I been workin’ in this garden since I were knee high to a grasshopper, planted more’n fifty o’ these trees with me own hands, alongside of me father. Now o’course we got a fine garden here, with all sorts of fruit, not just apples but pears, blackberries, strawberries and cherries. We also got a lovely orchard with oak, walnut, ash, elms, fig, juniper, hazel, even olive. But my favourite’s the apple tree, just like his is, Sir, that is Sir Isaac, but I always calls him Sir. Just a nipper ’e were when I were a young man workin’ out here and he always thought deep, even as a little’un. He would come and sit out with me, trying to get away from his step-father ’e was, and as the days grew shorter and winter approached, we’d sit together of an evening waiting for the first star to come out.
“Do you think it really is white?” he’d ask, “or, iridescent with colour? I mean if you were closer, close enough to see?”
His questions would start me thinkin’ about things. Ah, we had some good talks when he were a lad. But now he be a grown man, a brilliant scientist I hear, and I’m the one burnin’ with the questions. Overtaken me now on most things, he has, by a long chalk, with all his knowledge and his learnin’, but I reckon I still knows more about apples than he does.
So this one day I wanted to tell you about, it sticks in my memory it does ’cause I never got the answer to my question, and it do be somethin’ that’s plagued me for ever so long, like a bit o’ gristle stuck in me teeth. I reckon I got kind of an answer for meself but when I put it to Sir, he just stared at me with his mouth open, not blinking, for so long, that I truly thought, “he‘s having some kind of seizure and he’s never going to move again!” I realized then, o’ course, that sayin’ what I been thinkin’ only comes out like the ramblings of a halfwit, what an idea indeed, but I come out with it all the same. I should just keep my mouth shut and carry on tendin’ to the apples, that’s what I be good at and that’s what I likes. I must put a stop to me mind wonderin’ about what we’re all doing here and how we all stand up.
Anyways, like I was saying, before I let me mind wonder again… it’s always doin’ that, you see, for in the garden, there’s really no one about to listen to me thoughts so I just let ’em flit about most of the time. But this one day, I don’t mind tellin’ you, I really thought I was near to thinkin’ somethin’ halfway to worthwhile. Huh! Just shows you how wrong you can be, don’t it? I mean, if you’d seen the master’s face. I was that embarrassed… well, first what with the apple falling so close to his head, while he was in such deep thought (you see, it has that effect on people, does the garden) and then, after he’d picked it up and was turning it over in his hand, blow me down if he didn’t just take a bite and then spit it straight out! I knew it, I knew it straight off, there’s something funny about that tree, I been finding that almost every one of its apples has a darn worm in it! So, partly to distract him from the bitter taste of the bug, partly to hide that I’d seen him spewing out the apple, I don’t know what came over me, I just blurted it out, I said, “Why is it then, Sir, that so many of these here apples always end up on the ground? I mean, year after year I see so many apples lost in falling to the ground. O’course we use nets but you can’t help but miss a good few and it seems such a waste when they bruise so easy, we could never serve ’em up for table. But lately I’ve set to wonderin’ why, just why do they fall? I mean what’s to stop ’em from floatin’ up to the clouds? It sounds daft, don’t it, and I can’t fault your laughin’ at me but if you’d have spent as many days as me every year, pickin’ up apples from the ground, you’d start wonderin’ why they bloody had to be there, don’t you reckon, Sir?”
Well. So, that’s what the course of my thoughts was that day. And I don’t know what give me the courage to speak ’em to Sir. I knows better’n most he likes his quiet time in the garden to think over them big thoughts he has. Many’s the time I’ve stood by, just waiting to start digging or tying back but not liking to disturb him, nor his great thoughts neither. Oh aye, I’ve learned to be quiet and patient while his great mind struggles with important matters of science. Why, I feel honoured that he steps out into the garden, my garden, to find the peace to put his thoughts in order. And God knows he need not pay no mind to my mutterin’.
Anyway, so there he was, staring at me. I looked at the apple in his hand and then I cast my eyes down to the ground, and back up to his face to see him doing just the same thing! He looked at the apple, then he looked at the ground, then he looked at me, then he yells, “Thank you!” and he comes over and slaps me on the back, so he does, hands me the half eaten maggoty apple and rushes back inside. Well, what do you make of that then?
Rachel Foster asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work