It is no wonder that the father was proud of George, now chemist of the vast steel works, for he was manly and respected by all the employees. When a boy, George worked nights, Saturdays, and during his vacations in the mills, and the men came to know and love his genial ways and fair methods, and thus he gained a good knowledge of steel-making.
His father was urgent that his son should not miss a single day in his schooling. At length he graduated at the high school with the esteem of his teachers and his class. During the twelve years spent in public schools he had acquired a fine discipline of mind, a love of the sciences, and enough of Latin and Greek to aid him in determining the derivation and exact meaning of words. Co-education too had refined his nature, and enabled him to estimate correctly his own abilities, but best of all he had come to know at the high school the second daughter of Reuben Harris, Gertrude, who graduated in his own class. During the senior year he had frequently walked and talked with her, and came to know somewhat of her plans.
Gertrude’s parents, especially Mrs. Harris, were anxious that both their daughters should go to private schools, and Lucille was easily persuaded to attend a young ladies’ seminary, where aesthetic accomplishments were emphasized and considered essentials and a passport into good society. But Gertrude decided in favor of a public school education.
Lucille and Gertrude as sisters were fond of each other, but Lucille lived more for self, while Gertrude preferred others to self. Gertrude had learned early how by a smile or bow to retain an old friend or to win a new one. She spent very little time thinking about her own needs, preferring to take flowers or fruit, even when given her, to some sick or aged person. Nothing pleased her more than to visit the Old Ladies’ Home with a few gifts and read the Bible or comforting stories to the inmates.
Mrs. Harris when east chanced to spend a June day at Wellesley College near Boston. By early moonlight several hundred Wellesley girls and thousands of spectators had assembled on the banks of Lake Waban to enjoy the “Float.” Gaily uniformed crews in their college flotilla formed a star-shaped group near the shore for their annual concert. Chinese lanterns, like giant fire-flies, swung in the trees and on many graceful boats. The silver notes of the bugle and the chant of youthful voices changed the college-world into a fairyland.
Both mother and daughter were charmed and Lucille gladly decided to enter Wellesley. Hard study, however, and the daily forty-five minutes of domestic work then required, did not agree with her nature, and after a few weeks she decided upon a change, and continued her education at one of the private schools on the Back-Bay in Boston.
Gertrude, possessing a more active mind and ambition, resolved to obtain an education as good as her brother Alfonso had had at Harvard. She had read of a prominent benefactor who believed that woman had the same right as man to intellectual culture and development, and who in 1861 had founded on the Hudson, midway between Albany and New York, an institution which he hoped would accomplish for women what colleges were doing for men.