Elsie Venner | Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. | Literary Fiction | Sound Book | English | 5/10

Elsie Venner | Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. | Literary Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 2/10



Chapter five of LC venner this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by Dion Giants Salt Lake City Utah LC venner by Oliver Wendell Holmes chapter five an old-fashioned descriptive chapter it was a comfort to get to a place with something like society with residences which had pretensions to elegance with people of some breeding with a newspaper and stores to advertise in it and with two or three churches to keep each other alive by wholesome agitation Rockland was such a place some of the natural features of the town have been described already the mountain of course was what gave it its character and redeemed it from wearing the commonplace expression which belongs to ordinary country villages beautiful wild invested with the mystery which belongs to untrodden spaces and with enough of terror to give it dignity it had yet closer relations with the town over which it rooted than the passing stranger knew of thus it made a local climate by cutting off the northern winds and holding the sun's heat like a garden wall peach trees which on the northern side of the mountain hardly ever came to fruit ripened abundant crops in Rockland but there was still another relation between the mountain and the town at its foot which strangers were not likely to hear alluded to and which was oftener thought of than spoken of by its inhabitants those high impending forests hangars as white of Selbourne would have called them sloping far upward and backward into the distance had always an air of Menace blended with their wild Beauty it seemed as if some heavens scaling Titan had thrown his shaggy robe over the bear precipitous flanks of the rocky summit and it might at any moment slide like a garment flung carelessly on the nearest chance support and so sliding crushed the village out of being as the Rosberg when it tumbled over on the valley of gold o persons have been known to remove from the place after a short residence in it because they were haunted day and night by the thought of this awful green wall piled up into the air over their heads they would lie awake of nights thinking they heard the muffed snapping of roots as if a thousand acres of the mountainside were tugging to break away like the snow from a house roof and a hundred thousand trees were clinging with all their fibres to hold back the soil just ready to peel away and crush down with all its rocks and forest growths and yet by one of those strange contradictions we are constantly finding in human nature there were natives of the town who would come back 30 or 40 years after leaving it just to nestle under this same threatening mountainside as old men sun themselves against southward facing walls the old dreams and legends of danger added to the attraction if the mountain should ever slide they had a kind of feeling as if they ought to be there it was a fascination like that which the rattlesnake is said to exert this comparison naturally suggests the recollection of that other source of danger which was an element in the everyday life of the Rockland people the folks in some of the neighboring towns had a joke against them that a rock lender couldn't hear a bean pod rattle without saying the lord have mercy on us it is very true that many a nervous old lady has had a terrible start caused by some mischievous young rogues giving a sudden shake to one of these noisy vegetable products in her immediate vicinity yet strangely enough many persons missed the excitement of the possibility of a fatal bite in other regions where there were nothing but black and green and striped snakes mean Ophidian x' having despite of the nobler serpent without his venom poor crawling creatures whom nature would not trust with a poison bag many natives of Rockland did unquestionably experience a certain gratification in this infinitesimal sense of danger it was noted that the old people retained their herring longer than in other places some said it was the softened climate but others believed it was owing to the habit of keeping their ears open whenever they were walking through the grass or in the woods at any rate a slight sense of danger is often an agreeable stimulus people sipped their Kramden oil with a peculiar tremulous pleasure because there is a bare possibility that it may contain prussic acid enough to knock them over in which case they will lie as dead as if a thundercloud had emptied itself into the earth through their brain and marrow but Rockland had other features which helped to give it a special character first of all there was one Grand Street which was its chief glory Elm Street it was called naturally enough for its Elms made a long pointed arched gallery of it through most of its extent no natural gothic arch compares for a moment with that formed by two American elms where their lofty jets of foliage shoot across each other's ascending curves to intermingle their showery flakes of green when one looks through a long double row of these as in that lovely Avenue which the poets of Yale remembered so well oh could the Vista of my life but now as bright appear as when I first through Temple Street looked down Thein espalier Hebe holds a temple not built with hands fairer than any Minster with all its clustered stems and flowering capitals that ever grew in stone nobody knows New England who is not on terms of intimacy with one of its owns the Elm comes nearer to having a soul than any other vegetable creature among us it loves man as man loves it it is modest and patient it has a small flake of a seed which blows in everywhere and makes arrangements for coming up by-and-by so in spring one finds a crop of baby ohms along his carrots and parsnips very weak and small compared to those succulent vegetables the baby Elms die most of them slain unrecognized or unheeded by hand or hoe as meekly as Herod's innocence one of them gets overlooked perhaps until it has established a kind of right to stay three generations of carrot and parsnip consumers have passed away yourself among them and now let your great-grandson look for the baby ohm 22 feet of clean girth 360 feet in the line that bounds its leafy circle it covers the boy was such a canopy as neither glossy leafed oak nor insect haunted linden ever lifted into the summer skies Elm Street was the pride of Rockland but not only on account of its gothic arched Vista in this Street were most of the Great Houses or mansion houses as it was usual to call them along this street also the more nicely kept and neatly painted dwellings were chiefly congregated it was the correct thing for a Rockland dignitary to have a house in Elm Street a New England mention house is naturally square with dormer windows projecting from the roof which has a balustrade with turned posts round it it shows a good breadth of front yard before its door as its owner shows a respectable expanse of a clean shirt front it has a lateral margin beyond its stables and offices as its master wears his white wristbands showing beyond his coat cuffs it may not have what can properly be called grounds but it must have elbowroom at any rate without it it is like a man who is always tight buttoned for want of any linen to show the mansion house which has had to button itself up tight in fences for want of green or gravel margin will be advertising for borders presently the old england pattern of the new england mansion house only on a somewhat grander scale is Sir Thomas Abney's place where dear good dr. Watts said prayers for the family and wrote those blessed hymns of his that sing us into consciousness in our cradles and come back to us in sweet single verses between the moments of wandering and of super when we lie dying and sound over us when we can no longer hear them bringing grateful tears to the hot aching eyes beneath the thick black veils and carrying the holy calm with them which filled the good man's heart as he prayed and sung under the shelter of the old english mansion house next to the mansion houses came the two-story trim white painted genteel houses which being more gossipy and less nicely bred crowded close up to the street instead of standing back from it with arms akimbo like the mansion houses their little front yards were very commonly full of lilac and syringes and other bushes which were allowed to smother the lower storey almost to the exclusion of light and airy so that what with small windows and small window panes and the darkness made by these choking growths of shrubbery the front parlors of some of these houses were the most tomb like melancholy places that could be found anywhere among the bodes of the living their garnishing was apt to assist this impression large patterned carpets which always looked as contented in little rooms hair cloth furniture black and shiny as beetles wing cases and center tables with a sullen oil lamp of the kind called a stroll by our imaginative ancestors