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An Assisted Providence
by [?]

IT was the Christmas turkeys that should be held responsible. Every year the Lossings give each head of a family in their employ, and each lad helping to support his mother, a turkey at Christmastide. As the business has grown, so has the number of turkeys, until it is now well up in the hundreds, and requires a special contract. Harry, one Christmas, some two years ago, bought the turkeys at so good a bargain that he felt the natural reaction in an impulse to extravagance. In the very flood-tide of the money-spending yearnings, he chanced to pass Deacon Hurst’s stables and to see two Saint Bernard puppies, of elephantine size but of the tenderest age, gambolling on the sidewalk before the office. Deacon Hurst, I should explain, is no more a deacon than I am; he is a livery-stable keeper, very honest, a keen and solemn sportsman, and withal of a staid demeanor and a habitual garb of black. Now you know as well as I any reason for his nickname.

Deacon Hurst is fond of the dog as well as of that noble animal the horse (he has three copies of “Black Beauty” in his stable, which would do an incalculable amount of good if they were ever read!); and he usually has half a dozen dogs of his own, with pedigrees long enough for a poor gentlewoman in a New England village. He told Harry that the Saint Bernards were grandsons of Sir Bevidere, the “finest dog of his time in the world, sir;” that they were perfectly marked and very large for their age (which Harry found it easy to believe of the young giants), and that they were “ridiculous, sir, at the figger of two hundred and fifty!” (which Harry did not believe so readily); and, after Harry had admired and studied the dogs for the space of half an hour, he dropped the price, in a kind of spasm of generosity, to two hundred dollars. Harry was tempted to close the bargain on the spot, hot-headed, but he decided to wait and prepare his mother for such a large addition to the stable.

The more he dwelt on the subject the more he longed to buy the dogs.

In fact, a time comes to every healthy man when he wants a dog, just as a time comes when he wants a wife; and Harry’s dog was dead. By consequence, Harry was in the state of sensitive affection and desolation to which a promising new object makes the most moving appeal. The departed dog (Bruce by name) had been a Saint Bernard; and Deacon Hurst found one of the puppies to have so much the expression of countenance of the late Bruce that he named him Bruce on the spot–a little before Harry joined the group. Harry did not at first recognize this resemblance, but he grew to see it; and, combined with the dog’s affectionate disposition, it softened his heart. By the time he told his mother he was come to quoting Hurst’s adjectives as his own.

“Beauties, mother,” says Harry, with sparkling eyes; “the markings are perfect–couldn’t be better; and their heads are shaped just right! You can’t get such watch-dogs in the world! And, for all their enormous strength, gentle as a lamb to women and children! And, mother, one of them looks like Bruce!”

“I suppose they would want to be housedogs,” says Mrs. Lossing, a little dubiously, but looking fondly at Harry’s handsome face; “you know, somehow, all our dogs, no matter how properly they start in a kennel, end by being so hurt if we keep them there that they come into the house. And they are so large, it is like having a pet lion about.”

“These dogs, mother, shall never put a paw in the house.”

“Well, I hope just as I get fond of them they will not have the distemper and die!” said Mrs. Lossing; which speech Harry rightly took for the white flag of surrender.