Beezus and Ramona
Ramona and the Apples
"Mother, I'm home," Beezus called, as she burst into the house one afternoon after school.
Mother appeared, wearing her hat and coat and carrying a shopping list in her hand. She kissed Beezus. "How was school today?" she asked.
"All right. We studied about Christopher Columbuc," said Beezus.
"Did you dear?" said Mother absent-mindedly.
"I wonderif you'd mind keeping an eye on Ramona for half an hour or so while I do the marketing. She was up so late last night I let her have a long nap this afternoon, and I wasn't able to go out until she woke up."
"all right, I'll look after her," agreed Beezus.
"I told her she could have two marshmallows," said Mother, as she left the house.
Ramona came out of the kitchen with a marshmallow in each hand. Her nose was covered with white powder. "What's Christopher Colummus?" she asked.
"Christopher Columbus," Beezus corrected. "Come here, Ramona. Let me wipe off your nose."
"No," said Ramona, backing away. "I just powdered it." Closing her eyes, Ramona pounded one of the marshmallows against her nose. Powdered sugar flew all over her face. "These are my powder puffs," she explained.
Beezus started to tell Ramona not to be silly, she'd get sticky, but then decided it would be useless. Ramona never minded being sticky. Instead, she said, "Christopher Columbus is the man who discovered America. He was trying to prove that the world is round."
"Is it?" Ramona sounded puzzled. She beat the other marshmallow against her chin.
"Why, Ramona, don't you know the world is round?" Beezus asked.
Ramona shook her head and powdered her forehead with a marshmallow.
"Well, the world is round just like an orange," Beezus told her. "If you could start out and travel in a perfectly straight line you would come right back where you started from."
"I would?" Ramona looked as if she didn't understand this at all. She also looked as if she didn't care much, because she went right on powdering her face with the marshmallows.
Oh, well, thought Beezus, there's no use trying to explain it to her. She went into the bedroom to change from her school clothes into her play clothes. As usual, she found Ramona's doll, Bendix, lying on her bed, and with a feeling of annoyance she tossed it across the room to Ramona's bed. When she had changed her clothes she went into the kitchen, ate some graham crackers and peanut butter, and helped herself to two marshmallows. If Ramona could have two, it was only fair that she should have two also.
After eating the marshmallows and licking the powdered sugar from her fingers, Beezus decided that reading about Big Steve would be the easiest way to keep Ramona from thinking up some mischief to get into while Mother was away. "Come here, Ramona," she said as she went into the living room. "I'll read to you."
There was no answer. Ramona was not there.
That's funny, thought Beezus, and went into the bedroom. The room was empty. I wonder where she can be, said Beezus to herself. She looked in Mother and Father's room. No one was there. "Ramona!" she called. No answer. "Ramona, where are you?" Still no answer.
Beezus was worried. She did not think Ramona had left the house, because she had not heard any doors open and close. Still, with Ramona you never knew. Maybe she was hiding. Beezus looked under the beds. No Ramona. She looked in the bedroom closets, the hall closet, the linen closet, even the broom closet. Still no Ramona. She ran upstairs to the attic and looked behind the trunks. Then she ran downstairs to the basement. "Ramona!" she called anxiously, as she peered around in the dim light. The basement was an eerie place with its gray cement walls and the grotesque rections. Except for a faint sound from the pilot light everything was silent. Suddenly the furnace lit itself with such a woosh that Beezus, her heart pounding, turned and ran upstairs. Even though she knew it was only a furnace, she could not help being frightened. The house seemed so empty when no one answered her calls.
Uneasily Beezus sat down in the living room to try to think while she listened to the silence. She must not get panicky. Ramona couldn't be far away. And if she didn't turn up soon, she would telephone the police, the way Mother did the time Ramona got lost because she started out to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Thinking of the rainbow reminded Beezus of her attempt to explain to Ramona that the world is round like an orange. Ramona hadn't looked as if she understood, but sometimes it was hard to tell about Ramona. Maybe she just understood the part about coming back where she started from. If Ramona set out to walk to the end of the rainbow, she could easily decide to try walking around the world. That was exactly what she must have done.
The idea frightened Beezus. How would she ever find Ramona? And what would Mother say when she came home and found Ramona gone? To think of Ramona walking in a straight line, hoping to go straight around the world and come back where she started from, trying to cross busy streets alone, honked at by trucks, barked at by strange dogs, tired, hungry . . . But I can't just sit here, thought Beezus. I've got to do something. I'll run out and look up and down the street. She can't have gone far.
