SOLOMON JOHN GOES FOR APPLES
By Lucretia P. Hale
Solomon John agreed to ride to Farmer Jones's for a basket of apples,
and he decided to go on horseback. The horse was brought round to the
door. Now he had not ridden for a great while; and, though the little
boys were there to help him, he had great trouble in getting on the
He tried a great many times, but always found himself facing the wrong
way, looking at the horse's tail. They turned the horse's head, first
up the street, then down the street; it made no difference; he always
made some mistake, and found himself sitting the wrong way.
"Well," said he, at last, "I don't know as I care. If the horse has
his head in the right direction, that is the main thing. Sometimes I
ride this way in the cars, because I like it better. I can turn my
head easily enough, to see where we are going." So off he went, and
the little boys said he looked like a circus-rider, and they were much
He rode along out of the village, under the elms, very quietly. Pretty
soon he came to a bridge, where the road went across a little stream.
There a road at the side, leading down to the stream, because
sometimes waggoners watered their horses there. Solomon John's horse
turned off, too, to drink of the water.
"Very well," said Solomon John, "I don't blame him for wanting to wet
his feet, and to take a drink, this hot day."
When they reached the middle of the stream, the horse bent over his
"How far his neck comes into his back!" exclaimed Solomon John; and at
that very moment he found he had slid down over the horse's head, and
was sitting on a stone, looking into the horse's face. There were two
frogs, one on each side of him, sitting just as he was, which pleased
Solomon John, so he began to laugh instead of to cry.
But the two frogs jumped into the water.
"It is time for me to go on," said Solomon John. So he gave a jump, as
he had seen the frogs do; and this time he came all right on the
horse's back, facing the way he was going.
"It is a little pleasanter," said he.
The horse wanted to nibble a little of the grass by the side of the
way; but Solomon John remembered what a long neck he had, and would
not let him stop.
At last he reached Farmer Jones, who gave him his basket of apples.
Next he was to go on to a cider-mill, up a little lane by Farmer
Jones's house, to get a jug of cider. But as soon as the horse was
turned into the lane, he began to walk very slowly,—so slowly that
Solomon John thought he would not get there before night. He whistled,
and shouted, and thrust his knees into the horse, but still he would
"Perhaps the apples are too heavy for him," said he. So he began by
throwing one of the apples out of the basket. It hit the fence by the
side of the road, and that started up the horse, and he went on
"That was the trouble," said Solomon John; "that apple was too heavy
But very soon the horse began to go slower and slower.
So Solomon John thought he would try another apple. This hit a large
rock, and bounded back under the horse's feet, and sent him off at a
great pace. But very soon he fell again into a slow walk.
Solomon John had to try another apple. This time it fell into a pool
of water, and made a great splash, and set the horse out again for a
little while; he soon returned to a slow walk,—so slow that Solomon
John thought it would be to-morrow morning before he got to the
"It is rather a waste of apples," thought he; "but I can pick them up
as I come back, because the horse will be going home at a quick pace."
So he flung out another apple; that fell among a party of ducks, and
they began to make such a quacking and a waddling, that it frightened
the horse into a quick trot.
So the only way Solomon John could make his horse go was by flinging
his apples, now on one side, now on the other. One time he frightened
a cow, that ran along by the side of the road, while the horse raced
with her. Another time he started up a brood of turkeys, that gobbled
and strutted enough to startle twenty horses. In another place he came
near hitting a boy, who gave such a scream that it sent the horse off
at a furious rate.
And Solomon John got quite excited himself, and he did not stop till
he had thrown away all his apples, and had reached the corner of the
"Very well," said he, "if the horse is so lazy, he won't mind my
stopping to pick up the apples on the way home. And I am not sure but
I shall prefer walking a little to riding the beast."
The man came out to meet him from the cider-mill, and reached him the
jug. He was just going to take it, when he turned his horse's head
round, and, delighted at the idea of going home, the horse set off at
a full run without waiting for the jug. Solomon John clung to the
reins, and his knees held fast to the horse. He called out "Whoa!
whoa!" but the horse would not stop.
He went galloping on past the boy, who stopped, and flung an apple at
him; past the turkeys, that came and gobbled at him; by the cow, that
turned and ran back in a race with them until her breath gave out; by
the ducks, that came and quacked at him; by an old donkey, that brayed
over the wall at him; by some hens, that ran into the road under the
horse's feet, and clucked at him; by a great rooster, that stood up on
a fence, and crowed at him; by Farmer Jones, who looked out to see
what had become of him; down the village street, and he never stopped
till he had reached the door of the house.
Out came Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin, Agamemnon, Elizabeth Eliza, and the
Solomon John got off his horse all out of breath.
"Where is the jug of cider?" asked Mrs. Peterkin.
"It is at the cider-mill," said Solomon John.
"At the mill!" exclaimed Mrs. Peterkin.
"Yes," said Solomon John; "the little boys had better walk out for it;
they will enjoy it; and they had better take a basket; for on the way
they will find plenty of apples, scattered all along on either side of
the lane, and hens, and ducks, and turkeys, and a donkey."
The little boys looked at each other, and went; but they stopped
first, and put on their india-rubber boots.