Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

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How does Jethro get the news of Lincoln's assassination in Chapter 12 of Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt? Who gave him the news, and what were his feelings about it?

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Jethro is working out in the fields when he hears about Lincoln's assassination.  He is still basking in the glow of the news of the long-awaited cease-fire, and when he thinks back on the moment, he remembers "a sunlit field and a sense of serenity and happiness such as he had not known since early childhood".  He stops his team when he sees Nancy running towards him, and is stunned when she embraces him and sobs against his shoulder that "they've killed the President".

As the days pass, the full story comes through little by little.  Lincoln had been shot in Washington, and his body would be brought by train back to his home in nearby Springfield, Illinois.  Jethro, along with much of the country, is devastated.  The gentle President had been the hope for the future, the man given the awesome responsibility to "control the bigots...(and) allow the defeated their dignity", in order that true healing might be effected in the nation.

"Rage mingle(s) with...grief" in Jethro's heart at the death of the man he had come to love.  His sorrow is somewhat alleviated by the return of his sister Jenny and her husband Shadrach Yale.  Shadrach and Jenny had been in Washington when Lincoln had been assassinated, and although Shadrach offers to take Jethro to Springfield to see the body of the President, he advises against it.  Shadrach tells Jethro rightly that "there is no Abraham LIncoln for (him) to see...only the empty shell" (Chapter 12).

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