in the center these things were inevitable in set piles round the lamp was ranged the current literature of the day in the form of temperance documents unbound numbers of one of the unknown public's magazines with worn-out still engravings and high colored fashion plates the poems of a distinguished British author whom it was unnecessary to mention a volume of sermons or a novel or two or both according to the tastes of the family and the good book which is always itself in the cheapest and commonest company the father of the family with his hand in the breast of his coat the mother of the same in a wide bordered cap sometimes a print of the Last Supper by no means Morgan's or the father of his country or the old general or the defender of the Constitution or an unknown clergyman with an open book before him these were the usual ornaments of the walls the first two a matter of rigor the others according to politics and other tendencies this intermediate class of houses wherever one finds them in New England towns are very apt to be cheerless and unsatisfactory they have neither the luxury of the mansion house nor the comfort of the farmhouse they are rarely kept at an agreeable temperature the mansion house has large fireplaces and generous chimneys and is open to the sunshine the farmhouse makes no pretensions but it has a good warm kitchen at any rate and one can be comfortable there with the rest of the family without fear and without reproach these lesser country houses of genteel aspirations are much given to patent subterfuges of one kind and another to get heat without combustion the chili parlor and the slippery hair cloth seat take the life out of the warmest welcome if one would make these places wholesome happy and cheerful the first precept would be the dearest fuel plenty of it and let half the heat go up the chimney if you can't afford this don't try to live in a genteel fashion but stick to the ways of the honest farmhouse there were a good many comfortable farmhouses scattered about Rockland the best of them were something of the following pattern which is too often superseded of late by a more pretentious but infinitely less pleasing kind of rustic architecture a little back from the road seated directly on the green sod Rose a plain wooden building two storeys in front with a long roof sloping backwards to within a few feet of the ground this like the mansion house is copied from an old English pattern cottages of this model may be seen in Lancashire for instance always with the same honest homely look as if their roofs acknowledged their relationship to the soil out of which they sprung the walls were unpainted but turned by the slow action of Sun and air and rain to a quiet dove or slate color an old broken millstone at the door a well sweep pointing like a finger to the heavens which The Shining round of water beneath looked up at like a dark unsleeping eye a single large elm a little at one side a barn twice as big as the house a cattle yard with the white horns tossing above the wall some fields in pasture or in crops with low stone walls round them a row of beehives a garden patch with roots and currant bushes and many-hued Holly locks and swollen stemmed globe headed seedling onions and marigolds and flower de luces and ladies delights and peonies crowding in together with southern wood in the borders and Woodbine and hops and morning glories climbing as they got a chance these were the features by which the Rocklin foreign children remembered the farmhouse when they had grown to be men such are the recollections that come over poor sailor boys crawling out on reeling yards to reef topsails as their vessels stagger around the stormy cape and such are the flitting images that may the eyes of old country born merchants look dim and dreamy as they sit in their city palaces warm with the after-dinner flush of the red wave out of which memory arises as Aphrodite arose from the green waves of the ocean to meeting houses stood on to eminences facing each other and looking like a couple of fighting hawks with their necks straight up in the air as if they would flap their roofs the next thing and crow out of there up stretched steeples and peck at each other's glass eyes with their sharp pointed weathercocks the first was a good pattern of the real old-fashioned New England meeting house it was a large barn with windows fronted by a square tower crowned with a kind of wooden Bell inverted and raised on legs out of which rose a slender spire with the sharp build weathercock at its summit inside tall square pews with flapping seats and a gallery running round three sides of the building on the fourth side the pulpit with a huge dusty sounding board hanging over it here preached the Reverend pear upon honey wood DeeDee successor after a number of generations to the office and the parsonage of the Reverend didymus beam before mentioned but not suspected of any of his alleged heresies he held to the old faith of the Puritans and occasionally delivered a discourse which was considered by the hard-headed theologians of his parish to have settled the whole matter fully and finally so that now there was a good logical basis laid down for the Millennium which might begin at once upon the platform of his demonstrations yet the Reverend doctor honey wood was fonder of preaching plain practical sermons about the duties of life and showing his Christianity in abundant good works among his people it was noticed by some few of his flock not without comment that the great majority of his text came from the Gospels and this more and more as he became interested in various benevolent enterprises which brought him into relations with ministers and kind-hearted laymen of other denominations he was in fact a man of a very warm open and exceedingly human disposition and although bred by a clerical father whose motto was sit anima mia compute honest he exercised his human faculties in the harness of his ancient faith with such freedom that the straps of it got so loose they did not interfere greatly with the circulation of the warm blood through his system once in a while he seemed to think it necessary to come out with a grand doctrinal sermon and them he would lapse away for a while into preaching on men's duties to each other and to society and hit hard perhaps at some of the actual vices of the time and place and insist with such tenderness and eloquence on the great depth and breadth of true Christian love and charity that his oldest deacon shook his head and wished he had shown as much interest when he was preaching three Sabbath's back on predestination or in his discourse against the civilians but he was sound in the faith no doubt of that did he not preside at the council held in the town of Tamarack on the other side of the mountain which expelled its clergyman for maintaining heretical doctrines as presiding officer he did not vote of course but there was no doubt that he was alright he had some of the Edwards blood in him and that couldn't very well let him go wrong the meeting house on the other and opposite summit was of a more modern style considered by many a great improvement on the old New England model so that it is not uncommon for a country parish to pull down its old meeting house which has been preached in for a hundred years or so and put up one of these more elegant edifices the new building was in what may be called the florid jingle gothic manner its pinnacles and Crockett's and other ornaments were like the body of the building all of Pinewood and admirable material as it is very soft and easily worked and can be painted of any color desired inside the walls were stuccoed in imitation of stone first a dark brown square then to light brown squares than another dark brown square and so on to represent the accidental differences of shade always noticeable in the real stones of which walls are built to be sure the architect could not help getting his party colored squares in almost as regular rhythmical order as those of a chessboard but nobody can avoid doing things in a systematic and serial way indeed people who wish to plant trees and natural chimps know very well that they cannot keep from making regular lines and symmetrical figures and lest by some trick or other as that one of throwing a peck of potatoes up into the air and sticking in a tree wherever a potato happens to fall the pews of this meeting house were the usual oblong ones where people sit close together with a ledge before them to support their hymnbooks liable only to occasional contact with the back of the next pews heads or bonnets and a place running under the seat of that pew wear hats could be deposited always at the risk of the owner in case of injury by boots or crickets in this meeting house preached the Reverend Chauncey Fairweather a divine of the liberal school as it is commonly called bread at that famous College which used to be thought twenty or thirty years ago to have the monopoly of training young men in the milder forms of heresy his ministrations were attended with decency but not followed with enthusiasm the beauty of virtue