Abraham Lincoln: A story and a Play/A New Home
A New Home
When Abraham was twenty-one years old, his father decided to move once more. He learned that farther west in Illinois, there was rich prairie land where it would be easy to make a comfortable home. Two other families decided to go with the Lincolns. Heavy ox-carts were loaded with furniture and supplies, and the party started out with hearts full of hope.
Abraham carried with him thirty dollars' worth of "notions," which he sold for such good prices to the settlers along the way, that by the end of the journey he had gained thirty dollars by his sales.
As they travelled along, a small thing happened which showed Abraham's tender heart even for dumb creatures. The party had to cross an icy stream, and when they reached the other side they found that a dog had been left behind. It stood on the shore crying pitifully. Should it be allowed to stay there and starve?
"Indeed not," declared Abraham. He hurriedly drew off his shoes, waded across the stream, and was soon on his way back with the dog under his arm. The poor little creature was now so happy that Lincoln said afterwards he was more than paid for his trouble.
After Abraham helped the family get settled in the new home, he went on to the village of New Salem, where he became the clerk of a man named Offut. He was so kind and merry and told such good stories, that people liked to come to the store for the sake of talking with him, just as the folks of Gentryville had done. Besides this, they found he was so honest, that they could trust him in the smallest matters.
Now it happened, that one night after Abraham had closed the store, he counted up the money he had received, and found he had six cents too much. He was troubled, and thought about it for a long time. At last he remembered how it must have come about. He had given the wrong change to a certain woman.
He hastened to lock up the store, and started at once for the woman's house three miles away. As soon as he arrived there, he handed her the six cents, telling her he had made a mistake. Then, happy once more, he went home, caring little for the long walk, since he had done what was right. It is not strange that such things as this soon won for him the name of "Honest Abe."
While Abraham was working for Mr. Offut, he was sent on another flat-boat expedition down the Mississippi. He carried bacon, flour and other things raised on the farms near by, and traded them off to the plantations along the river, just as he had done before. This time, however, he travelled as far as New Orleans, where he saw something that seemed very terrible. It was an auction of slaves. Little children were taken from their mothers' arms and sold as so many pieces of furniture. Women were parted from their husbands. The young man was deeply troubled at the sad sight. He said to himself, "In this great and beautiful country of America, it is dreadful that there should be such a thing as slavery."