Tales of the North American Indians
The Magic Apples
There was a soldier in the army whose name was Jack. One day he deserted, ran down the road, and left his horse and uniform. The general sent a captain and a corporal after him to capture him; but when they overtook him, Jack said, “Sit down here, and we will talk it over.” Then he asked them if they were satisfied with their job, getting only a shilling a week, and he coaxed them to start in the world with him to seek their fortunes.
At last they agreed, and all three started out on the road in search of adventure. Soon they struck into a big woods, and at night saw lights shining in the windows of a wonderful palace. When they entered, they found it completely furnished, but without occupants. A fine meal was spread on the table, and three beds were found made up. The only living things they saw were three cats. After eating and smoking, three beautiful maidens appeared and told the men that they would like them to stay and live with them. That night they all slept together; and the next morning found everything as before, but the beautiful women had turned back into cats. For three nights they staid in this way; and the last night the captain’s girl told him that if he would live with her, she would make him a present of a tablecloth which would always supply itself with whatever food he wished. The corporal’s girl told him the same, and offered a wallet which should always be full of gold. Jack’s girl made him an offer of a cap which would transport him wherever he wished. The men accepted the offer and received their presents. The next day, when the women had turned back into cats, the three men proposed to travel around and see the world; so they all put their heads together, and Jack pulled the cap over them and wished them to be in London.
They found themselves in London at once. Soon Jack became infatuated with a beautiful woman whom he wished to marry. She kept refusing him, however, and putting him off till the next day. He offered her a wonderful present. Then he went to the captain and borrowed his tablecloth. He gave her that, but still she put him off. Then he borrowed the corporal’s wallet and gave her that, yet she put him off. At last he begged her to give him a kiss. She laughed and agreed. Then he slipped the cap over their heads and wished to be in the wild woods of America. Immediately they found themselves in the heart of the wild woods, with not a soul near them for miles.
She cried very hard, but soon begged Jack to go to sleep, and smoothed his forehead for him. Then, when he fell asleep, she took his cap and wished herself back in London again.
When Jack woke up, he found himself alone in the wilderness, and he began wandering, and soon came to a great apple-tree with apples as big as pumpkins. He tasted one, and immediately a growing tree sprouted from his head, and he could not move. Near by, however, was another small apple-tree whose fruit he could just reach. He ate one of these small apples, and immediately the tree came off his head. So he gathered some of the big apples and the little ones, and wandered on.
Soon he came out upon a great headland overlooking the ocean, and there he saw a ship sailing by. He signalled to it, and at last the sailors came ashore to get him. He told them he was a great doctor who had been lost in the woods, and wanted to get back to the old country. Then they took him on board and started back to England. Halfway across the ocean the captain got terribly sick, and the sailors called upon Jack to try to help him. He went down and gave the captain a piece of one of the big apples to eat; and at once a growing tree sprang from his head, its branches reaching way up among the masts. When the sailors saw this, they were going to throw him overboard, but he told them to wait until he tried his other medicine. Then he gave the captain a piece of the small apple, and the tree came off his head. By this they knew Jack was a great doctor.
When they landed in England, Jack saw his two friends, the captain and the corporal, sawing wood at an inn to earn their living. He went to a town and built a shop, where he put his great apples up for sale, and many people came to see the wonderful fruit. In the meantime Jack’s lover had built a great palace with the money from her wallet; and she heard of the wonderful doctor and his apples; so she went to see them. When she saw Jack, she did not know him because his beard had grown, and thought the apples were very wonderful. She bought one at the price of fifty dollars. When she took it home, Jack left his shop, and waited to see what would happen. Soon the word went around that the wealthiest woman in the kingdom had a tree growing from her head, which none of the doctors could take off. So Jack sent word to the woman that he was a great doctor and would guarantee to cure her.
So she sent for him, and he came. First, he told her that she had some great mystery in her life, that she had wronged somebody. He told her that before he could cure her, she would have to confess to him. Then she admitted that she had wronged a man, and had taken his things and left him. Then he told her that she would have to give up these things before he could cure her. So she gave him a little key, and told him to go in the cellar to a certain brick, behind which he would find the tablecloth, the wallet, and the cap.
When he got these things, he left the palace, and soon she died for her wrongs. He went back to his friends who were sawing wood, and gave them their things. Now, they all started back to the palace where the three cats were. When they arrived, they found the palace all neglected, and the three cats looked very old. That night they turned back into three old women, who complained bitterly of being neglected.
After they had eaten, however, the old women resumed their youth and beauty, and that night the youngest told Jack how they were bewitched by a great bull who lived near by. She told him that if the bull could be killed and his heart cut out, the spell would be removed, but that others had tried in vain. So the next morning Jack went down to his enclosure of stone and looked over. He saw a monster bull coursing around the inside. In the middle of the yard was a well, and a big rock standing at one side. When the bull was at the far end of the yard, Jack jumped the wall and ran for the well, followed by the bull. He had no sooner jumped into the well than the bull smashed against the rock and fell over dead. Then Jack climbed out and cut out his heart, which he took back with him. That night the three girls ate a piece of the heart, and the spell was removed. After that they all lived together in the palace.