The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop

The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop

Author:Jim Bishop
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: HarperCollins

5 p.m.

The President of the United States came out on the White House porch with Mrs. Lincoln. He studied the sky and buttoned his coat. They were using the barouche. The coachman helped Mrs. Lincoln into the carriage and, as the President followed, she said: “Would you like someone to come with us?” She had asked that before.

He got up in the carriage without assistance, settled himself at her side and tucked a blanket around both of them.

“No,” he said, with a twinkle of gallantry, “I prefer to ride by ourselves today.” He nodded to Francis Burns, the coachman, and the sparkling carriage started out of the gravel driveway. Two cavalrymen fell in behind the coach, but the President did not look back.

On this drive, the President was in rare humor and passersby heard Mrs. Lincoln’s laughter peal from the coach. It rang out wholeheartedly and Mr. Burns, up on the front seat, started grinning without knowing the joke. They went along G Street at a spanking trot, the President raising his silk hat when groups of citizens hailed him from the walks, and the carriage turned down New Jersey Avenue, still moving at a smart clip.

“Dear husband,” Mrs. Lincoln said. “You almost startle me by your great cheerfulness.”

“And well may I feel so,” he said, becoming serious at once. “Mother, I consider that this day the war has come to a close.” He patted her hand, as though he hoped to infuse her with what he was going to say. “We must both be cheerful in the future. Between the war, and the loss of our darling Willie, we have both been very miserable.”

Mrs. Lincoln stopped laughing. The death of her Willie was a sore deeper to the bone than the war had been. For a while, both were silent. The matched blacks trotted as though they would never tire and, as they passed the Capitol, both saw the marching troops, the cadres of dejected prisoners, the end of something they had lived with for a long time. The city was now relaxed. It was gay and careless and silly and in fettle. All of it was blessed with contagion.

The President, who rarely spoke of his own future, told Mrs. Lincoln that he wanted to get on with reconstruction in the South, complete his term of office, and then perhaps take a trip to Europe with his family. He would like that, he said. Then he would return to Springfield, Illinois, and perhaps resume law practice. He was happy and murmurous as he talked, half to himself, half to her. It would be nice, he thought, if someday they could buy a prairie farm along the Sangamon.

The translucent quality of his happiness was such that Mrs. Lincoln began to feel disturbed. He seemed to read her thoughts as the carriage neared the Navy Yard.

“I never felt so happy in my life,” he said. It was as simple and unequivocal a statement as he had ever made, and he was noted for them.


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