Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

by

Ray Lawler

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Roo Webber Character Analysis

Roo is a "ganger" (boss) of sugarcane cutters in northern Australia. He's the best of the best at his job and takes great pride in this fact. Every layoff season, from December to April, he and his best friend, Barney, head south to spend their time off with Olive and Nancy. Two months before the start of the seventeenth layoff, Roo fired Tony Morena and hired a young man, Johnnie Dowd, to replace him. Johnnie was good enough that Roo felt threatened, and after a fight, Roo walked off the job. He was exceptionally hurt that Barney didn't walk off with him, and holds a grudge against Johnnie for usurping his position as ganger. When Roo and Barney arrive in Carlton, Roo is already out of money. Emma insists that Roo is trustworthy and offers him a loan, but Roo declines and decides to get a job. This is something that he seems to find distasteful, but the others find downright insulting. Despite this, Roo's relationship with Olive remains strong, affectionate, and tender. He brings her a kewpie doll every layoff as a token of his love, and she's particularly taken with the seventeenth doll. Though Roo continues to participate in the group's festivities and outings, his new job at the paint factory means the group doesn't often go out late. Like Olive, Roo sees the previous layoff seasons as magical and special, and is hurt and dismayed that Pearl doesn't see what they see. Roo places so much value in Barney's loyalty that he refuses to forgive Barney for not walking off the job with him. Roo is particularly incensed when Barney attempts to orchestrate an outing with Johnnie and some of the other boys from up north. This culminates in a fight between Roo and Barney, after which Roo realizes that he hasn't done anything wrong—he's just old. This realization brings about an entire change in demeanor. Roo decides to give up his job as a cane cutter and asks Olive to marry him, something both Roo and Olive previously despised in favor of their freewheeling lifestyle. When Olive refuses, Roo destroys the seventeenth doll and agrees to take new migrant jobs with Barney.

Roo Webber Quotes in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll quotes below are all either spoken by Roo Webber or refer to Roo Webber. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Youth, Maturity, and Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Samuel French, Inc. edition of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll published in 2011.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

That's what the lay-off is. Not just playing around and spending a lot of money, but a time for livin'. You think I haven't sized that up against what other women have? I laugh at them every time they try to tell me. Even waiting for Roo to get back is more exciting than anything they've got.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

All round would be the regulars—soft city blokes...and then in would come Roo and Barney. They wouldn't say anything...there'd just be the two of them walkin' in, then a kind of wait for a second or two, and quiet. After that, without a word, the regulars'd stand side to let 'em through, just as if they was a—a coupla kings. She always reckoned they made the rest of the mob look like a bunch of skinned rabbits.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham, Barney Ibbot, Nancy
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Not as good as Roo when he's fit, mind yer, but he could run rings round the best of us. And this time he even made Roo look like a has-been. I never seen Roo git so mad, in no time at all he made it like a running fight between 'em, tryin' to git the better of this kid.

Related Characters: Barney Ibbot (speaker), Roo Webber, Olive Leech, Johnnie Dowd
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Olive: You didn't go with him?

Barney: No.

Olive: Why not?

Barney: I dunno. It was all messed up. You know what Roo's always been to me, a sort of little tin god. I've never seen him in the wrong before.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Barney Ibbot (speaker), Roo Webber
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

No, they're not. Someone's taking special care. Other times they've been pretty, but this one's beautiful. You can see.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber
Related Symbols: Kewpie Dolls
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

Gettin' a bit crowded, maybe you should start upstairs.

Related Characters: Roo Webber (speaker), Olive Leech
Related Symbols: Kewpie Dolls
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

It's going to be just the same, isn't it? I mean, you'll still be going to Selby at Christmas time, and—and all the rest. You won't alter anything?

Related Characters: Bubba Ryan (speaker), Roo Webber, Nancy
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

The way you went on about everythin'—sounded just as if when they arrived, the whole town was gunna go up like a balloon.

Related Characters: Pearl Cunningham (speaker), Roo Webber, Olive Leech, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

...We come down here for the lay-off, five months of the year, December to April. That leaves another seven months still hangin'—what d'yer reckon Olive does in that time? Knocks around with other blokes, goes out on the loose every week? No, she doesn't, she just waits for us to come back again—coz she thinks our five months is worth all the rest of the year put together!

