Springfield Vandalia Journey

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On an uncommonly balmy afternoon in late November, I peer out the window of the Springfield-Vandalia stagecoach. Whereas I should be full of excitement over attending my first session as a legislator, I can’t stop thinking about the embarrassment I suffered a few days ago in Judge Green’s makeshift courtroom. When Berry and I gave Billy Greene our note for the purchase of his store, he assigned it—without advising us—to Reuben Radford from whom he had previously bought the business. Radford then endorsed our note to Peter Van Bergen, a keen-eyed businessman, to satisfy a debt. When Radford failed to pay, Van Bergen brought suit against Berry and me. As I stood before Judge Green he lamented that he had no option but to award the tight-fisted Van Bergen a judgment against my horse and surveying tools. I’d have to come up with cash to pay him—nearly four-hundred dollars—or everything I owned would be sold at auction. Only my books escaped lien because Green ascribed no value to them; he winked at me as he rapped his gavel. But what good are books when my future is evaporating before my eyes? After jostling about in the stagecoach for nearly thirty hours, we are now approaching Vandalia’s post office in the heart of the capital. The smattering of log cabins that peek through dust clouds rising out of the town’s dirt streets are interspersed with occasional brick and clapboard houses. John Stuart, my mentor and a fellow anti-Jackson legislator, is seated across from me. His unperturbed countenance speaks of his familiarity with the proceedings soon to begin. I, on the other hand, expose my inexperience with a line of perspiration collecting along my newly starched collar. At the urging of several New Salem friends, Coleman Smoot a... ... middle of paper ... ...a bead of blood off her finger with my kerchief. “Is it better?” I ask. After hesitating, Fannie smiles. “Thank you, Abe. I believe you have the gift of healing.” Looking across the quilting frame at Mrs. Herndon I say, “I’m in a quandary and hope you can lend me some advice. Which of these two girls should I marry?” Annie glares up at me and proceeds to stitch with frenzy, staring straight ahead, not bothering to look down at her work. Noticing her long, irregular stitches I point to her oversight and say, “Why Annie, I think your needle has gone off on its own.” She jumps from her seat and throws her needle down on the quilt. I reach for her hand. She jerks it away. I beg her to sit down. “I was only teasing,” I say. Without acknowledging my awkward apology, she runs off crying. I stand, dazed as she disappears around the corner, my heart filled with shame.

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