Chapter VI. The Boatman
One of Thomas Lincoln's friends owned a
ferry-boat on the Ohio River. It
was nothing but a small rowboat, and would carry only three
people at a time. This man wanted to employ some one to take
care of his
boat and to ferry people across the river.
Thomas Lincoln was in need of money - and so he arranged with
for Abraham to do this work. The wages of the young man were
to be $2.50
a week. But all the money was to be his father's.
One day two strangers came to the landing. They wanted to
on a steamboat that was coming down the river. The ferry-boy
to the steamboat and it stopped in midstream. Then the boy
with the two passengers, and they were taken on board.
Just as he was turning towards the shore again, each of the
tossed a half-dollar into his boat. He picked the silver up
at it. Ah, how rich he felt! He had never had so much money
at one time.
And he had gotten all for a few minutes' labor!
When winter came on, there were fewer people who wanted to
river. So, at last, the ferry-boat was tied up, and Abraham
back to his father's home.
He was now nineteen years old. He was very tall - nearly six
inches in height. He was as strong as a young giant. He could
higher and farther, and he could run faster, than any of his
and there was no one, far or near, who could lay him on his
Although he had always lived in a community of rude, rough
had no bad habits. He used no tobacco - he did not drink strong
no profane word ever passed his lips.
He was good-natured at all times, and kind to every one.
During that winter, Mr. Gentry, the storekeeper in the village,
bought a good deal of corn and pork. He intended, in the spring,
this on a flatboat and send it down the river to New Orleans.
In looking about for a captain to take charge of the boat,
to think of Abraham Lincoln. He knew that he could trust the
And so a bargain was soon made. Abraham agreed to pilot the
boat to New
Orleans and to market the produce there - and Mr. Gentry was
to pay his
father eight dollars and a half a month for his services.
As soon as the ice had well melted from the river, the voyage
Besides Captain Lincoln there was only one man in the crew,
and that was
a son of Mr. Gentry's.
The voyage was a long and weary one, but at last the two boatmen
the great southern city. Here they saw many strange things
of which they
had never heard before. But they soon sold their cargo and
then returned home on a steamboat.
To Abraham Lincoln the world was now very different from what
seemed before. He longed to be away from the narrow life in
the woods of
Spencer county. He longed to be doing something for himself - to
making for himself a fortune and a name.
But then he remembered his mother's teachings when he sat
on her knee in
the old Kentucky home, "Always do right." He remembered
her last words,
"I know you will be kind to your father."
And so he resolved to stay with his father, to work for him,
and to give
him all his earnings until he was twenty-one years old.