Bobbie over that one. You see, one evening she called me and was very upset. She had just realized that the religion she was teaching was Roman Catholic - she is a Catholic and most of the children are, too. Anyway, recognizing we are Baptists, she was very concerned.

“Well, the whole family talked about it and the next day my father went downtown to see her. As you can see, there’s something about Dad - it might be his size,” she said with a wink,” - that does get one’s attention. Anyway, he laid down the law to Bobbie. He said, ‘You talk about God, don’t you? You teach these children about Our Savior, Jesus Christ, don’t you? Well, lady, we don’t give a damn about the details! You just keep it up!’ I think Bobbie said something like, ‘Yes, sir!’ and that was the end of the discussion.

“Oh, there is one more thing. We all love her - desperately! What she has done for us through Casey is beyond belief. We respectfully urge you to rule against the state’s petition,sir.”

Before Callaway could respond there was thunderous applause from all the spectators. Glancing up and looking around the room he realized that none of the children nor their parents were making a sound. All of the applause was coming from the disinterested spectators. He smiled inwardly and said, “Thank you all, very much, for coming up and making your feelings and impressions known.”

Then to Ron Jackson he said, “But speaking as a Rams fan, couldn’t you break a leg, or dislocate a finger or something, before you play the Rams again? You’re unbelievable!”

With a very broad grin Jackson shook his head and replied, “Judge, I really don’t think you want that. You see, if I couldn’t play, April probably would. And if you think I’m tough, you should see her! Did you see the Super Bowl telecast a few years ago when we played the Raiders? If you did, you saw the pre-game show that featured a game we played against the girls in the rain and mud in New Orleans. Sir, perhaps you would be interested to know that the star of the other team, Cathy Bradley, is Bobbie Conroy’s sister. Is that of any interest?”

“It certainly is,” the judge replied. After searching his brain for a moment he asked, “Does that also make her related to Kris Bradley, as well?”

“She’s her other sister, Your Honor,” April replied.

“Mrs. Conroy,” the judge said, looking at Bobbie, “please convey my deepest respects and my thanks to your sister, Kris. In his very last letter to his wife - he was killed in action on his next mission - my son, Jack, told how your sister came out to their air base in the desert to entertain the troops. He said she spent over eighteen hours with the men! She talked personally to every single person who wanted to talk to her. She just would not quit.

“My daughter-in-law, Kelly, wrote your sister a letter when she received Jack’s and told her what had happened and how her visit had so brightened and inspired his last hours on earth. A few days later, she received the most marvelous note from your sister.

“Believe it or not, she remembered Jack and passed on his last words - how much he loved his wife, Kelly - to Kelly. She actually described him - she wasn’t making it up. Then a while later Kelly totally cracked up when she received the most beautifully engraved card from an order of cloistered monks saying that they would offer a daily mass in perpetuity for the repose of the soul of John J. Callaway, Jr. It had been requested by Miss Kristin Bradley.” Tears were flowing from the judge’s eyes as he concluded, “Mrs. Conroy, your sister is a saint!”

“I disagree with your last statement, Your Honor,” Bobbie replied quietly. “She’s an impossible imp who’s always stealing my clothes! And that’s when she’s being good! But I’ll pass on your comments, though. I know she’ll be very pleased when I tell her what you just said.

“As far as your comment about the time she spent with the troops, that is true. You see, sir, women can’t fight in combat. But Kris wanted to make the troops who were facing death feel that the country was behind them and someone - her - cared a great deal about what they were doing.

“As far as remembering your son, Jack, I’m sure she really did. She has an unbelievable memory for names and faces. I guess she thought something like this might happen so she took particular care to remember everyone she talked with and tried her best to see everyone who wanted to see her - regardless of how much of her time it took.”

With a wry grin she added, “Oh, hell! I guess she’s not completely awful - in spite of being my twin sister.”

Glancing over at the state’s table he saw the looks of dismay on the faces of the people seated there. My God! he thought. They don’t get it yet! They lost this case totally hours ago.

Chapter 19

Roberta Kramer was back on her feet. “Your Honor,” she declared, “this trial has been a complete farce!”

You’ve got that one thing right, Callaway thought, even if you’re totally wrong in your sense of direction.

“I suppose we have established that at least a few of these children are a bit brighter than average...” There was a ripple of laughter through the courtroom as Callaway could no longer control himself and rolled his eyes to the amusement of the spectators. “...but can Mrs. Conroy teach? What about... about physical education!?” Kramer blurted, evidently quite proud of herself for coming up with a point she didn’t think Bobbie could handle.

“Now why do you suppose I thought Ms. Kramer would sooner or later come around to that one?” Bobbie said aloud but in a tone of voice she might use in talking to herself. “Maybe it’s because our classroom is on the thirty-eighth floor of a downtown office building. Oh, well...” With that she smiled acidly at Kramer, reached below the table and pulled out a large packing box.

Before the day of the trial but after learning which courtroom would be used, Bobbie had come down to the courthouse and looked the room over carefully. First, because the courtroom was very large and the courthouse dated from before World War II, its ceiling was very high - somewhat over twenty feet. Moreover, there were several large hooks set in the ceiling, possibly having been used to suspend heavy ceiling fans in the days before the building had been air-conditioned.

Going into the box Bobbie took out a coil of rope. With a warm smile she said, “Judge, I’m really not dressed appropriately for what I’m about to do. I hope it won’t offend the Court’s sensibilities if I strip down to a point that is still well beyond what I would have to wear at a public beach - and far beyond what I normally wear.” At that comment all of the children laughed and giggled knowing that Bobbie’s normal beachwear was being nude.

“I think we can live with it,” Callaway replied. “After all, you’re doing it at the State’s request.”

With a quick grin Bobbie slipped off the white dress she was wearing and stepped out of her pumps. Now she was wearing only a tiny white bikini which left her cheeks bare, and a white camisole. Her fully-revealed figure was utterly magnificent. After carefully measuring out a length of rope, she coiled it and then with a casual-appearing flick of her arm and wrist sent the coil sailing up toward the ceiling. She caught the ceiling hook on her first try.

“What on earth is she doing!?” Kramer exclaimed.

“Hanging a climbing rope on the ceiling,” Andy replied acidly. “What does it look like she’s doing? Besides, it’s a lot easier throwing that line than it is to throw a rope made of braided vines. That’s what Mrs. Conroy was using most of the pastyear.”

Now Bobbie had two lengths of line in her hands with the bend hanging high above her from the hook in the ceiling. Again going to her box she removed a length of much heavier rope. This time it was the type normally used in gyms for rope climbing and even had a leather-covered knot on the bottom. Measuring out to the halfway point she hung it around her neck. Looking up at the ceiling she gripped the double length of line and hauled herself upward.

