Category Archives: Stories

A Long Journey

Lewis and Clark

A long time ago, when Thomas Jefferson was President, most of the people in this country lived in the East. Nobody knew anything about the Far West. The only people that lived there were Indians. Many of these Indians had never seen a white man.

President Jefferson sent men to travel into this wild part of the country. He told them to go up to the upper end of the Missouri River. Then they were to go across the Rocky Mountains. They were to keep on till they got to the Pacific Ocean. Then they were to come back again. They were to find out the best way to get through the mountains. And they were to find out what kind of people the Indians in that country were. They were also to tell about the animals.

Map of Louisiana Purchase

There were two captains of this company. Their names were Lewis and Clark. There were forty-five men in the party. They were gone two years and four months. For most of that time they did not see any white men but their own party. They did not hear a word from home for more than two years.

They got their food mostly by hunting. They killed a great many buffaloes and elks and deer. They also shot wild geese and other large birds. Sometimes they had nothing but fish to eat. Some­times they had to eat wolves. When they had no other meat, they were glad to buy dogs from the Indians and eat them. Sometimes they ate horses. They became fond of the meat of dogs and horses.

Lewis & Clark Expedition

When they were very hungry, they had to live on roots if they could get them. Some of the Indians made a kind of bread out of roots. The white men bought this when they could not get meat. But there were days when they did not have anything to eat.

They were very friendly with the Indians. One day some of the men went to an Indian village something to eat. The Indians gave them meat to eat. In the Indian wig­wam where they were, there was a head of a dead buffalo. When dinner was over, the Indians filled a bowl full of meat. They set this down in front of the head. Then they said to the head, “Eat that.” The Indians be­lieved that, if they treated this buffalo head politely, the live buffaloes would come to their hunting ground. Then they would have plenty of meat to eat.

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

Tomorrow, Another Hero       Rita Bay

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Washington’s Last Battle

General George Washington had been fighting for seven years to drive the British soldiers out of this country. But there were still two strong British armies in America. One of these armies was in New York. It had been there for years. The other army was far away at Yorktown in Virginia. The British general at Yorktown was Cornwallis. You have read how Washington got away from him at Trenton.

The King of France had sent ships and soldiers to help the Americans. But still Washington had not enough men to take New York from the British. Yet he went on getting ready to attack the British in New York. He had ovens built to bake bread for his men. He bought hay for his horses. He had roads built to draw his cannons on. He knew that the British in New York would hear about what he was doing. He wanted them to think that he meant to come to New York and fight them. When the British heard what the Americans were doing, they got ready for the coming of Washington and the French.

All at once they found that Washington had gone. He and his men had marched away. The French soldiers that had come to help him had gone with him. Nobody knew what it meant. Washington’s own men did not know where they were going. They went from New Jersey into Pennsylvania. Then they marched across Pennsylvania. Then they went into Maryland. They marched across that State, and then they went into Virginia.

By this time everybody could tell where Wash­ington was going. People could see that he was going straight to Yorktown. They knew that Washington was going to fight his old enemy at Yorktown. But he had kept his secret long enough. The British in New York could not send help to Corn­wallis. It was too late. The French ships sailed to Virginia, and shut up Yorktown on the side of the sea.Washington’s men shut it up on the side of the land. They built great banks of earth round it. On these banks of earth they put cannons.

The British could not get away. They fought bravely. But the Americans and French came closer and closer. Then the British tried to fight their way out. But they were driven back. Then Cornwallis tried to get his men across the river. He wanted to get out by the back door, as Washington had done. But the Americans on the other side of the river drove them back again.Washington had now caught Cornwallis in a trap. The Americans fired red-hot cannon balls into Yorktown. These set the houses on fire. At last Cornwallis had to give up. The British marched out and laid down their guns and swords.

The British army in New York could not fight the Americans by itself. So the British gave it up. Then there was peace after the long war. The British pulled down the British flag and sailed away. The country was free at last.

