Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston

The Story of a Wise Woman

[24] YOU have read how Thomas Smith first raised rice in Carolina. After his death there lived in South Carolina a wise young woman. She showed the people how to raise another plant. Her name was Eliza Lucas.

The father of Miss Lucas did not live in Carolina. He was governor of one of the islands of the West Indies. Miss Lucas was fond of trying new things. She often got seeds from her father. These she planted in South Carolina.

Her father sent her some seeds of the indigo plant. She sowed some of these in March. But there came a frost. The indigo plant cannot stand frost. Her plants all died.

But Miss Lucas did not give up. She sowed some more seeds in April. These grew very well until a cut-worm found them. The worm wished to try new things, too. So he ate off the indigo plants.

But Miss Lucas was one of the people who try, try again. She had lost her indigo plants twice. Once more she sowed some of the seed. This time the plants grew very well.

Miss Lucas wrote to her father about it. He [25] sent her a man who knew how to get the indigo out of the plant.

The man tried not to show Miss Lucas how to make the indigo. He did not wish the people in South Carolina to learn how to make it. He was afraid his own people would not get so much for their indigo.

So he would not explain just how it ought to be done. He spoiled the indigo on purpose.

But Miss Lucas watched him closely. She found out how the indigo ought to be made. Some of her father's land in South Carolina was now planted with the indigo plants.


[Illustration]

Indigo Plant

Then Miss Lucas was married. She became Mrs. Pinckney. Her father gave her all the indigo growing on his land in South Carolina. It was all saved for seed. Some of the seed Mrs. Pinckney gave to her friends. Some of it her husband sowed. [26] It all grew, and was made into that blue dye that we call indigo. When it is used in washing clothes, it is called bluing.

In a few years, more than a million pounds of indigo were made in South Carolina every year. Many people got rich by it. And it was all because Miss Lucas did not give up.


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