HOW SANTA CLAUS FOUND THE POOR-HOUSE       95


him even while the doctor was speaking. If he went away, who would take care of 'Thusely? And 'Thusely's heart would be broken. 
   "I can't go, sir; I forgot. No--no--I can't go!" said Gobaly. 
   Oh, what a lump there was in his throat! He had swallowed many a lump for 'Thusely's sake, but that was the very biggest one! 
   And then he turned and ran out of the house, without any ceremony. He knew it was rude, but that lump would n't stay down, and though he might be called "town's poor," he was n't going to be called a cry-baby! 
   And home he ran, as fast as his legs would carry him. 
   That night something very unusual happened. Mrs. Pynchum went to the village to a Christmas festival. She went before dark, and the spirits of everybody in the poor-house rose as soon as she was out of sight. Mr. Pynchum piled great logs upon the fire-place, till there was such a roaring fire as had not been seen there for many a long day; and he told Joe Golightly and Gobaly to go down cellar and bring up as many apples as they wanted to, and he found the key of the closet where the bag of nuts was kept! And Sandy Gooding brought out some fine pop-corn that he had saved up; and Joe Golightly brought out his violin, which, though some of its strings were broken and its voice was a little cracked and wheezy, could yet cheer one up wonderfully with "Bonnie Dundee" and "The Campbells are Coming." Everybody was merry,--although there was no Christmas-tree, and nobody had a present except 'Thusely, who had a big red peppermint-drop that Gobaly bought him with a penny hoarded for six weeks-- and it would have been a very pleasant evening if there had not been one great drawback. Mrs. Pynchum had a way

of pouncing upon people when they least expected her. If a window rattled or a mouse stirred in the wall, a hush fell upon the mirth, and everybody shrank with dread. It would be so like Mrs. Pynchum to sus- pect that they were having a good time, and turn back to put a stop to it before she had fairly reached the festival! 
   Just as they had poured out a popperful of corn,--popped out so big and white that it would do you good to see it,--and Uncle Sim was clearing his throat to begin a story, there came a loud knock at the door. Everybody jumped. Mr. Pynchum and Sandy began to cram the apples into their pockets, and thrust the cornpopper into the closet, and Joe hid his violin under his coat-tails. It took them all fully two minutes to remember that Mrs. Pynchum never knocked. 
   Mr. Pynchum sat down again, and said, in a tone of surprise, as if he had not been in the least agitated: "What is the matter with you all? 
Gobaly, open the door." 
   Gobaly opened the door, and who should be there but Squire Thorndike and the city doctor! 
   The moment 'Thusely saw Dr. Carruthers he called out "Santa Claus!" And the big doctor laughed, and took a great package of candy out of his pocket and gave it to 'Thusely. 
   After that it was of no use for Gobaly to whisper, "The dog gentleman!" in 'Thusely's ear; he could n't think it was anybody but Santa Claus. 
   "I 'm so glad you 've come!" he said, confidentially. "And you look just like your picture. And I don't see why you never came before, for you don't seem proud. And we are n't such very bad boys; anyway, Gobaly is n't. Don't you believe what Mrs. Pynchum tells you! Will you? 
   The doctor laughed, and said he was


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