The Dolliver Romance HTML version

A Scene From The Dolliver Romance
Dr. Dolliver, a worthy personage of extreme antiquity, was aroused rather prematurely,
one summer morning, by the shouts of the child Pansie, in an adjoining chamber,
summoning old Martha (who performed the duties of nurse, housekeeper, and kitchen-
maid, in the Doctor's establishment) to take up her little ladyship and dress her. The old
gentleman woke with more than his customary alacrity, and, after taking a moment to
gather his wits about him, pulled aside the faded moreen curtains of his ancient bed, and
thrust his head into a beam of sunshine that caused him to wink and withdraw it again.
This transitory glimpse of good Dr. Dolliver showed a flannel night-cap, fringed round
with stray locks of silvery white hair, and surmounting a meagre and duskily yellow
visage, which was crossed and criss-crossed with a record of his long life in wrinkles,
faithfully written, no doubt, but with such cramped chirography of Father Time that the
purport was illegible. It seemed hardly worth while for the patriarch to get out of bed any
more, and bring his forlorn shadow into the summer day that was made for younger folks.
The Doctor, however, was by no means of that opinion, being considerably encouraged
towards the toil of living twenty-four hours longer by the comparative ease with which he
found himself going through the usually painful process of bestirring his rusty joints
(stiffened by the very rest and sleep that should have made them pliable) and putting
them in a condition to bear his weight upon the floor. Nor was he absolutely disheartened
by the idea of those tonsorial, ablutionary, and personally decorative labors which are apt
to become so intolerably irksome to an old gentleman, after performing them daily and
daily for fifty, sixty, or seventy years, and finding them still as immitigably recurrent as
at first. Dr. Dolliver could nowise account for this happy condition of his spirits and
physical energies, until he remembered taking an experimental sip of a certain cordial
which was long ago prepared by his grandson, and carefully sealed up in a bottle, and had
been reposited in a dark closet, among a parcel of effete medicines, ever since that gifted
young man's death.
"It may have wrought effect upon me," thought the doctor, shaking his head as he lifted it
again from the pillow. "It may be so; for poor Edward oftentimes instilled a strange
efficacy into his perilous drugs. But I will rather believe it to be the operation of God's
mercy, which may have temporarily invigorated my feeble age for little Pansie's sake."
A twinge of his familiar rheumatism, as he put his foot out of bed, taught him that he
must not reckon too confidently upon even a day's respite from the intrusive family of
aches and infirmities, which, with their proverbial fidelity to attachments once formed,
had long been the closest acquaintances that the poor old gentleman had in the world.
Nevertheless, he fancied the twinge a little less poignant than those of yesterday; and,
moreover, after stinging him pretty smartly, it passed gradually off with a thrill, which, in
its latter stages, grew to be almost agreeable. Pain is but pleasure too strongly
emphasized. With cautious movements, and only a groan or two, the good Doctor
transferred himself from the bed to the floor, where he stood awhile, gazing from one
piece of quaint furniture to another (such as stiff-backed Mayflower chairs, an oaken
chest-of-drawers carved cunningly with shapes of animals and wreaths of foliage, a table