Mail-Order Millionaire

By: Carol Grace



“Just a moment,” the voice interrupted.

“Don’t put me on hold,” he ordered, but she did. The next voice he heard was Miranda’s. When he told her the boots hadn’t arrived, she said she was sorry and then there was a long silence.

“Are you sure they didn’t get there?” she asked.

“Positive. The bill got here, though. You had no problem getting that here on time.”

“That wasn’t me, that was accounting.”

“That explains it.”

There was a short pause and he pictured her bent over her desk, her blond hair escaping from the braid and cascading down her back and over her long underwear.

“As you know, Green Mountain guarantees satisfaction.” Her voice jolted him back to reality.

With the phone in his hand he walked to the window and looked out at the snow-covered mountains in the distance. “So they say.”

“They don’t just say it, they mean it.” She cleared her throat. “So... I intend to deliver your boots to you this afternoon, or rather to the ranger station if that’s acceptable.”

“You have to be here by three o’clock.”

“I’ll be there if the weather holds.”

“It will. Uh...Ms. Morrison?”

“Yes?”

“Drive carefully.”

“Don’t worry. If anything happens to me, your boots are fully insured.”

“If anything happens to you, would someone else take your place?”

“Yes, so you see, you can’t lose either way.”

“Right.”

Miranda hung up and ran her fingers through her hair. She took her headset off and confided in Donna, who’d gone to high school with her and now occupied the cubbyhole next to hers. As she always did, Donna told her exactly what she wanted to hear. That she had no choice but to requisition another pair of all-weather boots and a pair of double-ply men’s long underwear—which she’d forgotten to send yesterday, anyway—and drive to New Hampshire. She, Donna, would cover for Miranda the way Miranda had covered for her the day her son was in the nursery school play.

Still, Miranda wouldn’t have considered leaving early if Mr. Northwood were breathing down her neck, but he was home with the flu. So she slipped into the warehouse, thinking that in a few hours she’d have delivered the package and would be on her way back, leaving behind a satisfied customer. And maybe she’d even solve the mystery of the two pairs of missing boots while she was there.

With the package under her arm, she stopped by the pine-paneled outlet on her way out. Ariel was wrapping a hand-knit cardigan for a customer. When she finished, she regarded her sister with openmouthed surprise. “Where are you going so early?”

“I’m going to deliver the boots to the customer I was telling you about yesterday. Donna’s covering for me.”

Ariel rubbed her hands together in excitement. “How far south is it?”

“He’s from the South, not in the South. He works on top of Mount Henry, in the world’s worst weather, which is why he needs the boots so badly.”

“How old is this man?” Ariel asked with a puzzled frown.

“I don’t know, and I’m afraid I never will because I will leave the boots at the ranger station and the ranger will take them up the mountain with the mail in a Sno-Cat and unless there’s an avalanche the boots will be delivered and I’ll never ever hear from Maxwell Randolph Carter again.” She drew a deep breath while Ariel directed a customer toward a rack of quilts.

“Keep this to yourself,” Miranda cautioned. “I don’t want this to get back to the management.”

Her sister raised her right hand. “On my honor. But couldn’t you just ask the ranger how old Mr. Carter is and if he’s married?”

Half exasperated, but knowing her sister would never give up, Miranda set her package on the counter and buttoned her jacket. “I’ll see what I can do— Oh, my Lord, I forgot the long underwear again. Have you got a pair of men’s extra large back there?”

Ariel turned to the shelves behind her. “I think so, but are you sure that’s the right size?”

“That’s what he said.”

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