en-fr  The Story of Abraham Lincoln: by James Baldwin, Part 4+5
Une école et des livres

Peu de temps après cela, les gens du voisinage décidèrent qu'il leur fallait une école. Ainsi, un jour après la moisson, les hommes se réunirent et abattirent des arbres ; ils construisirent une petite cabane en rondins à toit bas pour servir à cette fin.

Si vous aviez vu cette cabane, vous lui auriez trouvé un air bien mal fichu pour une école. Il n'y avait pas de plancher. Il n'y avait qu'une seule fenêtre et des feuilles de papier huilé collées en travers de l'ouverture pour toute vitre. Il n'y avait pas de pupitres mais seulement des bancs bruts faits de rondins fendus en deux. À une extrémité de la pièce se trouvait une immense cheminée et à l'autre extrémité, la porte basse.

Le premier maître fut un homme qui s'appelait Azel Dorsey. La période de classe était très courte car les colons n'avaient pas les moyens de beaucoup le payer. C'était au milieu de l'hiver, car il n'y avait pas de travail pour les grands garçons à la maison.

Et les grands garçons, ainsi que les filles et les petits garçons, vinrent pour apprendre ce qu'ils allaient pouvoir d'Azel Dorsey. La plupart des enfants étudiaient seulement l'orthographe; mais certains des plus grands apprenaient à lire et à écrire et l'arithmétique.

Il n'y avait pas beaucoup d'écoliers car les maisons de cette nouvelle colonie étaient rares et éloignées. L'école commençait tôt le matin et ne fermait pas avant que le soleil ne se couche.

Juste comment Abraham Lincoln se tenait dans ses classes je ne sais pas; mais je dois croire qu'il a étudié dur et a fait tout aussi bien qu'il pourrait. Dans l'arithmétique qu'il a utilisée, il a écrit ces lignes: "Abraham Lincoln, sa main et sa plume, il sera bon, mais Dieu sait quand."
Dans quelques semaines, l'école d'Azel Dorsey a pris fin; et Abraham Lincoln était encore aussi occupé que jamais à propos de la ferme de son père. Ensuite, il n'alla à l'école que deux ou trois courtes périodes. Si on avait mis bout à bout toutes ses journées d'école, cela n'aurait pas fait douze mois.

Mais il continua de lire et d'étudier à la maison. Sa belle-mère disait de lui : « Il lit tout ce qui lui tombe entre les mains. » Quand il tombait sur un passage qui le frappait, il le recopiait sur des planches s'il n'avait pas de papier, et le gardait jusqu'à ce qu'il ait trouvé du papier. Alors il le recopiait, le relisait, l'apprenait par cœur et le récitait.

Parmi les livres qu'il lisait il y avait la Bible, le Voyage du Pèlerin et les poèmes de Robert Burns. Un jour il fit une longue marche pour emprunter un livre à un fermier. Ce livre était « La vie de Washington » de Weems. En retournant chez lui, il lut autant qu'il le put.

En arrivant chez lui, il faisait nuit ; il s'assit près de la cheminée et lut à la lueur du feu jusqu'à ce qu'il fût l'heure de se coucher. Puis il emporta le livre dans son lit, au grenier, et lut à la lueur d'une bougie de suif.

La chandelle s'éteignit au bout d'une heure. Il posa le livre dans une fente entre deux rondins de la cabane, afin de pouvoir poursuivre sa lecture dès qu'il ferait jour.

Mais pendant la nuit une tempête survint. La pluie s'engouffra entre les rondins et le livre fut trempé de part en part.

Au matin, quand Abraham se réveilla, il découvrit ce qui était arrivé. Il sécha les pages du mieux qu'il put et acheva sa lecture.

Dès qu'il eut fini d'avaler son petit déjeuner, il se précipita pour rendre le livre à son propriétaire. Il expliqua comment l'accident était arrivé.

— Monsieur Crawford, dit-il, je suis prêt à vous dédommager pour le livre. Je n'ai pas d'argent, mais, si vous me l'accordez, je travaillerai pour vous jusqu'à extinction de ma dette.

M. Crawford pensait que le livre valait soixante-quinze cents et que le travail d'Abraham valait environ vingt-cinq cents par jour. C'est ainsi que le jeune homme aida le fermier à moissonner du blé pendant trois jours et qu'il devint ainsi le propriétaire du précieux livre.

Il relut l'histoire de Washington bien des fois. Il emportait le livre avec lui dans les champs et le lisait tout en guidant la charrue.

