Scanned, proofed and corrected from the original hardcover edition for enjoyable reading. (Worth every penny spent!)
A Boston attorney is injured on the road while traveling by buggy in Maine. His rescuer, who stabilizes his fractures and transports him to town for continued care, turns out, much to the patient's dismay, to be not only an attractive woman, but a very competent physician. As the attorney becomes increasingly aware of the quality of medical care he is receiving, he also finds himself falling in love with his doctor.
The work is replete with demonstrations of Dr. Zay's skill as physician, her humanity, and her professional commitment. Eventually her resistance to her suitor's offers of marriage is worn down, but she demands a contract which guarantees she will be able to continue the practice of medicine after the wedding. Set in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the novel romanticizes the practice of rural medicine and the contemporaneous view of late Victorian women pursuing this "masculine" profession.
An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:
"To my nephew, Waldo Yorke, of Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts, all such properties of mine as are vested in shipping, timber, or lumber, in the town of Sherman, in this State."
This was vague, but the more stimulating. What can compare with the bewitchment of arduous pursuit for uncertain privilege? There is an Orphean power well known to reside in testamentary documents, whereby the insignificant legacy will draw the most imposing fortune to dance attendance upon its possession. But it is doubtful if Waldo Yorke, of Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts, would have found himself inspired to a personal investigation of his departed relative's kind intentions concerning himself, but for a certain constitutional sensitiveness to this allurement attending the pursuit of unknown results.
"Send a lawyer, Waldo." His mother had said this over the coffee for which she delicately prescribed the proper Yorke admixture from Sèvres creamer. She spoke with the slightly peremptory accent which certain mothers retain, wither from force of habit or from intrinsic delight in the sound, long after the expectation of filial submission has become a myth of the Golden Age. Mrs. Yorke was a handsome woman, who wore point applicqué. She was lame.
Her son had reminded her that in sending Waldo Yorke he really was not far from doing the precise, if remarkable, thing of which she spoke.
"Quite true," said the lady. "I had forgotten. Your having a profession so seldom occurs to one, Waldo. And cousin Don would have been glad to go, now the season is over at the Club. He has nothing else to do."
"I am somewhat overborne with that calamity myself, mother," the young man had said, coloring slightly. "I don't think we will discuss the thing; I am going to hunt up Uncle Jed's legacy."
Mrs. Yorke had not discussed the thing. Although not even indulgently talked of as "rising" in his profession, this idle, strong-limbed, restless son of hers had incisive preferences, with which she was familiar, as well as with his somewhat sturdy methods of executing them. And although they had only each other to be "beholden to" in all the world,--that is to say, in Beacon Street, -they were accustomed to yield one another the large liberty of assured affection. A summer of separation was to be expected, when one was the lame old mother of a nervous young men Mrs. Yorke had kissed her son good-by royally, and here he was.
Here he was, lazily riding at the laziest hour of the sleepy noon, -- he and the sensitive horse he had been so fortunate as to find in Bangor for the trip. He had been alone with the pony and his own thoughts, through the magnificent Maine wilderness, for now two long, memorable days. An older traveler than young Yorke would have found them valuable days. He had chosen the land route, seventy-two miles from Bangor. He had a certain kind of thirst for solitude, which comes only to the city born and bred; most keenly to the young, and most passionately to the over-tasked. Waldo Yorke had never be over-tasked in his life. He leaned to the splendor through which he journeyed, enthusiastically, but criticised Nature, like an amateur, while he drank.