Nell had three children before she had a say in the matter. Then she had six more. Because she was so good at childbirth and liked to walk between houses deep in the woods even when she had no business at all among the pines, the town made her a midwife. The women there weren’t allowed in the hospitals, so they gave birth over straw, standing up, in their own homes. Most of the births were fine, though not all, but every baby smelled fine once the odor of metal and salt was washed away.