À partir de ce jour, Washington fut le plus grand héros qu'il admirât. Pourquoi ne modèlerait-il pas sa propre vie sur celle de Washington ? Pourquoi ne pourrait-il pas lui aussi faire de grandes choses pour son pays ?

La vie loin de tout.

Abraham Lincoln se met à travailler avec l'intention de s'instruire. Son père pensait qu'il était inutile qu'il en apprenne plus. Il ne voyait aucun intérêt à apprendre dans les livres. Si un homme savait lire, écrire et compter, de quoi d'autre avait-il besoin ?

Mais la brave belle-mère avait un autre avis, et quand une nouvelle courte période scolaire débuta dans la petite école en rondins, les six enfants de la cabane des Lincoln faisaient partie de la classe.

Cependant, après quelques semaines l'école ferma, et les trois garçons se remirent à travailler dur, coupant du bois et labourant les terres défrichées de M. Lincoln. C'étaient de gentils et joyeux jeunes gens et ils agrémentaient leur labeur de beaucoup de blagues et de plaisanteries espiègles.

Beaucoup étaient racontées par Abraham pour amuser ses deux compagnons. Il posait de nombreuses devinettes. Certains soirs, avec les cinq autres enfants autour de lui, il déclamait un texte qu'il avait appris ou il exposait ses réflexions sur un sujet d'intérêt commun.

Si vous aviez pu le voir tel qu'il était à ce moment-là, vous auriez eu peine à croire que ce garçon deviendrait un jour un des hommes les plus célèbres de l'histoire. Il portait une casquette en peau d'écureuil ou de raton laveur. À la place d'un pantalon en tissu, il portait une culotte en peau de daim dont les jambes étaient trop courtes. Sa chemise était en peau de daim pour l'hiver et dans une étoffe artisanale pour l'été. Il ne possédait pas de chaussettes. Ses chaussures étaient d'un cuir épais et il ne les portait que le dimanche ou lorsque le temps était très froid.

La famille vivait de façon à dépenser peu. Le pain était fait avec de la farine de maïs. La viande provenait généralement du gibier attrapé dans la forêt.

À table, ils utilisaient des assiettes en étain et des tranchoirs en bois. Les tasses à thé et à café étaient en étain peint. Ils n'avaient pas de poêle, la cuisson se faisait dans l'âtre de la grande cheminée.

Mais cette pauvreté ne représentait pas une entrave pour Abraham Lincoln. Il continua à lire et à étudier du mieux qu'il pût. Parfois il se rendait au petit village proche de Gentryville pour y passer la soirée. Il racontait tant de plaisanteries et d'histoires amusantes que les gens faisaient cercle autour de lui pour l'écouter.

Quand il eut seize ans, il se rendit un jour à Booneville, à quinze miles de chez lui, pour assister à un procès. Il n'avait jamais été dans un tribunal auparavant. Il écouta avec une vive attention tout ce qu'il y fut dit. Quand l'avocat de la défense fit sa plaidoirie, le jeune homme fut tellement subjugué qu'il ne put se maîtriser.

Il se leva, traversa la salle d'audience et serra la main de l'avocat. — C'était le meilleur discours que j'aie jamais entendu, dit-il.

Il était grand et très mince, vêtu d'une veste en jean et d'un pantalon en daim et était nu-pieds. Cela a dû être un spectacle vraiment étrange de le voir ainsi féliciter un avocat âgé et expérimenté.

À partir de cet instant, une ambition sembla envahir son esprit. Il voulait devenir avocat et faire de grandes plaidoiries. Il parcourut douze miles pieds nus pour emprunter une copie du code civil de l'Indiana. Il lisait et étudiait jour et nuit.

