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With eight in the family, a bag of meal quickly disappeared. It was fifteen miles or more to the nearest corn-mill, which was not driven by water, but by a horse attached to a sweep and going round in a circle. The customer furnished the horse for the grinding. Abraham went to the mill with a bag of corn, harnessed the mare, and struck her with a stick. He was going to say, “ Get up, you old hussy!" The words "get up” fell from his lips, and then he became unconscious, caused by a kick from the mare. Hours passed. Suddenly those who stood around him heard the rest of the sentence—“you old hussy.” In after-years he thus explained it: “Probably the muscles of my tongue had been set to speak the words when the animal's heels knocked me down, and my mind, like a gun, stopped half-cocked, and only went off when consciousness returned.” (°)
People in Pigeon Creek had few opportunities of hearing what was going on in the world. Once in a while a newspaper found its way into the settlement. By going to Gentry's Landing, on the Ohio River, they could have a talk with boatmen from Cincinnati and Louisville. Occasionally a traveller passed a night at Gentryville, and talked with those who spent their evenings in Jones's store. Abraham Lincoln was the one who usually asked questions. (") He made everybody good-natured by what he himself had to say. People were talking of the “hard times.” At Pittsburg flour would bring only $1 a barrel. Whiskey could be had for 15 cents a gallon. Tea cost $1 a pound. Twelve barrels of flour would purchase one yard of “ broad” cloth. Times were hard in the Eastern as well as the Western States. People had doleful stories to tell of privation and suffering : how the sheriffs of Pennsylvania and other States were turning men and women out of doors because they could not pay their debts. The jails were filled with poor debtors.(") But good news came from Washington. Congress had passed a law reducing the price of land to $1.25 per acre.
With whiskey costing only 15 cents a gallon, we need not wonder that men drank more than was good for them. Abraham Lincoln did not drink intoxicating liquor. (") On a bitter cold night, as he and others were on their way home from Jones's store, they came upon a drunken man.
The others went on, but Abraham, sixteen years old, strong and kind-hearted, shouldered the man and carried him to a cabin, doubtless saving the poor fellow from freezing. (")
Thomas Lincoln thought that his son had been to school long enough. He could read, write, and cipher, and was ahead of any other boy in Pigeon Creek. Was not that sufficient? He wanted him to help
grub the ground for the next year's crop of corn.(*) An affectionate intimacy the while had sprung up between the stepmother and Abraham. He was ever ready to help her, and she ever solicitous for his welfare. (**) Through her influence the three boys and three girls from the Lincoln cabin made their way to the school taught by Andrew Crawford. Some of the boys found pleasure in tormenting dogs and
cats. Abraham wrote a composition upon cruelty to animals, in which he maintained that to give pain to a dumb animal was contemptible, cruel, and wicked.
A few weeks at school, and he was once more at work. It was irksome to swing an axe and grub with a hoe. Without doubt Mr. Lincoln had his patience sorely tried by three boys who loved fun, and who had rollicking times when he was not with them. They had “spoken pieces” at school, and it was far more agreeable to Abraham to mount a stump and rehearse what he had learned from the “ American Preceptor," or make an impromptu political speech than to work. His audience-John Johnston, Dennis Hanks, and the three girls — were ever ready to clap their hands at his performance.(")
Abraham was hungry for intellectual
SITE OF JONES'S STORE AT GENTRYVILLE, IND. food. He walked
[From a photograph taken by the author, 1890 ] twelve miles to David Turnham's home to obtain a copy of the laws of Indiana. A man accused of committing murder was arraigned at Booneville, the county seat, fifteen miles distant. Abraham attended the trial. He had great respect for the judge, who represented the majesty of the law. He listened with intense interest to the argument of Mr. Breckenridge, the lawyer who defended the accused man. When the argument was finished there occurred a scene for an artist. Abraham Lincoln, tall, slim, with bare feet, wearing buckskin trousers and a jean coat, walked across the room and shook hands with him. “That is the best speech I ever heard,” he said. ("")
Once more Abraham was in school-one taught by Master Swaney. He helped Katy Roby in spelling. Several scholars in the class had failed in their attempts to spell the word "defied.” “D-e-f,” said Katy,
and stopped. Should she say i or y? She saw the tall young 1825.
man raise a finger and touch his eye, and, comprehending the meaning of the action, spelled the word correctly. When the term closed his school-days were over. Putting all the weeks together, they were less than a twelvemonth. He had not seen a geography or grammar.
The time had come when he must earn money. He was employed by James Taylor to ferry people across the Ohio River at Gentry's Landing. His wages were $2.50 a week. His earnings were for his father, and not for his own personal benefit. It was a memorable event when two strangers came to the landing and were taken out to a passing steamboat. Each gentleman tossed him a shining half-dollar. One
dollar for a few minutes labor! As he rowed back to the shore his world was larger, and the possibilities of life far greater than he had supposed them to be. ("')
Katy Roby lived near by, and made time fly more swiftly by chatting with him while he was waiting for travellers. It was a pleasure to take her up-stream on a moonlight evening, and float down with the current to the landing. They see the moon and Venus sinking towards the western horizon.
"We say the moon goes down,” said Abraham, "and the stars rise and set; but they do not come up and go down. It is we who do the rising and setting.”
“You are a fool, Abe. Don't you see that the moon and Venus are going down?”
“No, they are not. The earth turns over every twenty - four hours; it is that which makes them seem to rise and set. It is only an illusion, Katy.” He went on and explained it so clearly that she
gazed with increasing admiration DENNIS HANKS.
at the young man who previously [From a photograph taken in 1889.]
had helped her in spelling: (*)