Related Characters: Roo Webber (speaker), Olive Leech, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Oh, of course I've never been here, it's just the reputation that's been built up among the boys. I reckon you could say it's almost famous, up north.

Related Characters: Johnnie Dowd (speaker), Roo Webber, Barney Ibbot, Bubba Ryan
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

H-how can I? All that's happened in a house makes a feeling—you can't tell anyone that. It's between people.

Related Characters: Bubba Ryan (speaker), Roo Webber, Olive Leech, Barney Ibbot, Johnnie Dowd
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Bubba? Is that what they call you? Seems to me they're keeping you in the cradle, too. What's your real name?

Related Characters: Johnnie Dowd (speaker), Roo Webber, Olive Leech, Barney Ibbot, Bubba Ryan
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, and so was he. Both of us sloggin' it out under the sun! Are you tryin' to say that's the same thing as this—a job in a paint factory? Are you?

Related Characters: Roo Webber (speaker), Barney Ibbot, Johnnie Dowd
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

This is what I call interestin'. The lot of yez squabbling at last 'stead of all that playin' around went on other times. Only thing I'm sorry for is Nancy ain't here. She knew which way the wind was blowin', that one.

Related Characters: Emma Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Barney Ibbot, Nancy
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

You and Barney are two of a pair. Only the time he spent chasin' wimmin, you put in being top dog! Both of you champions! Well, that's all very fine and a lot of fun while it lasts, but last is one thing it just don't do. There's a time for sowing and a time for reaping—and reapin' is what you're doing now.

Related Characters: Emma Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

He might have been drinking, and this morning he might have forgotten like you said, but this is the only chance I've ever had of comin' close to—I dunno—whatever it is I've been watchin' all these years. You think I'd give that up?

Related Characters: Bubba Ryan (speaker), Roo Webber, Barney Ibbot, Johnnie Dowd
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

And it's more than looking—it's havin' another woman walking around knowin' your inside and sorry for you 'coz she thinks you've never been within cooee of the real thing. That's what hurts. It was all true, everythin' I told her was true, an'—and she didn't see any of it.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
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Summer of the Seventeenth Doll PDF

Roo Webber Character Timeline in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

