Bernie Babcock.

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

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Captain Lincoln. In addition to the Clary Grove
gang, Wolf Creek patriots were there and the
rowdies from Sand Town, and it was freely



conceded by the cool-headed men of New Salem
that not a man could handle such a crowd save
Abe Lincoln.

Ann Eutledge looked on with smiling face
and clapped her hands and shouted when Lincoln
went prancing by on his good horse, his face
bright with excitement and his black hair flying
back from his forehead in the wind. But a
shadow came over her face the night after the
parade, and during the next few days, when
every woman in town was foxing breeches for the
Company, she tried to see him, for she had some-
thing to say.

Unable to find an opportunity she sent Sis
to tell him Ann had something to give him before
he went away.

He came at once, and Mrs. Kutledge told
him Ann was somewhere in the back yard.

He found her in the garden where a few
peach trees were struggling into bloom.

"I've come, Ann," he said, stopping before
her. ' ' You sent for me, didn 't you I ' '

' l Yes, Abraham Lincoln. There r s something
I want to say to you before you go away. I've
been holding it against you but I want to tell
you that I forgive you."



"Forgive me!" he said in astonishment.
"What did I ever do to you that I should need
forgiveness for?"

"Don't you remember the quilting-bee ? "
she asked, her face flushing slightly.

"And you forgive me?" he asked the ques-
tion seriously. Then he laughed. "Don't for-
give. Forgiveness might tempt me to do it
again. Just remember as I go away that I'm
not afraid of wolves or bears or catamounts or
snakes or Indians, or any living creature ex-
cept women. It 's women I 'm afraid of, ' ' and he

The flush yet showed on Ann's face and her
voice was a bit unsteady as she said, "And
there's something else."

"What is it, Ann?"

"I I don't want anything to harm you. I
want you to come back sound and well. ' '

There was pleading in her eye and a hint of
quaver in her voice.

Abe Lincoln regarded her thoughtfully a mo-
ment. Her blue eyes did not shift before his
steady gaze.

' ' Why do you want me to return unharmed ? ' '

he asked.



"Because you are kind to the weak and for-
gotten folks of earth, and not many think of this
kind : because I think often what the child said."

"What child?"

''The beaten and abused child of old Kelly
that you saved from more, pain."

"What was it the child said?"

" 'God came/ " she said. " 'And his name
was Abe Lincoln. '

There was an almost imperceptible twitching
in Abe Lincoln's face.

"There are many children," she continued,
' ' many suffering, sad and helpless ones who need
a strong friend to help them. My father says
you have a future. I want you to come back
to your future."

"Do not fear for me. I will come back
to my future. Good-bye." And he held out his

"First, may I pin a sprig of wild plum on
your coat for luck? It's almost too early for
them yet and I searched the thicket before I
found this, which looks as if it had only half
opened its white eyes, but it gives out its spring-
time fragrance to stir up happy memories and



Abe Lincoln held out the lapel of his coat.
"Look at me, Ann," he said when she had fas-
tened the flower there.

She raised her eyes. They were rimmed with

Abe Lincoln stared a minute as if wholly
unable to comprehend the girl; then he said:
"Good-bye, Ann, take care of yourself," and
he turned hurriedly away.



IT WAS the tenth day of July when Abe Lin-
coln, who had for weeks been struggling through
the swamps and forests of Michigan territory
in pursuit of the fleeing Black Hawk, turned his
face homeward.

The journey was made with many hardships.
The remnant of the Company went hungry for
days, and to make matters worse several horses
were stolen, among them Abe Lincoln's.

A portion of the long way home was made
down the Illinois River in a canoe. The most
of it, however, was tramped, and it was a jaded,
foot-sore and ragged ex-captain that arrived
in New Salem the latter part of July.

Nobody knew he was coming, no prepara-
tions had been made for him, and when he went
to his former home at the Camerons* he learned
that, owing to an increase in the size of the
family, there was no longer bed space for him,
but that John Rutledge had said he could lodge
at the Inn.

This was about the best news he could have


heard, and tattered and weary, yet with, head
held high and smiling face, he presented himself
at Rutledge Inn.