got to be an old story at last the moral dignity of human nature ceased to excite a thrill of satisfaction after some hundred repetitions it grew to be a dull business preaching against stealing and intemperance while he knew very well that the thieves were prowling round orchards and empty houses instead of being there to hear the sermon and that the drunkards being rarely churchgoers get little good by the statistics and eloquent appeals of the preacher every now and then however the Reverend mr. Fairweather led off a polemic discourse against his neighbor opposite which waked his people up a little but it was a languid congregation at best very apt to stay away from meeting in the afternoon and not at all give him two extra evening services the minister unlike his rival of the other side of the way was a downhearted and timid kind of man he went on preaching as he had been taught to preach but he had misgivings at times there was a little Roman Catholic Church at the foot of the hill where his own was placed which he always had to pass on Sundays he could never look on the thronging multitudes that crowded its pews and aisles or knelt bareheaded on its steps without a longing to get in among them and go down on his knees and enjoy that luxury of devotional contact which makes a worshipping throng as different from the same numbers praying apart as a bed of coals is from a trail of scattered cinders oh if I could but huddle in with those poor laborers and working women he would say to himself if I could but breathe that atmosphere stifling though it be yet made holy by ancient litanies and cloudy with the smoke of hallowed incense for one hour instead of droning over these moral precepts to my half sleeping congregation the intellectual isolation of his sect preyed upon him for of all terrible things to nature's like his the most terrible is to belong to a minority no person that looked at his fin and sallow cheeks his son command sad eye his tremulous lip his contracted forehead or who heard his queer ulis though not unmusical boys could fail to see that his life was an uneasy one that he was engaged in some inward conflict his dark melancholic aspect contrasted with his seemingly cheerful Creed and was all the more striking as the worthy doctor honey would professing a belief which made him a passenger on board a shipwrecked planet was yet a most good-humoured and companionable gentleman whose laughs on weekdays did one as much good to listen to as the best sermon he ever delivered on a Sunday a mile or two from the center of Rockland was a pretty little Episcopal Church with a roof like a wedge of cheese a square tower a stained window and a train director who read the service with such ventral depth of utterance and read duplication of the resonant letter that his own mother would not have known him for her son if the good woman had not ironed his surplice and put it on with her own hands there were two public houses in the place one dignified with the name of the Mountain House somewhat frequented by city people in the summer months large fronted three storied balcony boasting a distinct ladies drawing-room and spreading a table the haut of some pretensions the other Pollard's Tavern in the common speech a two-story building with a bar room once famous where there was a great smell of hay and boots and pipes and all other bucolic flavored elements where games of checkers were played in the back of the bellows with red and white kernels of corn or with beans and coffee where a man slept in a box settle at night to wake up early passengers where Teamsters came in with wooden handled whips and coarse frocks reinforcing the bucolic flavor of the atmosphere and middle-aged male gossips sometimes including the squire of the neighboring law office gathered to exchange a question or two about the news and then fall into that solemn state of suspended animation which the temperance bar rooms of modern days produce in human beings as the Grodd Adele Kane does in dogs in the well-known experiments related by travelers this barroom used to be famous for drinking and storytelling and sometimes fighting in old days that was when there were rows of decanters on the shelf behind the bar and a hissing vessel of hot water ready to make punch and three or four loggerheads long irons clubbed at the end were always lying in the fire in the cold season waiting to be plunged into sputtering and foaming mugs a flip a goodly compound speaking according to the flesh made with beer and sugar with a certain suspicion of strong waters over which a little nutmeg being grated and in it the hot iron being then allowed to sizzle their results a peculiar singed aroma which the wise regard as a warning to remove themselves at once out of the reach of temptation but the bar of Pollard's Tavern no longer presented its old attractions and the loggerheads had long disappeared from the fire in place of the decanters where boxes containing lozenger as they were commonly called sticks of candy in jars cigars and tumblers a few lemons grown hard skinned and marvelously shrunken by long exposure but still feebly suggestive of possible lemonade the whole ornamented by festoons of yellow and blue cut fly paper on the front shelf of the bar stood a large German silver pitcher of water and scattered about were ill-conditioned lamps with wicks that always wanted picking which burned red and smoked to the deal and were apt to go out without any obvious cause leaving strong reminiscences of the whale fishery in the circum ambient air the common school houses of Rockland were dwarfed by the grandeur of the Apollonian Institute the master passed one of them in a walk he was taking soon after his arrival at Rockland he looked in at the of desks and recalled his late experiences he could not help laughing as he thought how neatly he had knocked the young butcher off his pens a little science is a dangerous thing as well as a little learning he said to himself only it's dangerous to the fellow you try it on and he cut him a good stick and began climbing the side of the mountain to get a look at that famous rattlesnake ledge end of chapter 5 chapter 6 of LC venner this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by Dion joins Salt Lake City Utah LC venner by oliver wendell holmes chapter 6 the sunbeam and the shadow the virtue of the world is not mainly in its leaders in the myths of the multitude which follows there is often something better than in the one that goes before old generals wanted to take too long but one of their young Colonels showed them how the junior council has been known not unfrequently to make a better argument than his senior fellow if indeed he did not make both their arguments good ministers will tell you they have parishioners who beat them in the practice of the virtues a great establishment got up on commercial principles like the Apollonian Institute might yet be well carried on if it happened to get good teachers and when master Langdon came to see its management he recognized that there must be fidelity and intelligence somewhere among the instructors it was only necessary to look for a moment at the fair open for head the still tranquil eye of gentle habitual Authority the sweet gravity that lay upon the lips to hear the clear answers to the pupils questions to notice however request had the force without the form of a command and the young man could not doubt that the good genius of the school stood before him in the person of Helen Darlie it was the old story a poor country clergyman dies and leaves a widow and a daughter in old England the daughter would have eaten the bitter bread of a governess in some rich family in New England she must keep a school so rising from one sphere to another she at length finds herself the prima donna in the Department of instructions in mr. Silas Peckham's educational establishment what a miserable thing it is to be poor she was dependent frail sensitive conscientious she was in the power of a hard grasping thin-blooded tough fighbird trading educator who neither knew nor cared for a tender woman's sensibilities but who paid her and meant to have his money's worth out of her brains and as much more than his money's worth as he could get she was consequently in plain English overworked and an overworked woman is always a sad sight sadder a great deal than an overworked man because she is so much more fertile in capacities of suffering than a man she has so many varieties of headache sometimes as if jail were driving the nail that killed Sisera into her temples sometimes letting her work with half her brain while the other half throbs as if it would go to pieces sometimes tightening round the brows as if her cap band were a ring of iron and then her neuralgia and her back aches and her fits of depression in which she thinks she is nothing and less than nothing and those paroxysms which men speak slightingly of as hysterical convulsions that is all only not commonly fatal ones so many trials which belong to her and mobile structure that she is always entitled to pity when she is placed in conditions which develop