Doctor Elnathan Todd, for such was the name of the man of physic, was commonly thought to be, among the settlers, a gentleman of great mental endowments, and he was assuredly of rare personal proportions.
Elnathan, then about fifteen, was, much like a wild colt, caught and trimmed by clipping his bushy locks; dressed in a suit of homespun, dyed in the butternut bark; furnished with a “New Testament” and a “Webster’s Spelling Book,” and sent to school.
Several indirect questions were put concerning the place where the physician was last seen; but all would not do; and at length Elnathan was seen issuing from his door with a very grave air, preceded by a little white-headed boy, out of breath, trotting before him.
If a Templar would smile at the qualifications of Marmaduke to fill the judicial seat he occupied, we are certain that a graduate of Leyden or Edinburgh would be extremely amused with this true narration of the servitude of Elnathan in the temple of Aesculapius.
By these means Elnathan had acquired a certain degree of knowledge in fevers and agues, and could talk with judgment concerning intermittents, remittents, tertians, quotidians, etc.
Most of the amputations in the new settlements, and they were quite frequent, were per formed by some one practitioner who, possessing originally a reputation, was enabled by this circumstance to acquire an experience that rendered him deserving of it; and Elnathan had been present at one or two of these operations.
While speaking, Elnathan placed a pair of large iron-rimmed spectacles on his face, where they dropped, as it were by long practice, to the extremity of his slim pug nose; and, if they were of no service as assistants to his eyes, neither were they any impediment to his vision; for his little gray organs were twinkling above them like two stars emerging from the envious cover of a cloud.
In the mean time Elnathan, to whom the sight of a gun shot wound was a perfect novelty, commenced his preparations with a solemnity and care that were worthy of the occasion.
These were arranged in due order by the side of the murderous saws, knives, and scissors, when Elnathan stretched his long body to its utmost elevation, placing his hand on the small of his back as if for sup port, and looked about him to discover what effect this display of professional skill was likely to produce on the spectators.
Certainly, there are incredible tales told in the encyclopaedias,” returned Elnathan, “though I cannot say that I have ever seen, myself, anything larger than a musket ball extracted.