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"The water was running at the time," announced Sandra, relating what Shirley had just told them.

"Oh," replied Adam in a subdued voice.

"Can't you get it back?" asked Charlie, frantically.

Adam didn't respond, but looked at her sympathetically. Mike handed his uncle a large wrench and Adam got down onto the floor, and began to loosen the pipe under the sink.

"Maybe, it's still in the trap," said Mike, hopefully.

"Maybe," replied Adam, with a loud grunt as he turned the monkey wrench one last time.

Carefully, Adam lifted out the pipe and placed it onto the kitchen table. Green and black gunk poured out of it as Adam plunged in his fingers to feel around.

"Totally gross," remarked Chad, making a disgusted face. "This is why I never want to be a plumber."

Charlie watched intently as the two men made a thorough search of the gunk.

"It's not here," sighed Adam, glancing at Charlie.

"Maybe it got caught in the pipe further down," suggested Mike.

"We can only search so far, before we'll have to tear into the wall," warned Adam.

"What happens if you don't find it?" asked Thomas.

"Well," sighed the ex-plumber, "if we don't find it, there's going to be a gold rush in the city sewers like you wouldn't believe!"

"The sewer!" exclaimed Charlie in horror.

"I can get you another ring," said Adam, reaching for her face and then pulling back, for he suddenly remembered that his hands were covered with slime, "with as many carats as you want."

"But, I don't want another ring," replied Charlie. "I don't care if it has more carats than a rabbit could dream of-- I want THAT ring! I want the ring you gave me that night in the desert, the one you said was a small token of your love-- I want that ring!"

"That's so..." Adam paused, "like a woman," he finished.

It wasn't the money value that gave the engagement ring it's true worth-- it was the memories attached with it. Of course, Charlie would have accepted a different ring, but only if the first one was beyond all possible hope of reclaiming. Adam knew this, and wanted very much to return it to her.

"Thomas?" he asked.

"The wall is made of hydraulically pressed adobe bricks," said Thomas. "It's pretty solid material. Your best chance is to follow the pipe outside and tap into it out there."

"We could put a hose down the kitchen drain," added Adam, "and hopefully, the water might force the ring out the other end. It just might work."

"I'll go get a shovel," volunteered Mike, returning to the van.

"Charlie," warned Adam, soberly, "I can't promise you anything."

"I know," she replied, folding her hands and saying a silent prayer.

Armed with a map that his father had given him, Mike went to the front yard and lifted out a square of green sod before digging into the hard earth of the Mojave desert. When he reached the pipe before it joined into the main artery that flowed into the City sewer system, Adam came out and carefully sawed through the metal pipe with a hacksaw. After a section of it had been removed, Thomas placed a bucket beneath the exposed end.

"Anything heavy will go straight to the bottom," he explained.

Next, Adam unreeled the garden hose and dragged it into the kitchen. Jamming the green hose down the kitchen drain until it could reach no further, he shouted to Mike to turn on the water. After a minute or two, water began to spurt up from the drain and right into Adam's face. Charlie grabbed a kitchen towel and stuffed it into the drain around the hose.

"Thanks," said Adam, gratefully.
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