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George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 53 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.

He hands a small twist of paper to LINCOLN.

Lincoln:  Now, that’s uncommon kind of you.  Thank you.  I’ve heard much about your preaching, Mr. Custis.

Custis:  Yes.

Lincoln:  I should like to hear you.

Custis:  Mista Lincoln great friend of my people.

Lincoln:  I have come at length to a decision.

Custis:  A decision?

Lincoln:  Slavery is going.  We have been resolved always to confine it.  Now it shall be abolished.

Custis:  You sure?

Lincoln:  Sure.

CUSTIS slowly stands up, bows his head, and sits again.

Custis:  My people much to learn.  Years, and years, and years.  Ignorant, frightened, suspicious people.  It will be difficult, very slow. (With growing passion.) But born free bodies.  Free.  I born slave, Mista Lincoln.  No man understand who not born slave.

Lincoln:  Yes, yes.  I understand.

Custis (with his normal regularity):  I think so.  Yes.

Lincoln:  I should like you to ask me any question you wish.

Custis:  I have some complaint.  Perhaps I not understand.

Lincoln:  Tell me.

Custis:  Southern soldiers take some black men prisoner.  Black men in your uniform.  Take them prisoner.  Then murder them.

Lincoln:  I know.

Custis:  What you do?

Lincoln:  We have sent a protest.

Custis:  No good.  Must do more.

Lincoln:  What more can we do?

Custis:  You know.

Lincoln:  Yes; but don’t ask me for reprisals.

Custis (gleaming):  Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

Lincoln:  No, no.  You must think.  Think what you are saying.

Custis:  I think of murdered black men.

Lincoln:  You would not ask me to murder?

Custis:  Punish—­not murder.

Lincoln:  Yes, murder.  How can I kill men in cold blood for what has been done by others?  Think what would follow.  It is for us to set a great example, not to follow a wicked one.  You do believe that, don’t you?

Custis (after a pause):  I know.  Yes.  Let your light so shine before men.  I trust Mista Lincoln.  Will trust.  I was wrong.  I was too sorry for my people.

Lincoln:  Will you remember this?  For more than two years I have thought of you every day.  I have grown a weary man with thinking.  But I shall not forget.  I promise that.

Custis:  You great, kind friend.  I will love you.

A knock at the door.

Lincoln: Yes.

SUSAN comes in.

Susan:  An officer gentleman.  He says it’s very important.

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