Can you believe today is the last day of January, 2014? Where have the days gone? I certainly didn't get any of your days because my month just flew by. It was a good month with a few delightful announcements from friends and quite a bit of writing done, as well as . . .
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I hope you all are still enjoying reading The Graham Quartet. If you are tired of it, I can post something else next week. I would hate to lose my readers just because I posted the same story for too long.
I lent a print copy of the Graham Quartet to some friends who are reading it aloud and they took a vote and decided that I needed to write more stories about the Quartet's adventures. What do you all think?
The Graham Quartet and the Mysterious Strangers
Part 22“Too noisy. He’d hear us in a minute and then we really would look suspicious. Besides,” Matt added, “I don’t like the idea of leaving a blazing fire burning in an empty cabin. Maybe the best thing to do, since it looks like only one person, is to just go out like we don’t even know he’s there and head for home as if nothing unusual has happened.”
Before either of the girls could voice their opinion, Tim hissed from the loft, “Matt, he’s coming to the cabin!”
“Get down here!” Elsa ordered in low tones. “Let’s all get our things on now that the fire is out.”
Quickly Tim scrambled down the ladder and thrust his arms into the sleeves of his coat which his oldest sister tossed him. Just as Selena was pushing in the chairs to the table, while Elsa wrapped her scarf about her neck and Matt pulled on his gloves, a knock sounded on the door.
For a split second, the Quartet exchanged anxious glances and then Matt stepped across the room and reached for the doorknob.
Opening the door, he was confronted by a stranger. “Hello.” Matt couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Hi,” the man said, glancing at Matt’s face and then into the room. “My car got stuck down the road a piece and this is the first sign of life I’ve seen. I was rather hoping that someone lived here.”
“No, we were just getting warm and are ready to head back home.”
“Then this isn’t your cabin?” The man looked slightly suspicious and sounded puzzled.
Tim hurried up then. “It actually belongs to our dad, so we can use it when we’re out in the area.”
“Oh, I see. Are you out here often?”
Matt didn’t like that question and hesitated on how to answer it without giving anything away.
“Not as much as I’d like to,” Tim put in. “We have to go to school. I think they should have school every-other week. Don’t you think that would be a good idea?”
The stranger laughed a little. “I never thought of that, but it would have made my boyhood a whole lot easier, as long as they didn’t have school in the summer.”
“Ugh, that would be terrible!” Tim agreed. “The other thing that’s terrible is missing supper, and we’re going to be late if we don’t hurry, Matt.”
Matt nodded. “Sorry we couldn’t be of more help, Mister . . .?”
“I beg your pardon, Bruce is the name. Orin Bruce.”
“We could tell our dad about your car, and I’m sure he’d be happy to pull it out for you,” Elsa spoke for the first time.
The man looked quickly around and stared at her a moment. “I’ve seen you before . . . Ah, yes, now I remember. I asked you and another young lady about tours of the furniture factory. I don’t suppose you discovered anything?”
Elsa, who had recognized the man as soon as she saw and heard him, replied, “I did find out that they don’t give tours any longer. Sorry.”
The stranger shrugged. “Oh well. I guess I can’t do everything. But I am holding you kids up. Sorry to have bothered you.” And the man lifted his hand in farewell and walked quickly away.
For a moment the Quartet stood grouped about the door and watched. Then Selena broke the silence. “Come on, you guys, let’s go!”
“Selena’s right,” Matt said quickly. “We need to leave. Turn the light off, Tim.”
It only took a few moments for Matt to pull the locked door shut behind them and for everyone to strap on their snow shoes. There was not a dissenting voice when Matt suggested they take the quickest, most direct route home. Everyone was nervous but tried not to show it as they set off at a brisk pace.
In the entryway at the Graham home, the Quartet talked in low tones as they removed their warm, winter garments.
“When should we tell Dad?” Selena whispered.
“What about at dinner?”
Matt shook his head. “I don’t want to scare Mom.”
“Is there time before supper, do you think?” Elsa hung her coat on the hook and draped her scarf over top.
“I don’t know. I guess we could see, but Mom probably wants help setting the table.”
“Matt, you’re not going to talk to Dad without us, are you?” Tim questioned his older brother anxiously.
Carefully lining up their boots, Matt shook his head. “No, I think we should all be there.”
Right then, Mrs. Graham’s voice called from the kitchen, “Elsa, Selena, can you two set the table for me, please?”
“Sure Mom,” Elsa called back, adding in lower tones to her siblings, “I guess we’ll just have to wait until after supper.”
It was hard to wait and not talk about what was uppermost in their minds, but they all knew how to keep quiet when needed. Mr. and Mrs. Graham could tell their children were preoccupied, for they didn’t talk much; even Tim was unusually quiet, and they ate quickly. But neither one said anything, trusting in their good judgment and feeling sure that if they needed to talk about something, they would do so. When the meal was over, the dishes washed and the kitchen spotless, the Quartet made their way to Mr. Graham’s study where they found him seated at his desk.
Looking up as the four siblings stopped before his open door, Mr. Graham beckoned them in. “What’s going on?” he asked, as Matt carefully shut the door after the others.
“Dad,” Matt began, having been unanimously elected as spokesperson, “we’ve reached a situation that we don’t know how to handle.”
Leaning back in his chair, Mr. Graham’s face was expressionless. “I’m listening.”
Whereupon Matt told of the day’s experience, Guy’s not being at the cabin and the stranger’s appearance and conversation with the Quartet.
After Matt had finished, Mr. Graham looked thoughtful. “And you’ve never seen this man before?”
“Only once,” Elsa replied, “when he asked Alice and me if the furniture factory still gave tours.”
Who do you think "Elsa's stranger" is?
What is going on around town?
And where is Guy Fox?
Any ideas, thoughts or comments?