“Are you glad it’s a boy, Tom?” Nancy asked as he lay down beside her. “I am.”
“Yes,” said Tom, but when she spoke to him again, he did not answer. He was asleep. She could see his tired face in the firelight. Life had been hard for Tom; it was hard for most pioneers. She hoped that their children would have things a little easier. The baby whimpered, and she held him closer.
Denny’s voice piped up: “Cousin Nancy, will Abe ever grow to be as big as me?”
“Bigger’n you are now,” she told him.
“Will he grow as big as Cousin Tom?”
“Bigger’n anybody, maybe.”
Nancy looked down at her son, now peacefully asleep. She made a song for him, a song so soft it was almost a whisper: “Abe—Abe,” she crooned. “Abe Lincoln, you be going to grow—and grow—and grow!”
Abraham Lincoln did grow. He seemed to grow bigger every day. By the time he was seven, he was as tall as his sister, although Sally was two years older. That fall their father made a trip up to Indiana.
“Why did Pappy go so far away?” Sally asked one afternoon.
“When is he coming home?” asked Abe.
“Pretty soon, most likely.”
Nancy laid down her sewing and tried to explain. Their pa had had a hard time making a living for them. He was looking for a better farm. Tom was also a carpenter. Maybe some of the new settlers who were going to Indiana to live would give him work. Anyway, he thought that poor folks were better off up there.
Abe looked surprised. He had never thought about being poor. There were so many things that he liked to do in Kentucky. He liked to go swimming with Dennis after his chores were done. There were fish to be caught and caves to explore. He and Sally had had a chance to go to school for a few weeks. Abe could write his name, just like his father. He could read much better. Tom knew a few words, but his children could read whole sentences.
Abe leaned up against his mother. “Tell us the story with our names,” he begged.
Nancy put her arm around him. She often told the children stories from the Bible. One of their favorites was about Abraham and Sarah. “Now the Lord said unto Abraham,” she began—and stopped to listen.
The door opened, and Tom Lincoln stood grinning down at them. “Well, folks,” he said, “we’re moving to Indiany.”
Nancy and the children, taken by surprise, asked questions faster than Tom could answer them. He had staked out a claim about a hundred miles to the north, at a place called Pigeon Creek. He was buying the land from the government and could take his time to pay for it. He wanted to start for Indiana at once, before the weather got any colder.
It did not take long to get ready. A few possessions—a skillet, several pans, the water buckets, the fire shovel, a few clothes, a homespun blanket, a patchwork quilt, and several bearskins—were packed on the back of one of the horses. Nancy and Sally rode on the other horse. Abe and his father walked. At night they camped along the way.