A Man for the Ages - A Story of the Builders of Democracy
by Irving Bacheller
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"But I think every man acts from selfish motives," Abe insisted.

Dr. Allen demurred as follows:

"The other night you happened to remember that you had overcharged Mrs. Peters for a jug of molasses and after you had closed the store you walked three miles to return the money which belonged to her. Why did you do it?"

"For a selfish motive," said Abe. "I believe honesty is the best policy."

"Then you took that long walk just to advertise your honesty—to induce people to call you 'Honest Abe' as they have begun to do?"

"I wouldn't want to put it that way," said Abe.

"But that's the only way out," the Doctor insisted, "and we knowing ones would have to call you 'Sordid Abe.'"

"There's a hidden Abe and you haven't got acquainted with him yet," Kelso interposed. "We have all caught a glimpse of him to-night. He's the Abe that loves honor and justice and humanity and their great temple of freedom that is growing up here in the new world. He loves them better than fame or fortune or life itself. I think it must have been that Abe whose voice sounded like a trumpet just now and who sent you off to Mrs. Peters with the money. You haven't the chance to know him that we have. Some day you two will get acquainted."

"I don't know how to plead to that indictment," Abe answered. "It looks so serious I shall have to take counsel."

At this moment there was a loud rap on the door. Mr. Kelso opened it and said: "Hello, Eli! Come in."

A hairy faced, bow legged man, bent under a great pack, partly covered with bed ticking, stood in the doorway.

"Hello, Mr. Kelso," the bearded man answered. "The poor vandering Jew has gome back ag'in—hey? I tink I haf to take de hump off my back before I gits in."

Staggering beneath his load he let it down to the ground.

"Bring in your Trojan horse and mind you do not let out its four and twenty warriors until morning. I'll have some bread and milk for you in a minute. Gentlemen, this is my friend Eli—a wandering pioneer of trade."

"I haf a vonderful line o' goods—vonderful! vonderful!" said Eli, gesturing with both hands. "Silk an' satin! De flowers o' de prairie, de birds o' de air could not show you colors like dem. You vill fall in love. If I do not let you have dem you vill break your hearts. An' I have here one instrument dot make all kinds o' music."

"First supper—then open your Trojan horse," said Kelso.

"First I must show my goods," Eli insisted, "ant I'll bet you take dem all—everyt'ing vat I have in dot pack an' you pay my price an' you t'ank me say 'Eli, vat you have to drink?'"

"I'll bet you four bits I don't," said Kelso.

"You are my frient; I vould not take your money like dot so easy. No! It vould not be right. These are Scotch goods, gentlemen—so rare an' beautiful—not'ing like dem in de world."

He began to undo his pack while the little company stood around him.

"Gentlemen, you can see but you can not buy. Only my frient can have dem goods," he went on glibly as he removed the cover of the pack.

Suddenly there was a lively stir in it. To the amazement of all a beautiful girl threw aside the ticking and leaped out of the large wicker basket it had covered. With a merry laugh she threw her arms around Jack Kelso's neck and kissed him.

The men clapped their hands in noisy merriment.

"That's like Bim, isn't it?" said the Doctor.

"Exactly!" Abe exclaimed.

"I stop at David Barney's an' dere she took de goods out o' my pack an' fix up dis job lot fer you," said Eli with a laugh.

"A real surprise party!" the girl exclaimed.

She was a small sized girl, nearing sixteen, with red cheeks and hazel eyes and blonde hair that fell in curls upon her shoulders.

"Mr. Traylor, this is my daughter Bim," said Kelso. "She is skilled in the art of producing astonishment."

"She must have heard of that handsome boy at the tavern and got in a hurry to come home," said the Doctor.

"Ann Rutledge says that he is a right purty boy," the girl laughed as she brushed her curls aside.

She turned to Samson Traylor and asked wistfully, "Do you suppose he would play with me?"



Next morning at daylight two parties went out in the woods to cut timber for the home of the newcomers. In one party were Harry Needles carrying two axes and a well filled luncheon pail; Samson with a saw in his hand and the boy Joe on his back; Abe with saw and axe and a small jug of root beer and a book tied in a big red handkerchief and slung around his neck. When they reached the woods Abe cut a pole for the small boy and carried him on his shoulder to the creek and said:

"Now you sit down here and keep order in this little frog city. If you hear a frog say anything improper you fetch him a whack. Don't allow any nonsense. We'll make you Mayor of Frog City."

The men fell to with axes and saws while Harry limbed the logs and looked after the Mayor. Their huge muscles flung the sharp axes into the timber and gnawed through it with the saw. Many big trees fell before noon time when they stopped for luncheon. While they were eating Abe said:

"I reckon we better saw out a few boards this afternoon. Need 'em for the doors. We'll tote a couple of logs up on the side o' that knoll, put 'em on skids an' whip 'em up into boards with the saw."

Samson took hold of the middle of one of the logs and raised it from the ground.

"I guess we can carry 'em," he said.

"Can ye shoulder it?" Abe asked.

"Easy," said Samson as he raised an end of the log, stepped beneath it and, resting its weight on his back, soon got his shoulder near its center and swung it clear of the ground and walked with it to the knollside where he let it fall with a resounding thump that shook the ground. Abe stopped eating and watched every move in this remarkable performance. The ease with which the big Vermonter had so defied the law of gravitation with that unwieldly stick amazed him.

"That thing'll weigh from seven to eight hundred pounds," said he. "I reckon you're the stoutest man in this part o' the state an' I'm quite a man myself. I've lifted a barrel o' whisky and put my mouth to the bung hole. I never drink it."

"Say," he added as he sat down and began eating a doughnut. "If you ever hit anybody take a sledge hammer or a crowbar. It wouldn't be decent to use your fist."

"Don't talk when you've got food in your mouth," said Joe who seemed to have acquired a sense of responsibility for the manners of Abe.

"I reckon you're right," Abe laughed. "A man's ideas ought not to be mingled with cheese and doughnuts."

"Once in a while I like to try myself in a lift," said Samson. "It feels good. I don't do it to show off. I know there's a good many men stouter than I be. I guess you're one of 'em."

"No, I'm too stretched out—my neck is too far from the ground," Abe answered. "I'm like a crowbar. If I can get my big toe or my fingers under anything I can pry some."

After luncheon he took off his shoes and socks.

"When I'm working hard I always try to give my feet a rest and my brain a little work at noon time," he remarked. "My brain is so far behind the procession I have to keep putting the gad on it. Give me twenty minutes of Kirkham and I'll be with you again."

He lay down on his back under a tree with his book in hand and his feet resting on the tree trunk well above him. Soon he was up and at work again.

They hewed a flat surface on opposite sides of the log which Samson had carried and peeled it and raised its lower end on a cross timber. Then they marked it with a chalk line and sliced it into inch boards with a whip saw, Abe standing on top of the log and Samson beneath it. Suddenly the saw stopped. A clear, beautiful voice flung the music of Sweet Nightingale into the timbered hollow. It halted the workers and set the woodland ringing. The men stood silent like those hearing a benediction. The singing ceased. Still they listened for half a moment. It was as if a spirit had passed and touched them.

"It's Bim—the little vixen!" said Abe tenderly. "She's hiding here in the woods somewheres."

Abe straightened up and peered through the bushes. The singing ceased.

"I can see yer curls. Come out from behind that tree—you piece o' Scotch goods!" Abe shouted.

Only silence followed his demand.

"Come on," Abe persisted. "There's a good-looking boy here and I want to introduce you."

"Ask him to see if he can find me," said the voice of the girl from a distance.

Abe beckoned to Harry and pointed to the tree behind which he had seen her hiding. Harry stealthily approached it only to find that she had gone. He looked about for a moment but could not see her. Soon they heard a little call, suggesting elfland trumpets, in a distant part of the wood. It was repeated three or four times; each time fainter and farther. They saw and heard no more of her that day.

"She's an odd child and as pretty as a spotted fawn, and about as wild," said Abe. "She's a kind of a first cousin to the bobolink."

When they were getting ready to go home that afternoon Joe got into a great hurry to see his mother. It seemed to him that ages had elapsed since he had seen her—a conviction which led to noisy tears.

Abe knelt before him and comforted the boy. Then he wrapped him in his jacket and swung him in the air and started for home with Joe astride his neck.

Samson says in his diary: "His tender play with the little lad gave me another look at the man Lincoln."

"Some one proposed once that we should call that stream the Minnehaha," said Abe as he walked along. "After this Joe and I are going to call it the Minneboohoo."

The women of the little village had met at a quilting party at ten o'clock with Mrs. Martin Waddell. There Sarah had had a seat at the frame and heard all the gossip of the countryside. The nimble fingered Ann Rutledge—a daughter of the tavern folk—had sat beside her. Ann was a slender, good-looking girl of seventeen with blue eyes and a rich crown of auburn hair and a fair skin well browned by the sunlight. She was the most dexterous needle worker in New Salem. It was Mrs. Peter Lukins, a very lean, red haired woman with only one eye which missed no matrimonial prospect—who put the ball in play so to speak.

"Ann, if Honest Abe gits you, you'll have to spend the first three months makin' a pair o' breeches for him. It'll be a mile o' sewin'."

"I reckon she'd have to spend the rest o' her life keepin' the buttons on 'em," said Mrs. John Cameron.

"Abe doesn't want me and I don't want Abe so I reckon some other girl will have to make his breeches," said Ann.

"My lord! but he's humbly," said Mrs. Alexander Ferguson.

"Han'some is that han'some does," Mrs. Martin Waddell remarked. "I don't know anybody that does han'somer."

"Han'some is that han'some looks I say," Mrs. Lukins continued with a dreamy look in her eye.

"I like a man that'll bear inspection—up an' a comin' an' neat an' trim as a buck deer," Mrs. Ferguson confessed.

