Another day passes, and in her head Minny can hear Miss Hilly reading the lines of her book. The scream is coming. Aibileen told her about the conversation she overheard at the grocery store, but nothing has happened since. Leroy still looks at her as if he knows something, but he has not said anything. Minny is startled when she looks up and sees Aibileen at her screen door; her friend gestures for her to come outside quietly, so Minny extricates herself from her family and joins her at the side of the house. Aibileen is visibly upset.
Miss Hilly’s maid, Ernestine, called Aibileen and said Miss Hilly is telling all the white people she knows to fire their maids based on the stories told in their book—and she is not even making correct guesses. She is on a rampage of spite, and so far at least one maid has been fired. Even Miss Lou Anne is considering firing Louvenia—and possibly even sending her to jail—simply because Miss Hilly told her to. The two women do not know what will happen if Miss Hilly does not finish reading the book soon. Leroy is standing at the door quietly; Minny says good-bye and goes inside.
At five-thirty the next morning, Leroy falls into bed next to a restless Minny and then, in a whisper, asks her what the big secret is. When she does not answer him, he hisses at her that he will find out. Then he falls asleep. Minny is thankful that she has the protection of an unborn baby; without that, he would undoubtedly beat her again. Everyone thinks Minny is strong, and she is; but they would be shocked to see the “pathetic mess” she becomes when her husband is beating her. She asked him once why he hits her, and he told her he was not sure what would become of her if he did not. That is the question Minny is asking herself: what could she become if Leroy did not beat her?
Minny sends everyone to bed early the next night, and she falls into a heavy sleep. This baby is already bigger than any of her others were, and she is only six months pregnant. If it is twins, she does not want to know. Suddenly she sits straight up, afraid, and looks around to see who is there. Then she realizes it is the thing they have all been waiting on—she hears Miss Hilly’s scream.