Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Robert
Book II

by Chowhound


Chapter 56

Posted: 26 May 16

Three Finger Cove – Robert

Copyright © 2012 - 2016
by Chowhound
All rights reserved

At school, on Friday, all Robert's friends wanted to know why he wasn't at school, the day before. All he told them was, since he was a foster kid, he had to go to meetings, and appointments, and they happened during work hours, and not after school. Robert then laughed that, at least he gets out of school every now and then. His friends laughed along with him.

But, Eric wasn't having any of that 'meetings and appointments' stuff. He remembered that Collin never had anything like that to go to so, he figured, he'd ask his Best Friend a question to see how he responded. When the two were out of ear shot, Eric decided that was a good time.

"Hey," said Eric.

"Hey," said Robert, back to his Best Friend.

"So, you had a meeting or something yesterday, huh?" coyly asked Eric.

"Yea, you can say something like that," replied Robert, a bit suspicious now about the direction Eric was taking.

"Were you with my mom when this all day meeting took place?" further asked Eric.

"Well, yea … she is my case worker, so she'd have to be there," responded Robert, but was getting agitated over the questions Eric was asking.

"Oh, okay, then …I was just curious. She came home from work yesterday really happy. She told me she had to go to the courtroom and the judge agreed with them. I don't think she meant for me to know all that but, sometimes, she does say things and doesn't realize it. I usually ignore her comments, because I have no idea who she is referring to, but … well, since you said you were with her then I take it, whatever happened at court yesterday must have been why you weren't at school. …

"Listen, Robert … you already told me, the reason, you are living with Mr. Ken, and we still have become Best Friends, so, you know, it doesn't bother me in the least. It's just that … well, we are Best Friends and when one of the friends has something bothering him or a major event happens in their life they usually talk to their other Best Friend, to help them deal with it. … I hope you're not mad that I care about you," a troubled Eric finished up.

"No … I'm not mad at you. I just forgot that you knew … that's all. I didn't even know what was gonna happen until late Wednesday night. After dinner, 'dad' took me into his Study and told me what the DA was trying to do and, how, he had Mr. Bill, and Mr. Stewart, working on it. It was just that the judge said he wanted to talk to me. I had no choice; I had to go. Everything happened so fast, then, at the courthouse, I didn't realize your mom would be there. Even Doctor Jennings was there, to support me," Robert tried to explain to his Best Friend, Eric.

"But, what I would like to understand is … well, what made my mom so happy? I take it that she was happy with the outcome but she never did say what it was. Do you think … you can tell me?" sincerely asked Eric. Just then the last morning bell rang and they had to go, into the school.

At their regular lunch table, Robert, and Eric's, friends all asked about skateboarding, the next day, Saturday. Robert said he was glad they mentioned it because he had talked it over with his 'dad' and, Mr. Ken, said we should let Terran and Sam bring five friends, each, tomorrow. And before the lad could finish telling his buddies, what else Mr. Ken said, they began to complain, and moan, about not being able to skate the next day.

Robert laughed, at them, and told them they didn't let him finish. The twelve year old told his pals that Mr. Ken said they could come over too, and bring their boards, but he asked them to help out the younger lads, as they did last weekend. He said they could bring some friends over Sunday, instead. That final revelation made the guys a much happier group. Robert then told the gang he needed to talk to Terran and Sam so they could ask their friends, before the end of school that day.

Eric accompanied Robert, which wasn't unusual, as Robert made his way over to where Terran and Sam ate their lunch. When the 5th graders heard the news you could have thought they had won something, they were so ecstatic. The two youngsters thanked Robert and told the preteen they, and their friends, would be at The Cove about ten o'clock, the next day.

Eric then asked Robert to tell him what happened at the courthouse the previous day. Robert told his Best Fried how funny it was that the District Attorney wasn't there and the judge sent out some guys to go looking, for him. Then, he told Eric about the questions the judge asked him and, finally, he explained what the judge's decision meant for him.

Robert then revealed that his 'dad' was so happy, over the judge's decision, that he took him over to a Sportswear Store and bought him a wet-suit, so he could get out on the lake, pretty soon. Robert also confessed that Mr. Ken had bought Eric a new wet-suit, too. He said his 'dad' told him that the lad had grown, where it counted, and would be uncomfortable in last years' wet-suit. The two had a big laugh over what Mr. Ken said, and meant. Robert also revealed that Mr. Ken had bought a few more wet-suits, in their sizes, so their friends could also get out in the lake with them. The two couldn't be happier.