At that moment Beezus heard a noise. She thought it came from the basement, but she was not certain. Tiptoeing to the cold-air intake in the hall, she bent over and listened. Sure enough, a noise so faint she could scarcely hear it came up through the furnace pipe. So the house wasn't empty after all! Just wait until she got hold of Ramona!
Beezus snapped on the basement ilght and ran down the steps. "Ramona, come out," she ordered. "I know you're here."
The only answer was a chomping sound from the corner of the basement. Beezus ran around the furnace and there, in the dimly lit corner, sat Ramona, eating an apple.
Beezus was so relieved to see Ramona safe, and at the same time so angry with her for hiding, that she couldn't say anything. She just stood there filled with the exasperated mixed-up feeling that Ramona so often gave her.
"Hello," said Ramona through a bite of apple.
"Ramona Geraldine Quimby!" exclaimed Beezus, when she had found her voice. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Playing hide-and-seek," answered Ramona.
"Well, I'm not!" snapped Beezus. "It takes two to play hide-and-seek."
"You found me," Ramona pointed out.
"Oh . . ." Once again Beezus couldn't find any words. To think she had worried so, when all the time Ramona was sitting in the basement listening to her call. And eating an apple, too!
As she stood in front of Ramona, Beezus' eyes began to grow accustomed to the dim light and she realized what Ramona was doing. She stared, horrified at what she saw. As if hiding were not enough! What would Mother say when she came home and found what Ramona had been up to this time?
Ramona was sitting on the floor beside a box of apples. Lying around her on the cement floor were a number of apples -- each with one bite out of it. While Beezus stared, Ramona reached into the box, selected an apple, took one big bite out of the reddest part, and tossed the rest of the apple onto the floor. While she noisily chewed that bite, she reached into the apple box again.
"Ramona!" cried Beezus, horrified. "You can't do that."
"I can, too," said Ramona through her mouthful.
"Stop it," ordered Beezus. "Stop it this instant! You can't eat one bite and then throw the rest away."
"But the first bite tastes best," explained Ramona reasonably, as she reached into the box again.
Beezus had to admit that Ramona was right. The first bite of an apple always did tastes best. Ramona's sharp little teeth were about to sink into another apple when Beezus snatched it from her.
"That's my apple," screamed Ramona.
"It is not!" said Beezus angrily, stamping her foot. "One apple is all you're supposed to have. Just wait till Mother finds out!"
Ramona stopped screaming and watched Beezus. Then, seeing how angry Beezus was, she smiled and offered her an apple. "I want to share the apples," she said sweetly.
"Oh, no, you don't," said Beezus. "And don't try to work that sharing business on me!" That was one of the difficult things about Ramona. When she had done something wrong, she often tried to get out of it by offering to share something. She heard a lot about sharing in nursery school.
Now what am I going to do, Beezus wondered. I promised Mother I would keep an eye on Ramona, and look what she's gone and done. How am I going to explain this to Mother? I'll get scolded too. And all the apples. What can we do with them?
Beezus was sure about one thing. She no longer felt mixed up about Ramona. Ramona was perfectly impossible. She snatched Ramona's hand. "You come upstairs with me and be good until Mother gets back," she ordered, pulling her sister up the basement stairs.
Ramona broke away from her and ran into the living room. She climbed onto a chair, where she sat with her legs sticking straight out in front of her. She folded her hands in her lap and said in a little voice, "Don't bother me. This is my quiet time. I'm supposed to be resting."
Quiet times were something else Ramona had learned at nursery school. When she didn't want to do something, she often insisted she was supposed to be having quiet time. Beezus was about to say that Ramona didn't need a quiet time, because she hadn't been playing hard and Mother had said she already had a nap, but then she thought better of it. If Ramona wanted to sit in a chair and be quiet, let her. She might stay out of mischief until Mother came home.
Beezus had no sooner sat down to work on her pot holders, planning to keep an eye on Ramona at the same time, when the telephone rang. It must be Aunt Beatrice, she thought, because she answered. Mother and Aunt Beatrice almost always talked to each other about this time of day.
"Hello, darling, how are you?" asked Aunt Beatrice.
"Oh, Aunt Beatrice," cried Beezus, "Ramona has just done something awful, and I was supposed to be looking after her. I don't know what to do." She told about Ramona's hiding in the cellar and biting into half a box of apples.
Aunt Beatrice laughed. "Leave it to Ramona to think up something new," she said. "Do you know what I'd do if I were you?"
"What?" asked Beezus eagerly, already feeling better because she had confided her troubles to her aunt.
"I wouldn't say anything more about it," said Aunt Beatrice. "Lots of times little children are naughty because they want to attract attention. I have an idea that saying nothing about her naughtiness will worry Ramona more than a scolding."
