A few days only elapsed after the burial before Mrs. Lincoln was attacked, much more violently than the Sparrows, with the same dreaded disease. It was about three o’clock in the morning. Abraham was awakened out of a sound sleep, and hurried away for the nearest neighbour, Mrs. Woods, and, at the same time, Dennis, who became a permanent member of Lincoln’s family after the death of the Sparrows, and was Abraham’s bed-fellow in the loft, made his appearance, to render any assistance within his power. In the absence of physicians, a strong bond of sympathy united pioneer families, and the feminine members were always ready to tender their best nursing abilities to the sick. Nor were they altogether unsuccessful in their treatment. Some of them exhibited much skill in managing diseases, having been thrown upon their own resources for a long period, reflecting and studying for themselves. As physicians could not be had, they were compelled to do the best thing possible for themselves.

Mrs. Woods was not long in coming to her relief, and before the close of that day several other neighbours, who were notified of Mrs. Lincoln’s sickness, came to proffer assistance. The tidings of her sudden attack spread so rapidly, that, within two or three days, all the pioneer families in the vicinity heard of it, and their proffers of assistance were prompt and tender. But the patient steadily grew worse, and soon became satisfied that her sickness would prove fatal. Some persons attacked with that singular disease lingered for weeks, as the Sparrows did; but Mrs. Lincoln’s sickness was violent and brief. On the fifth day of October she expired, leaving the Lincoln cabin more desolate than ever. Coming so speedily after the Sparrows passed away, death had additional terrors to the living. Dennis Hanks remembers the woe-begone appearance of Abraham from the time his mother’s life was despaired of until weeks after she was laid in her grave. He was nine years old, thoughtful and sensible, not much inclined to talk about the event, but ever looking as if a pall were drawn over his heart. The reader can imagine, perhaps, what no language can convey—the loss of a good mother to a bright, obedient, and trusting boy, hid away in the woods, where a mother’s presence and love must be doubly precious. The bitter experience was well suited to make the loneliness of pioneer life vastly more lonely, and its real hardships vastly harder.

Preparations were made for the burial. With his own hands Thomas Lincoln constructed a rough coffin for his wife, and she was laid beside the Sparrows on the knoll. One party thinks that one neighbour read the Scriptures and another offered prayer; but it is probable that she was buried, as her foster-parents were, without any ceremonies—silently deposited in the ground with no special tribute, save honest tears.

Here, better than elsewhere, we can describe an event that is worthy of record. It occurred several months after the death of Mrs. Lincoln.

“You must write a letter for me, Abe, to Parson Elkins,” said his father, one evening. “You can write well enough now to do that.” Abraham had passed his tenth birthday.

“If you can tell me what to write, I can do it,” answered the boy.

“That I will do. It will be your first letter, you know, and you must remember that your father never wrote one—never knew enough to write one.”

“What do you want I should write about?” inquired Abraham.

“Write about the death of your mother. He knows nothin’ about it yet; and I want to ask him to visit us, and preach a funeral sermon.”

“When do you want he should come?”

“When he can, I s’pose. He’ll take his own time for it, though I hope he’ll come soon.”

“He may be dead,” suggested Abraham.

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