Adventure from a Stolen Apple

Adventure from a Stolen Apple

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Adventure from a Stolen Apple

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I was ten years old, I spent the summer at my grandmother’s farm. Even though I was older than all of my cousins and most of them were boys, we still hung out together after we did our chores. We would wander the countryside, picking wild blackberries and playing together.

There was one very rundown farm that we stayed away from because my cousins said that a witch lived there. They called her “Old Lady Green.” I had never seen her, but one day in late August as we were passing near her farmhouse, we saw that she had a lot of large apples hanging almost over her fence. We stopped to look at them.

Then my cousin Paul climbed over the fence. He reached up, grabbed an apple and handed it to me. Just then, I heard a startled gasp. I turned and saw an old lady watching us.

“Old Lady Green! The witch of Knox County!” my cousin yelled. Then he raced back through the waist-high grass and leaped over the tumbled-down fence.

My eyes couldn’t leave the eyes of the old lady. Why, I thought, she’s going to cry! She was leaning heavily and painfully on a stumpy, knotty, worn tree branch. Her head was bald in spots, and her white thin hair hung limply around a face that looked like a shrunken apple. Although she looked about a hundred years old, she was only as tall as I was.

I reached out and handed her the apple. A crooked half smile creased her wrinkled face, and I saw that she only had a few teeth.

“Thank you,” she rasped. “Why didn’t you run away like the boy did? Aren’t you afraid of me?”

“Because at my school we are learning about being kind. I want to help you.” This was only half true. I felt like running as fast as I could away from her, but I stood my ground.

Then she sat down on a tree stump, laughed and slapped her thigh. “I’m too old and weak to care for my property. I can only reach the low apples, pears and peaches. I have only a few chickens. I don’t want ’em scattered. The only way I’ve been able to save what I have is to scare the lights out of youngsters by pretending to be a witch. Now I’ve lost my power over you!”

What should I do? I wondered as I stood there. Even though I was still a little scared of her, I wanted to stay and help her — and I did. I climbed high up to the sweet apples and brought her a bag full of them. I picked green beans from her weedy garden, and washed and snapped them. I dug up some potatoes. Then I searched the grass near the hen house and found some eggs the hens had mislaid.

When I started for home, I found my cousin, my aunt and Grandma almost running down the road to look for me. They seemed very worried. I quickly explained, “She isn’t a witch at all! Just a nice old lady who is very weak and can’t pick the apples up high, so she chases away people who try to steal the only ones she can reach!”

Now whenever I see an old lady who looks cross because children or dogs are running around her lawn or through her flowers, I remember Old Lady Green who wasn’t really mean or a witch, but simply too weak and too poor to replace what others might carelessly destroy.

~Rosemary K. Breckler

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