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This book is story of Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny is an 1861 novel and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Later dubbed the first of his medicated novels, it tells the story of a neurotic young woman whose mother was bitten by a rattlesnake while pregnant, essentially making her daughter half-woman, half-snake. The novel is told from the perspective of an unnamed medical professor. He tells the story of a student named Bernard Langdon, who has to take some time away from his studies to earn money as a teacher. Langdon spends a short time teaching at a school in the village of Pigwacket Centre where he earns respect after taking on the school bully, Abner Briggs. After only a month, however, Langdon leaves to work at the Apollinean Female Institute in the town of Rockland. The owner of the institute is the profit-focused Silas Peckham and the schoolmistress is Miss Helen Darley, who is literally working herself to death. One of his students is the 17-year old Elsie Venner, who purposely sits apart from the other students. She is known for being strange and quick to anger. She is only close to her father Dudley Venner, who she calls by his first name, and her governess, Old Sophy. She also has a friendship with the town physician Dr. Kittredge, to whom she reveals that she ran away from home to hide on the other side of the mountain, where the other town residents are afraid to go. Elsie's half-Spanish cousin Richard Dick Venner pays a visit at the Venner estate. Like Elsie, his mother died when he was a child and the two cousins were playmates in their childhood. Elsie, however, was rough on her cousin and once bit him hard enough that he still has scars from it. Dick has since become a skilled horse-rider and a bit of a trouble-maker, though stories of his escapades are unclear. Rumors abound that Dick has come to town to ask his cousin Elsie to marry him; in fact, he intends to marry her so that he can inherit his uncle's estate.