The Dolliver Romance HTML version

Another Scene From The Dolliver Romance
[Footnote: This scene was not revised by the author, but is printed from his first draught.]
We may now suppose Grandsir Dolliver to have finished his breakfast, with a better
appetite and sharper perception of the qualities of his food than he has generally felt of
late years, whether it were due to old Martha's cookery or to the cordial of the night
before. Little Pansie had also made an end of her bread and milk with entire satisfaction,
and afterwards nibbled a crust, greatly enjoying its resistance to her little white teeth.
How this child came by the odd name of Pansie, and whether it was really her baptismal
name, I have not ascertained. More probably it was one of those pet appellations that
grow out of a child's character, or out of some keen thrill of affection in the parents, an
unsought-for and unconscious felicity, a kind of revelation, teaching them the true name
by which the child's guardian angel would know it,--a name with playfulness and love in
it, that we often observe to supersede, in the practice of those who love the child best, the
name that they carefully selected, and caused the clergyman to plaster indelibly on the
poor little forehead at the font,--the love-name, whereby, if the child lives, the parents
know it in their hearts, or by which, if it dies, God seems to have called it away, leaving
the sound lingering faintly and sweetly through the house. In Pansie's case, it may have
been a certain pensiveness which was sometimes seen under her childish frolic, and so
translated itself into French (_pensée_), her mother having been of Acadian kin; or, quite
as probably, it alluded merely to the color of her eyes, which, in some lights, were very
like the dark petals of a tuft of pansies in the Doctor's garden. It might well be, indeed, on
account of the suggested pensiveness; for the child's gayety had no example to sustain it,
no sympathy of other children or grown people,--and her melancholy, had it been so dark
a feeling, was but the shadow of the house, and of the old man. If brighter sunshine came,
she would brighten with it. This morning, surely, as the three companions, Pansie, puss,
and Grandsir Dolliver, emerged from the shadow of the house into the small adjoining
enclosure, they seemed all frolicsome alike.
The Doctor, however, was intent over something that had reference to his lifelong
business of drugs. This little spot was the place where he was wont to cultivate a variety
of herbs supposed to be endowed with medicinal virtue. Some of them had been long
known in the pharmacopœia of the Old World; and others, in the early days of the
country, had been adopted by the first settlers from the Indian medicine-men, though with
fear and even contrition, because these wild doctors were supposed to draw their
pharmaceutic knowledge from no gracious source, the Black Man himself being the
principal professor in their medical school. From his own experience, however, Dr.
Dolliver had long since doubted, though he was not bold enough quite to come to the
conclusion, that Indian shrubs, and the remedies prepared from them, were much less
perilous than those so freely used in European practice, and singularly apt to be followed
by results quite as propitious. Into such heterodoxy our friend was the more liable to fall,
because it had been taught him early in life by his old master, Dr. Swinnerton, who, at
those not infrequent times when he indulged a certain unhappy predilection for strong