Spider Dance (Irene Adler #8) by Carole Douglas

PRELUDE: MEMOIRS OF A DANGEROUS WOMAN Exile 1847 Recognize the abyss that you are digging beneath your feet, an abyss that will swallow you up together with the monarchy if you persist in the direction you have taken. —BARON DE LOS VALLES OF SPAIN They drag me in from the balcony, kicking and screaming and brandishing my pistol. They prattle of danger from the mob outside, but I will face them off, one by one or by the tens and hundreds and thousands. I’ve always been more of a danger to myself than anyone else could ever be to me. I have said that only twice is the life of a woman not intolerably dangerous: before she is old enough to bear a child and after she is too old to bear a child. My life has been intolerably dangerous, I still reside in that danger zone, and I have given back what opposition I have gotten in full measure. Of course, dangers depend. They are not always murderous mobs. They may be runaway horses, or runaway men . . . evil tongues or tongues that don’t wag about a woman at all. (In fine, I would rather be the victim of calumny than of indifference.) Dangers can be unwanted children, or, as equally,
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