The painting “Surrender at Yorktown” is by John Trumbull.

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

Tomorrow, The Swamp Fox     Rita Bay

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How Washington Escaped A Trap

After the battle of  Trenton, Washington went back across the Delaware River. He had not men enough to fight the whole British army. But the Americans were glad when they heard that he had beaten the Hessians. They sent him more soldiers. Then he went back across the river to Trenton again. There was a British general named Cornwallis. He marched to Trenton. He fought against Wash­ington. Cornwallis had more men than Washington had. Night came, and they could not see to fight. There was a little creek between the two armies. Washington had not boats enough to carry his men across the river. Cornwallis was sure to beat him if they should fight a battle the next morning.

Cornwallis said, “I will catch the fox in the morning.” He called Washington a fox. He thought he had him in a trap. Cornwallis sent for some more soldiers to come from Princeton in the morning. He wanted them to help him catch the fox. But foxes sometimes get out of traps.

When it was dark,Washington had all his camp fires lighted. He put men to digging where the British could hear them. He made Cornwallis think that he was throwing up banks of earth and getting ready to fight in the morning.

But Washington did not stay in Trenton. He did not wish to be caught like a fox in a trap. He could not get across the river. But he knew a road that went round the place where Cornwallis and his army were. He took that road and got behind the British army.

It was just like John waiting to catch James. James is in the house.  John is waiting at the front door to catch James when he comes out. But James slips out by the back way. John hears him call ” Hello ! ” James has gone round behind him and got away.

Washington went out of Trenton in the darkness. You might say that he marched out by the back door. He left Cornwallis watching the front door. The Ameri­cans went away quietly. They left a few men to keep up the fires, and make a noise like digging. Before morning these slipped away too. When morning came, Cornwallis went to catch his fox. But the fox was not there.

He looked for the Americans. There was the place where they had been digging. Their camp fires were still burning. But where had they gone? Cornwallis thought that Washington had crossed the river by some means. But soon he heard guns firing away back toward Princeton. He thought that it must be thunder. But he found that it was a battle. Then he knew that Washington had gone to Princeton.

Washington had marched all night. When he got to Princeton, he met the British coming out to go to Trenton. They were going to help Cornwal­lis to catch Washington. But Washington had come to Princeton to catch them. He had a hard fight with the British at Princeton. But at last he beat them.

When Cornwallis knew that the Americans had gone to Princeton, he hurried there to help his men. But it was too late. Washington had beaten the British at Princeton, and had gone on into the hills, where he was safe.  The fox had got out of the trap.

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

Tomorrow, Washington’s Last Battle    Rita Bay

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Washington’s Christmas Gift

 Washington was fighting to set this country free. But the army that the King of England sent to fight him was stronger than Washington’s army. Washington was beaten and driven out of Brooklyn. Then he had to leave New York. After that he marched away into New Jersey to save his army from being taken. At last he crossed the Delaware River. Here he was safe for a while.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emmanuel Leutze

Some of the Hessian soldiers that the king had hired to fight against the Americans came to Trenton. Trenton is on the Delaware River. Washington and his men were on the other side of the Delaware River from the Hessians.Washington’s men were discouraged. They had been driven back all the way from Brooklyn. It was winter, and they had no warm houses to stay in. They had not even warm clothes. They were dressed in old clothes that people had given them. Some of them were bare-footed in this cold weather.

The Hessians and other soldiers of the king were waiting for the river to freeze over. Then they would march across on the ice. They meant to fight Washington once more and break up his army But Washington was think­ing about some­thing too. He was waiting for Christmas. He knew that the Hessian sol­diers on the other side of the river would eat and drink a great deal on Christmas Day. The afternoon of Christmas came. The Hessians were singing and drinking in Trenton. But Washington was march­ing up the river bank. Some of his barefoot men left blood marks on the snow as they marched.

The men and cannons were put into flat boats. These boats were pushed across the river with poles. There were many great pieces of ice in the river. But all night long the flat boats were pushed across and then back again for more men.

