The Doctor’s mare, Cassia, was so called by her master from her cinnamon color, cassia being one of the professional names for that spice or drug. She was of the shade we call sorrel, or, as an Englishman would perhaps say, chestnut,—a genuine “Morgan” mare, with a low forehand, as is common in this breed, but with strong quarters and flat hocks, well ribbed up, with a good eye and a pair of lively ears,—a first-rate doctor’s beast, would stand until her harness dropped off her back at the door of a tedious case, and trot over hill and dale thirty miles in three hours, if there was a child in the next county with a bean in its windpipe and the Doctor gave her a hint of the fact. Cassia was not large, but she had a good deal of action, and was the Doctor’s show-horse. There were two other animals in his stable: Quassia or Quashy, the black horse, and Caustic, the old bay, with whom he jogged round the village.
“A long ride to-day?” said Abel, as he brought up the equipage.
“Just out of the village,—that ’s all.—There ’s a kink in her mane,—pull it out, will you?”
“Goin’ to visit some of the great folks,” Abel said to himself. “Wonder who it is.”—Then to the Doctor,—“Anybody get sick at Sprowles’s? They say Deacon Soper had a fit, after eatin’ some o’ their frozen victuals.”
The Doctor smiled. He guessed the Deacon would do well enough. He was only going to ride over to the Dudley mansion-house.
The doctor calls on Elsie Venner.
If that primitive physician, Chiron, M. D., appears as a Centaur, as we look at him through the lapse of thirty centuries, the modern country-doctor, if he could be seen about thirty miles off, could not be distinguished from a wheel-animalcule. He inhabits a wheel-carriage. He thinks of stationary dwellings as Long Tom Coffin did of land in general; a house may be well enough for incidental purposes, but for a “stiddy” residence give him a “kerridge.” If he is classified in the Linnaean scale, he must be set down thus: Genus Homo; Species Rotifer infusorius, the wheel-animal of infusions.
The Dudley mansion was not a mile from the Doctor’s; but it never occurred to him to think of walking to see any of his patients’ families, if he had any professional object in his visit. Whenever the narrow sulky turned in at a gate, the rustic who was digging potatoes, or hoeing corn, or swishing through the grass with his scythe, in wave-like crescents, or stepping short behind a loaded wheelbarrow, or trudging lazily by the side of the swinging, loose-throated, short-legged oxen, rocking along the road as if they had just been landed after a three-months’ voyage, the toiling native, whatever he was doing, stopped and looked up at the house the Doctor was visiting.
“Somebody sick over there t’ Haynes’s. Guess th’ old man’s ailin’ ag’in. Winder’s half-way open in the chamber,—should n’ wonder ’f he was dead and laid aout. Docterin’ a’n’t no use, when y’ see th’ winders open like that. Wahl, money a’n’t much to speak of to th’ old man naow! He don’ want but tew cents,—’n’ old Widah Peake, she knows what he wants them for!”