Meet John. He’s a fairly nice little boy, but he’s also an apple thief. He couldn’t resist pocketing a few of Butcher Wharton’s “rosy-cheeked apples”. (Better than the pallid apples at home?)
Here’s a picture of John, the pilfered apples, and the “worthy, though eccentric” butcher (alongside an unidentifiable, suspended piece of meat and a terrifying hatchet).
John’s mother caught him in his fruity transgression and ordered him to return the apples. In a classic whoops-but-I-don’t-want-to-anger-the-guy-with-a-hatchet move, John returned to the butcher shop with the apples, and:
On reaching the door of the shop he noticed some other customers in, and a way of getting out of the difficulty at once occurred to him, and one which would not bring him into contact with the butcher, and this was to roll the apples into the shop from the door. So, taking one of them, he rolled in gently along the floor, and doing the same with the second, he set off home in high glee.
Alas, John’s high glee was short-lived, as his mother did not agree with the genius of his solution and sent him back to apologize– to the eccentric fellow with the hatchet and the sharp hooks.
Yes, it was very hard for little John to face up to his erroneous ways, but as the butcher was, as previously mentioned, worthy, he accepted John’s apology and gave him three apples to take home for himself and his siblings.
Let’s hope they were just as rosy-cheeked as the originals.
(Image and moralistic tale from an 1878 issue of Chatterbox, a weekly illustrated newspaper with stories for children.)