I entered the house and sensed it. Someone powerful had occupied this place.
Not unlike the time Father, a prominent New York banker, took us to visit President Garfield’s office in the White House. Father and the President had been outside in the garden. Mother and I had been talking, just above a whisper, about the elegant furniture and art in the room. I’d risen out of a handsome leather settee and moved about, my fingers following the outline of his desk and chair. “Sit down, child,” Mother had said in a stern whisper.
In this small unassuming house in the woods, the feeling was strangely similar. It was strongest when I approached a fine roll-top desk—the only piece of furniture in the room. I ran my fingers across its ribbed cover and turned to the agent.
Reading my curious expression. “Don’t know why he left that handsome desk.”
A bolt of curiosity stiffened me. Could it be? “The Doctor who cured that little boy?” The New York Times had headlined it as Town Quick to Embrace Quack. Had the good Lord guided me to his very residence? Or was it just coincidence? Or perhaps the agent, aware of my medical background, simply chose to show me a house once occupied by a ‘doctor’.
“So they say. Curious fellow. A recluse of sorts.” He opened a few windows to let in some air.
Had I not been expelled from medical college, I would have left New York to join top researchers in Germany, France, or Sweden. But I suppose the good Lord had other plans. My father’s recent death had been hard enough but when Mother died so suddenly, I’d lost my rock, my anchor, my keel. I’d sunk into depression and found relief in laudanum. My absences rose and my grades fell. My ignominious expulsion quickly followed. I didn’t want to stay in New York. Nor did I feel the need to marry. Who would want me? I bore the weight of a social outcast. There goes the girl who threw away a fine medical career. The drug addict. The foolish child. The recriminations went on and on. So being of age, I made arrangements to sell our two- story colonial and head west.