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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I think I am going crazy. My husband, "Lou," retired from the travel business two years ago. Since then, he has maintained a friendship with a married woman, "Maggie," who worked in his office. I didn't mind their bimonthly lunches as long as they took place in a public restaurant.

I recently learned, by chance, that they have been having lunch in Maggie's home, have taken a business trip together out of town, and even went canoeing. They also arranged to travel with her husband to select land to build a cabin on. When her husband couldn't go, Lou and Maggie went by themselves.

Lou has become sneaky and secretive about his meetings with Maggie, but he insists that they are "just friends" and that "nobody is going to tell him to give her up."

He finally agreed to go back to meeting her in public, but he complains that I am "suspicious." I know he eagerly awaits their luncheons together because he gets all dressed up and puts on deodorant.

Abby, I am 10 years younger than my husband. I am active and considered good-looking. Although Lou says he loves me, his words ring hollow. I don't know how much more of this I can handle. Am I justified in asking him to give up this "friend"? Should I consider leaving him? -- SECOND FIDDLE IN ONTARIO, CANADA

DEAR SECOND FIDDLE: Maggie may be just a friend, but your husband should consider your feelings first. His lack of candor and secretiveness would make anyone suspicious. Since this is "only a friendship," it's time you were included in these luncheons. Make a point of making yourself available. If your husband refuses, try marriage counseling before you pack your bags.

DEAR ABBY: As I sat on my porch today, I could hear my neighbor beating his children. I called Child Protective Services and reported it.

I have lived here only a few months, Abby, but the child abuser has lived here for about 10 years. Why am I the first person to report it? The other neighbors have certainly heard the screaming, too.

I told the social worker, "It sounds like a leather belt striking the skin." When he asked how I knew what a belt sounds like when it hits skin, I told him that I was abused as a child. For 13 years I was beaten almost daily. No one ever came to my rescue. Our neighbors must have heard my screams, too, but no one did a thing to stop it -- just like the neighbors I have now.

Abby, people must realize that they may be the only ones who can make a difference in a child's life. Children can't stand up to an adult who beats them. Help is available -- and it's just a phone call away. You don't even have to give your name.

I made the phone call because when I was a child I prayed every day for SOMEONE to help me -- but no one ever did. I refuse to allow another child to be treated the way I was. -- GOOD NEIGHBOR IN RENO

DEAR GOOD NEIGHBOR: You were right to speak out. All a person who suspects child abuse and/or neglect has to do is pick up the phone and ask the operator for the phone number of Child Protective Services. One phone call can prevent years of suffering -- and literally make the difference between life and death. Kudos to you.

DEAR READERS: At 2:00 a.m., daylight-saving time came to an end. Did you remember to turn your clocks back one hour? And have you replaced the batteries in your smoke alarms? If not, now's the time!

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600