The timeline below shows where the character Roo Webber appears in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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...in and out of the house since she was a toddler, and treats Barney and Roo like uncles. (full context)
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...close way that Barney is holding Nancy in the photo, and Olive tells Pearl that Roo and Barney are cane-cutters, not professors. Pearl sits and declares that Barney will never her... (full context)
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...says that when Bubba was five, she was jealous of the gifts that Barney and Roo brought, especially the kewpie doll on a walking stick. To placate her, Barney and Roo... (full context)
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...is alarmed to find it's after 6:00pm. Olive wonders if her mother went to meet Roo and Barney at the airport, and says that she'll have gotten money out of the... (full context)
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Olive turns on the radio and looks at a photograph of Roo. She declares that he has the handsomest mouth in the world. As Pearl inspects her... (full context)
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...Barney. Olive isn't sure, but says his real name is Arthur. She excitedly offers that Roo's real name is Reuben, and Pearl remarks that it's a Biblical name. Olive acts politely... (full context)
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...season, but says that she gets five months of heaven every year. She explains that Roo and Barney work hard for seven months and then come down to live. Olive says... (full context)
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...tells Pearl to stop talking if she can't make sense. Pearl indignantly reminds Olive that Roo and Barney don't write while they're gone, and Olive simply says that they don't have... (full context)
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...Nancy if sitting chained to her husband is worth missing the excitement of waiting for Roo and Barney. Pearl awkwardly apologizes for offending Olive, and Olive says that Pearl reminded her... (full context)
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...angry. Barney asks where the garbage is, and Olive laughs and lets them in. When Roo enters, Olive steps into his arms and they kiss. Pearl watches Barney and Emma apprehensively... (full context)
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...airport. He winks at Pearl, who isn't sure what to do. Olive introduces Pearl and Roo, and Pearl begins to relax a little. Barney grabs one of Bubba's walking sticks off... (full context)
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...to the house at all if she hadn't gotten them, but Barney cuts her off. Roo reminds Emma that she can afford to buy more vinegar, and Emma threatens to file... (full context)
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Roo moves to take bags upstairs, but Olive asks him to only take up his own... (full context)
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...Olive that what Emma said about needing her to make it home was true, and Roo is broke. He sighs and continues that it was an awful season: Roo strained his... (full context)
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Barney says that when they met in Brisbane, Roo had already spent all his money drinking. Barney says that he thinks Roo resents him... (full context)
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Barney leaves, and Roo seems embarrassed. Olive asks why Roo went to Melbourne instead of coming to her. Roo... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...and calls to Olive upstairs to take a coat to work with her. Olive resists. Roo and Emma meet in the hallway and Emma says irritably that there's going to be... (full context)
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Olive asks Roo how his back is, but Roo tells Olive to ask Barney. Olive picks up the... (full context)
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Olive asks Roo what he's going to do for the day. Roo is engrossed in the newspaper and... (full context)
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Roo points to an ad in the paper and asks if Lyman Paint Company is near... (full context)
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...in on her way to work. Emma storms off to the kitchen. Bubba breathlessly tells Roo that she has something for Barney and hands an envelope to Roo. She explains that... (full context)
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...men since she ended things with the young man she was dating last summer, and Roo teases that she'll grow up to be like Barney. Bubba quietly asks how much more... (full context)
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Emma asks Roo if he'll take the loan, and Roo insists he shouldn't. He explains it'd only be... (full context)
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Roo says that everyone knows as much—they all heard Barney banging on Pearl's door in the... (full context)
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Barney angrily says that Roo's pride is keeping him from taking money, and insists that Roo is mad because Barney... (full context)
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Olive is shocked at Barney's disaffect, and Barney explains that Roo is going to look for work. Olive is even more shocked, and then angry. She... (full context)
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Barney asks Olive if Roo is actually going to get a job, and Olive moodily says that he is. Barney... (full context)
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...tries to follow her, but Pearl rushes away with Olive. Barney watches Olive, Pearl, and Roo go and then swaggers to the suitcases and carries them upstairs. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...Eve. Barney is writing a letter, Pearl is knitting, and Olive is playing cards with Roo. They can hear children playing outside and Pearl comments on the noise. When nobody responds,... (full context)
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Roo says that the ferns on the verandah are full of mosquitos, and Barney suggests they... (full context)
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...migratory birds, and it was around the time that Olive had started telling Pearl about Roo and Barney. Olive had been wrapped up in this man talking about his birds, and... (full context)
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...analogy fit in with what the man was saying, but Pearl keeps giggling and tells Roo and Barney that she had no idea what to expect with everything Olive said about... (full context)
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...she was only voicing her opinion, and Olive retorts that Pearl has too many opinions. Roo tries to convince Olive to finish her hand of cards, but Olive angrily declares that... (full context)
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...Olive suggests the conductor does that as a joke. Emma bursts out angrily and resists Roo's attempts to calm her down. She puts her ring back on and storms out, calling... (full context)
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Roo tells Olive she shouldn't have made fun of Emma's singing because it's the one thing... (full context)
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Barney and Roo discuss Emma's fussiness. There seems to be a guarded air around the men as Barney... (full context)
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Barney tells Roo that he told the boys Roo was working, but didn't say where. At Roo's prompting,... (full context)
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Barney sobers and quietly admits to Roo that he didn't walk out with him up north, but insists he's never slipped in... (full context)