His welcome here was hearty and genuine,
every member of the family, even to Ann, trying
to make him feel at home and all alike impatient
to hear the story of his travels.

"Did you see the Indians scalp anybody?"
Sonnie asked excitedly.

"No but we got there after half a dozen
had just been scalped. We came upon them in
the early mornin' just as the red sun fell over
their bodies. There were small, red marks on
top of the heads. The men were scouts who had
been surprised. One wore buckskin breeches."

"And did your men always give ready obedi-
ence?" asked Davy.

"Most of the time they did. Once I came
near havin* a riot with them. An aged Indian
bearin' a safe-conduct pass from General Cass
came to camp. He was footsore, hungry and
weary. The men did not want to receive him.
They said he was a spy and should be killed, and
they made plans to kill him. Just as they were
about to proceed, their six-foot-four Captain
arrived and stopped proceedin's. This angered



the men. One of them shouted at me that I was
a coward. I told him to choose his weapon and
step out and we 'd see who was the coward. This
he did not do. The frightened old Indian was
sent on his way in safety. "

"It was a hard campaign for you, and with
little results, ' ' Eutledge remarked.

"Hard, yes but not without results. There
are different kinds of results, you know, Mr.
Eutledge. I didn't kill any Indians, but I hi
far better luck than that. I got acquainted will
Major John T. Stuart of Springfield, who asked
to be of service to me."

"What's he going to do for you?" asked
Davy. * l Give you a fine gun or sword I ' '

"Better than, that, Son, he is goin' to let me
use his books."

"Books!" Sonny exclaimed, and the boy's
voice was so charged with disgust they all

"Yes, books," Abe Lincoln replied. "Rat-
tlesnakes and panthers and Indians know the
fightin' game and have weapons for the purpose,
but this sort of fightin' will never make the
world a better place to live in. If the world ever
gets to be the kind of a place you ask God for



when you pray, 'Thy kingdom come,' it's comin*
by brains and hearts instead of by claws and
fangs. You can't shoot sense nor religion into
a man any more than you can beat daylight into
the cellar with a club. Take a candle in, and the
thick darkness disappears ; just so give the peo-
ple knowledge and their ignorance and intoler-
ance and other devilment will disappear. I
haven't lived so powerful long yet, but I have
lived long enough to make up my mind that for
the good of all mankind books beat guns,


WHEN Abe returned from Ms few months
of service in the Black Hawk War, he learned
that his political opponent, Peter Cartwright,
had been making the most of his opportunity.

Abe Lincoln; had announced his candidacy
before he went away, but had had no time even
to plan a speaking tour. Peter Cartwright had
remained on his itinerary and had been speaking
to large audiences. The weapon Cartwright had
been using against his opponent with most tell-
ing effect was the implied charge that he was an

While Captain Lincoln had been gone from
New Salem a minister had come to the hamlet
to make his home, and was already one of the
circle composed of Mentor Graham, Dr. Allen,
William Green, John Rutledge, and other of Abe
Lincoln's good friends.

Even before his return these friends had
discussed the matter of religion as it pertained
to the success of this candidate, and had decided,
especially since Cartwright was making much



capital out of the fact that Abe Lincoln was not
a church member, that he should become one.

Accordingly he was called into council and
the case set before him.

"It is not necessary that I go to the Legis-
lature to keep my own self-respect," he said to
them. "It is necessary, however, that I deal
honestly with myself, and it would be neither fair
to me nor to your society for me to become a
member, since I do not believe as you claim to.
I have no use whatever for a God that plots
against innocent children and helpless women,
encourages murder, that throws rocks down on
honest soldiers and, as recorded, does many
other foolish and wicked things which would
shame a decent Indian. I'm familiar with the
Good Book too familiar to swallow some por-
tions of it whole. Whenever you get together
on the rule 'Love your neighbor* that Jesus
himself taught, I'll join you."

" Cartwr^ght is making much of your refusal
to be counted with Christians."

