was a judge of such things. He had once doctored a
rooster's lame leg, and though the rooster was never again able to mount a
fence, and crowed with diminished energy, he was still able to cheer his
heart by fighting the three other roosters all at once, and was likely to
escape the dinner-pot for a long time to come, though his gait was no
longer lordly. Gobaly had also successfully treated a kitten with a
sprained ankle--to say nothing of one whose tail the gobbler had nipped
off. And he had seen the doctor in the village set a puppy's leg, and had
carefully watched the operation.
He helped the dog along toward the
house--and it was well that he was a strong and sturdy little fellow or he
could not have done it--and managed at last to get the poor creature,
unobserved, into the wood-shed. He was very much afraid that Mrs. Pynchum,
if she should see him, would order him to leave the dog in the road, and
he knew it would not do to carry him in beside the kitchen fire, as he
wanted to, for Mrs. Pynchum never wanted "a dirty dog in her clean house."
Gobaly found it hard to decide whether the bone was broken or only out of
place, but he made a sort of a splint, such as he had seen the doctor use
upon the puppy's leg, and then wound soft cloths, wet with liniment, about
it, and the dog certainly seemed relieved, and licked Gobaly's hand, and
looked at him with grateful eyes.
He ventured into the house after a
while, and beckoned to Methuselah to come out to the woodshed.
was convinced that Santa Claus had sent the dog to them as a Christmas
present, and his delight was unbounded.
"Of course, Santa Claus must
have sent him, or why would he have come down this lonely road all by
himself? And you will cure him" (Methuselah
thought there was little that
Gobaly could n't do if he tried), "and perhaps she will let us keep him!"
But a sudden recollection had struck Gobaly. The dog had been carrying a
basket in his mouth; there might be some thing in it that would tell where
he came from.
Though the dog's appearance was mysterious, Gobaly was not
so ready as Methuselah to accept the Santa Claus theory.
He ran out and
found the basket, half buried in the snow, where it had fallen from the
dog's mouth. There were several letters and papers in it addressed to "Dr.
Carruthers, care of Richard Thorndike, Esq."
Dr. Carruthers was the famous
New York physician who was visiting Squire Thorndike! Gobaly had heard the
people in the village talking about him. The dog probably belonged to him,
and had been sent to the post-office for his letters.
Although he had not
really believed that Santa Claus sent the dog, Gobaly did feel a pang of
disappointment that they must part with him so soon. But then Mrs. Pynchum would probably not have allowed them to keep him, anyhow, and she
might have had him shot because his leg was hurt. That thought consoled
Gobaly, and having obtained Mrs. Pynchum's permission to carry him to
his master,-- which was readily given, since it was the easiest way to get
rid of the dog,--he put a very large box, with a bed in it made of straw
and soft cloth, upon his sled, and then lifted the dog gently into the
box. The dog whined with pain when he was moved, but still licked Gobaly's
hand, as if he understood that he was his friend and did not mean to
Methuselah stood in the shed door, and looked after them,
weeping, sadly making up his mind that Santa Claus was proud and would
never come to the poor-house.