O NCE upon a time, not so very long ago, there stood in a large orchard a beautiful Apple-Tree. All through the long winter it had held out bare branches. The March sun whispered to it that spring had come. But the cold March winds were not a bit polite, and would say: "No, it hasn't."
At last, however, Apple-Tree began to feel so warm and comfortable that she thought the March sun was right, and began to think of getting a spring gown. The warm April rains helped her, and her buds opened and grew, first into tiny leaves and then into larger ones, until Apple-Tree was wearing a beautiful apple-green dress. All through April she wore it and was very happy. Then, as the trees about her put on bright colors, and she saw Peach-Tree in pink and Cherry-Tree and Pear-Tree in white, something seemed to tell her to try what she could do.
I am sure she could never have succeeded without help, but with the showers, the gentle winds, and the warm sun as dressmakers, Apple-Tree's green dress was soon covered with lovely pink and white flowers. And the air all around seemed as sweet as though she carried many handkerchiefs with different perfumes on each. Then Apple-Tree felt very glad and proud and was much pleased when every one who passed said: "Oh, see, how lovely!"
But only a week or two later a damp wind and cold rain came and beat down on her spring suit until it was quite spoiled. Then Apple-Tree was so sorry that she let her teardrops fall with the rain. Kind Mother Nature did not scold her at all, but only said: "Don't cry about the blossoms, dear; sometime you will see them again."
So all summer long Apple-Tree looked and waited, for she knew that Mother Nature always told the truth. Her arms grew full of apples, and sometimes they seemed too heavy to hold any longer. Whenever she was very tired, there would come the whisper: "Wait a little longer. Your time is coming—the time when you will find the blossoms."
And at last, one sunny September day, one yellow apple after another slipped from her hold and lay on the grass beneath. While Apple-Tree was wondering what would happen, a lady and her little boy wandered through the orchard and stopped to pick and eat some apples.
"Robert," said the mother, "have you ever seen the blossom in an apple?"
"Oh, no, mother; please show it to me!"
Apple-Tree bent her tall head so that she might hear and see. Could it be that now she was to find the flowers she had lost in the spring?
The lady carefully cut an apple all around, half-way between the blossom end and the stem. And as she laid the halves before her little boy, she pointed to the blossom which showed plainly in both pieces of the apple. And Apple-Tree held the rest of her fruit tightly in her arms, sure that in each one was a blossom she had loved months before.