Drag Flemming had been working summer fallow all day. He could see dust hanging on his eyelashes, he could smell it in his nostrils, taste it in his mouth, and he imagined he could hear it settling in his ears.
The rest of the family, his mother, Henry, and the "kid sister," Dolly, were waiting on the railroad flag-stop platform. Drag sat on his tractor in the field across the fence.
So it happened that he saw Amber first. She was peering out the window on his side of the car when the "gasoline goose" pulled up to the platform. Their eyes met and both blinked in surprise. He looked like man not yet quite emerged from the clod, and she--well, she looked like something out of love's young dream--brown-eyed, amber-haired, and with that heavy-lashed, sleepy, mischievous look of a healthy child. The brakeman spoke to her and she turned away.
A few minutes later Drag saw a pair of small, sandal-clad feet step down from the farther side of the car. They were followed by two, plain black, well-filled comfort shoes, undoubtedly the possessions of Mrs. Morris, the widowed aunt Amber was bringing to live with her. Other feet came forward to meet them, Drag observed; his mother's in low-heeled chocolate brown, Dolly's in sturdy collegiate gray and Henry's in shining black. Henry was the dude of the family.
Drag hastily started his engine and clanked away, neck and neck for the first few feet with the "gasoline goose." He didn't want his mother calling him over to meet the girl now. One look at him in his present state, he guessed, had been enough.
He glanced back and saw that they were still standing on the platform, talking and pointing out the Flemming and the Chapelle home buildings that could be seen so close together on the hill a half mile away.
Drag decided that he'd make this his last round. His mother had asked him to be ready early for supper tonight, and looking his best. It wouldn't be her fault if her own sons didn't have first chance at this girl and the broad rich acres of her recent inheritance. That is, Drag reminded himself wryly, if either could swing it. They could probably swing the acres easier than they could the girl, for somehow, she looked to him as if she were one of those irresistible girls used to the courtship of experts.
As he breasted the last rise in the long field, he saw the family car whiz down the new paved highway, past the home gate, and on up the few hundred yards beyond to the Chapelle ranch house.
Amber was undoubtedly anxious to see the old place again, the low, cool cobblestone bungalow, the big, empty stables and barns. She had written Mrs. Flemming that she intended these buildings should again be occupied and filled as she remembered them in her grandfather's time, when she was a girl before her mother had taken her East to live.
Drag glanced at his wrist watch as he drove the tractor into its shed. Two hours yet till supper. He'd change the oil and give that timer the once-over.
Presently he heard voices, Henry's and Dolly's and hers, going towards the calf pens. They were showing her all the rural sights. He wondered if she knew enough to appreciated those twin heifers of his--valuable purebreds.
His mother found him washing his hands at the garage water tap.
"Hurry, Drag," she said. "A tub and a razor for you. Why waste your time down here? Amber's first sight of you was awful. You must redeem yourself."