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to do anything that Mr. Crawford thought fair and just. A settlement was made, young Abe covenanting to pull “fodder," or corn-stalks, for three days, by way of settlement.
“And does that pay for the book, or for the damage done to it?" asked the shrewd boy, taking his first lessons in worldly wisdom.
“Wal, I allow," said the kindly owner of the precious book, “that it won't be much account to me or anybody else now, and the bargain is that you pull fodder three days, and the book is yours.
This was the first book that Abraham Lincoln ever earned and paid for, and, discolored and blistered though it was, it was to him of value incalculable. He laid to heart the lessons of the life of Washington, and, years after, standing near the battle-ground of Trenton, and recalling the pages of the book hidden in the crevices of the log cabin in the Indiana wilderness, he said: “I remember all the accounts there given of the battlefields and the struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New Jersey. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for."
The boy had begun to think for himself when he was searching for an explanation of the fervor and determination with which the fathers of the republic endured hardship and manfully plunged into the desperate struggle.
And wheresoever the story of Abraham Lincoln's
life shall be told, this account of his first precious possession shall be also narrated for a memorial of him.
It is an odd fact, that may as well be recorded here, that Lincoln, as boy and man, almost invariably read aloud. When he studied it helped him, he said, to fix in his mind the matter in hand, if, while it passed before his eyes, he heard his own voice repeating what it so much desired to learn.
Thomas Lincoln's Second Marriage-Improvements in the Backwoods
Home-More Books for the Boy–His Horizon Enlarges—He
IN the autumn of 1819, Thomas Lincoln went off
somewhere into Kentucky, leaving the children to take care of themselves. What he went for, and where he went, the youngsters never thought of asking. But in December, early one morning, they heard a loud halloo from the edge of the forest; and, dashing to the door, they beheld the amazing sight of the returning traveller perched in a four-horse wagon, a pretty-looking woman by his side, and a stranger driving the spanking team. Was it a miracle? We might think so if we knew Thomas Lincoln as well as his son did afterwards; for Thomas had returned with a step-mother for his little ones. He had married, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Mrs. Sally Johnston, formerly Miss Sally Bush. It is believed that to Miss Sally Thomas Lincoln had paid court before he married her who was the mother of Abraham Lincoln. She had been known to the lad, years ago, in Kentucky; and now that she had come to be the new mother to Abe and his sister, they were glad to see her.
The gallant four-horse team was the property of Ralph Krume, who had married Sally Johnston's sister; and in the wagon was stored what seemed to these children of the wilderness a gorgeous array of housekeeping things. There were tables and chairs, a bureau with real drawers that pulled out and disclosed a stock of clothing, crockery to replace the rude tins that were used in the Lincoln homestead, bedding, knives and forks, and numerous things that to people nowadays are thought to be among the necessaries of life, but which Nancy Lincoln had been compelled to do without. By what magic Thomas Lincoln had persuaded this thrifty and “forehanded" widow to leave her home in Kentucky, and migrate to the comfortless wilderness of Indiana, we can only guess. But Thomas was of a genial and even jovial disposition, and he had allured the good woman to come and save his motherless bairns from utter destitution and neglect.
The new Mrs. Lincoln, if she was disappointed in the home she found in Indiana, never showed her disappointment to her step-children. She took hold of the duties and labors of the day with a cheerful readiness that was long and gratefully remembered by her step-son, at least. They were good friends at once. Of him she said, years after: “He never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do anything I requested of him." Of her he said: “She was a noble woman, affectionate, good, and kind, rather above the average woman, as I remember women in those days.” Mrs. Lincoln brought with her three children by her first
marriage, John, Sarah, and Matilda Johnston, whose ages were not far from those of the three children found in the Lincoln homestead. The log cabin was full to overflowing. The three boys, Abraham Lincoln, John Johnston, and Dennis Hanks, were sent to the loft over the cabin to sleep. They climbed up a rude ladder built against the inner side of the log house; and their bed, a mere sack of dry cornhusks, was so narrow that when one turned over all three turned. Nevertheless, there was an abundance of covering for the children, all. The new mother had at once insisted that the openings in the cabin should be filled with glass and sashes instead of loosely hung sheets of muslin. The rickety frame covered with split shakes, that had served as a door, with its clumsy wooden hasp, was taken away, and "a battened door" of matched boards, with a wooden latch of domestic make, replaced it. Mats of deerskin were put down on the puncheon floor, and an aspect of comfort, even luxury, was spread around. It seems to have been an harmonious household. If there were any family jars, history makes no mention of them. And we must remember that that history has come down to us in the reports of two of those who were most interested in the household Abraham Lincoln and his step-mother.
About this time young Abe made the acquaintance of a new source of pleasure, James Fenimore Cooper's Leather-Stocking Tales, then novelties in the literature of the United States. Over these he hung with rapturous delight. He had seen something of the fast-receding Indian of the American forests; and