Chapter 19: Only Ignorance
"Well, John, thank you. I knew you did not wish to be too hard,
and I am glad you see it was only ignorance."
John's voice almost startled me as he answered:
"Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance?
Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?
-- and which does the most mischief heaven only knows. If people can say,
`Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is all right.
I suppose Martha Mulwash did not mean to kill that baby
when she dosed it with Dalby and soothing syrups; but she did kill it,
and was tried for manslaughter."
"And serve her right, too," said Tom. "A woman should not undertake to nurse
a tender little child without knowing what is good and what is bad for it."
"Bill Starkey," continued John, "did not mean to frighten his brother
into fits when he dressed up like a ghost and ran after him in the moonlight;
but he did; and that bright, handsome little fellow, that might have been
the pride of any mother's heart is just no better than an idiot,
and never will be, if he lives to be eighty years old.
You were a good deal cut up yourself, Tom, two weeks ago,
when those young ladies left your hothouse door open, with a frosty east wind
blowing right in; you said it killed a good many of your plants."
"A good many!" said Tom; "there was not one of the tender cuttings
that was not nipped off. I shall have to strike all over again,
and the worst of it is that I don't know where to go to get fresh ones.
I was nearly mad when I came in and saw what was done."
"And yet," said John, "I am sure the young ladies did not mean it;
it was only ignorance."
I heard no more of this conversation, for the medicine did well
and sent me to sleep, and in the morning I felt much better;
but I often thought of John's words when I came to know more of the world.