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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary A. Livermore

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Though not fond of sewing, Mary decided to learn dressmaking, because this would give her self-support. For three months she worked in a shop, that she might learn the trade, and then she stayed three months longer and earned thirty-seven cents a day. As this seemed meagre, she looked about her for more work. Going to a clothing establishment, she asked for a dozen red flannel shirts to make. The proprietor might have wondered who the child was, but he trusted her honest face, and gave her the bundle. She was to receive six and a quarter cents apiece, and to return them on a certain day. Working night after night, sometimes till the early morning hours, she was able to finish only half at the time specified.

On that day a man came to the door and asked, "Does Mary Rice live here?"

The mother had gone to the door, and answered in the affirmative.

"Well, she took a dozen red flannel shirts from my shop to make, and she hain't returned 'em!"

"It can't be my daughter," said Mrs. Rice.

The man was sure he had the right number, but he looked perplexed. Just then Mary, who was in the sitting-room, appeared on the scene.

"Yes, mother, I got these shirts of the man."

"You promised to get 'em done, Miss," he said, "and we are in a great hurry."

"You shall have the shirts to-morrow night," said Mrs. Rice.

After the man left the house, the mother burst into tears, saying, "We are not so poor as that. My dear child, what is to become of you if you take all the cares of the world upon your shoulders?"

When the work was done, and the seventy-five cents received, Mary would take only half of it, because she had earned but half.

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A brighter day was dawning for Mary Rice. A little later, longing for an education, Dr. Neale, their good minister, encouraged and assisted her to go to the Charlestown Female Seminary. Before the term closed one of the teachers died, and the bright, earnest pupil was asked to fill the vacancy. She accepted, reciting out of school to fit herself for her classes, earning enough by her teaching to pay her way, and taking the four years' course in two years. Before she was twenty she taught two years on a Virginia plantation as a governess, and came North with six hundred dollars and a good supply of clothes. Probably she has never felt so rich since that day.

She was now asked to take charge of the Duxbury High School, where she became an inspiration to her scholars. Even the dullest learned under her enthusiasm. She took long walks to keep up her health and spirits, thus making her body as vigorous as her heart was sympathetic.

It was not to be wondered at that the bright young teacher had many admirers. Who ever knew an educated, genial girl who was not a favorite with young men? It is a libel on the sex to think that they prefer ignorant or idle girls.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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