212 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
and to have won a victory over themselves. This, indeed, was their recompense. They forgot the promise of sweets, and no longer cared to take the toys, which I had supposed would attract them. I therefore abandoned that useless means, and saw, with surprise, that the game became constantly more perfect, until even children of three years of age remained immovable in the silence throughout the time required to call the entire forty children out of the room!
It was then that I learned that the soul of the child has its own reward, and its peculiar spiritual pleasures. After such exercises it seemed to me that the children came closer to me, certainly they became more obedient, more gentle and sweet. We had, indeed, been isolated from the world, and had passed several minutes during which the communion between us was very close, I wishing for them and calling to them, and they receiving in the perfect silence the voice which was directed personally toward each one of them, crowning each in turn with happiness.
A Lesson in Silence
I am about to describe a lesson which 'proved most successful in teaching the perfect silence to which it is possible to attain. One day as I was about to enter one of the " Children's Houses," I met in the court a mother who held in her arms her little baby of four months. The little one was swaddled, as is still the custom among the people of Rome — an infant thus in the swaddling bands is called by us a pupa. This tranquil little one seemed the incarnation of peace. I took her in my arms, where she lay quiet and good. Still holding her I went toward the schoolroom, from which the children now ran to meet me. They always welcomed me thus, throwing their arms about me, clinging to my skirts, and almost tumbling me over in