It was three o’clock on the morning after Christ­mas when the last Americans crossed the river. It was hailing and snowing, and it was very cold. Two or three of the soldiers were frozen to death.

It was eight o’clock in the morning when Washington got to Trenton. The Hessians were sleeping soundly. The sound of the American drums waked them. They jumped out of their beds. They ran into the streets. They tried to fight the Americans.

But it was too late. Washington had already taken their cannons. His men were firing these at the Hessians. The Hessians ran into the fields to get away. But the Americans caught them. The battle was soon over. Washington had taken nine hundred prisoners. This was called the battle of Trenton. It gave great joy to all the Americans. It was Washing­ton’s Christmas gift to the country.

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

Tomorrow, How Washington Escaped a Trap      Rita Bay

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The First Steamboat

Fulton & steamboat "Clermont"

The first good steamboat was built in New York. She was built by Robert Fulton. Her name was ” Clermont.” When the people saw her, they laughed. They said that such a boat would never go. For thousands of years boatmen had made their boats go by using sails and oars. People had never seen any such boat as this. It seemed foolish to believe that a boat could be pushed along by steam.

The time came for Fulton to start his boat. A crowd of people were standing on the shore. The black smoke was coming out of the smokestack. The people were laughing at the boat. They were sure that it would not go. At last the boat’s wheels began to turn round. Then the boat began to move. There were no oars. There were no sails. But still the boat kept moving.

Faster and faster she went. All the people now saw that she could go by steam. They did not laugh any more. They began to cheer. The little steamboat ran up to Albany. The people who lived on the river did not know what to make of it. They had never heard of a steamboat. They could not see what made the boat go. There were many sailing vessels on the river. Fulton’s boat passed some of these in the night.

The sailors were afraid when they saw the fire and smoke. The sound of the steam seemed dreadful to them. Some of them went down-stairs in their ships for fear. Some of them went ashore. Perhaps they thought it was a living animal that would eat them up. But soon there were steamboats on all the large rivers.

Fulton was a brilliant man who died when he was 41 years old while rescuing a friend who had fallen through ice into a river. He died of pneumonia/consumption contracted after the icy rescue.

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

Tomorrow, A Lady Grows a Plant    Rita Bay

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Another Ship Story: Robert Fulton

Robert Fultion

ROBERT FULTON was the man who set steamboats to running on the rivers. Other men had made such boats before. But Fulton made the first good one.

When he was a boy, he lived in the town of Lan­caster in Pennsylvania. Many guns were made in Lancaster. The men who made these guns put little pictures on them. That was to make them sell to the hunters who liked a gun with pictures. Little Robert Fulton could draw very well for a boy. He made some pretty little drawings. These the gun makers put on their guns.

Fulton went to the gun shops a great deal. He liked to see how things were made. He tried to make a small air gun for himself. He was always trying to make things. He got some quicksilver (mercury). He was trying to do something with it. But he would not tell what he wanted to do. So the gunsmiths called him Quicksilver Bob.

He was so much interested in such things, that he sometimes neglected his lessons. He said that his head was so full of new notions, that he had not much room left for school learning. 

One morning he came to school late.

“What makes you so late?” asked the teacher.

“I went to one of the shops to make myself a lead pencil,” said little Bob. “Here it is. It is the best one I ever had.”

The teacher tried it, and found it very good. Lead pencils in that day were made of a long piece of lead sharpened at the end.

Quicksilver Bob was a very odd little boy. He said many curious things. Once the teacher pun­ished him for not getting his lessons. He rapped Robert on the knuckles with a ruler. Robert did not like this any more than any other boy would.

“Sir,” said the boy, ” I came here to have some­thing beaten into my head, not into my knuckles.”

In that day people used to light candles and stand them in the window on the Fourth of July. These candles in every window lighted up the whole town. But one year candles were scarce and high. The city asked the people not to light up their windows on the Fourth.

