Concentrated on an experience of childbirth in the West Virginia mountain country, this is not only more than explicit coverage of this ordeal, but also a contrast between civilized conduct and the primitive, superstitious forces still dominant in that part of the country. Refusing to go by boat to the hospital when her labor starts, Laurel insists on attempting to cross the mountain by foot, with Cace, her husband, Payn, native neighbor. On the way, time and again, Lucy Whitewater comes to mind, the local midwife and witch woman whose attendance Laurel had refused, even though she had accepted one of her charms. Breaking down midway, Laurel is taken to the mountain teacher's house where she bears the baby, and where, after an episode of violence, Cace's hatred of Lucy Whitewater is tempered by the revelation that she had been his father's woman.. Sustained interest here, even if directed on an experience which only women (and not all women) will want to read about.