Nine . . . . . TERROR BY NIGHT

THE wounded President had been borne up the curving steps of Petersen's house to the second floor, and through the hall to a room in an extension at the back--a small room measuring seventeen feet by nine and a half. Here a low walnut bedstead was drawn out from the wall and Lincoln was placed on it--diagonally, because of his height. At the left of the hallway as one entered were front and back parlors, with folding doors between them. In the back parlor Stanton established himself; and in Washington that night there seems to have been no cooler head than his. Aided by Chief Justice David Cartter of the Supreme Court of the District, he started in to take depositions regarding the murder.

Longhand was found too slow for the purpose, and Corp. James Tanner was summoned from an adjoining house. Tanner, who had lost both legs in the war and become an employee in the ordnance bureau of the War Department, was an accomplished shorthand writer. It was about midnight when he sat down at a table with Stanton and Cartter, and his work was frequently interrupted as reports were delivered or when the Secretary halted the testimony to issue orders. Though the folding doors were closed, the moans and sobs of Mrs. Lincoln could be heard plainly from the front room. In rare moments of silence the President's labored breathing sounded through the hall, rising and falling like an æolian harp--in Sumner's phrase, "almost like melody."

Occasionally Stanton would go for a few moments to Lincoln's bedside. Once when he came back and took his seat, Tanner

-186-

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The Great American Myth
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