A Professional Secret (Henry)

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A Professional Secret
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A physician is approached by a woman seeking help for her daughter's mysterious affliction, which she believes is the result of an ancient family feud. The physician tries various treatments, but the affliction persists and even spreads to other parts of the body.

Dr. Satterfield Prince, a physician to the wealthy, was visited by Mrs. Galloway Rankin, who sought his help for her daughter Annabel's mysterious affliction. Mrs. Rankin believed that the long-standing feud between her family, the Bealls, and her husband's family, the Rankins, had manifested in Annabel's inability to walk properly.

Dr. Satterfield Prince — physician to the leisure class; courteous, professional.
Mrs. Galloway Rankin — middle-aged lady; richly dressed; amiable, placid; believes her daughter's affliction is the result of a family feud.

Annabel's steps seemed to be controlled by opposing forces, causing her to stumble and perform awkward movements. Dr. Prince consulted with Dr. Grumbleton Myers, a specialist in locomotor ataxia and nerve ailments, but they were unable to determine the cause of Annabel's condition. They decided to treat her with hypnotism, enlisting the help of Professor Adami. After several sessions, Annabel's walking improved, but the affliction seemed to have moved to her arms, causing them to act independently of each other.

Miss Annabel Rankin — daughter of Mrs. Rankin; twenty years old; afflicted with a mysterious difficulty in walking; melancholy, pensive.

Dear Miss and Mrs. Rankin,” he said, in his most musical consolation-baritone, “we have been only partially successful. The affliction, Miss Rankin, has passed from your—that is, the affliction is now in your arms.

Further hypnotic treatments appeared to cure Annabel's arms, but her behavior became increasingly erratic and inconsistent. Her fiancé, T. Ripley Ashburton, noticed the change and sought Dr. Prince's advice.

T. Ripley Ashburton — wealthy youth; engaged to Miss Rankin; proud, infatuated.

The doctor, realizing that the feud had now affected Annabel's brain, decided not to inform her family of the true nature of her condition, as they were happy with her newfound liveliness and charm.