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Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/49

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THE LAWYER

Lincoln lectured, and no man at the bar ever carried out this advice more conscientiously. Once he was asked to collect a claim of two and a half dollars and his client insisted, against Lincoln's advice, that suit be brought. Lincoln thereupon gravely demanded ten dollars as a retainer. Half of this he gave to the defendant, who then confessed judgment and paid the two and a half. By this method he satisfied both parties.

"Yes, there is no reasonable doubt that I can gain your case for you," he said to another client, who had stated a case which Lincoln thought an objectionable one. "I can set a whole neighborhood at loggerheads; I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children and thereby get for you six hundred dollars, which rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as much to them as to you. I shall not take your case, but I will give you a little advice for nothing. You seem a sprightly, energetic man. I would advise you to try your hand at making six hundred dollars in some other way."

The lawyer, however, who under-estimated Lincoln at a trial soon found that he had made a fatal mistake. Underneath Lincoln's honesty, frankness, and fairness was a consummate mastery of tactics, an intimate knowledge of