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The characteristic themes of Cather’s mature work are already present in her debut novella, an evocation of a tragic love triangle.
Bartley Alexander, renowned engineer of bridges, is a man with a past who “looked as a tamer of rivers ought to look.” Discovered by his mentor “sowing wild oats in London,” he returned to America and the commission that made his name. Now, married to his wife of ten years, a chance encounter with actress Hilda Burgoyne, an almost forgotten love from his past, prompts a doomed attempt to recapture the boundlessness of his youth.