Stinky and Mister Lincoln

18 Jul

Stinky and Mister Lincoln
by L. Stewart Marsden

Anna Maria Alberghetti Christiana Gabriella Margaret Anne Jones was in a snit. And when Anna Maria Alberghetti Christiana Gabriella Margaret Anne Jones was in a snit, her father lovingly referred to her as “Stinky.”

“I did NOT take that silver dollar!” she hollered, turning red in the face.

“Stinky, I never said you did. Alls I said was I had been missing my special silver dollar for a few days, and when I did your laundry today, I found it in the washing machine,” her dad calmly replied.

“I know what you think — and it’s not true! It’s a co-ninsy-dense!”

“Let me show you something.”


“Come here and see. Please.”

Stinky dug her hands into her pants pockets and dragged her feet as she walked to her dad.

He was holding something in his hand, but Stinky couldn’t see it as his hand was closed.

“What is it?” she snitted.

He opened his hand. In his palm was a shiny copper penny.

“A penny?”

“A penny with Lincoln’s head on it. Do you know who Lincoln was?”

Stinky shook her head, “No.”

“He was a president of our country. Do you know what a president is?”

Stinky shook her head, “No.”

“A very important person. The leader of our country. That’s really important. And Abraham Lincoln was one of the very best presidents we’ve ever had.”

Stinky was looking a little bored.

“When he was a boy, he was a trickster!”

“Trickster?” she livened.

“He took a boot and glopped it with mud. Then, he put the boot on a broomstick, and put boot prints all over the ceiling of his house just for fun!”

“I don’t believe you!”

“I don’t care. It’s still true. And when his mother saw the boot prints, she knew who did it, but she couldn’t figure out how Abe did it.”

“Who’s Abe?”

“Mr. Lincoln. His name was Abraham. Abe for short. And she was mad! And you know what?”


“Abe Lincoln told his mom that he made the boot prints on the ceiling.”

“He did?”

“Yep, he did.”

Stinky scowled, “And what did his mom do to him?”

“I suspect she punished him. But, you know what?”


“She still loved her boy — after all that.”

“I didn’t take the silver dollar.”

“Time for bed, Stinky.”

Stinky prepared for bed, all the while thinking about Mr. Lincoln. Her dad came in, listened to her prayers, kissed her on the cheek, and turned on the night light before switching off the big light and softly closing her bedroom door.

“Good night, Stinky,” he called from the other side of the door.

“Good night, Daddy,” Stinky murmured drowsily.

A moment later the door creaked open slowly.

In walked the tallest man Stinky had ever seen! But also the kindest looking. He stepped in cautiously. He wore a tall black hat — old timey, it looked to her. He had a long black coat and a white shirt, with a black bow tie. His pants and shoes were black, too.

His face was long and full of lines. A beard outlined his strong chin and jawline. His black hair was a little mussed, his eyebrows thick, and his eyes deep set.

He had a very slight smile, though he looked sad and tired overall.

“Who — who are you?” Stinky whispered loudly as she sat up in bed.

“My name is Lincoln.”

“Mister Lincoln — the prezzy-dent?”

“The same. And might I ask your name?”

“Anna Maria Alberghetti Christiana Gabriella Margaret Anne Jones.”

“Whew! Would it offend you if I call you Ms. Jones?”

Stinky smiled.

“My friends call me Stinky. Call me Stinky.”

“I am honored at your permission, Stinky. Please call me Abe.”

“Okay! But Abe, why are you here? I mean, how’d you come to my room?”

“It is my plight, alas, to do what we call ‘checking it out’ whenever our names are mentioned in conversation.”


“You know, those of us who have passed on and are no longer. Here, that is.”

“Are you a ghost?”

“No, Stinky. I am very, very real.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“As your father often says, ‘I don’t care. It’s still true.'”

And as if to prove his word, Mister Lincoln stepped forward and offered his large hand, palm up, to Stinky. She touched it. It felt warm and real.

“You ARE real!”

“May I sit?” Mr. Lincoln gestured to a large white rocking chair near her bed. Stinky nodded “yes” several times.

“The reason I came,” he said, grunting a bit as he tried to fit his tall frame into the chair, “is because you and your father were talking about me earlier tonight. Can you tell me why?”

