THE TRUE STORY OF "MARY'S LITTLE LAMB."
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I want to tell you what I read lately in a
newspaper about Mary and her lamb. Mary herself is now a delightful
old lady of threescore and ten, and this is her story:
"I was nine years old, and we lived on a farm. I used to go out
to the barn every morning with father, to see the cows and sheep.
One cold day, we found that during the night twin lambs had been
born. You know that sheep will often disown one of twins, and this
morning one poor little lamb was pushed out of the pen into the
yard. It was almost starved, and almost frozen, and father told me
I might have it if I could keep it alive. So I took it into the house,
wrapped it in a blanket, and fed it on peppermint and milk all day.
When night came, I could not bear to leave it, for fear it would die.
So mother made me up a little bed on the settle, and I nursed the
poor little thing all night, feeding it with a spoon, and by morning it
could stand. After this, we brought it up by hand, until it learned to
love me very much, and would stay with me wherever I went, unless
it was tied. I used, before going to school in the morning, to see
that the lamb was all right, and securely fastened for the day.
"Well, one morning, when my brother Nat and I were all ready,
the lamb could not be found, and, supposing that it had gone out to
pasture with the cows, we started on. I used to be very fond of singing,
and the lamb would follow the sound of my voice. This morning,
after we had gone some distance, I began to sing, and the lamb
hearing me, followed, and overtook us before we got to school. As it
happened, we were early; so I went in very quietly, and took the
lamb into my seat, where it went to sleep, and I covered it up with
my shawl. When the teacher and the rest of the scholars came, they
did not notice anything amiss, and all was quiet until my
was called. Hardly had I taken my place when the patter of
little hoofs was heard coming down the aisle, and the lamb stood beside
me ready for its word. Of course, the children all laughed, and the
teacher laughed too, and the poor creature had to be turned
But it kept coming back, and at last had to be tied in the
wood-shed until school was out. Now, that day, there was a young
man in the school, John Roulston by name, who had come as a spectator.
He was a Boston boy and son of a riding-school master, and
was fitting for Harvard College. He was very much pleased over
what he saw in our school, and a few days after gave us the first three
verses of the song. How or when it got into print, I don't know.
"I took great care of my pet, and would curl its long wool over a
stick, Finally, it was killed by an angry cow. I have a pair of little
stockings, knitted of yarn spun from the lamb's wool, the heels of
which have been raveled out and given away piecemeal as
Since reading about Mary and her Lamb in the June 1878 issue of St Nicholas
I have found a site with the rest of the story:
The TRUE Story of Mary (Sawyer) and Her Little Lamb as retold by Elsie Eunice Sawyer.
2009: That site no longer exists, but a copy of the Book is available at Amazon.com