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'Doc.' Gordon

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It was very early in the morning, it was scarcely dawn, when the young man started upon a walk of twenty-five miles to reach Alton, where he was to be assistant to the one physician in the place, Doctor Thomas Gordon, or as he was familiarly called, "Doc." Gordon. The young man's name was James Elliot. He had just graduated, and this was to be his first experience in the practice of his profession of medicine. He was in his twenties. He was small, but from the springiness of his gait and the erectness of his head he gave an impression of height. He was very good-looking, with clearly-cut features, and dark eyes, in which shone, like black diamonds, sparks of mischief. They were honest eyes, too. The young fellow was still sowing his wild oats, but more with his hands than with his soul. He was walking because of a great amount of restless energy; he fairly revelled [pg 006] in stretching his legs over the country road in the keen morning air. The train service between Gresham, his home place, and Alton was very bad, necessitating two changes and waits of hours, and he had fretted at the prospect. When a young man is about to begin his career, he does not wish to sit hours in dingy little railroad stations on his way toward it. It was much easier, and pleasanter, to walk, almost run to it, as he was doing now. His only baggage was his little medicine-case; his trunk had gone by train the day before. He was very well dressed, his clothes had the cut of a city tailor. He was almost dandified. His father was well-to-do: a successful peach-grower on a wholesale scale. His great farm was sprayed over every spring with delicate rosy garlands of peach blossoms, and in the autumn the trees were heavy with the almond-scented fruit. He had made a fortune, and aside from that had achieved a certain local distinction. He was then mayor of Gresham, which had a city government. James was very proud of his father and fond of him. Indeed, he had reason to be. His father had done everything in his power for him, given him a good education, and supplied [pg 007] him liberally with money. James had always had a sense of plenty of money, which had kept him from undue love of it. He was now beginning the practice of his profession, in a small way, it is true, but that he recognized as expedient. "You had better get acclimated, become accustomed to your profession in a small place, before you launch out in a city," his father had said, and the son had acquiesced. It was the natural wing-trying process before large flights were attempted, and the course commended itself to his reason. James, as well as his father, had good reasoning power. He whistled to himself as he walked along. He was very happy. He had a sensation as of one who has his goal in sight. He thought of his father, his mother, and his two younger sisters, but with no distress at absenting himself from them, although he lived in accord with his family. Twenty-five miles to his joyous youth seemed but as a step across the road....