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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary Lyon

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She had now saved enough money to enable her to spend one term at the Sanderson Academy at Ashfield. What an important event in life that seemed to the struggling country girl! The scholars watched her bright, intellectual face, and when she began to recite, laid aside their books to hear her. The teacher said, "I should like to see what she would make if she could be sent to college." When the term ended, her little savings were all spent, and now she must teach again. If she only could go forward with her classmates! but the laws of poverty are inexorable. Just as she was leaving the school, the trustees came and offered the advantages of the academy free, for another term. Did ever such a gleam of sunshine come into a cloudy day?

But how could she pay her board? She owned a, bed and some table linen, and taking these to a boarding house, a bargain was made whereby she could have a room and board in exchange for her household articles.

Her red-letter days had indeed come. She might never have a chance for schooling again; so, without regard to health, she slept only four hours out of the twenty-four, ate her meals hurriedly, and gave all her time to her lessons. Not a scholar in the school could keep up with her. When the teacher gave her Adams' Latin Grammar, telling her to commit such portions as were usual in going over the book the first time, she learned them all in three days!

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When the term closed, she had no difficulty in finding a place to teach. All the towns around had heard of the surprising scholar, Mary Lyon, and probably hoped she could inspire the same scholarship in her pupils, a matter in which she was most successful.

As soon as her schools were finished, she would spend the money in obtaining instruction in some particular study, in which she thought herself deficient. Now she would go into the family of Rev. Edward Hitchcock, afterward president of Amherst College, and study natural science of him, meantime taking lessons, of his wife in drawing and painting. Now she would study penmanship, following the copy as closely as a child. Once when a teacher, in deference to her reputation, wrote the copy in Latin, she handed it back and asked him to write in English, lest when the books were examined, she might be thought wiser than she really was. Thus conscientious was the young school-teacher.

She was now twenty-four, and had laid up enough money to attend the school of Rev. Joseph Emerson, at Byfield. He was an unusual man in his gifts of teaching and broad views of life. He had been blest with a wife of splendid talents, and as Miss Lyon was wont to say, "Men judge of the whole sex by their own wives," so Mr. Emerson believed women could understand metaphysics and theology as well as men. He discussed science and religion with his pupils, and the result was a class of self-respecting, self-reliant, thinking women.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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