her nervous tendencies the poor young lady's work had of course been doubled since the departure of master Langdon's predecessor nobody knows what the weariness of instruction is as soon as the teachers faculties begin to be over tasks but those who have tried it the relays of fresh pupils each new set with it's exhausting powers in full action coming one after another take out all the reserved forces and faculties of resistance from the subject of their draining process the day's work was over and it was late in the evening when she sat down tired and faint with a great bundle of girls themes or compositions to read over before she could rest her weary head on the pillow of her narrow trundle bed and forget for a while the treadmill stair of Labor she was daily climbing how she dreaded this most forlorn of all a teacher's tasks she was conscientious in her duties and would insist on reading every sentence there was no saying where she might find faults of grammar or bad spelling there might have been twenty or thirty of these things in the bundle before her of course she knew pretty well the leading sentiments they could contain that beauty was subject to the accidents of time that wealth was in constant and existence uncertain that virtue was its own reward that youth exhaled like the dew drop from the flower ere the Sun had reached its Meridian that life was overshadowed with trials that the lessons of virtue instilled by our beloved teachers were to be our guides through all our future career the imagery employed consisted principally of roses lilies birds clouds and Brooks with the celebrated comparison of wayward genius to meteor who not know the small slanted Italian hand of these girls compositions they're stringing together of the good old traditional copy book phrases their occasional gushes of sentiment their profound estimates of the world sounding to the old folks that read them as the experience of a bantam poets last hatched young one with the chips of its shell on its head would sound to a mother Carey's chicken who knew the great ocean with all its typhoons and tornadoes yet every now and then one is liable to be surprised with strange clairvoyant flashes that can hardly be explained except by the mysterious inspiration which every now and then seizes a young girl and exalts her intelligence just as hysteria in other instances exalts the Sensibility a little something of that which made Joan of Arc and the Bernie girl who prophesied Evelina and the Davidson sisters in the myths of these commonplace exercises which miss Darlie read over so carefully were two or three that had something of individual flavor about them and here and there was an image or an epitaph which showed the footprint of a passion at nature as a fallen Scarlet feather marks the path the wild flamingo has trodden the young lady teacher read them with a certain indifference of manner as one reads proofs noting defects of detail but not commonly arrested by the matters treated of even miss charlotte and woods poem beginning how sweet at evenings balmy hour did not excite her she marked the inevitable false rhyme of cockney and Yankee beginners morn and dawn and tossed the verses on the pile of paper she had finished she was looking over some of the lust of them in a rather listless way for the poor thing was getting sleepy in spite of herself when she came to one which seemed to rouse her attention and lifted her drooping lids she looked at at a moment before she would touch it then she took hold of it by one corner and slid it off from the rest one would have said she was afraid of it or had some undefined antipathy which made it hateful to her such odd fancies are common enough in young persons in her nervous state many of these young people will jump up 20 times a day and run to dabble the tips of their fingers and water after touching the most inoffensive objects this composition was written in a singular sharp-pointed long slender hand on a kind of wavy ribbed paper there was something strangely suggestive about the look of it but exactly of what miss Darlie either could not or did not try to think the subject of the paper was the mountain the composition being a sort of descriptive Rhapsody it showed a startling familiarity with some of the savage scenery of the region one would have said that the reader must have threaded its wildest solitudes by the night of the Moon and stars as well as by day as the teacher read on her color changed and a kind of tremulous agitation came over her there were hints in this strange paper she did not know what to make of there was something in its descriptions and imagery that recalled miss Darlie could not say what but it made her frightfully nervous still she could not help reading till she came to one passage which so agitated her that the tired and over weary girls self-control left her entirely she sobbed once or twice then left convulsively and flung herself on the bed where she worked out a set hysterics spasm as best she might without anybody to rub her hands and see that she did not hurt herself by-and-by she got quiet rose and went to her bookcase took down a volume of Coleridge and read a short time and so to bed sleep and wake from time to time with a sudden start out of uneasy dreams perhaps it is of no great consequence what it was in the composition which set her off into this nervous paroxysm she was in such a state that almost any slight agitation would have brought on the attack and it was the accident of her transient excitability very probably which made a trifling cause this seeming occasion of so much disturbance the theme was signed in the same peculiar sharp slender hand II venner and was of course written by that wild looking girl who had excited the Masters curiosity and prompted his question as before mentioned the next morning the lady teacher looked pale and wearied naturally enough but she was at her place at the usual hour and master Langdon in his own the girls had not yet entered the schoolroom you have been ill I am afraid said mr. Barnard I was not well yesterday she answered I had a worry and a kind of fright it is so dreadful to have the charge of all these young souls and bodies every young girl ought to walk locked close arm-in-arm between two guardian angels sometimes I faint almost with the thought of all that I ought to do and of my own weakness and once tell me are there not nature's born so out of parallel with the lines of natural law that nothing short of a miracle can bring them right mr. Barnard had speculated somewhat as all thoughtful persons of his profession are forced to do on the innate organic tendencies with which individuals families and races are born he replied therefore with a smile as one to whom the question suggested a very familiar class effects why of course each of us is only the footing up of a double column of figures that goes back to the first pair every you tells and some of them are plus and some minus if the columns don't add up right it is commonly because we can't make out all the figures I don't mean to say that something must not be added by nature to make up for losses and to keep the race to its average but we are mainly nothing but the answer to along some in addition and subtraction no doubt there are people born with impulses at every possible angle to the parallels of nature as you call them if they happen to cut these at right angles of course they are beyond the reach of common influences slight obliquity x' are what we have most to do with in education penitentiaries and insane asylums take care of most of the right angle cases I am afraid I have put it too much like a professor and I am only a student you know pray what set you to asking me this any strange cases among the scholars the make teachers blue eyes met the luminous glance that came with the answer she too was of gentle blood not meaning by that that she was of any noted lineage but that she came of a cultivated stalk never rich but long trained to intellectual callings a thousand decencies amenities reticences graces which no one thinks of until he misses them are the traditional right of those who spring from such families and when two persons of this exceptional breeding meet in the myths of the common multitude they seek each other's company at once by the natural law of elective affinity it is wonderful how men and women know their peers if two stranger Queens sole survivors of two shipwrecked vessels were cast half-naked on a rock together each what at once addressed the other as our royal sister Helen Darlie looked into the dark eyes of Bernard Linden glittering with the light which flashed from them with his question not as those foolish innocent country girls of the small village did she look into them to be fascinated and bewildered but to sound them with a calm steadfast purpose a gentleman she said to herself as she read his expression and his features with a woman's rapid but exhausting glance a lady he said to himself as he met her questioning look so brief so quiet yet so assured as of one whom necessity had taught to read faces quickly without