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Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (of 2) by Herndon

Suppose you lend me your comb and brush


day after Mr. Lincoln came to us he said to me: 'I suppose you have neither a Bible nor a copy of Shakespeare here?' I replied that I had a Bible, and the General had Shakespeare, and that the latter never missed a night without reading it. 'Won't he lend it to me?' inquired the President. I answered, 'Yes,' and, of course, obtained it for him.

"The day following he read by himself in one of my offices, two hours or more, entirely alone, I being engaged in a connecting room on duty. He finally interrupted me, inviting me to rest while he would read to me. He read from _Macbeth, Lear_, and finally. _King John_. In reading the passage where Constance bewails to the King the loss of her child, I noticed that his voice trembled and he was deeply moved. Laying the book on the table he said:

"'Did you ever dream of a lost friend and feel that you were having a sweet communion with that friend, and yet a consciousness that it was not a reality?'

"'Yes,' I replied, 'I think almost any one may have had such an experience.'

"'So do I,' he mused; 'I dream of my dead boy, Willie, again and again.'

"I shall never forget the sigh nor the look of sorrow that accompanied this expression. He was utterly overcome; his great frame shook, and, bowing down on the table, he wept as only such a man in the breaking down of a great

sorrow could weep. It is needless to say that I wept in sympathy, and quietly left the room that he might recover without restraint.

"Lincoln never again referred to his boy, but he made me feel that he had given me a sacred confidence, and he ever after treated me with a tenderness and regard that won my love.

"Again, some days later, I had been absent on a reconnoissance, and returned late in the afternoon. I was in my room dressing for dinner (which was a very formal affair, as, besides the Administration, we had, almost daily, distinguished foreigners to dine) when the President came in. Seeing me in full uniform he said:

"'Why, Colonel, you're fixing up mighty fine. Suppose you lend me your comb and brush, and I'll put on a few touches, too.'

"I handed the desired articles to him and he toyed with the comb awhile and then laid it down, exclaiming:

"'This thing will never get through my hair. Now, if you have such a thing as they comb a horse's tail with, I believe I can use it.' After a merry laugh, he continued: 'By the way, I can tell you a good story about my hair. When I was nominated, at Chicago, an enterprising fellow thought that a great many people would like to see how Abe Lincoln looked, and, as I had not long before sat for a photograph, this fellow having seen it, rushed over and bought the negative. He at once got out no end of wood-cuts, and, so active was their circulation, they were selling in all parts of the country. Soon after they reached Springfield I heard a boy crying them for sale on the streets. 'Here's your likeness of Abe Lincoln!' he shouted.

"'Buy one; price only two shillings! Will look a good deal better when he gets his hair combed!'"

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