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Abe Lincoln And The Lost Ox

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

AS I approached the Lincoln farm in Spencer County, Indiana, where Abe spent most of his time between six and twenty-one years of age, I said to a lawyer sitting near, whom I knew: " Is there any one on this train who lives in this neighborhood? I should like to get some absolutely new stories of Lincoln." He looked around and said : " There is a man whose father was the nearest neighbor and dearest friend Lincoln had in this county." He took me over and introduced me to him. Sitting in the seat beside him, I said : " Tell me something your father has told you about Lincoln that the newspaper re-porters have not found, if such a thing is possible." He said: " When Abe moved with his father from this neighborhood to Decatur, Illinois, they put all they had in the world in a wagon and hitched two oxen to it. They had gotten a day's journey from home and, as was the custom in those days, turned the oxen out to graze for the night. One of the oxen broke away and came back home. Father saw him coming along the road and, recognizing him, turned him in his lot. The next day Abe came back, looking for the ox. He said to father, ` Seen anything of our ox?' ` Yes,' replied father. ` Where is he?' asked the boy. ` In my lot,' said father. ` I have come for him,' said Abe. ` How are you going to take him? ' asked father. ` You have no rope, no halter, no saddle nor bridle.' ` I will show you,' answered Abe. ` When I yell " Open," you open the gate.' He went into the lot with a switch, ran the animal around a little while to master him and yelled ` Open.' Father opened the gate, and the ox made a break for it. Abe ran swiftly after him and, jumping high in the air, he alighted astride of the ox and, holding his heels in the flanks of the steer, he drove him on the run back to the wagon. When he wanted to go to the right he would take his old slouch hat and with it hit the beast on the left side of the head ; if he desired to turn to the left, he would hit him on the right side of the head."

I thanked the man kindly for relating this and other incidents, and said to him : " The will power with which Abe, the barefooted young farmer, rode that ox without halter or saddle or bridle, was the same power with which he ruled the nation and abolished slavery." As I found my friend in the car seat religiously inclined, I continued: " There was but one power in the universe to which Lincoln's imperial will bowed, and that was the will of the Absolute. The human will has so much to do with earthly success and spiritual victory. Out of the heart are the issues of life, but the will has so much to do in determining those issues, either in leading one from sin to holiness or in fighting successfully the battles of the Cross. The will determines what we are to be, creates the deserts or gardens, the dungeons or palaces of the great future. There can be no certainty of aim and no surety of destiny unless the human will be lost in the will of God." The brakeman called out the station " Lincoln," and my friend left the train.

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