A spilled cup raises some obvious questions, even if the liquid flowing out of it isn’t a suggestive blood red. What happened to prevent the cup’s contents, or at least most of them, from being drunk? Poisoning isn’t a given, but it seems like some sort of betrayal would have to be, because no one would fill their cup if they expected some violence that would result in its being spilled.

I mean, sure, we could just be dealing with somebody who’s a huge klutz, but if that was the case, their spillage probably wouldn’t be given this kind of dramatic weight. As with the cover for Chapter 6, I’m mildly surprised this isn’t a more popular motif.

Like a lot of Guilded Age covers, especially early ones, this one does double duty. It shows something that will literally appear in a scene with Gravedust, but the poisoned cup of seeming friendship is also a metaphor for what Gravedust’s fellow heroes will get from their avian guide, at more or less the same time.