That weekend, Terran and Sam and ten of their best friends got to use the new skateboard ramps, at The Cove. The new kids couldn't believe they were, actually, at The Cove using the new skateboard ramps, just recently built. They were also surprised how the older boys didn't take over the ramps but helped them with their skills, and form. One of the 5th graders happened to be Michael Summers, the lad who first talked to Robert about living at The Cove. Robert was happy for the lad that he was invited.

About two o'clock, Mr. Ken and Momma Maria came out to greet the new boys and offer them some soup and sandwiches. The new kids didn't know they would be treated, to a lite lunch, and also couldn't believe that Mr. Ken was actually interested in who they were and how well they skated. The day was a full-on success for all twelve younger lads.

Ken also took the older lads aside to thank them for their help with the younger boys, but, also, he wanted to tell them what would be happening, soon. The man also made known that he, and Robert and Eric, would probably begin going out on the lake, now that the weather was turning nicer. Mr. Ken told the boys, that, since they passed the Boater Safety Education Course, they would be invited over to share in the fun. He then surprised them by telling them he had bought a number of wet-suits, for their use, in case they didn't have one, of their own. Then, he teased them by saying they didn't wear anything under the wet-suit when they wore them. All the boys had a good laugh at that.

The day ended with all the lads, including Eric, leaving The Cove at about 6 PM. Later that evening, Mr. Ken was pleasantly surprised when a few of the younger lad's mom or dad called to thank him for inviting their son over to try out the new skateboard ramps. The parents were really appreciative of the way he treated their son, to lunch, and having the older boys there to help their boy along. They all hoped their son would be invited back, again, soon.

The evening ended with 'dad' and 'son' sitting together and watching a movie in the Theater. They talked about the week's events but Robert kept going back, to his upcoming obligation, to testify at his parent's trial, in a few weeks. Robert told his 'dad' that he was scared about having to testify. 'Dad' Ken assured the boy he'd get Doctor Doug to work more closely and help prepare him, for that time. Robert was really happy when he heard Doctor Doug would be available to work with him, so he hugged his 'dad' tight. The two, again, fell asleep watching the movie and it was half past midnight when Mr. Ken had Robert go up to his room and get to bed. Both man and boy slept very well that night.

After breakfast, Mr. Ken had a surprise for Robert. He asked the lad to get dressed, in his new wet-suit, and water shoes, and to meet him in the Foyer. Robert did get dressed and when he began walking down the stairs he saw his 'dad' was all dressed up, just as he was. It was then that Mr. Ken told the preteen he was going to take him out, on the lake, using the Wave Runner. The lad couldn't wait until they got down to the beach and out on the water.

At the beach, Mr. Ken got out the Wave Runner but wouldn't let the boy get on, just yet. He told, Robert, the lad needed to know how to start the machine, but, most importantly, how to get back on if he ever fell off. So, for the next forty minutes, Mr. Ken first walked Robert through the procedures and then had the lad do it, by himself. During that time, Robert began to appreciate the wet-suit, more and more. The preteen had some difficulty in remounting the machine, from the water, and by the sixth time the lad was able to get it done, without too much effort.

The two wet-suit clad personal water craft drivers climbed onto the Yamaha and off they went. 'Dad' Ken took control for the first thirty minutes, or so, and didn't go very fast as he showed the boy how the machine worked. The man made gentle turns and, then, some tight turns and then some "S" turns so the lad could see how the machine responded, to the driver's input. Then Mr. Ken picked up his speed and Robert was now holding on, for dear life. A few times when Mr. Ken made a turn Robert wasn't prepared, and almost fell off. That allowed Mr. Ken to explain things better to Robert using the examples.

Before long, it was Robert's turn, to drive. The lad was intimidated by the machine and the power he knew he had under him. Mr. Ken had the youngster do some gentle turns and "S" maneuvers to get the hang of the machine. Next, the man had the boy add more power as they went straight ahead. As Robert drove the Wave Runner, he felt more at ease with the machine and he began to go faster, and faster. He saw his 'dad' take the machine to 45 MPH but he was comfortable at doing only 30 MPH.

