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painful and only half pleasurable titillation. For the first few moments after creeping out of bed he kept his back to the sunny window, and seemed mysteriously shy of glancing thitherward; but as the June fervor pervaded him more and more thoroughly, he turned bravely about, and looked forth at a burial-ground, on the corner of which he dwelt. There lay many an old acquaintance, who had gone to sleep with the flavor of Dr. Dolliver's tinctures and powders upon his tongue; it was the patient's final bitter taste of this world, and perhaps doomed to be a recollected nauseousness in the next.
5. “Hem! ahem !” quoth the Doctor, hoping with one effort to clear his throat of the dregs of a ten years' cough. “Matters are not so far gone with me as I thought. I have known mighty sensible men, when only a little age-stricken or otherwise out of sorts, to die of mere faintheartedness, a great deal sooner than they need.”
6. He shook his silvery head at his own image in the looking-glass, as if to impress the apophthegm on that shadowy representative of himself; and for his part, he determined to pluck up a spirit and live as long as he possibly could, if it were only for the sake of little Pansie, who stood as close to one extremity of human life as her great-grandfather to the other. This child of three years old occupied all the unfossilized portion of good Dr. Dolliver's heart. Every other interest that he formerly had, and the entire confraternity of persons whom he once loved, had long ago departed, and the poor Doctor could not follow them, because the grasp of Pansie's baby-fingers held him back.
7. So he crammed a great silver watch into his fob, and drew on a patchwork morning-gown of an ancient fashion. Its original material was said to have been the embroidered front of his own wedding-waistcoat and the silken skirt of his wife's bridal attire, which his eldest granddaughter had taken from the carved chest of drawers, after poor Bessie, the beloved of his youth, had been half a century in the grave.
8. Throughout many of the intervening years, as the garment got ragged, the spinsters of the old man's family had quilted their duty and affection into it in the shape of patches upon patches, rose-color, crimson, blue, violet, and green, and then (as their hopes faded, and their life kept growing shadier, and their attire took a sombre hue) sober gray and great fragments of funereal black, until the Doctor could revive the memory of most things that had befallen him by looking at his patch-work gown, as it hung upon a chair.
9. And now it was ragged again, and all the fingers that should have mended it were cold. It had an Eastern fragrance, too, a smell of drugs, strong-scented herbs and spicy gums, gathered from the many potent infusions that had from time to time been spilt over it; so that, snuffing him afar off, you might have taken Dr. Dolliver for a mummy, and could hardly have been undéceived by his shrunken and torpid aspect, as he crept nearer.
10. Wrapt in his odorous and many-colored robe, he took staff in hand and moved pretty vigorously to the head of the staircase. As it was somewhat steep, and but dimly lighted, he began cautiously to descend, putting his left hand on the banister, and poking down his long stick to assist him in making sure of the successive steps; and thus he became a living illustration of the accuracy of Scripture, where it describes the aged as being " afraid of that which is high,” — a truth that is often found to have a sadder purport than its external one.
11. Half-way to the bottom, however, the Doctor heard the impatient and authoritative tones of little Pansie, - Queen Pansie, as she might fairly have been styled, in reference to her position in the household,
calling amain for grandpapa and breakfast. He was startled into such perilous activity by the summons, that his heels slid on the stairs, the slippers were shuffled off his feet, and he saved himself from a tumble only by quickening his pace, and coming down at almost a run.
12. “Mercy on my poor old bones!” mentally exclaimed the Doctor, fancying himself fractured in fifty places. “Some of them are broken, surely, and methinks my heart has leaped out of my mouth! What! all right? Well, well! but Providence is kinder to me than I deserve, prancing down this steep staircase like a kid of three months old !” He bent stiffly to gather up his slippers and fallen staff; and meanwhile Pansie had heard the tumult of her great-grandfather's descent, and was pounding against the door of the breakfastroom in her haste to come at him.
13. The Doctor opened it, and there she stood, a rather pale and large-eyed little thing, quaint in her aspect, as might well be the case with a motherless child, dwelling in an uncheerful house, with no other playmates than a decrepit old man and a kitten, and no better atmosphere within-doors than the odor of decayed apothecary's-stuff, nor gayer neighborhood than that of the adjacent burial-ground, where all her relatives, from her great-grandmother downward, lay calling to her, “Pansie, Pansie, it is bedtime !” even in the prime of the summer morning. For those dead women-folk, especially her mother and the whole row of maiden aunts and grand-aunts, could not but be anxious about the child, knowing that little Pansie would be far safer under a tuft of dandelions than if left alone, as she soon must be, in this difficult and deceitful world.
14. Yet, in spite of the lack of damask roses in her cheeks, she seemed a healthy child, and certainly showed great capacity of energetic movement in the impulsive capers with which she welcomed her venerable progenitor. She shouted out her satisfaction, moreover, (as
her custom was, having never had any over-sensitive auditors about her to tame down her voice,) till eveni the Doctor's dull ears were full of the clamor.
15. “Pansie, darling,” said Dr. Dolliver, cheerily, patting her brown hair with his tremulous fingers, " thou hast put some of thine own friskiness into poor old grandfather, this fine morning! Dost know, child, that he came near breaking his neck down-stairs at the sound of thy voice? What wouldst thou have done then, little Pansie ?” “Kiss poor grandpapa and make him well!” answered the child, remembering the Doctor's own mode of cure in similar mishaps to herself. “ It shall do poor grandpapa good !” she added, putting up her mouth to apply the remedy.
16. " Ah, little one, thou hast greater faith in thy medicines than ever I had in my drugs," replied the patriarch with a giggle, surprised and delighted at his own readiness of response. “But the kiss is good for my feeble old heart, Pansie, though it might do little to mend a broken neck; so give grandpapa another dose, and let us to breakfast.”
17. In this merry humor they sat down to the table, great-grandpapa and Pansie side by side, and the kitten, as soon appeared, making a third in the party. First, she showed her mottled head out of Pansie's lap, delicately sipping milk from the child's basin without rebuke ; then she took post on the old gentleman's shoulder, purring like a spinning-wheel, trying her claws in the wadding of his dressing-gown, and still more impressively reminding him of her presence by putting out a paw to intercept a warmed-over morsel of yesterday's chicken on its way to the Doctor's mouth. After skillfully achieving this feat, she scrambled down upon the breakfast-table and began to wash her face and hands.
18. Evidently, these companions were all three on intimate terms, as was natural enough, since a great
many childish impulses were softly creeping back on the simple-minded old man ; insomuch that, if no worldly necessities nor painful infirmity had disturbed him, his remnant of life might have been as cheaply and cheerily enjoyed as the early playtime of the kitten and the child. Old Dr. Dolliver and his great-granddaughter (a ponderous title, which seemed quite to overwhelm the tiny figure of Pansie) had met one another at the two extremities of the life-circle: her sunrise served him for a sunset, illuminating his locks of silver and hers of golden brown with a homogeneous shimmer of twinkling light.
CXLV. - SELECT PASSAGES IN VERSE.
See in Index, COMBAT, CORSE, FULFILL or FULFIL, SWORD, BRYANT, GOLDSMITH, SMITH, YOUNG. Give the long sound of o before r in BORNE, HOARY, GLORIOUS, &c. See 11. Pronounce GYVE, jive, HEARTH, härth.
1. FREEDOM. — Bryant.
2. FollY OF PROCRASTINATION.