A Horse’s Splints
[Egbert Viele, military governor of Norfolk during 1862-1863, recollecting a conversation with Mr. Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton after the latter received a wire asking for urgent instruction and, though he did not understand the request, replied,”All right; go ahead”–then told [Mr. Lincoln] what he had done:] “I suppose you meant,” said Mr. Lincoln, “that it was all right if it was good for him, and all wrong if it was not. That reminds me,” said he, of a story about a horse that was sold at the cross-roads near where I once lived. The horse was supposed to be fast, and quite a number of people were present at the time appointed for the sale. A small boy was employed to ride the horse backward and forward to exhibit his points. One of the would-be buyers followed the boy down the road and asked him confidentially if the horse had a splint. “Well, mister,” said the boy, “if it’s good for him he has got it, but if it isn’t good for him he hasn’t.”
A Trip with Lincoln, Chase, and Stanton, Scribner’s Monthly, October 1878, in Anecdotes By and About Abraham Lincoln, p. 81.