"W HAT did you say about nuts for dinner?" asked Jack one day.
"I said we were going to have them," replied Ko.
"It must be almost dinner time," said Jack; and sure enough, just then the dinner bell rang.
"There's a baby in this almond, I do believe," said Jack, as he cracked his first nut, after dinner had been eaten and the nuts passed.
"It's like a bean," said Ko.
"Beans are seeds," said Jack; "if you plant them they will grow."
"So are nuts seeds," added Ko; "if you plant them they'll grow."
"Then there must be babies in the nuts," said Jack,
"for it's the little
"Let's look for them in all the nuts," said Ko; then added, "Mother, can't we take our nuts on the porch and eat them?"
"Of course you may," said Mother; so off they went, their nuts in their pockets.
"Now," said Ko, looking very wise, "you see these almonds grow on trees, and they have to fall a long way, and they might get bruised, so their coat is hard like wood."
"Do you suppose that's the reason they're so hard?" asked Jack.
"It's as good a reason as any," said Ko.
"Yes," said the almond, "that is the way too many people reason, without taking the trouble to find out the real truth about things."
"Well, why are you hard?" asked Ko.
"I won't tell you," said the almond, who, though naturally good-natured, had been made very cross by Ko's poor reasoning.
"I won't tell you, because then you would never know why I am hard."
"Wouldn't I know if you told me?" asked Ko, opening his eyes in astonishment.
"No, that's the very reason you would not know. Nobody knows from being told. If you think about it as long as you live and don't ask anybody's opinion, you may find out; it's the only way."
"We'd need more than one brain, wouldn't we, if we learned everything everybody tells us to?" asked Jack.
"No, you wouldn't," said the almond; "one brain isn't
much, to be sure; but if you knew enough to use it,
instead of holding it open, like a
"Let's not eat any more almonds," said Jack, "they are so cross to us."
"Oh, no," said Ko, "they taste good, and if we eat them fast and chew them hard, they can't scold at us."
"Yes, that's the way people do about everything," said the almond with a sigh, as it disappeared in Jack's mouth.
"Do you think it will keep on talking after I've swallowed it?" he asked, in alarm.
"Oh, I guess not," said Ko. "Now look here!"
He had cracked a Madeira nut, and taken the meat out whole.
"I don't see any baby there," said Jack.
"Don't be too sure about that," said Ko, carefully pulling his nut apart. "Look there, in the corner! Isn't that a baby? But it lies in crosswise, not straight like the others."
"It's so crumpled up, you can't tell much about it," said Jack.
"That's it," said the nut, "I am crumpled; I am not smooth and simple like your bean, but here I am, all folded up, so you have to look at my cotyledons a long time to find out how I really split open to grow."
"How do you?" asked Ko.
"Plant me," said the Madeira nut.
The boys planted half a dozen in the garden, and dug one up every day to see how it was getting on. They gave it plenty of water and one day,—what do you think?—the shell had split open!
"Oh, Ko," screamed Jack, "just look in the crack! How white it has got!"
They planted it again; and in a day or two, out of the crack peeped a little green sprout from the place where the two crumpled cotyledons were fastened together.
The boys were delighted, but as it would say nothing to them, they planted it again and watched the stout root go down into the ground.
"Why don't its cotyledons come out of the shell?" asked Jack of Ko one day. The nut answered:
"What's the use in taking that trouble? My cotyledons are all folded in the shell, so that it would not be easy for them to get out. Besides I am so very sweet that I might get eaten if I came out. I just stay in the shell and let my leaves and roots out; they are fastened to me, you see, and can draw out all the food they need. You see my cotyledons are changed."
"Yes, they are quite soft and greenish yellow," said Ko, pulling off a piece of the shell.
"There, there! now let me alone to grow in peace," said the nut, thinking investigations had been carried far enough.
But Jack and Ko did not let it alone; they made it tell them a great many things about itself, and the great secret of how it was folded,—not at all as it looked to be.
But if you want to know these things, you must go and plant some Madeira nuts for yourself, and keep them moist. If they are fresh, some will be sure to sprout, and if you are as bright as I think you are, they will tell you all that Ko's and Jack's nut told them.