Bernie Babcock.

The soul of Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln's romance online

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"are you lost?"

"Yes," the child answered.
"Who are you and where do you live?"
"I'm Katy Kelly, and I live at Muddy
Point. Our pig is lost again," she sobbed.
"We got it home once, but the pen broke, and
now it 's gone again. ' '

"I'm looking for a pig, too," Ann said.
"Get up on my horse, and we'Jl look a little and
then I '11 take you home. ' '

The child climbed on, and the search con-
tinued. But the child no longer had eyes for
anything but Ann Rutledge.

"How did you hurt your eye " Ann asked


"Pap, he did it. He bunged me with his fist.
He said he'd git me again the same way, and
stick me in the mud till the buzzards picked my
eyes out. I was scared to death. It's horrible
to get bunged and beat. I begged Maw to keep
Pap from beatin' me again, but he beats her,
too, and she said nobody but God could keep him
from beatin' me up. Just as he was about to
git me, here comes God with the longest legs on
earth, and he reached out his long arms an' got
Pap and shook all the red eye out of him he's
poured in f er a year. Then he ducked him until
he got sobered up. Mam says Pap won 't beat me
no more, she '11 bet on it, 'cause God He can git
anywhere on them legs, in twenty minutes."

This story was told between snubs and sobs,
and the dirty dress sleeve was called into use
between sentences to dry the tearful eyes and
dripping nose.

Ann Rutledge was interested.

"So God came to help you!"

"Yep his name is Abe Lincoln he told

"Abe Lincoln!" Ann exclaimed. Then she
rode a long way without speaking. She was
thinking. The name brought the picture of a



strong, elemental man, seemingly older than his
years, a man who had said he was going to play
fair with God, a man whom Nance Cameron
had pronounced the homeliest creature that God
ever put breath in.

"There's home," the child presently said,
"and, there's the pig."

Ann looked. A small black pig with a white
spot on its flank. She knew the pig.

But when she dismounted to examine the pig
she found its ear cut with two slits and a cross.

"We found it in the pen. At first I couldn't
believe it," Mrs. Kelly exclaimed. "It looked
a bit fatter than mine, but it's ear was fresh
marked ; I cut it myself. And I thanked God it
had come back. ' '

"You thanked God," Ann observed as if to

"Yes for it's our only winter meat. And
when it got out again I was sick over it and
likely it will get away some more, for Kelly
never fixed a pen that would hold, in his life. ' '

" I '11 help you fix the pen, ' ' Ann said, and she
did, meantime wondering about the pig, for she
would have sworn it was her own.



IT WAS on a September day that the famous
Peter Cartwright jogged into New Salem on a
stiff-legged pony, and drew up before Butledge

His visit had been long expected and great
preparations had been made for the camp-meet-
ing which was to be held in the Springfield dis-
trict in a few days.

No announcement had been made of the time
Peter Cartwright would arrive, yet in that mys-
terious way that news spreads over a small town,
even while he was yet removing the saddle bags
from his tired pony, sightseers had congregated
on the opposite side of the street, and before
sundown everybody in town knew that the great
preacher was stopping for the night at Eutledge

Abe Lincoln had been invited to the Inn,
with the select few who often made the little
party, to meet Rev. Peter Cartwright. They met
a rather small, wiry man with bright fox-like
eyes, and hair inclined to be curly, which stood

out in every direction on a round head.



He talked freely, criticizing in no unmeas-
ured terms such preachers as preach not against
slavery, dram drinking, dancing, or the putting
on of costly apparel and jewelry. Then with a
twinkle in his small, bright eye, he said that
his risibilities were often hard to keep down
owing to some things that happened as he trav-
eled his circuit, and hei told them an incident :