"And by doin' just this thing Cartwright
is provin' himself either ignorant of the Con-
stitution of the United States or knowingly be-
traying it. Our Constitution stands forever for



the separation of Church and State, of religion
and politics. If my common, everyday horse-
sense will not let me believe in purgatorial fires,
what has that to do with making Sangamon Eiver
navigable? If I haven't any better sense than
to pray to an image, that's my affair so long
as it is not allowed to enter into or affect my
public policies, or I do not try to inflict it on
someone else. This is what I make out of our
Constitutional guarantee of civil and religious
liberty. I haven't had much chance to go to
school. I haven't had many books to study.
But, gentlemen, I've eaten up the Constitution
of our country and digested it a dozen times over.
I may get its meaning wrong. I think I 'm right.
If I am, then Cartwright is wrong just as
wrong as I would be to campaign against him
because he preaches hell fire and eternal punish-
ment, which to me is as damnable a doctrine as
my lack of such belief can ever be to him."

"Abe Lincoln," said John Eutledge, "I be-
lieve you, are right. Stand by your guns. You
may lose now but you will come out all right in
the long run."

Abe Lincoln's first appearance on the stump
in this campaign was at Pappsville, a small place

12 177


eleven miles west of Springfield. A public sale
had been advertised and the young candidate
thought it would be a good chance to get a

After the sale a friend who had accompanied
him went about shouting, "Public speaking!
Draw near ! Draw near ! ' '

The crowd soon collected, for every man was
interested in a stump speech.

Hardly had the crowd gathered than a fight
started and a general row seemed inevitable.

Seeing a friend of his being pushed about by
the rough crowd, Abe Lincoln jumped from the
platform, and, rushing into the crowd, began
shouldering the excited men apart so that his
man could get out. Finally, he pushed against
a man who turned about and defied him. With-
out a word he grabbed the man by the neck and
the seat of the breeches and tossed him a* dozen
feet. This act had a quieting effect on the fight
and the fighters stopped to see what manner
of political candidate this was who could pitch
men about as a farmer pitches a shock of wheat.

What they saw on the rude platform was an
unusually tall, ungainly and homely young fel-
low, who wore a mixed-jeans coat, bob-tailed and



short-sleeved, pantaloons made of flax and tow.
linen, a straw hat and pot-metal boots.

His speech was short. He said, "Gentle-
men and fellow-citizens, I presume you all know
me. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have
been solicited by my friends to become a candi-
date for the Legislature. My politics are short
and sweet like the old woman's dance. I am in
favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the
internal revenue system, education for every-
body, and a high, protective tariff. These are
my sentiments and political principles. If
elected I shall feel thankful. If not, I am used
to defeat. It will be all the same. ' '



ABBAHAM LINCOLN was not electee! to the
Legislature. He received, however, every vote
in New Salem except three, and his friends had
hopes that he might yet develop into something
nohody knew just what.

Meantime some changes had been made in
mercantile affairs in New Salem and the store
of Offutt was no more. This left Abe Lincoln
without a job.

An opportunity offered for him to secure a
store of his own. A store owned by another man
had not long since been raided by the Clary
Grove gang. After drinking all the "wet
goods," they broke the glassware, tied bottles
to the tails of their horses, and with a whoop
and a yell went riding about the country.

Abe Lincoln had no money, but with a young
fellow named Berry, whose father was a leading
Presbyterian citizen, he bought the store and
they gave their notes in payment.

Certain it was the Clary Grove gang would
not molest Lincoln's store. On the other hand,
they would have fought to protect it.



In fitting up this store Lincoln and Berry
took out a tavern license, which gave them the
right to sell liquor in small quantities. All stores
kept liquor. Yet this fact did not make it seem
right that one who did not drink himself, who
knew the trouble it made others, who even agreed
with Dr. Allen that it was poison, should keep
a barrel of whiskey in the corner of his store,
and more than one discussion between Abe Lin-
coln and the good doctor were engaged in during
these days.

Several treasures came into possession of the
junior member of the firm after Berry and Lin-
coln opened their store. Lincoln one day bought
a barrel. What it contained he did not look to
see. It was a good barrel. The man said it had
a book or two down under the papers, and as he
needed the few cents badly, the purchase price
was paid and the barrel put aside.

When some weeks later the contents was
poured out Abe Lincoln discovered a treasure.
He deserted his store long enough to run over
to Rutledge's to make known his wonderful good
luck. His homely face was bright with pleasure
and his dull, gray eyes were shining as he held
out a worn and stained copy of Blackstone.



