Separated as he was from the groups of men and women who are responsible for what we call the opinion of society, and independent himself of any fettering conventionalities, he had grown careless of what anybody might say. He only hoped, since his ward had found her proper work, that she would hold to it, and of this he had little doubt. The girl herself quickly lost sight of the fancied difficulty of making the great decision, and, as is usually the case, saw all the first objections and hindrances fade away into a dim distance, and grow less and less noticeable. And more than that, it seemed to her as if she had taken every step of her life straight toward this choice of a profession. So many things she had never understood before, now became perfectly clear and evident proofs that, outside her own preferences and choices, a wise purpose had been at work with her and for her. So it all appeared more natural every day, and while she knew that the excitement and formality of the first very uncomfortable day or two had proved her freedom of choice, it seemed the more impossible that she should have shirked this great commission and trust for which nature had fitted her.
A STRAIGHT COURSE
The next year or two was spent in quiet life at home. It was made evident that, beside her inclination and natural fitness for her chosen work, our student was also developing the other most important requisite, a capacity for hard study and patient continuance. There had been as little said as possible about the plan, but it was not long before the propriety of it became a favorite subject of discussion. It is quite unnecessary, perhaps, to state that everybody had his or her own opinion of the wisdom of such a course, and both Dr. Leslie and his ward suffered much reproach and questioning, as the comments ranged from indignation to amusement. But it was as true of Nan’s calling, as of all others, that it would be her own failure to make it respected from which any just contempt might come, and she had thrown herself into her chosen career with such zeal, and pride, and affectionate desire to please her teacher, that the small public who had at first jeered or condemned her came at last to accepting the thing as inevitable and a matter of course, even if they did not actually approve. There was such a vigorous determination in the minds of the doctor and his pupil that Nan should not only be a doctor but a good one, that anything less than a decided fitness for the profession would have doomed them both to disappointment, even with such unwearied effort and painstaking. In the earlier years of his practice Dr. Leslie had been much sought as an instructor, but he had long since begun to deny the young men who had wished to be his students, though hardly one had ever gone from the neighborhood of Oldfields who did not owe much to him for his wise suggestions and practical help.