"I rode one day into Springfield to transact
a little business. My horse had at one time been
an excellent pony, but now had the stiff com-
plaint. I stopped for a few moments into a
store to purchase a few articles, and I saw in the
store a young lady in company with two young
men; we were perfect strangers; they soon
passed out and rode off. After transacting my
business I left the store, mounted my stiff pony,
and set out for home. After riding some dis-
tance, I saw just ahead of me a two-horse wagon,
with the cover rolled up. It was warm weather,
and I saw in the wagon those two young men
and the young lady that I had seen in the store.
As I drew near them they began to sing one
of our camp-meeting songs, and they appeared
to sing with great animation. Presently the
young lady began to shout, and said 'Glory



to God ! Glory to God ! ' The driver cried out
'Amen, Glory to God!*

"My first impressions were that they had
been across the Sangamon Elver to a camp-meet-
ing that I knew was in progress there, and had
obtained religion, and were happy. As I drew
a little nearer, the young lady began to sing and
shout again. The young man who was not driv-
ing fell down and cried aloud for mercy; the
other two shouting at the top of their voices,
cried out, ' Glory to God ! another sinner 's down. *
Then they began to exhort the young man that
was down, saying, 'Pray on, brother; pray on,
brother; you will soon get religion'; and up
jumped the young man that was down, shouting
aloud, saying, ' God has blessed my soul. Halle-
lujah! Hallelujah! Glory to God!'

"Thinking all was right, I felt like riding up
and joining in the songs of triumph and shouts
of joy that rose from these three happy persons ;
but, as I neared the wagon, I saw them cast
glances at each other and at me, and I suspected
then that they were making a mock of religious
things, and, knowing me to be a preacher, wished
to fool me. I stopped my horse and fell back,
and rode slowly, thinking they would ride on,



and so not annoy me any more; but when I
checked my horse and went slow, they slackened
their pace and went slow too, and the driver
changed places with the other young man ; then
they began again to sing and shout at a furious
rate and down fell the first driver, and up went a
new shout of ' Glory to God! another sinner's
down. Pray on, brother; pray on, brother; the
Lord will bless you. ' Presently up sprang the
driver, saying, ' Glory to God ! He has blessed
me.' And both the others shouted and said,
'Another sinner's converted, another sinner's
converted. Hallelujah! Glory to God!" A
rush of indignant feeling came all over me, and
I felt as if I wanted to ride up and horsewhip
both of these rowdies, and if a lady had not been
present I might have done so, but, as it was, I
did not. It was a vexatious encounter; if my
horse had been fleet, as in former days, I could
have rode right off and left them in their glory,
but he was stiff, and when I would fall back and
go slow, they would check up ; and when I would
spur my stiff pony and try to get ahead of them
they would crack the whip and keep ahead of
me; and thus they tormented me until my pa-
tience was entirely exhausted. They kept up a



continual roar of 'Another sinner's down! An-
other soul's converted! Glory to God! Pray
on, brother! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Glory to
God!' and I felt it was more than any good
minister ought to bear.

"I cannot describe my feelings at this time.
It seemed that I was delivered over to be tor-
mented by the devil and his imps. Just at this
moment I thought of a terrible mud-hole about
a quarter of a mile ahead. It was a long one
and very deep mud, and many teams had stuck
in it, and had to be pried out. Near the center
of this mud-hole there was a place of mud deeper
than anywhere else. On the right stood a stump
about two feet high; all the wagons had to be
driven close to this stump so as to avoid a deep
rut on the left, where many wagons had stuck.
I knew where there was a small bridle way that
wound round through the brush to avoid the
mud, and the thought occurred to me that, when
we came up to this muddy place, I would take
the bridle way, and put my horse at the top of
his speed and by so doing get away from these
miserable tormentors, as I knew they could
not drive fast through this long plot of mud.
When we drove near to the commencement of the



mud I took the bridle path, and put spurs and
whip to my horse. Perceiving that I was rapidly
leaving them in the rear, their driver cracked
his whip, and put his horses at almost full speed,
and such was their anxiety to keep up with me
to carry out their sport that, when they came
to this bad place, they never saw the stump on
the right. The fore wheel of the wagon struck
centrally on the stump, and as the wheel mounted
the stump over went the wagon. Fearing it
would turn entirely over and catch them under,
the two young men took a leap into the mud, and
when they lighted they sunk up to their middle.
The young lady was dressed in white, and as
the wagon went over, she sprang as far as she
could, and lighted on all fours ; her hands sunk
into the mud up to her armpits, her mouth and
the whole of her face immersed in the muddy
water, and she certainly would have strangled if
the young man had not relieved her. I rode up to
the edge of the mud, stopped my horse, reared in
my stirrups and shouted at the top of my voice:

" 'Glory to God! Glory to God! Hallelu-
jah! another sinner's down! Glory to God!
Hallelujah! Glory! Hallelujah!'