"Look! Look!" lie cried, and in his joy he
even tried to dance a jig.

Another rich posssession that came to him
was a volume of poems containing one that
he especially liked, the title of which was

This poem Abe Lincoln wanted to read the
Rutledges as they sat around the fire on an early
fall evening.

But Davy did not like the sound of the first
verse and asked for a story of the killing of
Abe Lincoln's grandfather by Indians. "When
this was told he wanted to hear about the voodoo
fortune-teller in New Orleans and the slave-
markets and the ships in the harbor.

So Lincoln told these things while John But-
ledge smoked and Mrs. Eutledge and Ann busied
their fingers with their mending, meantime lis-
tening with as much interest as the children to
their boarder's talk.

After Davy's stories had been told it was
Sonny's turn. "Tell about when you were a
little boy, ' ' he urged ; * ' that 's what I want. ' '

Nothing could have been more acceptable to
the entire family than this, for he had never said
much about his own affairs.



"The little boy you ask me to tell about,' 7 he
said, "lived far away in a dense forest; wild
cats screamed down the ravines ; wolves howled
across the clearin'; bears growled in the under-
brush. The house this little boy lived in was not
much better than the cave or the den of the ani-
mals. It was built of logs but had no floor, no
windows, and no skin hung to the door. In a loft
above the one room was a nest of leaves and into
this he climbed at night on pegs driven into the

"Though he was very poor, this little boy
was rich in one thing, and that was his mother.
She toiled until her shoulders were stooped and
thin, her face pale and her clear, gray eyes dim
and sad, but she wasi never too tired to love her
children, the boy and his little sister Sarah.
She could read well and had brought into the
wilderness three books: the Bible which she
read daily, 'Pilgrim's Progress,' and Aesop's
'Fables.' Before the boy learned to read she
told them stories from these books in the yellow
light of a pine torch which burned upon the
hearth, and the boy minded not the cry of wolves,
nor wind, nor sleet, when he could hear these
wonderful stories.



* * The boy was taught many things that boys
on the frontier must know. He learned early to
skin animals and fix the hides for clothes but
he was never a hunter. He some way felt that
the animals had a right to life, just as he had.
They knew what it was to be hungry and cold
and to sleep in leaves. It was a funny notion,
but the boy felt in a way they were his brothers
and he never killed them.

"After he learned to read he spent hours
on the floor lyin' in the firelight with the Bible
spread before him, spellin' out the words and
learnin' the verses until he had read the Book
many times.

"When he was nine years old his mother
made him a linsey-woolsey shirt and possum-
skin cap to wear with his buckskin breeches and
sent him away through the woods to school. He
only went for a few weeks. The boys in this
school put coals on terrapin's backs. He was
not quick to learn from his books but he made
speeches against this cruelty, and his first fight
was with a boy for robbin' a bird's nest.

"In one school he went to for a short time
later, a master named Crawford taught manners.
He made one boy stand at the door. When the



pupils came up they were taught to lift their hats
and were introduced to each other. This teacher
said manners were as important as book-

* ' The boy only went to school a few weeks
altogether, when he was hired out by his father
to work from sunrise to sunset for twenty-five
eents a day. Still he studied, and a cousin named
Dennis Hanks helped him. They made ink with
blackberry root and copperas. They made pens
of turkey-buzzard feathers. "When they had no
paper, which was most of the time, they wrote
on boards with charred sticks. The boy figured
on a wooden shovel and scraped it off clean when
it was too full to hold more figures.

"His mother was always interested in his
effort to get an education. She always helped
him. She was sorry for him because he could not
go to school, but urged him to learn so that he
would not always be in the backwoods.

1 ' Once he borrowed from the Crawford man
who taught the school a book entitled 'Weems'
Life of Washington ! ' It told about our coun-
try >s struggle for freedom, how the Hessians
were fought and how Washington crossed
the Delaware. He pored over it until the night.



