THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE
Mary, would you like a cup of tea?" Dorothea asked as she poked her head
out of the kitchen. "I just brewed a fresh pot."
"Yes, dear, that would be
nice." Mary laid the book she'd been reading down onto the coffee
table and reached out to take the cup and saucer from Dorothea. She looked
up at her housekeeper as she sipped her tea and noticed a look of distress on
her face. Mary immediately grew concerned.
"Dottie, what's wrong? You look
as if something's on your mind."
"I could never hide anything from you,
Miss Mary." Dorothea's shoulders slumped and she let out a heavy
sigh. "It's that boy of mine. He's gotten it into his head that
I shouldn't be working here for you. I told him where I worked and
for whom was none of his concern, but that Calvin can be so
Mary lifted her hand to gently cradle her
chin as she thought about her own confrontation with Calvin a few weeks
earlier. He'd insisted that she fire Dorothea. He refused to allow her to
continue working as a modern day slave. Mary had been quite
offended by his comments.
"I've tried to show both Calvin and
Naomi that honest work is good work, no matter what the job."
Dorothea walked over to the side table and picked up the photograph of her and
her children that Mary kept there on display. She smiled with the
knowledge that Miss Mary viewed her as more than a servant. Mary often
commented on how she thought of Dottie and her children as part of her own
"Dottie, I'm sure they both understand
"I'm not. Well, not any
more." She sat the picture back down and lowered her head to hide her
emotions. "Naomi refuses to even speak to me. She was always so
embarrassed by what I do for a living. She completely forgot that my work
paid for those fancy singing lessons of hers and the ballet classes. Do
you know how hard it is to find an instructor who'll even consider taking
on a little colored girl as a student?"
"Naomi always showed such
promise." Mary remembered being on the front row next to Dottie for
Naomi's first recital. They'd both been so proud of her.
"Yes, but she threw it all away!
She ran off to New York and starting singing in some smoky dive. I keep
sending her letters, but they keep coming back unopened. Now
Calvin...well, he was my pride and joy. As difficult as Naomi could be, he
was always the one who did exactly what I wanted. He was the one who
"Children grow up, Dottie.
Sometimes the paths that they choose aren't always the ones we think are
best." Mary thought for a moment about her own daughter's
"Calvin seems so determined to make
sure I leave you."
"Um, yes, Dottie, I know."
Mary hesitated for a moment. Should she reveal Calvin's visit and their
subsequent disagreement? Finally, she decided that Dottie needed to know
exactly how determined her son was to interfere in her life. "Calvin
came to see me the other day. He wanted to talk about my employment of
"Oh, Miss Mary!" Dorothea
quickly moved to her side and sat down next to her. "I certainly hope
that boy of mine didn't say anything out of line! I've raised him better
"No, Dottie, he tried to be very
polite and respectful." She paused and took a breath.
"However, he was very insistent that I fire you. He said that
he wanted better for you than working as a slave to white people. I-I have
to confesses that I was a little taken aback. I never realized that
he had such animosity towards me."
"I am so sorry, Miss
Mary," Dorothea said as she lifted her hand to her mouth and shook her head
in disbelief. "I'm so sorry for that boy's behavior. You know
I've raised him better than that! I promise you that something like that
will never happen again. He knows better! I just don't know
what's gotten into that head of his."
"Dottie, it's alright."
Mary reached out and placed a reassuring hand on Dorothea's leg. "He
acted the way he did only because he loves you and is concerned for you.
Granted, that concern is misplaced, but I understand it."
"Well, I assure you that I'm going to
have a good talk with that boy!" Dottie shot up out of her seat and
began to pace. "I'm going to straighten him out once and for
"Don't be too hard on him,
"I'm gong to straighten him out if I
have to turn him over my knee and tan his hide to do it!"
Mary shook her head and sighed. She
knew that she and Dorothea were right in their position, but couldn't discount
the validity of Calvin's concerns. Mary didn't like being the cause of
conflict between a mother and her child. She prayed that Dorothea could
change Calvin's mind about her work before he took more drastic measures.