"If ever youngsters felt mean those did; and



well they might, for they had carried on all this
sport to make light of religion, and to insult a
minister, a total stranger to them. But they
contemned religion, and hated Methodists, espe-
cially Methodist preachers.

1 1 "When I became tired of shouting over them,
I said to them: 'Now you poor, dirty, mean sin-
ners, take this as a just judgment of God upon
you for your meanness, and repent of your
dreadful wickedness ; and let this be the last time
that you attempt to insult a preacher ; for if you
repeat your abominable sport and persecutions,
the next time God will serve you worse, and the
devil will get you. '

"They felt so badly that they never uttered
one word of reply. Now I was very glad that I
did not horsewhip them, as I felt like doing;
but that God had avenged His own cause, and
defended His own honor without my doing it
with carnal weapons. Later, at one of my pros-
perous camp-meetings, I had the great pleasure
to see all three of these young people converted
to God, and I took them into the Methodist

Cartwright's mission was not, however,

* From "Autobiography of Peter Cartwright."


story-telling, as was soon made evident. ' ' Time
is bearing on us,'* lie said, " toward the Judg-
ment. Are we prepared ? This is the question
it is the one great question. Brethren and sis-
ters, is every soul here prepared to meet his
God? Let me see." There was a general indi-
cation that those present were. Abe Lincoln
did not signify readiness. "We are going to
pray," Cartwright said, "and you, my young
friend, ' ' addressing him, t ' should humble your-
self and call to God for deliverance from hell,
for surely the enemy of man's soul is on his
track, and damnation is the eternal punishment
of the unsaved. Fear hell and flee to God. ' '

"But I don't fear hell," Abe Lincoln said

"Don't fear hell?" and there was both con-
demnation and surprise in Cartwright 's tone as
he repeated the words. l ' By such unbelief you
question the existence of God."

"No I don't question the existence of God,
but I would if I believed eternal damnation.
You see, parson, you and me don't measure God
by the same yardstick. ' '

"But to doubt hell is to doubt God. The
same inspired book is the authority for both. ' '



"For some, maybe, but not for others. Old
Snoutful Kelly brought a child into the world
without never once askin' her whether she
wanted to come or not. Then he moved her to
Muddy Point where there was no thin' but mud,
without askin ' her if she wanted to go. Then
he told her to keep out of the mud, and when
she couldn't he gave her a black eye. Hav-
ing knocked her blind, he told her if she got
into the mud again he'd 'souse her in a mud-
hole to her ears and leave her there for the buz-
zards to pick her eyes out. ' Now you say God
brings us here children into this world without
askin' nothin' about it, where there's devilment
all about us, and we didn't put that here, either.
Then you have God give us a black eye with this
original sin you preach about, which makes us sin
whether we want to or not, and when He gets
us He promises hell fire and eternal damnation
for gettin' into sin. This here don't sound like
God to me. It sounds like Snoutful Kelly. ' '

The silence that followed this) statement was
the kind that seems reduced to pound-weight.
Cartwright stared at the presumptuous youth
who had uttered such words. When he could
speak, he said : * ' Coming from the lips of a worm



of the dust, I should call such sacrilege nothing
short of blasphemy. ' '

"Might be true if I counted myself among
worms, but I don't I may look like a worm,
Brother Cartwright, or a pair of worms, or even
four worms of the dust tied together, but I
haven't none of that wormy feelin' you hint at,
and I don't take stock in wormy religion. The
Good Book is full of more upliftin' texts than
the wormy ones. I'd forget about hell fire and
worms of the dust for a while if I was a
preacher. ' '

"What would you preach, Abe?" Mentor
Graham asked.

' ' Want to know, do you ? ' *

"Yes yes," the answer was given by both
Butledge and Doctor Allen.

Lincoln arose. For a moment he seemed
slouchy, bent, and ill at ease. Then he straight-
ened up and announced his text, ' ' ' Beloved, now
are ye the sons of God, and it does not yet appear
what we shall be.' "

As he spoke, a wonderful change came over
him. His face lit up, his gestures grew natural
and strong, his voice, thin-sounding at first, took

on melody, his ill-fitting clothing was forgotten.



He seemed for the moment lifted away from his
surroundings, and those listening were lifted
with him.