Kramer and the spectators gasped at what they were seeing. As soon as her weight was suspended from the rope, the incredible muscle development in her arms and shoulders became apparent. Without using her legs or feet at all, Bobbie just hauled herself quickly up the rope to the ceiling.

Once there, she used her feet for the first time, wrapping the rope around her leg and then using her feet to hold herself in position. Then she carefully hauled down on the length of heavy rope around her neck to bring its end with its attachment fitting to hand. When she had the end, she carefully fitted it over the ceiling hook making sure that it was solidly fastened. Shifting over to the climbing rope, she then lifted the first rope off the hook and let it drop to the floor.

After again checking the attachment of the climbing rope she went down so fast it was almost as if she were falling. Again there was a gasp from the spectators while the children just looked at each other. They couldn’t understand what the spectators thought was so special. All Bobbie had done was to hang the rope on the ceiling, after all. To them it was no big deal.

After picking up the thinner line and putting it back in the box she said, “Okay, kids! Let’s get with it.” Looking at the children, she raised an eyebrow and with a grin and a wink said, “Surely you’re not going to climb dressed like that, are you?”

Then she looked up at the judge and said, “It’s show-time again. Although the girls will not be wearing bras, I think you’ll agree that it’s at least six months to a year before they’ll need them.” Callaway just grinned and nodded. He also winked his eye that was away from the state’s side of the room.

Meanwhile the spectators were amazed to see how quickly the small children undressed, carefully folded their clothes and placed them in neat piles on the table. When they were stripped down to their underwear, the boys were only wearing white jockey shorts while the girls were only wearing very feminine-looking cotton briefs. Most had tiny pink bows on each side at the leg openings.

Looking at Bobbie, Andy asked, “Teams, Mrs. Conroy? Please, can we do it as teams?” The other children all cheered the suggestion.

“Judge, what Andrea is asking is if they can compete as two teams of five children. It’s what we often do in school. While normally we use two ropes at once, today I’ll have to use a stopwatch since we have only one.”

Just then Roberta Kramer spoke up. “Surely, Mrs. Conroy, you do not expect those children to climb that rope!”

“I don’t?” Bobbie replied wide-eyed. “What do I expect, then? It’s really not very good to eat.”

“But... But rope-climbing is only for boys and then only at the high-school level. In the primary grades we walk in circles–“

“We climb ropes,” Bobbie interrupted. “And as far as being only for boys, why? In our school we do not discriminate on the basis of sex. And we don’t use race or sex norming, either - whatever on earth they may be. The kids just climb the rope. As far as being done at the high-school level is concerned, I think I already established that my kids are... precocious.”

“But... but you climbed it yourself!” Kramer exclaimed. “And... and you’re a woman!”

Looking down at her body, Bobbie pantomimed a great discovery. “Good grief!” she exclaimed. “Who would ever have believed it.”

Then with a disdainful look on her face she added, “Look, Kramer, I gather you were impressed because I climbed the dumb rope. Big deal! If my husband, Tom, were here he would have climbed it with me hanging on his back! And if he really wanted to show off, he would do it one-handed. I will concede I’m in reasonably good shape for a woman. Compete with Tom? There’s no way. His arms would make at least four of mine and his shoulders are about twice as broad.”

With a little grin she added, “It works out pretty well, though. The whole width of me fits comfortably across his chest. That way, when he has his arms around me, I am completely enveloped by his glorious body while he mashes my tits against his chest.”

As she made her last comment, Bobbie blushed. Turning to Callaway she said, “I apologize, Your Honor! I’m afraid I got a little carried away just then.”

Speaking very softly but just loudly enough for Bobbie to hear, the judge replied, “You love him desperately, don’t you? And, Bobbie, on you it looks just great!”

“Thank you, Judge, and I sure do,” she whispered in reply. Then turning her back on Kramer, Bobbie said, “Okay. Which team is first?”

Since the class had three boys and seven girls, one of the teams had two boys - Mike Morris and Charley Conrad - while Kenny was on the team with four girls, one of whom was - of course–Andy.

The other team went first and Karen Chan led off. The small girl–just slightly smaller than her classmates - went scrambling up the rope using her arms and legs. Reaching the top, she touched the mounting hook and then slid down using the line between her bare feet as a brake.

Callaway noted that, even though there were competing teams, all the children on the floor cheered and encouraged each climber. Moreover, now that the children had stripped to only their shorts it was apparent how beautifully tanned and healthy they allwere.

In spite of all being very sturdy little youngsters, he was interested to note the femininity of the little girls and the masculinity of the boys, in spite of only being six years old. With a shout, the last member of the team, Mike Morris, touched the floor after almost dropping from the ceiling. Barbara Conroy hit the button on her stopwatch, and then announced the time to the cheers of the children. By now the spectators were crowding around the railing to get a better look. It was apparent that they, too, were fascinated by the children.

When it was the other team’s turn, Andy Cartwright was scheduled to lead off, followed by Casey Jackson, Betsy Clifford and Cindy Cartwright. Kenny Clifford was climbing last. As Andy prepared to climb, he came up behind her and patted her bottom. The judge noted that she smiled warmly and then after quickly turning her head towards him kissed him quickly full on the lips.

On the start signal the girl went flying up the rope with the same agility he had seen Barbara Conroy display, although she did use her legs in the climb. It appeared to him that this team was faster than the other. Casey Jackson displayed the incredible coordination that he would have expected from the daughter of an All-Pro football player and a world-class sprinter. Callaway had remembered the televised game before the Super Bowl and remembered that April Jefferson - now Jackson - could really fly. Then Betsy and Cindy climbed with the same strength and agility the others displayed.

Finally it was Ken’s turn. He climbed exactly the way Barbara Conroy had, only using his arms. He, too, had remarkable muscle development in his arms and shoulders for a small boy. After touching the hook he almost dropped to the floor. The team’s time was announced and they had bettered their opponents by a substantial margin. While the people’s attention was focused on Barbara climbing the rope to take it down in the same manner she had put it up, Callaway looked at Andy and Ken.

After seeing the people’s attention focused on the ceiling, Ken took Andy in his arms and melted his lips to hers. When they reluctantly parted, the judge saw Andy, who was facing towards him, had tears in her eyes. Although she was whispering and they were out of his hearing, he could see her lips form the words, “My darling, I love you so desperately!”

He could feel a lump form in his throat just watching the adorable children who were so much in love. And it was true: they did have adult feelings and desires trapped in the bodies of small children.

