Belle Metcalfe stood on the steps of her cabin at Rocky Look Bible Camp and looked toward the dropped-down sun. A blue pickup shimmied along the valley road far below, fishtailing here and there on the loose gravel. Though she couldn't see the truck, Belle heard it coming. She knew that her niece Jeanette was finally home from an all-day trip with Drew Parks, and she knew, too, that they'd been up to no good. About the only thing she didn't know was that a hitchhiker sat in the back seat of their pickup, wondering what kind of weird fate had brought him here. The mountains to the east had turned dark purple. You could still smell dinner, though dinner was all done and the dining hall staff had finished washing up.
"What do you think about Jeanette and her boyfriend?" Belle asked her husband, Dean, who sat beside her on the steps having his after-dinner pipe before vespers. Belle was grey-headed, but Dean and his brother, Gratian, both had shiny curls of hair, black as you please. It grew down the sides of their faces like tree bark, and Fansher, the camp cook, liked to tell them they had African blood.
"There's a Afro-American in your woodpile," she'd say.
Could be true or could be not true. Most people said that Gratian looked like Abraham Lincoln, but poor Dean was too fat for that.
"I think it's about time little Jeanette found herself a husband," Dean said calmly. "She don't seem to have nobody else interested in her."
"That's because she's already dated every other man who set foot here! She's run through most of the counselors, none's good enough."
"I can understand that," said Dean. "The counselors are a little young for Jeanette, ain't they? She's past college age, she don't want a younger man."
"She's not past 30," said ...1
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