tobacco, with other articles too numerous to mention, including the inevitable whiskey, which nearly everybody except Abraham considered indispensable.

Within a few days Abraham was well under way with Offutt’s commercial enterprise. The new goods drew customers, and the new clerk attracted attention. He was “joky,” agreeable, and social, “worth a dozen such fellers as Offutt’s other man,” as one of the citizens put it.

Offutt’s business elsewhere did not allow him to remain at New Salem, though he was there long enough to risk another venture. He leased the mill of Cameron and Rutledge at the foot of the hill, and put it in charge of Abraham along with the store. At the same time he hired William G. Green for assistant clerk in the store, that Abraham might divide his time between the two enterprises.

Offutt was a great talker, and some people said he was “rattle-brained” and “harum-scarum.” But no one claimed that Abraham was like him, not even Offutt himself, for the latter was wont to magnify the abilities and fidelity of his clerk extravagantly. His confidence in him was well-nigh boundless, and he drew largely upon the dictionary for words to express his admiration of the new storekeeper. He did not hesitate to say, “Abe knows more than any man in the United States.” If confronted by any one who dared to dispute his assertion, he would supplement his statement by another: “Abe will be President of the United States some time. Now remember what I say.” Between engineering the boat over Rutledge’s dam and the eulogiums of Offutt, Abraham was quite grandly introduced to the inhabitants of New Salem. It is not strange that he entered upon his labours there with flying colours, causing the store to become the centre of attraction in that township. New customers were multiplied, and old ones became even more reliable patrons.

Then, in Illinois, the merchant of the town was second to no citizen in importance. Abraham stepped at once into this position of notoriety; and then, in addition, his knowledge, affability, and uprightness contributed to make him a still more important personage.

“The best feller we’ve had in the store yet,” remarked Jason Duncan to a companion named Carman; “and he knows a thing or two.”

“Not so much as Offutt thinks he does,” replied Carman; “but it’s fun to hear him talk.”

“And he is so accommodating and honest,” continued Duncan. “Mother says she’d trust him with anything because he’s so honest. She paid him a few cents too much, and he brought it back to her.”

“Not many on ’em who’d do that,” replied Carman. “Everybody says that he gives Scriptur’ weight and measure.”

“And he is none of your high-fly gentry,” added Duncan, “if he does keep store. He knows more in half- an-hour than Offutt’s other man did in a week.”

“Yes, and he’s drawing customers that haven’t traded there before, just because he does the thing that is right. Everybody knows that he won’t lie nor cheat; and they believe just what he says, and they like to trade with him on that account.”

“Offutt was a fortunate man to get him to keep his store,” continued Duncan. “It will be money in his pocket.”

“And he seems to attend to the business just as closely as he would if it was his own,” said Carman; “he is there early and late, and he is allers readin’ when he has nothin’ else to do.”

“That’s because he is honest,” replied William; “a dishonest clerk wouldn’t care whether the business prospered or not, nor whether people were pleased or not. Offutt is off so much that he would not know whether a clerk was faithful or not, and it’s lucky for him that he hit upon Abe as he did.”

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