Julia T. Bayne

“Taking Great Pleasure in their Fun”

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When the President came into the family sitting room and sat down to read, the boys would rush at him and demand a story. Tad perched precariously on the back of the big chair, Willie on one knee, Bud on the other, both leaning against him. Holly usually found a place on the arm of the chair, and often I would find myself swept into the group by the long arm which seemed to reach almost across the room.
I wish I could remember some of those stories. Usually they were melodramatictales of hunters and settlers attacked by Indians. I have thought since that some of these tales may have been based on actual occurrences in the President’s boyhood and I am sorry that my memory is so dim concerning them. I am afraid the boys enjoyed themmore than I did. At the close of one favorite story of frontiersmen chased by the Indians,  108 he would drawl impressively, “They galloped and they galloped, with the red skins close behind.” “But they got away, Pa, they got away,” interrupted Tad. “Oh, yes, they got away.” Then suddenly rising to his full height, “Now I must get away.” Whenever I see St. Gaudens’ statue of  Lincoln, I think of these story hours and my memory supplies the four little wriggling figures, all gone now.
President Lincoln liked to play with the boys whenever he had a little time from his duties. Willie used to say mournfully, “Pa don’t have time to play with us now.” Once I heard a terrible racket in another room, and opening the door with the idea of bestowing some sisterly “don’t” upon my young brothers, whose voices could be heard amid the din, beheld the President lying on the floor, with the four boys trying to hold him down. Willie and Bud had hold of his hands, Holly and Tad sprawled over his feet and legs, while the broad grin of Mr.Lincoln’s face was evidence that he was enjoying himself hugely. As soon as the boys saw my face at the door, Tad called, Julie,come quick and sit on his stomach.” But this struck me too much like laying profane handson the Lord’s anointed, and I closed the door and went out.

By Julia Taft Bayne, Tad Lincoln’s father