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When Leonard and Ann's automobile breaks down on The Dover Road, an infamous English thoroughfare used by lovers who are escaping by boat to France, their chauffeur, Saunders, escorts them to the home of the mysterious Mr. Latimer, who claims they are in a hotel. After being compelled to spend the night, Leonard and Ann finally realize Saunders was paid to bring them there. Latimer, a rich bachelor, then explains that his hobby is forcing impassioned couples to spend a week together before embarking on the long road of marriage, in order to prevent unhappy alliances. Latimer also tells them that another couple, whose "probation" is up the next day, is staying at the house. The following morning, the other couple is revealed to be Leonard's wife Eustacia and her ill lover Nicholas. Eustacia's biggest complaint about Leonard is that he never became ill so she could take care of him, whereas Nicholas caught a bad cold the first day at Latimer's. When Ann comes down to breakfast, Latimer imitates Leonard so that she might practice her marital behavior, but she insists that Latimer bring their car around. Leonard then wakes with a nasty cold, and while Ann is unsympathetic, Eustacia enters and cossets him. While Leonard and Eustacia resume their marital roles, Nicholas and Ann become acquainted, but by the third day, when Ann asks Nicholas for money to get home, he realizes the affair is a lost cause. Both men admit they are fed up with women and plan to escape from England. Latimer, meanwhile, schemes to make one of his servants ill to draw Eustacia's attention away from Leonard, and he himself pretends to contract uralgia, drawing Ann's sympathies. Although Latimer expresses his love to Ann, she takes off in his car. Before she has gotten very far, however, she discovers that Latimer is in the car with her and is determined to take her to Dover.