The move was on. As yet, tension was low. The next steps, the steps that follow from an initial decision, were still to be undertaken. The family sat around the table to discuss these next steps. Apprehension jostled excitement. The window framed the deep valley below the house: there was regret in the thought of leaving this home.
“Where will we go to school?”
This was an expected question and the answer was simple. “We don’t know until we find a house.”
This was clearly the next step to be taken.
They bought the city newspapers and searched the rental columns. Three bed-roomed houses to let were scarce and expensive. Thea telephoned the city estate agents to ask to be put on their lists of prospective clients, explaining their position and requirements. She was met with derisive snorts. But she persisted, scanning the newspaper columns daily and telephoning the agents almost as often.
Warned that it was necessary to book early, Wilfred telephoned a furniture removal company. After ascertaining the date for the removal, the company employee asked for the address to which the furniture was to be delivered. Wilfred explained that as yet no address was available, but as soon as he was able to give them one he would call back.
“Do you wish us to book storage for the furniture in case you run into problems?”
“No thank you. We are sure that we will have an address before we move.”
At meal times the discussion centred on houses. Everybody had a wish-list. Youngest to oldest they all scanned the “To Let” columns, highlighting possibilities. Family prayer time majored on the matter of bricks and mortar. And the days passed.
Thea phoned Molly. Molly was a friend. Her vocation was to be wife and mother of the year.
“Molly, I have just been speaking with Wilkes and English, the estate agents. We cannot spare the time to come to the city to look at houses. If a possibility comes onto their books may they call on you to have a look at it on our behalf, please?”
Molly sounded dubious. “Will they accept that, Thea? Most of these agents are pretty difficult to deal with, and I really don’t want to sign you up to a six or twelve month lease when you haven’t seen the place.”
“You won’t need to do that, Molly. Mr. English has very kindly agreed that if you are prepared to vouch for us and to ensure that the house would be suitable, that is all he will ask. We won’t be there until late on the Saturday – depending on the removals people – so we would ask for you to collect the key and we would pick it up from you and sort out the lease on Monday. Would you be happy to do that? I know it is a lot to ask ...”
“Oh, I’m happy to vouch for you, you know that! Yes, I think that will be okay, provided he doesn’t expect me to run around all over town looking at all sorts of houses.”
“I doubt that, Molly. He has a pretty fair idea of what we are looking for, and houses seem to be almost as scarce as hen’s teeth, anyway. But Wilkes and English are the only agents who have made any sort of offer to help at all. Thanks a ton, Molly, I’ll keep in touch.”
Two days to go. The removals company telephoned.
“Do you have an address? We need an address so we can plan our deliveries. We have another house move at the same time.”
“Sorry. We don’t have an address yet.”
“Shall we store?” The man sounded desperate.
“No. I am sure we will have an address. Please don’t plan to store.”
“We’ll have to pick you up first then. That means you will be delivered last and it may be late, but that can’t be helped.”
“Thank you. Thank you, too, for your patience.”
It was close to closing time on Friday. Goodbyes and good luck wishes were in spate when the telephone rang.
“Thea Masters? English here. There is a small three bed-roomed house come in. Your friend has seen it. It is the only one available, a deceased estate. I have discussed your tenancy with the Witt family. Shall I give the key to your friend?” He acknowledged her gratitude. “Right. I’ll see you on Monday, then.”
Thea twirled happily. “Now we have a house to go to!”
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