In Mr. Random’s garden was a fine tall pear-tree, and that year a very fine pear grew on the topmost twig. His mother and sister had several times wished for the luscious fruit, but it seemed to bid defiance to every attack that was not aided by a tall ladder. “Oh!” thought Dicky, “if I can get it down and present it to my mother, how pleased she will be!” So, when he was alone, he picked out some large stones and threw at it, but without any success. The next day he renewed his attack in the evening, and to insure a better chance employed several large pieces of brick and tile.
Now all these dangerous weapons went over into a poor man’s garden, where his son and some other boys were weeding it. One of them fell upon the little fellow’s leg, and cut it in so desperate a manner that he cried out, quite terrified at the blow and sight of the blood. The other boys directly took the alarm, and picking up some stones as large as that which had done the mischief, they mounted on a high bench, and discharged such a well-directed volley at the person of Master Random that he was most violently struck upon the nose, and knocked backwards into a glass cucumber-frame.
Here he lay in a most pitiable condition, calling upon his mother, while the wounded boy on the other side joined in the concert of woe.
“Oh, it served you rightly!” exclaimed the young assailants, who were looking over the wall, and ran away as soon as they saw Mr. Random come into the garden to inquire the cause of the uproar.
His first concern was to carry Dicky indoors, and then, having wiped away the blood and tears, he asked him how it happened.
“I was only trying to get a pear for my mother,” said Richard, “when these boys threw stones at me, and hit me!”
“That was very cruel,” said his father, “to meddle with you when you were doing nothing to them, and if I can find them out they shall be punished for it.”
Mr. Random immediately set off to the next house, but was met at his own door by the father of the wounded boy, who was coming with him in his arms to demand satisfaction. This brought the whole truth out, and the artful little fellow was found to have concealed a part of the real case. Instead of saying “he was only getting a pear,” he should have said that he was throwing large stones at the topmost pear on the tree, and that every stone went over the wall, he could not tell where.
“Ah, Richard,” said his father, “it is little better than story-telling to conceal a part of the truth. The affair now wears quite a new face. It was you that gave the first assault, and will have to answer for all the bad consequences. It is my duty to see that this unoffending boy is taken care of; but if his leg be so cut or bruised that he cannot get so good a living when he comes to be a man as he might otherwise have done, how would you like to make up the deficiency? You cannot doubt that he has a demand upon you equal to the damage you may have done to him. He is poor, and his father must send him to the hospital, but it would be unjust of me to suffer it. No, on the contrary, I shall prevent this by taking him home and sending you there, where Dr. Hardheart makes his patients smart before he cures them. Come, get ready to go, for delays in wounds of the head are not to be trifled with.”