THE audience at Grover's National Theater was excited. There was tall Abraham Lincoln, the president, in his box. All heads turned to see, and there was his son, Tad, beside him. As the stage comedy went on, Abe's hearty laughter was heard and many watched him more than the show. But where had Tad gone?
The boy knew this theater, having come with his parents who liked to relax when possible from presidential and wartime cares with a show. So now Tad, exploring, was backstage in the dressing rooms. Seeing some blue soldier's uniforms, he tried one on just for fun. With the huge costume on, he added the natty soldier's cap, and holding up the pants, strolled outside to the amusement of soldiers in the blue uniforms waiting their cue. Suddenly the soldiers were marching on stage singing ``The Battle Cry of Freedom'' for the finale, the audience joining in. But singing changed to laughter as people caught sight of the small member of the lineup.
``Why it's Tad Lincoln!'' they cried, recognizing him in the blue dragging uniform. Was it part of the show? Many thought so as the lead singer, John McDonough, seeing the boy turned and handed him the silk flag he was carrying. They walked to the front of the stage, Tad waving the flag in time with the music.
Had the president up there in his box seen his boy on stage? Yes, he had seen him and was roaring with laughter too, as the crowd rose to join in the final chorus:
Oh, we'll rally round the flag,
boys, We'll rally once again, Shouting The Battle Cry of
There were smiles on every face at the little figure on stage singing and waving the flag, and at the smile on his father's face, so often sad in these days of the terrible Civil War.
The song ended and there was cheering and shouts of ``Good old Abe!'' as the president bowed and left the box.
Outside many waited to see the pair again, as Lincoln carried his boy, tired and sleepy after his big adventure, into the waiting carriage.
Tad had done it again, made his father laugh. Closer to him than brothers Robert and Willy, often they'd read a book together after dinner, or play with the small dog, and often Abe let the boy sleep beside him. Tad proudly wore a watch-fob just like his father's.
Nobody at the theater that night ever forgot it, and the word went all around town soon enough: Tad had stolen the show.