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C. S. B. Adapted from the legends associated with John Chapman.
THERE was once a farmer who had worked in the fields
all his life. Every year he had ploughed and planted
and harvested, and no one else had raised such fine
crops as he. It seemed as if he needed to only touch
the corn to have it yellow and ripen upon the ear, or
lay his hand upon the rough bark of a tree
 to be
sure that the blossoms would show and the branches hang
low with fruit.
But, after years and years, the farmer grew to be an
old man. His hair and beard became as white as the
blossoms on the pear trees, and his back was bent and
crooked, because he had worked so hard. He could only
sit in the sunshine and watch some one else ploughing
and planting where he wanted so much to plough and
plant. And he felt very unhappy, because he wished to
do something great for other people, and he was not
able, for he was poor.
But one morning he got down his stout cane from the
chimney corner, and he slung an empty bag over his
crooked old shoulders, and he started out into the
world, because he had thought of a good deed that even
an old man could do.
Over the meadows and through the lanes he traveled,
stopping to speak to the little wild mice, or the
crickets, or the chipmunks, who knew him—all of
them—and were never afraid when he went by. At every
farmhouse he rested and rapped at the door and asked
for—what do you think?—just a few apples! And the
farmers had so many apples that they were glad to give
some of them away, and the old man's bag was soon full
to the very brim.
On and on he went, until he left the houses far behind,
and took his way through the deep woods. At night he
slept upon a bed of moss out under the stars, with the
prairie dogs barking in his ears, and the owls hooting
in the tops of the trees; and in the morning he started
on his way again.
When he was hungry he ate of the berries that grew in
the woods, but not one of his apples—oh, no! Sometimes
an Indian met him, and they walked along
 together; and so, at last, the old man came to a place
where there were wide fields, but no one to plant them,
for there were no farms.
Then he sat down and took out his jack-knife, and began
carefully cutting the core from every apple in his bag.
With his stout cane he bored deep holes in the earth,
and in every hole he dropped an apple core, to sleep
there in the rain and the sun. And when his bag was
emptied he hurried on to a town where he could ask for
Soon the farmers came to know him, and they called him
old Apple-seed John. They gave him their very best
apples for seed—the Pound Sweets, and the Sheep's
Noses, and the Pippins, and the Seek-no-Farthers. They
saved clippings from the pear trees, and the plum
trees, and the peach trees for him; and they gave him
the corner of the settle which was nearest the fire
when he stopped with them for a night.
Such wonderful stories as he told the children of the
things he had seen in his travels—the Indians with
their gay blankets and feathers, the wolves who came
out of the wood at night to look at him with their
glaring eyes, the deer who ran across his path, and the
shy little hares. And no one wished Apple-seed John to
travel on the next morning, but he would never stay.
With his bag over his shoulder, his clippings under his
arm, and his trusty cane in his hand, he hurried on to
plant young orchards by every river and in every lonely
And soon the apple seeds that had been asleep when
Apple-seed John had dropped them into the earth awoke
and arose, and sent out green shoots, and began to be
trees. Higher and higher they grew, until, in the wind
and the sun, they covered the ground with
 blossoms, and then with ripe fruit, so that all the
empty places in the country were full of orchards.
After a while old Apple-seed John went to live with the
angels, but no one ever forgot him; and the children
who knew him, when they had grown to be grandfathers
themselves, would sit out under the trees, and say to
each other: "This orchard was planted by Apple-seed