Dave Sexton wishes he hadn't followed his five friends in climbing a tree during a school field trip in Jesse Stuart's short story, "Split Cherry Tree." When the tree splits and owner Eif Crabtree reports the matter to the teacher, Professor Herbert directs all six boys to pay $1 each as damages for the tree. Since Dave cannot afford to pay the dollar, Professor Herbert directs him to spend four hours after school (at 25 cents per hour) working with the janitor to pay his share. Dave begs the professor to whip him instead, since he knows that
"Pa will whip me anyway for getting home two hours late."
"You are too big to whip," says Professor Herbert, "and I have to punish you for climbing up in that cherry tree. You boys knew better than that!"
Dave also knows his dad well. When Dave reports late for his own chores on the farm, his father, Luster, decides to pay Professor Herbert a visit himself--armed with a gun.