Then James ran back to the yard. He found that George and Rollo had gone into the garden-house. He went in there after them, and found that they were getting a little wagon ready to draw out into the field. There were three barrels standing by the door of the garden-house, and George told them that they were to put their apples into them.
THERE was a beautiful meadow down a little way from Farmer Cropwell's house, and at the farther side of it, across a brook, there stood a very large old apple-tree, which bore a kind of apples called russets, and they called the tree the meadow-russet. These were the apples that the boys were going to gather. They soon got ready, and began to walk along the path towards the meadow. Two of them drew the wagon, and the others carried long poles to knock off the apples with.
As the party were descending the hill towards the meadow, they saw before them, coming around a turn in the path, a cart and oxen, with a large boy driving. They immediately began to call out to one another to turn out, some pulling one way and some the other, with much noise and vociferation. At last they got fairly out upon the grass, and the cart went by. The boy who was driving it said, as he went by, smiling,
"Who is the head of that gang?"
James and Rollo looked at him, wondering what he meant. George laughed.
"What does he mean?" said Rollo.
"He means," said George, laughing, "that we make so much noise and confusion, that we cannot have any head."
"Any head?" said James.
"Yes,—any master workman."
"Why," said Rollo, "do we need a master workman?"
"No," said George, "I don't believe we do."
So the boys went along until they came to the brook. They crossed the brook on a bridge of planks, and were very soon under the spreading branches of the great apple-tree.
THE boys immediately began the work of getting down the apples. But, unluckily, there were but two poles, and they all wanted them. George had one, and James the other, and Rollo came up to James, and took hold of his pole, saying,
"Here, James, I will knock them down; you may pick them up and put them in the wagon."
"No," said James, holding fast to his pole; "no, I'd rather knock them down."
"No," said Rollo, "I can knock them down better."
"But I got the pole first, and I ought to have it."
Rollo, finding that James was not willing to give up his pole, left him, and went to George, and asked George to let him have the pole; but George said he was taller, and could use it better than Rollo.
Rollo was a little out of humor at this, and stood aside and looked on. James soon got tired of his pole, and laid it down; and then Rollo seized it, and began knocking the apples off of the tree. But it fatigued him very much to reach up so high; and, in fact, they all three got tired of the poles very soon, and began picking up the apples.
But they did not go on any more harmoniously with this than with the other. After Rollo and James had thrown in several apples, George came and turned them all out.
"You must not put them in so," said he; "all the good and bad ones together."
"How must we put them in?" asked Rollo.
"Why, first we must get a load of good, large, whole, round apples, and then a load of small and wormy ones. We only put the good ones into the barrels."
"And what do you do with the little ones?" said James.
"O, we give them to the pigs."
"Well," said Rollo, "we can pick them all up together now, and separate them when we get home."
As he said this, he threw in a handful of small apples among the good ones which George had been putting in.
"Be still," said George; "you must not do so. I tell you we must not mix them at all." And he poured the apples out upon the ground again.
"O, I'll tell you what we will do," said James; "we will get a load of little ones first, and then the big ones. I want to see the pigs eat them up."
But George thought it was best to take the big ones first, and so they had quite a discussion about it, and a great deal of time was lost before they could agree.
Thus they went on for some time, discussing every thing, and each wanting to do the work in his own way. They did not dispute much, it is true, for neither of them wished to make difficulty. But each thought he might direct as well as the others, and so they had much talk and clamor, and but very little work. When one wanted the wagon to be on one side of the tree, the others wanted it the other; and when George thought it was time to draw the load along towards home, Rollo and James thought it was not nearly full enough. So they were all pulling in different directions, and made very slow progress in their work. It took them a long time to get their wagon full.
When they got the load ready, and were fairly set off on the road, they went on smoothly and pleasantly for a time, until they got up near the door of the garden-house, when Rollo was going to turn the wagon round so as to back it up to the door, and George began to pull in the other direction.