The two stayed out on the lake until they both began to feel the cold coming through their wet-suits. When they beached the Wave Runner, Robert jumped off quickly and found he had 'rubber' legs. Mr. Ken laughed at the lad and then said "Oops, I forgot to tell you about that" and then laughed some more at the boy.

Chief was there to greet them, when the duo returned to The Cove's docks, and gave them kisses galore and received some well-deserved scratches behind her ears. The two wet-suit clad people then shared a hug and walked up to the house and took separate showers. They were very hungry by then, so they met, in the Kitchen Nook, where Maria had Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches ready, and waiting, for them.

That evening, Robert called Eric to tell him what he and his 'dad' did that afternoon. The two shared their individual experiences but Since Eric had two years of experience, under his belt, of either driving the 3-passenger Jet Ski or the Yamaha Waverunners, he began to give his Best Friend some pointers on what to do, and how to do it. They shared their feeble attempts at re-boarding the machine, when they had fallen off, and had lots of laughs as they each shared their 'first' time driving. It was almost 9 PM when the two best Friends hung up the phone and got ready for bed.

Wearing only his t-shirt and boxer briefs, Robert walked down the stairs to tell his 'dad' Good Night. The two shared some small talk but Robert's almost continuous yawning made Mr. Ken make the lad go up to bed. Another fun filled weekend had come to an end.

Robert was thankful he didn't have any tests that Monday since he hadn't open a schoolbook the entire weekend. He did know, on Tuesday, he would have a STAAR test and, then, on Wednesday and Thursday, of that week, he would have one Final Exam each day, from his teachers. That entire Monday was used for review and, all the kids, were grateful for the chance to hear, again, some important points or to ask questions on things they may have forgotten or didn't fully understand.

Robert always got real good grades, in school, but he didn't let that give him overconfidence in his ability to pass the final tests. He paid strict attention to what the teacher said and he even asked a few questions. He wanted to get a good grade to show thanks to his 'dad' for what he did to get the trial delayed.

At lunch, most of the ten boys who were invited to The Cove, over the weekend, to try out the new skateboard ramps, came over to Robert and personally thanked him for letting them do that. And, since the older lads, which were there on Saturday, were sitting at the table they all thanked them for their help, with their form, and skills, on the ramps.

Robert and his friends felt a little embarrassed over all the attention, they received, but were thankful the lads had taken the time, to search them out, and thank them, in public. The always observant Mr. Chassen was also happy to see that the younger boys had shown they had manners in doing what they did. He hoped that when he has them in his 8th grade classes they will still be true to their social skills.

Robert went to school Tuesday morning a little apprehensive because of the mornings STAAR test. He did review his books the evening before but knew he either knew the material or he didn't. He decided to answer the questions, to the best of his ability, and let it go at that. There wasn't anything he could do to change the outcome, since the test covered the entire year.

On Wednesday and Thursday the teacher only had one Final Test, each, for her students. The remainder of the day was then used to review for the remaining, upcoming, tests for that, and the following, week. The students also knew that they would have their final STAAR test on Monday of the next week and then one Finals test on Tuesday, two tests on Wednesday, and only one test on Thursday, of the following week. And that would complete all the final exams they would have for their middle school year.

That Saturday, between all their tests, Robert and his friends played hard on their skateboards and new ramps. They had invited more boys from their 7th grade class and Sam and Terran also showed up with two new faces. All the boys got along just fine but a new wrinkle came up that the boys were not expecting. A few of the 7th grade girls came by The Cove, to see what all the talk about the new ramps, were all about, and to watch the boys.

"Robert," began Chuck, "I didn't know you invited some the girls to stop by."

"I didn't," replied Robert. "I better find out what's going on."

"Hi," announced Robert, as he walked over to Callie, Nora, Piper, Skyler and Sarah. "I didn't know you guys were stopping over."

"Yeah, we know you have to be invited to skate," began Callie, "but we figured we could always stop by and watch. We hope you don't mind if we do."

"No, I don't have a problem with that and I don't think Mr. Ken will either seeing you are not skating. Is this the first time you've been here?" asked Robert.

"Oh, no," offered Piper. "We were all over here for one of the Holiday parties. Mr. Ken invited the entire 7th grade class. It was a lot of fun. Why weren't you there?"

