With Few Allies, Cheney Faces Two Enemies Superstition and Greed
Cheney Duvall proved to be an excellent doctor to "Mercer's Belles" on the sea voyage to Washington Territory, but doors of further opportunity remained shut. Despite having graduated with honors from a prestigious university as one of only a handful of female physicians in 1865, Cheney continues to find herself being summarily rejected because she is a woman.
Returning to her parents' home in Philadelphia with her nurse, Shiloh Irons, Cheney finds a letter from a dear friend pleading that she come to a remote spot in the Ozark Mountains. The friend is having a baby, and there are no doctors available in the primitive wilderness of Wolf County, Arkansas. Though she is warned about the mountain folks, Cheney feels compelled to go and provide medical care to her friend and the community.
But the warnings prove true. The people are superstitious, illiterate, hopelessly resistant to medical science, and hate Yankee especially educated Yankee female doctors. She also finds her way blocked by a medicine woman of powerful influence among the mountain people. The big land companies further complicate Cheney's efforts, and then she becomes the target for a bullet-