After putting the ropes away, Barbara quickly dressed and ran a comb through her hair. In a matter of seconds she looked as if she had done nothing physical all day. Then the judge saw something that was both amusing and heartwarming. After dressing, the girls formed a little line in front of Bobbie. Each gave Bobbie her comb and the woman carefully combed out the girl’s hair and made any necessary repairs. After finishing with the girl’s hair, in each case she took the small girl into her arms, gave her a loving kiss and told her how beautiful she looked.

As the girl stepped aside for the next in line, the judge could see she had stars in her eyes. Isn’t there anything this woman doesn’t do? he wondered. If it helps the children or makes them feel better about themselves, she does it, he thought. And that’s regardless of what it might be.

Chapter 20

Meanwhile Roberta Kramer had been wracking her brain trying to think of something else she could try. By now it was even starting to penetrate her head that she was losing the case. When the children were all dressed and standing around their teacher, she said, “We still haven’t seen Mrs. Conroy teach. The Department is willing now to concede that she does have above-average pupils - in intelligence, at least. But can she teach? Why can’t she demonstrate, Your Honor?”

As soon as the spectators heard the comment about teaching, they broke up in uproarious laughter. One woman, sitting towards the rear of the room cracked, “She sure-as-hell can, lady. But can you?” The remark triggered another burst of laughter, but this time accompanied by applause and cheering so wild that Callaway had to pound his gavel to bring the courtroom back to order.

While he was doing so he noticed that Bobbie and the children were just standing together, not making a sound. He was now utterly astounded at the children’s self-control. With the unidentified woman making a remark with which they so-obviously agreed and yet to give no sign was truly remarkable.

When order was restored, he said, “Mrs. Conroy, I would like to commend you - but particularly your young students - on the remarkable display of self-control they just exhibited. I carefully noted that they did not make a sound, nor did they even smile. I am very impressed.” Then with a warm smile he asked, “Are you willing to conduct a class for us?”

“Certainly, Your Honor,” Bobbie replied. Then turning to the children she said, “Kids, the judge thought your behavior just now was exemplary and he appreciates it. I thought you were wonderful, too! Thank you so much.”

Callaway carefully observed the reactions of the children as Bobbie smiled so warmly at them: it was like watching flowers blossom in the sun. It was so obvious that the children just lived on praise from the teacher who they so obviously adored.

Then dropping to her knees, Bobbie bowed her head and in an instant all of the children were kneeling in a small circle around her. “Oh God,” she prayed, “bless us this day in our efforts to learn how better to serve you, our families and our nation, we humbly ask in the name of your son and Our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” In addition to the children’s response there was a thunderous “Amen” coming from what seemed to be all of the spectators in the courtroom.

“Good heavens! What did you just do?” Roberta Kramerexclaimed.

“I said a prayer asking God to guide us,” Bobbie answered dryly. “What did you think I did?”

“But you can’t do that! It’s criminal!” the woman screamed, obviously beside herself with righteous indignation. “This is a public building!”

“So I noticed,” Bobbie replied dryly. Then with her eyes flashing blue sparks she continued, “You’re saying I can’t pray? Is that what I’m hearing?” Bobbie asked in a flat voice that those who knew her immediately recognized as a danger signal.

“Of course you cannot! Haven’t you heard of the separation of church and state? You have just proven my point: You’re totally unqualified to teach anyone!”

“Do your counsel join you in that position?” Bobbie asked in the same flat tone of voice.

“Of course they do!” Kramer proclaimed triumphantly. Turning to the three lawyers she asked, “You do, don’t you?”

There were nods of acquiescence but Bobbie stifled a grin recognizing that at least two of the lawyers were obviously uncomfortable with what they had just done. Turning to the children she said, “Kids, take your seats for a few minutes. This is a disruption in our class but I don’t think it will take very long.”

While the children obediently sat down, Bobbie rose to her feet, raised her voice and called out, “Sandy Benson, I need you right away.”

As the woman came forward, Callaway again stifled a grin recognizing her by her professional name, Sandra Harris. He knew her - by some personal experience, but also by reputation - to be the finest trial lawyer in the state of California and one of the very best in the United States. He had never heard of her losing a case in trial.

“Sandy, dear,” Bobbie said in a tone of voice calculated to reach the corners of the room, “I think I am the victim of a conspiracy to deprive me of my civil rights. Specifically, a conspiracy to deny me the right freely to exercise my religion. Would you care to take the case?”

“Who do you want to get and for how much?” Sandy asked blithely. “The turkeys at counsel table alone, or do you want to add the State of California as a co-defendant? They are State employees, after all, and they are here today on official business. It would be easy to argue that they are acting in their official capacities as agents of the State.”

Pretending to think for a few moments, Bobbie looked up at the ceiling and then said slowly and thoughtfully, “No... I don’t think so, Sandy. Just the turkeys.” Very brightly she added, “I pay enough money to the damned state as it is and I’ll be damned if I want my taxes raised just to pay for the dumb judgment.”

“Good thinking!” Sandy exclaimed. “I always knew you were smart.” Looking crestfallen she added, “That’s the trouble with us trial lawyers: We sometimes get so carried away with the hunt that we forget who has to pay the bill.”

Then brightly she continued, “So you want a nice, juicy Federal damage suit - personal, of course - against them as individuals.” Appearing to remember something she added, “By the way! Such a judgment is like certain Federal tax liabilities: It doesn’t even go away in bankruptcy!” Now appearing elated, she said, “I’ll just get the names and addresses of a bunch of spectators. They will serve both as witnesses to Kramer’s words and as evidence that the denial of your constitutional rights took place in a public setting which maximizes the personal injury to you. It’s going to be wonderfully expensive for them!”

As Sandy turned, apparently to do what she had just announced, Kramer, now sounding shaken, asked, “What was this little charade I just saw?”

“Charade, Ms. Kramer?” Bobbie replied scathingly. “No charade. As I said earlier today, the Constitution of the United States is a very interesting document. You really should read it sometime.

Since you just abridged my right freely to exercise my religion, you violated my civil rights. Moreover, since you were joined by three others, that creates a conspiracy. That’s all we need.”

With a mirthless smile she added, “Kramer, you just made a terrible mistake! You see, the premises we use for our little school are the property of Clifford & Jamison Attorneys at Law!

It is reputed to be the finest law firm in the state. Your colleagues might recognize my friend, Sandy Benson, better by her professional name: Sandra Harris.”

The instant she said the name there were looks of utter shock and dismay on the faces of the attorneys. Continuing, she said, “But it gets even better, you see. Laura Benson, Sandy’s daughter, is sitting here beside me. So you could almost say that pursuing this action for Sandy will be a labor of love because I know she utterly adores Laura and would do anything - particularly including giving her life - for her.”