"An' the first ye know he's up an' a goin'," said Mrs. Samuel Hill. "An then all ye have to look at is a family o' children an' the empty bread box."

"Wait until Abe has shed his coat an' is filled out a little. He'll be a good-lookin' man an' I wouldn't wonder," Mrs. Waddell maintained.

"If Abe lives he'll be a great man, I think," said Mrs. Dr. Allen. "I forgot how he looked when I heard him talking the other night at the debate in the schoolhouse about the flogging of sailors with the cat o' nine tails. He has a wonderful gift. If I were Ann I should be proud of his friendship and proud to go with him to the parties."

"I am," said Ann meekly, with her eyes upon her work. "I love to hear him talk, too."

"Oh, land o' mercy! He's good company if you only use your ears," Mrs. Ferguson remarked. "Mis' Traylor, where did you git your man?"

"At Vergennes. We were born in the same neighborhood and grew up together," said Sarah.

"Now there's the kind of a man! Stout as a buffalo an' as to looks I'd call him, as ye might say, real copasetic." Mrs. Lukins expressed this opinion solemnly and with a slight cough. Its last word stood for nothing more than an indefinite depth of meaning. She added by way of drawing the curtain of history: "I'll bet he didn't dilly dally long when he made up his mind. I reckon he were plum owdacious."

"What a pretty pattern this is!" said Sarah with a sudden shift of front.

Mrs. Lukins was not to be driven from the Elysian fields so easily and forthwith she told the story of her own courtship.

A bountiful dinner of stewed venison and chicken pie and tea and frosted cake was served, all hands turning in to help with the table and the cleaning up. While they were eating Sarah told of her long journey and their trials with fever and ague.

"It's the worst part of going west but it really isn't very dangerous," said Mrs. Dr. Allen.

"Nine scoops o' water in the holler o' the hand from a good spring for three mornin's before sunrise an' strong coffee with lemon juice will break the ager every time," said Mrs. Lukins. "My gran' mammy used to say it were better than all the doctors an' I've tried it an' know what it'll do."

"I suppose if you got ten scoops it would be no good," said Sarah with a laugh in which Mrs. Allen and some of the others joined.

Mrs. Lukins looked offended. "When I'm takin' medicine I always foller directions," said she.

So the day passed with them and was interrupted by the noisy entrance of Joe, soon after candlelight, who climbed on the back of his mother's chair and kissed her and in breathless eagerness began to relate the history of his own day.

That ended the quilting party and Sarah and Mrs. Rutledge and Ann joined Samson and Abe and Harry Needles who were waiting outside and walked to the tavern with them.

John McNeil, whom the Traylors had met on the road near Niagara Falls and who had shared their camp with them, arrived on the stage that evening. He was dressed in a new butternut suit and clean linen and looked very handsome. Samson writes that he resembled the pictures of Robert Emmet. With fine, dark eyes, a smooth skin, well moulded features and black hair neatly brushed on a shapely head he was not at all like the rugged Abe. In a low tone and very modestly, with a slight brogue on his tongue he told of his adventures on the long, shore road to Michigan. Ann sat listening and looking into his face as he talked. Abe came in, soon after eight o'clock, and was introduced to the stranger. All noted the contrast between the two young men as they greeted each other. Abe sat down for a few minutes and looked sadly into the fire but said nothing. He rose presently, excused himself and went away.

Soon Samson followed him. Over at Offut's store he did not find Abe, but Bill Berry was drawing liquor from the spigot of a barrel set on blocks in a shed connected with the rear end of the store and serving it to a number of hilarious young Irishmen. His shirt was soiled. Its morning-glories had grown dim in a kind of dusty twilight. The young men asked Samson to join them.

"No, thank you. I never touch it," he said.

"We'll come over here an' learn ye how to enjoy yerself some day," one of them said.

"I'm pretty well posted on that subject now," Samson answered.

It is likely that they would have begun his schooling at once but when they came out into the store and saw the big Vermonter standing in the candlelight their laughter ceased for a moment. Bill was among them with a well filled bottle in his hand.

He and the others got into a wagon which had been waiting at the door and drove away with a wild Indian whoop from the lips of one of the young men.

Samson sat down in the candlelight and Abe in a moment arrived.

"I'm getting awful sick o' this business," said Abe.

"I kind o' guess you don't like the whisky part of it," Samson remarked, as he felt a piece of cloth.

"I hate it," Abe went on. "It don't seem respectable any longer."

"Back in Vermont we don't like the whisky business."

"You're right, it breeds deviltry and disorder. In my youth I was surrounded by whisky. Everybody drank it. A bottle or a jug of liquor was thought to be as legitimate a piece of merchandise as a pound of tea or a yard of calico. That's the way I've always thought of it. But lately I've begun to get the Yankee notion about whisky. When it gets into bad company it can raise the devil."

Soon after nine o'clock Abe drew a mattress filled with corn husks from under the counter, cleared away the bolts of cloth and laid it where they had been and covered it with a blanket.

"This is my bed," said he. "I'll be up at five in the morning. Then I'll be making tea here by the fireplace to wash down some jerked meat and a hunk o' bread. At six or a little after I'll be ready to go with you again. Jack Kelso is going to look after the store to-morrow."

He began to laugh.

"Ye know when I went out of the tavern that little vixen stood peekin' into the window—Bim, Jack's girl," said Abe. "I asked her why she didn't go in and she said she was scared. 'Who you 'fraid of?' I asked. 'Oh, I reckon that boy,' says she. And honestly her hand trembled when she took hold of my arm and walked to her' father's house with me."

Abe snickered as he spread another blanket. "What a cut-up she is! Say, we'll have some fun watching them two I reckon," he said.

The logs were ready two days after the cutting began. Martin Waddell and Samuel Hill sent teams to haul them. John Cameron and Peter Lukins had brought the window sash and some clapboards from Beardstown in a small flat boat. Then came the day of the raising—a clear, warm day early in September. All the men from the village and the near farms gathered to help make a home for the newcomers. Samson and Jack Kelso went out for a hunt after the cutting and brought in a fat buck and many grouse for the bee dinner, to which every woman of the neighborhood made a contribution of cake or pie or cookies or doughnuts.

"What will be my part?" Samson had inquired of Kelso.

"Nothing but a jug of whisky and a kind word and a house warming," Kelso had answered.

They notched and bored the logs and made pins to bind them and cut those that were to go around the fireplace and window spaces. Strong, willing and well trained hands hewed and fitted the logs together. Alexander Ferguson lined the fireplace with a curious mortar made of clay in which he mixed grass for a binder. This mortar he rolled into layers called "cats," each eight inches long and three inches thick. Then he laid them against the logs and held them in place with a woven network of sticks. The first fire—a slow one—baked the clay into a rigid stone-like sheath inside the logs and presently the sticks were burned away. The women had cooked the meats by an open fire and spread the dinner on a table of rough boards resting on poles set in crotches. At noon one of them sounded a conch shell. Then with shouts of joy the men hurried to the fireside and for a moment there was a great spluttering over the wash basins. Before they ate every man except Abe and Samson "took a pull at the jug—long or short"—to quote a phrase of the time.

It was a cheerful company that sat down upon the grass around the table with loaded plates. Their food had its extra seasoning of merry jests and loud laughter. Sarah was a little shocked at the forthright directness of their eating, no knives or forks or napkins being needed in that process. Having eaten, washed and packed away their dishes the women went home at two. Before they had gone Samson's ears caught a thunder of horses' feet in the distance. Looking in its direction he saw a cloud of dust in the road and a band of horsemen riding toward them at full speed. Abe came to him and said:

"I see the boys from Clary's Grove are coming. If they get mean let me deal with 'em. It's my responsibility. I wouldn't wonder if they had some of Offut's whisky with them."

The boys arrived in a cloud of dust and a chorus of Indian whoops and dismounted and hobbled their horses. They came toward the workers, led by burly Jack Armstrong, a stalwart, hard-faced blacksmith of about twenty-two with broad, heavy shoulders, whose name has gone into history. They had been drinking some but no one of them was in the least degree off his balance. They scuffled around the jug for a moment in perfect good nature and then Abe and Mrs. Waddell provided them with the best remnants of the dinner. They were rather noisy. Soon they went up on the roof to help with the rafters and the clapboarding. They worked well a few minutes and suddenly they came scrambling down for another pull at the jug. They were out for a spree and Abe knew it and knew further that they had reached the limit of discretion.

"Boys, there are ladies here and we've got to be careful," he said. "Did I ever tell you what Uncle Jerry Holman said of his bull calf? He said the calf was such a suckcess that he didn't leave any milk for the family and that while the calf was growin' fat the children was growin' poor. In my opinion you're about fat enough for the present. Le's stick to the job till four o'clock. Then we'll knock off for refreshments."

The young revelers gathered in a group and began to whisper together. Samson writes that it became evident then they were going to make trouble and says:

* * * * *

"We had left the children at Rutledge's in the care of Ann. I went to Sarah and told her she had better go on and see if they were all right.

"'Don't you get in any fight,' she said, which shows that the women knew what was in the air.

"Sarah led the way and the others followed her."

* * * * *

Those big, brawny fellows from the grove when they got merry were looking always for a chance to get mad at some man and turn him into a plaything. A victim had been a necessary part of their sprees. Many a poor fellow had been fastened in a barrel and rolled down hill or nearly drowned in a ducking for their amusement. A chance had come to get mad and they were going to make the most of it. They began to growl with resentment. Some were wigging their leader Jack Armstrong to fight Abe. One of them ran to his horse and brought a bottle from his saddle-bag. It began passing from mouth to mouth. Jack Armstrong got the bottle before it was half emptied, drained it and flung it high in the air. Another called him a hog and grappled him around the waist and there was a desperate struggle which ended quickly. Armstrong got a hold on the neck of his assailant and choked him until he let go. This was not enough for the sturdy bully of Clary's Grove. He seized his follower and flung him so roughly on the ground that the latter lay for a moment stunned. Armstrong had got his blood warm and was now ready for action. With a wild whoop he threw off his coats, unbuttoned his right shirt-sleeve and rolled it to the shoulder and declared in a loud voice, as he swung his arm in the air, that he could "out jump, out hop, out run, throw down, drag out an' lick any man in New Salem."

