Now, we are at the foot of the last hill. For a long time I had seen it looming in the distance. Those days it filled my heart with a great fear. Now, how beautiful, how lonely it seems! Oh, but what a vineyard in that very fruitful hill! I speak low when I think of it. Harry Needles and I were on our way to Washington that fateful night of April 14, 1865. We reached there at an early hour in the morning. We made our way through the crowded streets to the little house opposite Ford’s Theatre. An officer who knew me cleared a way for us to the door. Reporters, statesmen, citizens and their families were massed in the street waiting with tear-stained faces for the end. Some of them were sobbing as we passed. We were admitted without delay. A minister and the doctor sat by the bedside. The latter held an open watch in his hand. I could hear it ticking the last moments in an age of history. What a silence as the great soul of my friend was “breaking camp to go home.” Friends of the family and members of the Cabinet were in the room. Through the open door of a room beyond I saw Mrs. Lincoln and the children and others. We looked at our friend lying on the bed. His kindly face was pale and haggard. He breathed faintly and at long intervals. His end was near.
“Poor Abe!” Harry whispered as be looked down at him. “He has had to die on the cross.”
To most of those others Lincoln was the great statesman. To Harry he was still the beloved Abe who had shared his fare and his hardships in many a long, weary way.
The doctor put his ear against the breast of the dying man. There was a moment in which we could hear the voices in the street. The doctor rose and said: “He is gone.”
Secretary Stanton, who more than once had spoken lightly of him, came to the bedside and tenderly closed the eyes of his master, saying:
“Now, he belongs to the ages.”
We went out of the door. The sound of mourning was in the streets. A dozen bells were tolling. On the corner of Tenth Street a quartet of negroes was singing that wonderful prayer:
“Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home.”
One of them, whose rich, deep bass thrilled me and all who heard it, was Roger Wentworth, the fugitive, who had come to our house with Bim, in the darkness of the night, long before.