Now with an evil grin on her face, Bobbie continued, “But it gets even better! Another partner in the firm is Celeste Trang, possibly the foremost legal collections expert in the country. Celeste just loves to find money to collect on judgments! On one I know of, she has already collected $10 million on a $10 million judgment - and the losers still owe $25 million! Isn’t that great? I don’t know exactly how she does it, but it’s all very legal. But of course, I’m not a lawyer, either, so what do I know?”

Brightening she said, “Oh! I almost forgot! Celeste is Celeste Trang Chan, the mother of Karen Chan sitting beside me... and my sister! I think her fees will be... affordable. What do you think, Ms. Kramer?”

Now she feigned a look of sorrow as she added, “Of course, the mothers of eight of these ten children are also lawyers - all partners in the firm. For example, Ken Clifford, here, is Ali Clifford’s son and firstborn. She utterly adores him. Then Charley Conrad is the firstborn of Virginia Jamison Conrad... And it goes on. I think it’s going to be great fun, don’tyou!?”

By now Kramer was looking as if she had eaten something that had made her sick. Going to the bench she asked Callaway, “Judge, is this all true?”

“Is all what true?” Callaway asked pretending ignorance.

“These things that this woman just said?”

“Well...” the judge began, raising his eyebrows, “Sandy Harris is probably the finest trial lawyer in the country. I have never heard of her losing a case... any case. I have also heard of Celeste Trang’s... persistence. It’s sort of a joke among judges, in fact.”

Looking up at the ceiling he added pensively, “Of course, I guess it’s not nearly as funny to the people she’s going after... She just keeps coming in, week after week, having found that assets were transferred from one entity to another to avoid having to pay.” Then he brightened and added, “She appeared before me one time. You know, I think she really enjoys it. For her, it’s sort of like putting together a complex jigsaw puzzle. She seems to look at it almost as a form of recreation.”

“What about... about the civil rights thing?” Kramer asked, now looking as if she were about to vomit up her lunch.

“Oh, that’s different,” Callaway said brightly, “Bobbie Conroy is exactly right! The action of two or more people acting together creates a conspiracy and, yes, Federal law does provide for triple damages in cases of conspiracy to deny a person her civil rights. The free exercise of religion is most certainly guaranteed in the Federal Constitution - and in the State of California’s as well, by the way. Whether you did abridge her free exercise is a finding of fact left to a jury, but... Ms. Kramer, let’s just say that right now I wouldn’t give you ten cents for all of your assets.

“You see, subsequent to an illegal act, any sale or transfer of assets would be undone, so if I bought something from you it could be taken away from me to satisfy a judgment against you! And as I said, Celeste Trang is terribly... persistent... and extraordinarily thorough. She wouldn’t leave you with two cents!”

Turning to Bobbie, Kramer asked gracelessly, “What do I have to do to get you to call off your dogs?”

“Dogs, Ms. Kramer!? You certainly do have a way with words! Referring to honorable members of the California Bar as dogs?” Bobbie shook her head sadly and said, “You really do have a talent for digging holes for yourself, don’t you?”

By now Kramer was a sniveling wreck and Bobbie decided that enough time had already been wasted. Briskly, she said, “Kramer, you can do two things: First, get down on you knees and pray to God - loudly - for His forgiveness, and second, while still on your knees, ask the pardon of these young children who are trying so hard to learn.”

Then with steel in her voice she added, “Do it! Now!”

With a look of shock on her face Kramer did as she was told. Dropping to her knees she looked up and said loudly, “Dear God, please forgive me for interfering with prayers directed to you. I am so sorry!” At that instant there was an enormous flash of lightning right outside the courtroom window immediately followed by an ear-bursting clap of thunder. The poor woman dropped flat on the floor and began to cry, wailing that she had been a terrible sinner and vowed to be better. While she was still prostrate, Bobbie turned to the children, winked, and held her thumb up. The kids grinned back at her.

When she rose to her knees, Kramer was still shaky. She began to get up when Bobbie reminded her of the second part. Kramer’s eyes flared in anger, but she went back to her knees and earnestly asked the children for their forgiveness. By this time they were attuned to the game so they spent a few moments debating among themselves whether the apology should be accepted–whether, in fact, Ms. Kramer was truly sincere. Finally, with the appearance of greatest reluctance, they did.

When Kramer had returned to her seat, Bobbie looked up at the judge and asked, “Can we get back to our school now?”

“By all means!” Callaway replied with a big wink.

Turning to Cindy Cartwright, Bobbie said, “Darling, it’s your turn to hold the flag today.” The beautiful green-eyed Eurasian girl took the small flag out of its case and proudly held it with her right arm exactly parallel with her body while the butt of the flagpole was held tightly against her stomach with her left hand.

Facing the spectators, Bobbie said in a voice that carried clearly to the corners of the room, “Would you all please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance?” Turning back to face the flag and standing erect, Bobbie put her right hand over her breast and began, “I pledge allegiance to the flag...” At that instant all of the children chimed in together. It was apparent that all of them both understood and truly meant the words they were saying as they continued, “...of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!”

By the time they had completed reciting the Pledge tears had appeared at the corners of Cindy’s eyes. Immediately, Bobbie swung into The National Anthem, but singing the almost-unknown fourth verse, “Oh! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand / Between their loved home and the war’s desolation! / Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land / Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. / Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, / And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’” The ten children singing together had truly remarkable soprano singing voices and they sang with great emphasis and feeling. Clearly, they were not just singingwords.

By this time tears were streaming down Cindy Cartwright’s face, but she was still holding the flag as steady as a rock. She was looking at it with her eyes focused on the star field when Roberta Kramer - in spite of her experience of just a few moments earlier - screamed, “Stop it this instant! This is illegal and immoral...”

Ignoring the screaming woman Bobbie continued, “...and the star spangled banner, in triumph shall wave...” By this time all of the members of the now-very-large spectator group had joined in to sing and drowned out the woman’s shrieks of protest, “...O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Before Kramer could say a word, Cindy Cartwright screamed, “You idiot! What do you think you were doing?”

“That song - or at least that verse - is immoral and illegal! It cannot be sung in the State of California.” Wheeling on Bobbie she exclaimed, “I demand an immediate apology!”

“Oh?” Bobbie asked with her face bland. “For singing The Star Spangled Banner?”

“That verse,” Kramer replied. “It’s illegal!”

“My, how quaint,” Bobbie said pensively. “You’re saying that the State of California has overruled the Congress of the United States? I guess you must be, though, because it was formally adopted as our National Anthem... by Act of Congress!”

“Yes, it’s been overruled,” Kramer continued. We did it just a couple of years ago...”

“We?” Bobbie interrupted. “Who’s ‘we’?”

