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Page 389


When Topple was in the horse-trade, he had his eyes
constantly about him for a speculation, and one day, in
Vermont he fell in, among other specimens, with a
horse whose principal points were the points of bone
projecting through his skin, — a long, lean, lank, white
animal, that had got some way beyond his teens, whose
qualities as a good horse were vouched for by a neighbor,
who said he had knowed him for twenty-four year,
and a kinder critter never led oxen in a plough than he.

The horse was bought at a discount, and shipped,
with three others, on a car for Boston, where he arrived
safe, but scarcely sound. Topple thought it a hard investment,
and felt somewhat anxious as to how he
should get his money back again, concluding at last
that he would undoubtedly make enough on the other
three to cover the loss which he must, he conceived,
sustain on this one. He had him stabled, and then the
idea occurred to Topple that he would attempt a little
factitious excellence for the poor beast, and endeavor to
put him off respectably. A horse of some celebrity had
died just before, and Topple borrowed a large cover
that was wont to envelop the animal after running, and
covered up his own Rosinante therewith.

Immediately afterwards appeared an advertisement in
the Post and other papers, that the famous trotter
White-Foot was on exhibition at Bailey's, and would be
sold on a certain day, inviting people to call and see
him. The usual formula was gone through with, of
“sound,” “kind,” “stand without tieing,” &c., concluding
with the statement that he had gone his mile in less
than three minutes. The advertisement brought many
horse fanciers to the stable, where White-Foot stood


Page 390
in a bed of straw, covered by the robe that had been

Topple thought that boldness was the best policy,
and called the attention of his visitors to the fact of the
horse being so poor, making the statement gratuitously
that he had fairly run the flesh off his bones; and it
seemed probable, as the flesh was not there.

As the day of sale arrived, Topple visited his racer at
regular periods, and with a lath, rigorously applied,
endeavored to excite in him a disposition to appear vigorous
on inspection before the public; and succeeded
so far that, before the time arrived, the sound of Topple's
feet on the stable-floor wrought the poor beast up
to a perfect frenzy. He stamped and struggled in a
manner extravagant enough to establish a large reputation
for mettle, and Topple was satisfied. “Perhaps,”
whispered he to the auctioneer, “we may get fifty dollars
for him.”

The horse was brought to the block, and at the sight
of Topple he manifested every sign of spirit. His nostrils
were distended, his eye brightened, and he stepped
round nervously, as though he were impatient to have
somebody buy him, that he might be going, inside of
three minutes, over the road.

“How much am I offered for the horse?” said Bailey;
“how much for White-Foot? Shall I have a bid?”

“Seventy-five dollars,” said a voice.

“Seventy-five — thank you — seventy-five — shall I
hear any more?”

“One hundred,” another voice.

“Twenty-five,” first bidder.

“Fifty,” second.

“Go on, gentlemen,” said Bailey, letting the bidding
proceed, seeing the competition; “any more than one


Page 391
hundred and fifty for a horse that has been his mile in
less than three minutes?”

“One hundred and sixty,” another bidder.

“Sixty-five,” first bidder.

“Seventy,” a new voice.

“Seventy-five!” first and second together.

“Any more than one hundred and seventy-five? All
done at one — seventy — five? Sold! Dr. Small, of
Cape Cod, takes him at one hundred and seventy-five.”

“The bid was mine,” said the second bidder; “and I
insist upon it.”

The contestant was a man living in town, and the
auctioneer thought that, for prudential reasons, it would
be better to let the beast go out of town, if he had
strength to get out; so he gravely decided that Dr.
Small's bid was the one he had heard, and to him he
had knocked off the bargain.

So anxious was the disappointed man to procure the
horse that he offered the doctor fifteen dollars for his
bargain, who informed him that he could not trade.
The price, he said, was not much to him; he wanted a
horse that would go quickly, and, as he had got a good
one, he should hold on to him.

The money was paid over, and the animal delivered
to the purchaser, who procured a wagon and harness
and started for home, in the hope of reaching Cape Cod
in about two hours. About that length of time after
he left, a horse was heard moderately approaching the
stable, and the face of old White-Foot was seen once
more in the precinct.

“Well,” said the doctor, as he got out of the wagon,
“I want to do now, what I should have done before,
ask about this horse. Who knows anything about him?
This advertisement says” — holding up a copy of the


Page 392
Post and reading the description — “that he has been
his mile inside of three minutes. Now, I should like to
know when.”

“Not more than three weeks ago he did it,” replied
Topple; “I saw him myself.”

“Where, for goodness' sake?” said the doctor.

“On the down grade of the Rutland Railroad, in a
freight-car,” replied the imperturbable Topple.