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Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Big Red Apple

B OBBY was a little boy, and he had a grandpa.

One day Bobby's grandpa sat by the fire while Bobby lay on the hearth rug, looking at a picture-book.

"Ho, ho!" yawned grandpa, "I wish I had a big red apple! I could show you how to roast it, Bobby."

Bobby jumped up as quick as a flash. "I'll get you one," he said; and he picked up his hat and ran out of the house as fast as he could go. He knew where he had seen an apple tree away down the road—a tree all bright with big red apples.

Bobby ran on by the side of the road, through the drifts of fallen leaves, all red and yellow and brown. The leaves made a pleasant noise under his feet. At last he came to the big apple tree, but though Bobby looked and looked there was not an apple to be seen—not an apple on the tree, nor an apple on the ground!

"Oh," cried Bobby, "where have they all gone?"

Then he heard a rustling through the dry leaves on the branches of the tree:

"I haven't an apple left, my dear.

You'll have to wait till another year."

Bobby was surprised. "But where have they all gone?" he asked again. The apple tree only sighed. So the little boy turned away and started home across the fields.

Pretty soon he met a pussy-cat. "Oh, pussy," he cried; "do you know what they have done with the big red apples?"

Pussy looked up at him, and then began rubbing against his legs, saying:

"Mew, mew, me-ew!

I haven't a big red apple for you."

So Bobby went on, and at last he met a friendly doggie. The doggie stopped and wagged his tail, so the little boy said to him:

"Oh, doggie, can you tell me what they have done with the big red apples?"

The doggie kept on wagging his tail, and barked:

"Bow, wow, wow!

If I knew, I'd surely tell you now."

So the little boy went on until he came to a kind old cow who stood looking over the fence.

"Oh, mooly cow," said Bobby, "will you tell me what has become of the big red apples?"

Mooly cow rubbed her nose against him, and said:

"Moo! Moo-o-o!

I'd  like a big red apple, too."

The little boy laughed, and he walked on till he came to the edge of the wood, and there was a big, gray squirrel.

"Hullo, gray squirrel," said Bobby, "can you tell me what has become of the big red apples?"

The squirrel whisked about and looked at Bobby.

"The farmer has hidden them all away,

To eat on a pleasant winter's day,"

he chattered. Then the squirrel ran to the foot of a chestnut tree and began to fill his little pockets with shiny nuts to carry to his own storehouse; but Bobby said: "Oh, thank you," and ran up the hill to the farmer's house as fast as he could go. The farmer was standing by the door, and he smiled when he saw Bobby.

"Good morning, good morning, my little man," he said; "and what can I do for you to-day?"

"Please," said Bobby, "I want a big red apple."

The farmer laughed. "Come with me," he said, "and you shall pick one out for yourself."

So Bobby and the farmer walked out to the great barn, and there Bobby saw a lot of barrels standing in a row, and every barrel was full of big red apples!

"Oh, what a lot!" said Bobby. "Why did you pick them all?"

"We didn't want to leave them for Jack Frost, did we?" said the farmer.

"Does Jack Frost like apples?" asked Bobby.

"He likes to pinch them," said the farmer, "but we like to eat them; so we gather them in for the winter."

Bobby began to look about the barn. Near the barrels of red apples was another row of barrels all filled with green apples, and further on was a great pile of golden pumpkins; and near that was a heap of green and yellow squashes, and another of turnips, and then piles of yellow corn.

"Are you keeping all those things for winter?" asked Bobby.

"Yes," said the farmer, "we've been gathering in the harvest—all the good things that the summer has given us."

"And do the squirrels gather in a harvest, too?" asked Bobby.

"I reckon they do," said the farmer.

"Then that was how he knew," thought Bobby.

Soon the little boy's eyes began to shine. "Won't you have lots of good things for Thanksgiving!" he said. "Pumpkin pie, and apple pie—and everything!"

"Well," said the good farmer, "I guess there's plenty to be thankful for right here. Did you say you wanted a red apple, sonny?"

Bobby walked up to the barrel and picked out the biggest red apple he could find.

"Thank you, Mr. Farmer," he said; and then he ran home to give the apple to his grandpa.

"Why, why," said grandpa, "wherever did you find it?"

"Oh," said Bobby, "I went to the apple tree, but it didn't have any. Then I asked the cat where the big red apples were, but she didn't know. I asked the dog, and he didn't know, and then I asked the cow and she didn't know; but then I met the squirrel, and he knew, because he gathers in a harvest himself. So he told me to go to the farmer. And I went to the farmer and asked him for a red apple, and he gave me this great big one!"

"Well, well," said grandpa, when Bobby stopped, out of breath. "Now find me a bit of string."

Bobby found the string, and grandpa tied one end of it to the stem of the apple. He fastened the other end of the string to the mantel shelf; and there the apple hung over the fire.

It turned and twisted, and twisted and turned, while grandpa and Bobby watched it; and the juice sizzled out, and the apple grew softer and softer, and, by and by, it was all roasted.

Then Bobby fetched a plate and two spoons, and he and grandpa sat before the fire and ate the big red apple.

— Kate Whiting Patch, "Kindergarten Review"