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Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

206. Hannah Armstrong

I WROTE him a letter asking him for old times’ sake

To discharge my sick boy from the army;

But maybe he couldn’t read it.

Then I went to town and had James Garber,

Who wrote beautifully, write him a letter;

But maybe that was lost in the mails.

So I traveled all the way to Washington.

I was more than an hour finding the White House.

And when I found it they turned me away,

Hiding their smiles. Then I thought:

“Oh, well, he ain’t the same as when I boarded him

And he and my husband worked together

And all of us called him Abe, there in Menard.”

As a last attempt I turned to a guard and said:

“Please say it’s old Aunt Hannah Armstrong

From Illinois, come to see him about her sick boy

In the army.”

Well, just in a moment they let me in!

And when he saw me he broke in a laugh,

And dropped his business as president,

And wrote in his own hand Doug’s discharge,

Talking the while of the early days,

And telling stories.