As he reached the end of his brief speech and
declared, " ' And every man that hath this hope
in him, purifieth himself,' " he was measuring
up to some far heights.

When he finished his short sermon he stood
a few seconds. Then his shoulders drooped,
the bright spark faded from his eye and gave
place to the quiet, almost dull gray, and a quizzi-
cal smile softened his face as he said, in sitting
down, "Let those who feel like worms be as de-
cent as they can. Let those that feel themselves
sons of God go forward toward better things.
Isn't this the Scripture, Brother Cartwrightf "

The small, bright eyes of the great exhorter
were fastened on the face of the homely youth.
Here evidently was a specimen whose like he
had not seen.

"There be those," answered Cartwright,
"who wrest the Scriptures to their own damna-
tion. We were created sons of God to be sure.
But we have been separated by the fall of Adam
and eternally lost unless we return to the fold

by the one way."



' ' That 's just it, which is the right way ! Doc-
tor Allen here goes by the Predestinarian gate.
Graham goes by the Hard-Shell gate. The New
Lights have their way, the Free Wills theirs,
the Dunkards and the Shakers have theirs, and
you choose the shouting Methodist way. Which
of them all is right?"

" Bight Why I am right, as I can prove by
the Scriptures.'*

Limjoln laughed.

"Come to hear me preach and I can prove
to you, that I am right. You're tall and mighty
in your own opinion, but I've seen the tall and
lofty sons of Belial bite the dust. Come to hear
me! I'll get the scales from your eyes and the
stiffness out of your knees. Let us pray. To
your knees, people," and with fervid honesty
and all his consecrated lung power, the great
exhorter called on a^-mighty God to have mercy
on the self-satisfied sinner in their midst.



THE meeting which Peter Cartwright was to
hold had been heralded far and wide, and it was
expected that several thousand people would
attend. A great arbor had been erected at each
of the four corners of which was a high wooden
altar covered with earth and sod where pine
torches burned to illuminate the darkness. A
platform large enough to hold twenty preachers
had been built, with an open space in front scat-
tered with straw and lined with mourners'
benches. Back from the arbor a circle of tents
was placed j back of the tents, wagons, buggies,
and carts of every description ; and back of this
rim of vehicles the horses, and sometimes oxen,
were tethered.

The gathering together of so many people
from far and near for a period of two or three
weeks offered an opportunity for profit-making,
and at a previous meeting whiskey as well as
cider and tobacco had been sold in the forest
beyond the camp-clearing, and wheels of chance
had been operated, all of which had had a bad

effect on the meeting.
8 113


The Clary Grove boys, after a report from
Lincoln, had decided to l ' give Old Pete right of
way," and planned neither mischief nor profit-

Not so, however, the Wolf Creek and Sand
Town gangs; some among these had decided
to use the occasion for money-making, and the
day before the meeting was to open several bar-
rels of whiskey were discovered in the brush
down beyond the camp-arbor.

Cartwright immediately sent out word that
no whiskey-selling would be allowed anywhere
near the meeting-ground, and to the end of dis-
covering whom he must fight, he disguised him-
self and was thus able to locate the gang of
rowdies whose headquarters he found a short
distance down a little creek running by the
camp ground. Close toj the arbor was a steep
bank, below which the water was quite deep.
Into this pool, Peter Cartwright learned, a plan
had been made to throw him. The rowdies were
then to ride through the arbor on horses and,
with screeches and yells like those of Indians
break up the meeting.

With this information in hand, Peter Cart-
wright prepared himself, and, armed with a



stout hickory club, he hid at the narrow passage
through which the horsemen were to come, a
pathway around the high bank just above the
deep pool.

The singing service which preceded the ser-
mon, led by the ten exhorters up at the arbor, was
swelling into an inspiring volume when Cart-
wright, hiding in the gloom, heard the sound of
horses, and the next moment the leader of the
Wolf Creek gang appeared, making his smiling
way, with his eye fixed on the arbor.

It was at this time the music of the pious
song was pierced by an unearthly screech, end-
ing with the words, "In the name of the Lord,
GET BACK!" The horse was the first to heed
the exhorter's summary order. Pitching his
rider off perilously close to the brink of the
creek, he snorted away into the forest.

