After a short pause John said slowly, "You must not be too hard upon me, Tom. I know he meant no harm, I never said he did; I know he is not a bad boy. But you see, I am sore myself; that horse is the pride of my heart, to say nothing of his being such a favorite with the master and mistress; and to think that his life may be flung away in this manner is more than I can bear. But if you think I am hard on the boy I will try to give him a good word tomorrow - that is, I mean if Beauty is better."
"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.
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