The Dolliver Romance HTML version
Another Fragment Of The Dolliver Romance
"Be secret!" and he kept his stern eye fixed upon him, as the coach began to move.
"Be secret!" repeated the apothecary. "I know not any secret that he has confided to me
thus far, and as for his nonsense (as I will be bold to style it now he is gone) about a
medicine of long life, it is a thing I forget in spite of myself, so very empty and trashy it
is. I wonder, by the by, that it never came into my head to give the Colonel a dose of the
cordial whereof I partook last night. I have no faith that it is a valuable medicine--little or
none--and yet there has been an unwonted briskness in me all the morning."
Then a simple joy broke over his face--a flickering sunbeam among his wrinkles--as he
heard the laughter of the little girl, who was running rampant with a kitten in the kitchen.
"Pansie! Pansie!" cackled he, "grandpapa has sent away the ugly man now. Come, let us
have a frolic in the garden."
And he whispered to himself again, "That is a cordial yonder, and I will take it according
to the prescription, knowing all the ingredients." Then, after a moment's thought, he
added, "All, save one."
So, as he had declared to himself his intention, that night, when little Pansie had long
been asleep, and his small household was in bed, and most of the quiet, old-fashioned
townsfolk likewise, this good apothecary went into his laboratory, and took out of a
cupboard in the wall a certain ancient-looking bottle, which was cased over with a net-
work of what seemed to be woven silver, like the wicker-woven bottles of our days. He
had previously provided a goblet of pure water. Before opening the bottle, however, he
seemed to hesitate, and pondered and babbled to himself; having long since come to that
period of life when the bodily frame, having lost much of its value, is more tenderly cared
for than when it was a perfect and inestimable machine.
"I triturated, I infused, I distilled it myself in these very rooms, and know it--know it all--
all the ingredients, save one. They are common things enough--comfortable things--some
of them a little queer--one or two that folks have a prejudice against--and then there is
that one thing that I don't know. It is foolish in me to be dallying with such a mess, which
I thought was a piece of quackery, while that strange visitor bade me do it,--and yet, what
a strength has come from it! He said it was a rare cordial, and, methinks, it has brightened
up my weary life all day, so that Pansie has found me the fitter playmate. And then the
dose--it is so absurdly small! I will try it again."
He took the silver stopple from the bottle, and with a practised hand, tremulous as it was
with age, so that one would have thought it must have shaken the liquor into a perfect
shower of misapplied drops, he dropped--I have heard it said--only one single drop into
the goblet of water. It fell into it with a dazzling brightness, like a spark of ruby flame,
and subtly diffusing itself through the whole body of water, turned it to a rosy hue of