I must decline such a trial with Jack.
Then you are not the man to live in New Salem longer, shouted one.
Perhaps not, replied Abraham, with a quizzical look, as if he meant to say, that is none of your business.
Well duck you in the Sangamon, exclaimed another.
Whether you do or not, answered Abe, I tell you that I never tussle and scuffle, and that I will not. I dont like this woolling and pulling.
Dont, hey! shouted one of the number, at the same time pulling Abes nose.
Be carefulnot too familiar, said Abraham in a warning manner.
Thus the provocations were multiplied, until Abraham, seeing that the only way of settling the difficulty was to lay Jack upon his back, consented to wrestling. They took side holds, and presently Abraham, having the advantage by reason of his long legs and arms, lifted Jack completely from the ground, and swinging him about, thought to lay him on his back, but Jack came down upon his feet squarely and firmly.
Now, Jack, said Abraham, lets quit; I cant throw you, and you cant throw me.
No, Jack, dont give up, shouted Bill Clary; Abes begging for quarter now. Bill supposed that Abrahams courage was failing him, or else it was the plan of the gang to play foul. Be this as it may, Jack at once broke his hold and adopted the unfair method of legging, whereupon Abraham seized him by the throat, and lifting him from the ground, and holding him at arms length, shook him like a child. The astonished ruffians saw that their champion was worsted, and they cried,
Fight, Jack, fight!
No doubt all of them would have attacked Abraham had Jack led off. But the latter saw little encouragement in continuing a contest with a man who could hold him out at arms length by the throat; and the moment Abraham relinquished his hold, Jack grasped his hand in friendship, and declared that Abe was the best feller that ever broke into their settlement. Their friendship became almost like that of David and Jonathan; and from that moment the sway of the Clary Grove Boys was broken in New Salem. Abraham did not hesitate to denounce their acts publicly; and others soon joined him in his hostility to such ruffianism. The result was that the gang gradually faded out, and quite a number of them became respectable citizens. Abrahams great strength and kindness of heart did more to reform the scoundrels than a missionary from New England could have done.
Everybody now became as enthusiastic over Abraham as Offutt was.
I told you so, said the latter. Ive seen somethin of the world, and I tell you his like I never saw.
There was no one to dispute Offutt now. There was an end to all riotous proceedings; for Abraham declared that such ruffianly conduct should be stopped, and some of the citizens were bold enough to back him. Even Jack Armstrong promised him assistance. Abrahams influence became regnant in New Salem. He was even appealed to by neighbours to settle difficulties, so that he wore the honours of peacemaker in Illinois as he did in Indiana.
It was in New Salem that Abraham won the soubriquet Honest Abe, which he carried through life. The public confidence in his integrity and fairmindedness was such that he was usually chosen for umpire in all games and trials where two sides enlisted. And, finally, he became in so great demand in this line, that both sides, in those friendly contests, made him judge.
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