Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Noise Like a Turnip

“Every man has his own peculiar and particular way of getting at and doing things,” said President Lincoln one day, “and he is often criticised because that way is not the one adopted by others. The great idea is to accomplish what you set out to do. When a man is successful in whatever he attempts, he has many imitators, and the methods used are not so closely scrutinized, although no man who is of good intent will resort to mean, underhanded, scurvy tricks.

“That reminds me of a fellow out in Illinois, who had better luck in getting prairie chickens than any one in the neighborhood. He had a rusty old gun no other man dared to handle; he never seemed to exert himself, being listless and indifferent when out after game, but he always brought home all the chickens he could carry, while some of the others, with their finely trained dogs and latest improved fowling-pieces, came home alone.

“‘How is it, Jake?’ inquired one sportsman, who, although a good shot, and knew something about hunting, was often unfortunate, ‘that you never come home without a lot of birds?’

“Jake grinned, half closed his eyes, and replied: ‘Oh, I don’t know that there’s anything queer about it. I jes’ go ahead an’ git ‘em.’

“‘Yes, I know you do; but how do you do it?’

“‘You’ll tell.’

“‘Honest, Jake, I won’t say a word. Hope to drop dead this minute.’

“‘Never say nothing, if I tell you?’

“‘Cross my heart three times.’

“This reassured Jake, who put his mouth close to the ear of his eager questioner, and said, in a whisper:

“‘All you got to do is jes’ to hide in a fence corner an’ make a noise like a turnip. That’ll bring the chickens every time.’”