Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/53

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43
THE LAWYER

fact that the fight had occurred at about eleven o'clock at night, away from any house or light. Then he asked the witness how he had been able to see the occurrence so plainly. "By the moonlight," answered the witness.

Under further cross-examination Lincoln had Allen locate the position of the moon and testify that it was about full. Lincoln asked him no further questions and scarcely cross-examined the other witnesses, none of whom had actually seen the fight. Under the law of Illinois at that time the defendant was not permitted to take the stand himself. As Lincoln allowed witness after witness to testify, with scarcely a word of cross-examination, all the spectators in the courtroom felt that the case against Armstrong was hopeless. This feeling became a certainty when Lincoln announced that he would call no witnesses, and had only one exhibit to offer in evidence. This exhibit, however, turned out to be an almanac which showed that the moon was only in its first quarter and nearly set. Making but one point—the complete discrediting of the only eyewitness—Lincoln summed up to the jury and acquitted his client.

There can be no better ending to an account of Lincoln's life as a lawyer than the advice which he once gave to young lawyers: