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Out of Our Father's House
by Eve Merriam, Paula Wagner, and Jack Hofsiss

ELIZABETH: When I was eleven years old, my only brother, who had just graduated from Union College, came home to die. A young man of great talent and promise, he was the pride of my father's heart. I recall going into the large darkened parlor and finding the casket, mirrors and pictures all draped in white, and my father seated, pale and immovable as he took no notice of me. After standing a long while, I climbed upon his knee, when he mechanically put his arm about me, and with my head resting against his beating heart, we both sat in silence, he thinking of the wreck of all his hopes in the loss of a dear son--and I wondering what could be said or done to fill the void in his breast. At length he heaved a deep sigh and said, "Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy!" Throwing my arms about his neck, I replied, "I will try to be all my brother was." All that day, and far into the night I pondered the problems of boyhood. I thought that the chief thing to be done in order to equal boys was to be learned and courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse. I learned to leap a fence on horseback. I began to study Latin, Greek and mathematics with a class of boys in the Academy, many of whom were much older than I. For thre years one boy kept his place at the head of the class, and I always stood next. Two prizes were offered in Greek. I strove for one and took the second. One thought alone filled my mind. "Now," said I, "my father will be satisfied with me." I rushed into his office, laid the new Greek testament, which was my prize, on his table, and exclaimed: "I got it!" He took up the book, asked me some questions about the class, and evidently pleased, handed it back to me. Then he kissed me on the forehead and exclaimed with a sigh, "You should have been a boy!"

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