Bob did not like to miss the fun of his Fourth of July. He went to work to make something like rockets or Roman candles. It was a very dangerous business for a boy.

“What are you doing, Bob? ” someone asked him.

“The city does not want us to burn our can­dles on the Fourth,” he said. “I am going to shoot mine into the air.”

He used to go fishing with a boy named Chris Gumpf. The father of Chris went with them. They fished from a flat boat. The two boys had to push the boat to the fishing place with poles. “I am tired of poling that boat,” said Robert to Chris one day when they came home.

So he set to work to think out a plan to move the boat in an easier way than by poles. He whittled out the model of a tiny paddle wheel. Then he went to work with Chris Gumpf, and they made a larger paddle wheel. This they set up in the fish­ing boat. The wheel was turned by the boys with a crank. They did not use the poles any more. 

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

Tomorrow, Fulton & His Steamboat   Rita Bay

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Don’t Give Up the Ship

                      

In 1813, during the War of 1812, James Lawrence was Captain of the USS Chesapeake. When he left Boston Harbor, he engaged the HMS Shannon which disabled and captured the Chesapeake. Capt. Lawrence, mortally wounded and died a few days later. He was only 31 years old. As he lay dying on the deck of the Chesapeake Captain Lawrence ordered his men “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” Another officer created a flag displaying his famous words.

James Lawrence

FRED was talking to his sister one day. He said, “Alice, what makes people say, ‘ Don’t give up the ship’?”

Alice said, “I don’t know. That’s what the teacher said to me yesterday when I thought that I could not get my lesson.”

“Yes,” said Fred, “and that’s what father said to me. I told him I never could learn to write well. He only said, “You must not give up the ship, my boy.”

“I haven’t any ship to give up,” saidAlice.

“And what has a ship to do with my writing?” said Fred.

“There must be some story about a ship,”Alicesaid.

“Maybe grand-father would know,” said Fred. “Let’s ask him.”

They found their grandfather writing in the next room. They did not wish to disturb him. They turned to leave the room. But grand-father looked up just then. He smiled, and laid down his pen.

“Did you want something?” he asked.

“We wanted to ask you a question,” saidAlice. “We want to know why people say, ‘Don’t give up the ship.’ ”

“We thought maybe there is a story to it,” said Fred.

“Yes, there is,” said their grandfather. “And I know a little rhyme that tells the story.”

“Could you say it to us?” askedAlice.

“Yes, if I can think of it. Let me see. How does it begin? ”

Grandfather leaned his head back in the chair. He shut his eyes for a moment. He was trying to remember.

“Oh, now I remember it!” he said.

Then he said to them these little verses: 

GRANDFATHER’S RHYME.

WHEN I was but a boy, I heard the people tell

How gallant Captain Lawrence So bravely fought and fell.

The ships lay close together,I heard the people say,

And many guns were roaring Upon that battle day.

A grape-shot struck the captain, He laid him down to die :
They say the smoke of powder  Made dark the sea and sky.

The sailors heard a whisper Upon the captain’s lip:

The last command of Lawrence Was, ” Don’t give up the ship.”

And ever since that battle, The people like to tell

How gallant Captain Lawrence, So bravely fought and fell.

When disappointment happens, And fear your heart annoys,

Be brave, like Captain Lawrence, And don’t give up, my boys

Tomorrow, Daniel Boone’s Daughter Disappears     Rita Bay

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Daniel Boone & His Grapevine Swing

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone was an extremely popular figure. The portrait at the left was painted in 182o shortly before Boone’s death in his 80s. Here’s another story from an 1899 student reader.  Check it out, Pass it on. Rita Bay

