Return to the Quintet Page

A Synopsis of
A Novella By Hugh Aaron

Dr. Banner, a Nobel prize winning scientist, and her companion/assistant, Justine, hire Pete, a newly enrolled student at the University of Chicago and a World War II veteran, to tend their neglected garden. The doctor is declining physically, and is depressed. Both women have cut off all contact with the outside world. But, as the garden is restored, the women are heartened by its revival. They also find themselves warming to their fresh, vigorous, dedicated young hiree.

Pete introduces the women to his girlfriend Vicki who is a dedicated piano student and to his brilliant college friend Lenny who has a large record collection. Lenny confides to Justine his parental and homosexual problems. During a record concert in the doctor's home, Vicki is persuaded to play on the concert grand that had been gathering dust in the living room, revealing her enormous talent. Here we learn that the Doctor also had ambitions to become a concert pianist but failed at it. The record concert goes on all night until all fall asleep and do not awake until morning.

Soon there is a falling out between Dr. Banner and Pete over his relationship with Vicki. Other problems are explored: Lenny's drinking habit and Vicki's parents' anti-semitism concerning which Justine wisely counsels her young friends.

Months later Pete knocks on the women's door and learns that the doctor who is failing, perhaps fatally, cannot see him. The garden is in disarray. Justine and Dr. Banner agree to end their now useless lives in a suicide pact. Pete and Lenny break into the house and discover both women dead. At their graves, Pete, who plans to become a journalist, and feeling guilty over his last hostile words with the doctor, promises to keep their memory alive through his writing.

Return to the Quintet Page
©2018 Stones Point Press