The girl, who suffered from anemia and was always so withdrawn, had taken to Howard immediately. She sat on his lap after supper and opened up to him about school, her lack of friends, her loneliness. Mrs. Budd thought it wonderful how the grandfatherly Howard seemed to really listen to Gracie, so when he told the mother he’d be willing to bring the girl to a birthday party at his sister’s home later that day, Mrs. Budd was all for it. She dressed Grace in her white silk Communion gown and let her leave with Howard. With a smile, he promised to be back soon to drive Edward to his new job.