People always think that Mr. James Ripley is a lucky man. His father is a doctor in Hoyland. Mr. Ripley has got a diploma and now he can also work as a doctor here. His father has shared some patients with him. Later, the old doctor had moved to England and had given all his patients to his son. Mr. Ripley is the only doctor in this village. He earns a lot of money, but he spends some money on his horses.
Dr. James Ripley has never been married. He is 32 years old. He is serious and firm. He often communicates with ladies, but they are not interested in him. They need him only as a doctor. He isn’t fond of picnics or dancing, he prefers reading books and magazines about medicine.
His job is his passion. He doesn’t want to have a daily routine. He wants to become smarter and smarter. He is proud of himself, because he knows a lot about medicine and can help patients with serious diseases. Mr. Ripley is responsible and hard-working.
He doesn’t like competitors. He has seen only three of them during his career. One of them has been ill and has treated himself for 18 months. Unfortunately, he was not a good doctor and therefore he died. The other one was too lazy to study so he bought a degree. He has been so happy that he has gone to a better place. The last one had stolen everything from the house he had lived in. What’s more, he didn’t pay the bills and had run away.
One day, Mr. Ripley sees that somebody lives in a new house and he is really shocked. He sees a sign which says: “Doctor Verrinder Smith”.
Doctor Ripley tries to find out more about this stranger, who can be really dangerous. He is surprised that Verrinder Smith has worked in universities in Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin and Vienna. The doctor is very successful in doing different research. Mr. Ripley wonders why this doctor wants to work in this small village. Mr. Ripley wants to visit the new doctor. He thinks they can get on well with each other.
The house where the new doctor lives is clean. Mr. Ripley sees an umbrella and a woman’s hat in the corridor. The doctor is married. That’s a pity! They will not be able to spend so much time together then. There are so many new instruments in the doctor’s office. There are also many bookcases full of books in German and French. He wants to look at all these books. The door behind him opens and it makes him turn around. Dr. Ripley can see a short woman with a pale face.
“Good afternoon, Dr. Ripley,” she said.
“Good afternoon, lady,” the doctor said. “Isn’t your husband at home?”
“I haven’t got a husband,” the lady answered.
“I’m really sorry. I’m looking for Doctor Verrinder Smith,” Mr. Ripley said.
“I’m Doctor Verrinder Smith,” the woman replied.
Doctor Ripley is shocked. His hat falls on the floor.
“How?” He asked.
“So…I’m sorry I’m not a man,” she replied.
“I am surprised,” he said, picking up his hat.
“What do you have against women as doctors?” She asked.
“Women can lose their privileges,” he answered.
“Do you think women can’t be smart? Do you think they can’t earn money?” She asked with an angry face.
“I don’t want to argue with you, Miss Smith,” Dr. Ripley said.
“Doctor Smith,” she said.
“If you want to know the answer, Doctor Smith, I will tell you. I don’t think that women can be as perfect doctors as men can be.”
It sounds so rude and Doctor Ripley is ashamed now. Anyway, Doctor Smith is smiling now.
“Good-bye then. I should go,” Doctor Ripley said.
“I’m so sorry that we can’t be friends,” Doctor Smith replied.
He is going to the door.
“You know that I’ve read your article, Mr. Ripley,” the doctor said.
“And…?” He asked.
“You seem to be very talented,” she said.
“Oh, you are too kind,” Mr. Ripley replied.
“But the information is wrong,” she said.
“I have a book from 1890 to help me with this article,” Doctor Ripley said.
“And I’ve got a new book from 1891. Look at these lines, Mr. Ripley,” Doctor Smith said.
Mr. Ripley looks through the paragraph. She is right. He throws the book on the floor and rushes to the door. When he turns around he sees a devil in the window, who is laughing.
At home Mr. Ripley feels terrible. He has been a fool today. She is smart. He had never imagined that women can work as doctors. Now he can see her in real life. He’s disappointed and frightened.
Some time later Doctor Smith has curious patients. It seems that everyone wants to visit her, because she’s got modern instruments. People start talking about her because they are impressed. She has helped some patients who Mr. Ripley couldn’t help.
They sometimes meet each other and Mr. Ripley tries to be as polite as possible. It appears to be very hard for him. She has become the main rival for him. His patients disappear every day. No wonder why. She is so brave that she can do surgeries. Once he has seen how she does it. She is a professional! She becomes popular in the village and Mr. Ripley is really afraid to lose all his patients.
One winter evening he gets a letter, in which he is asked for help. The richest man’s daughter has burnt her hand. He has asked Doctor Smith for help, too. The most important thing for him is who will be the fastest. Mr. Ripley becomes so crazy. He must arrive first!
Unfortunately, he isn’t lucky today. His carriage falls and all the horses run away. Then the doctor notices something white and sharp. His leg is broken.
“Oh, My God!” The doctor screamed.
After this the doctor faints.
When he opens his eyes, he sees Doctor Smith.
“You will be fine!” Verrinder said. “I’m so sorry that your leg is broken. I can’t believe my eyes. Now I will help you get home. You should be put back in the carriage. I hope my carriage is fine.”
Doctor Ripley faints again.
When he opens his eyes he sees Miss Smith again.
“Think we should send for doctor Horton. He will help you with your leg,” she said.
“I want you to treat me, Doctor Smith,” Mr. Ripley replied. “You have all my patients now. I think you can take me too,” he said and laughed.
Doctor Ripley has a brother. His name is William and he works as a surgeon in a hospital in London. William arrived as fast as he could.
“How? Does she work as a doctor? Really?” He asked.
“She is an excellent doctor,” Mr. Ripley answered.
“I’m not sure that she can help you,” his brother said.
“She knows what to do, probably better than both of us,” Dr. Ripley replied.
“This is impossible! She is hardly a good doctor,” William said.
“I think you are wrong, brother,” Mr. Ripley said.
“When it’s something serious I’m sure she is as scared as a rabbit,” William said and laughed. “I think that she has hardly touched your leg. I will check it myself,” he said.
“I don’t want you to touch my leg, William. She says it’s fine and I trust her,” Dr. Ripley replied.
“If you think that she’s better than me I must leave,” he said.
Miss Smith is surprised that William goes back to London so soon.
Mr. Ripley often sees Miss Smith and he gets to know her much better now. She turns out to be very friendly and supportive. Mr. Ripley is very bored in bed, that’s why he’s excited to see her. They have got so much in common. It seems to him they can talk forever.
“You will not forgive me, Doctor Smith,” Mr. Ripley said.
“Forgive you for what?” She asked.
“I was wrong about you. I thought that women stop being attractive if they treat people. You are different,” he answered.
“I’m glad that you’ve changed your mind about women,” she said and smiled.
He has realised that she is the one. He gets so sad because his leg is fine and it means they will not see each other again.
When he sees her for the last time he tries to be brave.
“Miss Smith, will you marry me?” Mr. Ripley asked.
“Do you want to take your patients back?” She asked.
“No! It’s not about patients. It’s all about feelings. I love you,” he explained.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you,” she said. “You must be very brave to tell me this. Unfortunately, I can’t be your wife,” Miss Smith said.
“Why?” He asked.
“There are so many women who want to have a family, but not me,” she explained. “I want only science in my life. I’ve come here to wait for a moment when a laboratory in Paris will be open. There is a vacancy for me so I should go. You will get your patients back,” she said. “And thank you for your friendship. I really appreciate it,” she added.
Some time later Mr. Ripley became the only doctor in Hoyland again. People have noticed that he has got much older lately. His patients see only boredom in his eyes. Young ladies become less and less interesting to him.