house was difficult to find. These rural addresses are tricky.”
“What is it you need, Mr. Boyne?”
“I have some news for you, Mrs. Warren.”
“Mama!” Henry jumps to his feet, wide-eyed.
“Henry!” Mama’s face is suddenly dark and dangerous. “Benjamin, you and Henry finish pickin’ up them windfall pecans.”
I scoot Henry out, but I stay inside. Mama don’t like it, but she don’t say anything.
“Go on, sir.”
“I’m a lawyer. I represented your great-aunt, Miss Enid Shane.”
“Has...” Mama touches her forehead, looking worried. “Has something happened to my aunt, Mr. Boyne?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He clears his throat. “You didn’t get my letter? Perhaps I had the wrong route and box number. I tell you, these country addresses!” He chuckles. Mama’s says quietly,
“She’s dead, ain’t she?”
“Yes, Mrs. Warren.” Mr Boyne pats Mama’s hand. “As you know, Miss Shane was a big believer in Christian charity.”
“Indeed,” she says, putting her other hand on top of his. She’s kinda smiling to herself.
“I’m afraid her house in Boston was left to the local Orphans Fund. But her will stated you were to inherit the contents of her safe. That amounts to nearly 3000 dollars.” He pulls a heavy envelope from his satchel. “I know it’s not the entire estate, but I’m sure you’ll find it useful.” He looks around at our one room house. “Now, I’ll just need to see some form of identification.”
“Oh, dear.” Mama strokes his arm. Her voice is funny and kinda purr-y. “I’m afraid I don’t have none.”
“No driving license?”
“I’m afraid not, sir.”
He looks down at his arm, too. “Well, perhaps you can just sign the form, then.”
“Cain’t read nor write, not even my name.”
Mama’s lying, but I don’t get why.
Mr. Boyne smiles. “Well, I’m sure we can find some kind of solution, Mrs. Warren.”
“Benjamin,” Mama purrs, “run on outside.”
After Mr. Boyne leaves in his fancy car, Mama hollers at us to come in, quick. We scrub up in the washtub and put on our warmest clothes, while she crabs at us every step.
“Hurry,” she says. “We’re goin’ into town.” Her carpet bag looks plumb full.
Henry fusses. It’s a near three-mile walk. “Hush yerself,” she says. “We gotta catch us a train.” “Where we goin’?” Henry whines. “Wherever the first train’s goin’, that’s where.” She hurries us along outside. We walk fast, the morning’s cold as heck. A mile down the road we pass our nearest neighbor, a rich old biddy whose nose is always in everything. Sure enough, she comes running outside.