Anyway, this time her baby wasn’t going to disappear into the forest; all of Mamma Barbara’s fear and sadness were replaced with a kind of exhausted happiness as each day passed and the baby grew inside her. Mamma Una, the oldest and wisest of the mammas, came to the schoolhouse to talk to Mamma Barbara one day while the younger children were at lunch.
“Sheena can take over classes until after the baby is born. Now that the harvest is over, the garden won’t take up much of her time.”
Mamma Barbara laughed. “Sheena’s hardly in any condition to do my job.”
“What do you mean?”
“Una, who will supervise the children when she nods off?”
“Irene will. Won’t you, my dear?”
I nodded reluctantly. It wasn’t that I disliked Mamma Sheena, but I couldn’t help being disturbed by her constant state of sleepiness.
“Why not just let Irene teach while I’m recuperating? It will be a good experience for her.”
I felt a blush of pride rise on my cheeks at Mamma Barbara’s words.
“She’s still a child,” Mamma Una said dismissively. “She’s too young to be left in charge.”
“You’re wrong. She’s very mature for her age.”
“And you know why that would be a problem.” Mamma Una raised her eyebrows and looked at Mamma Barbara meaningfully.
“Why would that be a problem?” I asked.
“Never you mind, young lady,” Mamma Una said. “Go inside and help Mamma Wanda with lunch.”
I frowned but left the two mammas alone. In the main house, Mamma Wanda greeted me with a brief hug. Despite my dislike of cooking and cleaning, I loved being with Mamma Wanda.