Beezus thought this over and decided her aunt was right. If there was one thing Ramona couldn't stant, it was being ignored. "I'll try it," she said.
"And about the apples," Aunt Beatrice went on. "All I can suggest is that your mother might make applesauce."
This struck Beezus as being funny, and as she and her aunt laughed together over the telephone she felt much better.
"Tell your mother I phoned," said Aunt Beatrice.
"I will," promised Beezus. "And please come over soon."
When Beezus heard her mother drive up, she rushed out to meet her and tell her the story of what Ramona had done. She also told her Aunt Beatrice's suggestion.
"Oh, dear, leave it to Ramona," sighed Mother. "Your aunt is right. We won't say a word about it."
Beezus helped her mother carry the groceries into the house. Ramona came into the kitchen to see if there were any animal crackers among the packages. She waited a few minutes for her sister to tattle on her. Then, when Beezus did not say anything, she announced, "I was bad this afternoon." She sounded pleased with herself.
"Were you?" remarked Mother calmly. "Beezus, I think applesauce will be good for dessert tonight. Will you run down and bring up some apples?"
When Ramona looked disappointed at having failed to arouse any interest, Beezus and her mother exchanged smiles. "I want to help," said Ramona, rather than be left out.
Beezus and Ramona made four trips to the basement to bring up all the bitten apples. Mother said nothing about their appearance, but spent the rest of the afternoon peeling and cooking apples. After she had finished, she filled her two largest mixing bowls, a casserole, and the bowl of her electric mixer with applesauce. It took her quite a while to rearrange the contents of the refrigerator to make room for all the applesauce.
When Beezus saw her father coming home she ran out on the front walk to tell him what had happened. He, too, agreed that Aunt Beatrice's suggestion was a good one.
"Daddy!" shrieked Ramona when her father came in.
"How's my girl?" asked Father as he picked Ramona up and kissed her.
"Oh, I was bad today," said Ramona.
"Were you?" said Father as he put her down. "Was there any mail today?"
Ramona looked crestfallen. "I was very bad," she persisted. "I was awful."
Father sat down and picked up the evening paper.
"I hid from Beezus and I bit lots and lots of apples," Ramona went on insistently.
"Mmm," remarked Father from behind his paper. "I see they're going to raise bus fares again."
"Lots and lots of apples," repeated Ramona in a loud voice.
"They raised bus fares last year," Father went on, winking at Beezus from behind the paper. "The public isn't going to stand for this."
Ramona looked puzzled and then disappointed, but she did not say anything.
Father dropped his paper. "Something certainly smells good," he said. "It smells like applesauce. I hope so. There's nothing I like better than a big dish of applesauce for dessert."
Because Mother had been so busy making applesauce, dinner was a little late that night. At the table Ramona was unusually well behaved. She did not interrupt and she did not try to share her carrots, the way she usually did because she did not like carrots.
As Beezus cleared the table and Mother served dessert -- which was fig Newtons and, of course, applesauce -- Ramona's good behavior continued. Beezus found she was not very hungry for applesauce, but the rest of the family appeared to enjoy it. After Beezus had wiped the dishes for Mother she sat down to embroider her pot holders. She had decided to give Aunt Beatrice the pot holder with the dancing knife and fork on it instead of the one with the laughing teakettle.
Ramona approached her with Big Steve the Steam Shovel in her hand. "Beezus, will you read to me?" she asked.
She thinks I'll say no and then she can make a fuss, thought Beezus. Well, I won't give her a chance. "All right," she said, putting down her pot holder and taking the book, while Ramona climbed into the chair beside her.
"Big Steve was a steam shovel. he was the biggest steam shovel in the whole city," Beezus read. " 'Gr-r-r,' growled Big Steve when he moved the earth to make way for the new highway."
Father dropped his newspaper and looked at his two daughters sitting side by side. "I wonder," he said, "exactly how long this is going to last."
"Just enjoy it while it does," said Mother, who was basting patched on the knees of a pair of Ramona's overalls.
"Gr-r-r," growled Ramona. "Gr-r-r."
Beezus also wondered just how long this would go on. She didn't enjoy growling like a steam shovel and she felt that perhaps Ramona was getting her own way after all. I'm trying to like her like I'm supposed to, anyhow, Beezus thought, and I do like her more than I did this afternoon when I found her in the basement. But what on earth will Mother ever do with all that applesauce?
If you notice any typos or spelling mistakes, or any errors at all, please e-mail me and let me know. I can't spot everything, and your help would be very much appreaciated. Thank you!
All characters and stories are copyright © 1955 by Beverly Cleary.