"Oh, well … you see …" began Robert before Eric cut in.

"Piper, you know Robert didn't come to our class until after the Holidays," sort of chastised Eric, "so, how could he have been at the Party?"

"Oh … sorry," came out a very meek reply from Piper.

"So, Robert … it is okay for us to watch you boys, isn't it?" asked Nora.

"Sure, as I said before, Mr. Ken won't have a problem, since you're not skating," replied Robert.

With that, the five girls stood around and watched the boys skate. They'd sometimes get too close, to the ramps, in order to watch the boys jump, or do whatever. Robert and Eric saw them getting too close, to where their friends were, and had to ask them to stand back, because they could get hurt. They also warned them they could cause someone to crash, into another skater, because they could be blocking the view. The girls just 'poo-pooed' that idea; that was until Skyler almost got knocked over because she didn't see the other boy coming from the opposite direction.

Eventually, Mr. Ken stepped out and around the coved entrance to the parking corral. He could see the skateboard ramps, from there, and didn't want to interrupt the lads, as they skated. He was, pleasantly, surprised, though, when he noticed there were a few girls out there watching. He noticed the girls didn't have skateboards so he knew the extra people didn't add to the potential confusion, out on the ramps. That was until he saw Skyler almost get hit. It was then he heard Robert tell the girls they had to stand back more because the guys couldn't see through them.

He had to laugh when he heard Gordon, the quiet one, say, "Yea, you make a better door than a window. So, stay out of the way!"

It was when Mr. Ken stepped out into the parking corral that the lads, and the girls, realized he was there. The boys kept skating but the girls felt a bit out of place not knowing how the man would take to their stopping by.

"Hello, girls, guys" announced Mr. Ken. "So, what do you girls think of the new skateboard ramps, and the lad's ability to stay up off the ground?" Mr. Ken then laughed at his attempt at a joke at the boys' expense.

Sarah was the first to respond and she said the ramps looked very strong and probably would not fall apart after a few heavy rains. Nora commented that the ramps looked too plain and need a 'girl's touch'. When asked what she would do, Nora said she'd paint them a bunch of different colors to make them stand out more. The boys said they didn't want any paint, period. Callie mentioned the ramps seemed too close together for safety and could understand why only so many could skate at a time.

Ken was interested in what she had to say, so he asked her what she would recommend. When Callie said she'd spread the ramps out more and face some in a different direction, Mr. Ken asked her how the vehicles would get in and out of the garage. She pondered that questions and walked around some and then realized they wouldn't and she had to admit she was 'wrong'. Mr. Ken told her not to feel bad about her observation and he appreciated the fact that she did indeed speak up when she thought she saw a better solution. He told her to never hold back, an opinion, but to maybe voice it, better. The 7th grade girl smiled at the compliment and went back to watching the boys.

Then, Mr. Ken asked the girls if any of them skated. Callie and Sarah quickly said yes, so Mr. Ken asked the boys to let the girls use their boards. The girls showed they were pretty good but The Cove's owner could see they were not anything like the boys who were out there as often as they could be. The man watched for a few more minutes and then thanked the girls for stopping by to support the lads and he told them he hoped they would be back again.

When Mr. Ken walked out of the corral, he saw that Danny and Todd were out doing some more work on the large grounds adjacent to the main house. A few years ago, the man hired Danny, and Todd, to help keep the large field level using the dirt he had delivered. Now, the lads were back to do the same thing to the depressions that had settled over the winter.

"Hi, guys," offered Mr. Ken.

"Hi, there Mr. Ken," replied Danny, as he continued to work.

"Oh, Hi, Mr. Ken, I see you got some real nice skateboard ramps built. I didn't know you skated, but I see you're letting the neighborhood kids use them then," answered back Todd Foster.

"Oh, Todd, those are not for me. I had those built for my new foster son, Robert. I take it you guys haven't met him yet?" replied Mr. Ken. "Come on … let me introduce you so he at least knows who you are."

Danny and Todd followed Mr. Ken back to the parking corral. He pointed out which one was Robert and then he called for the lad to come over, to him. The man introduced Robert to the two teenagers and explained what they did for him, on the property. He told the lad that Danny would graduate that May, along with Ryan. He told the boy that Todd was a freshman at the high school and would continue to work on at Three Finger Cove. That brought Todd's eyes up in surprise.

