Mr J.L.B. Matekoni moved forward and placed a comforting hand on the maid's shoulder.
"Do not worry, Florence," he said. "She is a good woman, and I shall make sure that you will get another job. I have a cousin who has that hotel near the bus station. He needs maids and if I ask him to give you a job he will do so."
This did not pacify the maid. "I do not want to work in a hotel, where everyone is treated like a slave," she said. "I am not a do-this, do-that maid. I am a high-class maid, suitable for private houses. Oh! Oh! I am finished now. You are finished too if you marry this fat woman. She will break your bed. You will surely die very quickly. This is the end for you."
Mr J.L.B. Matekoni glanced at Mma Ramotswe, signalling that they should leave the kitchen. It would be better, he thought, if the maid could recover in private. He had not imagined that the news would be well received, but he had certainly not envisaged her uttering such embarrassing and disturbing prophecies. The sooner he spoke to the cousin and arranged the transfer to the other job, the better.
They went back to the sitting room, closing the door firmly behind them.
"Your maid is a difficult woman," said Mma Ramotswe.
"She is not easy," said Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. "But I think that we have no choice. She must go to that other job."
Mma Ramotswe nodded. He was right. The maid would have to go, but so would they. They could not live in this house, she thought, even if it had a bigger yard. They would have to put in a tenant and move to Zebra Drive. Her own maid was infinitely better and would look after both of them extremely well. In no time at all, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni would begin to put on weight, and look more like the prosperous garage owner he was. She glanced about the room. Was there anything at all that they would need to move from this house to hers? The answer, she thought, was probably no. All that Mr J.L.B. Matekoni needed to bring was a suitcase containing his clothes and his bar of carbolic soap. That was all.
Excerpted from Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith. Copyright © 2000 by Alexander McCall Smith. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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