Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/352



They had not been there a quarter of an hour, tumbling each other in the grass with the most exquisite delight, when lo! the dreadful mamma carne out of the house and spy ’d them at that sport. Such a terrífic sight as that of their tumbles, kindled her rage at once, and made her put her lips to an ivory whistle, that she constantly carried in her pocket for the purpose of calling them to her when at any distance, or out of sight. At the alarming sound of the whistle, like that of the horn in romance, the frighted girls run instantly to her with no small trepida tion and hurry; and she began to storm at them with such obstreporousness, that I, unable to guess at the motive of it, made what baste I could to their assistance; but no sooner had I repassed the bridge, than she was at me with great fury, and asked if I was not ashamed of myself for having taken them into the field. — Ashamed, madam? and why should I be ashamed? — Aye — said she, — don ’t you see that there is a pond in that field? — Well, madam; and what of the pond? — Strange — said she, — that you are not sensible of the danger into which you led them! Had they gone near it while you were poring on your book, could they not ha ve drowned themselves? What do children know — she continued, — of the difference between land and water? They might very well bave run themselves into the pond, taking it to be as solid as the field, and miserably perishèd in it!

This foolish speech made me presently aware that the woman was so grossly ignorant, as to think that children knew nothing of the difi"erence between solids and fluids, and without losing my time to argue with her about her wretched notion of children ’s brains, I stepped into the house, called Sophy, who was then the youngest of them, and bringing her back to her in my band: — Sophy, — said I, — mamma has been prevailed upon to pardon your going into the field with me, and even permits you to go there agaín, and take a walk across the pond, if you bave a mind to it. — A walk cross the pond ! — answered the sweet innocent — no, indeed; I will rather be whipped than go cross the pond. — But why — said I, — will you not