“Thabi Malebane? I’m Mr Gordon Pritchard. I am a lawyer representing the late Mr Ben Katz.”
Thabi went pale. A lawyer?
“Is it about the keys to Mr Katz’s house, sir?” she babbled. “I’m very sorry I took them. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know what else to do with them. I was scared to leave them at the house in case someone found them. I’ll bring them to you this evening, I’m very sorry…”
“Calm down,” the man smiled, and patted her arm. “Won’t you sit for a moment?”
Thabi looked back at Mrs Ram. She was watching with a face like thunder. “I…I’m not allowed to, sir.”
“Miss Malebane,” the man said calmly. “Sit down.” He got up and pulled out a chair.
With an anxious glance at Mrs Ram, Thabi sat on the edge of the chair. She fiddled with the hem of her apron and waited for the man to tell her what trouble she was in. Maybe his family had found out she’d told him to go home when he was sick. Maybe they were suing her? Tears ran down her cheeks. “I’m sorry I told him to go home on Friday,” she sobbed. “He was too sick. But my boss told me to throw him out or she would fire me.”
“I understand you were the person who found him in his garden and called the ambulance?”
“What were you doing there?”
“I went to see if he was alright.” Her voice dropped: “I had a burger for him. He seemed so hungry always. I’m sorry sir. I know I shouldn’t have taken it. Please don’t fire me. Please don’t call the police…”
The man clicked open his briefcase and took out an envelope. “Calm down, Miss Malebane.” He took out a sheaf of papers. “What I have here is the Last Will and Testament of my late client, Mr Ben Katz.”
Thabi’s heart began to thud. Why was he telling her this? Had Mr Katz left her something?
“Mr Katz named you as a beneficiary in his will,” Mr Pritchard said, licking his finger and turning the pages.
What did old Mr Katz have to leave? Thabi thought. He wore ragged old clothes. He couldn’t afford to feed himself. Maybe he left me a hundred rand, she decided. Shame. Always so kind.
“He was a very kind gentleman,” she said. Suddenly she felt all hot and bothered. She picked up the menu and fanned herself.
“You’re a very fortunate young woman,” Mr Pritchard said, smiling at her. “Mr Katz was a wealthy gentleman, and he has left you everything.”
“Oh my God!” screamed Thabi, fanning herself faster. “It can’t be true. He was poor.”
“I believe you still have the keys for his cottage?” Mr Pritchard said. “It’s yours now. And if you care to come into my office tomorrow morning, we can go through the paperwork, and I’ll explain everything to you.”
Thabi glanced over to Mrs Ram. The old woman was standing by the till, hands on hips, glowering at her.
“I… I have to work tomorrow,” she said. “I only just got my job back today. Mrs Ram won’t give me time off.” She got to her feet. “I… I have to get back to work now sir, or Mrs Ram will fire me again…”
“Thabi,” Mr Pritchard said, taking her hand and pulling her down into the chair again. “You’re not getting what I’m telling you. With the money Mr Katz left you in his will, you need never work again. You’ll have enough money to buy this coffee shop, if that’s what you want.”
Thabi stood up again. She felt the blood draining from her head. Everything went black.
Tell us what you think: Is it true? Is Thabi a rich woman? Or will Mrs Ram make trouble for her?