Daniel Boone was the first settler of Kentucky. He knew all about living in the woods. He knew how to hunt the wild animals. He knew how to fight Indians, and how to get away from them. Nearly all the men that came with him to Ken­tucky the first time were killed. One was eaten by wolves. Some of them were killed by Indians. Some of them went into the woods and never came back. Nobody knows what killed them.Only Boone and his brother were left alive. They needed some powder and some bullets. They wanted some horses. Boone’s brother went back across the mountains to get these things. Boone staid in his little cabin all alone. Boone could hear the wolves howl near his cabin at night. He heard the panthers scream in the woods. But he did not mind being left all alone in these dark forests

Boone's Cabin 1767

The Indians came to his cabin when he was away. He did not want to see these visitors. He did not dare to sleep in his cabin all the time. Sometimes he slept under a rocky cliff. Sometimes he slept in a canebrake. A canebrake is a large patch of growing canes such as fishing rods are made of.

Once a mother bear tried to kill him. He fired his gun at her, but the bullet did not kill her. The bear ran at him. He held his long knife out in his hand. The bear ran against it and was killed.

He made long journeys alone in the woods. One day he looked back through the trees and saw four Indians. They were following Boone’s tracks. They did not see him. He turned this way and that. But the Indians still followed his tracks. He went over a little hill. Here he found a wild grapevine. It was a very long vine, reaching to the top of a high tree. There are many such vines in the Southern woods. Children cut such vines off near the roots. Then they use them for swings.

Boone had swung on grapevines when he was a boy. He now thought of a way to break his tracks. He cut the wild grapevine off near the root. Then he took hold of it. He sprang out into the air with all his might. The great swing carried him far out as it swung. Then he let go. He fell to the ground, and then he ran away in a differ­ent direction from that in which he had been going. When the Indians came to the place, they could not find his tracks. They could not tell which way he had gone. He got to his cabin in safety.

Boone had now been alone for many months. His brother did not get back at the time he had set for coming. Boone thought that his brother might have been killed. Boone had not tasted anything but meat since he left home. He had to get his food by shooting animals in the woods. By this time he had hardly any powder or bullets left. One evening he sat by his cabin. He heard someone coming. He thought that it might be Indians. He heard the steps of horses. He looked through the trees. He saw his brother riding on one horse, and leading another. The other horse was loaded with powder and bullets and clothes, and other things that Boone needed. 

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

Tomorrow,   A Pirate’s Tale   Rita Bay

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How Benny West Became a Painter

Benjamin West, Self Portrait

IN old times there lived in Pennsylvania a little fellow whose name was Benjamin West. He lived in a long stone house. He had never seen a picture. The country was new, and there were not many pictures in it. Ben­ny’s father was a Friend or Quaker. The Friends of that day did not think that pictures were useful things to make or to have.Before he was seven years old, this little boy began to draw pictures. One day he was watch-ing the cradle of his sister’s child. The baby smiled.  Benny was so pleased with her beauty, that he made a picture of her in red and black ink. The picture of the baby pleased his mother when she saw it. That was very pleasant to the boy. He made other pictures. At school he used to draw with a pen before he could write. He made pic­tures of birds and of animals. Some­times he would draw flowers.He liked to draw so well, that some­times he forgot to do his work. His father sent him to work in the field one day. The father went out to see how well he was doing his work. Benny was no-where to be found. At last his father saw him sitting under a large poke. weed. He was making pictures. He had squeezed the juice out of some pokeberries. The juice of pokeberries is deep red. With this the boy had made his pictures. When the father looked at them, he was surprised. There were portraits of every member of the family. His father knew every picture.

King George & Family

Up to this time Benny had no paints nor any brushes. The Indians had not all gone away from that  neighborhood. The Indians paint their faces with red and yellow colors. These colors they make themselves. Sometimes they prepare them from the juice of some plant. Sometimes they get them by finding red or yellow earth. Some of the Indians can make rough pictures with these colors.

The Indians near the house of Benny’s father must have liked the boy. They showed him how to make red and yellow colors for himself. He got some of his mother’s indigo to make blue. He now had red, yellow, and blue. By mixing these three, the other colors that he wanted could be made.

