You rush back to Jane and the letter, dismissing all thoughts of the balloon and its gift. She holds the letter steadily open in her hands.
“What is it?” you ask.
Jane clears her throat, melodramatically, and starts to read in her clear, brassy voice.
“Greetings! Well, I must say: what a situation you are in! I heard about your little predicament with Mr. Cooke. I daresay that he’s not a very pleasant man. Oh well, things will change. But, for the time-being, whilst you are still under his thumb and his debt, I have a little solution that might brighten things up.
“In my town, the local shop owner, Mr. Greene, is far kinder. His shop is bright and I’m sure that you’d like it. We (the townspeople) managed to convince him to upgrade it a few months ago. It still has that new sparkle in it.
“So, this is my proposition: come and stay with me for a while. I’m inviting you to view the lovely town I live in and get away from the seclusion that you sometimes mention. Perhaps, when you see the shopping district, you’ll be inspired to suggest so improvements to your Mr. Cooke, eh? We’re even allowed to design our own clothing here!”
You just stare down at the letter, surprised.
“Well, would you look at that.” says Jane, “I didn’t get an invite. Just lucky you.”
“You have plenty of things to do around here still. You’ll have even more when- if I go away,” you find yourself consoling your big sister. You’re still not sure yourself what to do.
Should you accept your pen-friend’s suggestion and go out, into the big, wide world, to see her town, or would it be a safer, better idea to stay put? After all, you still need to work to earn enough money to pay off Mr. Cooke... But maybe Katy is right when she is suggesting a change of pace. Jane and Max will be fine on their own, as they have basically been self-sustaining right from the beginning, and they’ll be able to do the jobs that you won’t be here for…even if they don’t really want to!
Who knows? Maybe you’ll think up a scheme there which will provide you with the greatest amount of money you’ve ever wanted. Or not.