“The California State Department of Instruction!” Kramer replied proudly.

“Oh,” Bobbie said in a very flat tone of voice. Then looking at Callaway with her eyes wide she asked, “Judge, I guess it’s just that I’m young and of course haven’t graduated college or anything, but... but judge, when did the Department of Instruction get the authority to overrule an act of Congress?”

Replying in the same vein, Callaway looked embarrassed and said, “Mrs. Conroy, you have put me on the spot! I regret to say that I am not aware of any such legislation. Of course... What they are really doing, you understand, is arguing the right of nullification. But then I thought that was settled by the deaths of over 600,000 Americans in the early 1860’s... But maybe I’m wrong.”

Before anyone else could say anything, Cindy Cartwright asked, “Ms. Kramer, why are you so concerned, anyway?”

Recognizing that she had put her foot in it again, Roberta Kramer took the out offered by Cindy’s comment. “Because, dear, you were so obviously upset. Those vile, militaristic words...”

Before she could finish Cindy had spun on her heel, gave the flag to Mike Morris and went up to the bench. Going around to the point where it was open, Cindy stood before the judge, performed the most graceful and elegant curtsy he could imagine and said, “Judge Callaway, my name is Cynthia Cartwright and I am delighted to meet you.”

Taking her hand he brought it up to his lips and kissed it gently. As he did Cindy’s eyes widened in amazement and pleasure. “Oh, thank you, sir! That was so... so elegant! It makes me feel like a lady.”

“Cynthia, it was supposed to make you feel like a lady because you are a lady! Now what can I do for you?” he asked.

“Sir, may I be sworn in? As a witness?” Then with a little smile she added, “And, sir, everyone - all my friends - call me Cindy. I hope you will, too.”

Callaway looked into her large and brilliant green eyes and saw the same goodness, purity and innocence he had seen in the other children’s - along with the same intelligence. He asked, “Cindy, do you know the difference between telling a lie and telling the truth?”

“Yes, sir, I certainly do.”

Calling over the clerk, he asked that Cindy be sworn in as a witness. After escorting the little girl around to the witness box, the clerk told her to place her right hand on a Bible and said, “In the case now in hearing do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

With her eyes as big a saucers the little girl said proudly, “I do!”

“State your name, please.”

“My name is Cynthia Cartwright,” the little girl replied to the clerk’s question. Rather than sitting in the witness chair, Cindy stood at the front of the box.

“Cindy, you are now duly sworn as a witness in this case,” Callaway said kindly. “Now what do you want to tell us?”

“It’s... It’s that woman!” Cindy exclaimed. “She tries to stop us from singing The Star Spangled Banner because she thinks I’m upset! Judge, it’s not that at all,” she exclaimed in a surprisingly strong voice that carried to the corners of the room. Hearing the girl, all the chatter in the courtroom stopped and in moments there was complete silence as the spectators listened carefully to her words. “There were tears in my eyes because I love our flag so much! It’s the flag for which my daddy suffered unbelievable tortures for fourteen years!” Looking at Callaway she continued, “Can you believe it, judge? Fourteen years? That’s more than twice as long as I’ve been alive!

“When he was very young - just eighteen - my father, William Cartwright, was captured by the North Vietnamese. He was leading a band of Laotian irregulars that had just saved a battered platoon of U.S. Marines. He ordered his Laotians to melt away into the jungle while he provided covering fire. He had been wounded so he didn’t think he could make it anyway.

“When he was captured, they spent the first couple of weeks trying to make Dad tell them where the Laotian base was. He wouldn’t. Then they tried to make him confess to germ warfare...”

“We were doing it all the time back then,” Kramer screamed. “He was a war criminal!”

Cindy looked at Kramer as if she were a strange bug crawling out from under a rock but just continued, “...but he would not! Then they just wanted to break him! They wanted him to denounce the flag of our country - the flag I was so proudly holding a few minutes ago. He would not! For fourteen years they tried to break him, but could not!

“My mother was only ten years old at the time. They thought they could use my mother to break my father by embarrassing a grown man in front of a very young woman. While they were torturing him - often with red-hot tongs on his testicles - and he was screaming in agony, Mom would just concentrate and stare into his eyes to let him know that she understood... and that she loved him. In her presence this torture continued for over three years. Dad didn’t know that at least once a week Mother would volunteer to be whipped mercilessly in his place. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that they cheated: they beat them both. Dad was kept chained to a wall by both wrists and never freed. He lived in his own excrement. Mom had to wipe it off him before she could even touch him. Regularly, they placed a red-hot knife blade between his lips so he couldn’t kiss my mother - but he kissed her anyway.

“Since Dad was kept naked and Mom was always naked, too, they tried to use her to arouse him sexually but allow him no relief. Mom managed one day to get him inside her - she wasn’t even thirteen yet - and give him the relief he craved. She was beaten so badly she almost died for doing it. Then Dad was moved to Hanoi and Mom couldn’t follow him so she made her way, alone and naked, hundreds of miles through the jungle and then along the China coast. Finally, she swam over ten miles through shark-infested waters to reach Hong Kong.

Then - I don’t know how - she managed to get to the United States! She didn’t even know Dad’s name. She knew him only as Bill. But she knew that any country that could inspire a man the way the United States inspired Bill, had to be a great place. She finally made it here. Ultimately, she was admitted to the University of Chicago where she graduated summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa, majoring in economics. Then she went to the graduate school of business where she graduated number one in her class after majoring in finance and banking.

“Taking a position with Chicago Trust Company, she went to work in a then-tiny unit headed by a senior vice president, Cindy Burke. Mrs. Burke is my godmother and Mr. Burke is my godfather.

I am named after her because my parents know that, had it not been for her, they never would have been reunited.

“Anyway, Aunt Connie called Aunt Cindy one day. It seems that her husband, Chip, had a brother who had been lost in Vietnam. Finally, after fourteen years and after spending a great deal of money, Chip had found him and got him home. But he was in a catatonic state. He didn’t know where he was nor who he was. All they knew was that he occasionally said a few words in a language no one could recognize. Since Mom speaks over thirty–I have no idea how many more than thirty - Aunt Connie asked if Mom could come out here to Los Angeles. Maybe she could help. Well, of course she did, and discovered the love of her life, Bill Cartwright.

“They were married a week later. A few weeks after that my dad was honored at the Presidio in San Francisco: The President of the United States presented him with the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor our country can bestow.”

