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"Every half-holiday I went out with the boys from my brothers'
school. They always liked me to play with them, and, though not
pleasant-tongued boys, were always civil and polite to me. I
organized games and fortifications that they would never have
imagined for themselves, led storming parties, and instituted
some rather dangerous games of a fighting kind. I taught my
brothers; to throw stones. Sometimes I led adventures such as
breaking into empty houses. I liked being out after dark.
"In the winter I made and rigged boats and went sailing them, and
I went rafting and pole-leaping. I became a very good jumper and
climber, could go up a rope, bowl overhand, throw like a boy, and
whistle three different ways. I collected beetles and butterflies
and went shrimping and learned to fish. I had very little money
to spend, but I picked things up and I made all traps, nets,
cages, etc., myself. I learned from every working-man, I could
get hold of the use of all ordinary carpenters' tools, and how to
weld hot iron, pave, lay bricks and turf, and so on.
"When I was about 11 my parents got more mortified at my behavior
and perpetually threatened me with a boarding-school. I was told
for months how it would take the nonsense out of me--'shape me,'
'turn me into a young lady.' My going was finally announced to me
as a punishment to me for being what I was.
"Certainly, the horror of going to this school and the cruel and
unsympathetic way that I was sent there gave me a shock that I
never got over. The only thing that reconciled me to going was my
intense indignation with those who sent me. I appealed to be
allowed to learn Latin and boys' subjects, but was laughed at.
"I was so helpless that I knew I could not run away without being
caught, or I would have run away anywhere from home and school. I
never cried or fretted, but burnt with anger and went like a
"In no words can I describe the severity of the nervous shock, or
the suffering of my first year at school. The school was noted
for its severity and I heard that at one period the elder girls
ran away so often that they wore a uniform dress. I knew two who
had run away. The teachers in my time were ignorant,
self-indulgent women who cared nothing for the girls or their
education and made much money out of them. There was a suspicious
reformatory atmosphere, and my money was taken from me and my
"I was intensely shy. I hated the other girls. There were no
refinements anywhere; I had no privacy in my room, which was
always overcrowded; we had no hot water, no baths, improper food,
and no education. We were not allowed to wear enough clean linen,
and for five years I never felt clean.
"I never had one moment to myself, was not allowed to read
anything, had even not enough lesson books, was taught nothing to
speak of except a little inferior music and drawing. I never got
enough exercise, and was always tired and dull, and could not
keep my digestion in order. My pride and self-respect were
degraded in innumerable ways, I suffered agonies of disgust, and
the whole thing was a dreary penal servitude.
"I did not complain. I made friends with a few of the girls. Some
of the older girls were attracted to me. Some talked of men and
love affairs to me, but I was not greatly interested. No one ever
spoke of any other matters of sex to me or in my hearing, but
most of the girls were shy with me and I with them.
"In about two years' time the teachers got to like me and thought
me one of their nicest girls. I certainly influenced them and got
them to allow the girls more privileges.
"I lay great stress upon the physical privations and disgust that
I felt during these years. The mental starvation was not quite so
great because it was impossible for them to crush my mind as they
did my body. That it all materially aided to arrest the
development of my body I am certain.
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