"Not so, Rollo," said George; "go right up straight."
"No," said Rollo, "it is better to back it up."
James had something to say, too; and they all pulled, and talked loud and all together, so that there was nothing but noise and clamor. In the mean time, the wagon, being pulled every way, of course did not move at all.
PRESENTLY Farmer Cropwell made his appearance at the door of the garden-house.
"Well, boys," said he, "you seem to be pretty good-natured, and I am glad of that; but you are certainly the noisiest workmen, of your size, that I ever heard."
"Why, father," said George, "I want to go right up to the door, straight, and Rollo won't let me."
"Must not we back it up?" said Rollo.
"Is that the way you have been working all the morning?" said the farmer.
"How?" said George.
"Why, all generals and no soldiers."
"Sir?" said George.
"All of you commanding, and none obeying. There is nothing but confusion and noise. I don't see how you can gather apples so. How many have you got in?"
So saying, he went and looked into the barrels.
"None," said he; "I thought so."
He stood still a minute, as if thinking what to do; and then he told them to leave the wagon there, and go with him, and he would show them the way to work.
The boys accordingly walked along after him, through the garden-house, into the yard. They then went across the road, and down behind a barn, to a place where some men were building a stone bridge. They stopped upon a bank at some distance, and looked down upon them.
"There," said he, "see how men work!"
It happened, at that time, that all the men were engaged in moving a great stone with iron bars. There was scarcely any thing said by any of them. Every thing went on silently, but the stone moved regularly into its place.
"Now, boys, do you understand," said the farmer, "how they get along so quietly?"
"Why, it is because they are men, and not boys," said Rollo.
"No," said the farmer, "that is not the reason. It is because they have a head."
"A head?" said Rollo.
"Yes," said he, "a head; that is, one man to direct, and the rest obey."
"Which is it?" said George.
"It is that man who is pointing now," said the farmer, "to another stone. He is telling them which to take next. Watch them now, and you will see that he directs every thing, and the rest do just as he says. But you are all directing and commanding together, and there is nobody to obey. If you were moving those stones, you would be all advising and disputing together, and pulling in every direction at once, and the stone would not move at all."
"And do men always appoint a head," said Rollo, "when they work together?"
"No," said the farmer, "they do not always appoint one regularly, but they always have one, in some way or other. Even when no one is particularly authorized to direct, they generally let the one who is oldest, or who knows most about the business, take the lead, and the rest do as he says."
They all then walked slowly back to the garden-house, and the farmer advised them to have a head, if they wanted their business to go on smoothly and well.
"Who do you think ought to be our head?"
"The one who is the oldest, and knows most about the business," said the farmer, "and that, I suppose, would be George. But perhaps you had better take turns, and let each one be head for one load, and then you will all learn both to command and to obey."
So the boys agreed that George should command while they got the next load, and James and Rollo agreed to obey. The farmer told them they must obey exactly, and good-naturedly.
"You must not even advise him what to do, or say any thing about it at all, except in some extraordinary case; but, when you talk, talk about other things altogether, and work on exactly as he shall say."
"What if we know there is a better way? must not we tell him?" said Rollo.
"No," said the farmer, "unless it is something very uncommon. It is better to go wrong sometimes, under a head, than to be endlessly talking and disputing how you shall go. Therefore you must do exactly what he says, even if you know a better way, and see if you do not get along much faster."
THE boys determined to try the plan, and, after putting their first load of apples into the barrel, they set off again under George's command. He told Rollo and James to draw the wagon, while he ran along behind. When they got to the tree, Rollo took up a pole, and began to beat down some more apples; but George told him that they must first pick up what were knocked down before; and he drew the wagon round to the place where he thought it was best for it to stand. The other boys made no objection, but worked industriously, picking up all the small and worm-eaten apples they could find; and, in a very short time, they had the wagon loaded, and were on their way to the house again.