"In the name of the Lord, get thee behind
me, Satan ! ' ' Cartwright shouted again, this time
into the ear of the Wolf Creek rowdy, and, with
the words, he gave him such a resounding whack
with his club as to knock him over the bank. The
next moment the leader of the gang found him-
self kicking in the cold waters into which he had
planned to throw Cartwright.



Several others of the gang now came up and
made an effort to pass, but the yells of Cart-
wright) had summoned the strong ones from the
arbor and after a general mixing up between the
sheep and the goats, the more valiant members
of the Wolf Creek gang found themselves crawl-
ing out of the water at the foot of the bank.

When the gang had been dispersed, Peter
Cartwright, puffing and blowing, returned to the
arbor and sounded the great trumpet call to
preaching. The disturbed audience* gathered in
quickly, the women seating themselves on one
side and the men on the other.

Taking a timely text, the exhorter described
with great power the conflict he had just been
having with the devil, and when he had reached
the climax of the great fight, and had described
the way the devil went splashing into the pool,
he sprang from his pulpit to a long bench across
the altar, and, walking back and forth, shouted
in a mighty voice :

Then my soul mounted higher

In a chariot of fire,

And the moon it was under my feet!

From a shout, the words grew into a song,
improvised scriptural texts serving for the



verses, and the chorus each time being the vic-
torious statement that his soul had mounted up
until the moon was under his feet. The audience
soon caught the swing of the chorus and sent
out great volumes of melody on the night air.

After this song, the old favorite, "Where,
where are the Hebrew children? " was started,
and as the questions " Where, O where now is
good Elijah?"; "Where, where now is good
old Daniel!" ; "Where, where now is my good
mother?" were sung, with their answers, en-
thusiasm grew until the united answers rolled
away in great sound-waves on the stillness of the
black forest.

The situation was growing interesting.
There was a suppressed feeling that something
was going to happen.

Among the hundreds who stood about the
sides were Abe Lincoln and Doctor Allen, who
had taken the time to ride over in the hopes of
seeing for themselves an exhibit of spiritual
power known as the jerks. The perceptible and
steady rise in excitement gave promise of almost
any kind of unusual demonstration. Sinners
had been called to the altar and many were fall-
ing in the dust, groaning and calling on God to



save them from sin and its terrible punishment
of hell.

Cartwright by now seemed to be singing,
exhorting, preaching and praying all at the same
time. The shouters had felt the power, and
added to the singing and praying. Shrill cries
of " Glory/' and other ejaculations of unearthly
joy were heard. Bonnets, caps, and combs were
beginning to fly. Several of the sisters gave ex-
hibitions of what were called running, jumping
and barking exercises, and the men most inter-
ested in them were near at hand to catch them
when they fell. Some who succumbed to this
excess of joy, remained in a trance-like condi-
tion, however, and there were at one time many
unconscious men and women lying prostrate in
the straw at one place. Abe Lincoln and Dr.
Alien looked on with much interest.

In the midst of the excitement, there came
to the ears of Abe Lincoln, from the woman's
side, somewhere across from him, a familiar
note. His interest was at once centred in dis-
covering the owner of the voice. After a very
short time he saw Ann Rutledge. To-night she
wore a dress half wool, half flax, a soft material,
dyed with butternut until it was as yellow as



her hair. She stood not far from one of the
pine-torch fires, and in the reflection of the
orange flames she made a picture worthy an
artist's canvas.

With his eyes upon her face, shining as if
touched by fire from some heavenly altar, Abe
Lincoln suddenly became oblivious of the scenes
about him, though proving of such unusual in-
terest to Dr. Allen.

The song about the Hebrew children had
given way to another and yet more emotional
expression ; a hand-shaking ditty which seemed
little more than a monophonic impromptu to
carry the line, "My brother, I wish you well;
when my Lord calls, I trust you will be men-
tioned in the Promised Land. ' ' Before the many
improvised verses of this chant, alike rousing
and pathetic, had been sung twice, the climax
joy of the safety of heavenly bliss, and the
climax sorrow of the doom of eternal punish-
ment had been reached, and it was evident to
Dr. Allen that the strange physical expression
was about to break out.

"Look!" he said to Abe Lincoln.

There was no response.

"Look!" he repeated.



Then lie glanced at the man by his side.

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Online LibraryBernie BabcockThe soul of Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln's romance → online text (page 5 of 14)