Page images




A grocer in a small town was anxious to increase his business. He was an odd, inventive character-in fact, more of an inventor than a business man and had special need for money at this time. He thought up a plan to go out at night and paint on the sidewalks a lot of white foot-prints about three feet long, all pointing toward his store. This he did in a few hours by using a stencil-plate. Of course, "white feet" were the talk of the town; all kinds of guesses were made about them. One week later the grocer put in his window a placard: "These foot-prints show the way to Snedden's grocery." Perhaps this advertising scheme succeeded; perhaps it did not.


Early one forenoon a man with long hair entered a barber-shop and had his hair trimmed closely. In the evening of the same day his twin brother, who had been many weeks without a hair-cut, entered the shop. The amazed barber said: "Let me use your picture to advertise my hair tonic.'


When General Grant was a youth of sixteen, his father sent him to a country fair to sell a horse. His instructions were to ask $150, but to sell for $100 if he could not do better. Young Grant artlessly told a horse-trader

just what his father had said. The trader offered $100. "That's what father said," answered Ulysses, "but I'm not going to sell for less than $175."


A "singing donkey" in a circus had been taught to bray while the band played a certain tune. He really did chime in after a fashion. The owner of the donkey earned a large income. During the winter he arranged to play at a theatre. The house was packed; the band struck up-but not a sound would the donkey make; he merely whisked his tail and looked pleased. Next spring in the circus he "sang" as lustily as ever.


A woman on her way home from a day of Christmas shopping was held up by a robber, who demanded her purse. She pleaded with him not to take a poor woman's money, but he was relentless. "At least," she said, "let me have enough for car-fare home." He grabbed the purse, gave her a quarter from his pocket, and hurried off. On the car the woman counted up her loss. She had started out with $30 in a shabby, worn-out purse; she had spent she counted up three times to make sure $29.85.


"God Bless My Mother"

"God bless my mother! all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to her!"

* G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York.

"Respect for the Eggs, Not the Hat"

In Lincoln's youth, when his attire was as unmodish as his appearance, he attended the performance of an itinerant juggler. The latter produced a bag of eggs and offered to make an omelet in a hat without injury to the latter. The trick, though dating back to the Dark Ages, was new to the spectators in the village, but the absence of hats prevented a ready tender of the required adjunct, until Abraham, urged forward by the neighbors, as wearing what might pass for a hat, handed up his headgear. It was woolly, of low-crowned and broad-brimmed shape, and had seen the worst sort of weather. In fact, the wearer apologized in these terms: "Mister, the reason why I did not offer you my hat before was out of respect for your eggs, not from care for the hat!"

[blocks in formation]

At one time while Lincoln was engaged in chopping rails, the "bully of the county" (Sangamon, Ills.), perhaps set on by some practical joker, came to "the boys" in the woods and, with set design, challenged "the greeny" (Lincoln) to a fight.

The great brawny, awkward boy laughed and drawled out: "I reckon, stranger, you're after the wrong man. I never fought in my whole life." But the bully made for Abe, and in the first fall Lincoln came down on top of the heap. The champion was bruising and causing blood to flow down Lincoln's face, when a happy mode of warfare entered his original brain. He quickly thrust his hands into a convenient bunch of smartweed and rubbed the same in the eyes of his opponent, who almost instantly begged for mercy. He was released, but his sight,

for the time being, was extinct. No member of the trio possessed a pocket-handkerchief, so Lincoln tore from his own shirt-front the surplus cloth, washed and bandaged the fellow's eyes and sent him home.

"If You Hit, Hit Hard!"

On coming out of a slave-auction salesroom in New Orleans, Lincoln, who had conducted a freighted flatboat down the Mississippi from Indiana, remarked to his crew: "If ever I get a chance to hit that thing (slavery) I'll hit it hard."

"No Ambition so Great as True Esteem"

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether that be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem."

"A Narrow Squeak for the Pig"

During Lincoln's early days, when he was poor and depressed by the profound despondency which so long afflicted him, he was riding one day through the sparsely settled parts of Indiana. His errand was of importance, and he was dressed in his best-homespun jeans. But he gave ear to a shrill cry of distress at which his companions only laughed. It was but a pig caught in the mud of a wallow, and sinking so fast that it would shortly cut its throat with its sharp feet or suffocate. Lincoln looked at the black gumbo mud, then at his good clothes, "the unique Sunday-go-to-meetings," and after a slight

hesitation turned back and extricated the little porker. When he went onward, he was daubed with mud. But he explained to his friends that he thought of the poor farmer who could not afford such a loss and he thought also of the shote and could not resist the appeal.

"The Prize for Homeliness"

Abraham Lincoln did not deceive himself in regard to his facial blemishes. George Sand has said that every man is pleased with his face but never with his fortune. The President gives the lady the lie on that axiom. It may be premised that, on the border, a person remarkably ill-favored in lineaments was awarded a jack-knife as token of his pre-eminence in this line.

Lincoln tells the story of how he became possessed of this undesirable trophy.

"In the days when I used to be on the circuit (183–, travelling on horseback from one county court to another), I was once accosted by a stranger, who said:

“Excuse me, sir, but I have an article which belongs to you.'

"How is that?' I asked, considerably astonished. "The stranger took a jack-knife from his pocket. "This knife,' said he, 'was placed in my hands some years ago, with the injunction that I was to keep it until I found a man homelier-looking than I am myself. I have carried it from that time till this; allow me to say, sir, that you are fairly entitled to the property.'

[ocr errors]

As "below the lowest depth" there is a lower still, Lincoln was also able to make a happy deliverance of the token to another victim of fate. But the latter, the Reverend William Hastings, rejoicing at its being the link which connected him with the President of the

« PreviousContinue »