Still, Rollo and James had to make so great an effort to avoid interfering with George's directions, that they did not really enjoy this trip quite so well as they did the first. It was pleasant to them to be more at liberty, and they thought, on the whole, that they did not like having a head quite so well as being without one.
Instead of going up to the garden-house, George ordered them to take this load to the barn, to put it in a bin where all such apples were to go. When they came back, the farmer came again to the door of the garden-house.
"Well, boys," said he, "you have come rather quicker this time. How do you like that way of working?"
"Why, not quite so well," said Rollo. "I do not think it is so pleasant as the other way."
"It is not such good play, perhaps; but don't you think it makes better work?" said he.
The boys admitted that they got their apples in faster, and, as they were at work then, and not at play, they resolved to continue the plan.
Farmer Cropwell then asked who was to take command the next time.
"Rollo," said the boys.
"Well, Rollo," said he, "I want you to have a large number of apples knocked down this time, and then select from them the largest and nicest you can. I want one load for a particular purpose."
THE boys worked on industriously, and, before dinner-time, they had gathered all the apples. The load of best apples, which the farmer had requested them to bring for a particular purpose, were put into a small square box, until it was full, and then a cover was nailed on; the rest were laid upon the great bench. When, at length, the work was all done, and they were ready to go home, the farmer put this box into the wagon, so that it stood up in the middle, leaving a considerable space before and behind it. He put the loose apples into this space, some before and some behind, until the wagon was full.
"Now, James and Rollo, I want you to draw these apples for me, when you go home," said the farmer.
"Who are they for?" said Rollo.
"I will mark them," said he.
So he took down a little curious-looking tin dipper, with a top sloping in all around, and with a hole in the middle of it. A long, slender brush-handle was standing up in this hole.
When he took out the brush, the boys saw that it was blacking. With this blacking-brush he wrote on the top of the box,—Lucy.
"Is that box for my cousin Lucy?" said Rollo.
"Yes," said he; "you can draw it to her, can you not?"
"Yes, sir," said Rollo, "we will. And who are the other apples for? You cannot mark them."
"No," said the farmer; "but you will remember. Those before the box are for you, and those behind it for James. So drive along. George will come to your house, this afternoon, with the strawberry plants, and then he can bring the wagon home."
GEORGE CROPWELL came, soon after, to Rollo's house, and helped him make a fine strawberry-bed, which, he said, he thought would bear considerably the next year. They dug up the ground, raked it over carefully, and then put in the plants in rows.
After it was all done, Rollo got permission of his father to go back with George to take the wagon home; and George proposed to take Rollo's wheelbarrow too. He had never seen such a pretty little wheelbarrow, and was very much pleased with it. So George ran on before, trundling the wheelbarrow, and Rollo came after, drawing the wagon.
Just as they came near the farmer's house, George saw, on before him, a ragged little boy, much smaller than Rollo, who was walking along barefooted.
"There's Tom," said George.
"Who?" said Rollo.
"Tom. See how I will frighten him."
As he said this, George darted forward with his wheelbarrow, and trundled it on directly towards Tom, as if he was going to run over him. Tom looked round, and then ran away, the wheelbarrow at his heels. He was frightened very much, and began to scream; and, just then, Farmer Cropwell, who at that moment happened to be coming up a lane, on the opposite side of the road, called out,
George stopped his wheelbarrow.
"Is that right?" said the farmer.
"Why, I was not going to hurt him," said George.
"You did hurt him—you frightened him."
"Is frightening him hurting him, father?"
"Why, yes, it is giving him pain, and a very unpleasant kind of pain too."
"I did not think of that," said George.
"Besides," said his father, "when you treat boys in that harsh, rough way, you make them your enemies; and it is a very bad plan to make enemies."
"Enemies, father!" said George, laughing; "Tom could not do me any harm, if he was my enemy."
