A School-Boy

Riney's School—Reading only Taught—Hazel's School—How to get the Money—Indiana a Free State—Few and Poor Schools—Four Miles Away—The Lincoln Library—Religious Advantages—Elder Elkins—Reading the Bible—Familiar with Bible through Life—Incidents of His Parents' desire to Educate him—Decision to Move to Indiana—Gallaher's Interest—A Conversation—Land Titles—Real Cause of Removal to Indiana, a Free State

Riney is goin’ to keep school,” remarked Mr. Lincoln to his wife, one day, “and he wants to know if Sarah and Abe will go.”

“I hope so, certainly, though he can’t be much of a teacher, any way,” replied Mrs. L. “A poor school is better than none.”

“There can be no doubt about that,” continued Mr. Lincoln. “It won’t take Riney long to tell the children all he knows; but that is better than nothing.”

“He can’t write nor cipher,” added his wife, “and a man who can’t do that can’t be much of a reader.”

“Well, readin’ is all he claims,” said Mr. Lincoln.

“He has nothin’ to do with figgers or writin’. He proposes to learn boys and girls what he knows, and nothing more.”

“That’s about all the best of them can do,—teach what they know,” Mrs. L. answered. “To attempt more would be foolish indeed.”

This Hezekiah Riney was a new comer, and he had settled within a half mile of Lincoln’s cabin. He was a rough, ignorant man, with scarcely one qualification for a teacher, even in that wild untutored country. But he wanted to eke out a miserable subsistence by adding a few dollars to his pitiable income; and so he proposed school-keeping as about the only thing possible in that barren country. Parents accepted the proposition because there was nothing better; and here the hero of this volume began to be a school- boy, accompanying his sister Sarah daily to Riney’s cabin. “Abe” made some progress at this school—he began to read A dilapidated copy of Dillworth’s spelling-book was the only volume the two children of Tom Lincoln had between them at this Riney institution, and they appear to have made good use of it. The brightness of the pupils was a pleasant offset to the stupidity of the teacher.

Riney’s school, for some reason, was of short duration; it closed in five or six weeks. Perhaps the fountain ran dry in that time. Possibly some of the scholars knew more than their master at the end of that period, which is not claiming very much for the pupils. At any rate, “Abe” and his sister transferred their destiny to another “pioneer college,” as, forty years afterwards, Abraham Lincoln facetiously called those cabin- schools of the woods.

“Mr. Hazel knows a heap more than Riney,” said Mr. Lincoln, “and we must try to have the children go to his school, though it is a long way off.”

“Yes; it is time that ‘Abe knew something about writing,’ and Hazel can learn him that,” Mrs. L. replied. “The children won’t mind the distance. If we can scrape together enough to pay for their schooling, they ought to go.”

The last remark touched upon a subject that was often uppermost in Tom Lincoln’s mind,—how to get money enough to pay for the necessaries of life. Although he was satisfied with corn-cake and milk for daily food, yet it would require considerable ingenuity and economy to produce the extra money to pay for the schooling; so he replied,—

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