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A Story for children age 4 to 6.
From The SToryteller by Maud Lindsey.
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Start of Story
There was once upon a time an old woman who wanted an apple dumpling
for supper. She had plenty of flour and plenty of butter, plenty of
sugar and plenty of spice for a dozen dumplings, but there was one
thing she did not have; and that was an apple.
She had plums, a tree full of them, the roundest and reddest that you
can imagine; but, though you can make butter from cream and raisins of
grapes, you cannot make an apple dumpling with plums, and there is no
The more the old woman thought of the dumpling the more she wanted it,
and at last she dressed herself in her Sunday best and started out to
seek an apple.
Before she left home, however, she filled a basket with plums from
her plum-tree and, covering it over with a white cloth, hung it on her
arm, for she said to herself: "There may be those in the world who
have apples, and need plums."
She had not gone very far when she came to a poultry yard filled with
fine hens and geese and guineas. Ca-ca, quawk, quawk, poterack! What a
noise they made; and in the midst of them stood a young woman who was
feeding them with yellow corn. She nodded pleasantly to the old woman,
and the old woman nodded to her; and soon the two were talking as if
they had known each other always.
The young woman told the old woman about her fowls and the old woman
told the young woman about the dumpling and the basket of plums for
which she hoped to get apples.
"Dear me," said the young woman when she heard this, "there is nothing
my husband likes better than plum jelly with goose for his Sunday
dinner, but unless you will take a bag of feathers for your plums he
must do without, for that is the best I can offer you.
"One pleased is better than two disappointed," said the old woman
then; and she emptied the plums into the young woman's apron and
putting the bag of feathers into her basket trudged on as merrily as
before; for she said to herself:
"If I am no nearer the dumpling than when I left home, I am at least
no farther from it; and that feathers are lighter to carry than plums
nobody can deny."
Trudge, trudge, up hill and down she went, and presently she came to a
garden of sweet flowers; lilies, lilacs, violets, roses--oh, never was
there a lovelier garden!
The old woman stopped at the gate to look at the flowers; and as she
looked she heard a man and a woman, who sat on the door-step of a
house that stood in the garden, quarreling.
"Cotton," said the woman.
"Straw," said the man.
"It is," they cried, and so it went between them, till they spied the
old woman at the gate.
"A feather cushion is fit for a king," she said, "and as for me, an
apple for a dumpling, or a nosegay from your garden will serve me as
well as what I give."
The man and the woman had no apples, but they were glad to exchange a
nosegay from their garden for a bag of fine feathers, you may be sure.
"There is nothing nicer for a cushion than feathers," said the woman.
"My mother had one made of them," said the man; and they laughed like
children as they hurried into the garden to fill the old woman's
basket with the loveliest posies; lilies, lilacs, violets, roses--oh!
never was there a sweeter nosegay.
"A good bargain, and not all of it in the basket," said the old woman,
for she was pleased to have stopped the quarrel, and when she had
wished the two good fortune and a long life, she went upon her way
Now her way was the king's highway, and as she walked there she met a
young lord who was dressed in his finest clothes, for he was going to
see his lady love.
He would have been as handsome a young man as ever
the sun shone on had it not been that his forehead was wrinkled into a
terrible frown, and the corners of his mouth drawn down as if he had
not a friend left in the whole world.
"A fair day and a good road," said the old woman, stopping to drop him
"Fair or foul, good or bad, 'tis all one to me," said he, "when the
court jeweler has forgotten to send the ring he promised, and I must
go to my lady with empty hands."
"Empty hands are better than an empty heart," said the old woman; "but
then we are young only once; so you shall have a gift for your lady
though I may never have an apple dumpling."
And she took the nosegay
from her basket and gave it to the young lord which pleased him so
much that the frown smoothed away from his forehead, and his mouth
spread itself in a smile, and he was as handsome a young man as ever
the sun shone on.
"Fair exchange is no robbery," said he, and he unfastened a golden
chain from round his neck and gave it to the old woman, and went away
holding his nosegay with great care.
[Footnote 3: An old saying.]
The old woman was delighted.
"With this golden chain I might buy all the apples in the king's
market, and then have something to spare," she said to herself, as she
hurried away toward town as fast as her feet could carry her.
But she had gone no farther than the turn of the road when she came
upon a mother and children, standing in a doorway, whose faces were as
sorrowful as her own was happy.
"What is the matter?" she asked as soon as she reached them.
"Matter enough," answered the mother, "when the last crust of bread
is eaten and not a farthing in the house to buy more."
"Well-a-day," cried the old woman when this was told her. "Never shall
it be said of me that I eat apple dumpling for supper while my
neighbors lack bread;" and she put the golden chain into the mother's
hands and hurried on without waiting for thanks.
She was not out of sight of the house, though, when the mother and
children, every one of them laughing and talking as if it were
Christmas or Candlemas day, overtook her.
"Little have we to give you," said the mother who was the happiest of
all, "for that you have done for us, but here is a little dog, whose
barking will keep loneliness from your house, and a blessing goes with
The old woman did not have the heart to say them nay, so into the
basket went the little dog, and very snugly he lay there.
[Illustration: SHE SAW AN APPLE-TREE AS FULL OF APPLES AS HER
PLUM-TREE WAS FULL OF PLUMS.]
"A bag of feathers for a basket of plums; a nosegay of flowers for a
bag of feathers; a golden chain for a nosegay of flowers; a dog and a
blessing for a golden chain; all the world is give and take, and who
knows but that I may have my apple yet," said the old woman as she
And sure enough she had not gone a half dozen yards when, right before
her, she saw an apple-tree as full of apples as her plum-tree was full
of plums. It grew in front of a house as much like her own as if the
two were peas in the same pod; and on the porch of the house sat a
little old man.
"A fine tree of apples!" called the old woman as soon as she was in
speaking distance of him.
"Aye, but apple-trees and apples are poor company when a man is
growing old," said the old man; "and I would give them all if I had
even so much as a little dog to bark on my door-step."
"Bow-wow!" called the dog in the old woman's basket, and in less time
than it takes to read this story he was barking on the old man's
door-step, and the old woman was on her way home with a basket of
apples on her arm.
She got there in plenty of time to make the dumpling for supper, and
it was as sweet and brown a dumpling as heart could desire.
"If you try long enough and hard enough you can always have an apple
dumpling for supper," said the old woman; and she ate the dumpling to
the very last crumb; and enjoyed it, too.