The Body in the Bouillon

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Authors: Katherine Hall Page
right. I was being less than direct. Falling into one’s soup as a last mortal act is slightly ludicrous, and it might be better if people were not reminded of it by your presence. Not that anyone in town thinks you had anything to do with it.”
    â€œBalderdash, with an emphasis on the first syllable. It’s the bell all over again. When tales are told hundreds of years hence, the one about the minister’s wife who desecrated a landmark and was a suspected poisoner is going to be a favorite to pass the time while traveling from planet to planet. I’m surprised Millicent hasn’t called. But don’t worry, darling. I hadn’t planned on attending the funeral and I’m not mad at you for not wanting me there and not saying so, although I probably should be.”
    â€œNo, you shouldn’t, and if trying not to hurt your wife’s feelings …” Faith closed his mouth with a kiss. The conversation was going nowhere, and with Ben fast asleep, they were wasting precious time.
    Millicent called as they were going upstairs—ostensibly to find out when the service would be. Tom answered the phone and decided not to give Faith a report of the conversation, which was all Faith had predicted and more. There was no question in Millicent’s mind. If Farley had had a decent Yankee lunch of Welsh rarebit on toast, her own personal favorite, he’d be alive today.
    The next morning Faith was back at Hubbard House. As she drove into the parking lot, she felt increasingly apprehensive about what Mrs. Pendergast would say. She
pushed open the kitchen door slowly and peeked in. Mrs. P. turned around. There was no preamble.
    â€œNow it wasn’t your fault. What you need to do is forget about the whole thing and get busy with this fruit cup here.”
    Faith walked across the room toward her.
    â€œOf course,” she continued, “can’t say anybody ever dropped dead in my food.”
    She could kiss any idea of further food preparation good-bye, Faith realized, and reluctantly let go of her lofty plans for a culinary revolution at Hubbard House.
    Denise arrived by the time Faith and Mrs. Pendergast had started to set out the breads and again offered to help. She put her hand on Faith’s shoulder.
    â€œI heard about the soup mishap. I hope you’re not feeling upset about it. Farley had some good innings.”
    â€œI know, but I do feel a little guilty, although I realize it had nothing to do with what he was eating.”
    â€œIt’s always so difficult when someone here dies. I don’t say ‘passes on’ or ‘goes to his maker.’ It’s death, and I’d like to say I don’t plan on going, but unfortunately I know better. One of the ways I have gotten to know better is by being here. So many of the residents have made their peace with life—or death, depending on your point of view. They’re not eager to go, yet accepting. Quite a few of them work for Hospice and help see each other out. I’d like to have a good friend by my side when I’m near the end.”
    â€œAnd you will,” Faith assured her. They worked for a while in companionable silence; then Faith thought the time had come to ask some questions about the Hubbards.
    â€œI met Muriel Hubbard the other day, but none of the rest of the family. Do you know them well?”
    â€œI know them, but I wouldn’t say well. We’re all so busy doing our own individual things here that we don’t get to know each other unless we see one another outside. And that lets Muriel out right away. I don’t think she ever leaves the place except for an occasional shopping trip and
church. In fact, she may even do her shopping by mail, so it’s just church. I’ll be surprised if she’s at the Holly Ball Wednesday night. She usually stays here to keep an eye on things. You’re going though, I hope.”
    Faith had forgotten the

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