"With that reaction, Todd, I take it Ryan hasn't talked to you yet?" stated Mr. Ken.

"Oh, yea, I'm sorry, Todd … I was supposed to tell you Ryan wanted to talk to you, at school, and … well, I just plain forgot. We have so many things going on, right now, for graduation, I just didn't remember to tell you, Todd. Thank you Mr. Ken for saying something," offered Danny.

Speaking to Danny, Todd asked, "Do you know what he wants to talk to me about? I don't know why he'd want to talk to me."

Ken Thomas then spoke up and told Todd, "Son, I wanted Ryan to talk to you, for me. But, since he hasn't had the chance, to talk to you, and the summer is almost upon us I'll tell you why I wanted him to get with you. You see, Ryan will graduate, later this May, and when he goes off to college, this fall, I will still need someone to take care of the beach and the docks and of course the boats.

"Two summers ago, you volunteered to work with Danny, and would not be making much money, if I remember it right. Todd, that told me a lot about your character. Then, I hired you on to work as Danny's assistant and you and he did a great job for me. Now, what I want you to think about, and talk to your mom about, is this. I will need someone to take over for Ryan and I would like to offer that job to you."

"You … you want me to take Ryan's job? But … but, I don't know anything about taking care of the beach and docks, and I sure don't know anything about boats," quickly offered Todd.

Ken laughed and responded, "Yes, that's the best part. You have nothing to unlearn as Ryan teaches you, all summer long, what you need to know, and do. You will work, side-by-side, and learn as you go. Ryan will show you how to handle the boats and even show you how to sail. But, you will be required to take the Boating Safety Course, and pass it. That way you will be allowed to drive the Commander, and operate the WaveRunners, and Jet Ski."

Todd stood there flabbergasted, over the turn of events. The teen thought after they finished working the field that he would be out of a job. Now, this plum of a proposition, to continue to work at The Cove, and for Mr. Ken, was just way too much for the teenager and the awesome thought brought tears to the lad's eyes. Mr. Ken saw the teen's reaction and he pulled him into a light hug.

"Yes, Todd … you've been a hard and steady worker these past two years and you deserve the promotion," explained Mr. Ken. "I think I know what your answer will be, after seeing your reaction just now, but I still want you to talk to your mom. She needs to know what you will be doing and how often you'll be required to be here, to work. Then, the three of us can sit down and work out the details. You can do that for me, can't you?"

"Oh, Mr. Ken, you don't know how much having that job will mean, not only to me, but to my mom, as well. Thank you, thank you, Mr. Ken," joyously announced the tear streaked Todd Foster.

Todd told the man he'd talk with his mom that evening and wanted to know how soon they should call to make an appointment, to talk about the position. After hearing they could call tomorrow, Sunday, or Monday after 12 noon Danny and Todd went back to work, on leveling the field.

"'Dad' … is that something I could learn to do and, you know, get paid for it?" an inquiring mind, Robert's, wanted to know.

"Well, yes 'son' you could learn to do that but right now don't you think you're too young to take care of all those things?" 'Dad' Ken turned the question back on the lad.

"Well, maybe I am a bit young, right now, but I will learn quickly, you'd see," honestly and enthusiastically replied Robert.

"Yes, I bet you would. But, tell me … why would you want to take care of the beach, docks, and boats and whatever else there needs to be done down there?" 'dad' Ken continued.

"Well, I could earn some money doing that. Then, with the money, I could buy the things I wanted and I'd have money when we go places and I could by gifts for people for their birthdays and even for Christmas," came Robert's straightforward explanation.

Remembering who the lad was and how he got to be living there, Ken Thomas wasn't one bit surprised at this 'son's feedback. The lad had been required to work from the time he was 10 ½ years old and that trait had stuck with the lad. The man knew from that response he would have to work with the boy to make sure he felt he was earning his money and not having it given to him. What the lad didn't know was his new 'dad' had set in motion the process with which 'dad' hoped to recover all the funds he made for his parents along with what the boy already had in his back account.

Once their short talk was over, Robert headed back to his friends. Of course, his Best Friend Eric wanted to know more about what was said so he pulled Robert aside and asked him. When Eric learned about Todd being given Ryan's job he was disappointed, too, as he had hoped to get the job. It was Robert who told his Best Friend that they could both do that job and share the money. That lifted Eric's spirit and the two went back to skating.

