Dangerous Days (Chapter 1, page 1 of 18)

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Chapter 1

Natalie Spencer was giving a dinner. She was not an easy hostess. Like
most women of futile lives she lacked a sense of proportion, and
the small and unimportant details of the service absorbed her. Such
conversation as she threw at random, to right and left, was trivial and

Yet the dinner was an unimportant one. It had been given with an eye
more to the menu than to the guest list, which was characteristic of
Natalie's mental processes. It was also characteristic that when the
final course had been served without mishap, and she gave a sigh of
relief before the gesture of withdrawal which was a signal to the other
women, that she had realized no lack in it. The food had been good, the
service satisfactory. She stood up, slim and beautifully dressed, and
gathered up the women with a smile.

The movement found Doctor Haverford, at her left, unprepared and with
his coffee cup in his hand. He put it down hastily and rose, and the
small cup overturned in its saucer, sending a smudge of brown into the

"Dreadfully awkward of me!" he said. The clergyman's smile of apology
was boyish, but he was suddenly aware that his hostess was annoyed. He
caught his wife's amiable eyes on him, too, and they said quite plainly
that one might spill coffee at home--one quite frequently did, to
confess a good man's weakness--but one did not do it at Natalie
Spencer's table. The rector's smile died into a sheepish grin.

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