Time for Andrew

Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn

Book: Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Downing Hahn
had something to do with explosives. Andrew had blown up an outhouse once—he might want to dynamite a whole train.
    I kicked a stone so hard I almost broke my toe. There was no way of guessing what went on in Andrew's fiendish mind. I'd just have to wait till tonight and ask him.

Chapter 15
    When I finally dragged myself home, I was dying of heat and thirst. All I wanted was to stick my head under the pump in the backyard, but, before I had a chance to do it, the front door shot open. Buster charged outside, carrying what looked like a bunch of flowers in his mouth.

    Mama was right behind him. "Come back here, you wretched cur!"
    Buster never was what I'd call an obedient dog. Instead of heeding Mama's order, he ran faster. Maybe he thought it was a new and exciting game. Or maybe he was just full of devilry. What went on in his demented brain was anybody's guess.
    "Stop him, Andrew!" Mama yelled.
    By this time, the Women's Club was crowding out the door. Mrs. Armiger was in the lead, brandishing a parasol, her face scarlet. "Darling Andrew," she shrieked, "save my hat!"
    Buster was heading straight toward me, gripping the flowered monstrosity like booty won in a war. He wasn't going to give it up. He'd die before surrendering.
    From the porch railing, Theo yelled, "Atta boy, Buster! Run, run!"
    Telling him to run stopped Buster. Not two feet away from me, he tore into the hat as if it were a vicious enemy. Flowers and bits of straw flew through the air. A huge artificial poppy landed at my feet, followed by a flurry of fake rose petals. It was like an explosion in a greenhouse.

    Mrs. Armiger wailed, "Can't you do something, Mildred? That hat was designed especially for me by Madame Sophia. It cost over five dollars!"
    Mama grabbed my arm. "Control that animal, Andrew!"
    Bigger than the Hound of the Baskervilles and twice as fierce, Buster growled savagely at me. Somehow he'd managed to get what was left of the hat caught around his neck. His eyes rolled, his jaws drooled, he shook his head. Paralyzed with fear, I watched him run away, trailing flowers and ribbons and long unraveling coils of straw.
    "My hat!" Mrs. Armiger shrieked. "My beautiful hat!"
    "Buster," I yelled feebly. When the dog ignored me, I tried whistling again, but this time I couldn't make a sound. I guess I was trying too hard.
    I honestly don't think Andrew himself could have stopped Buster. He was in a frenzy, tearing around in circles, panting, trying to shake the hat off.
    Disgusted with me, Mrs. Armiger chased him, whacking his rear end with her folded parasol. Theo was two steps behind, imitating every move the poor woman made. On the porch, the other ladies huddled together, clucking to one another. One looked like she was about to faint. Another called for smelling salts.
    Just then, Hannah poked her head outside to see what was going one. Her bewildered face made me laugh. I tried to stop but I couldn't. The louder Mrs. Armiger screeched, the louder I laughed. Tears ran down my face, my stomach hurt, my sides ached.
    Mama tightened her grip on my arm. Giving me a violent shake, she said, "Go inside this minute! You've shamed me half to death!"

    As I headed for the house, I saw Theo scrambling up into a tree. "Hooray for Buster," he called to me, "hooray for you!"
    If he thought Mama wouldn't see him, he was wrong. "Theodore Aloysius Tyler," she cried, "come down from there at once. When your father gets home tonight, he'll see to you and Andrew!"

    Papa found Theo and me side by side on the steps. We'd been sitting there for two hours, part of our punishment for ruining Mama's party. Now Papa was about to give us the rest of it—a whipping, Theo whispered. He was sure of it.
    "Come with me." Papa's voice was soft but it hummed with anger.
    Rising warily to my feet, I glanced at Theo. For once, he had nothing to say. Like condemned prisoners, we followed Papa to the back porch.
    "I'm deeply disturbed by your behavior," Papa began. "At

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