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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Lincolns unvarying kindness.

From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

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Abraham Lincoln, the great President of the United States, loved not only men, women and children, but animals as well. If he saw an animal in trouble of any sort he always stopped to aid it. Even in the most crowded day he found time to be merciful. When Abraham was twenty-one he helped his father to move to the West. Other friends went, too. They packed their goods in large waggons drawn by oxen. It was quite a little company. They started on their journey in February. The roads were heavy with frost and mud. There were no bridges, and so the streams must be forded. Again and again they had to break the ice to let the wheels pass. At one of these fords a little dog was left behind on the farther shore. He ran up and down the bank and howled pitifully, but no one seemed to notice him. At last tall, bony Abe Lincoln turned. The dog looked pleadingly at him. "Am I to be left behind to die in this wilderness?" his soft dark eyes seemed to say. Lincoln hesitated. The water of the river was icy cold. However, he took off his shoes, turned up his trousers, and waded across. He caught up the shivering little animal, which licked his hands and face in a very passion of gratitude. When Lincoln set him down on the right side of the river, the little dog showed his gladness by leaping upon everyone and barking wildly. "His frantic leaps of joy repaid me for what I had done," said Lincoln.

Years afterward, when Lincoln was a busy lawyer, he was one day riding to court on horseback. With him were some friends of his who were also lawyers. The small party had some distance to go. The day was warm and the roadsides were soft with spring mud. Suddenly their gay talk was interrupted. "Cheep! cheep! cheep!" they heard. On the ground, not far from the roadside, two little birds lay in the grass. They had fallen from the nest in the tree above them. Their mother fluttered about, uttering pitiful cries. "See those young robins that have fallen from their nest," said one man. "That's too bad," said another. "They are sure to die down there." "Some cat will get them," said a third. On they went, but soon they missed Abraham Lincoln. They looked behind, but a turn of the road hid him from sight. "We can guess what kept him," laughed the leader. "He has stopped to put those robins back into their nest." They were right. Abraham Lincoln was even then climbing the tree to the nest with the tiny birds cuddled tenderly in one big kind hand.

Soon he rejoined his friends. One of them raised his riding-whip and pointed at Lincoln's muddy boots. "Confess now, old Abe," he said, "wasn't it those young robins that kept you?" "We know you, old fellow!" said another. "Yes, boys, you are right," Lincoln replied. "But if I hadn't put those birds back into the nest I shouldn't have slept a wink all night." Here is another story of the great-hearted Lincoln. He passed a beetle one day that was sprawling upon its back. It was kicking hard in its efforts to turn over. Lincoln stooped and set it right. "Do you know," he said to the friend beside him, "I shouldn't have felt just right if I'd left that insect struggling there. I wanted to put him on his feet and give him a chance with all the other beetles." Another time Lincoln and a party of lawyers were riding from one town to another to attend court. Each lawyer wore his best clothes. Lincoln was most careful of his well-worn suit. On the road the party passed a small pig that had fallen into a ditch. The poor little creature cried in a most pitiful fashion. At a bend of the road Lincoln drew rein. His friends rode on, but he returned. He jumped into the muddy ditch, lifted up the helpless pig, and placed him again on solid ground. Then he galloped after the others. The splashes of mud told their own story. His friends laughed at the big man with the tender heart. "I could not do otherwise," said Lincoln.


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