The Body in the Bouillon

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benefit was called the Holly Ball. She’d talked it over with Tom and they were going. She wanted to get a look at the attendees, and he thought they should show their support for Hubbard House—and he always liked to dance with Faith.
    Denise continued to talk about the Hubbards. “I see Dr. Hubbard quite a bit coming and going. He’s a sweetie, and I don’t see how this place could exist without him. It’s not just that he knows everyone by name, but he really knows them—their aches and pains, sorrows and joys. Donald is a good doctor, but he doesn’t have the same charisma.”
    â€œWhat’s Donald’s wife like? Does she work here too?”
    â€œCharmaine? No, she doesn’t work here. She’ll be at the ball and you can judge her for yourself. She got back from her latest cruise or spa last week, so she’s in town.”
    â€œIs she French—‘Charmaine’?”
    Denise laughed. “She might like to be taken for French, but she actually sounds more like a Georgia peach, although I have it on good authority that the Molloys, that’s her maiden—and I use the term loosely—name, were never south of Providence.”
    They finished the baskets and Denise left. She promised to put Faith and Tom at her table. “If Leandra lets me,” she added.
    â€œWho’s Leandra?” Faith asked.
    â€œYou’ll find out Wednesday night,” Denise answered, and vanished out the door.
    The kitchen was oddly still after she left, and Faith felt a heaviness in the air, which the pungent smell of overdone veal did nothing to lighten.
    â€œWhy are you so interested in the Hubbards?” Mrs. Pendergast didn’t beat around any bushes.

    Faith was momentarily taken aback.
    â€œI’m interested in Hubbard House. That’s all. You remember I told you my aunt was considering moving here, and of course I want to tell her everything I can.”
    â€œIndeed.” Mrs. Pendergast looked skeptical. “Well, tell your aunt”—her inflection suggested strong doubts as to the existence of said aunt—“that she won’t find a better-run, better-staffed retirement home in the country, and the Hubbards, all of them, are what make it that way.”
    So there.
    Faith felt her hand smarting, though an actual ruler had not been produced. She didn’t have Farley’s tray to take up, so she mumbled “Good-bye” and headed for the door.
    â€œSee you tomorrow,” Mrs. P. boomed at her retreating back.
    Upstairs, her backbone was instantly restored, and she thought she would take Dr. Hubbard up on his offer to meet him. Sylvia Vale was outside her office putting a fresh sprig of freesia in the vase. It was white again, and it appeared that much about Hubbard House was unvarying. Sylvia, however, had changed her navy suit and was resplendent in a purple, gold, and green print silk shirtwaist dress.
    In response to Faith’s request, she answered, “Of course. I should have taken you to meet Dr. Hubbard when you came, but Mrs. Pendergast was so insistent on having you report to the kitchen immediately that I never did get a chance. We’ll do it right now.” She tripped off on high heels that were dyed to match the green of her dress, and Faith followed.
    Dr. Hubbard’s office was in the front corner of one of the original Aldrich houses.
    â€œThis was the library of Deborah’s house—that was the name of the daughter Nathaniel Aldrich, the original owner, built the house for. We still call the houses Nathaniel’s and Deborah’s, as the Aldrichs always did. Dr. Hubbard has kept this house very much as it was. His son’s
office is across the hall, and there’s an apartment where Dr. Hubbard lives now at the rear of the house. Upstairs we have several residents’ rooms, a room for guests who may be visiting relatives or friends here, and Muriel’s

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