By this time tears were streaming down her cheeks but Cindy’s head was held up straight. The courtroom was totally silent as everyone hung on the girl’s words. Continuing, she looked at Callaway and said, “It’s a small world we live in, Judge. I mentioned that Dad had rescued a beat-up Marine platoon? In command at the time was Dan Burke. It was Uncle Dan’s life that Dad saved.” Now the girl smiled through her tears and said, “I guess we’re a strange family, really. You see, Ken Clifford is my uncle. Dan Burke is my mother’s brother - a son of Ali Clifford’s, and Kenny’s brother.”

Turning back to the courtroom Cindy held her head up proudly and said, “That’s why I was crying, Ms. Kramer! Because the flag I was holding so proudly was the flag for which my dad fought and almost died. The flag for which he suffered agonies of torture for fourteen years! The flag of the country that inspired my mother to overcome unbelievable obstacles to get here and to become a citizen! Damn it! It’s the flag of my country and I love it!”

At that the poor girl lost control, put her arms on the railing, dropped her head and just bawled. An instant later two spectators rose and came racing forward. The man was tall with sandy hair and blue eyes while the woman was the most beautiful Eurasian Callaway had ever seen. She had glistening wavy brunette hair and large eyes of the same incredible green as Cindy’s. The man reached over the railing of the witness box, lifted the girl up in his arms and held her tight.

“Oh, Daddy, I love you so!” the little girl wailed.

“Pumpkin, you have just made your mother and me so proud I can’t stand it!” Lifting the girl’s head so he could look into her eyes he added, “My darling, you have just made those fourteen years worthwhile! You really did.”

When the little girl looked into her father’s eyes and saw the love and sincerity there, she just beamed with pleasure. Then she dove back into his shoulder and hugged and kissed him. Holding the little girl in his left arm, he moved to his left to stand before the bench and said, “Your Honor, my name is Bill Cartwright, as you probably guessed, and this is my wife, Kathy. Thank you for taking the time to listen to Cindy. We hope she didn’t bore you too much or waste too much of your time.”

Callaway reached over the bench and gripped Bill’s hand and then shook hands with Kathy Cartwright. Speaking in a voice to carry to the ends of the room he said, “Mr. Cartwright, I knew about your case. I, too, served in Vietnam, but certainly not with the distinction you did.”

Looking out at the spectators he said, “I, for one, consider myself honored to have the chance to meet one of the foremost heros of our country and certainly the man who has suffered the most in its name. I am honored and humbled.” When he began to applaud, in an instant everyone in the room was on his feet and applauding as well.

As Cartwright started to return to his seat still holding Cindy, the little girl told him that she wasn’t through. Reluctantly he put her down and she returned to the witness stand.

When the court returned to order, she looked at the judge and said, “Sir, there’s more. I heard Ms. Kramer say that the United States is an oppressive country.” Turning to the crowd she raised her voice and continued, ”It is not!”

Looking at Kramer she said, “The United States is the country William Bradford, who became the first governor of the Bay Colony, said ‘is the City on the Hill.’ We are the beacon shining brightly to people everywhere. We are the model that most of the world aspires to! Look at China: In Beijing they erected a model... of the Statue of Liberty!

“Ms. Kramer, do you believe that the United States is a racist society?”

“Of course it is!” Kramer snapped. “Everyone knows it is.”

It is not!” the little girl exclaimed. “There are certainly people who are racists but our society is not. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Ms. Kramer, those words were written by Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia in 1776. The Declaration of Independence. You should read that someday, too. Please note, Ms. Kramer, that he said, ‘...endowed by their Creator! God, Ms. Kramer.

“This nation - Bradford’s City on the Hill - was conceived under God! Years later, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, another president said, ‘We highly resolve... that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.’ Why did Lincoln say those words? Because the United States was unique! If our form of government ended - if our country had died - there would be nothing close to it left in the world!

“Are we perfect? Of course not! Do we live up to the ideals expressed by our founding fathers? Certainly not all the time. But we try, Ms. Kramer! We try! Now why can’t you and those other idiots in Sacramento provide schools that will help children to understand who we are as a nation, and what we are trying to become? What is this multi-cultural garbage, anyway?”

Kramer’s eyes lighted up and she glanced triumphantly at Bobbie. Now she had won... she thought. “We have just one way of organizing society. It’s certainly not the only way and not nearly the best way...”

“What is better?” Cindy demanded.

“Well, in Africa, in Asia–“

“The ones who are educated are trying to be like us!” Cindy interrupted. “Look at China: Part of my heritage is from China through my mother. It was civilized when people in Western Europe were still living in caves. But what happened? I don’t know, but I do know it stopped developing. Their form of government became oppressive - and still is.

“Look at Taiwan: there, finally, they are trying to create the elements of liberty that we take for granted here. But the proof is the incredible successes achieved by Orientals here in the United States! Why? Because our society permits them to develop to the limits of their ability - and they certainly have the ability.

“Ms. Kramer, while other nations strive to become like us, we should be striving to do better - to live closer to the ideals we proclaim. But to do that, our young people need to know what those ideals are and how they came to be. But you and your friends won’t let them! In fact, our schools are moving farther and farther away. Forget the Constitution! Let’s give out condoms - with instructions on use. Really!”

Before she could continue, again the whole crowd was on its feet applauding and cheering. When they quieted, Cindy continued, “After making love with my father, Mom tells me that the sequence is God, the family, and our country. That’s the way I’ve been brought up, and that’s what Mrs. Conroy teaches us day after day after day.”

“Making love?” Kramer interjected. “Do you mean to say you see your parents... fornicating?”

“No, you fool!” Cindy replied heatedly. “I see them making passionate love to each other... No! I see them worshiping each other’s body...”

“But you mean you’re there? You see it!”

“Yes, but that’s only because I’m still too young to help. Yes, Ms. Kramer, I regularly watch my parents make love. It’s so incredibly beautiful, too. One morning after Mom recovered consciousness - her final orgasm is usually so severe she ends up unconscious - she held me tightly to her body that was still so slippery with her sweat and told me that I had been created that way.

“Dad had penetrated her and took her as close to Heaven as a woman can be on earth. Then, with God’s assistance, one of Dad’s sperm linked with one of her eggs, and I was created. She said that it was the happiest moment of her life when she learned that she was expecting me. She dropped to her knees and thanked God for His blessing. You see, after being tortured for so many years and with so much of it concentrated on his penis and testicles, they couldn’t be sure that Dad could still father a child. Well, he could and did, and I’m it. Or at least, I’m the first.”

Kramer had been listening closely, alternately blushing and glaring. Feeling she was about to win her case she pounced. “Oh, this is wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Now I can bring in the social services people and have you taken from your parents. Never have I heard of an environment so detrimental to a child’s mental health! It’s... It’s disgraceful! And almost unbelievable.”

