“What is that?” Abe asked.
“That you’ll give me a commission.”
“A man like you can’t expect too much. Would you care to be a General?”
“I wouldn’t give the snap of my finger for that. What I want to be is your friend.”
“You are that now, aren’t you?” Abe asked.
“Yes, but I haven’t earned my commission. You haven’t given me a chance yet. What can I do to help you along?”
Abe was much impressed by these kindly words. “My friends do not often ask what they can do for me,” he said. “I suppose they haven’t thought of it. I’ll think it over and let you know.”
Three days later he walked out to Coleman Smoot’s after supper. As they sat together by the fireside Abe said:
“I’ve been thinking of your friendly question. It’s dangerous to talk that way to a man like me. The fact is I need two hundred dollars to pay pressing debts and give me something in my pocket when I go to Vandalia. If you can not lend it to me I shall think none the less of you.”
“I can and will,” said Smoot. “I’ve been watching you for a long time. A man who tries as hard as you do to get along deserves to be helped. I believe in you. I’ll go up to Springfield and get the money and bring it to you within a week or so.”
Abe Lincoln had many friends who would have done the like for him if they could, and he knew it.
“Every one has faith in you,” said Smoot. “We expect much of you and we ought to be willing to do what we can to help.”
“Your faith will be my strength if I have any,” said Abe.
On his way home that night he thought of what Jack Kelso had said of democracy and friendship.
On the twenty-second of November a letter came to Ann from Bim Kelso which announced that she was going to New Orleans for the winter with her husband. Thereupon Abe gave up the idea of going to St. Louis and six days later took the stage for the capital, at Rutledge’s door, where all the inhabitants of the village had assembled to bid him good-by. Ann Rutledge with a flash of her old playfulness kissed him when he got into the stage. Abe’s long arm was waving in the air as he looked back at his cheering friends while the stage rumbled down the road toward the great task of his life upon which he was presently to begin in the little village of Vandalia.
WHEREIN THE ROUTE OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IS SURVEYED
AND SAMSON AND
HARRY SPEND A NIGHT IN THE HOME OF HENRY BRIMSTEAD AND HEAR SURPRISING
REVELATIONS, CONFIDENTIALLY DISCLOSED, AND ARE CHARMED BY THE PERSONALITY
OF HIS DAUGHTER ANNABEL.
Early in the autumn of that year the Reverend Elijah Lovejoy of Alton had spent a night with the Traylors on his way to the North. Sitting by the fireside he had told many a vivid tale of the cruelties of slavery.