In a letter to his father Samson writes:

* * * * *

"Abe was working at my elbow. I saw him drop his hammer and get up and make for the ladder. I knew something was going to happen and I followed him. In a minute every one was off the roof and out of the building. I guess they knew what was coming. The big lad stood there swinging his arm and yelling like an Injun. It was a big arm and muscled and corded up some but I guess if I'd shoved the calico off mine and held it up he'd a pulled down his sleeve. I suppose the feller's arm had a kind of a mule's kick in it, but, good gracious! If he'd a seen as many arms as you an' I have that have growed up on a hickory helve he'd a known that his was nothing to brag of. I didn't know just how good a man Abe was and I was kind o' scairt for a minute. I never found it so hard work to do nothin' as I did then. Honest my hands kind o' ached. I wanted to go an' cuff that feller's ears an' grab hold o' him an' toss him over the ridge pole. Abe went right up to him an' said:

"'Jack, you ain't half so bad or half so cordy as ye think ye are. You say you can throw down any man here. I reckon I'll have to show ye that you're mistaken. I'll rassle with ye. We're friends an' we won't talk about lickin' each other. Le's have a friendly rassle.'

"In a second the two men were locked together. Armstrong had lunged at Abe with a yell. There was no friendship in the way he took hold. He was going to do all the damage he could in any way he could. He tried to butt with his head and ram his knee into Abe's stomach as soon as they came together. Half drunk Jack is a man who would bite your ear off. It was no rassle; it was a fight. Abe moved like lightning. He acted awful limber an' well greased. In a second he had got hold of the feller's neck with his big right hand and hooked his left into the cloth on his hip. In that way he held him off and shook him as you've seen our dog shake a woodchuck. Abe's blood was hot. If the whole crowd had piled on him I guess he would have come out all right, for when he's roused there's something in Abe more than bones and muscles. I suppose it's what I feel when he speaks a piece. It's a kind of lightning. I guess it's what our minister used to call the power of the spirit. Abe said to me afterwards that he felt as if he was fighting for the peace and honor of New Salem.

"A friend of the bully jumped in and tried to trip Abe. Harry Needles stood beside me. Before I could move he dashed forward and hit that feller in the middle of his forehead and knocked him flat. Harry had hit Bap McNoll the cock fighter. I got up next to the kettle then and took the scum off it. Fetched one of them devils a slap with the side of my hand that took the skin off his face and rolled him over and over. When I looked again Armstrong was going limp. His mouth was open and his tongue out. With one hand fastened to his right leg and the other on the nape of his neck Abe lifted him at arm's length and gave him a toss in the air. Armstrong fell about ten feet from where Abe stood and lay there for a minute. The fight was all out of him and he was kind of dazed and sick. Abe stood up like a giant and his face looked awful solemn.

"'Boys, if there's any more o' you that want trouble you can have some off the same piece,' he said.

"They hung their heads and not one of them made a move or said a word. Abe went to Armstrong and helped him up.

"'Jack, I'm sorry that I had to hurt you.' be said. 'You get on to your horse and go home.'

"'Abe, you're a better man than me,' said the bully, as he offer'd his hand to Abe. 'I'll do anything you say.'"

* * * * *

So the Clary's Grove gang was conquered. They were to make more trouble but not again were they to imperil the foundations of law and order in the little community of New Salem. As they were starting away Bap McNoll turned to Harry Needles and shouted: "I'll git even with you yet—you slab-sided son of a dog."

That is not exactly what he said but it is near enough.



The shell of the cabin was finished that day. Its puncheon floor was in place but its upper floor was to be laid when the boards were ready. Its two doors were yet to be made and hung, its five windows to be fitted and made fast, its walls to be chinked with clay mortar. Samson and Harry stayed that evening after the rest were gone, smoothing the puncheon floor. They made a few nails at the forge after supper and went over to Abe's store about nine. Two of the Clary's Grove Gang who had tarried in the village sat in the gloom of its little veranda apparently asleep. Dr. Allen, Jack Kelso, Alexander Ferguson and Martin Waddell were sitting by its fireside while Abe sat on the counter with his legs hanging off.

"He's a tough oak stick of a man," Kelso was saying.

"Here he is now," said Dr. Allen. "That lad you cuffed had to stop at my office for repairs."

"I told you once to use a crowbar if you wanted to hit anybody, but never to use your hands," said Abe.

"Well there wasn't any time to lose and there was no crowbar handy," said Samson.

"That reminds me of a general who made the boys of his regiment promise to let him do all the swearin'," Abe began. "One day a sergeant got into trouble with a mule team. It was raining hard and the off mule balked. Wouldn't draw a pound. The sergeant got wet to the skin and swore a song of fourteen verses that was heard by half the regiment. The general called him up for discipline.

"'Young man, I thought it was understood that I was to do all the swearin',' he said.

"'So it was,' said the sergeant, 'but that swearin' had to be done right away. You couldn't 'a' got there in time to do it if I'd 'a' sent for ye.'"

"I'm sorry we had to have trouble," Samson remarked, after the outburst of appreciation that followed Abe's story. "It's the only spot on the day. I'll never forget the kindness of the people of New Salem."

"The raising bee is a most significant thing," said Kelso. "Democracy tends to universal friendship—each works for the crowd and the crowd for each and there are no favorites. Every community is like the thousand friends of Thebes. Most of its units stand together for the common good—for justice, law and honor. The schools are spinning strands of democracy out of all this European wool. Railroads are to pick them up and weave them into one great fabric. By and by we shall see the ten million friends of America standing together as did the thousand friends of Thebes."

"It's a great thought," said Abe.

"No man can estimate the size of that mighty phalanx of friendship all trained in one school," Kelso went on. "Two years ago the Encyclopedia Britannica figured that the population of the United States in 1905 would be 168,000,000 people, and in 1966, 672,000,000. Wealth, power, science, literature, all follow in the train of light and numbers. The causes which moved the sceptre of civilization from the Euphrates to Western Europe will carry it from the latter to the New World."

"They say that electricity and the development of the steam engine is going to make all men think alike," said Abe. "If that's so Democracy and Liberty will spread over the earth."

"The seed of Universal Brotherhood is falling far and wide and you can not kill it," Kelso continued. "Last year Mazzini said: 'There is only one sun in heaven for the whole earth, only one law for all who people it. We are here to found fraternally the unity of the human race so that, sometime, it may present but one fold and one Shepherd."

Then Lincoln spoke again: "I reckon we are near the greatest years in history. It is a privilege to be alive."

"And young," Dr. Allen added.

"Young! What a God's blessed thing is that!" said Kelso and then he quoted from Coleridge:

"'Verse, a breeze mid blossoms straying Where Hope clung feeding like a bee, Both were mine! Life went a maying With Nature, Hope and Poesy When I was young!'

"Abe, have ye learned the Cotter's Saturday Night?"

"Not yet. It's a heavy hog to hold but I'll get a grip on an ear and a hind leg and lift it out o' the pen before long. You see."

"Don't fail to do that. It will be a help and joy to ye."

"Old Kirkham is a hard master," said Abe. "I hear his bell ringing every time I get a minute's leisure. I'm nigh through with him. Now I want to study rhetoric."

"Only schoolmasters study rhetoric," Kelso declared. "A real poet or a real orator is born with all the rhetoric he needs. We should get our rhetoric as we get our oxygen—unconsciously—by reading the masters. Rhetoric is a steed for a light load under the saddle but he's too warm blooded for the harness. He was for the day of the plumed knight—not for these times. No man of sense would use a prancing horse on a plow or a stone boat. A good plow horse is a beautiful thing. The play of his muscles, the power of his stride are poetry to me but when he tries to put on style he is ridiculous. That suggests what rhetoric is apt to do to the untrained intellect. If you've anything to say or write head straight across, the field and keep your eye on the furrow. Then comes the sowing and how beautiful is the sower striding across the field in his suit of blue jeans, with that wonderful gesture, so graceful, so imperious! Put him in a beaver hat and broadcloth and polished calfskin and a frilled shirt and you couldn't think of anything more ridiculous!"

In the last diary of Samson Henry Traylor is this entry:

* * * * *

"I went to Gettysburg with the President to-day and sat near him when he spoke. Mr. Everett addressed the crowd for an hour or so. As Kelso would say 'He rode the prancing steed of Rhetoric.' My old friend went straight across the field and his look and gestures reminded me of that picture of the sower which Jack gave us one night long ago in Abe's store. Through my tears I could see the bucket hanging on his elbow and the good seed flying far and wide from his great hand. When he finished the field, plowed and harrowed and fertilized by war, had been sowed for all time. The spring's work was done and well done."

* * * * *

At a quarter of ten the Doctor rose and said:

"We're keeping Abe from his sleep and wearing the night away with philosophy. I'm going home."

"I came over to see if you could find a man to help me to-morrow," Samson said to Abe. "Harry is going over to do the chinking alone. I want a man to help me on the whipsaw while I cut some boards for the upper flooring."

"I'll help you myself," Abe proposed. "I reckon I'll close the store to-morrow unless Jack will tend it."

"You can count on me," said Jack. "I'm short of sleep anyhow and a day of rest will do me good."

