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Contents > Author > Sara Cone Bryant > A True Story About a Girl 1873- Unknown
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Sara Cone Bryant
A True Story About a Girl
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Once there were four little girls who
lived in a big, bare house, in the country.
They were very poor, but they had the
happiest times you ever heard of, because they
were very rich in everything except just
money. They had a wonderful, wise father,
who knew stories to tell, and who taught
them their lessons in such a beautiful way
that it was better than play; they had a
lovely, merry, kind mother, who was never
too tired to help them work or watch them
play; and they had all the great green
country to play in. There were dark,
shadowy woods, and fields of flowers, and
a river. And there was a big barn.

One of the little girls was named Louisa.
She was very pretty, and ever so strong;
she could run for miles through the woods
and not get tired. And she had a splendid
brain in her little head; it liked study, and
it thought interesting thoughts all day long.

Louisa liked to sit in a corner by herself,
sometimes, and write thoughts in her
diary; all the little girls kept diaries. She
liked to make up stories out of her own
head, and sometimes she made verses.

When the four little sisters had finished
their lessons, and had helped their mother
sew and clean, they used to go to the big
barn to play; and the best play of all was
theatricals. Louisa liked theatricals better
than anything.

They made the barn into a theatre, and
the grown people came to see the plays they
acted. They used to climb up on the hay-
mow for a stage, and the grown people
sat in chairs on the floor. It was great fun.
One of the plays they acted was Jack and
the Bean-Stalk. They had a ladder from
the floor to the loft, and on the ladder they
tied a squash vine all the way up to the
loft, to look like the wonderful bean-stalk.
One of the little girls was dressed up to
look like Jack, and she acted that part.
When it came to the place in the story
where the giant tried to follow Jack, the
little girl cut down the bean-stalk, and
down came the giant tumbling from the
loft. The giant was made out of pillows,
with a great, fierce head of paper, and
funny clothes.

Another story that they acted was
Cinderella. They made a wonderful big pumpkin
out of the wheelbarrow, trimmed with
yellow paper, and Cinderella rolled away
in it, when the fairy godmother waved her

One other beautiful story they used to
play. It was the story of Pilgrim's Progress;
if you have never heard it, you must
be sure to read it as soon as you can read
well enough to understand the old-fashioned
words. The little girls used to put
shells in their hats for a sign they were on
a pilgrimage, as the old pilgrims used to
do; then they made journeys over the hill
behind the house, and through the woods,
and down the lanes; and when the pilgrimage
was over they had apples and nuts to
eat, in the happy land of home.

Louisa loved all these plays, and she
made some of her own and wrote them
down so that the children could act them.

But better than fun or writing Louisa
loved her mother, and by and by, as the
little girl began to grow into a big girl, she
felt very sad to see her dear mother work
so hard. She helped all she could with the
housework, but nothing could really help
the tired mother except money; she needed
money for food and clothes, and some one
grown up, to help in the house. But there
never was enough money for these things,
and Louisa's mother grew more and more
weary, and sometimes ill. I cannot tell you
how much Louisa suffered over this.

At last, as Louisa thought about it,
she came to care more about helping her
mother and her father and her sisters
than about anything else in all the world.
And she began to work very hard to earn
money. She sewed for people, and when
she was a little older she taught some
little girls their lessons, and then she wrote
stories for the papers. Every bit of money
she earned, except what she had to use,
she gave to her dear family. It helped very
much, but it was so little that Louisa never
felt as if she were doing anything.

Every year she grew more unselfish, and
every year she worked harder. She liked
writing stories best of all her work, but
she did not get much money for them, and
some people told her she was wasting her

At last, one day, a publisher asked
Louisa, who was now a woman, to write
a book for girls. Louisa was not very well,
and she was very tired, but she always
said, "I'll try," when she had a chance to
work; so she said, "I'll try," to the
publisher. When she thought about the book
she remembered the good times she used
to have with her sisters in the big, bare
house in the country. And so she wrote a
story and put all that in it; she put her
dear mother and her wise father in it, and
all the little sisters, and besides the jolly
times and the plays, she put the sad, hard
times in,--the work and worry and going
without things.

When the book was written, she called
it "Little Women," and sent it to the publisher.

And, children, the little book made
Louisa famous. It was so sweet and
funny and sad and real,--like our own
lives,--that everybody wanted to read it.
Everybody bought it, and much money
came from it. After so many years, little
Louisa's wish came true: she bought a
nice house for her family; she sent one
of her sisters to Europe, to study; she
gave her father books; but best of all, she
was able to see to it that the beloved
mother, so tired and so ill, could have rest
and happiness. Never again did the dear
mother have to do any hard work, and
she had pretty things about her all the rest
of her life.

Louisa Alcott, for that was Louisa's
name, wrote many beautiful books after
this, and she became one of the most
famous women of America. But I think the
most beautiful thing about her is what I
have been telling you: that she loved her
mother so well that she gave her whole
life to make her happy.


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