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Buying A Horse
by [?]

I pass over an unprofitable interval in which he abandoned himself to despair, and really gave up the hope of being able ever to buy a horse. During this interval he removed from Charlesbridge to the country, and found himself, to his self-scorn and self-pity, actually reduced to hiring a livery horse by the day. But relief was at hand. The carpenter who had remained to finish up the new house after my friend had gone into it bethought himself of a firm in his place who brought on horses from the West, and had the practice of selling a horse on trial, and constantly replacing it with other horses till the purchaser was suited. This seemed an ideal arrangement, and the carpenter said that he thought they had the very horse my friend wanted.

The next day he drove him up, and upon the plan of successive exchanges till the perfect horse was reached, my friend bought him for one and a quarter, the figure which he had kept in mind from the first. He bought a phaeton and harness from the same people, and when the whole equipage stood at his door, he felt the long-delayed thrill of pride and satisfaction. The horse was of the Morgan breed, a bright bay, small and round and neat, with a little head tossed high, and a gentle yet alert movement. He was in the prime of youth, of the age of which every horse desires to be, and was just coming seven. My friend had already taken him to a horse-doctor, who for one dollar had gone all over him, and pronounced him sound as a fish, and complimented his new owner upon his acquisition. It all seemed too good to be true. As Billy turned his soft eye on the admiring family group, and suffered one of the children to smooth his nose while another held a lump of sugar to his dainty lips, his amiable behavior restored my friend to his peace of mind and his long-lost faith in a world of reason.

The ridiculous planet, wavering bat-like through space, on which it had been impossible for an innocent man to buy a suitable horse was a dream of the past, and he had the solid, sensible old earth under his feet once more. He mounted into the phaeton and drove off with his wife; he returned and gave each of the children a drive in succession. He told them that any of them could drive Billy as much as they liked, and he quieted a clamor for exclusive ownership on the part of each by declaring that Billy belonged to the whole family. To this day he cannot look back to those moments without tenderness. If Billy had any apparent fault, it was an amiable indolence. But this made him all the safer for the children, and it did not really amount to laziness. While on sale he had been driven in a provision cart, and had therefore the habit of standing unhitched. One had merely to fling the reins into the bottom of the phaeton and leave Billy to his own custody. His other habit of drawing up at kitchen gates was not confirmed, and the fact that he stumbled on his way to the doctor who pronounced him blameless was reasonably attributed to a loose stone at the foot of the hill; the misstep resulted in a barked shin, but a little wheel-grease, in a horse of Billy’s complexion, easily removed the evidence of this.

It was natural that after Billy was bought and paid for, several extremely desirable horses should be offered to my friend by their owners, who came in person, stripped of all the adventitious mystery of agents and middle-men. They were gentlemen, and they spoke the English habitual with persons not corrupted by horses. My friend saw them come and go with grief; for he did not like to be shaken in his belief that Billy was the only horse in the world for him, and he would have liked to purchase their animals, if only to show his appreciation of honor and frankness and sane language. Yet he was consoled by the possession of Billy, whom he found increasingly excellent and trustworthy. Any of the family drove him about; he stood unhitched; he was not afraid of cars; he was as kind as a kitten; he had not, as the neighboring coachman said, a voice, though he seemed a little loively in coming out of the stable sometimes. He went well under the saddle; he was a beauty, and if he had a voice, it was too great satisfaction in his personal appearance.