« PreviousContinue »
received a kick from her which prostrated him, and made him insensible. With the first instant of returning consciousness, he finished the cluck, which he had commenced when he received the kick (a fact for the psychologist), and with the next he probably thought about getting home, where he arrived at last, battered, but ready for further service.
NO VICES-FEW VIRTUES.
Riding at one time in the stage, with an old Ken. tuckian who was returning from Missouri, Lincoln excited the old gentleman's surprise by refusing to accept either of tobacco or French brandy.
When they separated that afternoon, the Kentuckian to take another stage bound for Louisville, he shook hands warmly with Lincoln, and said good-humoredly, "See here, stranger, you're a clever but strange companion. I may never see you again, and I don't want to offend you, but I want to say this: My experience has taught me that a man who has no vices has d—d few virtues. Good-day.'
Lincoln enjoyed this reminiscence of his journey, and took great pleasure in relating it.
An old copy-book of Lincoln's has the following, written when he was fourteen years old:
"'Tis Abraham Lincoln holds the pen,
HOW LINCOLN THRASHED A BULLY AND MADE A LIFELONG FRIEND.
While showing goods to two or three women in Offutt's store one day, a bully came in and began to talk in an offensive manner, using much profanity, and evidently wishing to provoke a quarrel. Lincoln leaned over the counter, and begged him, as ladies were present, not to indulge in such talk. The bully retorted that the opportunity had come for which he had long sought, and he would like to see the man who could hinder him from saying anything he might choose to say. Lincoln, still cool, told him that if he would wait until the ladies had retired he would hear what he had to say, and give him any satisfaction he desired.
As soon as the women were gone, the man became furious. Lincoln heard his boasts and abuse for a time, and, finding he was not to be put off without a fight, said: "Well, if you must be whipped, I suppose I may as well whip you as any other man. This was just what the bully had been seeking, he said, so out of doors they went, and Lincoln made short work of him. He threw him upon the ground, held him there as if he had been a child, and gathering some "smartweed" which grew upon the spot, rubbed it into his face and eyes, until the fellow bellowed with pain. Lincoln did all this without a particle of anger, and, when the job was finished, went immediately for water, washed his victim's face, and did everything he could to alleviate his distress. The upshot of the matter was that the man became his fast and lifelong friend, and was a better man from that day. It was
impossible then, and it always remained, for Lincoln to cherish resentment and revenge.
AN INCIDENT FROM LINCOLN'S EXPERIENCE ON A MISSISSIPPI FLATBOAT.
At the age of nineteen, Abraham made his second essay in navigation, and at this time caught something more than a glimpse of the great world in which he was destined to play so important a part. A trading neighbor applied to him to take charge of a flatboat and its cargo, and, in company with his own son, to take it to the sugar plantations near New Orleans. The entire business of the trip was placed in Abraham's hands. The fact tells its own story touching the young man's reputation for capacity and integrity. He had never made the trip, knew nothing of the journey, was unaccustomed to business transactions, had never been much upon the river; but his tact, ability and honesty were so trusted that the trader was willing to risk his cargo and his son in Lincoln's care.
The incidents of a trip like this were not likely to be exciting, but there were many social chats with the settlers and hunters along the banks of the Ohio and the Mississippi, and there was much hailing of similar craft afloat. Arriving at a sugar plantation somewhere between Natchez and New Orleans, the boat was pulled in, and tied to the shore for purposes of trade; and here an incident occurred which was sufficiently exciting, and one which, in the memory of recent events, reads somewhat strangely. negroes attempted the life of the future liberator of the race. and it is not improbable that some of them
have lived to be emancipated by his proclamation. Night had fallen, and the two tired voyagers had lain down on their hard bed for sleep. Hearing a noise on shore, Abraham shouted:
The noise continuing and no one replying, he sprang to his feet and saw seven negroes, evidently bent on plunder.
Abraham guessed the errand at once, and seizing a hand-spike, rushed towards them, and knocked one into the water the moment he touched the boat. The second, third, and fourth who leaped on board were served in the same rough way. Seeing that they were not likely to make headway in their thieving enterprise, the remainder turned to flee. Abraham and his companion, growing excited and warm with their work, leaped on shore, and followed them. Both were too swift on foot for the negroes, 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 legs 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 floated 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, "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.