Early Life
She was not a strong child, and being the youngest of a large family naturally received much attention, which in after years she concluded was not good for her. She once described herself as a puny little thing who wanted everything she saw and thought she ought to have it. "I had a will of my own," she said, "and my mother found it necessary to be very firm with me at times. Once I was very rude to her when she did not give me what I wanted, and I shall never forget how grieved she was, how lovingly she explained to me the necessity for controlling myself if I would be loved by those around me." She was six years old when this naughtiness occurred. "I promised my mother then," she said, "that I would be a good girl, and that I would ask God not to let me be naughty again."

She and her sister Hattie, not quite two years her elder, loved out of doors a great deal. They were very fond of flowers and animals, and, hand in hand, would wander up and down the street to stop and admire the flowers in the neighboring gardens, always mindful of their mother's injunction never to take a flower without permission. Happy indeed were they when they could bring home a handful of wild flowers to their mother. "God's flowers" they called them, because they did not grow in anyone's garden.

Clara's love for animals led her to pat every dog she met, and more than once she caught a stray cat and took it home to pet it. A story is told that seeing a lame chicken she wrapped it in her apron and took it home and bandaged its leg neatly, tending it with such devotion that she soon had the happiness of seeing it able to run about to seek its own food. The cousin who told this story laughingly said, "She probably used splints, but of this I am not sure."

Mrs. Swain's sister Elizabeth lived a mile out of the village, while the home of the Swain family was within the boundary line, and as the little red school-house was between them the children of both families attended this school.

Clara was very fond of her Aunt Post and often went home with her cousins, staying with them days at a time. One of these cousins, now eighty-eight years of age, writes: "When Clara was seven years of age she was a very pleasant child, always eager to help someone. She lived with us, off and on, until she was twelve years old, when we moved to Michigan. She was as much at home with us as in her own home and we were sorry to part with her."

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