“How many,” I then asked, “have ever been put to the trouble to go to the door when the bell has thus been rung? They may rise.”
A very large number of scholars stood up. Those who had done the mischief were evidently surprised at the extent of the trouble they had occasioned.
“Now,” I continued, “I think all will be convinced that the trouble which this practice has occasioned to the fifty or sixty young ladies, who can not be expected to find amusement in such a way, is far greater than the pleasure it can have given to the few who are young enough to have enjoyed it. Therefore it was wrong. Do you think that the girls who rang the bell might have known this by proper reflection?”
“Yes, sir,” the school generally answered.
“I do not mean,” said I, “if they had set themselves formally at work to think about the subject, but with such a degree of reflection as ought reasonably to be expected of little girls in the hilarity of recess and of play.”
“Yes, sir,” was still the reply, but fainter than before.
“There is one way by which I might ascertain whether you were old enough to know that this was wrong, and that is by asking those who have refrained from doing this, because they supposed it would be wrong, to rise. Then, if some of the youngest scholars in school should stand up, as I have no doubt they would, it would prove that all might have known, if they had been equally conscientious. But if I ask those to rise who have not rung the bell, I shall make known to the whole school who they are that have done it, and I wish that the exposure of faults should be private, unless it is necessary that it should be public. I will, therefore, not do it. I have myself, however, no doubt that all might have known that it was wrong.
“There is,” continued I, “another injury which must grow out of such a practice. This I should not have expected the little girls could think of. In fact, I doubt whether any in school will think of it. Can any one tell me what it is?”
No one replied.
“I should suppose that it would lead you to disregard the bell when it rings, and that consequently a gentleman or lady might sometimes ring in vain, the scholars near the door saying, ’Oh, it is only the little girls.’”
“Yes, sir,” was heard from all parts of the room.
I found, from farther inquiry, that this had been the case, and I closed by saying,
“I am satisfied that those who have inadvertently fallen into this practice are sorry for it, and that if I should leave it here, no more cases of it would occur, and this is all I wish. At the same time, they who have done this will feel more effectually relieved from the pain which having done wrong must necessarily give them, if they individually acknowledge it to me. I wish, therefore, that all who have thus rung the bell in play would write me notes stating