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rences to employ our knowledge to the best advantage.
E. What is presence of mind, mamma?
Mrs. F. It is that steady possession of ourselves in cases of alarm, that prevents us from being flurried and frightened. You have heard the expression of having all our wits about us. That is the effect of presence of mind, and a most inestimable quality it is, for without it, we are full as likely to run into danger, as to avoid it. Do you not remember hearing of your cousin Mary's cap taking fire in the candle ?
E. O yes-very well.
Mrs. F. Well, the maid, as soon as she saw it, set up a great scream, and ran out of the room ; and Mary might have been burnt to death for any assistance she could give her.
E. How foolish that was !
Mrs. F. Yes—the girl had not the least presence of mind, and the conse
quence was, depriving her of all recollection, and making her entirely useless. But as soon as your aunt came up, she took the right method for preventing the mischief. The cap was too much on fire to be pulled off; so she whipped a quilt from the bed and Aung it' round Mary's head, and thus 'stified the flame.
E. Mary was a good deal scorched, though.
Mrs. F. Yes—but it was very well that it was no worse.
If the maid, however, had acted with any sense at first, no harm at all would have been done, except burning the cap. I remember a much more fatal example of the want of presence of mind.
The mistress of a family was awakened by flames bursting through the wainscot into her chamber. She flew to the stair-case; and in her confusion, instead of going up stairs to call her' children,
who slept together in the nursery overhead, and who might all have escaped by the top of the house, she ran down, and with much danger made way through the fire, into the street. When she had got thither, the thought of her poor children rushed into her mind, but it was too late. The stairs hail caught fire, so that nobody could get near them, and they were burned in their beds.
E. What a sad thing!
Mrs. F. Sad indeed! Now I will tell you of a different conduct. A lady was awakened by the crackling of fire, and saw it shining under her chamber dogt Her husband would immediately have opened the door, but she prevented him, since the smoke and flame would then have burst in upon them.
The children with a maid slept in a room opening out of theirs. She went and awakened them; and tying together
the sheets and blankets, she sent down the maid from the window first, and then let down the children one by one to her. Last of all she descended herself. A few minutes after, the ffoor fell in, and all the house was in flames.
E. What a happy escape!
Mrs. F. Yes -and with what cool recollection of mind it was managed ! For mothers to love their children, and be willing to run any hazards for them, is common; but in weak minds that very love is apt to prevent exertions in the time of danger. I knew a lady who had a fine little boy sitting in her lap. He put a whole plum into his mouth, which slipped into his throat, and choked him. The poor fellow turned black and struggled violently ; and the mother was so frightened, that instead of putting her finger in his throat, and pulling out the plum, which might easily have been done, she laid
him on the floor, and ran to call for assistance. But the maids who came up were as much furried as she: and the child died before any thing effectual was done to relieve him.
E. How unhappy she must have been about it!
Mrs. F. Yes. It threw her into an illness, which had like to have cost her her life.
Another lady, seeing her little boy climb up a high ladder, set up a violent scream that frightened the child, so that he fell down and was much hurt; whereas if she had possessed command enough over herself to speak to him gently, he might have got down safely.
E. Dear mamma! what is that running down your arm ?-0, it is blood !
Mrs. F. Yes—my arm bleeds again. I have stirred it too soon.
E. Dear! What shall I do?