Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Diana sat on a wooden stool, scowling as Amalia brushed out her hair.

"Hold still," Amalia said.

"I'm trying. You pull too hard."

"Well, it's a mystery to me how your hair got tangled like this. I've never seen anybody get so many knots when their hair has been in braids the whole time."

Dell wandered over. A split skirt, clean boots and a pair of tiny gold earrings were her only concessions to femininity. "You should cut your hair short like mine. Then it wouldn't tangle."

"Don't give her any ideas."

"I don't mind that it's long," Diana said. "I just mind that we have to fuss over it like this. What's wrong with braids?"

"Same thing that's wrong with your pants. We're meeting some important people today and you need to look like a lady."

"I'm a trained scout and messenger. I don't need to go around in this getup." She waved her hand to indicate her flounced black skirt and loose red blouse cinched with an embroidered scarf.

"We wear many hats in this group, and we may need you to do some spying. Consider this your disguise. Besides, we're under truce. You're not supposed to go around dressed for a fight. It gives the wrong impression."

Amalia stepped back to admire her work. Diana's hair flowed in loose chestnut waves over her shoulders. She looked like a young goddess from a European painting, but Amalia would never tell her that. The only paintings Diana was familiar with were Indian-patterned pottery and the graffiti on derelict gas stations. "Keep your knees together when you sit," she reminded her. "And fold your hands in your lap when you aren't doing anything."

"I haven't forgotten." She adjusted her posture accordingly. "But I figured it's just us in this barn, and until we actually go to the parley—"

"If you're dressed like a lady, you need to act like one."

"Yes, Auntie. Are we done now?"

"I suppose."

"Good." She jumped to her feet. "Let's go see how Boeing is doing with the horses," she told Dell. "I bet he's screwed it up already."

"He's no good with tack, that's for sure."

Before Amalia could call out a warning about dust or other hazards to their good clothes, both young women ran for the barn door, their boots clattering on the wooden floor. With a sigh, Amalia returned the comb and brush to the table she had made out of a hay bale. It was time she started getting dressed herself—quickly, before the young people had a chance to undo all her hard work.


Alice Audrey said...

I'm sitting here in a skirt wondering why they'd have to dress up in skirts. Silly of me.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Even in our current day, women in the military have skirts for formal occasions.

Alice Audrey said...

I thought of that.