But he had no brush to paint with. He took some long hairs from the cat’s tail. Of these he made his brushes. He used so many of the cat’s hairs, that her tail began to look bare. Every­body in the house began to wonder what was the matter with kitty’s tail. At last Benny told where he got his brushes.

A cousin of Ben­ny’s came from the city on a visit. He saw some of the boy’s drawings. When he went home, he sent Benny a box of paints.    With the paints were some brushes. And there was some canvas such as pictures are painted on. And that was not all. There were in the box six beautiful engravings.

The little painter now felt himself rich. He was so happy that he could hardly sleep at all. At night he put the box that held his treasures on a chair by his bed. As soon as daylight came, he carried the precious box to the garret. The garret of the long stone house was his studio. Here he worked away all day long. He did not go to school at all. Perhaps he forgot that there was any school. Perhaps the little artist could not tear himself away from his work. But the schoolmaster missed him. He came to ask if Benny was ill. The mother was vexed when she found that he had staid away from school. She went to look for the naughty boy. After a while she found the little truant. He was hard at work in his garret.

She saw what he had been doing. He had not copied any of his new engravings. He had made up a new picture by taking one person out of one engraving, and another out of another. He had copied these so that they made a picture that he had thought of for himself. His mother could not find it in her heart to punish him. She was too much pleased with the picture he was making. This picture was not fin­ished. But his mother would not let him finish it. She was afraid he would spoil it if he did anything more on it.

The good people called Friends did not like the making of pictures, as I said. But they thought that Benny West had a talent that he ought to use. So he went to Philadelphia to study his art. After a while he sailed away to Italy to see the pictures that great artists had painted.

At last he settled in England. The King of England was at that time the king of this coun­try too. The king liked West’s pictures. West became the king’s painter. He came to be the most famous painter in England.He liked to remember his boyish work. He liked to remember the time when he was a little Quaker boy making his paints of pokejuice and Indian colors.

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

Tomorrow, Daniel Boone and His Grapevine Swing    Rita Bay

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A Wise Man Plants A Crop

THE first European settlers that came to this country hardly knew how to get their living here. They did not know what would grow best in this country. Many learned to hunt. All the land was covered with trees. In the woods were many animals whose flesh was good to eat. There were deer, and bears, and great shaggy buffaloes. There were rabbits and squirrels. And there were many kinds of birds. The hunters shot wild ducks, wild turkeys, wild geese, and pigeons. The people also caught many fishes out of the rivers.

Then there were animals with fur on their backs. The people killed these and sold their skins. In this way many made their living. Other people spent their time in cutting down the trees. They sawed the trees into timbers and boards. Some of it they split into staves to make barrels. They sent the staves and other sorts of timber to other countries to be sold. In South Carolina men made tar and pitch out of the pine trees.

But there was a wise man in South Carolina. He was one of those men that find out better ways of doing. His name was Thomas Smith. Thomas Smith had once lived in a large island thousands of miles away from South Carolina. In that island he had seen the people raising rice. He saw that it was planted in wet ground. He said that he would like to try it in South Carolina.. But he could not get any seed rice to plant. The rice that people eat is not fit to sow.

One day a ship came to Charleston, where Thomas Smith lived. It had been driven there by storms. The ship came from the large island where Smith had seen rice grow. The cap­tain of this ship was an old friend of Smith.  The two old friends met once more. Thomas Smith told the captain that he wanted some rice for seed. The captain called the cook of his ship, and asked him if he had any. The cook had one little bag of seed rice. The cap­tain gave this to his friend.

There was some wet ground at the back of Smith’s garden. In this wet ground he sowed some of the rice. It grew finely. He gathered a good deal of rice in his garden that year. He gave part of this to his friends. They all sowed it. The next year there was a great deal of rice .After a while the wet land in South Carolina was turned to rice fields. Every year many thousands of barrels of rice were sent away to be sold.

All this came from one little bag of rice and one wise man. 

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

Tomorrow,   Wise Women Can Plant Crops Too    Rita Bay

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