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Barney asks if he can make it up to Roo, and suggests they go north with the boys to pick grapes. Roo is incredulous that... (full context)
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Roo stands over Barney and reminds him that they come here five months out of every... (full context)
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...and snacks, and Olive cheerfully notes that they have time to pour drinks before midnight. Roo suggests they call Emma, but Olive says that Emma will join them if she feels... (full context)
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They all watch the fireworks for a few minutes and Olive says to Roo that she's glad they didn't go out. Barney raises a toast to happy days and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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A few days later, Roo, still dressed from work, is asleep on the couch as the sound of a drunk... (full context)
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When Olive shakes Roo, it takes him a minute to fully wake up. Olive tells Roo that Barney is... (full context)
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...As Barney tries to break free, he and Johnnie swing into the room. In silence, Roo stares at Johnnie and Barney. (full context)
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Johnnie congenially greets Roo and they exchange awkward pleasantries. Barney steps forward and begins to try to talk to... (full context)
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After an awkward pause, Johnnie says that the boys want to see Roo, and they were wondering if they could all go to the stadium tonight. Roo uneasily... (full context)
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...coldly asks Johnnie if he'll stay for dinner, but Johnnie declines the invitation. She follows Roo upstairs. Barney, elated, tells Johnnie that getting Roo to shake was easy. Johnnie is less... (full context)
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Suddenly, Barney lights up with an idea. He suggests that just the three of them—he, Roo, and Johnnie—go to the races tomorrow instead of going out in a big group. When... (full context)
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...go and she only seemed hesitant because she was surprised. She continues that Barney and Roo have never brought someone from up north to this house. Johnnie looks around and asks... (full context)
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...imagining this place, and it's developed a reputation among the boys up north with what Roo and Barney say about it. As Johnnie looks around, he says it looks like their... (full context)
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Johnnie motions to the kewpie dolls and asks what they're for. Bubba explains that Roo gives one to Olive every year, and Johnnie snorts and makes disparaging remarks about the... (full context)
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Johnnie sits and asks why everyone treats anything connected to Roo as though Johnnie won't understand it, or can't live up to the standard. Bubba sits... (full context)
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Barney comes in from the verandah and calls for Roo. Johnnie asks Barney to tell Kathie the plan for tomorrow. Barney is confused for a... (full context)
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Roo asks Bubba why she's here, and she explains that she met Johnnie. Olive enters, asks... (full context)
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Roo asks why Pearl is crying, and Olive says she's not sure, but it's something about... (full context)
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Olive warns Roo that he can argue, but not fight. Roo yells at her to get out, and... (full context)
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Barney turns back to Roo and accuses him of being jealous of Johnnie, and he says that the boys feel... (full context)
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...supposed to just sit and watch men their age fight over one bad season. When Roo insists it's not about the bad season, Barney tells Roo to "be a man" and... (full context)
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Barney asks Roo if he really thought he would've told the women his secret, and Roo insists it's... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Olive approaches Pearl and says stonily that everything she ever said about Roo and Barney was the truth, every year until this one. She says that Pearl is... (full context)
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...being the right type before she leaves for her taxi. Olive watches her go as Roo comes downstairs, realizes that Pearl is leaving, and notices that Barney is back. He looks... (full context)
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Roo offers to get Olive new decorations, but Olive refuses. When Roo reminds Olive that she... (full context)
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Roo insists that the fight with Barney had been brewing for some time and reminds Olive... (full context)
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Roo sits on the piano stool and Emma picks up Pearl's cup and saucer. Seeing how... (full context)
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Roo says that Nancy got married, but Emma insists that Nancy purposefully got out while things... (full context)
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Suddenly, Roo asks Emma who's at fault for messing up the layoff season, him or Barney. Emma... (full context)
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Emma tells Roo he's not ancient yet, but he's not seventeen either, and she asks him to sit... (full context)
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Emma asks Roo why he thinks Barney lied. Roo insists that lying is natural for Barney, but Emma... (full context)
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Roo asks about Olive. Emma says that Olive is a fool. She drags out the seventeenth... (full context)
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Roo hears Bubba and Barney approaching. Barney tries to grab Bubba, but Bubba pulls free. Barney... (full context)
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Roo tells Bubba that she's certainly entitled to talk to Johnnie, but deserves to know why... (full context)
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As he sits, Roo asks Bubba what's so important about going to the races. Bubba says emotionally that Johnnie... (full context)
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When Roo asks if that's true even after last night, Bubba insists that what happened won't happen... (full context)
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Barney tells Roo that he's leaving to pick grapes with the boys and Johnnie. He asks Roo if... (full context)
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Roo and Barney hear an argument upstairs. Olive, dressed for work, comes down the stairs followed... (full context)
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Olive asks Roo if it's time to settle up, and asks him to tell her what all the... (full context)
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Roo tries to comfort Olive and suggests that Pearl might've seen some of the charm, but... (full context)
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Olive asks Roo if he and Barney could come down for the afternoon, but Roo explains that Barney... (full context)
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Roo tells Olive that he's staying here with her. She stares at him and asks how... (full context)
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Roo grabs Olive and shouts at her that she first told him that he made her... (full context)
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Barney quietly turns to Roo and says that the other boys, Johnnie included, can go to hell: the two of... (full context)