In these progressive days, when so much energy and discussion are devoted to what is termed equality and the rights of woman, it is well to remember that there have been in the distant past women, and girls even, who by their actions and endeavors proved themselves the equals of the men of their time in valor, shrewdness, and ability.
This volume seeks to tell for the girls and boys of to-day the stories of some of their sisters of the long-ago,—girls who by eminent position or valiant deeds became historic even before they had passed the charming season of girlhood.
Their stories are fruitful of varying lessons, for some of these historic girls were wilful as well as courageous, and mischievous as well as tender-hearted.
But from all the lessons and from all the morals, one truth stands out most clearly—the fact that age and country, time and surroundings, make but little change in the real girl-nature, that has ever been impulsive, trusting, tender, and true, alike in the days of the Syrian Zenobia and in those of the modern American school-girl.
After all, whatever the opportunity, whatever the limitation, whatever the possibilities of this same never-changing girl-nature, no better precept can be laid down for our own bright young maidens, as none better can be deduced from the stories herewith presented, than that phrased in Kingsley's noble yet simple verse:
"Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make life, death, and the vast forever
One grand, sweet song."
Grateful acknowledgment is made by the author for the numerous expressions of interest that came to him from his girl-readers as the papers now gathered into book-form appeared from time to time in the pages of St. Nicholas. The approval of those for whom one studies and labors is the pleasantest and most enduring return.