« Un jour, je serai président des États-Unis », disait-il à certains de ces jeunes amis. Et il ne le disait pas sur le ton de la plaisanterie mais avec la conviction que cela se réaliserait.
unit 1
School and Books.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 4
If you could see that cabin you would think it a queer kind of school-house.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 5
There was no floor.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 6
There was only one window, and in it were strips of greased paper pasted across, instead of glass.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 7
There were no desks, but only rough benches made of logs split in halves.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 8
In one end of the room was a huge fireplace; at the other end was the low doorway.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 9
The first teacher was a man whose name was Azel Dorsey.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 10
The term of school was very short; for the settlers could not afford to pay him much.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 11
It was in mid-winter, for then there was no work for the big boys to do at home.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 14
There were not very many scholars, for the houses in that new settlement were few and far apart.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 15
School began at an early hour in the morning, and did not close until the sun was down.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 19
After that he attended school only two or three short terms.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 20
If all his school-days were put together they would not make a twelve-month.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 21
But he kept on reading and studying at home.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 22
His step-mother said of him: "He read everything he could lay his hands on.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 24
Then he would copy it, look at it, commit it to memory, and repeat it."
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 25
Among the books that he read were the Bible, the Pilgrims Progress, and the poems of Robert Burns.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 26
One day he walked a long distance to borrow a book of a farmer.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 27
This book was Weems's Life of Washington.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 28
He read as much as he could while walking home.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 29
By that time it was dark, and so he sat down by the chimney and read by firelight until bedtime.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 30
Then he took the book to bed with him in the loft, and read by the light of a tallow candle.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 31
In an hour the candle burned out.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 33
But in the night a storm came up.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 34
The rain was blown in, and the book was wet through and through.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 35
In the morning, when Abraham awoke, he saw what had happened.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 36
He dried the leaves as well as he could, and then finished reading the book.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 37
As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, he hurried to carry the book to its owner.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 38
He explained how the accident had happened.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 39
"Mr. Crawford," he said, "I am willing to pay you for the book.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 40
I have no money; but, if you will let me, I will work for you until I have made its price."
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 43
He read the story of Washington many times over.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 44
He carried the book with him to the field, and read it while he was following the plow.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 45
From that time, Washington was the one great hero whom he admired.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 46
Why could not he model his own life after that of Washington?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 47
Why could not he also be a doer of great things for his country?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 48
Life in the Backwoods.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 49
Abraham Lincoln now set to work with a will to educate himself.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 50
His father thought that he did not need to learn anything more.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 51
He did not see that there was any good in book-learning.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 52
If a man could read and write and cipher, what more was needed?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 56
Many were the droll stories with which Abraham amused his two companions.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 57
Many were the puzzling questions that he asked.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 60
On his head he wore a cap made from the skin of a squirrel or a raccoon.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 61
unit 62
His shirt was of deerskin in the winter, and of homespun tow in the summer.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 63
Stockings he had none.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 64
His shoes were of heavy cowhide, and were worn only on Sundays or in very cold weather.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 65
The family lived in such a way as to need very little money.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 66
Their bread was made of corn meal.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 67
Their meat was chiefly the flesh of wild game found in the forest.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 68
Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used on the table.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 69
The tea and coffee cups were of painted tin.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 70
There was no stove, and all the cooking was done on the hearth of the big fireplace.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 71
But poverty was no hindrance to Abraham Lincoln.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 72
He kept on with his reading and his studies as best he could.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 73
Sometimes he would go to the little village of Gentryville, near by, to spend an evening.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 76
He had never been in court before.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 77
He listened with great attention to all that was said.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 79
He arose from his seat, walked across the courtroom, and shook hands with the lawyer.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 80
"That was the best speech I ever heard," he said.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 81
He was tall and very slim; he was dressed in a jeans coat and buckskin trousers; his feet were bare.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 82
It must have been a strange sight to see him thus complimenting an old and practiced lawyer.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 83
From that time, one ambition seemed to fill his mind.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 84
He wanted to be a lawyer and make great speeches in court.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 85
He walked twelve miles barefooted, to borrow a copy of the laws of Indiana.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 86
Day and night he read and studied.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 87
"Some day I shall be President of the United States," he said to some of his young friends.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 88
And this he said not as a joke, but in the firm belief that it would prove to be true.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 7 months, 3 weeks ago
Siri • 587  commented on  unit 63  7 months, 3 weeks ago

School and Books.

Not very long after this, the people of the neighborhood made up their minds that they must have a school-house. And so, one day after harvest, the men met together and chopped down trees, and built a little low-roofed log cabin to serve for that purpose.

If you could see that cabin you would think it a queer kind of school-house. There was no floor. There was only one window, and in it were strips of greased paper pasted across, instead of glass. There were no desks, but only rough benches made of logs split in halves. In one end of the room was a huge fireplace; at the other end was the low doorway.

The first teacher was a man whose name was Azel Dorsey. The term of school was very short; for the settlers could not afford to pay him much. It was in mid-winter, for then there was no work for the big boys to do at home.

And the big boys, as well as the girls and the smaller boys, for miles around, came in to learn what they could from Azel Dorsey. The most of the children studied only spelling; but some of the larger ones learned reading and writing and arithmetic.

There were not very many scholars, for the houses in that new settlement were few and far apart. School began at an early hour in the morning, and did not close until the sun was down.

