Louisa Alcott (1832-1888) was a wild little girl. When she was very little, she would run away from home. She liked to play with beggar children. One day she wandered so far away from her home, she could not find the way back again. It was growing dark. The little girl’s feet were tired. She sat down on a door-step. A big dog was lying on the step. He wagged his tail. That was his way of saying, “I am glad to see you.”
Little Louisa grew sleepy. She laid her head on the curly head of the big dog. Then she fell asleep. Louisa’s father and mother could not find her. They sent out the town crier to look for her. The town crier went along the street. As he went, he rang his bell. Every now and then he would tell that a little girl was lost.
At last the man with the bell came to the place where Louisa was asleep. He rang his bell. That waked her up. She heard him call out in a loud voice, “Lost, lost a little girl six years old. She wore a pink frock, a white hat, and new green shoes.” When the crier had said that, he heard a small voice coming out of the darkness. It said, “Why, dat’s me.” The crier went to the voice, and found Louisa sitting by the big dog on the door-step. The next day she was tied to the sofa to punish her for running away.
She and her sisters learned to sew well. Louisa set up as a doll’s dressmaker. She was then twelve years old. She hung out a little sign. She put some pretty dresses in the window to show how well she could do. Other girls liked the little dresses that she made. They came to her to get dresses made for their dolls. They liked the little doll’s hats she made better than all. Louisa chased the chickens to get soft feathers for these hats.
She turned the old fairy tales into little plays. The children played these plays in the barn. One of these plays was Jack and the Bean-stalk. A squash vine was put up in the barn. This was the beanstalk. When it was cut down, the boy who played giant would come tumbling out of the hayloft.
Louisa found it hard to be good and obedient. She wrote some verses about being good. She was fourteen years old when she wrote them. Here they are :
A little kingdom I possess Where thoughts and feelings dwell,
And very hard I find the task Of governing it well.
For passion tempts and troubles me, A wayward will misleads,
And selfishness its shadow casts On all my words and deeds.
I do not ask for any crown But that which all may win,
Nor seek to conquer any world Except the one within.
Later, Louisa wrote many popular books enjoyed by people everywhere.
SOURCE: Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans By Samuel Eggleston American Book Co 1893 Digitized by Google Available for free download from Google Books
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