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appearance; and that "he was tender and kind," like his sister, who was at the same time her maid-of-all-work. His pay was twenty-five cents a day; "and, when he missed time, he would not charge for it." This latter remark of good Mrs. Crawford reveals the fact that her husband was in the habit of docking Abe on his miserable wages whenever he happened to lose a few minutes from steady work.
The time came, however, when Abe got his "revenge all this petty brutality. Crawford was as ugly as he was surly. His nose was a monstrosity, -long and crooked, with a huge, misshapen "stub" at the end, surmounted by a host of pimples, and the whole as "blue" as the usual state of Mr. Crawford's spirits. Upon this member Abe levelled his attack in rhyme, song, and "chronicle ;" and, though he could not reduce the nose, he gave it a fame as wide as to the Wabash and the Ohio. It is not improbable that he learned the art of making the doggerel rhymes in which he celebrated Crawford's nose from the study of Crawford's own "Kentucky Preceptor." At all events, his sallies upon this single topic achieved him great reputation as a "poet" and a wit, and caused Crawford intolerable anguish.
It is likely that Abe was reconciled to his situation in this family by the presence of his sister, and the opportunity it gave him of being in the company of Mrs. Crawford, for whom he had a genuine attachment; for she was nothing that her husband was, and every thing that he was not. According to her account, he split rails, ploughed, threshed, and did whatever else he was ordered to do; but she distinctly affirms that "Abe was no hand to pitch into his work like killing snakes." He went about it " calmly," and generally took the opportunity to throw "Crawford" down two or three times "before they went to the field." It is fair to presume, that, when Abe managed to inveigle his disagreeable employer into a tussle, he hoisted him high and threw him hard, for he felt that he had no reason to be careful of his bones. After meals Abe hung about," lingered long to gossip and joke with the
women; and these pleasant, stolen conferences were generally broken up with the exclamation, "Well, this won't buy the child a coat!" and the long-legged hired boy would stride away to join his master.
In the mean time Abe had become, not only the longest, but the strongest, man in the settlement. Some of his feats almost surpass belief, and those who beheld them with their own eyes stood literally amazed. Richardson, a neighbor, declares that he could carry a load to which the strength of "three ordinary men" would scarcely be equal. He saw him quietly pick up and walk away with "a chicken-house, made of poles pinned together, and covered, that weighed at least six hundred, if not much more." At another time the Richardsons were building a corn-crib: Abe was there; and, seeing three or four men preparing "sticks" upon which to carry some huge posts, he relieved them of all further trouble by shouldering the posts, single-handed, and walking away with them to the place where they were wanted. "He could strike with a mall," says old Mr. Wood, "a heavier blow than any He could sink an axe deeper into wood than any
man I ever saw."
For hunting purposes, the Pigeon Creek region was one of the most inviting on earth. The uplands were all covered with an original growth of majestic forest trees,1 whilst on the hillsides, and wherever an opening in the woods permitted the access of sunlight, there were beds of fragrant and beautiful wild-flowers, presenting, in contrast with the dense green around them, the most brilliant and agreeable effects. Here the game had vast and secluded ranges, which, until very recently, had heard the report of no white man's gun. In Abe's time, the squirrels, rabbits, partridges, and other varieties of smaller game, were so abundant as to be a nuisance. They devastated grain-fields and gardens; and
1 "Now about the timber: it was black walnut and black oak, hickory and jack oak, elm and white oak, undergrowth, logwood in abundance, grape-vines and shoe-make bushes, and milk-sick plenty. All my relations died of that disease on Little Pigeon Creek, Spencer County."— DENNIS HANKS.
while they were seldom shot for the table, the settlers frequently devised the most cunning means of destroying them in great quantities, in order to save the growing crops. Wild turkeys and deer were the principal reliance for food; but besides these were the bears, the wild-cats, and the panthers.1 The scream of the latter, the most ferocious and bloodthirsty of the cat kind, hastened Abe's homeward steps on many a dark night, as he came late from Dave Turnham's, " Uncle " Wood's, or the Gentryville grocery. That terrific cry appeals not only to the natural fear of the monster's teeth and claws, but, heard in the solitude of night and the forest, it awakens a feeling of superstitious horror, that chills the heart of the bravest.
Everybody about Abe made hunting a part of his business.2 Tom Lincoln and Dennis Hanks doubtless regaled him continually with wonderful stories of their luck and prowess; but he was no hunter himself, and did not care to learn. It is true, that, when a mere child, he made a fortunate shot at a flock of wild turkeys, through a crack in the wall of the "half-faced cabin; "3 and that, when grown up, he went for coons occasionally with Richardson, or watched deer-licks with Turnham; but a true and hearty sportsman he never was. As practised on this wild border, it was a solitary, unsociable way of spending time, which did not suit his nature; and, besides, it required more exertion than he was willing to make without due compensation. It could not be said that Abe was indolent; for he was alert, brisk, active, about every thing that he made up his mind to do. His step was very quick; and, when he had a sufficient object in view, he strode out on
1 "No Indians there when I first went to Indiana: I say, no, none. I say this: bear, deer, turkey, and coon, wild-cats, and other things, and frogs."- DENNIS HANKS.
