Harry returned to New Salem. After the session, young Mr. Lincoln went to Springfield and did not reach New Salem until the first week of May. When he arrived there, Mrs. Able met the stage from which he alighted and asked him to come to supper at her house that evening. Not a word was said of Mary in the excitement, about all the folk of the village having assembled to meet and cheer the triumphant Captain of Internal Improvements. Abe Lincoln went to supper and met Mary, who had a cheerful heart and good manners, and a schooled and active intellect, as well as the defects which Harry had mentioned. She and the young statesman had a pleasant visit together, recalling scenes and events which both remembered from beyond the barrier of a dozen years. On the whole, he was agreeably impressed. The neighbors came in after supper. Mrs. Able kept the comedy moving along by a playful reference to the pseudo engagement of the young people. Mr. Lincoln laughed with the others and said that it reminded him a little of the boy who decided to be president and only needed the consent of the United States.
IN WHICH MR. LINCOLN, SAMSON AND HARRY TAKE A LONG RIDE TOGETHER AND THE LATTER VISIT THE FLOURISHING LITTLE CITY OF CHICAGO.
Mr. Lincoln had brought the papers which Harry was to take to Bim, and made haste to deliver them. The boy was eager to be off on his mission. The fields were sown. The new buyer was coming to take possession in two weeks. Samson and Harry had finished their work in New Salem.
“Wait till to-morrow and maybe I’ll go with ye,” said Samson. “I’m anxious to see the country clear up to the lake and take a look at that little mushroom city of Chicago.”
“And buy a few corner lots?” Abe Lincoln asked, with a smile.
“No; I’ll wait till next year. They’ll be cheaper then. I believe in Chicago. It’s placed right—on the waterway to the north and east, with good country on three sides and transportation on the other. It can go into partnership with Steam Power right away and begin to do business. Your grain and pork can go straight from there to Albany and New York and Boston and Baltimore without being rehandled. When railroads come—if they ever do—Steam Power will be shoving grain and meat and passengers into Chicago from every point of the compass.”
Abe Lincoln turned to Sarah and said: “This is a growing country. You ought to see the cities springing up there in the Legislature. I was looking with great satisfaction at the crop when Samson came along one day and fell on it. He was like a frost in midsummer.”
“The seed was sown too early,” Samson rejoined. “You and I may live to see all the dreams of Vandalia come true.”
“And all the nightmares, too,” said the young statesman.
“Yes, we’re going to wake up and find a cold morning and not much to eat in the house and the wolf at the door, but we’ll live through it.”