He took it up into a loft and put it in a chink
so it would be handy for early-morning study.
A rain-storm which arose in the night beat in
on the book and swelled the covers. The boy
took the book back to' its owner the next mornin'
and offered to buy it. The man made him pull
fodder three days for it. The book belonged
to the boy now. He read it over and over until
he became well acquainted with the Father of his
Country and began to dream dreams of what
he might some day do. ' '

Abe Lincoln had been talking in a reminiscent
mood with a half-smile on his face. The smile
now passed. He continued : 1 1 Then death came
into the settlement and took several neighbors.
The mother of the boy was stricken down. She
was thirty-five miles from a doctor and her
nearest neighbor was dead. Seven days she lay,
her children doin' for her. Then she called the
children to her bedside. To the boy she said,
'Be an honest and a faithful boy, be a good and
tender man. Look after your sister.' Then
death came into the shack of a house and took
the patient mother.

"The boy's father built a coffin and dug a
grave in the clearin' near the house, and here



in the edge of the dense forest where the wild
things lived the tired mother's body was put to
rest. There was no preacher to say a last word,
there was no music but the singin' and the
sighin' of the trees. There was no one to cover
the rude coffin with earth but the father. There
were no mourners but the two children, holdin'
hands beside the grave and callin' their mother
to come back.

''After the mother had gone the little girl
tried to cook and keep house. The boy went
every day to the edge of the forest. Very soon
the tangle began to reach over his mother's
grave. He wanted her to have a funeral ser-
mon. It was not that he thought she needed it.
He was sure she was with God all straightened
up and no longer thin but always smilin' and
glad. But she would have wanted a sermon, she
had spoken of it.

' ' So, the boy wrote a letter to a good Baptist
minister his mother had known back in Ken-
tucky and told him what was wanted. It was
nearly one year later that he came a distance of
eighty miles to preach the sermon. All the
people in the country came; not before had a
funeral been preached when a woman had so



long been sleepin' in her grave. And, as they
gathered about, their faces were wet with tears.
The boy never forgot it, nor the preacher's

"That little boy is a man now. Early one
mornin' years ago he went for a last time to the
lonely grave and kneelin' there, promised his
mother 's God again that he would be honest and
tender. And whatever that boy is now or ever
may be, he will owe .to that angel mother lyin*
under the wild tangle at the edge of the forest
with God's stars watchin' it until the judg-
ment-day. ' '

It was quite still around the low-burning
fire when he ended his story. Then John Rut-
ledge spoke abruptly, "Davy, don't you see the
fire needs a log? Sonny, put Tige out, he's
scratching down the house. Ann, bring a pitcher
of cider and a plate of apples."

"Put a few sweet turnips in," Abe Lincoln
added; "there's nothing better than a turnip."



AFTER Abe Lincoln went to Eutledges' to
board, time seemed to go faster and more pleas-
antly than ever in his life for him. John Rut-
ledge was not only an agreeable gentleman, but
he was an unusually well-informed man for a
pioneer, and he and the little coterie of friends
passed many winter evenings discussing topics
of local and national interest.

Abe Lincoln spent very little time, however,
at the Rutledge home. There were many debates
and public meetings during the winter, all of
which he attended. His treasured Blackstone
was being read and digested with the same thor-
oughness he had given Washington and the Con-
stitution and the Bible. In addition to this he
had secured, at no small outlay of time and ex-
pense, a grammar, said to be the only one in the
county, which he was eagerly learning. He was
also making the acquaintance of Shakespeare,
with which he was immoderately delighted, and

which he had announced he would learn by heart,



as he had much of the text in the few books he

Besides his newly acquired Blackstone and
Shakespeare, Lincoln was making trips to
Springfield to borrow from Major Stuart what
seemed to the country youth an inexhaustible
wealth of books.

So it happened that, nights when there was
no meeting of any kind, Abe Lincoln studied
alone in the store or sometimes at the cooper
shop, where warmth and light were given him.

The winter of the busy year came early to
New Salem, and the hamlet was wrapped in a
sheet of white which covered the roadways and
fields, and draped the bluffs, and bent the boughs
of the forest trees. The streams were muffled
and, save where dark spots showed water moving
sluggishly, were hidden under the white blanket.
Cattle huddled by the haystacks and in barns,
and in the log houses great fires blazed on the

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Online LibraryBernie BabcockThe soul of Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln's romance → online text (page 8 of 14)