Just how Abraham Lincoln stood in his classes I do not know; but I must believe that he studied hard and did everything as well as he could. In the arithmetic which he used, he wrote these lines:

"Abraham Lincoln, His hand and pen, He will be good, But God knows when."
In a few weeks, Azel Dorsey's school came to a close; and Abraham Lincoln was again as busy as ever about his father's farm. After that he attended school only two or three short terms. If all his school-days were put together they would not make a twelve-month.

But he kept on reading and studying at home. His step-mother said of him: "He read everything he could lay his hands on. When he came across a passage that struck him, he would write it down on boards, if he had no paper, and keep it until he had got paper. Then he would copy it, look at it, commit it to memory, and repeat it."

Among the books that he read were the Bible, the Pilgrims Progress, and the poems of Robert Burns. One day he walked a long distance to borrow a book of a farmer. This book was Weems's Life of Washington. He read as much as he could while walking home.

By that time it was dark, and so he sat down by the chimney and read by firelight until bedtime. Then he took the book to bed with him in the loft, and read by the light of a tallow candle.

In an hour the candle burned out. He laid the book in a crevice between two of the logs of the cabin, so that he might begin reading again as soon as it was daylight.

But in the night a storm came up. The rain was blown in, and the book was wet through and through.

In the morning, when Abraham awoke, he saw what had happened. He dried the leaves as well as he could, and then finished reading the book.

As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, he hurried to carry the book to its owner. He explained how the accident had happened.

"Mr. Crawford," he said, "I am willing to pay you for the book. I have no money; but, if you will let me, I will work for you until I have made its price."

Mr. Crawford thought that the book was worth seventy-five cents, and that Abraham's work would be worth about twenty-five cents a day. And so the lad helped the farmer gather corn for three days, and thus became the owner of the delightful book.

He read the story of Washington many times over. He carried the book with him to the field, and read it while he was following the plow.

From that time, Washington was the one great hero whom he admired. Why could not he model his own life after that of Washington? Why could not he also be a doer of great things for his country?

Life in the Backwoods.

Abraham Lincoln now set to work with a will to educate himself. His father thought that he did not need to learn anything more. He did not see that there was any good in book-learning. If a man could read and write and cipher, what more was needed?

But the good step-mother thought differently; and when another short term of school began in the little log school-house, all six of the children from the Lincoln cabin were among the scholars.

In a few weeks, however, the school had closed; and the three boys were again hard at work, chopping and grubbing in Mr. Lincoln's clearings. They were good-natured, jolly young fellows, and they lightened their labor with many a joke and playful prank.

Many were the droll stories with which Abraham amused his two companions. Many were the puzzling questions that he asked. Sometimes in the evening, with the other five children around him, he would declaim some piece that he had learned; or he would deliver a speech of his own on some subject of common interest.

If you could see him as he then appeared, you would hardly think that such a boy would ever become one of the most famous men of history. On his head he wore a cap made from the skin of a squirrel or a raccoon. Instead of trousers of cloth, he wore buckskin breeches, the legs of which were many inches too short. His shirt was of deerskin in the winter, and of homespun tow in the summer. Stockings he had none. His shoes were of heavy cowhide, and were worn only on Sundays or in very cold weather.

The family lived in such a way as to need very little money. Their bread was made of corn meal. Their meat was chiefly the flesh of wild game found in the forest.

Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used on the table. The tea and coffee cups were of painted tin. There was no stove, and all the cooking was done on the hearth of the big fireplace.

But poverty was no hindrance to Abraham Lincoln. He kept on with his reading and his studies as best he could. Sometimes he would go to the little village of Gentryville, near by, to spend an evening. He would tell so many jokes and so many funny stories, that all the people would gather round him to listen.

When he was sixteen years old he went one day to Booneville, fifteen miles away, to attend a trial in court. He had never been in court before. He listened with great attention to all that was said. When the lawyer for the defense made his speech, the youth was so full of delight that he could not contain himself.

He arose from his seat, walked across the courtroom, and shook hands with the lawyer. "That was the best speech I ever heard," he said.

He was tall and very slim; he was dressed in a jeans coat and buckskin trousers; his feet were bare. It must have been a strange sight to see him thus complimenting an old and practiced lawyer.

From that time, one ambition seemed to fill his mind. He wanted to be a lawyer and make great speeches in court. He walked twelve miles barefooted, to borrow a copy of the laws of Indiana. Day and night he read and studied.

"Some day I shall be President of the United States," he said to some of his young friends. And this he said not as a joke, but in the firm belief that it would prove to be true.