• The reader is introduced to Mildred Lathbury, an over-30 spinster who lives in an apartment in London.
• Mildred is very involved in the church and has made friends with her pastor and his sister.
• Mildred lives by an extremely strict moral code.
• Mildred meets her new neighbor, Helena Napier, in the basement by the dustbins. This location embarrasses Mildred.
• Mildred compares the bright Helena to her mousy self.
• Mildred learns about Helena, who is an anthropologist who recently returned from Africa. Helena's husband is in the Army, currently stationed in Italy, but will be returning soon.
• Mildred has dinner with the Malorys and learns that someone has given an unexpected donation anonymously.
• The Malorys decide to rent out some of their rooms in their house.
• Mildred learns about Helena's colleague, Everard Bone, who also went to Africa with her. Mildred sees Everard at mass.
• Rockingham Napier...
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