The boys were surprised the girls stayed as long as they did, but the observers eventually did get bored, after a time, and they began to grumble, They complained the boys weren't paying any attention to them and they wanted the boys to teach them how to use the skateboard better. The 5th graders smirked at the actions of the girls but got an ear full when Trevor warned them that they would be their age soon, and would also have to deal with 'those people', eventually. He explained how Emily called his home over and over again and how annoying it became.

It was then Terran spoke up for his older brother saying he'd answered the phone, many a time, and Emily would be on the other end wanting to talk, to Trevor. Sam told them at first he thought it was funny but now he knows it really isn't. At that, Trevor had to reevaluate his younger brother. He told himself that was the third time his brother acted completely opposite of how he'd have acted only just two weeks ago. Trevor was beginning to like this 'new' Terran.

Before too long, the bored girls decided to leave. They thanked Robert for letting them stay and watch and told him, and the other lads, they'd see them at school, on Monday. After the young females departed, all the boys were thankful. They felt bad about the way they thought about the girls, but they were just not interested in girls, yet. By 6 PM, all the boys, except Eric had gone home, too.

When Robert and Eric came into the house they went directly to Mr. Ken's Study. No sooner had they entered that Mr. Ken told them to get washed up, especially, to their elbows and change into nicer clothes. He explained they were picking up Ms. Judy and they were all going to the Four Corner's Restaurant, for dinner.

No sooner had the Thomas Party, of four, been seated than Harry Fletcher and his family arrived to eat dinner, as well. Mr. Ken asked the waitress to bring them over and push the two tables together, so they could all eat together. By now, all the wait staff knew who Mr. Thomas was and they did as he asked even if they'd been told otherwise, by Mr. Henry. Even the busboys, and the kitchen staff, knew who Mr. Thomas was and how important it was to keep the man happy.

After being seated, Carol Fletcher thanked Mr. Ken for what he had done for her family. She thanked him for allowing the boys and their father to work, side-by-side, on a father and son project. She told the man she could already tell a big difference in both her sons and of course her hubby. That revelation made all the Fletcher males blush.

The eight had a wonderful meal together and all along they talked about what the boys were into and how their Spring Break went. Trevor already knew about the Disney Cruise but Carol wanted to hear about it. Robert and Eric then monopolized the table discussion the rest of the evening, with all their stories and tales, from their cruise. Carol could tell the kids had a great time and openly wondered if they could afford a Disney Cruise, to her hubby. He told her they could if they all stopped buying clothes and decided to eat out less often and, before he could finish, Carol smacked his shoulder and the two laughed at the man's antics.

Sunday morning, Robert and Eric again woke up in each other's arms. They did not have a stich of clothes on, but they did notice the bedroom door was ajar, so Eric got up and closed it. They then proceeded to help one another fuel the rocket, and let it blast off. After they recovered from their play, they took a shower together and then went downstairs for breakfast.

Momma Maria was off that Sunday so the lads had to fend for themselves. Robert knew the drill, though, and got out three, each, breakfast tacos for Eric and himself. While the lad 'nuked' the tacos, Eric got them each a glass of OJ. Within fifteen minutes, of arriving in the Kitchen Nook, the preteens were having a pretty good breakfast.

As the lads ate, and Mr. Ken finished his coffee, the man asked the lads what they wanted to do that day. They hadn't really thought about it so they asked Mr. Ken what would he suggest. When he gave them his suggestion, the two preteens couldn't believe what they were going to do.

The three met in the Foyer and proceeded to the beach where Mr. Ken had the three-seat Jet Ski waiting. The now wet-suited trio climbed aboard and spent most of the day enjoying the smooth lake waters, on the machine. They each took a turn driving and then Mr. Ken stopped at the house for one of the water toys.

It was time for Robert to be baptized, on the inner tube. Eric took it slow for the first few runs to allow his Best Friend to enjoy the ride, but after, that, all bets were off. Then, Robert got to pull Eric and he tried to do the same but, not having the experience, he didn't spill Eric once. Overall, they had a blast, out on the lake, but had to return as it was, finally, getting cold in those wet suits.

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