THE WIDOW AND HER THREE SONS
 ONE day a poor woman
approached Mr. Lincoln for an interview. She was somewhat
advanced in years and plainly clad, wearing a faded shawl
and worn hood.
"Well, my good woman," said Mr. Lincoln, "what can I do for
you this morning?"
"Mr. President," answered she, "my husband and three sons
all went into the army. My husband was killed in the battle
of——. I get along very badly since then living all
alone, and I thought that I would come and ask you to
release to me my eldest son."
Mr. Lincoln looked in her face for a moment, and then
"Certainly! Certainly! If you have given us all, and your
prop has been taken away, you are justly entitled to one of
He then made out an order discharging the young man, which
the woman took away, thanking him gratefully.
She went to the front herself with the President's order,
and found that her son had been mortally wounded in a recent
battle, and taken to the hospital.
She hastened to the hospital. But she was too
 late, the boy died, and she saw him laid in a soldier's
She then returned to the President with his order, on the
back of which the attendant surgeon had stated the sad facts
concerning the young man it was intended to discharge.
Mr. Lincoln was much moved by her story, and said: "I know
what you wish me to do now, and I shall do it without your
asking. I shall release to you your second son."
Taking up his pen he began to write the order, while the
grief-stricken woman stood at his side and passed her hand
softly over his head, and stroked his rough hair as she
would have stroked her boy's.
When he had finished he handed her the paper, saying
tenderly, his eyes full of tears:—
"Now you have one of the two left, and I have one, that is
no more than right."
She took the order and reverently placing her hand upon his
"The Lord bless you, Mr. President. May you live a thousand
years, and may you always be the head of this great nation."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics