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Charlie checked her left hand and let out a cry of dismay.

"I left it on the jewelry tray beside the sink!" she gasped, running to the kitchen. "Adam! My ring isn't here!"

Adam quickly joined her-- as did everyone else in the house.

"I-- I was reaching for the plate, when I heard something fall down into the sink," stammered Shirley. "I tried to grab it, but I was too late-- I heard it go down the drain-- it made a chinking sound!"

Charlie nearly passed out. Her million dollar engagement ring had gone down the kitchen drain! Seeing her turn pale, Adam helped her over to a kitchen chair.

"Mike," he directed, "go get the tool box out of the van. I parked it out front behind the Weston's car in the driveway."

Mike quickly did as he was told, for he was used to taking orders from his uncle. Ever since Mike and the new master plumber had taken over the family business, their first decision was to retire the old Clark Plumbing Service and Supply van, in favor of a new state-of-the-art model. When Adam heard this, he saved his "old friend" from the scrap heap, and now drove it as he would a second vehicle. But, I digress.

"Shouldn't we call a plumber?" asked Horace, stunned by all the money that had just gone down the drain.

"Adam IS a plumber," reminded Thomas, as he went to retrieve a flashlight.

"Oh yes, that's right," muttered Horace, as Millie cleared the countertop to make room for the men to work.

Sandra helped her mother-in-law to a chair at the table across from Charlie, who was still in apparent shock.

"I- I'm sorry," apologized Shirley.

"It's my fault," argued Charlie, numbly. "I left the ring there."

"No, I'm the one to blame," insisted Shirley reaching across the table and touching Charlie's hand. "And I'm sorry for everything I said and did today to make you feel unwelcome. It was very wrong of me, and I ask for your forgiveness."

Charlie looked at her in surprise.

"Of course," the teenager replied, without a moment's hesitation.

"Thank you," replied Shirley, withdrawing her hand and bending over to regain her consciousness, for she was feeling very lightheaded.

"Maybe you should lie down," suggested Sandra.

"I must help get the ring back," resisted Shirley, weakly.

"Let Adam and Mike do it," prodded Charlie. "Besides, Adam deserves this trouble after standing us up for Thanksgiving."

"I heard that," said Adam.

"Good!" smiled Charlie, helping Sandra walk Shirley to the master bedroom.

"I'm so sorry," repeated the contrite woman.

"They'll get the ring back," assured Charlie, as she carefully tucked her future sister-in-law into bed.

"No," said Shirley, grabbing her by the wrist. "The water was running when the ring went down the drain. Who knows how far down it went!"

The thought of that rendered Charlie temporarily speechless. Seeing this, Sandra intervened.

"Don't worry, Mom," said Sandra, "Mike and Adam know what they're doing. Just lie back and get some rest."

Wearily, Shirley rested her head on the pillow and closed her eyes. The other two women tiptoed from the room and joined the others who were crowded around Adam and Mike at the kitchen sink.

"It couldn't have gone too far," Adam was saying.
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