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Hannah Armstrong

by Edgar Lee Masters, 1916

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.

Published in Spoon River Anthology

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