offence as children read the faces of parents as wives read the faces of hard-soled husbands all this was but a few seconds work and yet the main point was settled if there had been any vulgar curiosity or coarseness of any kind lurking in his expression she would have detected it if she had not lifted her eyes to his face so softly and kept them there so calmly and withdrawn them so quietly he would not have said to himself she is a lady for that word meant a good deal to the descendant of the courtly wentworths and the scholarly Langdon's there are strange people everywhere mr. Langdon she said and I don't think our schoolroom is an exception I am glad you believe in the force of transmitted tendencies it would break my heart if I did not think that there are faults beyond the reach of everything but God's special grace I should die if I thought that my negligence or incapacity was alone responsible for the errors and sins of those I have charged of yet there are mysteries I do not know how to account for she looked all round the schoolroom and then said in a whisper mr. Langdon we had a girl that stole in the school not long ago worse than that we had a girl who tried to set us on fire children of good people both of them and we have a girl now that frightens me so the door opened and three misses came in to take their seats three tights as it happened of certain classes into which it would not been difficult to distribute the greater number of the girls in the school Hannah Martin 14 years and three months old short-necked thick waisted round cheeked smooth vacant forehead large dull eyes looks good natured with little other expression three buns in her bag and a large apple has a habit of attacking her provisions in school hours Rosa Milburn 16 brunette with the rare right flush and her cheeks colour comes and goes easily eyes wandering out to be downcast moody at times said to be passionate if irritated finished in high relief carries shoulders well back and walks well as if proud of her woman's life with a slight rocking movement being one of the wide flanged pattern but seems Restless a hard girl to look after has a romance in her pocket which she means to read in school time Charlotte and would 15 the poetess before mentioned long light ringlets pallid complexion blue eyes delicate child half unfolded gentle but languid and despondent does not go much with the other girls but reads a good deal especially poetry underscoring favorite passages writes a great many verses very fast not very correctly full of the usual human sentiments expressed in the accustomed phrases under vitalized sensibilities not covered with their normal entitlements a negative condition often confounded with genius and sometimes running into it young people who fall out of line through weakness of the active faculties are often confounded with those who step out of it through strength of the intellectual ones the girls kept coming in one after another or in pairs or groups until the schoolroom was nearly full then there was a little pause and a light step was heard in the passage the lady teacher's eyes turned to the door and the Masters followed them in the same direction a girl of about seventeen entered she was tall and slender but rounded with a peculiar undulation of movement such as one sometimes sees imperfectly untutored country girls whom nature the Queen of Graces has taken in hand but more commonly in connection with the very highest breeding of the most thoroughly trained society she was a splendid scowling Beauty black-browed with a flash of white teeth which was always like a surprise when her lips parted she wore a checkered dress of a curious pattern and a camel's hair scarf twisted a little fantastically about her she went to her seat which she had moved a short distance apart from the rest and sitting down began playing listless lee with her gold chain as was a common habit with her coiling it and uncoiling it about her slender wrist and braiding it in with her long delicate fingers presently she looked up black piercing eyes not large a low forehead as low as that of Clyde II in the Townley bust black hair twisted in heavy braids a face that one could not help looking at for its beauty yet that one wanted to look away from for something in its expression and could not for those diamond eyes they were fixed on the lady teacher now the latter turned her own away and let them wander over the other scholars but they could not help coming back again for a single glance at the wild beauty the diamond eyes were on her still she turned the leaves of several of her books as if in search of some passage and when she thought she had waited long enough to be safe once more stole a quick look at the dark girl the diamond eyes were still upon her she put her kerchief to her forehead which had grown slightly moist she sighed once almost shivered for she felt cold then following some ill-defined impulse which she could not resist she left her place and went to the young girls dusk what do you want of me Elsie venner it was a strange question to put for the girl had not signified that she wished the teacher to come to her nothing she said I thought I could make you come the girl spoke in a low tone a kind of half whisper she did not list yet her articulation of one or two consonants was not absolutely perfect where did you get that flower Elsie said Miss Darlie it was a rare Alpine flower which was found only in one spot among the rocks of the mountain where it grew said Elsie then er take it the teacher could not refuse her the girl's fingertips touched her so she took it how cold they were for a girl of such an organization the teacher went back to her seat she made an excuse for quitting the schoolroom soon afterwards the first thing she did was to fling the flower into her fireplace and rake the ashes over it the second was to wash the tips of her fingers as if she had been another Lady Macbeth a pour-over task nervous creature we must not think too much of her fancies after school was done she finished the talk with the master which had been so suddenly interrupted there were things spoken of which may prove interesting by-and-by but there are other matters we must first attend to end of chapter six Chapter seven of Elsie venner this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by Dionne James Salt Lake City Utah Elsie venner by Oliver Wendell Holmes chapter seven the event of the season mr. and mrs. Colonel sprawls compliments to mr. Langdon and requests the pleasure of his company at a social entertainment on Wednesday evening next Elm Street Monday on paper of a pinkish color and musky smell with a large s at the top and an embossed border envelope adherent not sealed addressed Langdon Esquire present brought by H Frederic Sproul youngest son of the colonel the H of course standing for the paternal Hezekiah put in to please the father and reduced to its initial to please the mother she having a marked preference for Frederick boy directed to wait for an answer mr. Langham has the pleasure of accepting mr. and mrs. Colonel sprawls polite invitation for Wednesday evening on plain paper sealed with an initial in walking along the Main Street mr. Bernard had noticed a large house of some pretensions to architectural display namely unnecessarily projecting eaves giving it a mushroomy aspect wooden mouldings at various available points and a grandiose arched portico it looked a little swaggering by the side of one or two of the mansion houses that were not far from it was painted too bright for mr. Bernards taste had rather too fanciful offence before it and had some fruit trees planted in the front yard which to this fastidious young gentleman implied a defective sense of the fitness of things not promising in people who lived in so large a house with a mushroom roof and a triumphal arch for its entrance this place was known as Colonel spells Villa genteel France as the elegant residence of our distinguished fellow citizen Colonel Sorel Rockland weekly universe as the new house old settlers as Sprouse folly disaffected and possibly envious neighbors and in common discourse as the colonel Hezekiah spell Esquire Colonel Sproul of the Commonwealth's militia was a retired merchant and India merchant he might perhaps have been properly called for he used to deal in West India goods such as coffee sugar and molasses not to speak of rum also in tea salt fish butter em cheese oil and candles dried fruit agricultural produced generally industrial products such as boots and shoes and various kinds of iron and wooden wear and at one end of the establishment in calicoes and other stuffs to say nothing of miscellaneous objects of the most varied nature from sticks of candy which tempted in this smaller youth with coppers in their fists up to ornamental articles of apparel pocketbooks breast pens gilt edged Bibles stationery in short everything which was like to prove seductive to the rural population the colonel had made money in trade and also by matrimony he had married Sarah daughter and heiress of the late Tikal Jordan Esquire an old miser who gave the