As Avery pulls up to Magnolia Manor—the nursing home Judy lives in—she remembers what it was like before it was converted into a nursing home. In fact, Magnolia Manor is where Honeybee first set eyes on Wells Stafford and decided to pursue him, thus uniting two powerful political families. The estate is still beautiful but has been modified to make sure the residents—many of whom have dementia—can’t slip away. Avery walks into Judy’s room wondering if Judy will recognize her or not. Although Judy politely greets and hugs her, Avery knows Judy doesn’t quite recognize her. Aside from being upset that Judy is losing so many of her memories, Avery is worried that Judy is having a rough day and won’t be able to answer questions about May Crandall.
The living conditions in Magnolia Manor are a far cry from those involved in the recent nursing home scandal that Wells has been loosely linked to. This contrast highlights the fact that the Staffords belong to a very privileged upper class. This means they never have to worry about whether or not Judy is being properly cared for. Especially taken alongside the total vulnerability of Rill’s family in the previous chapter, this scene highlights the enormous extent to which socioeconomic status can shape families’ lives.
Avery fills Judy in on the family news and they talk about the town hall meeting Wells and Avery attended the day before. Judy speaks glowingly of Wells and disparages his political opponents, saying that they’ll never catch a Stafford “meddling in the dirt” no matter how much they want to. Avery shifts the conversation to May Crandall and asks Judy if she knows the name. Although Judy acts like she’s thinking about the name, Avery can tell that Judy recognizes it. Judy stares intently at Avery and asks why Avery wants to know. Avery explains that she met May the day before and Judy says that May probably just knows of the Staffords—and that people look for a scandal. Avery is stunned by Judy’s words about a scandal and asks if the family has any skeletons in the closet. Judy assures her they don’t.
The fact that Judy won’t just admit to knowing May even though Avery sees she recognizes the name indicates that there is some kind of a secret. If anything, Judy is worried that Avery might know too much about what this secret is if she already knows May’s name, which is why Judy asks Avery to explain her curiosity. However, Judy unwittingly reveals the fact that there is a secret by alluding to the possibility of a scandal, something that Avery hasn’t seriously considered as a possibility yet.
Avery shows Judy the picture she took of the photo in May’s room and asks Judy if she recognizes the people in it. In her mind, Avery wonders if they’re “woodpile relatives.” Judy murmurs the word “Queenie” to herself and tears well up in her eyes before she turns back to Avery and tells her that they can’t let anyone know about Arcadia. Avery’s mind swirls as she tries to get more information about what “Queenie” and “Arcadia” mean, but Judy shushes her as a nurse comes in to give them coffee and cookies. Avery theorizes that Arcadia might be a town as she gathers her stuff to leave. As she gets ready to go, Judy says, “Be careful, Rill” and explains that there are ears everywhere. As Avery leaves, she decides she must start digging to find out what Judy’s words mean.
By “woodpile relatives,” Avery means people related to the Staffords who do not share their wealth, power, and privilege but who might want to. Avery thinks that the existence of such relatives would be a bad scandal because having poor relatives is somewhat shameful in her social circle. Judy calls Avery Rill, which is the second time Avery’s been mistaken for someone else that she doesn’t know in two days. This is unsettling to Avery and adds to the sense that there is something more serious going on that her grandma is hiding.