The day before the payment came due in December, a historic letter from Tampa, Fla., was published in The Democrat. It was signed “Robert Deming, private, Tenth Cavalry.” It gave many details of the campaign in the Everglades in which the famous scout Harry Needles and seven of his comrades had been surrounded and slain. When Mr. Davis called at the little home in La Salle Street that evening he found Bim in great distress.
“I throw up my hands,” she said. “I can not stand any more. We shall be homeless to-morrow.”
“No, not that—so long as I live,” he answered. “I have bought the claim. You can pay me when you get ready.”
He was very tender and sympathetic.
When he had left them Bim said to her mother: “Our old friends do not seem to care what becomes of us. I have no thought now save for you and the baby. I’ll do whatever you think best for you two. I don’t care for myself. My heart is as dead as Harry’s.”
WHICH TELLS OF THE SETTLING OF ABE LINCOLN AND THE TRAYLORS IN THE VILLAGE OF SPRINGFIELD AND OF SAMSON’S SECOND VISIT TO CHICAGO.
Bim’s judgment of her old friends was ill founded. It was a slow time in which she lived. The foot of the horse, traveling and often mired in a rough muddy highway, was its swiftest courier. Letters carried by horses or slow steamboats were the only media of communication between people separated by wide distances. The learned wrote letters of astonishing length and literary finish—letters which were passed from hand to hand and read aloud in large and small assemblies. They presented the news and the comment it inspired. In these old and generous letters, which antedate the railroad and the telegraph, critics have discovered one of the most delicate and informing of the lost arts—the epistolary. But to the average hand, wearied by heavy tools, the lightsome goose quill, committing its owner to dubious spelling and clumsy penmanship, and exposing the interior of his intellect, was a dreaded thing. When old Black Hawk signed a treaty he was wont to say that he had “touched it with the goose quill.” He made only a little mark whereupon a kind of sanctity was imparted to the document. Every man unaccustomed to its use stood in like awe of this implement. When he “took his pen in hand” he had entered upon an adventure so unusual that his letter always mentioned it as if, indeed, it were an item of news not to be overlooked. So it is easy to understand that many who had traveled far were as the dead, in a measure, to the friends they had left behind them and that those separated by only half a hundred miles had to be very enterprising to keep acquainted.
In March Abe Lincoln had got his license to practise law. On his return from the North he had ridden to Springfield to begin his work as a lawyer in the office of John T. Stuart. His plan was to hire and furnish a room arid get his meals at the home of his friend, Mr. William Butler. He went to the store of Joshua Speed to buy a bed and some bedding. He found that they would cost seventeen dollars.