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It is in Chapter 7 that the boys encounter Leper as they return from shoveling snow to clear the train tracks. While they were gone, Leper has been out in the woods by himself on his skiis, searching for a beaver's dam, another one of Leper's solitary activities. Seeing Leper, Brinker becomes annoyed:
Will you look at Lepellier . . . Who does he think he is, the Abominable Snowman?
Gene answers Brinker quickly to disarm him: "He's just been out skiing around." Gene knows the boys have returned home tired and irritable; he does not want their bad moods "exploding on Leper." A conversation ensues between Brinker and Leper that stays within the bounds of civility, although Brinker clearly views Leper with contempt. At the first opportunity, Gene pulls Brinker away and the encounter ends without Leper's being openly abused. During this scene, Gene does not say anything about Brinker, but he protects Leper by acting as a buffer between Brinker and Leper.
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