town clock which carries his name to posterity in large gilt letters as a generous benefactor of his native place in due time the colonel reaped the reward of well-placed affections when his wife's inheritance fell in he thought he had money enough to give up trade and therefore sold out his store called in some dialects of the English language shop and his business life became pretty hard work to him of course as soon as he had nothing particular to do country people with money enough not to have to work are in much more danger than city people in the same condition they get a specific look and character which are the same in all the villages where one stud them they very commonly fall into a routine the basis of which is going to some lounging place or other a bar room a reading room or something of the kind they grow slovenly and dress and wear the same hat forever they have a feeble curiosity for news Perhaps which they take daily as a man takes his bitters and then falls silent and think they are thinking but the mind goes out under this regimen like a fire without a draught and it is not very strange if the instinct of mental self-preservation drives them to brandy and water which makes the hoarse whisper of memory musical for a few brief moments and puts a we clear of promise on the features of the hollow-eyed future the colonel was kept pretty well in hand as yet by his wife and though it had happened to him once or twice to come home rather late at night with a curious tendency to say the same thing twice and even three times over it had always been in very cold weather and everybody knows that no one is safe to drink a couple of glasses of wine in a warm room and goes suddenly out into the cold air miss Matilda's fell the sole daughter of the house had reached the age at which young ladies are supposed in technical language to have come out and thereafter are considered to be in company there's one piece of goods said the colonel to his wife that we haven't disposed of nor got a customer for yet that's Matilda I don't mean to set her up at Vandu I guess she can have her pick of a dozen she's never seen anybody yet said mrs. Morel who had had a certain project for some time but had kept quiet about it let's have a party and give her a chance to show herself and see some of the young folks the colonel was not very clear-headed and he thought naturally enough that the party was his own suggestion be because his remark led to the first starting of the idea he entered into the plan therefore with a feeling of pride as well as pleasure and the great project was resolved upon in a family council without a dissenting voice this was the party then to which mr. Barnard was going the town had been full of it for a week everybody was asked so everybody said that was invited but how in respect of those who were not asked if it had been one of the old mansion houses that was giving a party the boundary between the favored and the slighted families would have been pretty well known beforehand and there would have been no great amount of grumbling but the kernel for all his title had a forest of poor relations and a brushwood swamp of shabby friends for he had scrambled up to fortune and now the time was come when he must define his new social position this is always an awkward business in town or country an exclusive alliance between two powers is often the same thing as a declaration of war against a third rockland was soon split into a triumphant minority invited to mrs. spells party and a great majority uninvited of which the fraction just on the borderline between recognized gentility and the level of the ungloved masses was in an active state of excitement and indignation who is she I should like to know said mrs. same or the Taylor's wife there was plenty of folks in Rockland as good as ever Sally Jordan was if she had managed to pick up a merchant other folks could have married merchants if their families wasn't as wealthy as them old skinflints that wilt her their money etc etc mrs. se more expressed the feeling of many beside herself she had however a special right to be proud of the name she bore her husband was own cousin to the same horse of freestone Avenue who write the name Seymour and claim to be of the Duke of Somerset family showing a clear descent from the protector to Edward Seymour 1630 then a jump that would break a Harold's neck to one son say more 1783 from whom to the head of the present family the line is clear again mrs. same or the tailor's wife was not invited because her husband mended clothes if he had confined himself strictly to making them it would have put a different face upon the matter the landlord of the mountain house and his lady were invited to mrs. hall's party not so the landlord of Pollard's tavern and his lady whereupon the latter vowed that they would have a party at their house too and made arrangements for a dance of twenty or thirty couples to be followed by an entertainment tickets to this social ball were soon circulated and being accessible to all at a moderate price admission to the elegant supper included this second festival promised to be as merry if not as select as the great party Wednesday came such doings had never been heard of in Rockland as went on that day at the villa the carpet had been taken up in the long room so that the young folks might have a dance miss Matilda's piano had been moved in and two Fiddler's and a clarinet player engaged to make music all kinds of lamps had been put in requisition and even colored wax candles figured on the mantel pieces the costumes of the family had been tried on the day before the Colonel's black suit fitted exceedingly well his ladies velvet dress displayed her contours to advantage miss Matilda's flowered silk was considered superb the eldest son of the family mr. T Jordan spell called affectionately and elegantly Geordie voted himself stunning and even the small youth who had born mr. Bernards invitation was effective in a new jacket and trousers but knee and front and baggy in the reverse aspect as his want to be the case with the homemade garments of inland youngsters great preparations had been made for the reflection which was to be part of the entertainment there was much clinking of borrowed spoons which were to be carefully counted and much clicking of borrowed China which was to be tenderly handled for nobody in the country keeps those vast closets full of such things which one may see in rich city houses not a great deal could be done in the way of flowers for there were no greenhouses and few plants were out as yet but there were paper ornaments for the candlesticks and colored mats for the lamps and all the tassels of the curtains and bells were taken out of those brown linen bags in which for reasons hitherto undiscovered they are habitually concealed in some households in the remoter apartments every imaginable operation was going on at once roasting boiling baking beating rolling pounding and mortars frying freezing for it there was to be ice cream tonight of domestic manufacture and in the myths of all these labors missus prale and miss Matilda were moving about directing and helping as they best might all day long when the evening came it might be feared that they would not be in just the state of mind and body to entertain company one would like to give a party now and then if one could be a billionaire Antoine I am going to have 20 people to dine tonight Bien's madam not a word or thought more about it but get home in season to dress and come down to your own table one of your own guests Giuseppe we are to have a party a week from tonight 500 invitations there is the live the day comes madam do you remember you have your party tonight why so I have everything right supper in all all as it should be madam send a Victorine Victorine full toilet for this evening pink diamonds and emeralds Co Fuhrer at 7:00 allez billion ISM or even million ISM must be a blessed kind of state with health and clear conscience and youth and good looks but mus blessed is this that it takes off all the mean cares which give people the three wrinkles between the eyebrows and leaves them free to have a good time and make others have a good time all the way along from the charity that tips up unexpected loads of wood before widows houses and leaves foundling turkeys upon poor men's doorsteps and sets lean clergymen crying at the sight of anonymous $50 bills to the taste which orders a perfect banquet in such sweet accord with every sense that everybody's nature flowers out full-blown in its golden glowing fragrant atmosphere a great party given by the smaller gentry of the interior is a kind of solemnity so to speak it involves so much labour and anxiety its spasmodic splendors are so violently contrasted with the holiness of everyday family life it is such a formidable matter to break in the Russ subordinates to the menage of the cloakroom and the table there is such a terrible uncertainty in the results of unfamiliar culinary operations so many feuds are involved in drawing that fatal line which divides the invited from the uninvited fraction