616. Joshua F. Speed (William H. Herndon Interview).
Jany 5th '89
Mr. Speed told me this story of Lincoln. Speed about 1839 -'40 was keeping a pretty woman in this City and Lincoln desirous to have a little said to Speed — "Speed, do you know where I can get some; and in reply Speed said — "Yes I do, & if you will wait a moment or so I'll send you to the place with a note. You cant get it without a note or by my appearance". Speed wrote the note and Lincoln took it and went to see the girl — handed her the note after a short "how do you do &c.", Lincoln told his business and the girl, after some protestations, agreed to satisfy him. Things went on right — Lincoln and the girl stript off and went to bed. Before any thing was done Lincoln said to the girl — "How much do you charge". "Five dollars, Mr. Lincoln". Mr. Lincoln said — "I've only got $3.". Well said the girl — "I'll trust you, Mr Lincoln, for $2.. Lincoln thought a moment or so and said — "I do not wish to go on credit — I'm poor & I don't know where my next dollar will come from and I cannot afford to Cheat you." Lincoln after some words of encouragement from the girl got up out of bed, — buttoned up his pants and offered the girl the $3.00, which she would not take, saying — Mr Lincoln — "You are the most Conscientious man I ever saw.". Lincoln went out of the house, bidding the girl good evening and went to the store of Speed, saying nothing. Speed asked no questions and so the matter rested a day or so. Speed had occasion to go and see the girl in a few days, and she told him just what was said and done between herself & Lincoln and Speed told me the story and I have no doubt of its truthfulness.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3531