A Circle of Stones, cont.

     Harlan was a farmer, a word my mother found too plain; she’d tell people Harlan ranched, though he kept fewer than a dozen cows on a patch of scrub land that was too poor to support a crop. Mostly he farmed wheat and cotton. He would put some acres into sorghum if he thought a booming cattle market might push up the price of feed, but he called sorghum his casino crop because if he guessed wrong he’d lose what he put into it. It was not like wheat or cotton, he said, where insurance and the government made sure the farmer didn’t get too badly hurt.

     My mother could have done a whole lot worse than Harlan, and probably would have, given half a chance. As far as I know, Harlan is the only man who ever courted her, besides my father. Harlan overlooked the fact that she was divorced and had a child, which was to his credit. In the 1960’s such things mattered more than they do now. Also, my mother was a knockout. She had pale blue eyes and dark hair, and she kept herself thin by eating only every other day. If Harlan hadn’t come along, someone else would have, and then who knows where we’d have been? Worse off, most likely. My mother was easy prey for the unscrupulous because she believed herself to be more knowing than she was. Harlan Frame was the first man, after my father, who asked to marry her, and she said yes....

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