"Hello, Benny," Mrs. Starrett said. Like Mrs. Douglas at school, she genuinely liked Ben. Grownups, especially those who sometimes needed to discipline children as part of their jobs, generally liked him, because he was polite, soft-spoken, thoughtful, sometimes even funny in a very quiet way. These were all the same reasons most kids thought he was a puke. "You tired of summer vacation yet?"
Ben smiled. This was a standard witticism with Mrs. Starrett. "Not yet," he said, "since summer vacation's only been going on"--he looked at his watch--"one hour and seventeen minutes. Give me another hour."
[...]He looked up after [reading] three chapters [of his book], and his eye was caught by a brand new display. The poster on top (the library was gung-ho for posters, all right) showed a happy mailman delivering a letter to a happy kid. LIBRARIES ARE FOR WRITING, TOO, the poster said. WHY NOT WRITE A FRIEND TODAY? THE SMILES ARE GUARANTEED!
Beneath the poster were slots filled with pre-stamped postcards, pre-stamped envelopes, and stationary with a drawing of the
Ben felt in his pocket. The remaining four cents of his bottle money was still there. He marked his place in Hot Rod and went back to the desk. "May I have one of those postcards, please?"
"Certainly, Ben." As always, Mrs. Starrett was charmed by his grave politeness and a little saddened by his size. Her mother would have said that the boy was digging his grave with a knife and fork. She gave him the card and watched him go back to his seat. It was a table that could seat six, but Ben was the only one there. She had never seen Ben with any of the other boys. It was too bad, because she believed Ben Hanscom had treasures buried inside. He would yield them up to a kind and patient prospector...if one ever came along.
This is me.