Abe went with his friends to the door beyond which the two boys from Clary's Grove sat as if sound asleep. It is probable, however, that they had heard what Samson had said to Abe.

"Well, I didn't know these wild turkeys were roosting here," Abe laughed. He roused them from their slumbers and said: "Boys, you're trying to saw the day off a little too short. It's got to run till you get to Clary's Grove. Better take those horses home and feed 'em."

The boys got up and yawned and stretched themselves and mounted their horses which had been tied to a bar and rode away in the darkness.

Next morning Abe and Samson set out for the woods soon after daylight.

"I like that boy Harry," said Abe. "I reckon he's got good stuff in him. The way he landed on Bap McNoll was a caution. I like to see a feller come right up to the scratch, without an invitation just in the nick o' time, as he did."

"Did you see him jump in?" Samson asked.

"I saw everything some way. I saw you when ye loosened the ear o' John Callyhan. That tickled me. But the way I felt yesterday—honest, it seemed as if I could handle 'em all. That boy Harry is a likely young colt—strong and limber and well put together and broad between the eyes."

"An' gentle as a kitten," Samson added. "There never was a better face on a boy or a better heart behind it. We like him."

"Yes, sir. He's a well topped young tree—straight and sound and good timber. Looks as if that little girl o' Jack's was terribly took up with him. I don't wonder. There are not many boys like Harry around here."

"What kind of a girl is she?" Samson asked.

"Awful shy since the arrow hit her. She don't know what it means yet. She'll get used to that I reckon. She's a good girl and smart as a steel trap. Her father takes her out on the plains with him shooting. She can handle a gun as well as anybody and ride a horse as if she had growed to his back. Every body likes Bim but she has her own way of behaving and sometimes it's awful new-fashioned."

Harry Needles went whistling up the road toward the new house with sickle, hoe and trowel. As he passed the Kelso cabin he whistled the tune of Sweet Nightingale. It had haunted his mind since he had heard it in the woods. He whistled as loudly as ever he could and looked at the windows. Before he had passed Bim's face looked out at him with a smile and her hand flickered back of the panes and he waved his to her. His heart beat fast as he hurried along.

"I'm not so very young," he said to himself. "I wish I hadn't put on these old clothes. Mrs. Traylor is an awful nice woman but she's determined to make me look like a plow horse. I don't see why she couldn't let me wear decent clothes."

Sarah had enjoyed mothering the boy. His health had returned. His cheeks were ruddy, his dark eyes clear and bright, his tall form erect and sturdy. Moreover the affectionate care his new friends had given him and his interest in the girl filled his heart with the happiness which is the rain of youth and without which it becomes an arid desert.

He had helped Alexander Ferguson with the making of the fireplace and knew how to mix the mortar. He worked with a will for his heart was in the new home. It was a fine September morning. The warm sunlight had set the meadow cocks a crowing. The far reaches of the great, grassy plain were dimmed with haze. It was a vast, flowery wilderness, waving and murmuring in the breeze like an ocean. How long those acres, sown by the winds of heaven, had waited for the plowman now arrived!

Harry felt the beauty of the scene but saw and enjoyed more the face of Bim Kelso as he worked and planned his own house—no cabin but a mansion like that of Judge Harper in the village near his old home. He had filled every crevice in the rear wall and was working on the front when he heard the thunder of running horses and saw those figures, dim in a cloud of dust, flying up the road again. He thought of the threat of Bap McNoll. It occurred to him that he would be in a bad way alone with those ruffians if they were coming for revenge. He stepped into the door of the house and stood a moment debating what he would best do. He thought of running toward the grove, which was a few rods from the rear door of the house, and hiding there. He couldn't bear to run. Bim and all the rest of them would hear of it. So with the sickle in his right hand he stood waiting inside the house and hoping they wouldn't stop. They rode up to the door and dismounted quietly and hobbled their horses. There were five of them who crowded into the cabin with McNoll in the lead.

"Now, you young rooster, you're goin' to git what's comin' to you," he growled.

The boy faced them bravely and warned them away with his sickle. They were prepared for such emergencies. One of them drew a bag of bird shot from his pocket and hurled it at Harry's head. It hit him full in the face and he staggered against the wall stunned by the blow. They rushed upon the boy and disarmed and bore him to the floor. For a little time he knew not what was passing. When he came to, his hands and feet were tied and the men stood near, cursing and laughing, while their leader, McNoll, was draining a bottle. Suddenly he heard a voice trembling with excitement and wet with tears saying:

"You go 'way from here or I'll kill you dead. So help me God I'll kill you. If one o' you touches him he's goin' to die."

He saw Bim Kelso at the window with her gun leveled at the head of McNoll. Her face was red with anger. Her eyes glowed. As he looked a tear welled from one of them and trailed down the scarlet surface of her cheek. McNoll turned without a word and walked sulkily out of the back door. The others crowded after him. They ran as soon as they had got out of the door. She left the window. In a moment the young men were galloping away.

Bim came into the house sobbing with emotion but with her head erect. She stood her gun in a corner and knelt by the helpless boy. He was crying also. Her hair fell upon his face as she looked at the spot of deep scarlet color made by the shot bag. She kissed it and held her cheek against his and whispered: "Don't cry. It's all over now. I'm going to cut these ropes."

It was as if she had known and loved him always. She was like a young mother with her first child. Tendeny she wiped his tears away with her blond, silken hair. She cut his bonds and he rose and stood before her. Her face changed like magic.

"Oh what a fool I've been!" she exclaimed.

"Why so?" he asked.

"I cried and I kissed you and we never have been introduced to each other."

She covered her eyes with her hair and with bent head went out of the door.

"I'll never forget that kiss as long as I live," said the boy as he followed her. "I'll never forget your help or your crying either."

"How I must have looked!" she went on, walking toward her pony that was hitched to a near tree.

"You were beautiful!" he exclaimed.

"Go away from me—I won't speak to you," she said. "Go back to your work. I'll stay here and keep watch."

The boy returned to his task pointing up the inside walls but his mind and heart were out in the sunlight talking with Bim. Once he looked out of the door and saw her leaning against the neck of the pony, her face hidden in his mane. When the sun was low she came to the door and said:

"You had better stop now and go home."

She looked down at the ground and added:

"Please, please, don't tell on me."

"Of course not," he answered. "But I hope you won't be afraid of me any more."

She looked up at him with a little smile. "Do you think I'm afraid of you?" she asked as if it were too absurd to be thought of. She unhitched and mounted her pony but did not go.

"I do wish you could raise a mustache," she said, looking wistfully into his face.

Involuntarily his hand went to his lip.

"I could try," he said.

"I can't bear to see you look so terribly young; you get worse and worse every time I see you," she scolded plaintively. "I want you to be a regular man right quick."

He wondered what he ought to say and presently stammered: "I—I—intend to. I guess I'm more of a man than anybody would think to look at me."

"You're too young to ever fall in love I reckon."

"No I'm not," he answered with decision.

"Have you got a razor?" she asked.


"I reckon it would be a powerful help. You put soap on your lip and mow it off with a razor. My father says it makes the grass grow."

There was a moment of silence during which she brushed the mane of her pony. Then she asked timidly: "Do you play on the flute?"

"No, why?"

"I think it would break my heart. My Uncle Henry plays all day and it makes him look crazy. Do you like yellow hair?"

"Yes, if it looks like yours."

"If you don't mind I'll put a mustache on you just—just to look at every time I think of you."

"When I think of you I put violets in your hair," he said.

He took a step toward her as he spoke and as he did so she started her pony. A little way off she checked him and said:

"I'm sorry. There are no violets now."

She rode away slowly waving her hand and singing with the joy of a bird in the springtime:

"My sweetheart, come along Don't you hear the glad song As the notes of the nightingale flow? Don't you hear the fond tale Of the sweet nightingale As she sings in the valleys below— As she sings in the valleys below?"

He stood looking and listening. The song came to him as clear and sweet as the notes of a vesper bell wandering in miles of silence.

When it had ceased he felt his lip and said: "How slow the time passes! I'm going to get some shaving soap and a razor."

That evening when Harry was helping Samson with the horses he said:

"I'm going to tell you a secret. I wish you wouldn't say anything about it."

Samson stood pulling the hair out of his card and looking very stern as he listened while Harry told of the assault upon him and how Bim had arrived and driven the rowdies away with her gun but he said not a word of her demonstration of tender sympathy. To him that had clothed the whole adventure with a kind of sanctity so that he could not bear to have it talked about.

Samson's eyes glowed with anger. They searched the face of the boy. His voice was deep and solemn when he said:

"This is a serious matter. Why do you wish to keep it a secret?"

The boy blushed. For a moment he knew not what to say. Then he spoke: "It ain't me so much—it's her," he managed to say. "She wouldn't want it to be talked about and I don't either."

Samson began to understand. "She's quite a girl I guess," he said thoughtfully. "She must have the nerve of a man—I declare she must."

"Yes-sir-ee! They'd 'a' got hurt if they hadn't gone away, that's sure," said Harry.

"We'll look out for them after this," Samson rejoined. "The first time I meet that man McNoll he'll have to settle with me and he'll pay cash on the nail."

Bim having heard of Harry's part in Abe's fight and of the fact that he was to be working alone all day at the new house had ridden out through the woods to the open prairie and hunted in sight of the new cabin that afternoon. Unwilling to confess her extreme interest in the boy she had said not a word of her brave act. It was not shame; it was partly a kind of rebellion against the tyranny of youthful ardor; it was partly the fear of ridicule.

So it happened that the adventure of Harry Needles made scarcely a ripple on the sensitive surface of the village life. It will be seen, however, that it had started strong undercurrents likely, in time, to make themselves felt.