Stinky lowered her face in embarrassment.

“Yes,” she barely answered.

“About when I was a boy, and when I did something a little mischievous — a little fun, perhaps?” and he covered his smile with one large hand, but his eyes still twinkled.

“Yes,” she grinned back.

“Oh, that was so much fun! To see my mother stare at those muddy bootprints on the ceiling! You should have seen it! Ha!” his face lit up with such joy at the thought.

“But, then you told your mother you did it.”

“Yes. Yes I did.”

“And she punished you?”

“A good wallup with the switch across my bare legs! Oh, yes! She punished me all right!”

“So for telling the truth, you got punished?” Stinky wrinkled her eyebrows.

“No. I got punished for the mud on the ceiling. And I had to clean it up, to boot — if I may use a pun here. For telling the truth, I received my mother’s respect.”


“Far more important than avoiding a few licks on my legs.”

“How’s that?”

“Stinky, the sore of the punishment went away. If I hadn’t told her? If I had lied to her? The shame of being dishonest to my mother would have never lessened.”

As he sat in that chair, his big hands on either armrest, his feet planted side-by-side on the floor, it was like Stinky had seen Mister Lincoln just like this before.

“Know what my nickname is, Stinky?”

“What, Abe?”

He leaned forward and smiled.

“Honest Abe.”

“No! I don’t believe you!”

“I don’t care!” he laughed big. “It’s STILL true! Just ask George, he’ll tell you the truth!”


“One day I went to the general store when I was a lad and bought a bag of sugar and a bag of flour for Mother. I gave Mr. McFarlan twenty cents. It cost fifteen cents. Mr. McFarlan dropped six cents into my hand and I shoved it into my pocket without thinking, and then I walked seven miles to home.”

“Seven miles?”

“I have long legs,” he winked. “It took just shy of two hours.”


“Then I discovered the mistake. Mr. McFarlan had given me one penny too much! So, I marched right back there and gave him that penny.”

“Another seven miles for a penny?”

“And then home again. That’s a total of fourteen!” Mister Lincoln’s grin was nearly ear-to-ear, and his eyes seemed to be remembering every mile of that walk.

“For one little penny?”

“Back then, a penny meant something. But from that day on, people called me ‘Honest Abe.’ And it stuck. Might be why I got to be president!”

“And the best president, too, Abe!”

“Aw, shucks, Stinky — I don’t know about that. But do you see what I’m trying to say?”

“That your sore feet went away, but if you hadn’t taken the penny back, you’d be awful sore at yourself?”

“Precisely! Now, Stinky — I believe my I have completed my task for coming to see you tonight, and I have a few more stops to make.”

“Aren’t your feet sore now?”

“Oh, no! I don’t have to walk — I just fly away!”

“I don’t believe you!”

“Don’t care. It’s still true!” And Mister Lincoln got out of the rocking chair, pulled the covers up to Stinky’s chin when she lay back down, and patted her head.

“Remember our little talk, Stinky.”

“I will.”

“Oh,” he said, turning back to her as he was about to go out the door, “if you ever hear anything about me and — uh — vampires? Don’t believe a word of it!”


“Never mind. Good night, Stinky.”

“Good night, Abe.”

And he shut the door.

* * *

“Anna Maria Alberghetti Christiana Gabriella Margaret Anne Jones! Breakfast!” her dad called from the kitchen.

She quickly jumped from her bed and ran into the kitchen, slowing down behind her dad.



“I need to tell you something.”

Her father turned around and leaned down to her. He looked into her eyes, almost as if he knew what his little girl was going to say.

“I — I did take your silver dollar. I saw it in your drawer and it looked so shiny and pretty! I wasn’t going to keep it! I forgot it was in my pocket. I am so sorry I didn’t tell you the truth last night!”

“What changed your mind, Honey?”

Anna Maria Alberghetti Christiana Gabriella Margaret Anne Jones saw a penny on the kitchen table and picked it up, showing it to her father.

“I had a long talk with Honest Abe last night. He talked me into it,” she smiled.

“I don’t believe you!” her father smiled knowingly.

“I don’t care,” she answered, hugging him, “It’s still true.”


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