Jenny got a letter from Shirley.
Please don’t tell Mama I wrote you first. Things are so stirred up here I need to think things out. First off, I knew I was pregnant before Mama left, but didn’t want to worry her. Having five babies in eight years is hard. I won’t be teaching this fall. I am going to stay home with the kids like I should have last time. I can’t ask Mama to keep three kids while I work. They just about run me ragged and I’m a lot younger than she is. Now that I have made up my mind to quit teaching, I look forward to this baby. I never have gotten to stay home long. My babies were all were born in summer and I had to go right back to teaching in the fall. I always felt cheated about that.
This is what’s really worrying me. You know Martin’s brother Perry is getting married. They were going to wait till Christmas, but Judy’s daddy died and left them a really nice house. It’s two stories with five bedrooms, much nicer than Perry’s house. Judy’s mother still liv s there and doesn’t want to live alone, so they are going to move the wedding up to August 1 and move in with her. They’ve asked mother Benson to go, but she wants no part of it. She’s always been real snide Judy’s mother, anyway. She approached us about moving back in with us. We only have three bedrooms. If she moves in the house, we’ll have to pack all four of the kids in one room. That’s not right! With me quitting my job, we can’t afford to add on. She wanted the apartment back, but Martin told her Mama had spent three-thousand dollars to fix it up. Mama Benson said she’d give Mama four thousand if she’d let her have it. I don’t have the heart to say anything to Mama, but I’m just worried sick. Do you think you and Ben could ask her to move in with you? She never caused us any problems or butted into our business. Can you talk to Ben and call me in a few days? I am sorry to burden you with all this worry. I’ve cried about this till I just can’t cry any more. I never thought I’d be in this position. I don’t know why Mama Benson can’t just get an apartment. Please don’t say anything to Mama till we talk. Marty says we will figure something out.
“Why that old bat! What does Mrs. Benson think Mama ought to do, just live in the street?” Jenny got on the phone to Ben. “Ben, I need to talk to you about something real mportant.. Do you have time now?”
“Is something wrong? Do I need to come home?” Asked Ben.
“No, I’ll come down there if you have time. I have to pick Mama up anyway.”
In a few minutes, Ben was reading Shirley’s letter. “That’s cold-hearted of Mrs. Benson. I’m surprised she offered Miss Lucille her money back. We have plenty of room. If you want, we can close in half the back porch for a bedroom and bathroom. I’ve been thinking about closing it in for a sunroom, anyway. She can have a door opening out of her room onto the porch. We’ll talk to her tonight. Go ahead and tell Shirley it won’t be a problem. She doesn’t need to be worrying. By the way, that was a great idea about the brownies and coffee. They didn’t last twenty minutes. Bert Masters came in again this morning and wanted to know if I had more. I made a pot and hurried over and bought a piece of your Mama’s pie and some muffins. He ate every crumb of the pie and said he was going next door to see if there was any left. She’s pretty good with a pie.”
“I think I’ll call Shirley from your office, if it’s okay. I don’t want Mama to overhear. Don’t let her slip up on me.” She ducked in his office for about ten minutes. “Thanks, Ben, I’d better check on Mama. She may have been trying to call me. See you tonight.” With that, she hurried next door.
The little shop bell dinged as she entered and Dolly hurried out from the kitchen. “Good morning, Jenny. I hope you didn’t come to haul my help off. I just convinced Miis Lucy to work till noon. She’s putting a batch of of cookies in now. Come on back to the kitchen.”
“Mama, now I see why you didn’t call. You are elbow deep in flour. What’s going on?”
Lucille slid four pans of cookies in the oven. “We’ve got twelve minutes till these have to come out. Come on Dolly, let’s all take time for a cup of coffee and talk.” With that, she sat. “Jenny, I told Dolly I’d help her every morning while I’m here. Dolly needs to sell this shop. We went over her books. She runs it from seven till one and turns a real good profit. I want to buy it. Do you think you’d want to partner with me? There’s a cute little bed/sitting room in back I could move into. You could bring the baby to work with you. I think I could raise fifteen hundred dollars, but Dolly has to have three thousand. What do you think? ”
“I think it sounds like a real good idea. I know you could make a go of it. I have a little nest egg of my own. I think I’d like to be in business with you. Let’s talk to Ben tonight.” Jenny felt a load lift from her shoulders.