Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/10

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over which he had been standing. He was a young man of twenty-three years, of the nervous temperament,—with light hair, and dark blue eyes. His face was pale, indicating much firmness, and self-control, while the contour of his person was slight, not very tall, nor ungraceful.

He was evidently a deep and continual thinker, and though so young, there were thought-furrows legibly imprinted upon his forehead. He wore, as is often the case among medical students, a frock, or garb of india-rubber cloth, fastened loosely about the middle by a belt, with the sleeves buttoned closely about the wrist. Gloves of oiled silk were upon his hands, and between the thumb and fingers of the right he held, with gentle grasp, a common scalpel, the bright blade of which seemed slow to perform its accustomed work. A case of dissecting instruments lay open upon the table, near his left, consisting of tenacula, scissors, small forceps, knives of various shapes, adapted to the various uses into which they might be called, with needles, etc. etc.

Two lamps were burning, by the aid of which he was to perform his not enviable task. The room was small, and the upper one of a three story building. Directly over the body was a window, which during the day admitted sufficient light to serve the purpose of the student, or students, as the case might be. The door was carefully closed and locked, for reasons obvious.

"Ah death!" resumed the student, "thou art a mysterious thing,—a change whether for good or evil I am puzzled to know, and cannot even guess. But in this instance I feel that thou art no unfriendly visitant, else thou wouldst not leave such peaceful, benignant lines upon this young face.

Death! I have looked upon thee often, and in every form, but never knew thee stripped of thy terrors, and mild, and smiling on me thus. When the numbers whose aggregate tells the sum of my existence, shall be counted upon the dial of life, then, inscrutable power, visit me thus, and I will not curse thy approach."

Here the pale student was interrupted in his soliloquy by several raps on the door, repeated at regular intervals.—Without a word he arose, unlocked and opened it. Two persons entered, threw off their overcoats, and with a glance towards the corpse seated themselves by a small stove, apparently for the purpose of warming their hands; for a cold December night was that.

The eldest of the two was about thirty-five years of age. His height, the width of his chest, and the size of his limbs, would have done credit to an athlete in the Olympic games, and been the boast of the Gymnasium, had it been his fortune to move in that particular sphere.

But it was not to be thus: he was to be a doctor of medicine; and it is in this very reputable capacity that we have the honor to make his acquaintance.

His hair was of an ebony blackness, very long, and without the least inclination to curl, which is so frequently the case in romances, and legends, while his face was broad and swarthy; his eyes corresponded admirably with the color of his locks, and were restless and piercing.

His person was a perfect model of muscular developement and manliness. There was an expression of good humor upon his open countenance, which would invariably win one's confidence and good will at first sight. Dr. Frene—this was his name—was deeply versed in the knowledge of his profession, and had neglected no opportunity to become thoroughly acquainted with its various branches. Consequently he enjoyed the reputation of being very skilful in the healing art, which reputation he really merited.