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HOME > Biographical > The Life of Abraham Lincoln > CHAPTER III.
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With moth-er gone, Sa-rah Lin-coln must keep the house, do the work, sew and cook for fa-ther and broth-er. She was 11 years old. The boy did his part but though he kept a bright fire on the hearth, it was still a sad home when moth-er was not there.
Books came to give a bit of cheer. An a-rith-me-tic was found in some way and al-so a co-py of Æ-sop’s Fa-bles. For a slate a shov-el was used. For a pen-cil a charred stick did the work.
A year went by, and one day Thom-as Lin-coln left home. He soon came back and brought a new wife with him. She was Sa-rah Bush John-ston, an old friend of E-liz-a-beth-town days. She had three chil-dren—John, Sa-rah and Ma-til-da. A kind man took them and their goods in a four-horse cart way to In-di-an-a.
A great change then came to the Lin-coln house. There were three bright girls and three boys who made a deal of noise. A door was hung, a floor laid, a win-dow
 put in. There were new chairs, a bu-reau, feath-er-beds, new clothes, neat ways, good food, lov-ing care, and much to show A-bra-ham that there was still some hope in the world.
The new moth-er was a kind wom-an, and at once took the sad boy to her heart. All his life from that time, he gave praise to this friend in need.
A chance came then for a brief time at school, and this was “made the most of.” Folks said the boy “grew like a weed.” When he was twelve it was said one “could al-most see him grow.” At half a score and five years old he was six feet and four in-ches high. He was well, strong, and kind. He had to work hard. He did most of the work his fa-ther should have done. But in the midst of it all he found time to read. He kept a scrap-book, too, and put in it verse, prose, bits from his-to-ry, “sums,” and all print and writ-ing he wished to keep. At night he would lie flat on the floor and read and “fig-ure” by fire light.
One day some one told A-bra-ham that Mr. Craw-ford, a man whose home was miles off, had a book he ought to read. This was a great book in those days. It was Weems’ “Life of Wash-ing-ton.” The youth set
 off through the woods to ask the loan of it. He got the book and read it with joy. At night he put it in what he thought was a safe place be-tween the logs, but rain came in and wet it, so he went straight to Craw-ford, told the tale, and worked three days at “pull-ing fod-der” to pay for the harm which had come to the book.
It was the way in those times in that place for a youth to work till he was a score and one years old for his fa-ther. This young Lin-coln did, work-ing out where he would build fires, chop wood, “tote” wa-ter, tend ba-bies, do all sorts of chores, mow, reap, sow, plough, split rails, and then give what he earned to his fa-ther.
Though work filled the days, much of the nights were giv-en to books. In rough garb, deer skin shoes, with a blaze of pine knots on the hearth, A-bra-ham read, read, fill-ing his mind with things that were a help to him all his life. He knew how to talk and tell tales, and folks liked to hear him. He led in all out of door sports. He was kind to those not so strong as he was. All were his friends.
The first mon-ey that he thought he might call his own he earned with a boat he had made. It seems that one day as he stood look-ing at it and think-ing if he could do an-y thing to im-prove it, two men drove down to the shore with trunks. They took a glance at some boats they found there, chose Lin-coln’s boat, and asked him if he would take men and trunks out to the steam-er. He said he would. So he got the trunks on the flat-boat, the men sat down on them, and he sculled out to the steam-er.
The men got on board the steam-er, and their young boat-man lift-ed the hea-vy trunks to her deck. Steam was put on, and in an in-stant the craft would be gone. Then the youth sang out that his pas-sen-gers had not yet paid him.
Each man then took from his pock-et a sil-ver half-dol-lar and threw it on the floor of the flat-boat. Great was the sur-prise of young Lin-coln to think so much mon-ey was his for so lit-tle work. He had thought “two or three bits” would be a-bout right. The coin which came to him then, when off du-ty from his fa-ther’s toil, the youth thought might be his own. It made him feel like a man, and the world then was more bright for him.
A man who kept a store thought he would send a “car-go load,” ba-con, corn meal, and oth-er goods, down to New Or-leans in a large flat-boat. As A-bra-ham was at all times safe and sure, the own-er, Mr. Gen-try, asked him to go with his son and help a-long. They had to trade on the “su-gar-coast,” and one night sev-en black men tried to kill and rob them. Though the young sail-ors got some blows, they at last drove off the ne-groes, “cut ca-ble,” “weighed an-chor,” and left. They went past Nat-chez, an old town set-tled by the French when they took the tract which is now Lou-is-i-an-a. The hou-ses were of a strange form to the boat-men. The words they heard were in a tongue they did not know. They passed large plan-ta-tions, and saw groups
 of huts built for the slaves. At New Or-leans, in the old part of the town where they staid, all things were so odd that it seemed as if they were in a land be-yond the great sea. When they had left their car-go in its right place, they went back to In-di-an-a, and Mr. Gen-try thought they had done well.
A-bra-ham had more to think of when he came home. He had seen so much on his trip that the world was not quite the same to him. Scores of flat-boats were moored at lev-ees, steam-boats went and came, big ships
 were at an-chor in the riv-er. Men were there who sailed far o-ver the seas in search of gold, rich goods, sights of pla-ces, tribes and climes to which Lin-coln had not giv-en much thought. If oth-er men went out in-to the world, why might he not go? Why stay in this dull place and toil for naught? He had come to an age in which there was un-rest. His fa-ther’s wish was that he should push a plane and use a saw all his days. This sort of work did not suit him. Why not strike out? Then the thought came to him that his time was not yet his own. His moth-er’s words spoke to him as they did when he was a small boy at her bed-side for the last time; “Be kind to your fa-ther.”
So A-bra-ham went back to Pig-eon Creek to work and bide his time.

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