Young Folks' Treasury: Classic Tales and Old-Fashioned Stories HTML version
Of a Complaint made against Sundry Persons for Breaking in the Windows of Dorothy Careful,
Widow and Dealer in Gingerbread
By JOHN AIKIN AND MRS. BARBAULD
The court being sat, there appeared in person the widow Dorothy Careful to make a complaint
against Henry Luckless, and other person or persons unknown, for breaking three panes of glass,
value ninepence, in the house of the said widow. Being directed to tell her case to the court, she
made a curtsey and began as follows:
"Please, your lordship, I was sitting at work by my fireside between the hours of six and seven in
the evening, just as it was growing dusk, and little Jack was spinning beside me, when all at once
crack went the window, and down fell a little basket of cakes that was set up against it. I started
up and cried to Jack: 'Bless me, what's the matter?' 'So,' says Jack, 'sombody has thrown a stone
and broke the window, and I dare say it is some of the schoolboys.' With that I ran out of the
house, and saw some boys making off as fast as they could go. So I ran after them as quick as my
old legs would carry me, but I should never have come near them if one had not happened to fall
down. Him I caught and brought back to my house, when Jack knew him at once to be Master
Henry Luckless. So I told him I would complain of him the next day, and I hope your worship
will make him pay the damage, and I think he deserves a good whipping into the bargain for
injuring a poor widow woman."
The Judge, having heard Mrs. Careful's story, desired her to sit down, and then calling up Master
Luckless, asked him what he had to say for himself. Luckless appeared with his [pg 419] face a good
deal scratched, and looking very ruefully. After making his bow and sobbing two or three times,
"My lord, I am as innocent of this matter as any boy in the school, and I am sure I have suffered
enough about it already. My lord, Billy Thompson and I were playing in the lane near Mrs.
Careful's house when we heard the window crash, and directly after she came running out
towards us. Upon this Billy ran away, and I ran too, thinking I might bear the blame. But after
running a little way I stumbled over something that lay in the road, and before I could get up
again she overtook me, and caught me by the hair, and began lugging and cuffing me. I told her
it was not I that broke her window, but it did not signify; so she dragged me to the light, lugging
and scratching me all the while, and then said she would inform against me. And that is all I
know of the matter."
"I find, good woman," said the Judge, "you were willing to revenge yourself without waiting for
the justice of this court."
"My lord, I must confess I was put into a passion, and did not properly consider what I was
"Well, where is Billy Thompson?"