"That makes me think of the story of the bear and the tomtit," said the farmer; "and, if you and Rollo will jump up in the cart, I will tell it to you."
Thus far, while they had been talking, the boys had walked along by the side of the road, keeping up with the farmer as he drove along in the cart. But now they jumped in, and sat down with the farmer on his seat, which was a board laid across from one side of the cart to the other. As soon as they were seated, the farmer began.
"THE story I was going to tell you, boys, is an old fable about making enemies. It is called 'The Bear and the Tomtit.' "
"What is a tomtit?" said Rollo.
"It is a kind of a bird, a very little bird; but he sings pleasantly. Well, one pleasant summer's day, a wolf and a bear were taking a walk together in a lonely wood. They heard something singing.
" 'Brother,' said the bear, 'that is good singing: what sort of a bird do you think that may be?'
" 'That's a tomtit,' said the wolf.
" 'I should like to see his nest,' said the bear; 'where do you think it is?'
" 'If we wait a little time, till his mate comes home, we shall see,' said the wolf.
"The bear and the wolf walked backward and forward some time, till his mate came home with some food in her mouth for her children. The wolf and the bear watched her. She went to the tree where the bird was singing, and they together flew to a little grove just by, and went to their nest.
" 'Now,' said the bear, 'let us go and see.'
" 'No,' said the wolf, 'we must wait till the old birds have gone away again.'
"So they noticed the place, and walked away.
"They did not stay long, for the bear was very impatient to see the nest. They returned, and the bear scrambled up the tree, expecting to amuse himself finely by frightening the young tomtits.
" 'Take care,' said the wolf; 'you had better be careful. The tomtits are little; but little enemies are sometimes very troublesome.'
" 'Who is afraid of a tomtit?' said the bear.
"So saying, he poked his great black nose into the nest.
" 'Who is here?' said he; 'what are you?'
"The poor birds screamed out with terror. 'Go away! Go away!' said they.
" 'What do you mean by making such a noise,' said he, 'and talking so to me? I will teach you better.' So he put his great paw on the nest, and crowded it down until the poor little birds were almost stifled. Presently he left them, and went away.
"The young tomtits were terribly frightened, and some of them were hurt. As soon as the bear was gone, their fright gave way to anger; and, soon after, the old birds came home, and were very indignant too. They used to see the bear, occasionally, prowling about the woods, but did not know what they could do to bring him to punishment.
"Now, there was a famous glen, surrounded by high rocks, where the bear used to go and sleep, because it was a wild, solitary place. The tomtits often saw him there. One day, the bear was prowling around, and he saw, at a great distance, two huntsmen, with guns, coming towards the wood. He fled to his glen in dismay, though he thought he should be safe there.
"The tomtits were flying about there, and presently they saw the huntsmen. 'Now,' said one of them to the other, 'is the time to get rid of the tyrant; you go and see if he is in his glen, and then come back to where you hear me singing.'
"So he flew about from tree to tree, keeping in sight of the huntsmen, and singing all the time; while the other went and found that the bear was in his glen, crouched down in terror behind a rock.
"The tomtits then began to flutter around the huntsmen, and fly a little way towards the glen, and then back again. This attracted the notice of the men, and they followed them to see what could be the matter.
"By and by, the bear saw the terrible huntsmen coming, led on by his little enemies, the tomtits. He sprang forward, and ran from one side of the glen to the other; but he could not escape. They shot him with two bullets through his head.
"The wolf happened to be near by, at that time, upon the rocks that were around the glen; and, hearing all this noise, he came and peeped over. As soon as he saw how the case stood, he thought it would be most prudent for him to walk away; which he did, saying, as he went.
" 'Well, the bear has found out that it is better to have a person a friend than an enemy, whether he is great or small.' "
Here the farmer paused—he had ended the story.
"And what did they do with the bear?" said Rollo.
"O, they took off his skin to make caps of, and nailed his claws up on the barn."