The aborted boy is only a scrap of flesh but has a heartbeat like the fluttering of butterfly wings. Kate, nurse on duty, doesn't know what to do. This sixteen-week old baby was supposed to be delivered dead! It was a given. She's been trained under such unlikely circumstances to discretely place the fetus in a basin and set it on a shelf in the lab till its – his – heart quits beating. She can't.
The hero of Charlotte Bronte's first novel escapes a dreary clerkship in industrial Yorkshire by taking a job as a teacher in Belgium. There, however, his entanglement with the sensuous but manipulative Zoraide Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school.
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