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and all of them received a severe pounding. They returned to their boat just as the others escaped from the water, but the latter fled into the darkness as fast as their feet could carry them. Abraham and his fellow in the fight were both injured, but not disabled. Not being armed, and unwilling to wait until the negroes had received reinforcements, they cut adrift, and floating down a mile or two, tied up to the bank again, and watched and waited for the morning.
The trip was brought at length to a successful end. The cargo, or “load,” as they called it, was all disposed of for money, the boat itself sold for lumber, and the young men retraced the passage, partly, at least, on shore and on foot, occupying several weeks in the difficult and tedious journey.
Working thus for others, receiving only the humblest wages in return, reading every book upon which he could lay his hand, pursuing various studies in the intervals of toil with special attention to arithmetic, discharging his filial duties at home and upon his father's farm, picking up bits of information from neighbors and new-comers, growing in wisdom and practical sagacity, and achieving a place in the good will and respect of all with whom he came in contact, the thirteen years of his life in Indiana wore away. With a constitution as firm and flexible as whip-cord, he had arrived at his majority. The most that could be said of his education was that he could “read, write and cipher.” He knew nothing of English grammar. He could not read a sentence in any tongue but his own; but all that he knew, he knew thoroughly. It had all been assimilated, and was a part not only of his inalienable possessions but of himself. While acquiring, he had learned to construct, organize, express. There was no part of his knowledge that was not an element of his practical power. He had not been made by any artificial process; he had grown. Holding within himself the germ of a great life, he had reached out his roots like the trees among which he was reared, and drawn into himself such nutriment as the soil afforded. His individuality was developed and nurtured by the process. He had become a man after God's pattern, and not a machine
after man's pattern; he was a child of Nature and not a thing of art. And this was the secret of all his subsequent intellectual successes.
He succeeded because he had himself and all his resources completely in hand; for he was not, and never became an educated man, in the common meaning of that phrase. He could train all his force upon any point, and it mattered little whether the direction was an accustomed one or otherwise.
It was a happy thing for the young man that, living among the roughest of rough men, many of whom were addicted to coarse vices, he never acquired a vice. There was no taint upon his moral character. No stimulant ever entered his lips, no profanity ever came forth from them, which defiled the man. Loving and telling a story better than any one around him, except his father, from whom he inherited the taste and talent, a great talker and a warm lover of social intercourse, good natured under all circumstances, his honesty and truthfulness well known and thoroughly believed in, he was as popular throughout all the region where he lived as he became afterward throughout the nation.
Thomas Lincoln had raised his little family; and the children of his wife were also grown to woman's and man's estate. There had indeed been three weddings in the family. Sarah Lincoln, the daughter, was married to Aaron Grigsby, a young man living in the vicinity, and two of Mrs. Lincoln's daughters had left the Lincoln cabin for new homes. The sister of Abraham had been married but a year, however, when she died, and thus a new grief was inflicted upon the sensitive heart of her brother. Her marriage occurred in 1822; and as she was born in 1808, she could have been only fourteen years old when she became a wife. It is not remarkable that the child found an early grave.
During the last two years of their residence in Indiana, a general discontent had seized upon the family concerning their location. The region at that day was an unhealthy one, and there could be no progress in agricultural pursuits without great outlay of labor in clearing away the heavy timber which burdened all the fertile soil. At the same time, reports were rife of the superior qualities of the prairie lands of Illinois. There, by the sides of the water-courses, and in the edges of the timber, were almost illimitable farms that called for nothing but the plough and hoe to make them immediately productive. Dennis Hanks, a relative of the first Mrs. Lincoln, was sent to the new region to reconnoiter, and returned with a glowing account of the new country. It is probable that if Thomas Lincoln had been alone he would have remained at the old