PATH OF THE PALE HORSE by Paul Fleischman


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The 1793 adventure of Lep, short for Asclepius, a devoted doctor's apprentice who goes to bed with his Materia Medica. Traveling overnight to Philadelphia when that city is in the grip of a yellow fever epidemic, Lep and Dr. Poole plan to purchase medicines and return home. But the two become separated and end up lodged in different homes: Dr. Poole with Mrs. Uffington, a disagreeable woman who misuses her servants, and Lep with Mr. Tweakfield, a kindly man who is being cheated by his servants. Lep's sister Clara is also in Philadelphia, working for a man who sells "electric" rings to ward off the fever; and Lep, charged by his mother to bring her home, must convince her that her employer is a charlatan and an impostor. But Lep, who scorns fraudulent and superstitious medicines, has the utmost faith in medical science, and is filled with idealistic excitement when Dr. Poole decides to stay and fight the fever. An early success encourages Lep's faith in his own powers as well, but when Mr. Tweakfield expires of the fever despite Lep's fervent ministrations, he learns something of Dr. Poole's humility. Lep's Philadelphia encounters are neatly interconnected variations on the theme of fraud, faith, and science; Mr. Tweakfield's treacherous servants and Clara's escape from her oily employer keep the plot perking; and Fleischman's period tone and narrative artifice assure the comforts of a tale well told.
Pub Date: April 13th, 1983
ISBN: 0064404420
Page count: 164pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1983


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