Cindy was standing and just watched the woman impassively. When she concluded, the little girl said quietly, but at the same time in a voice that carried, “That would be very unwise.”

Taken aback, Kramer looked at her with a frown and asked, “Unwise? Why?”

“For two reasons,” Cindy answered. “First, my daddy really loves me - almost as much as he loves Mom. It’s safe to say that he doesn’t respond well to threats to his family. One day shortly after they were married, the two of them were attacked on the street by ten men. One of the men clobbered Mom over the head so hard with a piece of timber that Dad thought he had killed her.”

“What happened then?” Kramer asked with a note of fear in her voice.

“When the police finally arrived,” Cindy replied, “Three of the men - including the guy who hit Mom - were dead and the other seven were all unconscious. Later they did something really stupid: they sued Dad for depriving them of their civil rights.”

With a smile she continued, “The judge and Mrs. Conroy referred to the case earlier, although they didn’t identify it. Mrs. Benson represented Dad. After possibly the shortest jury deliberation in history, they came back with a finding for Dad in the amount of $10 million. Mrs. Chan is still collecting on that one.

“The other reason, though, is my granddad. You see, Mom’s father, Bill Clifford, is one of the wealthiest men in the world.

It’s fair to say that he reacts - violently - to any attack on the family. And in spite of being a great disappointment to him, I am a member of the family.”

“Disappointment?” Kramer asked puzzled. “How can you be a disappointment?”

“Every time Granddad sees me he grumps and wonders why I can’t develop a valuable skill instead of wasting all my time. Of course he says the same thing to all the other kids so I don’t feel so badly.”

“What skill is that?” Kramer asked, still puzzled.

“Spending money, of course. He claims that it just piles up and is burying him. Sometimes he gets even though. Mom will come home screaming and it’s the same thing every time: She checked the bank balance and found an extra fifteen or twenty million dollars in the account. Granddad - or Grandmom - struck again!”

With a merry little grin she added, “Dad just yawns and says it’s a good thing Mom has an MBA in finance and banking, isn’t it. She says he doesn’t understand the seriousness of the situation. He agrees while he’s stripping off all of her clothes. Then he makes her forget all about it. He’s really neat!

“But anyway, I would leave things alone if I were you. It could get... painful.” Then looking puzzled she changed the subject and asked, “Ms. Kramer, are you a lesbian?”

There was an immediate burst of laughter from the spectators and Kramer blushed but said, “Why... why, yes. I will not submit to the rape of my body by a man.”

“Rape?” Cindy asked. “What do you mean?”

“Everyone knows that the only way a man can enter a woman is by raping her! Why at the Law School of the University of Michigan, Professor Catherine MacKinnon–“

Cindy began to laugh uproariously and said, “I don’t think I care what she says. As for rape? That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Tell it to my Uncle Chip! My cousin Andy told us about a time when her parents were cuddling in bed. Uncle Chip was caressing Aunt Connie - she’s a platinum blonde with gorgeous green eyes exactly like Andy’s.

“Anyway, Aunt Connie was writhing on the bed in unfulfilled passion but Uncle Chip just said that, first, it was a known fact that women are very slow to warm up and, second, it’s also a known fact that platinum blondes are particularly cold. Since he’s really very large and her opening is small, he wanted to be sure she was nice and warm and wet before he entered her.”

With a cute grin she asked, “Wasn’t he being considerate? But does that sound like rape? Anyway, Aunt Connie just growled and said she was already so hot she could ignite asbestos and if he didn’t get it into her right then she would cut it off and do it herself!”

While the spectators howled with laughter, Cindy just shook her head and said, “Maybe it was rape, but if it was, Aunt Connie wasn’t the victim!” Again there was a burst of laughter.

Turning her attention back to Kramer, Cindy continued, “It’s a real shame, Ms. Kramer. No wonder you have so many problems. You don’t know the incredible joy of being loved by the man to whom you have given your life. You don’t know how two people can merge their bodies and create new life. You don’t know the incredible thrill of feeling a tiny life growing inside you. You don’t know the warmth and tenderness that comes from nursing a baby at your tit. You can’t know what it’s like for a child to live on a baby’s perfect food: his mother’s rich, warm, sweet milk drunk from a perfect nipple on a swollen breast. The joy of nursing while stroking your mother’s tit and smelling the sweetness of her body while she caresses you, sings to you and loves you.

“My mother knows and the mothers of all my friends know, too. How do I know how sweet my mother’s milk is? Because I drain her every day, the same way my friends do with their mothers. It’s like licking the last of the icing out of a bowl, but so much better. I can’t tell you what it’s like for me to have my mother cradle me to her breast and tell me how proud she is of me or of something I have done. It’s what I live for, Ms. Kramer. It’s what love is really all about. Alternative lifestyle, indeed!”

This time there was just very warm applause from the audience.

Turning to the judge Cindy said, “Thank you, sir, for letting me testify. Now I’m going to be punished...” Her eyes widened as she realized what she had done. Changing direction she said, “Unless... unless... you’re going to send me to jail first?”

“To jail?” Callaway asked, amazed at her comment. “Why would I send you to jail?”

“For contempt of court, I guess, sir. That’s why Mrs. Conroy will have to give me a spanking now, too. I disobeyed her.”

“Disobeyed?” he asked. “How?”

“Well, sir, before we came over Mrs. Conroy told us that we would be meeting some fools from Sacramento and she told us to just ignore what they said. Well, I really did try, but not well enough. I called Ms. Kramer some names that are disgraceful for a child ever to call an adult.”

“Names? What names?”

“I called her an idiot.” Then looking puzzled she asked, “Sir, do you suppose she’s a school dropout?”

Dropout?” Kramer cried. “What do you mean, dropout! I’ll have you know, little girl, that I will receive my doctorate in June!”

“Honest?” Cindy asked, wide-eyed. “In what?”

“In education administration!” Kramer replied proudly.

“Did... did you pay for it?” Cindy asked diffidently.

“Pay for what?”

“All your courses and stuff,” Cindy replied. “You didn’t, did you?”

“Of course I did!” Kramer explained. “But why do you ask?”

“Oh, dear! That’s... that’s too bad.” Then the little girl brightened and said, “But maybe it’s not too late. I’ll bet that Mrs. Benson can sue them to get your money back. I mean... It’s just like stealing...”

“What is like stealing?” Kramer demanded, growing upset.

“Taking money for what you got. Golly! Mrs. Conroy only has three semesters of college and she knows so much more than you do... I mean, with a doctorate aren’t you supposed to be smart and know a lot of things? Ms. Kramer, you don’t know anything!” At her last words the people in the courtroom convulsed in laughter.

