Monday, June 7, 2010

WHEN AMBER CRIED ENOUGH, by Marguerite Mohler Hanson; part 7; 1932

He next saw Amber one afternoon as he was finishing work with three horses and a "fresno" along the Chapelle line fence. He was unhooking to go home when she came strolling across her own field and joined him. She was dressed in dark breeches and a gay red sweater that struck high lights in her brown velvet eyes. Drag thought she had the sweetest, freshest, prettiest mouth he had ever seen in his life. And he knew just how it ought to be kissed. He dropped his eyes guiltily and kicked at a sod, his gleaming hair ruffled by the wind until it offered almost irresistible temptation to feminine fingers.

Amber told him she had come over to ask the time.

Unsuspectingly, he lifted his wrist.

She caught it daintily and drew it close.

"Just the watch I should have," she observed.

He unbuckled the strap and adjusted it to her arm.

"Thanks," she said demurely. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

Drag grinned and said nothing. She gave him a quick look. He was gazing at the horses.

"Want a ride home?" he asked.

She was delighted. He tossed her lightly onto old Jerry's broad back, holding her by wrist and ankle until she found her balance. Then he bounded to a place before her and headed the three prancing monsters for home.

He turned so that they sat side by side as if sitting on the parlor sofa.

Amber chuckled. "If my city friends could see me now!"

"I suppose you have a lot of them."

"I wasn't exactly hated."

"Do you miss them?"

She shook her head and lifted her eyes to his gaze. "I love it here. This is the life for me."

Mrs. Morris rose from her chair in surprise as the three big horses clumped round the corner of the Chapelle porch.

Amber slid down old Jerry's tail before Drag could give her a hand.

"This is Henry's big brother," she told her aunt by way of introduction.

"What monstrous horses you have," said Mrs. Morris. "Are they your own?"

"They belong to my mother," Drag answered hastily.

Amber's lips twitched. She smiled at Mrs. Morris' retreating back and then she stepped close to Drag.

"Thanks for the watch. "of course, you understand," she added, "that this is not enough." He saw her lips curve into a smile be she kept her eyes lowered.

"Wind it every night when you go to bed," he directed, "and think of me."

He turned and bounded again to old Jerry's back.

She watched him until he disappeared.

The next day noon Drag was combing his orange topknot before the back porch mirror when Dolly noticed his most recent loss.

"It was only yesterday morning," she giggled, "that I told Amber she had everything you own but your watch and your bank account. And now she has the watch."

Henry snickered, waiting his turn at the mirror. He was beginning to see the joke. "And when she gets the kitty," he boasted, "I'll marry her and live happily ever after."

Mrs. Flemming was standing in the kitchen doorway listening.

"I wouldn't put it beneath Amber to take everything Drag's got and not marry you either, Henry. She making fools of you both."

Drag laughed and went over and put an arm around her.

"See here, Mother," he coaxed, "when you're in a fix like this, you've got to go the limit."

"But Drag, it would be so much more simple to apologize. Not that you owe it particularly. She knew what she was getting and you were squeezing blind."

He gave her a quick, keen look. "So that has dawned on you."

"It's just like to give her a piece of my mind," exclaimed Mrs. Flemming. "The more I think about it the madder I get. And now she has your watch! She ought to be told some things."

He smiled and tightened an arm before he released her.

"Some champion, aren't you Mother?"