2 "You say, What were some of the customs? I suppose you mean take us all together. One thing I can tell you about: we had to work very hard cleaning ground for to keep body and soul together; and every spare time we had we picked up our rifle, and brought in a fine deer or turkey; and in the winter-time we went a coon-hunting, for coonskins were at that time considered legal tender, and deer-skins' and hams. I tell you, Billy, I enjoyed myself better then than I ever have since." - DENNIS HANKS.
3 "No doubt about the A. Lincoln's killing the turkey. He done it with his father's rifle, made by William Lutes, of Bullitt County, Kentucky. I have killed a hundred deer with her myself; turkeys too numerous to mention."—DENNIS HANKS.
his long, muscular legs, swinging his bony arms as he moved along, with an energy that put miles behind him before a lazy fellow like Dennis Hanks or John Johnston could make up his mind to start. But, when he felt that he had time to spare, he preferred to give it to reading or to "talk;" and, of the two, he would take the latter, provided he could find a person who had something new or racy to say. He liked excessively to hear his own voice, when it was promoting fun and good fellowship; but he was also a most rare and attentive listener. Hunting was entirely too "still" an occupation for him.
All manner of rustic sports were in vogue among the Pigeon Creek boys. Abe was especially formidable as a wrestler; and, from about 1828 onward, there was no man, far or near, that would give him a match. "Cat," "throwing the mall," "hopping and half-hammon" (whatsoever that may mean), and "four-corner bull-pen" were likewise athletic games in high honor.1
All sorts of frolics and all kinds of popular gatherings, whether for work or amusement, possessed irresistible attractions for Abe. He loved to see and be seen, to make sport and to enjoy it. It was a most important part of his education that he got at the corn-shuckings, the log-rollings, the shooting-matches, and the gay and jolly weddings of those early border times. He was the only man or boy within a wide compass who had learning enough to furnish the literature for such occasions; and those who failed to employ his talents to grace or commemorate the festivities they set on foot were sure to be stung by some coarse but humorous lampoon from his pen. In the social way, he would not suffer himself to be slighted with impunity; and, if there were any who did not enjoy his wit, they might content themselves with being the subjects of it. Unless he received some very pointed intimation that his presence was not wanted, he was
1 "You ask, What sort of plays? What we called them at that time were 'bull-pen,' corner and cat,' 'hopping and half-hammon;' playing at night 'old Sister Feby.' This I know, for I took a hand myself; and, wrestling, we could throw down anybody." DENNIS HANKS.
among the first and earliest at all the neighborhood routs; and when his tall, singular figure was seen towering amongst the hunting-shirts, it was considered due notice that the fun was about to commence. "Abe Linkhern," as he was generally called, made things lively wherever he went: and, if Crawford's blue nose happened to have been carried to the assembly, it quickly subsided, on his arrival, into some obscure corner; for the implacable "Linkhern" was apt to make it the subject of a jest that would set the company in a roar. But when a party was made up, and Abe left out, as sometimes happened through the influence of Crawford, he sulked, fumed, "got mad," nursed his anger into rage, and then broke out in songs or "chronicles," which were frequently very bitter, sometimes passably humorous, and invariably vulgar.
At an early age he began to attend the "preachings" roundabout, but principally at the Pigeon Creek church, with a view to catching whatever might be ludicrous in the preacher's air or matter, and making it the subject of mimicry as soon as he could collect an audience of idle boys and men to hear him. A pious stranger, passing that way on a Sunday morning, was invited to preach for the Pigeon Creek congregation; but he banged the boards of the old pulpit, and bellowed and groaned so wonderfully, that Abe could hardly contain his mirth. This memorable sermon was a great favorite with him; and he frequently reproduced it with nasal tones, rolling eyes, and all manner of droll aggravations, to the great delight of Nat Grigsby and the wild fellows whom Nat was able to assemble. None that heard him, not even Nat himself (who was any thing but dull), was ever able to show wherein Abe's absurd version really departed from the original.
The importance of Gentryville, as a "centre of business," soon began to possess the imaginations of the dwellers between the two Pigeon Creeks. Why might it not be a great place of trade? Mr. Gentry was a most generous patron; it was advantageously situated where two roads crossed; it already had a blacksmith's shop, a grocery, and a store. Jones, it is