When she turned back to the judge to excuse herself, Callaway said, “Cindy, wait one moment. I have a question for you first. Do you like Mrs. Conroy?”

Like Mrs. Conroy? Of course not... I love her... No! I adore her. We all do in pretty much the same way. And she loves us, too. And she loves us all equally. No! That’s not true, either. You see, her love for Ken and Andy and their love for her is at a completely different level. And I guess that’s just as well, too,” she finished.

Puzzled, the judge asked, “Just as well? Why?”

“Because they’re different,” she replied softly. “If Mrs. Conroy loved me the way she loves Andy, I would be dead. Honest, I would. Andy and Ken are very special and can take it. None of the rest of us could.” Then she grinned warmly and said, “It does create opportunities, though.”

“Opportunities?” Callaway asked. “What do you mean?”

“Andy and Ken are going to be married. That leaves Mike Morris and Charley Conrad for the six of us. It’s a good thing their dads were both Marines, too,” she said with a wonderfully warm grin.

“What do you mean by that?” he asked.

“Well, Marines always get the dirty jobs no one else will do. Moreover, Mike’s dad was a SEAL and a Medal-of-Honor winner, while Charley’s dad was a Marine fighter pilot. They used to fly in the rice paddies! Not over them. In them! So they’re both used to tough assignments. Their boys hold up pretty well, too. Their parents should be very proud.”

“Hold up how?”

“Well,” the girl replied with a wonderful little grin, “I thought Ms. Kramer’s comment about rape was sort of funny. You see, sometimes when Mrs. Conroy is out of the room, Ken and Andy start to neck. Well, that’s our opportunity. Three of us each attack Mike and Charley and just hug them and kiss them all over. The poor guys try to keep three girls happy all at the same time. But as I said, they do pretty well! Charley - I’m in his harem–has learned to kiss so beautifully!”

With that she licked her lips and grinned at the little boys sitting around the table. The two boys slid down in their seats while the girls all whistled, then jumped from their chairs and mobbed the two boys.

Bobbie just said sharply, “Children!” and it came to a screeching halt.

Then the judge said, “Cindy, what about that punishment? Does Mrs. Conroy spank you?”

“Oh, yes sir! Whenever we’re naughty.”

“Ah, ha!” Kramer exclaimed. “Child abuse! I might have known!”

“Oh, dear,” Cindy sighed resignedly, “Here we go again.” Looking at Kramer she said, “It is most certainly not abuse. It is punishment and we ask for it.”

“Ask for it?” Kramer asked amazed. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well, take me for instance,” Cindy replied. “I was teasing Mike Morris when I should have been studying. When Mrs. Conroy came back into the room, I told her what I had done. Then I took down my pants, pulled up my skirt, bent over her leg and she spanked me. When she finished I was crying hard, even though I hadn’t made a sound. I thanked her for trying to help me be a better child and a better daughter.

She held me in her arms, kissed away my tears and apologized for hurting me. She was crying, too, of course. That evening, when Mom came to pick me up, Mrs. Conroy told her what a wonderful little girl I had been. When we got home, without saying a word, Mom took me to my room, stripped me and very gently put some painkilling ointment on my poor buns. She stripped, too, and then lay on her back on my bed with me on top of her. She so-gently stroked my body and told me how much she loved me. We were both sleeping that way when Daddy came home.

“Now, to anticipate your next question, why do we ask for it? It’s to be nice to our parents. You see, Ms. Kramer, the closest things to fights there ever are in our homes is over disciplining us.”

“Oh, I see!” Kramer exclaimed triumphantly. “Your fathers want your mothers to be the ogres.”

Cindy just shook her small head disgustedly and said, “Well, Ms. Kramer, I guess I have to give you points for consistency, at any rate. You’re always wrong!

“No, Ms. Kramer, it’s exactly the opposite. Our fathers ask to punish us because they know our mothers get so upset when they have to do it. Our mothers, though, will be damned if they will let our fathers be the bad guys if we disobeyed them. Well, Andy came up with the answer and its something we all do now. Last time, I took my pants down, went to Mommy, told her how much I loved her and asked her to please give me my spanking. When she did, I kissed her hand and then kissed away the tears that were flowing down her cheeks. Then I thanked her for demonstrating her love because I know it would be so much easier on her not to do anything. You see, whenever our parents spank us, it’s much harder on them than it is on us.

“I think our fathers have it the worst, though. You see, our mothers get some relief by crying. When Dad spanks me, I can sometimes see tears in the corners of his eyes, but that’s all. I know that he is just ripping up his insides: he detests it! So I hug him and stroke him. I tell him how proud I am to be his daughter and how he is the best daddy in the whole world. It takes a lot longer for him to relax, though, because like all men, he keeps his emotions inside.”

Looking towards where she knew her parents were sitting she added, “Judge, you can’t know or believe how much I love my daddy.

“You know, sir, most couples meet somewhere and begin to date. If the relationship develops, they become engaged and eventually marry. With my parents it was so different. My mother watched her lover being tortured day after day after day for three years while she could only try to communicate her love through her eyes. Dad suffered torture for fourteen years! Finally, they reunited and got married.”

Looking at the judge she said softly, “I know how my parents are going to spend eternity, Your Honor. They are going to be in each other’s arms just making love forever and ever and ever. They have had their hell on earth. Heaven for them is a foregone conclusion.”

Then with a small smile she added, “It’s time for my spanking now.” This time there was just a total silence in the courtroom as the people absorbed what they had just heard. The only sound was the sniffles of people crying.

Callaway said, “Wait, please!”

Turning to Bobbie he said, “Mrs. Conroy, could I intercede on behalf of Cynthia Cartwright? Remembering what she said about Ms. Kramer, the only thing that comes to mind is that she called her an idiot. Under the laws of slander and libel, truth is an absolute defense. Now I don’t think Ms. Kramer is an idiot. A moron, certainly - perhaps an imbecile. But not an idiot. On the other hand, Cynthia is not a trained psychologist and she is directionally accurate. Certainly close enough that a truth defense would be effective.

“Would you please forgive her this time? I have just heard the most moving testimony of my entire judicial career. Please? Will you let it go this time?”

“Yes, Judge, I certainly will,” Bobbie replied with a warmsmile.

Before letting her go, Callaway picked the little girl up from the witness box, set her down by his chair, took her into his arms and kissed her. Startled at first, she did not respond for an instant but then returned the kiss with one of the purest love, exactly like the kisses of the other children.

Releasing her, he kissed the back of her hand causing her to blush again and said, “Cynthia Cartwright, you’re a credit to your parents. And after all they have been through, they deserve a little angel like you.”

With a glow of pleasure, Cindy returned to her seat.

Continue with Barbara - Chapter 21 to 25