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66 Let me

informed him that he was welcome, but that they had no spare bed, and that he would be obliged to sleep with his hired man. see him," said the gentleman. He was conducted around the house to where Abe lay, resting over six feet of himself upon the grass. “He'll do,” said the traveler, and so stayed and slept with his future President.

Abraham's faithfulness and honesty were soon known among his new acquaintances; also that he had held the “responsible position ” of captain of a flat-boat. A Kentucky trader, Denton Offut, wishing to send a boat to New Orleans, applied to him to undertake the trip. John Hanks, a cousin of Abraham's mother, and a stout young man named Johnston, were employed to accompany him. The trip was successfully made, and the proceeds paid off to Offut with scrupulous honesty.

At the period of Mr. Lincoln's life when he became of age, there was nothing in his personal appearance that would recommend him as a drygoods clerk, or indicate his probable success as a merchant. Six feet four inches high, clad in a blue warmus, with tow pantaloons a world too short, coarse cowskin shoes, lank

arms, a weather.



brown, angular face—the last man to twirl a yardstick, skip a counter, or play the agrecable to ladies—yet such was to be his next occupation. Offutt had a store in New Salem, of which the stock in trade consisted of an assortment of trace-chains, tea, sickles, sugar, mop-sticks, molasses, cheese, castor-oil, cotton lace, nails, ribbons, and similar goods, not forgetting a barrel of tar and one of vinegar in the cellar. His clerks had cheated and stolen from him to the extent that he was on the point of abandoning the business, but he concluded to make a trial of Abraham. He justified the confidence of his employer, and proved himself adequate to the business.

The honesty of Abraham Lincoln was exhibited in numerous instances while in the employ of Offutt, in matters which would seem to a person less conscientious to be trivial and unnecessary. Once he sold

woman a little bill of goods amounting, as he reckoned it, to two dollars and a sixpence. She paid the amount and left the store. Abe ran over the figures again to see that all was right, and discovered that he had charged her six and a quarter cents, too much.

It was night and dark, and the woman lived nearly three miles away; but he closed tho store, followed her home, and paid over the sixpence. Such exhibitions of rigid honesty show that he regarded strict adherence to principle as important in the smallest transactions. It was not a cunning attempt to secure a reputation for fair dealing and accuracy, for that would itself be dishonest, and wholly repugnant to his character. Most young men, in similar circumstances, would have quieted conscience by the reflection that the wrong was not intentional, and could be rectified at another time. His conduct shows that he did not consider this procrastination as honest. In this he was correct. Postponement is the first and fatal step in the total abandonment of duty.

This scrupulous regard for truth and justice was not confined to the rights of others. He was mild, patient, amiable, forgiving, but would not permit himself to be injured or humiliated without earnest and usually effective protest. He was a peace man but not a non-combatant. A number of illustrations of this trait occurred during his life, before he gave that grand display of heroism, endurance, and persistence which resulted in the defeat and destruction of slavery.



While in Offutt’s store, an amusing test of his peculiar courage occurred. A swaggering bully and fighter came in while he was dealing with some ladies, and opened upon him with a torrent of vile and abusive language. Lincoln begged him to desist till the ladies were gone, when he would hear whatever he had to say. When the ladies had departed, the ruffian became more abusive and profane than ever. Abe listened to him a moment, and then said, in a reluctant way, “Well, I see that somebody will have to whip you, and I suppose I may as well do it as to leave the

Ι job for some other man.”

Leaping over the counter, he walked out, followed by the pugilist, who stripped for the battle, while he poured out his most frightful threats and imprecations. Abe stood by, looking on, neither angry nor alarmed, but interested in this violent exhibition of human nature. The bully leaped from the ground, struck a scientific attitude, and declared himself READY. Lincoln seized him with the grip of a vice, threw him upon the grass, and, gathering a bunch of smart-weed, which grew at his feet, he rubbed it in the fellow's eyes till he bellowed with pain and begged for mercy; then lifting him up, he led him to the well, furnished him with a basin of water, “hoped it would not smart long," and did what he could to afford him relief.

His opportunities for acquiring knowledge, meager as they might seem, were greatly increased by his employment in the store. While there, a copy of Kirkham's Grammar fell into his hands, and the common-sense method of the old author led him easily and pleasantly, as it did thousands of others, into the principles of language. The author's plan of reasoning on the subject, and his pithy attacks on the absurdities of his predecessors, was the very style to interest and delight the logic-loving mind of Lincoln.

After Abraham had been in Offutt's employ a little over a year, that gentleman failed in business; the store was closed, and Abe had to look elsewhere for labor of muscle or brain. His management of Offutt's business had gained him the title of “Honest Abe," and the homely phrase clung to him long after he had exhibited much more striking and brilliant traits of mind and character.

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