The house and barn were finished whereupon Samson and Harry drove to Springfield—a muddy, crude and growing village with thick woods on its north side—and bought furniture. Their wagon was loaded and they were ready to start for home. They were walking on the main street when Harry touched Samson's arm and whispered:

"There's McNoll and Callyhan."

The pair were walking a few steps ahead of Samson and Harry. In a second Samson's big hand was on McNoll's shoulder.

"This is Mr. McNoll, I believe," said Samson.

The other turned with a scared look.

"What do ye want o' me?" he demanded.

Samson threw him to the ground with a jerk so strong and violent that it rent the sleeve from his shoulder. McNoll's companion who had felt the weight of Samson's hand and had had enough of it turned and ran.

"What do ye want o' me?" McNoll asked again as he struggled to free himself.

"What do I want o' you—you puny little coward," said Samson, as he lifted the bully to his feet and gave him a toss and swung him in the air and continued to address him. "I'm just goin' to muss you up proper. If you don't say you're sorry and mean it I'll put a tow string on your neck and give you to some one that wants a dog."

"I'm sorry," said McNoll. "Honest I am! I was drunk when I done it."

Samson released his prisoner. A number in the crowd which had gathered around them clapped their hands and shouted, "Hurrah for the stranger!"

A constable took Samson's hand and said: "You deserve a vote of thanks. That man and his friends have made me more trouble than all the rest of the drinking men put together."

"And I am making trouble for myself," said Samson. "I have made myself ashamed. I am no fighting man, I was never in such a muss on a public street before and with God's help it will never happen again."

"Where do you live?" the officer asked.

"In New Salem."

"I wish it was here. We need men like you. What part of the East do you hail from?"

"Vermont," Samson answered. "I've just bought land and built a cabin a little west of the village. Came here for a load of furniture."

"I'm a Maine man and a Whig and opposed to slavery and my name is Erastus Wright," said the constable.

"I am a Whig and against slavery," Samson volunteered.

"I could tell that by the look of you," said the constable. "Some day we must sit down together and talk things over."

Samson wrote in his diary:

* * * * *

"On the way home my heart was sore. I prayed in silence that God would forgive me for my bad example to the boy. I promised that I would not again misuse the strength He has given me. In my old home I would have been disgraced by it. The minister would have preached of the destruction that follows the violent man to put him down; the people would have looked askance at me. Deacon Somers would have called me aside to look into my soul, and Judge Grandy and his wife would not have invited me to their parties. Here it's different. A chap who can take the law in his hands and bring the evil man to his senses, even if he has to hit him over the head, is looked up to. That day a number of men and boys increased my shame by following us to the wagon and wanting to shake hands and feel of my muscles and paining my soul with praise. It's a reckless country. You feel it as soon as you get here. In time, I fear, I shall be as headlong as the rest of them. Some way the news of my act has got here from Springfield. Sarah was kind of cut up. Jack Kelso has nicknamed me 'The man with the iron arms,' and Abe, who is a better man every way, laughs at my embarrassment and says I ought to feel honored. For one thing Jack Armstrong has become a good citizen. His wife has foxed a pair of breeches for Abe. They say McNoll has left the country. There has been no deviltry here since that day. I guess the gang is broken up—too much iron in its way."

* * * * *

Sarah enjoyed fixing up the cabin. Jack Kelso had given her some deer and buffalo skins to lay on the floors. The upper room, reached by a stick ladder, had its two beds, one of which Harry occupied. The children slept below in a trundle bed that was pushed under the larger one when it was made up in the morning.

"Some time I'm going to put in a windletrap and get rid o' that stick ladder," Samson had said.

Sarah had all the arts of the New England home maker. Under her hand the cabin, in color, atmosphere and general neatness, would have delighted a higher taste than was to be found on the prairies, save in the brain of Kelso who really had some acquaintance with beauty. To be sure the bed was in one corner, spread with its upper cover knit of gray yarn harmonizing in color with the bark of the log walls. A handsome dark brown buffalo robe lay beside it. The rifle and powder horn were hung above the mantel. The fireplace had its crane of wrought iron.

Every one in the little village came to the house warming.

"There is nothing in America so beautiful as 'this here kind o' thing' when the firelight shines upon it," said Kelso who often indulged in the vernacular of the real ladder climbers.

"Well, of course, it isn't like Boston or New York," Sarah answered.

"Thank God!" Kelso exclaimed. "New York hurts my feelings, so many of its buildings are of grand design and small proportions. Mrs. Traylor, you are lucky to have this beautiful island in an ocean of music. There is music in the look and sound of these meadows—bird music, wind music, the level music of Felician David's Desert. Perhaps you don't know about that and really it doesn't matter. Traylor, tune up your fiddle."

Samson began to play, stopping often to give the hand of welcome to a guest. The people of New Salem were in their best clothes. The women wore dresses of new calico—save Mrs. Dr. Allen, who wore a black silk dress which had come with her from her late home in Lexington. Bim Kelso came in a dress of red muslin trimmed with white lace. Ann Rutledge also wore a red dress and came with Abe. The latter was rather grotesque in his new linsey trousers, of a better length than the former pair, but still too short.

"It isn't fair to blame the trousers or the tailor," he had said when he had tried them on. "My legs are so long that the imagination of the tailor is sure to fall short if the cloth don't. Next time I'll have 'em made to measure with a ten-foot pole instead of a yardstick. If they're too long I can roll 'em up and let out a link or two when they shrink. Ever since I was a boy I have been troubled with shrinking pants."

Abe wore a blue swallow-tail coat with brass buttons, the tails of which were so short as to be well above the danger of pressure when he sat down. His cowhide shoes had been well blackened; the blue yarn of his socks showed above them. "These darned socks of mine are rather proud and conceited," he used to say. "They like to show off."

He wore a shirt of white, unbleached cotton, a starched collar and black tie.

In speaking of his collar to Samson, he said that he felt like a wild horse in a box stall.

Mentor Graham, the schoolmaster, was there—a smooth-faced man with a large head, sandy hair and a small mustache, who spoke by note, as it were. Kelso called him the great articulator and said that he walked in the valley of the shadow of Lindley Murray. He seemed to keep a watchful eye on his words, as if they were a lot of schoolboys not to be trusted. They came out with a kind of self-conscious rectitude.

The children's games had begun and the little house rang with their songs and laughter, while their elders sat by the fire and along the walls talking. Ann Rutledge and Bim Kelso and Harry Needles and John McNeil played with them. In one of the dances all joined in singing the verses:

I won't have none o' yer' weevily wheat, I won't have none o' yer barley; I won't have none o' yer' weevily wheat, To make a cake for Charley.

Charley is a fine young man, Charley is a dandy, Charley likes to kiss the girls, Whenever it comes handy.

When a victim was caught in the flying scrimmage at the end of a passage in the game of Prisoners, he or she was brought before a blindfolded judge:

"Heavy, heavy hangs over your head," said the Constable.

"Fine or superfine?" the judge inquired.

"Fine," said the Constable, which meant that the victim was a boy. Then the sentence was pronounced and generally it was this:

"Go bow to the wittiest, kneel to the prettiest and kiss the one that you love best."

Harry was the first prisoner. He went straight to Bim Kelso and bowed and knelt, and when he had risen she turned and ran like a scared deer around the chairs and the crowd of onlookers, some assisting and some checking her flight, before the nimble youth. Hard pressed, she ran out of the open door, with a merry laugh, and just beyond the steps Harry caught and kissed her, and her cheeks had the color of roses when he led her back.

John McNeil kissed Ann Rutledge that evening and was most attentive to her, and the women were saying that the two had fallen in love with each other.

"See how she looks at him," one of them whispered.

"Well, it's just the way he looks at her," the other answered.

At the first pause in the merriment Kelso stood on a chair, and then silence fell upon the little company.

"My good neighbors," he began, "we are here to rejoice that new friends have come to us and that a new home is born in our midst. We bid them welcome. They are big boned, big hearted folks. No man has grown large who has not at one time or another had his feet in the soil and felt its magic power going up into his blood and bone and sinew. Here is a wonderful soil and the inspiration of wide horizons; here are broad and fertile fields. Where the corn grows high you can grow statesmen. It may be that out of one of these little cabins a man will come to carry the torch of Liberty and Justice so high that its light will shine into every dark place. So let no one despise the cabin—humble as it is. Samson and Sarah Traylor, I welcome and congratulate you. Whatever may come, you can find no better friends than these, and of this you may be sure, no child of the prairies will ever go about with a hand organ and a monkey. Our friend, Honest Abe, is one of the few rich men in this neighborhood. Among his assets are Kirkham's Grammar, The Pilgrim's Progress, the Lives of Washington and Henry Clay, Hamlet's Soliloquy, Othello's Speech to the Senate, Marc Antony's address and a part of Webster's reply to Hayne. A man came along the other day and sold him a barrel of rubbish for two bits. In it he found a volume of Blackstone's Commentaries. Old Blackstone challenged him to a wrestle and Abe has grappled with him. I reckon he'll take his measure as easily as he took Jack Armstrong's. Lately he has got possession of a noble asset. It is the Cotter's Saturday Night, by Robert Burns. I propose to ask him to let us share his enjoyment of this treasure."

Abe, who had been sitting with his legs doubled beneath him on a buffalo skin, between Joe and Betsey Traylor, rose and said:

"Mr. Kelso's remarks, especially the part which applied to me, remind me of the story of the prosperous grocer of Joliet. One Saturday night he and his boys were busy selling sausage. Suddenly in came a man with whom he had quarreled and laid two dead cats on the counter.

"'There,' said he, 'this makes seven to-day. I'll call Monday and get my money.'

"We were doing a good business here making fun. It seems a pity to ruin it and throw suspicion on the quality of the goods by throwing a cat on the counter. I'll only throw one cat. It is entitled:


"Say, boys, I guess 'at none o' you Has ever seen my sister Sue, She kin rassle an' turn han'springs kerflop, But Jimmy Crimps!—ye should see her hop! Yes, sir!

