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  Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary A. Livermore

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When a nation passes through a great struggle like our Civil War, great leaders are developed. Had it not been for this, probably Mrs. Livermore, like many other noble women, would be to-day living quietly in some pleasant home, doing the common duties of every-day life. She would not be the famous lecturer, the gifted writer, the leader of the Sanitary Commission in the West; a brilliant illustration of the work a woman may do in the world, and still retain the truest womanliness.

She was born in Boston, descended from ancestors who for six generations had been Welsh preachers, and reared by parents of the strictest Calvinistic faith. Mr. Rice, her father, was a man of honesty and integrity, while the mother was a woman of remarkable judgment and common sense.

Mary was an eager scholar, and a great favorite in school, because she took the part of all the poor children. If a little boy or girl was a cripple, or wore shabby clothes, or had scanty dinners, or was ridiculed, he or she found an earnest friend and defender in the courageous girl.

So fond was she of the five children in the home, younger than herself, and so much did she take upon herself the responsibility of their conversion, that when but ten years old, unable to sleep, she would rise from her bed and waken her father and mother that they might pray for the sisters. "It's no matter about me," she would say; "if they are saved, I can bear anything."

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Mature in thought and care-taking beyond her years, she was still fond of out-door sports and merry times. Sliding on the ice was her especial delight. One day, after a full hour's fun in the bracing air, she rushed into the house, the blood tingling in every vein, exclaiming, "It's splendid sliding!" "Yes," replied the father, "it's good fun, but wretched for shoes."

All at once the young girl saw how hard it was for her parents to buy shoes, with their limited means; and from that day to this she never slid upon the ice.

There were few playthings in the simple home, but her chief pastime was in holding meetings in her father's woodshed, with the other children. Great logs were laid out for benches, and split sticks were set upon them for people. Mary was always the leader, both in praying and preaching, and the others were good listeners. Mrs. Rice would be so much amused at the queer scene, that a smile would creep over her face; but Mr. Rice would look on reverently, and say, "I wish you had been a boy; you could have been trained for the ministry."

When she was twelve years old she began to be eager to earn something. She could not bear to see her father work so hard for her. Alas! how often young women, twice twelve, allow their father's hair to grow white from overwork, because they think society will look down upon them if they labor. Is work more a disgrace to a girl than a boy? Not at all. Unfortunate is the young man who marries a girl who is either afraid or ashamed to work.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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