In 1834, when Abraham Lincoln was a candidate for the legislature, he called on a certain farmer to ask for his support. He found him in the hay field, and was urging his cause when the dinner bell sounded. The farmer invited him to dinner, but Lincoln declined politely, and added, “If you will let me have the scythe while you are gone I will mow ‘round the field a couple of times.”
When the farmer returned he found three rows neatly mowed. The scythe lay against the gate post, but Lincoln had disappeared.
Nearly thirty years afterward the farmer and his wife, now grown old, were at a White House reception, and stood waiting in line to shake hands with the President.
When they got near him in the line Lincoln saw them, and calling an aide, told him to take them to one of the small parlors, where he would see them as soon as he got through the handshaking. Much surprised, the old couple was led away. Presently Mr. Lincoln came in, and, greeting them with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, called them by name.
“Do you mean to say,” exclaimed the farmer, “that you remember me after all these years?”
“I certainly do,” said the President, and he went on to recall the day he had mowed around the farmer’s timothy field.
“Yes, that’s so,” said the old man, still in astonishment. “I found the field mowed and the scythe leaning up against the gate post. But I have always wanted to ask you one thing.”
“What is it?” asked Mr. Lincoln.
“I always wanted to ask you, Mr. President, what you did with the whetstone?”
Lincoln smoothed his hair back from his brows a moment, in deep thought; then his face lighted up.
“Yes, I remember now,” he said, “I put that whetstone on top of the high gate post.”
And when he got back to Illinois again, the farmer found the whetstone on top of the gate post, where it had lain for more than thirty years.
This story is attributed to Edna M. Colman.
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