Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: A Mischievous Ox

President Lincoln once told the following story of Colonel W., who had been elected to the Legislature, and had also been judge of the County Court. His elevation, however, had made him somewhat pompous, and he became very fond of using big words. On his farm he had a very large and mischievous ox, called “Big Brindle,” which very frequently broke down his neighbors’ fences, and committed other depredations, much to the Colonel’s annoyance.

One morning after breakfast, in the presence of Lincoln, who had stayed with him over night, and who was on his way to town, he called his overseer and said to him:

“Mr. Allen, I desire you to impound ‘Big Brindle,’ in order that I may hear no animadversions on his eternal depredations.”

Allen bowed and walked off, sorely puzzled to know what the Colonel wanted him to do. After Colonel W. left for town, he went to his wife and asked her what the Colonel meant by telling him to impound the ox.

“Why, he meant to tell you to put him in a pen,” said she.

Allen left to perform the feat, for it was no inconsiderable one, as the animal was wild and vicious, but, after a great deal of trouble and vexation, succeeded.

“Well,” said he, wiping the perspiration from his brow and soliloquizing, “this is impounding, is it? Now, I am dead sure that the Colonel will ask me if I impounded ‘Big Brindle,’ and I’ll bet I puzzle him as he did me.”

The next day the Colonel gave a dinner party, and as he was not aristocratic, Allen, the overseer, sat down with the company. After the second or third glass was discussed, the Colonel turned to the overseer and said:

“Eh, Mr. Allen, did you impound ‘Big Brindle,’ sir?”

Allen straightened himself, and looking around at the company, replied:

“Yes, I did, sir; but ‘Old Brindle’ transcended the impanel of the impound, and scatterlophisticated all over the equanimity of the forest.”

The company burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, while the Colonel’s face reddened with discomfiture.

“What do you mean by that, sir?” demanded the Colonel.

“Why, I mean, Colonel,” replied Allen, “that ‘Old Brindle,’ being prognosticated with an idea of the cholera, ripped and teared, snorted and pawed dirt, jumped the fence, tuck to the woods, and would not be impounded nohow.”

This was too much; the company roared again, the Colonel being forced to join in the laughter, and in the midst of the jollity Allen left the table, saying to himself as he went, “I reckon the Colonel won’t ask me to impound any more oxen.”