of the local universe that if the note requested the pleasure of the guests company on this solemn occasion they would pretty nearly express the true state of things the colonel himself had been pressed into the service he had pounded something in the great mortar he had agitated a quantity of sweetened and thickened milk in what was called a cream freezer at 11 o'clock a.m. he retired for a space on returning his color was noted to be somewhat heightened and he showed a disposition to be jocular with the female help which tendency displaying itself in livelier demonstrations than were approved at headquarters led to his being detailed too out of door duties such as raking gravel arranging places for horses to be hitched to and assisting in the construction of an arch of wintergreen at the porch of the mansion a whiff from mr. Jordi's cigar refreshed the toiling females from time to time for the windows had to be opened occasionally while all these operations were going on and the youth amused himself with inspecting the interior encouraging the operatives now and then in the phrases commonly employed by genteel young men for he had perused an odd volume of verdant green and was acquainted with a sophomore from one of the freshwater colleges go it on the feed exclaimed the spirited young man nothing like a good spread grub enough and good liquor that's the ticket Guv'nor will do the heavy polite and let me alone for polishing off the young charmers and mr. Geordie looked expressively at a hand maid who was rolling gingerbread as if he were rehearsing for it Don Giovanni evening came at last and the ladies were forced to leave the scene of their labors to array themselves for the coming festivities the tables had been set in a back room the meats were ready the pickles were displayed the cake was baked the Blanc munch had stiffened and the ice cream had frozen at half-past seven o'clock the colonel in costume came into the front parlor and proceeded to light the lamps some were good humoured enough and took the hint of a lighted match at once others were as vicious as they could be would not lie on any terms anymore than if they were filled with water or lighted and smoked one side of the chimney or spattered a few sparks and soaked themselves out or kept up a faint show of burning so that their ground glasses looked as feebly phosphorescent as so many invalid fireflies with much coaching and screwing and pricking a tolerable illumination was at last achieved at eight there was a grand rustling of silks and mrs. and Miss Sproul descended from their respective powers or food was of course they were pretty well tired by this time and very glad to sit down having the prospect before them of being obliged to stand for hours the colonel walked about the parlor inspecting his regiment of lamps by-and-by mr. Geordi entered hum-hmm he sniffed as he came in you smell of lamp smoke here that always calls people to have a newcomer accused them of smoke or close air which they have got used to and do not perceive the colonel raged at the thought of his lamps smoking and tongued a few anathemas inside of his shut teeth but turned down two or three wicks that burned higher than the rest master H Frederick next made his appearance with questionable marks upon his fingers and countenance had been tampering with something brown and sticky his elder brother grew playful and caught him by the baggy reverse of his more essential garment hush said mrs. Morel there's the Bell everybody took position at once and began to look very smiling and altogether at ease false alarm only a parcel of spoons loaned as the inland folk say when they meant lent by a neighbor better late than never said the colonel let me help them spoons mrs. Morel came down into her chair again as if all her bones had been bewitched out of her I'm pretty nigh beat Oh already said she before any of the folks has come they sat silent awhile waiting for the first arrival how nervous they got and how their senses were sharpened hark said Miss Mathilda what's that rumblin it was a cart going over a bridge more than a mile off which at any other time they would not have heard after this there was a lull and poor mrs. morels head nodded once or twice presently a crackling and grinding of gravel how much that means when we are waiting for those whom we long or dread to see than a change in the tone of the gravel crackling yes they have turned in at our gate they are coming mother mother everybody in position smiling and at ease bell rings enter the first set of visitors the event of the season has begun law it's nothing but the cranes folks I do believe mahalos come in that old green Delaine she wore at the surprise party Miss Matilda had peeped through a crack of the door and made this observation and the remark founded thereon continuing her attitude of attention she overheard mrs. crane and her two daughters conversing in the attire upon flight how fine everything is in the great house said mrs. crane just look at the pictures Matilda spells drones said ADA as UBA the eldest daughter I should think so said mahalo crane her younger sister a wide-awake girl who hadn't been to school for nothing and performed a little on the lead-pencil herself I should like to know whether there's a Haycock or a mountain miss Matilda whenst for this must refer to her favorite monochrome executed by laying on heavy shadows and stumping them down into mellow harmony the style of drawing which is taught in six lessons and the kind of specimen which is executed in something less than one our parents and other very near relatives are sometimes gratified with these productions and caused them to be framed and hung up as in the present instance I guess we won't go down just yet said mrs. crane as folks don't seem to have come so she began a systematic inspection of the dressing-room and its conveniences mahogany four-poster come from the Jordans I call that Marseillaise quilt ruffles all round the pillar chin skirtings just put up o purpose for the party a lei a dollar what a nice wash bowl taps it with a white knuckle belonging to a red finger stone cheney here's a brand new brush and comb and here's a scent bottle come here girls and fix yourselves in the glass and sent your pocket handkerchiefs and mrs. crane fuh dude her own kerchief with some of the Eau de cologne of native manufacturer said on its label to be much superior to the German article it was a relief to mrs. and the miss cranes when the bell rang and the next guests were admitted Deacon and mrs. Soper Deacon Soper of the Reverend mr. Fairweather Church and his lady mrs. Deacon Soper was directed of course to the ladies dressing-room and her husband to the other apartment where gentlemen were to leave their outside coats and hats then came mr. and mrs. Briggs and then the three miss – and then Silas Peckham head of the Apollonian Institute and mrs. Peckham and more after them until at last the ladies dressing-room got so full that one might have thought it was a trap none of them could get out of in truth they all felt a little awkwardly nobody wanted to be first to venture downstairs at last mr. Silas Peckham thought it was time to make a move for the parlor and for this purpose presented himself at the door of the ladies dressing room Lorin D my dear he exclaimed to mrs. Peckham I think there can be no impropriety in our joining the family downstairs mrs. Peckham laid her large flaccid arm in the sharp Angle made by the black sleeve which held the bony limb her husband offered and the two took the stair and struck out for the parlor the ice was broken and the dressing room began to empty itself into the spacious lighted apartments below mr. Silas Peckham slid into the room with mrs. Peckham alongside like a shed convoying a jellyfish good evening mrs. frolla I hope I see you well this evening how's your health Colonel spell very well much obliged to you hope you and your good lady are well much pleased to see you hope you'll enjoy yourselves we've laid out to have everything in good shape spared no trouble nor pence said Silas Peckham mrs. kernels Braille who you remember was it Jordan had nipped the Colonel's statement in the middle of the word mr. Peckham finished with a look that jerked him like one of those sharp twitches women keep giving a horse when they get a chance to drive one mr. and mrs. crane miss ADA Zuba and Miss mahalo crane made their entrance there had been a discussion about the necessity and propriety of inviting this family the head of which kept a small shop for hats and boots and shoes the Colonel's casting vote had carried it in the affirmative how terribly the poor old green Delaine did cut up in the blaze of so many lamps and candles deluded little wretch male or female in town or country going to your first great party how little you know the nature of the ceremony in which you are to bear the part of victim what are not these Garland's and gauzy myths and many colored streamers which adorn you is not this music which welcomes you this radiance that glows about you meant solely for your enjoyment young myths of 17 or 18 