"She kin h'ist one foot an' go like Ned! An' hop on top o' my mother's bed, An' back an' round the house she'll go, 'Ith her ol' knee as limber as a hickory bow, Yes, sir!

"She kin sing a hull song 'ithout ketchin' her breath, An' make up a face 'at 'ud scare ye to death! She kin wiggle her ears an' cross her eyes An' stick out her tongue till yer hair 'ud rise. Yes, sir!

"An' play wildcat on her han's an' knees, Honest! 'T would give ye the gibberees! An' she sneaks along an' jumps at you An' gives sech a yell!—my sister Sue! Yes, sir!

"She kin shoot off a gun an' set a trap, An' if you don't behave she kin give you a slap She kin holler and scream like a flock o' geese An' stan' on her head an' speak a piece. Yes, sir!

"She kin run cross legged an' ride a cow, An' jump from the beam to the big hay mow. I reckon yer hair 'ud stan' up to see 'er A breakin' a colt er throwin' a steer, Yes, sir!

"My sister Susan has got a beau. When he comes she sets an' acts jes' so, An' talks so proper—it's zac'ly jes Like the flummididles on her dress, Yes, sir!

"When she stan's in that darn ol' Sunday gown Ye'd think a grasshopper could knock 'er down. An' she laughs kind o' sick—like a kitten's mew— Ye wouldn't think 'twas my sister Sue, No, sir!

"An' she says: 'Oh, dear! those horrid boys! They act so rough an' make sech a noise!' Good gracious! ye wouldn't think 'at she Could talk as loud as a bumble bee— No, sirs

"Honest! Er lift a chip o' wood, She acts so puny an' nice an' good! 'Boys are awful!' she says, 'till they're grown, Er nelse they got to be yer own!' Oh, gosh!"

This raised a storm of merriment, after which he recited the poem of Burns, with keen appreciation of its quality. Samson repeatedly writes of his gift for interpretation, especially of the comic, and now and then lays particular stress on his power of mimicry.

John Cameron sang The Sword of Bunker Hill and Forty Years Ago, Tom. Samson played while the older people danced until midnight. Then, after noisy farewells, men, women and children started in the moonlit road toward the village. Ann Rutledge had Abe on one arm and John McNeil on the other.



When Samson paid Mr. Gollaher, a "detector" came with the latter to look at the money before it was accepted. There were many counterfeits and bills good only at a certain discount of face value, going about those days and the detector was in great request. Directly after moving in, Samson dug a well and lined it with a hollow log. He bought tools and another team and then he and Harry began their fall plowing. Day after day for weeks they paced with their turning furrows until a hundred acres, stretching half a mile to the west and well to the north of the house, were black with them. Fever and ague descended upon the little home in the early winter.

In a letter to her brother, dated January 4th, 1832, Sarah writes:

* * * * *

"We have been longing for news from home, but not a word has come from you. It don't seem as if we could stand it unless we hear from you or some of the folks once in a while. We are not dead just because we are a thousand miles away. We want to hear from you. Please write and let us know how father and mother are and all the news. Is Elizabeth Ranney married yet, and how does the minister get along with his new wife? We have all been sick with the fever and ague. It is a beautiful country and the soil very rich, but there is some sickness. Samson and I were both sick at the same time. I never knew Samson to give up before. He couldn't go on, his head ached so. Little Joe helped me get the fire started and brought some water and waited on us. Then the little man put on his coat and mittens and trudged away to the village with Betsey after the doctor. Harry Needles had gone away to Springfield for Mr. Offut with a drove of hogs. Two other boys are with him. He is going to buy a new suit. He is a very proud boy. Joe and Betsey got back with the doctor at nine. That night Abe Lincoln came and sat up with us and gave us our medicine and kept the fire going. It was comical to see him lying beside Joe in his trundle bed, with his long legs sticking over the end of it and his feet standing on the floor about a yard from the bed. He was spread all over the place. He talked about religion, and his views would shock most of our friends in the East. He doesn't believe in the kind of Heaven that the ministers talk about or any eternal hell. He says that nobody knows anything about the hereafter, except that God is a kind and forgiving father and that all men are His children. He says that we can only serve God by serving each other. He seems to think that every man, good or bad, black or white, rich or poor, is his brother. He thinks that Henry Clay, next to Daniel Webster, is the greatest man in the country. He is studying hard. Expects to go out and make speeches for Clay next summer. He is quite severe in his talk against General Jackson. He and Samson agree in politics and religion. They are a good deal alike. He is very fond of Samson and Harry—calls them his partners. He said to Samson the other evening.

"I want you for a friend always. If you can stand it, I would like my story to be a part of yours. If you say so, we'll stick to the same boat and pole her over the shoals and carry her across the bends and see if we can get to good going in deep water. When the channel will permit, we can put in a steam engine.'

"We love this big awkward giant. His feet are set in the straight way and we think that he is going to make his mark in the world.

"When I went to sleep he lay in the trundle bed, with two candles burning on the stand beside him, reading that big green book of mine entitled The Works of William Shakespeare. He had brought a law book with him, but he got interested in William Shakespeare and couldn't let it alone. He said that he was like a mired horse whenever he began to read a play of the immortal bard, and that he had to take his time in getting out. When he went away next morning he borrowed Samson's pack basket. I felt bad because we couldn't go and make any arrangements with Santa Claus for the children. Joe was dreadfully worried, for Betsey had told him that Santa Claus never came to children whose father and mother were sick. Christmas Eve Abe came with the pack basket chock-full of good things after the children were asleep. He took out a turkey and knit caps and mittens and packages of candy and raisins for the children and some cloth for a new dress for me. Mrs. Kelso had come to spend the night with us, although Samson and I were so much better it really wasn't necessary. I made her go up the ladder to bed before midnight. That evening a short, fat Santa Claus came in with a loaded pack. He had a long, brown beard and a red nose and carried a new clay pipe in his mouth and was very much bundled up.

"We called the children. They stood looking at Santa Claus, and Santa Claus stood looking at them. He gave them mufflers and some candy hearts and tried to pick them up. They ran away and he chased them under our bed and got hold of Joe's foot and tried to pull him out, and Joe hollored like a painter, and Santa Claus dropped his pipe and sat down on the floor and began laughing. I saw it was Bim Kelso. Abe left with her, and I suppose they went back to the village and around in a regular Santa Claus spree.

"Mrs. Kelso said that she had been making a beard of pieces of buffalo skin and fitting up an old suit of her father's clothes that afternoon. I wonder what she'll do next. It's terrible to be so much in love and not quite seventeen. Harry is as bad as she is. I wish they had been a little older before they met.

"Joe said yesterday that he was going back to Vergennes.

"'How are you going to get there?' I asked.

"'Abe's going to make me a pair o' wings, and I'm going to smash right up through the sky and go awa-a-y off to Vergennes and play with Ben and Lizzie Tyler. Abe says there ain't no bad roads up there.'

"I asked him what I should do if he went away and left me like that.

"'Oh, I'll come right back,' he said, 'and maybe I'll see Heaven way up in the clouds. If I do I'll stop there in a tavern over night and buy something for you.'

"In a minute a new idea came to him and he said:

"'I guess Abe would make a pair of wings for you if you'd ask him.'

"Often I wish for wings, and always when I think of those who are dear to me and so far away. You said you would come out next spring to look about. Please don't disappoint us. I think it would almost break my heart. I am counting the days. Some time ago I put down 142 straight marks on my old slate, that being the number of days before May 1. Every night I rub off one of them and thank God that you are one day nearer. Don't be afraid of fever and ague. Sapington's pills cure it in three or four days. I would take the steamboat at Pittsburg, the roads in Ohio and Indiana are so bad. You can get a steamer up the Illinois River at Alton and get off at Beardstown and drive across country. If we knew when you were coming Samson or Abe would meet you. Give our love to all the folks and friends.

"Yours affectionately,

"Sarah and Samson."

* * * * *

It had been a cold winter and not easy to keep comfortable in the little house. In the worst weather Samson used to get up at night to keep the fire going. Late in January a wind from the southeast melted the snow and warmed the air of the midlands so that, for a week or so, it seemed as if spring were come. One night of this week Sambo awoke the family with his barking. A strong wind was rushing across the plains and roaring over the cabin and wailing in its chimney. Suddenly there was a rap on its door. When Samson opened it he saw in the moonlight a young colored man and woman standing near the door-step.

"Is dis Mistah Traylor?" the young man asked.

"It is," said Samson. "What can I do for you?"

"Mas'r, de good Lord done fotched us here to ask you fo' help," said the negro. "We be nigh wone out with cold an' hungah, suh, 'deed we be."

Samson asked them in and put wood on the fire, and Sarah got up and made some hot tea and brought food from the cupboard and gave it to the strangers, who sat shivering in the firelight. They were a good-looking pair, the young woman being almost white. They were man and wife. The latter stopped eating and moaned and shook with emotion as her husband told their story. Their master had died the year before and they had been brought to St. Louis to be sold in the slave market. There they had escaped by night and gone to the house of an old friend of their former owner who lived north of the city on the river shore. He had taken pity on them and brought them across the Mississippi and started them on the north road with a letter to Elijah Lovejoy of Alton and a supply of food. Since then they had been hiding days in the swamps and thickets and had traveled by night. Mr. Lovejoy had sent them to Erastus Wright of Springfield, and Mr. Wright had given them the name of Samson Traylor and the location of his cabin. From there they were bound for the house of John Peasley, in Hopedale, Tazewell County.

Lovejoy had asked them to keep the letter with which they had begun their travels. Under its signature he had written: "I know the writer and know that the above was written with his own hand. His word can be relied upon. To all who follow or respect the example of Jesus Christ I commend this man and woman."

