Both Sides of the Fence
by Teresa Bateman
Alberto and Juan lived in two houses that stood side by side outside a small
pueblo. Although both houses were much alike, Alberto had a splendid apple tree, puffed
with pink blossoms each spring and bent low each autumn with fruit both red and ripe.
His neighbor, Juan, had little and nothing, except his family and his good nature.
Each day Alberto would brag about his apple tree. "It bears the finest blossoms
and the finest apples," he declared. "That makes me the finest man in the pueblo."
"It is a beautiful tree," Juan agreed. "I'm glad you let us enjoy its beauty as well."
Somehow the thought that others benefited from his tree lessened Alberto's
enjoyment. The tree was his, after all. Alberto decided to build a high fence so that he
alone could enjoy the tree's blossoms and bounty.
Townsfolk shook their heads at his foolishness and left him to his pride.
One spring, however, Alberto was unhappy to see that a branch of his tree
extended over the fence into his neighbor's yard.
"I can't cut it off," Alberto decided. "To damage so fine a tree would be wrong.
Still, why should Juan receive any benefit from a tree that is clearly mine?"
He fretted and fumed through the pink-blossomed spring. He pondered and
puzzled through the green-leafed summer. Then fall came, and with it a moment of truth.
While Alberto could pick the apples on his own land, and gather the windfalls so
not even squirrels could enjoy them, he could not set foot on the other side of the fence.
He pretended it didn't matter. But it did.
Then one day, Alberto discovered an apple cake on his doorstep.
"Gracias," read the note. It was signed "Juan."
Alberto was furious. His apples were being used without his permission, and he
considered Juan's note a slap in the face.
"I must have justice!" Alberto declared. He hurried to the home of the mayor,
bringing the cake along as evidence.
"See here," Alberto declared, plunking the cake...