Monday, May 31, 2010

WHEN AMBER CRIED ENOUGH; by Marguerite Mohler Hanson; part 5; 1932

"Well," sniffed Mrs. Flemming, walking back to the sink, "she seems to be a high-priced girl to hug. Henry, I hope you'll be discreet."

Henry frowned. There's a catch to this. I bet Drag'll wish he had jumped into the silo before she gets done with him. It'll serve him right."

"She'll send them back in a few days; after Drag has learned his lesson," Mrs. Flemming predicted. Drag smiled. He guessed he wouldn't go to the mule show after all.

In the days that followed Henry and Dolly spent most of their spare time with Amber.

"Why don't you come along, Drag?" Dolly asked him maliciously one evening. "She inquired about you last night. She wanted to know if you smoke a pipe."

Drag colored. So that old pipe had betrayed him. Several times he'd strolled up the hill after dark, when no one was about, to visit the twins. He hadn't supposed any one had seen him--or smelled his smoke.

The next Sunday Amber came down to the Flemmings for dinner. Her aunt stayed home with a slight headache.

"This will give Amber a chance to tell Drag to take home his heifers," planned Mrs. Flemming. She brought them together in her pleasant, old-fashioned living room.

Drag blushed as he acknowledged the introduction, though he had vowed to himself that he wouldn't.

"How do you do," said Amber, keeping her distance as if afraid to risk even a handshake.

Henry caught her arm and drew her into the dining room. Well, that was over.

Just before they left the table Amber said that since she and Mrs. Morris were alone in the house at night she thought that they ought to have something around that looked like a gun.

"And you have two guns," she hinted to Mrs. Flemming. She had seen them on a rack in the back hall.

The family laughed.

"That old double-barrel shotgun has the kick of a mule, Henry assured her, "and Drag's carbine has the action of a boomerang."

"That rifle of mine's a good gun," protested Drag.

Amber looked at him directly for the first time since their introduction. She held his gaze.

"Do you value it highly?" she asked.

"I do."

"You might send it up."

"C-certainly," he stammered.

Dolly stifled a yelp of delight. Mrs. Flemming compressed her lips. She didn't think she was going to like this girl. Trying to make a fool of Drag!

That evening Drag sent up the carbine by the hired man who had delivered the calves. Two days later he received a note through the mail. His mother handed it to him when he came home from a trip to town. Dolly and Henry crowded around.

"Gosh!" said Drag, "a guy's got no more privacy in this family than a gold fish." But it didn't do any good. They had recognized Amber's handwriting and were determined to know what she said.

"The gun is all Henry claims for it," she had written. "But of course this is not enough."