The letter stated that their late master had often expressed his purpose of leaving them their freedom when he should pass away. He had left no will and since his death the two had fallen into the hands of his nephew, a despotic, violent young drunkard of the name of Biggs, who had ruled his servants with club and bull whip and who in a temper had killed a young negro a few months before. The fugitives said that they would rather die than go back to him.

Samson was so moved by their story that he hitched up his horses and put some hay in the wagon box and made off with the fugitives up the road to the north in the night. When daylight came he covered them with the hay. About eight o'clock he came to a frame house and barn, the latter being of unusual size for that time and country. Above the door of the barn was a board which bore the stenciled legend: "John Peasley, Orwell Farm."

As Samson drew near the house he observed a man working on the roof of a woodshed. Something familiar in his look held the eye of the New Salem man. In half a moment he recognized the face of Henry Brimstead. It was now a cheerful face. Brimstead came down the ladder and they shook hands.

"Good land o' Goshen! How did you get here?" Samson asked. Brimstead answered:

"Through the help of a feller that looks like you an' the grit of a pair o' hosses. Come down this road early in September on my way to the land o' plenty. Found Peasley here. Couldn't help it. Saw his name on the barn. Used to go to school with him in Orwell. He offered to sell me some land with a house on it an' trust me for his pay. I liked the looks o' the country and so I didn't go no further. I was goin' to write you a letter, but I hain't got around to it yet. Ain't forgot what you done for us, I can tell ye that."

"Well, this looks better than the sand plains—a lot better—and you look better than that flea farmer back in York State. How are the children?"

"Fat an' happy an' well dressed. Mrs. Peasley has been a mother to 'em an' her sister is goin' to be a wife to me." He came close to Samson and added in a confidential tone: "Say, if I was any happier I'd be scairt. I'm like I was when I got over the toothache—so scairt for fear it would come back I was kind o' miserable."

Mr. Peasley came out of the door. He was a big, full bearded, jovial man.

"I've got a small load o' hay for you," said Samson.

"I was expecting it, though I supposed 'twould be walkin'—in the dark o' the night," Peasley answered. "Drive in on the barn floor."

When Samson had driven into the barn its doors were closed and the negroes were called from their place of hiding. Samson writes:

* * * * *

"I never realized what a blessing it is to be free until I saw that scared man and woman crawling out from under the dusty hay and shaking themselves like a pair of dogs. The weather was not cold or I guess they would have been frozen. They knelt together on the barn floor and the woman prayed for God's protection through the day. I knew what slavery must mean when I saw what they were suffering to get away from it. When they came in the night I felt the call of God to help them. Now I knew that I was among the chosen to lead in a great struggle. Peasley brought food for them and stowed them away on the top of his hay mow with a pair of buffalo skins. I suppose they got some sleep there. I went into the house to breakfast and while I ate Brimstead told me about his trip. His children were there. They looked clean and decent. He lived in a log cabin a little further up the road. Mrs. Peasley's sister waited on me. She is a fat and cheerful looking lady, very light complected. Her hair is red—like tomato ketchup. Looks to me a likely, stout armed, good hearted woman who can do a lot of hard work. She can see a joke and has an answer handy every time."

* * * * *

For details of the remainder of the historic visit of Samson Traylor to the home of John Peasley we are indebted to a letter from John to his brother Charles, dated February 21, 1832. In this he says:

* * * * *

"We had gone out to the barn and Brimstead and I were helping Mr. Traylor hitch up his horses. All of a sudden two men came riding up the road at a fast trot and turned in and come straight toward us and pulled up by the wagon. One of them was a slim, red cheeked young feller about twenty-three years old. He wore top boots and spurs and a broad brimmed black hat and gloves and a fur waistcoat and purty linen. He looked at the tires of the wagon and said: 'That's the one we've followed.'

"'Which o' you is Samson Traylor?' he asked.

"'I am,' said Traylor.

"The young feller jumped off his horse and tied him to the fence. Then he went up to Traylor and said:

"What did you do with my niggers, you dirty sucker?'

"Men from Missouri hated the Illinois folks them clays and called 'em Suckers. We always call a Missouri man a name too dirty to be put in a letter. He acted like one o' the Roman emperors ye read of.

"'Hain't you a little reckless, young feller?' Traylor says, as cool as a cucumber.

"I didn't know Traylor them days. If I had, I'd 'a' been prepared for what was comin'.

"Traylor stood up nigh the barn door, which Brimstead had closed after we backed the wagon out.

"The young feller stepped close to the New Salem man and raised his whip for a blow. Quick as lightnin' Traylor grabbed him and threw him ag'in' the barn door, keewhack! He hit so hard the boards bent and the whole barn roared and trembled. The other feller tried to get his pistol out of its holster, but Brimstead, who stood beside him, grabbed it, and I got his hoss by the bits and, we both held on. The young feller lay on the ground shakin' as if he had the ague. Ye never see a man so spylt in a second. Traylor picked him up. His right arm was broke and his face and shoulder bruised some. Ye'd a thought a steam engyne had blowed up while he was puttin' wood in it. He was kind o' limp and the mad had leaked out o' him.

"'I reckon I better find a doctor,' he says.

"'You get into my wagon and I'll take ye to a good one,' says Traylor.

"Just then Stephen Nuckles, the circuit minister, rode in with the big bloodhound that follers him around.

"The other slaver had got off his hoss in the scrimmage. Traylor started for him. The slaver began to back away and suddenly broke into a run. The big dog took after him with a kind of a lion roar. We all began yelling at the dog. We made more noise than you'd hear at the end of a hoss race. It scairt the young feller. He put on more steam and went up the ladder to the roof of the woodshed like a chased weasel. The dog stood barkin' as if he had treed a bear. Traylor grabbed the ladder and pulled it down.

"'You stay there till I get away an' you'll be safe,' said he.

"The man looked down and swore and shook his fist and threatened us with the law.

"Mr. Nuckles rode close to the woodshed and looked up at him.

"'My brother, I fear you be not a Christian,' he said.

"He swore at the minister. That settled him.

"'What's all this erbout?' Mr. Nuckles asked me.

"'He and his friend are from Missouri,' I says. 'They're lookin' for some runaway slaves an' they come here and pitched into us, and one got throwed ag'in' the barn an' the other clum to the roof.'

"'I reckon he better stay thar till he gits a little o' God's grace in his soul,' says the minister.

"Then he says to the dog: 'Ponto, you keep 'im right thar.'

"The dog appeared to understand what was expected of him.

"The minister got off his hoss and hitched him and took off his coat and put it on the ground.

"'What you goin' to do?' I says.

"'Me?' says the minister. 'I be goin' to rassle with Satan for the soul o' that 'ar man, an' if you keep watch I reckon you'll see 'at the ground'll be scratched up some 'fore I git through.'

"He loosened his collar an' knelt on his coat and began to pray that the man's soul would see its wickedness and repent. You could have heard him half a mile away.

"Mr. Traylor drove off with the damaged slaver settin' beside him and the saddle hoss hitched to the rear axle. I see my chance an' before that prayer ended I had got the fugitives under some hay in my wagon and started off with them on my way to Livingston County. I could hear the prayin' until I got over the hill into Canaan barrens. At sundown I left them in good hands thirty miles up the road."

* * * * *

In a frontier newspaper of that time it is recorded that the minister and his dog kept the slaver on the roof all day, vainly trying with prayer and exhortation to convert his soul. The man stopped swearing before dinner and on his promise not again to violate the commandment a good meal was handed up to him. He was liberated at sundown and spent the night with Brimstead.

"Who is that big sucker who grabbed my friend?" the stranger asked Brimstead.

"His name is Samson Traylor. Comes from Vermont," was the answer.

"He's the dog-gonedest steam engyne of a man I ever see, 'pon my word," said the stranger.

"An' he's about the gentlest, womern hearted critter that ever drawed the breath o' life," said Brimstead.

"If he don't look out 'Liph Biggs'll kill him—certain."

Samson spoke not more than a dozen words on his way back to New Salem. Amazed and a little shocked by his own conduct, he sat thinking. After all he had heard and seen, the threat of the young upstart had provoked him beyond his power of endurance. Trained to the love of liberty and justice, the sensitive mind of the New Englander had been hurt by the story of the fugitives. Upon this hurt the young man had poured the turpentine of haughty, imperial manners. In all the strange adventure it seemed to him that he had felt the urge of God—in the letter of Lovejoy, in the prayers of the negro woman and the minister, in his own wrath. The more he thought of it the less inclined he was to reproach himself for his violence. Slavery was a relic of ancient imperialism. It had no right in free America. There could be no peace with it save for a little time. He would write to his friends of what he had learned of the brutalities of slavery. The Missourians would tell their friends of the lawless and violent men of the North, who cared not a fig for the property rights of a southerner. The stories would travel like fire in dry grass.

So, swiftly, the thoughts of men were being prepared for the great battle lines of the future. Samson saw the peril of it.

As they rode along young Mr. Biggs took a flask half full of whisky from his pocket and offered it to Samson. The latter refused this tender of courtesy and the young man drank alone. He complained of pain and Samson made a sling of his muffler and put it over the neck and arm of the injured Biggs and drove with care to avoid jolting. For the first time Samson took a careful and sympathetic look at him. He was a handsome youth, about six feet tall, with dark eyes and hair and a small black mustache and teeth very white and even.

In New Salem Samson took him to Dr. Allen's office and helped the doctor in setting the broken bone. Then he went to Offut's store and found Abe reading his law book and gave him an account of his adventure.

