A GENEROUS DEED
It was this very morning that Garrone let us know what he is like. When I entered the school a little late, because the mistress of the upper first had stopped me to inquire at what hour she could find me at home, the master had not yet arrived, and three or four boys were tormenting poor Crossi, the one with the red hair, who has a dead arm, and whose mother sells vegetables. They were poking him with rulers, hitting him in the face with chestnut shells, and were making him out to be a cripple and a monster, by mimicking him, with his arm hanging from his neck. And he, alone on the end of the bench, and quite pale, began to be affected by it, gazing now at one and now at another with beseeching eyes, that they might leave him in peace. But the others mocked him worse than ever, and he began to tremble and to turn crimson with rage. All at once, Franti, the boy with the repulsive face, sprang upon a bench, and pretending that he was carrying a basket on each arm, he aped the mother of Crossi, when she used to come to wait for her son at the door; for she is ill now. Many began to laugh loudly. Then Crossi lost his head, and seizing an inkstand, he hurled it at the other’s head with all his strength; but Franti dodged, and the inkstand struck the master, who entered at the moment, full in the breast.
All flew to their places, and became silent with terror.
The master, quite pale, went to his table, and said in a constrained voice:—
“Who did it?”
No one replied.
The master cried out once more, raising his voice still louder, “Who is it?”
Then Garrone, moved to pity for poor Crossi, rose abruptly and said, resolutely, “It was I.”
The master looked at him, looked at the stupefied scholars; then said in a tranquil voice, “It was not you.”
And, after a moment: “The culprit shall not be punished. Let him rise!”
Crossi rose and said, weeping, “They were striking me and insulting me, and I lost my head, and threw it.”
“Sit down,” said the master. “Let those who provoked him rise.”
Four rose, and hung their heads.
“You,” said the master, “have insulted a companion who had given you no provocation; you have scoffed at an unfortunate lad, you have struck a weak person who could not defend himself. You have committed one of the basest, the most shameful acts with which a human creature can stain himself. Cowards!”
Having said this, he came down among the benches, put his hand under Garrone’s chin, as the latter stood with drooping head, and having made him raise it, he looked him straight in the eye, and said to him, “You are a noble soul.”
Garrone profited by the occasion to murmur some words, I know not what, in the ear of the master; and he, turning towards the four culprits, said, abruptly, “I forgive you.”
Chapter 6 (Summary)
A Generous Action
Precisely this morning Garrone showed himself in class. It happened before the professor had arrived. Four boys were tormenting poor Crossi, the boy with red hair who had a paralyzed arm.
They were imitating him with his arm tucked in close to his body. Crossi was left alone on the end of the bench. He began to tremble and to turn dark red with rage.
Suddenly Franti started to imitate Crossi’s mother who sold vegetables and came for him after school carrying two baskets in her arms.
It was then that Crossi lost his patience and threw an inkwell over their heads. Franti dodged and the inkstand struck the professor’s chest who was walking into the classroom at the moment.
The professor wrathfully asked, “Who did this?”
No one responded.
Garrone felt sorry for Crossi, so he stood and said, ”It was me.”
The professor stared at Garone and said, ”No, it was not you. I want the guilty one to stand up. He will not be punished.”
Then Crossi stood up with the tears in his eyes telling what had happened.
The professor said in his deep voice, “I want the guilty one to stand up.” Then four boys stood up with their heads down.
The professor said, “You have committed a shameful act. You have ridiculed a classmate who cannot defend himself. You are cowards.”
Then he approached Garrone and looked at him with love and said, ”You have a good heart.”
Garrone took advantage of the opportunity and whispered something to the teacher. Then the professor turned toward the guilty ones and said, ”You are forgiven.”
Đặng Hoàng Lan Summarized Chapter 6.