summers now for the first time swimming unto the frothy chatoyant sparkling undulating sea of laces and silks and satins and white armed flower crowned maidens struggling in their waves beneath the Luster's that make the fault summer of the drawing-room stopped at the threshold this is a hull of judgment you are entering the Court is in session and if you move five steps forward you will be at its bar there was a tribunal once in France as you may remember called the chambre ardent the burning chamber it was hung all round with lamps and hence its name the burning chamber for the trial of young maidens is the blazing ballroom what have they full dressed you think or rather have dressed you for do you think to make you look pretty of course why have they hung a chandelier above you flickering all over with flames so that it searches you like the noonday Sun and your deepest dimple cannot hold a shadow to give brilliancy to the gay scene no doubt no my dear society is inspecting you and it finds undisguised surfaces and strong lights a convenience in the process the dance answers the purpose of the revolving pedestal upon which the white captive turns to show us the soft needed marble which looks as if it had never been hard in all its manifold aspects of living loveliness no mercy for you my love justice strict justice you shall certainly have neither more nor less for look you there are dozens scores hundreds with whom you must be weighed in the balance and you have got to learn that the struggle for life mr. Charles Darwin talks about reaches to vertebrates clad in crinoline as well as to mollusks in shells or articulates in jointed scales or anything that fights for breathing room and food and love in any coat fur or feather happy they who can flash defiance from bright eyes and snowy shoulders back into the pendants of the insolent Luster's miss Mahalo crane did not have these reflections and no young girl ever did or ever will thank heaven her keen eyes sparkled under her plainly parted hair and the green Delaine molded itself in those unmistakable lines of natural symmetry in which nature indulges a small shopkeepers daughter occasionally as well as a wholesale dealers young ladies she would have liked a new dress as much as any other girl but she meant to go and have a good time at any rate the guests were now arriving in the drawing room pretty fast and the Colonel's hand began to burn a good deal with the sharp squeezes which many of the visitors gave at conversations which had begun like a summer shower in scattering drops was fast becoming continuous and occasionally rising into gusty swells with now and then a broad-chested laugh from some captain or major or other military personal for it may be noted that all large and loud men in the unpaved districts bear military titles Deacon Soper came up presently and entered into conversation with Colonel swell I hope to see our pastor present this evening said the deacon I don't feel quite sure the colonel answered his dyspepsia has been bad on him lately he wrote to say that Providence permitting it would be agreeable to him to take a part in the exercises of the evening but I mistrusted he didn't mean to come to tell the truth Deacon Soper I rather guess he didn't like the idea of dancin and some of the other little arrangements well said the Deacon I know there's some condemns dancin I've heard a good deal of talk about it among the folks round some have it that it never brings a blessing on a house to have dance in it judge tile stand ID you remember within a month after he had his great ball 12 year ago and some thought it was in the nature of a judgment I don't believe in any of them notions if a man happened to be struck dead the night after he'd been given a ball the colonel loosened his Blackstock a little and winked and swallowed two or three times I shouldn't call it a judgement I should call it a coincidence but I'm a little afraid our pastor won't come something or others the matter with mr. Fairweather I should sooner expect to see the old doctor come over out of the Orthodox parsonage house I've asked him said the colonel well said Deacon Soper he said he should like to come but he didn't know what his people would say for his part he loved to see young folks have him there sports together and very often felt as if he should like to be one of them himself but says eye doctor I don't say there won't be a little dancin don't says he for I want Lettie to go she's his granddaughter that's been staying with him and Letty's mighty fond of dancin you know says the doctor it isn't my business to settle whether other people's children should dance or not and the doctor looked as if he should like to rig ADUN and sashay across as well as the young one he was talking about he's got blood in him the old doctor has I wish our little man and him would swap pulpits Deacon Soper started and looked up into the Colonel's face as if to see whether he was in earnest mr. Silas Peckham and his lady joined the group is this to be a temperance celebration mrs. Birrell asked mr. Silas Peckham mrs. Sproul replied that there would be lemonade and shrub for those that preferred such drinks but that the colonel had given folks to understand that he didn't mean to set in judgment on the marriage in Canaan and that those who didn't like shrub and such things would find something that would suit them better deacons soap countenance assumed a certain air of restrained cheerfulness the conversation rose into one of its gusty paroxysms just then master H Frederick got behind a door and began performing the experiment of stopping and unstopping his ears in rapid alternation greatly rejoicing in the singular effect of mixed conversation chopped very small like the contents of a mince pie or meat pie as it is more forcibly called in the deep rutted villages lying along the unsalted streams all at once it grew silent just round the door where it had been loudest and the silence spread itself like a stain till it hushed everything but a few cornered duets a dark said looking middle-aged gentleman entered the parlor with a young lady on his arm his daughter as it seemed for she was not wholly unlike him in feature and of the same dark complexion dudley venner exclaimed a dozen people in startled but half suppressed tones what can have brought Dudley out tonight said Jefferson Bock a young fellow who had been interrupted in one of the corner duets which he was executing in concert with Miss Susie Pettingill how do I know Jeff was Miss Suzy's answer then after a pause Elsie made him come I guess go ask dr. Kittredge he knows all about them both they say dr. Kittredge the leading physician of Rockland was a shrewd old man who looked pretty keenly into his patients through his spectacles and pretty widely at men women and things in general over them 63 years old just the year of the ground climacteric a bald crown as every doctor should have a consulting practitioners mouth that is movable round the corners while the case is under examination but both corners well drawn down and kept so when the final opinion is made up in fact the doctor was often sent for two as counsel all over the county and beyond it he kept three or four horses sometimes riding in the saddle commonly driving in a sulky pretty fast and looking straight before him so that people got out of the way of bowing to him as he passed on the road there was some talk about his not being so long sighted as other folks but his old patience left and looked knowing when this was spoken of the doctor knew a good many things besides how to drop tinctures and shake out powders thus he knew a horse and what is harder to understand a horse dealer and was a match for him he knew what a nervous woman is and how to manage her he could tell at a glance when she is in that condition of unstable equilibrium in which a rough word is like a blow to her and the touch of unmagnetized fingers reverses all her nervous currents it is not everybody that enters into the soul of mozart's or Beethoven's harmonies and there are vital symphonies in b-flat and other low sad Keys which a doctor may know as little of as a hurdy-gurdy player of the essence of those divine musical mysteries the doctor knew the difference between what men say and what they mean as well as most people when he was listening to common talk he was in the habit of looking over his spectacles if he lifted his head so as to look through them at the person talking he was busier with that person's thoughts than with his words end of chapter 7 part 1 and misses and misspelled and mrs. and Miss sprawl and mrs. and Miss Sproul

One thought on “Elsie Venner | Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. | Literary Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 2/10

  1. Elsie Venner | Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. | Literary Fiction | Audiobook Full | English | 2/10

    5: [00:00:00] – An Old-Fashioned Descriptive Chapter

    6: [00:29:34] – The Sunbeam and the Shadow

    7: [00:52:54] – The Event of the Season, part 1

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