HOW SANTA CLAUS FOUND THE POOR-HOUSE       94


Gobaly had never been even inside Squire Thorndike's gate before, and he went up to one of the back doors with fear and trembling; the servants at Squire Thorndike's were said to be "stuck-up," and they might not be very civil to "town's poor." But at the sight of the dog they raised a great cry, and at once ushered Gobaly into the presence of Squire Thorndike and Dr. Carruthers, that he might tell them all he knew about the accident. 
   Dr. Carruthers was a big, jolly-looking man, with white hair and a long white beard, just like pictures of Santa Claus. Gobaly was sure that Methuselah would think he was Santa Claus if he could see him. He evidently felt very sorry about the dog's accident, and pitied him and petted him as if he were a baby; Gobaly, who had never had so much petting in his whole life, thought the dog ought to forget all about his leg. 
   And then he suddenly turned to Gobaly and asked him who set the leg. Gobaly answered, modestly, that he "fixed it as well as he could because there was n't anybody else around."          
   "How did you know how?" asked the doctor. And Gobaly related his experiences with the rooster and the kitten and the puppy. Dr. Carruthers looked at him steadily out of a pair of eyes that were very sharp, although very kind. Then he turned to Squire Thorndike and said "an uncommon boy."  Squire Thorndike answered, and they talked together in a low tone, casting an occasional glance at Gobaly. 
   How Gobaly's ears did burn! He wondered what Squire Thorndike knew about him, and he thought of every prank he ever had played in his life. Gobaly was an unusually good boy, but he had played a few pranks; being a boy,--and he thought they were a great deal worse than they really were, because Mrs. Pynchum said so.

And he imagined that Dr. Carruthers was hearing all about them, and would presently turn round and say that such a bad boy had no right to touch his dog, and that such conduct was just what he should expect of "town's poor." But instead of that, after several minutes' conversation with Squire Thorndike, he turned to Gobaly, and said: 
   "I want an office-boy, and I think you are just the boy to suit me. Would you like to come and live with me, and perhaps, one of these days, be a doctor yourself." 
   Gobaly caught his breath. 
   To go away from Mrs. Pynchum; not to be "town's poor" any more; to learn to be a doctor! He had said once in Mrs. Pynchum's hearing that he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up, and she had said, sneeringly, that "town's poor were n't very likely to get a chance to learn to be doctors."    
   And now the chance had come to him! Gobaly thought it seemed too much like heaven to be anything that could happen to a mortal boy! 
   "Well, would you like to go?" asked the doctor again, as Gobaly could find no words to answer.      
   "Would I, sir? Would n't  I!" said Gobaly, with a radiant face. 
   "Well, then, l will make an arrangement with the selectmen--which I have no doubt it will be easy to do--and will take you home with me to-morrow night," said the good doctor. 
   But the brightness had suddenly faded from Gobaly's face. He stood with his hands thrust into his trousers pockets, gazing irresolutely at the carpet. 
   But it was not the carpet that Gobaly saw; it might as well have been the yellow paint of the poor-house floors for all that he noticed of its luxurious pile and beautiful colors. It was 'Thusely's pale, pinched little face that he saw! It had risen before


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