Copper’s face colored. Why, this girl had better manners than she did. “Pleased to meet you, Darcy.” She shook the proffered hand. “And you too, Dimmert, is it? I’m Mrs. Corbett, but please call me Copper.”

“My brother don’t waste words,” Darcy said as Dimmert stood with downcast eyes.

“Well, now,” Copper said, trying to take charge of her own porch. She wished she had some spectacles to adjust. That’s what Mam would have done, pushed her glasses up on her nose and made everything fall into place with that one motion. “I’ve got leftover cold breakfast pie. Who’d like some?”

Dimmert raised his hand as if he were in school.

“Is it blackberry?” Darcy asked. “I like blackberry, but I’d say no to rhubarb.”

“You’re in luck then. I’ll just dish up a couple of bowls.” The screen door squeaked as Copper opened it. A little grease would fix that, but she loved the sound of a screen door. She slid the pan of cold biscuit from the pie safe, nearly dropping it when she turned back around. Darcy stood at the table pouring whey from the churn into a stoneware bowl. These two were quiet; she’d give them that.

“Where do you want this butter, Miz Copper?” Darcy asked.

Copper put two molds on the table. “These should do it. We’ll make two so you can take one home to your mammaw.”

“We weren’t figuring to go home for a right long spell.” Darcy patted the butter neatly into the copper molds, pressing out air bubbles. “These here sure are pretty.”

“I thank your grandmother for thinking of me,” Copper replied, “but I’m not sure—”

“We won’t be no trouble. Dimm will sleep in the barn, and I’ll be fine right there in front of the fireplace if you can spare a quilt.”

“I’ll have to think about this. I can’t promise you anything right now.”

“Can you think right fast?” Darcy screwed up her freckled face. She was a spunky, brown-haired girl and charming with a ready smile. The opposite of her lanky brother, she was short and stout. “Mammaw cain’t afford to feed us all.”

“How many are there?” Copper asked.

“Well, let’s see. There’s me and Dimmert; that’s two. Then there’s Dance, but she don’t live at home, so that’s minus one. How many’s that?” She counted off her fingers, holding up three and dropping one. “Huh, still two. Dilly’s the baby and next is Dory, Dawn, Delia, and Dean.” Her tongue poked out the corner of her mouth, and she knit her brow as she counted. “I’m leaving someone out.” She tapped her toe as she stared at the floor. “Ezra,” she crowed triumphantly. “I almost left out Ezra. How many’s that? A bunch, I reckon.”

Copper’s head swam. Ezra? Wonder why they hadn’t named him Dezra. “That’s a bunch, all right. I don’t remember Fairy Mae having but one girl living with her.”

“Oh, we ain’t been here long. We’re from Virginia.”

Adding a little water to the beans, Copper gave them a quick stir, then hung her apron on a peg behind the door. “Darcy, will you listen for my baby? She’s sleeping in the next room. I won’t be long.”

Copper needed to think. Truth was she did need help, and there was something about Darcy she liked. She paused to mull it over. Dimmert could be a help for sure. Every farm needed a man’s strength. She wished she could talk to John. She wandered down to the creek. There was Dimmert, a ring of blackberry stain around his mouth, shovel in hand. The trench he was digging had already begun to divert the muddy water from the garden. He held up the shovel, a guilty look across his face.

Copper couldn’t have been more surprised if the tomcat had hitched a team of mice to the plow. “You’ve saved the cucumbers. Thank you.” She could have hugged him. Not only was he smart, but he had the decency to know he should have asked to use the shovel.

It looked as if she had a couple of hired hands. Darcy could have her old room, and with just a little fixing, the tack room in the barn would work for Dimmert. “Thank You, Lord,” she whispered, tears in her eyes. God was good.


Excerpted from Torrent Falls © 2008 by Jan Watson.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.