Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE TOMATO STORY
 "HAVE another tomato, Johnny," said Grandma, as she saw
the last red slice disappear from Johnny's plate; "I
think you like tomatoes."
"I do," said Johnny; "I like them raw, and stewed, and
baked, and 'most any way."
"Didn't you like tomatoes when you were little,
Grandma?" Johnny asked, as he saw Grandma looking down
at her plate with a smile in her eyes.
"No," Grandma said, "but that was because I was a big
girl before I ever tasted one. I never saw any until I
was thirteen years old.
"I can remember it so well. A peddler who came by our
farm once a month, bringing buttons and thread and such
little things to sell, brought the seed to mother.
"He used to carry seeds and cuttings of plants from one
farmer's wife to the next, and they liked to see him
come. He could tell all the news, too, from up the
road and down.
"One spring morning he came, and after mother had
bought all she needed from his big, red wagon, and he
had fed his horse and was sitting by the kitchen fire
waiting for his dinner, he began fumbling about
his pockets in search of something. Finally he drew
out a very small package, and handed it to mother.
" 'I've brought you some love-apple seeds,' he said.
'I got them in the city, and I gave my sister half and
brought half to you.'
" 'Thank you, kindly,' mother said, as she looked at
the little yellow seeds. 'I'm right glad to get them.
What kind of a plant is the love-apple?'
" 'Well,' said the peddler, 'the man who gave the seeds
to me had his plants last year in a sunny fence corner.
The flowers are small, but the fruit is bright red, and
is very pretty among the dark-green leaves. You can't
eat the fruit, though—it's poisonous. It's something
new—the man who gave me the seeds got them from a
captain of a ship from South America. They grow wild
"So mother planted her love-apple seeds in a warm fence
corner, and they grew, and the little yellow blossoms
came, and after them the pretty red fruit. We children
would go out and look at it, and talk about it, and
wonder if it would hurt us if we just tasted it.
"One day mother heard us talking about it, and she
called us away, and told us if we could not be
satisfied with the pretty red fruit just to look at,
without wanting to eat it, she would have to pull up
the love-apple vines and throw them away, for the
peddler had said it was poisonous.
"We knew she would hate to do that, for no one else
about had them, so we kept away from the fence corner,
and the vine grew and blossomed, and the red showed in
new places every day. The birds did not seem to be at
all afraid of the poison fruit, but ate all they wanted
 "One day, in the early fall, my uncle came from
New York to make us a visit. When he went out in the
garden he stopped in surprise. 'Why, Mary,' he said,
'what fine tomato vines you have! Where did you get
" 'We call them love-apples,' mother said, and then she
told him how the peddler brought the seed. But when my
uncle found that we were afraid to eat them he had a
hearty laugh, and then he showed mother how to get some
ready for supper. And that was my first taste of
tomato, Johnny," Grandma said, "and you shall have some
for supper fixed the same way—with cream and sugar."