"I'm both glad and sorry," said Abe. "I'm glad that you licked the slaver and got the negroes out of his reach. I reckon I'd have done the same if I could. I'm sorry because it looks to me like the beginning of many troubles. The whole subject of slavery is full of danger. Naturally southern men will fight for their property, and there is a growing number in the North who will fight for their principles. If we all get to fighting, I wonder what will become of the country. It reminds me of the man who found a skunk in his house. His boy was going after the critter with a club.

"'Look here, boy,' he said, 'when you've got a skunk in the house, it's a good time to be careful. You might spyle the skunk with that club, but the skunk would be right certain to spyle the house. While he's our guest, I reckon we'll have to be polite, whether we want to or not.'"

"Looks to me as if that skunk had come to stay until he's put out," said Samson.

"That may be," Abe answered. "But I keep hopin' that we can swap a hen for the house and get rid of him. Anyhow, it's a good time to be careful."

"He may be glad to live with me, but I ain't willin' to live with him," Samson rejoined. "I ain't awful proud, but his station in life is a leetle too far below mine. If I tried to live with him, I would get the smell on my soul so that St. Peter would wonder what to do with me."

Abe laughed.

"That touches the core of the trouble," said he. "In the North most men have begun to think of the effect of slavery on the soul; in the South a vast majority are thinking of its effect on the pocket. One stands for a moral and the other for a legal right."

"But one is righter than the other," Samson insisted.

That evening Samson set down the events of the day in his book and quoted the dialogue in Offut's store in which he had had a part. On the first of February, 1840, he put these words under the entry:

"I wouldn't wonder if this was the first trip on the Underground Railroad."



In a musty old ledger kept by James Rutledge, the owner of Rutledge's Tavern, in the year 1832, is an entry under the date of January 31st which reads as follows:

"Arrived this day Eliphalet Biggs of 26 Olive Street, St. Louis, with one horse."

Young Mr. Biggs remained at Rutledge's Tavern for three weeks with his arm in a sling under the eye of the good doctor. The Rutledges were Kentucky folk and there the young man had found a sympathetic hearing and tender care. Dr. Allen had forbidden him the use of ardent spirits while the bone was knitting and so these three weeks were a high point in his life so to speak.

It had done him good to be hurled against a barn door and to fall trembling and confused at the feet of his master. He had never met his master until he had reached Hopedale that morning. The event had been too long delayed. Encouraged by idleness and conceit and alcohol, evil passions had grown rank in the soil of his spirit. Restraint had been a thing unknown to him. He had ruled the little world in which he had lived by a sense of divine right. He was a prince of Egoland—that province of America which had only half yielded itself to the principles of Democracy.

Sobriety and the barn door had been a help to his soul. More of these heroic remedies might have saved him. He was like one exiled, for a term, from his native heath. After the ancient fashion of princes, he had at first meditated the assassination of the man who had blocked his way. Deprived of the heat of alcohol, his purpose sickened and died.

It must be said that he served his term as a sober human being quite gracefully, being a well born youth of some education. A few days he spent mostly in bed, while his friend, who had come on from Hopedale, took care of him. Soon he began to walk about and his friend returned to St. Louis.

His fine manners and handsome form and face captured the little village, most of whose inhabitants had come from Kentucky. They knew a gentleman when they saw him. They felt a touch of awe in his presence. Mr. Biggs claimed to have got his hurt by a fall from his horse, pride leading him to clothe the facts in prevarication. If the truth had been known Samson would have suffered a heavy loss of popularity in New Salem.

A week after his arrival Ann Rutledge walked over to Jack Kelso's with him. Bim fled up the stick ladder as soon as they entered the door. Mr. Kelso was away on a fox hunt. Ann went to the ladder and called:

"Bim, I saw you fly up that ladder. Come back down. Here's a right nice young man come to see you."

"Is he good-looking?" Bim called.

"Oh, purty as a picture, black eyes and hair and teeth like pearls, and tall and straight, and he's got a be-e-autiful little mustache."

"That's enough!" Bim exclaimed. "I just wish there was a knot hole in this floor."

"Come on down here," Ann urged.

"I'm scared," was the answer.

"His cheeks are as red as roses and he's got a lovely ring and big watch chain—pure gold and yaller as a dandelion. You come down here."

"Stop," Bim answered. "I'll be down as soon as I can get on my best bib and tucker."

She was singing Sweet Nightingale as she began "to fix up," while Ann and Mr. Biggs were talking with Mrs. Kelso.

"Ann," Bim called in a moment, "had I better put on my red dress or my blue?"

"Yer blue, and be quick about it."

"Don't you let him get away after all this trouble."

"I won't."

In a few minutes Bim called from the top of the ladder to Ann. The latter went and looked up at her. Both girls burst into peals of merry laughter. Bim had put on a suit of her father's old clothes and her buffalo skin whiskers and was a wild sight.

"Don't you come down looking like that," said Ann. "I'll go up there and 'tend to you."

Ann climbed the ladder and for a time there was much laughing and chattering in the little loft. By and by Ann came down. Bim hesitated, laughing, above the ladder for a moment, and presently followed in her best blue dress, against which the golden curls of her hair fell gracefully. With red cheeks and bright eyes, she was a glowing picture. Very timidly she gave her hand to Mr. Biggs.

"It's just the right dress," he said. "It goes so well with your hair. I'm glad to see you. I have never seen a girl like you in my life."

"If I knew how, I'd look different," said Bim. "I reckon I look cross. Cows have done it. Do you like cows?"

"I hate cows—I've got a thousand cows and I see as little of them as possible," said he.

"It is such a pleasure to hate cows!" Bim exclaimed. "There's nothing I enjoy so much."

"Why?" Ann asked.

"I am not sure, but I think it is because they give milk—such quantities of milk! Sometimes I lie awake at night hating cows. There are so many cows here it keeps me busy."

"Bim has to milk a cow—that's the reason," said Ann.

"I'd like to come over and see her do it," said Mr. Biggs.

"If you do I'll milk in your face—honest I will," said Bim.

"I wouldn't care if it rained milk. I'm going to come and see you often, if your mother will let me."

A blush spread over the girl's cheeks to the pretty dimple at the point of her chin.

"You'll see her scampering up the ladder like a squirrel," said Mrs. Kelso. "She isn't real tame yet."

"Perhaps we could hide the ladder," he suggested, with a smile.

"Do you play on the flute?" Bim asked.

"No," said Mr. Biggs.

"I was afraid," Bim exclaimed. "My Uncle Henry does." She looked into Mr. Biggs' eyes.

"You like fun—don't you?" he said.

"Have you got a snare drum?" Bim queried.

"No. What put that into your head?" Mr. Biggs asked, a little mystified.

"I don't know. I thought I'd ask. My Uncle Henry has a snare drum. That's one reason we came to Illinois."

Mr. Biggs laughed. "That smile of yours is very becoming," he said.

"Did you ever dream of a long legged, brindle cat with yellow eyes and a blue tail?" she asked, as if to change the subject.


"I wisht you had. Maybe you'd know how to scare it away. It carries on so."

"I know what would fix that cat," said Mrs. Kelso. "Give him the hot biscuits which you sometimes eat for supper. He'll never come again."

At this point Mr. Kelso returned with his gun on his shoulder and was introduced to Mr. Biggs.

"I welcome you to the hazards of my fireside," said Kelso. "So you're from St. Louis and stopped for repairs in this land of the ladder climbers. Sit down and I'll put a log on the fire."

"Thank you, I must go," said Biggs. "The doctor will be looking for me now."

"Can I not stay you with flagons?" Kelso asked.

"The doctor has forbidden me all drink but milk and water."

"A wise man is Dr. Allen!" Kelso exclaimed. "Cervantes was right in saying that too much wine will neither keep a secret nor fulfill a promise."

"Will you make me a promise?" Bim asked of Mr. Biggs, as he was leaving the door with Ann.

"Anything you will ask," he answered.

"Please don't ever look at the new moon through a knot hole," she said in a half whisper.

The young man laughed. "Why not?"

"If you do, you'll never get married."

"I mustn't look at the new moon through a knot hole and I must beware of the flute and the snare drum," said Mr. Biggs.

"Don't be alarmed by my daughter's fancies," Kelso advised. "They are often rather astonishing. She has a hearty prejudice against the flute. It is well founded. An ill played flute is one of the worst enemies of law and order. Goldsmith estranged half his friends with a grim determination to play the flute. It was the skeleton in his closet."

So Mr. Eliphalet Biggs met the pretty daughter of Jack Kelso. On his way back to the tavern he told Ann that he had fallen in love with the sweetest and prettiest girl in all the world—Bim Kelso. That very evening Ann went over to Kelso's cabin to take the news to Bim and her mother and to tell them that her father reckoned he belonged to a very rich and a very grand family. Naturally, they felt a sense of elation, although Mrs. Kelso, being a woman of shrewdness, was not carried away. Mr. Kelso had gone to Offut's store and the three had the cabin to themselves.

"I think he's just a wonderful man!" Bim exclaimed. "But I'm sorry his name is so much like figs and pigs. I'm plum sure I'm going to love him."

"I thought you were in love with Harry Needles," Bim's mother said to her.

"I am. But he keeps me so busy. I have to dress him up every day and put a mustache on him and think up ever so many nice things for him to say, and when he comes he doesn't say them. He's terribly young."

"The same age as you. I think he is a splendid boy—so does everybody."

"I have to make all his courage for him, and then he never will use it," Bim went on. "He has never said whether he likes my looks or not."

"But there's time enough for that—you are only a child," said her mother. "You told me that he said once you were beautiful."

"But he has never said it twice, and when he did say it, I didn't believe my ears, he spoke so low. Acted kind o' like he was scared of it. I don't want to wait forever to be really and truly loved, do I?"

Mrs. Kelso laughed. "It's funny to hear a baby talking like that," she said. "We don't know this young man. He's probably only fooling anyway."

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