633. Henry C. Whitney (Jesse W. Weik Interview)
"Judge Davis," said Whitney, "held court, and Lincoln, who had two or three cases to try, was there also. At the judge's request I secured a room for him, also for Lincoln and myself, at the American House, a primitive hostelry kept by one John Dunaway. The building had three front entrances from the street, but not a single hall downstairs; one of these entrances led directly into the ladies' parlor, and from it an entrance was obtained to the dining-room and from another corner a flight of stairs conducted us to our room. Close by the front and dining-room doors hung a gong which our vulgar boniface, standing in the doorway immediately beneath our windows, was in the habit of beating vigorously as a prelude to our meals. It was frequently very annoying, and so often disturbed our slumbers in the early dawn that we decided one morning it must be removed or forever silenced. By a majority vote Lincoln was chosen to carry out the decree. Accordingly, shortly before noon, he left the court-room, hastened to the hotel, passed through the dining-room, and, in a mischievous prank, took the offensive and noisy instrument from the place where it hung and quietly secreted it between the top and false bottom of a center table where no one would have thought of looking for it. In a short time I encountered Dunaway, our host, coming down from our
734room, where he had been and still was searching anxiously for the gong which some ruthless hand had, alas, abstracted. I passed on, and when I reached our room I realized I was in the presence of the culprit, for there sat Lincoln in a chair tilted awkwardly against the wall after his fashion, looking amused, sheepish, and guilty, as if he had done something ridiculous as well as reprehensible. The truth is we all enjoyed the landlord's discomfiture, and even Judge Davis, who urged Lincoln to restore the gong, was amused. Presently, however, Lincoln and I repaired to the dining-room, and while I held the two contiguous doors fast Lincoln restored the gong to its accustomed place, after which he bounded up the stairs two steps at a time, I following. The next day when the Chicago paper came in — it usually arrived about noon — it brought the news that Lincoln had received 110 votes for Vice-President at the Philadelphia Convention the day before.
"The term of court that week at Urbana was decidedly prosaic, and the cases tried, usually by the court without aid of a jury, were meager both in amount and incident. In due time Lincoln was ready to return home. He had collected twenty-five or thirty dollars for that term's business, and one of our clients owed him ten dollars which he felt disappointed at not being able to collect; so I gave him a check for that amount and went with him to the bank to get it cashed. T. S. Hubbard was the cashier who waited on us. I never saw Lincoln happier than when he gathered his little earnings together, being, as I now recollect it, less than forty dollars, and had his carpet-bag packed ready to start home."